Gospel Lection, April 27, 2014, John 20:19-31; Comments on the Greek text

Jn 20:19 Οὔσης οὖν ὀψίας τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ τῇ μιᾷ σαββάτων, καὶ τῶν θυρῶν κεκλεισμένων ὅπου ἦσαν οἱ μαθηταὶ διὰ τὸν φόβον τῶν Ἰουδαίων[A], ἦλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ ἔστη εἰς τὸ μέσον, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν[B]. Then, when it was evening on that day, the first of the week, and the doors [were] locked where the disciples were, because of the fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and says to them, “Peace to you!”
Jn 20:20 καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἔδειξεν τὰς χεῖρας καὶ τὴν πλευρὰν αὐτοῖς. ἐχάρησαν οὖν οἱ μαθηταὶ ἰδόντες τὸν κύριον. And having said this, he showed them  the hands and the side.  Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
Jn 20:21 εἶπεν οὖν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς πάλιν· Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν· καθὼς ἀπέσταλκέν με ὁ πατήρ[C], κἀγὼ πέμπω ὑμᾶς. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you.  As the Father has sent me, I also send you.”
Jn 20:22 καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἐνεφύσησεν[D] καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· Λάβετε πνεῦμα ἅγιον[E]· And having said this, he breathed on [them] and says to them, “Receive Holy Spirit.
Jn 20:23 ἄν τινων ἀφῆτε[F] τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἀφέωνται αὐτοῖς· ἄν τινων κρατῆτε κεκράτηνται. Whoever’s sins you forgive have been forgiven for them; whoever’s you hold have been held.”
Jn 20:24 Θωμᾶς δὲ εἷς ἐκ τῶν δώδεκα, ὁ λεγόμενος Δίδυμος, οὐκ ἦν μετ’ αὐτῶν ὅτε ἦλθεν Ἰησοῦς. But Thomas,  one of the twelve, the one called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
Jn 20:25 ἔλεγον οὖν αὐτῷ οἱ ἄλλοι μαθηταί· Ἑωράκαμεν τὸν κύριον. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· Ἐὰν μὴ ἴδω ἐν ταῖς χερσὶν αὐτοῦ τὸν τύπον τῶν ἥλων καὶ βάλω[G] τὸν δάκτυλόν μου εἰς τὸν τύπον τῶν ἥλων καὶ βάλω μου τὴν χεῖρα εἰς τὴν πλευρὰν αὐτοῦ, οὐ μὴ πιστεύσω[H]. Then the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord.”  But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails and stick my finger into the mark of the nails and stick my hand into his side, I will surely not believe.”
Jn 20:26 Καὶ μεθ’ ἡμέρας ὀκτὼ πάλιν ἦσαν ἔσω οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ Θωμᾶς μετ’ αὐτῶν. ἔρχεται ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῶν θυρῶν κεκλεισμένων, καὶ ἔστη εἰς τὸ μέσον καὶ εἶπεν· Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν. And after eight days again his disciples were inside, and Thomas [was] with them.  Jesus comes (the doors being shut) and stood in [their] midst and said “Peace to you.”
Jn 20:27 εἶτα λέγει τῷ Θωμᾷ· Φέρε τὸν δάκτυλόν σου ὧδε καὶ ἴδε τὰς χεῖράς μου, καὶ φέρε τὴν χεῖρά σου καὶ βάλε εἰς τὴν πλευράν μου, καὶ μὴ γίνου[I] ἄπιστος ἀλλὰ πιστός[J]. Then he says to Thomas, “Bring your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and stick [it] into my side, and stop being faithless, but [instead be] faithful.
Jn 20:28 ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου.[K] Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jn 20:29 λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Ὅτι ἑώρακάς με πεπίστευκας; μακάριοι οἱ μὴ ἰδόντες καὶ πιστεύσαντες.[L] Jesus says to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me?  Blessed [are] the ones who, not seeing, also have believed.”
Jn 20:30 Πολλὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ ἄλλα σημεῖα ἐποίησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐνώπιον τῶν μαθητῶν, ἃ οὐκ ἔστιν γεγραμμένα ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τούτῳ·[M] So Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book;
Jn 20:31 ταῦτα δὲ γέγραπται ἵνα πιστεύητε[N] ὅτι Ἰησοῦς[O] ἐστιν ὁ χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ ἵνα πιστεύοντες ζωὴν ἔχητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ. but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

 

 

[A] It’s worth doing a scan on the places where the phrase “fear of the Jews” shows up throughout John.  Some commentators suggest translating “Judeans” rather than “Jews,” since the whole gospel itself has a strongly Jewish tone, and the fear seems to be directed primarily toward the religious authorities (centered in Judea).

