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1st century Μετανοεῖτε


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I love how Matthew's Jesus (in 4:17) repeats verbatim what Matthew's John the Baptist (before being in prison, in Mt 3:2) commands.

Μετανοεῖτε in the vocative is sort of like Πιστεύετε in the vocative. (And Mark's Jesus says both.) It's also sort of like Ἔρωτε and Ἀγαπήσατε. How does anybody command these things and get away with it? Aren't they states of mind and deep convictions and love and profound affections?

I once heard a preacher preaching on meta-noia saying it was like what happens in a boy at the onset of puberty and the surge of testosterone. Before puberty to boys, he said, girls seem sort of "yucky"; and then in adolescence there's this obsession with them, a new attraction to them. So to command a prepubescent boy to view young ladies the way he will in puberty and beyond is a little funny. And yet the profound change does arrive, doesn't it?

The deep charge upon humans is what's fascinating. The possibility of it and the implication that it will change everything seems to run through this gospel text.

Likewise, also in the 1st century there's a Greek novel, a love story. And so it might be interesting to quote from Callirhoe: Love Story in Syracuse, the translation into English by G. P. Goold (of the original by novelist Χαρίτων Ἀφροδισεύς, aka Chariton of Aphrodisias). I'll reinsert the Greek at salient points of the excerpt:

     Day dawned and every passerby stopped out of ordinary curiosity. Now that his father was feeling better, Chaereas hurried back to his wife [Callirhoe]. Seeing the crowd before the door, he was at first astonished, but when he learned the cause, he rushed in as though possessed. Finding the chamber still shut, he banged on the door vigorously. When the maid opened it and he burst in upon Callirhoe, his anger was changed to sorrow and he tore his clothes and shed tears. When she asked him what had happened, he was speechless, being able neither to disbelieve what he had seen, nor yet to believe what he was unwilling to accept [οὔτε ἀπιστεῖν οἷς εἶδεν οὔτε πιστεύειν οἷς οὐκ ἤθελε δυνάμενος]. As he stood confused and trembling, his wife, quite unsuspicious of what had happened, begged him to tell her the reason for his anger. With bloodshot eyes and thick voice he said, “It is the fact that you have forgotten me that hurts so much,” and he reproached her for the reveling. But she, true daughter of a general and full of pride, was angered by the unjust accusation and said. “No one has come reveling to my father’s house. Perhaps your vestibule is used to revels, and your marriage has hurt your boyfriends.” Saying this she turned away and, with her head covered, let her tears pour forth. Yet reconciliation between lovers is easy [εὔκολοι δὲ τοῖς ἐρῶσιν αἱ διαλλαγαὶ] and they gladly accept any apology from each other. Thus Chaereas, changing his tone [μεταβαλλόμενος], began to talk sweetly to her, and his wife quickly welcomed his change of attitude [μετάνοιαν]. This increased the ardor of their love all the more, and the parents of both counted themselves blessed when they saw the mutual devotion of their children. [ταῦτα μᾶλλον ἐξέκαυσε τὸν ἔρωτα, καὶ οἱ ἀμφοτέρων αὐτῶν γονεῖς μακαρίους αὑτοὺς ὑπελάμβανον τὴν τῶν τέκνων ὁρῶντες ὁμόνοιαν.]

Notice the interconnections between belief and changed attitudes and love, and how this changes not only the two but also their entire family.

Matthew's Jesus when speaking Greek and commanding a change of mind and heart and attitude because the royal realm of God is very immediate suggests this, doesn't it?


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