Re: city gates

Re stuff mailed by Bruce Cory (I think, sorry if I've goofed),
about the "narrow gate" = "camel's eye" interpretation,
Sterling Bjorndahl writes...
>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. 

I looked at this once, a while back. As far as I could find out,
the "narrow gate" idea was cooked up in the middle ages by a
commentator seeking to explain the saying. (I think I found a
decent reference to this in The Intepreter's Bible, but my
memory is a bit fuzzy...) The "rope" as an alternative for "camel"
reading is supported (weakly) by textual evidence, but it's hard
to understand why a miscopying would go in the direction of a
harder-to-understand passage---i.e. one would expect that the
"camel" reading disappeared in favour of the "rope" one, rather
than vice-versa. It seems more likely that the "rope" reading is
a dictation error (since the two were pronounced identically in
the first century).

Finally, one might also note that there are Talmudic references to
something being as difficult as passing an elephant/camel through
the eye of a needle, providing fairly good evidence that some such
saying was a proverbial way of denoting impossibility. The New Jerome
Commentary has some discussion of this (at least, I think that was
where I saw it).

In summary, I could find few commentaries that went for either the
"rope" theory (though Calvin thought it a strong possibility), or
the "gate" one (though amongst my more evangelical friends, it is
a very popular explanation); indeed most of the commentaries I looked
in that mentioned the gate idea at all were pretty dismissive of it.

Sorry I don't have more detailed references, but I don't keep that
sort of stuff in my office.

Robert Low  email(JANET): RobLow@uk.ac.coventry.cck
	    smail : Mathematics Department, Coventry University,
		    Priory Street, Coventry CV1 5FB, England.
Keep an open mind---but not so open your brain falls out.