Michael Wolter on Jesus’s ἀγωνία in Luke 22.44

After two years of very hard and very rewarding labor, I am particularly pleased that both volumes of my co-translation (with Christoph Heilig) of Michael Wolter’s commentary on the Gospel of Luke are now complete and published as volumes 4 and 5 of the BMSEC series. I have, of course, produced multiple blog posts on these volumes already, but with this post I want to start a new series titled “Wolter Words” (the apparent alliteration is of course illusory), which will focus on one of my favorite aspects of his commentary, namely his tendency to challenge conventional assumptions about the meaning of many words and phrases in the Gospel.

In today’s post, we will look at Wolter’s interpretation of γενόμενος ἐν ἀγωνίᾳ in Luke 22:44.

Before turning to this issue, however, let me briefly comment on two others:

First, it is worth noting that Wolter (II: 483), based on a detailed analysis of the evidence, thinks the arguments for and against the originality of Luke 22:43-44 are quite evenly balanced, so that “we must remain for the time being with a non liquet.

Second, in response to a common misinterpretation of this text, Wolter (II: 479, 485) rightly stresses that when Luke says that Jesus’s “sweat became like drops of blood falling to the earth,” he does NOT intend to communicate that “Jesus sweats blood or that his sweat changed into blood” but rather that “Jesus sweats so profusely that his sweat drops to the ground,” i.e. “The tertium comparationis is … not the ‘consistency of his sweat’ (thus Klostermann 217) but its quantity. There is so much of it that—like when a person bleeds profusely—drops form that fall to the ground. Thus, the thrust of the statement wants to illustrate the intensity of the praying of Jesus and—at least indirectly—the greatness of his ἀγωνίᾳ.”

What then is meant by the phrase γενόμενος ἐν ἀγωνίᾳ? In what follows I will give Wolter’s answer in abbreviated form, alternating between the English translation (II: 483-484) and the German Version (723-724):

ET: That the appearances “strengthen” the recipient of the appearance is also known from many other texts … Elsewhere God also always “strengthens” the mediators sent by him so that they can fulfill their task … Therefore, the fact that Jesus nevertheless  falls into ἀγωνίᾳ, i.e., into inner agitation, need not stand in contradiction to the strengthening by the angel.

GV: Auch dass Erscheinungen den Erscheinungsempfänger “stärken”, ist aus vielen anderen Texten bekannt … Gott “stärkt” auch sonst immer die von ihm gesandten Mittler, damit sie ihren Auftrag erfüllen können … Dass Jesus trotzdem in ἀγωνίᾳ gerät, d.h. in innere Erregung, muss darum nicht in Widerspruch zur Stärkung durch den Engel stehen.

ET: Many interpreters have not been able to reconcile the two with each other. In the wake of Paton 1913 they therefore do not think that ἀγωνίᾳ designates the inner agitation of Jesus but equate it with ἀγών. In this view, the concern is with a “contest” or “struggle” (cf. e.g. Neyrey 1980, 159ff [“victorious struggle”]; 1985, 58ff. [“combat”]; Nolland III: 1084 [“the battle in prayer”]; Brown 1994, I: 189-90; Tuckett 2002, 138-39), which takes place in the “fervent” prayer of Jesus.

GV: Viele Interpreten haben beides nicht miteinander vereinbaren können. Sie sehen darum in Gefolge von. W.R. Paton, Ἀγωνία (Agony), CIR 27 (1913) 194 mit ἀγωνίᾳ nicht die innere Erregung Jesu bezeichnet, sondern setzen es mit ἀγών gleich: Es handele sich um einen “Kampf” (engl. “contest” or “struggle”; cf. z.B. Neyrey*, Absence, 159ff [“victorious struggle”]; Passion, 58ff [“combat”]; Nolland III, 1084 [“the battle in prayer”]; Brown* I, 189f; Tuckett* 138f.), der in dem “inständigeren” Beten Jesu stattfindet.

ET: In doing so, however, they make the error of arguing only with the lexical sense and not paying attention to the syntagmatic connection with γενόμενος; cf. e.g. Vita Aesopi 81 (“They fell into agitation [εἰς ἀγωνίαν γενάμενοι] … and regarded this great misfortune as an important sign”). Elsewhere, too ἀγωνίᾳ designates inner agitation in the face of coming unsalvation … [additional texts are adduced] … Furthermore the talk of Jesus as γενόμενος ἐν ἀγωνίᾳ must be placed in the nexus of all the texts in which there is talk of “coming” or “falling” ἐν ἀγωνίᾳ or εἰς ἀγωνίᾳ (e.g. Diodorus Siculus 14.35.2; 16.42.9; 20.51.1; Josephus, Antiquitates judaicae 6.107; 8.373; 11.326; 13.87 and especially P. Tebt II 423.13-14: “I have commissioned you …; you have not yet given me information about it, so that I have fallen at present into agitation [ὡς εἰς ἀγωνίαν με γενέσθαι ἐν τῷ παρόντι]”).