[B] A simple form of “Hello” in Aramaic.

[C] Another interesting study would be to explore all the earlier texts in John where the Father is said to have sent Jesus.  What exactly is it about the Father’s sending of Jesus that is replicated in the Son’s sending of the disciples?  That’s an important key to interpreting this text.  The immediate context suggest at least two dimensions:  The ministry of the disciples, like that of Jesus, is done in the power of the Holy Spirit, and involves the forgiveness of sins.

[D] It’s interesting that the one on whom Jesus breathes (them) is not explicitly mentioned in the text.  Perhaps because all of us are included in this “Johannine Pentecost”?

[E] The absence of the definite article leaves it unclear how “definite” or personalized this use of “Holy Spirit” is.

[F] Are we to envision any sort of sin here, or sins against the disciples in particular?  I would suggest that the latter is in view.  It is specifically when the disciples forgive their own enemies that they are acting like God, in the power of the Spirit.

[G] Literally “throw” my finger into the mark, etc.!

[H] οὐ μὴ + the aorist subjunctive = emphatic future denial!

[I] μὴ + a present imperative = stop doing an action already in process.

[J] The same word can mean either “faithful” or “believing.”  In john, the two are intimately related.

[K] Note that Thomas apparently doesn’t take Jesus up on the offer to actually put his finger in the wounds, or his hand in Jesus’ side.  Note that Thomas says this αὐτῷ, to him (i.e. to Jesus), and not as a general acclamation of faith in God.

[L] This includes, of course, all the readers of the gospel!

[M] An interesting acknowledgement on the part of the author that this gospel is selective in its recounting of the story.

[N] There’s a crucial textual variant here.  Is it the aorist “come to believe” or the present “continue to believe”?  Textual evidence is pretty evenly divided.  Some assume that the intended readership is centrally at stake here—either non-Christians, who are expected to “come to believe” (aorist) or existing Christians, who are invited to “continue to believe” (present).  But I think this may be overdrawn, and the envisioned audience may include both sorts of readers.  Consider the dual use of “believe” in John 4:50 and 53.  If he believed the first time, why the second mention?  But for John, believing is a never-ending journey, deeper and deeper into mystery.  That’s why I would differentiate too sharply between the present and the aorist here.

[O] Some commentators suggest that this verse should be rendered “that you may believe that the Christ, the Son of God, is Jesus,” assuming agreement on “Christ, Son of God” in a Jewish context, but focusing on identifying Jesus in this role.  The presence and absence of the definite articles favors such a reading, though this is not decisive, since the articles could be there because these are titles.  But I find it hard to believe that John assumes that his readers already know what “Christ” and “Son of God” mean, and simply have to link these categories to Jesus.  In fact, Nicodemus exclaims Jesus as “King of Israel” and Son of God” in 1:49, before he has seen much of anything!  There is far too much energy devoted in John to expanding and expounding on these terms to assume that the author takes them for granted and simply assumes his readers already understand them.

