city gates

> 	Concerning the question that Jeffery Boris Holton poses about the
> passage in Matthew 19:24, I would like to shed some information that I have
> heard.  Most major cities of the time period were often surrounded by a high
> wall and contained openings through which traffic could move.  During the
> night, these passages would be closed up, except for one passage that was
> very narrow and low.  This passage remained open for late arriving travelers to
> enter.  The passage was narrow so that an invading army would have to enter
> single file, being easy to kill as they entered.  Late arriving travelers with
> significant "wealth" and riding on camels would often find it difficult, if not
> impossible, to enter the city.  They would either leave their baggage outside
> the city, or unpack it and carry it in.  (The gate being to low for the camel
> and the baggage to pass through at the same time.)  These gates were often
> called "eyes of the needle" due to their small size.  This could be what
> the Matthean author meant when this passage was used.  Incidently,
> this also fits in with the surrounding narrative.  This passage deals with
> the accumulation of wealth.  A person wishing to pass into eternal life
> must divest his or herself of the "excess baggage" or wealth in order
> to enter into the narrow gate.  
> Bruce William Cory

I think it might be helpful to readers wanting to follow up on this topic
if we could have some sources or references for this kind of information. 
To what extent is this verified by archeology?  Do we have ancient authors
who tell us about this practice?  In what part of the ancient near east or
ancient mediterranean did they do this?  You get the picture.  Bruce, can
you point us to some concrete evidence for this?

To put it more boldly, I think that if you look into reliable commentaries,
you will find that this theory cannot really be supported by solid
evidence.  It lives on only because of the dis-ease that many comfortable
scholars feel when confronted by the radical statement.  That way you only
need to get rid of your excess baggage before "entering the gate," rather
than being turned into camelburger first.

By the way, for those of you who know about the Jesus Seminar:  Mark 10:25
ended up "pink" and Mark 10:27 ended up "black." This is not surprising; it
agrees with a widely held critical scholarly opinion that the camel ->
needle saying may well go back to Jesus, but the appendix "everything is
possible for God" is a later addition stemming from that dis-ease I
mentioned above.

Sterling G. Bjorndahl, bjorndahl@Augustana.AB.CA or bjorndahl@camrose.uucp
Augustana University College, Camrose, Alberta, Canada      (403) 679-1516