jkgayle Posted January 19, 2018 Share Posted January 19, 2018 All four canonical gospels give the account of the calming of the storm. Mark's we think was written first and is presumably known by the writers of the other three, including Matthew. And yet Matthew's here in the short passage seems to acknowledge Greek literary themes that show up broadly elsewhere. The possibility of the gospel participating in a wider world of the tropes of Greek narratives is something that would require a professor's research or a graduate student's investigation. In the short space of this forum on five-days-a-week of reading through the four canonical gospels in Greek in 2018, here are just two quick observations: 1. There's this rhetorical question inserted in Matthew's story telling: Τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, υἱὲ τοῦ θεοῦ; All three of the other gospels use this construct much earlier: τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, Ἰησοῦ Ναζαρηνέ; (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:24)Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι; (John 2:4)The construct of this phrase is important because it is so marked. In other words, it's uncommon and unusual and draws the readers' and listeners' attention to it for that very reason. In her book Son of Mary, Margaret Wesley has noted the following of it:"Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι; is a rare phrase in the LXX (appearing only seven times) and the New Testament (appearing five times outside John but always on the lips of a demon possessed man). It is even more rare in literature outside the Bible, and so presumably (but not certainly) also rare in spoken communication. The author would, therefore, not have been expecting too much of his readers if he hoped the Jews among them would connect the phrase with the passages they had heard in the Synagogue or read in their Scriptures and would draw that connection to discern what was meant by the phrase in this instance [in John's odd Greek gospel]."Wesley does find this phrase much used in Discourses by Epictetus. She gives an appendix of each use in the literature with her own conjecture as to what it might indicate.There's one use of the phrase by Epictetus that brings us back to Matthew's gospel, to our passage assigned today. When we compare the two we discover this Greek trope of human reaction to a storm at sea. I don't want to make too much of it (and Wesley doesn't say anything at all about) but find the trope a possible point of further research in Greek literature in which the Greek gospels, and particularly Matthew's gospel, are read.2. What's up with the human reactions to storms, and what is Matthew saying about his Jesus in light of this trope?Is Matthew doing something that Epictetus does? We look at Discourses chapter 19. Here's the link to the English translation by Elizabeth Carter:https://archive.org/details/moraldiscoursest12epicNotice this rhetorical instruction first, to us, the readers/the listeners/the students of Epictetus:"And here, indeed, it is of no great consequence if you retain the story without forming any principle of your own."And so we're brought to a story that sounds a little like Matthew 8:23-34. Halfway through, the author busts in on our reading of it and addresses us reading it, and then he continues. That bit goes like this (in the original Greek, followed by Carter's rendering):βεβασάνικας οὖν τι αὐτῶν καὶ δόγμα 15σεαυτοῦ πεποίησαι; δείκνυε πῶς εἴωθας ἐν πλοίῳ χειμάζεσθαι. μέμνησαι ταύτης τῆς διαιρέσεως, ὅταν ψοφήσῃ τὸ ἱστίον καὶ ἀνακραυγάσαντί σοι κακόσχολός πως παραστὰς εἴπῃ “λέγε μοι τοὺς θεούς σοι οἷα πρῴην ἔλεγες· μή τι κακία ἐστὶ τὸ ναυαγῆσαι, 16μή τι κακίας μετέχον;” οὐκ ἄρας ξύλον ἐνσείσεις αὐτῷ; “τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, ἄνθρωπε; ἀπολλύμεθα καὶ σὺ 17ἐλθὼν παίζεις.”Have you, then, examined any of these things, and formed a principle of your own? But show me how you are used to exercise yourself on a shipboard. Remember this division, when the mast rattles, and some idle fellow stands by you while you are screaming, and says, "For heaven's sake, talk as you did a little while ago. it vice to suffer shipwreck? Or doth it partake of vice"" Would you not take up a log, and throw it at his head? "What have we to do with you, sir? We are perishing, and you come and jest."In our passage in Matthew, of course, it is the disciples of Jesus who find him to be the idle fellow, asleep, while they are screaming and perhaps wishing to take up a log and to throw it at his head on that pillow in that stern. These are human beings, Matthew reminds us, calling them οἱ ἄνθρωποι.Then we're brought by the Greek writing Matthew to other screaming human beings, which he identifies for us as δύο δαιμονιζόμενοι.They seem equally annoyed by the calm of Matthew's Jesus. And they also scream and rail (as Epictetus would have us imagine ourselves so doing when finding ourselves in the story): Τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, υἱὲ τοῦ θεοῦ; What I'm getting at is there is marked language, stuff that makes us readers reflect beyond the story to ourselves and our own human stories. And I'm suggesting that Matthew is participating in and is inviting us his readers to participate in the kinds of deep learning, that critical thinking, that engage us humans in the larger and tougher questions in the storms of our lives. 2 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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