Feb. 23, 2014 Gospel Lection; Matthew 5:38-48; Comments on the Greek text

Feb. 23, 2014 Gospel Lection

Matthew 5:38-48

Mt 5:38 Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη· Ὀφθαλμὸν ἀντὶ[A] ὀφθαλμοῦ καὶ ὀδόντα ἀντὶ ὀδόντος. You heard that it was said, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
Mt 5:39 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν μὴ ἀντιστῆναι τῷ πονηρῷ[B]· ἀλλ’ ὅστις σε[C] ῥαπίζει εἰς[D] τὴν δεξιὰν σιαγόνα, στρέψον αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν ἄλλην· But I tell you not to oppose the evil one, but whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him also the other [one].
Mt 5:40 καὶ τῷ θέλοντί σοι κριθῆναι καὶ τὸν χιτῶνά[E] σου λαβεῖν, ἄφες[F] αὐτῷ καὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον[G]· And to the one who wants to go to court with you and to take your tunic, allow him also the cloak.
Mt 5:41 καὶ ὅστις σε ἀγγαρεύσει[H] μίλιον ἕν, ὕπαγε μετ’ αὐτοῦ δύο. And whoever compels you [to go] one mile, go with him two.
Mt 5:42 τῷ αἰτοῦντί[I] σε δός, καὶ τὸν θέλοντα ἀπὸ σοῦ δανίσασθαι μὴ ἀποστραφῇς.[J] Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away the one seeking to borrow from you.
Mt 5:43 Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη· Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου καὶ μισήσεις τὸν ἐχθρόν σου. You heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and you shall hate your enemy.”
Mt 5:44 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε[K] τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν καὶ προσεύχεσθε ὑπὲρ τῶν διωκόντων ὑμᾶς· But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Mt 5:45 ὅπως γένησθε[L] υἱοὶ τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς, ὅτι τὸν ἥλιον αὐτοῦ ἀνατέλλει ἐπὶ [M]πονηροὺς καὶ ἀγαθοὺς καὶ βρέχει ἐπὶ δικαίους[N] καὶ ἀδίκους. So that you may become sons [and daughters] of your father who is in [the] heavens.  Because he causes the sun to rise on [the] wicked and [the] good, and he sends rain on [the] righteous and unrighteous.
Mt 5:46 ἐὰν γὰρ ἀγαπήσητε[O] τοὺς ἀγαπῶντας ὑμᾶς, τίνα μισθὸν ἔχετε; οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ τελῶναι τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν; For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same thing?
Mt 5:47 καὶ ἐὰν ἀσπάσησθε τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς ὑμῶν μόνον, τί περισσὸν[P] ποιεῖτε; οὐχὶ[Q] καὶ οἱ ἐθνικοὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν; And if you greet only your brothers [and sisters], what are you doing [that is] remarkable?  Do not even the gentiles do the same thing?
Mt 5:48 Ἔσεσθε οὖν ὑμεῖς τέλειοι[R] ὡς ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τέλειός ἐστιν. Therefore, you shall be complete, as your heavenly Father is complete.

[A] Literally “in place of.”

[B] Ambiguous in the Greek alone as to whether this is The Evil One, or just someone who is evil.

[C] Note the prominence of the singular “you” throughout this text, which focuses here on the individual response.

[D] Literally “strikes you into the right cheek.”

[E] The bottom layer worn against the skin

[F] The focus here is not so much on active giving as on non-resistance.

[G] An outer garment.

[H] Cf. Matt 27:32, where the same verb occurs.

[I] Should we emphasize the present tense (“give to the one who continually asks you”)?

[J] One form for prohibitions in Greek is μὴ + the aorist subjunctive, as we see here

[K] Note both imperatives in this verse are present tense, indicating continuous, repeated, or habitual action that is commanded.  Note also that from this point onward, we have commands using you-plural, rather than the singular, as in the earlier verses.

[L] “Be” or “become” here?  Is love for enemies the means by which we become children of God, or the means by which our identity as children of God is made evident?  The Greek could be translated either way, though the verb is stronger than the regular form of the verb “to be” (εἰμί).

[M] The absence of definite articles gives a generalizing force here.

[N] Or “just and unjust.”

[O] Love in the sense of devotion and loyalty.

[P] Literally, “What more are you doing (than anyone else)?”

[Q] And the expected answer, of course, is “yes.”

[R] Not easy to translate, but “perfect” doesn’t quite do it.  The focus is not on the absence of defect, but rather on the full actualization  of all that is required.

Jan. 26 1 Corinthians 1:10-18

1 Cor 1:10-18

On the left is the SBL text (pretty close to the best Greek texts).  On the right is my translation–as literal as possible while maintaining at least roughly comprehensible English. (Words I’ve added that I think are implied in the text, but not actually present, are enclosed in [brackets].)  I’ve also added footnotes to the Greek text in places where I’ve offered brief comments.  The goal here is not to offer a complete commentary on the text, but simply to highlight some issues where looking at the original language may help to illumine what is going on overall here.  One of my purposes for this whole approach is to encourage those who are preaching and teaching the lectionary text to explore the original languages, and to give them a head start on what they might discover.

