Re: The 600 soldiers in John's gospel?

Carl W. Conrad (
Fri, 1 Nov 1996 10:13:24 -0500 (EST)

At 8:32 AM -0600 11/1/96, Timothy T. Dickens wrote:
>On Thu, 31 Oct 1996, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>> LSJ s.v. SPEIRA first says, under the heading, "military sense," that this
>> is equivalent to the Latin MANIPULUS, but that it later is equivalent to
>> the Latin COHORS. The COHORS was one tenth of a legion, and as a legion at
>> full strength was 6,000 men, the cohort at full strength would be 600.
>> However, legions were often enough NOT at full strength, and that might be
>> true of the cohort also.
>Carl, you seem to be saying that it MIGHT not have been the case that 600
>soilders were present when Jesus was arrested. Do you have any REASON to
>think that in this passage? Was there something particular about the
>'cohort' during this time that any author tells us about to think that 600
>soilders were not present in John 18?
> It would seem, however, that whatever the exact
>> number, John's account assumes a sizable body of troops coming along with
>> the Jewish authorities and Judas.
>TTD: If I go by what your saying, 'sizable body' could mean almost
>anything from 100, 300, or 600; in other words, we can't be sure. Is this
>what you are saying?

Yes, that is exactly what I meant; the question is simply whether the legion is up to full strength, if it is, then each Cohort will have 600; my sense is that a legion somewhat short of full strength might have 4200 rather than 6000 troops, in which case a cohort would have 420 men. The number should be flexible but probably toward the higher end. In this situation I don't think we should be looking for more detail than we're offered; that's why I say that we have a "sizable" group of soldiers accompanying the officials--quite a few more than "a handful" but we can't say EXACTLY how many. O.K.?