GV: Dabei machen sie jedoch den Fehler, nur mit der Wortbedeutung zu argumentieren und nicht die syntagmatische Verknüpfung mit γενόμενος zu beachten; vgl. z.B. Vita Aesopi 81 (“sie gerieten in Erregung [εἰς ἀγωνίαν γενάμενοι] … und hielten dieses große missgeschick für ein wichtiges Zeichen”). Auch anderswo bezeichnet die innere Erregung angesichts eines kommenden Unheils … [zusätzliche Texte sind angeführt] … Darüber hinaus ist die Rede von Jesus als γενόμενος ἐν ἀγωνίᾳ in den Zusammenhang all jener Texte zu stellen, in denen von ἐν ἀγωνίᾳ oder  εἰς ἀγωνίᾳ “geraten” oder “kommen” oder “fallen” die Rede ist (z. B. Diodorus Siculus 14,35,2; 16,42,9; 20,51,1; Josephus, Ant. 6,107; 8.373; 11,326; 13,87 und vor allem P. Tebt. II, 423,13f: “Ich habe dir aufgetragen …; du hast mir darüber noch nicht Auskunft gegeben, so dass ich zur Zeit in Erregung geraten bin [ὡς εἰς ἀγωνίαν με γενέσθαι ἐν τῷ παρόντι]”).

ET: It would therefore be a truncation if one wanted to reduce Jesus’s ‘strengthening’ to the empowerment to “fervent” prayer. The aforementioned linguistic contexts do not make the  ἐκτενέστερον προσεύχεσθαι of Jesus an expression of his ἀγωνία but rather let it become the reaction to it (cf. Philo, Legatio ad Gaium 366: “We had the souls no longer in us but they had gone forth ὑπ’ ἀγωνίας in order to implore the true God…”).

GV: Es wäre darum eine Verkürzung, wenn man Jesu ‘Stärkung’ auf die Befähigung zum “inständigeren” Beten reduzieren wollte. Die vorgenannten sprachlichen Zusammenhänge machen das ἐκτενέστερον προσεύχεσθαι Jesu nicht zum Ausdruck seiner ἀγωνία, sondern sie lassen es zur Reaktion auf sie werden (vgl. Philo, Leg. Gai. 366: “Wir hatten die Seelen nicht mehr in uns, sondern sie waren ὑπ’ ἀγωνίας herausgetreten, um den wahren Gott anzuflehen, …”).

In short, for Wolter attention to the syntagmatic connection of ἀγωνία with γενόμενος shows that the phrase means “als er in inneren Aufruhr geriet” (GV: 720) or “when he fell into inner turmoil” (ET: II: 479) rather than signaling that he is engaged in “victorious struggle,” “combat,” or “battle in prayer”.

Addendum: Luke 22:44 in the 2016 ESV Translation:

Not too long ago, there was a minor eruption in the blosphere when Crossway announced that “Beginning in the Summer of 2016, the text of the ESV Bible will remain unchanged in all future editions printed and published by Crossway—in much the same way that the King James Version (KJV) has remained unchanged ever since the final KJV text was established almost 250 years ago (in 1769)” (quoted from Scot McKnight; cf. Christianity Today).

While I did not follow this controversy in detail at the time, my work on Wolter’s commentary did make me sensitive to the change made in Luke 22:44:

2011: And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

2016: “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

While it is not exactly clear to me how the translators are interpreting this verse in the two cases, it seems to me that the 2016 translation might move a bit closer to Wolter’s understanding. However, if Wolter’s analysis is correct, it would probably be preferable to revise the 2016 ESV translation further and to translate γενόμενος ἐν ἀγωνίᾳ with “having fallen into inner turmoil” or “having come into inner turmoil” or “when he fell into inner turmoil” (Wolter II: 479) or “when he fell into inner agitation.” Moreover, since Crossway wisely ended up reversing its initial decision (see here), it is at least conceivable that they could reconsider their translation of this verse if the ESV translation is revised again in the future.

For a more complete list of changes that have been made to the ESV, see here and here.

For a small sample of the many blog posts on the controversy over the ESV’s initial statement about the finality of the 2016 ESV translation, see e.g. Anderson/Alsup, Kevin Antlitz, Denny BurkJoe CarterAmy GannettSusanna KrizoClaude Mariottini, Scot McKnightRachel MillerCarolyn MoorePorter/Yoon.

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


Torsten Jantsch on Jesus, the Savior: The Soteriology of the Lukan Doppelwerk

Since I have featured the work of Torsten Jantsch (Eng; Acad; Blog) on several occasions in the past (see here and here), I am especially pleased to include a post on his new book Jesus, der Retter: Die Soteriologie des lukanischen Doppelwerks (WUNT 381), Tübingen: Mohr, 2017, which is based on his LMU Munich habilitation thesis.

