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hungry humans, and good shepherd boys


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Matthew's story here continues the theme of humans being in need, of human beings hungering and taking advantage of resources for satisfying the hunger.

Neither the writer, nor Jesus as a reader, do much to dispel the (mis)characterization of Jesus as a ravenous eater. 


Matthew's Jesus reminds his critics of somebody else they've read about. These are literate folk. They're the experts. They're the most educated religious leaders.


Matthew's Jesus had just invited the crowds to come partner with him, to find their Promised Land in him, to Rest in him, like two yoked-together-beasts-of-burden. Soul rest.


Now, here, the Talmidim of this would be Rabbi are hungry. They're letting their hunger violate the Rest day of Holy God whose Name is not spoken. This Rabbi is letting them. Worse, he's justifying this by readings. He's literate in the Torah and in the Nevi'im. He's schooling his opponents.


Another human was as hungry, he gets them to recall. And haven't you even read Torah? Where other humans, those serving as the cohanim, are hungry? And just let their hunger rule the day? And don't they enable others who are as hungry, who are as human (if less authorized on that Day)?

He calls himself "κύριος" or Master, this Jesus does. And Master of - shall we say it in Holy Hebrew? - "τοῦ σαββάτου"! But he's still a human. The son of the human. ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου


The next story he encounters another human, this ἄνθρωπος χεῖρα ἔχων ξηράν

His opponents on that Holy Day of Sacred Rest have gone to church with him. They see him there with that other human. Matthew's Greek doesn't let anybody neglect the humanity here. Jesus with Hellene in his human mouth and healing in his human hands doesn't either:

Τίς ἔσται ἐξ ὑμῶν ἄνθρωπος ὃς ἕξει πρόβατον ἕν,
καὶ ἐὰν ἐμπέσῃ τοῦτο τοῖς σάββασιν εἰς βόθυνον,
οὐχὶ κρατήσει αὐτὸ καὶ ἐγερεῖ;

12 πόσῳ οὖν διαφέρει ἄνθρωπος προβάτου.
ὥστε ἔξεστιν τοῖς σάββασιν καλῶς ποιεῖν.
13 τότε λέγει τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ·

Who's literate here? This seems to be a question Matthew has for his readers. It's certainly a question Jesus asks the ones accusing him of gluttony and of alcoholism. Matthew lets the accusations run as nearly fair. 

Greek readers of the epics might see Jesus, eating and drinking, as having the same reputation as the crude beggar Arnaeus (aka Irus) and the crude monster-shepherd Polyphemus (aka the Cyclops). Or perhaps the god-like human hero Odysseus.

Greek readers of the Hebrew Scriptures rendered into Hellene in the goyim nation of Egypt might see Jesus, eating and drinking, as having the same reputation as the hunger-driven priests of 
Λευιτικόν and the priests of Βασιλειῶν Αʹ. And there's the human hero, the shepherd there hungry, eating, named David.

Οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε; Haven't you read? This is the rhetorical question, in human Hellene, provoking the literate hearers.

Those familiar with their Greek epics, whether ExOdys or Odys-sey or both, get the wordplay on humanity, on the drives of human hunger, on the motivations of human thirst for drink, for something strong and effective. To Matthew it doesn't matter so much that human readers might mistake Jesus as merely a drunk, as a glutton. To this Greek writer it doesn't matter so much that the literate miss all the human connections that would make this Jesus a villain rather than a hero. What matters most to Matthew in this short context of what we number as chapters 11 and 12 of his gospel is that the humanity of this son, of that human, is emphasized. The human part of this son comes through his mama, since his daddy is somebody else. It's his humanness that matters and maybe matters most. (And digressing a bit I'm thinking of this Jewish notion of Jewishness carried through the dna of the mother more than of the baby daddy.)

Matthew's readers who also read the LXX may have read the psalms of the shepherd boy David. My shepherd, he sings, is the Lord, the Master. And in human Hellene there's both eating and drinking, as there is in that Odyssey. Haven't you read? Who are the hungry humans, and the good shepherds?


Edited by jkgayle
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The human part of this son comes through his mama, since his daddy is somebody else. 


This makes today's reading all the more remarkable, as Jesus casts the net even wider (a larger swath of humanity) when he reimagines who his mother is, in 13:50.

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