1Co 1:10               Παρακαλῶ δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τοῦ ὀνόματος τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ λέγητε[A] πάντες, καὶ μὴ ᾖ ἐν ὑμῖν σχίσματα, ἦτε δὲ κατηρτισμένοι[B] ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ[C] νοῒ καὶ ἐν τῇ αὐτῇ γνώμῃ[D]. I urge you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all say the same thing, and that there not be divisions among you, but that you may be formed in the same mind and in the same intention.
1Co 1:11               ἐδηλώθη γάρ μοι περὶ ὑμῶν, ἀδελφοί μου, ὑπὸ τῶν Χλόης ὅτι ἔριδες[E] ἐν ὑμῖν εἰσιν. For it was revealed to me concerning you, my brothers, by those of Chloe, that there are quarrels among you.
1Co 1:12               λέγω δὲ τοῦτο ὅτι ἕκαστος ὑμῶν λέγει· Ἐγὼ μέν εἰμι Παύλου[F], Ἐγὼ δὲ Ἀπολλῶ, Ἐγὼ δὲ Κηφᾶ, Ἐγὼ δὲ Χριστοῦ. I say this because each of you says, “I am of Paul,” and “I am of Apollos,” and “I am of Cepthas,” and “I am of Christ.”
1Co 1:13               μεμέρισται ὁ Χριστός; μὴ[G] Παῦλος ἐσταυρώθη ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, ἢ εἰς τὸ ὄνομα [H]Παύλου ἐβαπτίσθητε; Has Christ become divided?  Paul was not crucified on your behalf, was he?  Or were you baptized into the name of Paul?
1Co 1:14               εὐχαριστῶ ὅτι οὐδένα ὑμῶν ἐβάπτισα εἰ μὴ Κρίσπον καὶ Γάϊον, I am thankful that I baptized none of you except Krispus and Gaius,
1Co 1:15               ἵνα μή[I] τις εἴπῃ ὅτι εἰς τὸ ἐμὸν ὄνομα ἐβαπτίσθητε· lest any [of you] should say that you were baptized into my name.
1Co 1:16               ἐβάπτισα δὲ καὶ τὸν Στεφανᾶ οἶκον· λοιπὸν[J] οὐκ οἶδα εἴ τινα ἄλλον ἐβάπτισα. I did also baptize the household of Stephen. Beyond that, I don’t know if I baptized anyone else.
1Co 1:17               οὐ γὰρ ἀπέστειλέν με Χριστὸς βαπτίζειν ἀλλὰ εὐαγγελίζεσθαι, οὐκ ἐν σοφίᾳ λόγου, ἵνα μὴ κενωθῇ[K] ὁ σταυρὸς τοῦ Χριστοῦ. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to proclaim the good news—not in the wisdom of speech, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied.
1Co 1:18               Ὁ λόγος[L] γὰρ ὁ τοῦ σταυροῦ τοῖς μὲν ἀπολλυμένοις μωρία[M] ἐστίν, τοῖς δὲ σῳζομένοις ἡμῖν δύναμις[N] θεοῦ ἐστιν. For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.

[A] The NRSV translates this phrase as “that you all be in agreement,” but this loses some of the tangible quality of Paul’s rhetoric.  The issue is not only what people think, but how they speak, and whether that speech reveals conflict and disagreement.

[B] The passive voice suggests “that you allow yourself to be formed by Christ . . . .”

[C] Remember that αυτος in the attributive position (i.e., between the definite article and the noun it modifies) means “same.”

[D] The root meaning of this word is “opinion,” but it can also carry the connotation of intention or purpose, which seems more fitting here.

[E] There is a nuance of rivalry (in addition to mere conflict) here that should not be overlooked.

[F] The genitives here might convey possession (I belong to Paul, etc.), or origin (I come from Paul’s place/perspective).

[G] This form of the negative means that the expected answer is “no.”  That’s why I translated, “Paul was not . . . was he?”

[H] Cf. other places where the same formula “baptized into the name of” appears:  the Great Commission in Matt 28:19, Acts 2:38; 8:16; 19:5.

[I] This combo often translated “lest,” though the rendering is not exactly contemporary English—there isn’t a better equivalent that I know of.

[J] An accusative of respect:  “with respect to the rest . . .”

[K] Interesting uses of this verb elsewhere in Paul: Rom. 4:14, 1 Co. 9:15, 2 Co. 9:3, Phil. 2:7

[L] Could be “word,” “message” or “meaning.”

[M] The word is found only in 1 Cor, in the entire New Testament!  A key issue for Paul here.

[N] Given the use of μωρια earlier in the verse, we might expect “wisdom” here, but we get “power” instead.  I suspect that this is part of Paul’s attempt to reframe the conflict in Corinth.