1. Translation and German Text (p. 351)

Even though this is not a “German Scholars Post” in the strict sense, I will include both a key excerpt from his book and a brief biographical note. As usual I will alternate between the English translation and the German text (p. 351):

Luke sketches a remarkably coherent picture of Jesus and his way from the prophet to the heavenly Christ, Lord, Ruler, and Savior.

Lukas zeichnet ein bemerkenswert kohärentes Bild von Jesus und seinem Weg vom Propheten zum himmlischen Christus, Herrn, Herrscher und Retter.

Jesus was active as Spirit-filled prophet and suffered the fate of the prophets of Israel, rejection and murder.

Jesus hat als geisterfüllter Prophet gewirkt und das Schicksal der Propheten Israels, Ablehnung und Tötung, erlitten.
* note: murder is not quite right for Tötung here, but it is perhaps better than “killing” or simply “death”

God, whose characteristic trait it is to exalt the lowly (Luke 1.51-53), restored the righteous and anointed servant of God Jesus, who had been lowered and killed, and exalted him to the Christ, Lord, Ruler, and Savior, who in and from heaven bestows his benefactions of the forgiveness of sins and following from this eternal life.
Gott, dessen Wesenszug es ist, die Niedrigen zu erhöhen (Lk 1,51–53), hat den erniedrigten und getöteten Gerechten und gesalbten Gottesknecht Jesus restituiert und zum Christus, Herrn, Herrscher und Retter erhöht, der im und aus dem Himmel seine Wohltaten der Sündenvergebung und daraus folgend ewiges Leben schenkt.

This will be visibly fulfilled at his parousia; in the time in between this Lord is accessible for believers in prayer.

Dies wird sich bei seiner Parusie sichtbar erfüllen; in der Zwischenzeit ist dieser Herr für die Gläubigen im Gebet zugänglich.

A fundamental statement of Lukan soteriology is: “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2.21/Joel 3.5).

Eine Grundaussage der lukanischen Soteriologie lautet: „Jeder, der den Namen des Herrn anruft, wird gerettet werden“ (Apg 2,21/Joël 3,5).

With this Luke sets forth the picture of a salvation that is consistently grounded in the person of Jesus.

Lukas entwirft damit das Bild eines konsequent in der Person Jesu begründeten Heils.

He does not, it is true, place the death of Jesus at the center of his soteriology – but the person of the exalted Savior.

Er stellt zwar nicht den Tod Jesu in das Zentrum seiner Soteriologie – aber die Person des erhöhten Retters.

Luke is the theology of salvation, which for him is to be obtained solely through Jesus as the Christ and Savior: He is the theologian of a consistently applied solus Christus.

Lukas ist der Theologe des Heils, das für ihn allein durch Jesus als den Christus und Retter zu gewinnen ist: Er ist der Theologe eines konsequent gedachten solus Christus.
* Not sure how to best capture the force of konsequent gedachten: consistently applied, consistently considered, consistently contemplated, consistently thought out, consistently applied, something else.

2. Biographical-Bibliographical Information

Torsten Jantsch, Dr. theol. from Humboldt University, Berlin, in 2009 with a dissertation on the concept of God in 1 Thess and 1/2 Cor, published as “Gott alles in allem” (1Kor 15,28): Studien zum Gottesverständnis des Paulus im 1. Thessalonicherbrief und in der korinthischen Korrespondenz (WMANT 129), Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener 2011. Habilitation in Munich (Ludwig Maximilian University) in 2015 on the concept of salvation in Luke-Acts, published as Jesus, der Retter: Die Soteriologie des lukanischen Doppelwerks (WUNT 381), Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017. Hellenistic philosophies, particularly Cynicism, and the reception of Socrates from the beginnings (Xenophon, the early Platonic dialogues) until the time of the Roman Empire, the ancient ruler cult and prophecy in the Greco-Roman world were, among others, issues of his research so far. Several future research projects concern the perspective of collective memory in early Christianity, e.g. concerning the question of strategies of identity construction in Luke-Acts. Currently, he holds the position of Visiting Professor for New Testament II at the University of Munich (LMU).

For a complete list of my blog posts, please 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

Hans W. Frei and the History of (German) Biblical Scholarship

During my recent trip to England and Norway, I had the pleasure of reading Hans W. Frei‘s 1974 book The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative. I had of course often heard of this book, but actually reading it was quite an experience. What learning!!! And what a lively and stimulating presentation of so many elements of the history of (German) New Testament scholarship! For anyone who just wants to dip into the book, it might be best to start with the introduction on pp. 1-16, the summary of some key lines of his argument on pp. 217-224, and his final words on pp. 323-324. Alternatively, one may simply wish to use the index to consult his learned treatments of key topics such as prophecy and fulfillment or miracles or the quest for the historical Jesus and especially his sympathetic and sparkling discussions of key figures such as Calvin, Herder, Strauss, and Schleiermacher. Indeed, after reading this book, I may well end up chasing down some of his other works, such as his chapter on David Strauss in Nineteenth Century Religious Thought in the West (see here) or some of his other essays (e.g. here; cf. here). But enough of my pointers for further reading!

