>I posted a question on MAKARIOS a couple of days ago and I have had some
>>individual responses from another list but not this one, which is very
>I'd love to hear Carl's, Carlton's, Edgar's and Stephen Carlson's view on
>it. >You guys outthere???
Well, here's my response, Andrew. Let me start with some bibliography. Have
you read the articles on this word in Kittel-Friedrich and Balz-Schneider?
They are a good place to begin.
The best discussion of MAKARIOS I know is in Klaus Koch, THE GROWTH OF THE
BIBLICAL TRADITION: THE FORM CRITICAL METHOD (New York: Charles Scribner's
Sons, 1969) 39-44, well worth careful study.
The NT term has its roots in the OT Hebrew term ESHER. See Ps 1:1 for an
example. It is used in two contexts. (1) The first is at home in the
tradition of wisdom literature. There the term describes what the person
who lives according to the TORAH, in fidelity to God will experience at the
hand of God. You can find many examples of this if you consult Hatch and
Redpath or use a good concordance program on the LXX or MT.
(2) But the term later is equally at home in eschatological contexts. See
Sirach 48:1-11, a discussion of Elijah, which ends in 48:11 with a
beatitude about the future; look also at Pss Sol 17:44, a "messianic"
It is this usage which underlies MAKARIOS in Matt 5//Lk 6, as the two-fold
use of "kingdom of God" suggests. To be MAKARIOS is to participate in the
goods conferred by sharing in the comings of the BASILEIA TWN OURANWN.
Hence Jesus' seemingly harsh beatitude, "Blessed is the one who is not
offended in me," spoken in response to John the Baptizer's question from
jail (Matt 11:2-6) or his response to the voice from the crowd "Blessed is
the womb that gave birth to you and the breasts you suckled." Jesus'
response, "No! Rather Blessed are the one's who hear the LOGOS OF GOD and
observe it." Here LOGOS = the proclamation of Matt 4:17.
In short, you have t o read MAKARIOS in the light of Matthean and Lukan
interpretations of Jesus' message. For that reason, whether you translate
it blessed, lucky, fortunate, or happy, you have to read it with the sense
of benefitting from God's action to bring in the kingdom. And you then
recognize that all of the macarisms after the first describe things for
which Israel hoped, from seeing God to inheriting the land.
Definitions as single words are just that, single words. But words have
meaning in contexts, not in dictionary lists. Hence the longer answer to
you question here.
Edgar Krentz, New Testament
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Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
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