Michael Wolter on the Meaning of κατάλυμα in Luke 2:7

Yesterday my facebook feed was abuzz with posts about where Jesus was born. In particular, Margaret Mowczko asked if Jesus was born in a barn, and Brice C. Jones (for me via Anthony Le Donne) summarized Stephen Carlson’s article on this topic. And these posts, of course, stand alongside older discussions on this topic by scholars such as John Byron, Ian Paul, and Mark Goodacre (NT Pod). And so, having followed all things semi-carefully from the beginning, this week’s post will look at what Michael Wolter has to say about this longstanding question.

As usual I will alternate between the English translation and the German text.

The Gospel According to Luke (p. 123): The meaning of κατάλυμα is unclear only if one merely asks about the reference (cf. the overview in R. E. Brown 1993, 400). If, by contrast, one asks about the functional meaning of this term in the present context in light of its usual contextual usage, then a clear answer emerges.

Das Lukasevangelium (p. 126): Die Bedeutung von κατάλυμα ist nur dann unklar, wenn mann lediglich nach der Referenz fragt (vgl. den Überblick bei Brown* 400). Fragt man hingegen von den literarischen Verwendungszusammenhängen her nach der funktionalen Bedeutung dieses Begriffs im vorliegenden Kontext, gibt es eine eindeutige Antwort:

The Gospel According to Luke (p. 123): Time and again κατάλυμα designates a place where one stays temporarily, i.e., when one is on a journey and not at home (cf. e.g., Exodus 4.24; 1 Samuel 1.18LXX; 2 Samuel 7.6 = 1 Chronicles 17.5; 1 Chronicles 28.18LXX; Jeremiah 14.8; 40.12LXX; Letter of Aristeas 181; Diodorus Siculus 36.13.2; Polybius 2.36.1; the denotation is different in every case, but the function is identical; see also LaVerdiere 1985, 552ff).

Das Lukasevangelium (p. 126): Mit κατάλυμα wird immer wieder ein Ort bezeichnet, an dem man sich vorübergehend aufhält, d.h. wenn man unterwegs und nicht zuhause ist (vgl. Ex 4,24; 1 Sam 1,18LXX; 2. Sam 7,6 = 1.Chr 17,5; 1Chr 28,13LXX; Jer 14,8; 40,12LXX; EpArist 181; Diodorus Siculus 36,13,2; Polybius 2,36,1; das Denotat ist in allen Fällen unterschiedlich, die Funktion jedoch identisch; s. auch LaVerdiere* 552ff).

For Wolter’s discussion of Luke’s placement of the Quirinius Census, see here.

For my other Luke-Acts posts, see here.

For a complete list of my blog posts, please see here.

For interviews with me on my work, see here.

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! I hope to be able to write at least one Monday blog post each month. Best, Wayne


One thought on “Michael Wolter on the Meaning of κατάλυμα in Luke 2:7

  1. Pingback: Biblical Studies Carnival – December 2016 |

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