Today’s post will consist of a short quotation from Frei regarding an interesting difference between developments in England and Germany in the eighteenth century.

Frei (Eclipse p. 113; cf. also 118-119): “When it came to the meaningfulness of the Bible there were few pure skeptics or scoffers in the German Enlightenment, no matter what these same men did in historical or other explicative exegesis. One of the great differences between the English Deists and the German scholars of the later eighteenth century was that the Germans almost to a man took the Bible, especially the New Testament, to be a rich embodiment of religious truth. It did not matter that they had grave reservations over large parts of it or even that some of them (Semler, for instance) thought that all of it was subject to explanation as a product of its time. The meaning of the biblical texts was accessible and clear, and it was easy enough in principle to know the parts of the Bible that were still meaningful or worthy of application from those that were not. And the results of the harmony between explication and application were customarily favorable to the Bible.”

What I found interesting in this quotation is the extent to which far-reaching criticism and a continued appreciation for the religious value of the Bible were held together in Germany in a different way than how things were being argued out in England in the same general time period (with Reimarus being somewhat of an outlier in Germany; see Frei 114-116, 119 ). What I find to be potentially illuminating about this observation is not that it settles the important question of whether or not (a given form of) biblical criticism, consistently worked out, is, in fact, compatible with the conviction that the Bible is a rich embodiment of religious truth, but merely that it signals a difference in the history of biblical interpretation in England and Germany that might be relevant for understanding the subsequent ways in which these two traditions have grappled and continue to grapple with issues involving the relationship between criticism and religious truth or criticism and faith.

For a complete list of my blog posts, please 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



Bockmuehl, Baur, and the Presence of Paul in the Pseudo-Clementines

Alongside my BMSEC translations, I am currently co-translating—with Christoph Heilig, Luke Ogden, and David Lincicum—F. C. Baur’s classic work “The Christ-Party in the Corinthian Community, the Opposition of Pauline and Petrine Christianity in the Most Ancient Church, the Apostle Peter in Rome.” This is proving to be a rewarding project, even if I must admit that I was soundly shellacked yesterday by a rather brutal sentence that extended to more than 20 lines! Today, however, I do not want to expose you to that horrible Leviathan but rather to juxtapose several passages from Baur with a passage from Markus Bockmuehl‘s book Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory, which I am reading with great profit alongside my translation of Baur. And with both of these works in mind, I am obviously also excited about Michael J. Kok’s New Series on Peter in Rome.

What I found interesting about today’s key quotations is the extent to which Baur already attempts to respond to the line of criticism that Bockmuehl advances. Therefore, I will first quote Bockmuehl’s criticism of Baur’s paradigm and then provide two quotes from Baur that provide at least a partial response to Bockmuehl’s argument.

Bockmuehl (Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory, pp. 56-57; cf. further The Remembered Peter, pp. 94-113): However, while an anti-Pauline bias is possible, there are a number of impediments to the Simon–Paul equation. First, the texts themselves nowhere make this connection. The one place where there is a clear reference to Paul (Ps.-Clem. Rec. 1.70-71) presents him as the pre-Christian Saul, who primarily opposes James, and Peter only secondarily. Indeed, in this scene, which to be sure does not portray Saul in a positive light (he is introduced as “a certain hostile man”), Simon Magus and Saul are explicitly differentiated; Saul himself condemns Simon as a sorcerer (Ps.-Clem. Rec. 1.70.2). This explicit differentiation between Saul and Simon has implications for attempts to find Paul behind the phrase “the man who is the enemy” in Ps.-Clem. EP 2.3, especially if one takes seriously the integrity of the epistle’s placement alongside the Pseudo-Clementine romances that feature Simon Magus as the clear antagonist. Second, Simon’s preaching, opposed by Peter, contains little that could be construed as Pauline. Most of it seems generally Gnostic rather than Pauline and lacks any Jewish apocalyptic framework, so important for Paul, or consistent references to Scripture. Simon rejects basic Pauline positions such as the resurrection from the dead (e.g. Ps.-Clem. Rec. 1.54), the goodness of the creator (e.g., Ps.-Clem. Rec. 2.37,53), and the divine sonship of Christ (Ps.-Clem. Rec. 2.49), and he even sets himself up as the Messiah (e.g. Ps.-Clem. Rec. 1.72; cf. 2.49; 3.47). These positions are difficult to square with any known picture of Paul, “orthodox” or “heretical.”

Baur (126-128): Specifically, it can be demonstrated that [127] in the teachings that he attributes to the magician Simon the author of the Clementines has especially the Marcionite system in mind and that he regarded this system as the outermost point of the path that the magician Simon had set out upon and that had then been traversed by the heretics that followed.

