b-greek-digest V1 #541

b-greek-digest           Thursday, 12 January 1995     Volume 01 : Number 541

In this issue:

        Re: Which law(s)?
        Fwd: Picky 
        Re: Which law(s)?
        Re: Which law(s)? 


From: David Last <D.Last@mmu.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 1995 14:03:50 GMT
Subject: Re: Which law(s)?

Commenting on a small part of Carl Conrad's Email (5th Jan):

> I think that the passage must be understood in the first place in its 
> context within the Sermon on the Mount and the gospel of Matthew, which 
> is to say, in the context of what may rather inadequately be termed, for 
> want of something better, Jewish Christianity or Christian Pharisaism. As 
> I read the context of this passage, it seems to me that as a whole it 
> urges the proposition that fulfilling the law is a matter of carrying out 
> God's will fully, and the antitheses pretty clearly indicate that the 
> legal prescriptions of the Torah are an inadequate expression of the 
> whole of God's will. I don't think that this context involves abrogation 
> of the Torah at all, but rather it urges an endeavor to go beyond its 
> letter to understanding its spirit and intention: to "hunger and thirst 
> after righteousness" and to "be perfect as your heavenly Father is 
> perfect."

Within the structure of Matthew, I wonder whether it would be better to
say the context is that of the dawning Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus is
proclaiming the arrival of the kingdom.  And at the start of ch 5 he
spells out some of its implications, by firstly identifying particular
groups of people: these are the 'blessed' people, for whom the 
incoming kingdom will mean great benefit.

Now these people have been living under the Law and Prophets, yet they
have found themselves left "poor in spirit" etc.  Well the kingdom of
heaven is for such people and will meet their needs.  However, just
because the kingdom does provide in a way the Law and Prophets never
did, that does not mean the end of the Law and the Prophets.  Rather,
within the kingdom a whole new understanding of the Law and Prophets is
possible and as such a far higher standard of righteousness is both
expected and achievable -  a righteousness which goes beyond even
Pharasaic standards.

All of that leaves very many questions, so I hope this thread will 
continue since like Carl Conrad:
> ... I'd like to hear (read) others' views. 

David Last


From: DDDJ@aol.com
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 1995 09:56:46 -0500
Subject: Fwd: Picky 

I thought this might be of interest here on B greek. 
For those interested I got Patricia's Greek from Aol to help review my voc
and it works great.
- ---------------------
Forwarded message:
From: HFORTUIN@stellbos.csir.co.za (Fortuin Henri (EMATEK) X353)
Sender: cgnet@cs.anu.edu.au
Reply-to: cgnet@cs.anu.edu.au
To: dddj@aol.com
Date: 95-01-11 05:25:55 EST

>From _The Language Instinct_ by Steven Pinker

'Computer parsers are too meticulous for their own good.
They find ambiguities that are quite legitimate, as far as
English grammar is concerned, but that would never occur to
a sane person.  One of the first computer parsers, developed
at Harvard in the 1960s, provides a famous example.  The
sentence _Time flies like an arrow_ is surely unambiguous if
there ever was an unambiguous sentence (ignoring the
difference between literal and metaphorical meanings, which
have nothing to do with syntax).  But to the surprise of the
programmers, the sharp-eyed computer found it to have five
different trees!

1.   Time proceeds as quickly as an arrow proceeds. (the
       intended reading)
2.   Measure the speed of flies in the same way that you
       measure the speed of an arrow.
3.   Measure the speed of flies in the same way that an
       arrow measures the speed of flies.
4.   Measure the speed of flies that resemble an arrow.
5.   Flies of a particular kind, time-flies, are fond of an

Among computer scientists the discovery has been summed up
in the aphorism "Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like
a banana."'


Do some of you feel that some of the comments resemble points 2-5 above ?

Is it vertical or lateral thinking ?

- --Henri


From: Carl W Conrad <cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu>
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 1995 08:53:54 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Which law(s)?

Thanks very much for your post in response to mine of last week; I had 
feared from the deafening silence that nobody wanted to talk about this 
very interesting passage. I like very much what you say about the Sermon 
on the Mount and I think it quite persuasive. One question: do you mean 
from what you say about the dawning Kingdom of Heaven that Mt's 
eschatology is largely "realized"?

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA
(314) 935-4018
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu  OR cwc@oui.com


From: RobDK@aol.com
Date: Thu, 12 Jan 1995 00:36:14 -0500
Subject: Re: Which law(s)? 

Hi Carl and David and others,

I have been reading the discussion on Matthew 5 with interest. Since you have
expressed interest in other points of view, I will share mine.

I agree that this passage should be understood within the context of the
whole book.  It seems to me that Matthew functions as a important apologetic
for the transfer of Christianity from an originally Jewish religion to a
predominantly Gentile religion.  The book begins with obvious anchors in the
Jewish world: Jesus is born the King of the Jews (1:1; 2:2); He is sent to
the nation of Israel and works within those confines (10:5-6; 15:24).
 However, the book closes with an equally obvious international or universal
thrust.  Jesus ministry and message is no longer limited to the nation of
Israel.  He commissions his disciples to go to the whole world with his
message (28:18).  This transfer from a nationalistic emphasis to a universal
emphasis, which realizes the Old Testament promise of world-wide salvation,
is an important theme in Matthew.  

The ramifications of the realization of this promised advance in redemptive
history are important, particulary in regard to the Mosaic Law.  When Jesus
ministers within the bounds of the nation, the national (Mosaic) law is
appropriately obeyed (8:4; cf. 10:5-6; 15:24).  But when Jesus inaugurates
the world wide mission he ignores the command to submit to the national
(Mosaic) law and be circumcised and instead institutes a new
directive--baptism as the initiatory sign of covenant membership (28:19).
 What happens to the Mosaic law under the new covenant?  Jesus begins to
answer this question in Matthew 5.

In Matthew 5:17-20 Jesus claims to be the fulfillment of the entire Old
Testament.  This is how the Mosaic law will be changed.  The law, once a
written code, is now summarized and embodied in a person--Jesus himself.  The
change from an impersonal law code to a person is significant, especially
since the church teaches that the Spirit of this person indwells the
believer.  Matthew provides the rationale.  Jesus does not repeal [kataluo]
the law, instead he fulfills [pleroo] it.  This does not mean he confirms
[bebaioo] or establishes [histemi] or restores [apokathistemi] the law.  That
Jesus used the word fulfill [pleroo] indicates he wanted to indicate he was
making a definite advancement in redemptive history.  To establish [histemi]
or confirm [bebaioo] indicate no movement forward, and to restore
[apokathistemi] indicates movement backward.  Jesus indicates that the
promise of the Old Testament law and prophets is realized and completed in

I would be happy to continue discussing the passage if you would like. It
would be good to share some exegetical discoveries.

Rob Keay


End of b-greek-digest V1 #541


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