ambiguity of doves
Subject: ambiguity of doves
From: "Gregory Jordan (ENG)" <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 27 Jul 1994 18:32:01 -0400 (EDT)
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Back to the real meat: the dove (which I prefer to crosses any day!).
In Matthew hOsei peristeran follows katabainon. As I understand it, hOs
and hOsei in classical Greek almost never meant an identity, which "as"
in English sometimes does. "As" can mean, "in the person of" and so many
naive readers of the NT think the phenomenon was an actual dove alighting
on Jesus. One exception is with a participle, in which it can imply "by
reason of," but this makes no sense here. Does anyone know if Koine,
especially NT, uses hOs or hOsei to imply identity?
If not, we're only left to wonder what it's modifying. By being
proximate to katabainon, in Matthew and in John, one would suppose the
descent was dovelike. Doves, in my experience, are noisy and clumsy in
takeoffs and landings! In Mark, though, and in Luke, it is proximate to
pneuma, which would imply the spirit was dovelike. Does this mean a
gentle spirit? I'm sure Luke wondered how anyone could SEE a spirit, and
so added somatikOs, but it is the spirit, not the dove, which is seen
(which receives all the modification). Does anyone know if the syntax is
And it is interesting that in John, it is John the Baptist who sees
the spirit descend, not Jesus, and tells it to John and Andrew (who seem
to have missed Jesus's baptism). I don't know of any place in the Old
Testament in which the Holy Spirit is figured as a dove - in fact, doves
are often ridiculed there as stupid and worthless.
And what does John mean when he said the spirit "stayed" on Jesus
(emeinen). What we're lacking here is a simple ability to mimetically
realize this passage - what did its author have in mind, visually, or
spiritually? I for one like to explore ambiguities, but I also like the
attempt to disambiguate them, while I realize there is often more than