Namentlich läßt sich nachweisen, daß der Verfasser der Clementinen in den Lehren, die er dem Magier Simon beilegte, vorzüglich das Marcionitische System vor Augen hatte, und dieses als den äußersten Punkt des schon von dem Magier Simon eingeschlagenen und sodann von den folgenden häretikern betretenen Wegs betrachtete.

In view of the exact relationship that the Clementines have to the teaching of the Ebionites and the well-known hate for the apostle Paul with which this sect was filled, no other conclusion is possible except that the teaching of the Clementines is especially meant to oppose the principles that Paul had put forth about the relationship of the Mosaic law to Christianity.

Bei dem genauen Zusammenhange, in welchem die Clementinen mit der Lehre der Ebioniten stehen, und bei dem bekannten Hasse, mit welchem diese Secte gegen den Apostel Paulus erfüllt war, läßt sich nichts anders annehmen, als daß die Lehre der Clementinen insbesondere auch den Grundsätze entgegengesetzt werden sollte, welche Paulus über das Verhältnis des Mosaischen Gesetzes zum Christentum aufgestellt hatte.

Just as in the presentation of the Clementines, Marcion collapses with Simon the magician into a single person, so the magician, through the mediation of Marcion, could also be thought together with the apostle Paul. After all, the Gnosis of Marcion did indeed have a Pauline–anti-Jewish foundation, and for Marcion Paul was regarded especially as Ἀπόστολος.

Wie nun Marcion in der Darstellung der Clementinen mit dem Magier Simon in eine Person zusammenfällt, so konnte durch Marcions Vermittlung der Magier auch mit dem Apostel Paulus zusammengedacht werden, da ja die Gnosis Marcions durchaus eine paulinische-antijudaische Grundlage hatte und Paulus dem Marcion vorzugsweise als Ἀπόστολος galt.

Therefore, I do not shy away at all from claiming that the ἄνθρωπος ἐχθρός who appears with the διδαχη ἄνομος και φλυαρώδης διδασκαλία is nominally the magician Simon in the first instance, but is really Paul as well as Marcion who follows the Pauline direction to the [128] extreme.

Deßwegen nehme ich nun keinen Anstand zu behaupten, jener ἄνθρωπος ἐχθρός, der mit der κδιδαχη ἄνομος και φλυαρώδης διδασκαλία auftritt, ist zwar nominell zunächst der Magier Simon, reel aber ebenso gut Paulus als der die paulinische Richtung bis zum Extrem verfolgende Marcion.

It is the same with the πλάνος in Hom. 2:17. While this false teacher is the magician for the author of the Clementines according to the most natural sense of his words, here the magician nevertheless also represents especially the apostle Paul, whose destructive principles concerning the defunct validity of the Mosaic law or whose false gospel is to be counteracted by the true gospel proclaimed by Peter.

Ebenso verhält es sich mit dem πλάνος Hom II.17. Dieser Irrlehrer ist dem Verfasser der Clementinen allerdings nach dem nächsten Sinn seiner Worte der Magier, aber der Magier repräsentiert hier zugleich ganz besonders der Apostel Paulus, dessen verderblichen Grundsätzen über die erloschene Gültigkeit des mosaischen Gesetzes oder dessen falschem Evangelium durch das von Petrus verkündigte wahre Evangelium entgegengewirkt werden sollte.

Baur (129-130): An objection against accepting a polemical tendency in the Clementines against the apostle Paul cannot be derived from Hom. 3:59, the passage cited on p. 123. In this passage (which can be compared with 3:3) the teaching of the magician is referred to as paganism that has been revived in Gnosticism and also further refined. How, one could say, can the magician Simon, as an apostle of paganism, simultaneously represent the apostle to the pagans/Gentiles, Paul? However, as soon as we see the magician as the bearer of a whole series of phenomena, then the one antithesis does not exclude the other one.

Baur (129-130): Gegen die Annahme einer polemischen Tendenz der Clementinen gegen den Apostel Paulus kann man nicht wohl eine Einwendung aus der S. 123 angeführten Stelle Hom. III. 59. entnehmen, sofern nämlich in dieser Stelle (mit welcher III. 3. zu vergleichen ist) die Lehre des Magiers als das im Gnosticismus wieder auflebende und zugleich verfeinerte Heidentum bezeichnet wird. Wie sollte, könnte man sagen, der Magier Simon als ein Apostel des Heidentums zugleich den Heidenapostel Paulus in sich repräsentieren können? Allein sobald wir in dem Magier den Träger einen ganzen Reihe von Erscheinungen sehen, schließt die eine Antithese die andere nicht aus.

For other posts on F.C. Baur, 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

Wolfgang Grünstäudl, David C. Parker, and the Unity of Acts and the Catholic Epistles

One of the interesting aspects of spending much of one’s time in the work of translation is that one can unexpectedly become somewhat knowledgeable about areas of research about which one had previously been rather poorly informed. For me this has been the case with regard to the topic of “canon,” which I dealt with in great detail when translating the BMSEC volumes of Jens Schröter and Christoph Markschies.

Against this background, I very much enjoyed reading Wolfgang Grünstäudl’s recent article Was Lange währt…: Die Katholischen Briefe und die Formung des neutestamentlichen Kanons, which was published in Early Christianity 7 (2016): 71-94In addition to giving me a much better understanding of the larger topic of the Catholic Epistles and the Formation of the New Testament canon (see esp. the helpful summary on pages 93-94), I found his critical interaction with David C. Parker regarding the grouping of Acts and the Catholic Epistles to be of particular interest, not least because Schröter had discussed this topic at some length in chapter 13 of From Jesus to the New Testament. Accordingly, this post will consist of a series of excerpts from this section of Grünsträudl’s article, beginning with a quotation from David C. Parker’s book An Introduction to the New Testament Manuscripts and their Texts, which Grünstäudl quotes on page 87 of his study. Reversing my usual order, I will alternate between the German original and the English translation of Grünstäudl’s article.

* For more information about Wolfgang Grünstäudl, see his webpage, academia page, and English publications.

Parker 2008, 285-286 (Quoted by Grünstäudl on p. 87): The evidence overall suggests a lack of a fixed practice before the seventh century at the earliest. On the other hand, the order of the seven Catholic letters is very uniform, especially among Greek manuscripts. The stage at which the eight writings were first counted together is, so far as the manuscripts attest, the fourth century. The fact that both 01 and 03, the two great Bible codices, treat them as a unity (manifest by the fact that they they disagree as to the order of the larger blocks) is our earliest example.

Grünstäudl 2016,  88: Während die ersten beiden Punkte gerade aufgrund der von Parker präsentierten Daten evident sind, bedarf der dritte eine Präzisierung. Zuerst ist zu beachten, dass rein rechnerisch sechs Möglichkeiten bestehen, Apostelgeschichte, Corpus Paulinum und Katholische Briefe zwischen dem Tetraevangelium und der Johannesevangelium anzuordnen, wovon nicht weniger als vier Apostelgesichte und Katholische Briefe in unmittelbarer Nachbarschaft sehen. Zwei dieser vier Varianten finden sich in den zwei erhaltenen Unzialhandschriften des 4. Jahrhunderts wieder, was abgesehen vom geringen Umfang des Befundes noch nicht als eine signifikant auffällige Verteilung anzusprechen ist.

Translation (wmc): While the first two points are evident precisely on the basis of the data presented by Parker, the third is in need of clarification. First, one must pay attention to the fact that from a purely statistical perspective there are six possibilities of arranging Acts, Corpus Paulinum, and Catholic Epistles between the tetra-gospel and Revelation, of which not less than four place Acts and Catholic Epistles directly next to each other. Two of these four variants are found in the two uncial manuscripts of the fourth century, which, apart from the small extent of the findings, cannot yet be spoken of as a significantly conspicuous distribution.

Grünstäudl 2016,  87: Im Zusammenhang damit wird man sich auch nicht der Agumentation Parkers anschließen können, die bei unterschiedlicher Anordnung der neutestamentlichen Corpora unterschiedlicher Anordnung der neutestamentlichen Corpora übereinstimmende Abfolge Apostelgeschichte – Katholische Briefe in Sinaiticus und Vaticanus belege “that both 01 and 03 […] treat them as a unity”, da hier zwei methologisch zu trennende Ebenen, die Rekonstruktion redaktioneller Strategien hinter jeweils einem Manuskript und der Vergleich der Manuskripte miteinander, vermengt sind.

Translation (wmc): In connection with this one probably also cannot adopt Parker’s argumentation that the coinciding sequence Acts – Catholic Epistles in Sinaiticus and Vaticanus alongside a different arrangement of the New Testament corpora shows/attests “that both 01 and 03 […] treat them as a unity,” since two levels that must be separated, the reconstruction of redactional strategies behind a manuscript in each case and the comparison of the manuscripts with each other, are mixed together here. [* it is very difficult to translate “bei” in this sentence (as is often the case): “alongside” is not good but it is the best solution I could come up with.]

Grünstäudl 2016, 89: Fragt man auf der ersten dieser beiden Ebenen weiter, so sticht vor allem im Sinaiticus ein interesantes Detail des Layouts ins Auge. Setzen gründsätzlich alle in diesem Codex enthaltenen Texte dergestalt mit einer neuen Spalte ein, dass am Ende des vorangehenden Textes auch nach der zum Teil großzügig gesetzten subscriptio ein mehr oder weniger großer Spaltenabschnitt freibleibt, so fällt an vier Stellen der neutestamentlichen Schriften der nicht beschriebene Raum zwischen dem abgeschlossenen und dem nachfolgenden Text größer als nur der Teil einer Spalte aus. …

Translation (wmc): If one inquires further on the first of these two levels, espeically in Sinaiticus an interesting detail of the layout catches one’s eye. While basically all the texts in this codex begin with a new column in such a way that at the end of the preceding text, also after the sometimes generously placed subscriptio, a more or less large column section remains empty, in four places of the New Testament it is conspicuous that the space that is not written on between the text that is concluded and the following text is larger than only a portion of a column. …

Grünstäudl 2016, 90: … In neutestamentlichen Bereich heben sie das Johannesevangelium besonders hervor, während der Block von Römer- bis Barnabasbrief (Corpus Paulinum, Apg, Katholische Briefe, Offb, Barn) auf den ersten Blick als “ein weitgehend amorphes Gemenge” erscheint.

Translation (wmc): … In the New Testament sphere they especially set off the Gospel of John, while the block from Romans to the Barnabas (Corpus Paulinum, Acts, Catholic Epistles, Revelation, Barnabas), at first glance appears to be “a largely amorphous mixture.”

Grünstäudl 2016, 90: Nichtdestotrotz ist eine Schrift innerhalb dieses Blockes noch einmal durch freigelassenen Raum agbehoben: die Apostelgeschichte. Nach vorne ist dies dadurch realisiert, dass nach dem Ende des Philipperbriefes auf L 85/B 6r (zweite Spalte) sowohl der Reste der Seite als auch L 85/B 6v freigelassen wurde, die Apostelgeschichte somit erst nach zwei freien Spalten und einer freien Seite auf L 85/B 7r (erste Spalte) einsetzt. … Am Ende der Apostelgeschichte (L 88/B 1r [dritte Spalte]) wiederum ist eine ganze Spalte freigelassen, sodass der Jakobusbrief auf L 88/B 1v (erste Spalte) beginnt und die Lücke zwischen Apostelgeschichte und Jakobusbrief somit den Umfang einer ganzen Spalte – wie zwischen Barnabasbrief und Hirt des Hermas – umfasst.

Translation (wmc): Nevertheless, one writing within this block is set off again by space that is left empty: Acts. In the front this is realized by the fact that after the end of Philippians on L 85/b 6r (second column) both the rest of the page and L 85/B 6v was left empty; thus, Acts only begins after two empty columns and an empty page on L 85/B 7r. … At the end of Acts (L 88/B 1r [third column]) a whole column is again left empty, so that James begins on L 88/B 1v (first column) and the gap between Acts and James thus encompasses the scope of a whole column – as between Barnabas and Shepherd of Hermas.

Grünstäudl 2016, 90-91: Ist diese durch Leerräume markierte Stellung der Apostelgeschichte im Sinaiticus als solche bereits bemerkenswert, so sind dadurch überdies die Katholische Briefe von ihr optisch in einer Art und Weise abgehoben, die dem Eindruck einer festgefügten Einheit doch entgegensteht.

Translation (wmc): If this position of Acts in Sinaiticus marked by empty spaces is already noteworthy as such, then, beyond this, the Catholic Epistles are thereby set off from it optically in a way that militates against the impression of a firmly entrenched unity.

Grünstäudl 2016, 91: Kann der Blick auf die Textverteilung im Sinaiticus die These, beide großen Unzialhandschriften des 4. Jahrhunderts behandelten Apostelgeschichte und Katholische Briefe als eine Einheit, gerade nicht stützen, so enthält der wahrscheinlich bereits dem 5. Jahrhundert zuzurechnenden Codex Alexandrinus ein sehr klares Indiz für eine solche Zusammenordnung. Nach dem Judas brief (f. 84v) findet sich als Kolophon nicht nur das zu erwartende ΙΟΥΔΑ ΕΠΙΣΤΟΛΗ, sondern überdies die Ergänzung ΠΡΑΞΕΙΣ ΤΩΝ ΑΓΙΩΝ ΑΠΟΣΤΟΛΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΚΑΘΟΛΙΚΑΙ, was nun tatsächlich ein deutlicher Hinweis darauf ist, dass die Redaktion dieses Codex Apostelgeschichte und Katholische Briefe als eine Einheit verstanden wissen wollte.

Translation (wmc): If the examination of the text-division in Sinaiticus precisely does not support the thesis that the two great uncial manuscripts of the fourth century treated Acts and Catholic Epistles as a unity, then Codex Alexandrinus, which should probably be assigned already to the fifth century, contains a very clear indication of such a grouping together. After the Letter of Jude (f. 84v) there appears as colophon not only the expected ΙΟΥΔΑ ΕΠΙΣΤΟΛΗ but, beyond this, the addition ΠΡΑΞΕΙΣ ΤΩΝ ΑΓΙΩΝ ΑΠΟΣΤΟΛΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΚΑΘΟΛΙΚΑΙ, which is indeed a clear indication that the redaction of this codex wanted Acts and Catholic Epistles to be understood as a unity.

In view of the subject matter of this post, let me conclude by congratulating Darian Locket on the recent publication of his new book Letters from the Pillar Apostles: The Formation of the Catholic Epistles as a Canonical Collection!

For my other Luke-Acts posts, see here.

For my other “canon” 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

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


Susanne Luther and Stephen Barton on Speech-Ethics, Anger, and Community in Ephesians 4:25-32

Since it seems relevant against the backdrop of the anger and heated speech surrounding this year’s presidential election within the American community, this post will look at the topics of speech-ethics, anger, and community in the New Testament. Drawing on some of my most recent readings, it will consist of two quotations on Ephesians 4:22-32 by Susanne Luther (Eng) and Stephen Barton. While direct lines can only rarely be drawn from ecclesial reflection to political reflection, perhaps some insights can nevertheless be gained.

Quotation 1: Susanne Luther on Speech-Ethics in Eph 4

The first quotation comes from Luther’s book Sprachethik im Neuen Testament. In addition to the fact that Luther tackles a fascinating and neglected topic, I have been especially impressed by the rigor and clarity of her methodological approach and analysis (see further here). In this post, I will simply provide a quotation in English and German from her comments on Ephesians 4:25, 29, 31:

English: Eph 4.25 mediates a positive speech-ethical demand. Adequate speech is characterized as a speaking of the truth (λαλεῖτε ἀλήθειαν) and – in an application of the image of body and members to the addressee community – grounded with the solidarity [or: connectedness] of the speakers in the community.

* Note that it is often preferable to translate “qualifizieren” with “characterize” rather than with “qualify”.

German (p. 222): Eph 4,25 vermittelt eine positive sprachethische Forderung: Das adäquate Sprechen wird als ein Sprechen der Wahrheit (λαλεῖτε ἀλήθειαν) qualifiziert und – in Applikation des Bildes vom Leib und den Gliedern auf die Addressatengemeinde – mit der Verbundenheit der Sprechenden in der Gemeinschaft begründet.

English: Ephesians 4.29 shows an orientation of the speech-ethical instruction to the inner-community situation and thematizes the problems of the λόγος σαρπός: every word should serve the building up of the community, as it is appropriate to the status of the holy ones, every appropriate word is characterized as ἀγαθός and assigned to the οἰκοδομην τῆς χρείας.

German: Eph 4,29 zeigt eine Ausrichtung der sprachethischen Weisung auf die innergemeindliche Situation und thematisiert die Problematik des λόγος σαρπός: Jedes Wort soll dem Aufbau der Gemeinde diene, wie es dem Status der Heiligen angemessen ist, jedes angemessene Wort wird als ἀγαθός qualifiziert und der οἰκοδομην τῆς χρείας zugeschrieben.

English: The vice catalogue in v. 31 frames the speech-ethical references – κραυγη και Βλασφημια- with dispositional entities that connect the speech-ethics closely with the human disposition: πᾶσα πικρία και θυμος και ὀργή [Ε] συν πάσῃ κακίᾳ.

German: Der Lasterkatalog in V. 31 rahmt die sprachethischen Bezüge – κραυγη και Βλασφημια – durch dispositional Verweisgrößen, die die Sprachethik eng mit der menschlichen Disposition in Verbindung bringen: πᾶσα πικρία και θυμος και ὀργή [Ε] συν πάσῃ κακίᾳ.

Quotation 2: Stephen Barton on Anger in Eph 4

My second quotation comes from Stephen Barton’s article “‘Be Angry But Do Not Sin’ (Ephesians 4:26a): Sin and the Emotions in the New Testament with Special Reference to Anger.”  Of my teachers, it was above all Stephen Barton who taught me to appreciate the value of multidisciplinary approaches to reading the Bible, and I enjoyed having my horizons broadened once again by him in this essay. Here is his key quotation:

My central thesis is that the teaching here about anger has to be situated in relation to the moral-theological vision of Ephesians as a whole, central to which is the revelation of the mystery (μυστήριον) of creation-renewing salvation in Christ bringing personal transformation in the context of the eschatological coming together as one of Jews and Gentiles in the Church. As elaborations of this transformation, instruction and exhortation are given on the virtues and vices. The virtues are qualities of character and personal practice which build up and sustain the unity of the Church in love and peace. The vices are qualities of character and personal practice that destroy that unity. Among the vices, particular attention is given to speech and related behaviors, including anger. It is apparent, however, that anger is not a sin in itself. Anger becomes sinful, I suggest, if it undermines the eschatological identity and oneness of the Church. The accent, then, is on sin as a contradiction of Christian identity under God and a threat to Christian sociality, with the appropriate control and discipline – indeed, ‘discipling’ – of the passions, including anger, as a necessary corollary.

For my other posts on affects/emotions in the New Testament, 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