b-greek-digest V1 #785

b-greek-digest              Sunday, 16 July 1995        Volume 01 : Number 785

In this issue:

        Re: Irenaeus and age of Jesus
        Re: the greek jesus


From: "Gregory Jordan (ENG)" <jordan@chuma.cas.usf.edu>
Date: Sat, 15 Jul 1995 04:13:38 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Irenaeus and age of Jesus

On Thu, 13 Jul 1995, Greg Doudna wrote:

> The age of Jesus (as distinguished from the date of Jesus's
> teaching or the dates of Paul) is of no historical 
> consequence that I can see.  But I do wonder why there is
> such *certainty* over Luke's tradition of the age of Jesus.

I can only mention two points that don't seem to have been mentioned.  If 
Jesus were older when baptized, it would be hard to explain why a person 
capable of such a controversial career should live in anonymity for most 
of his life.  And if his career after baptism were very long, it would be 
hard to explain how Jesus could endure the apparent opposition described 
in the gospels.  Plus: if Jesus were in his early 30s, his marital status 
would not be remarkable, but if Jesus were a single man in his late 40s 
or early 50s, surely people (and he) would have commented on his 

Eusebius had Papias's works in front of him, and he says "he seems to 
have been a man of small intelligence, to judge from his books" (EH 
3.39).  Of course, this was in reference to Papias's belief in earthly 
pre-millenialism, and Eusebius is one to talk, since he has errors of 
every sort in his own book. :)  But it would explain his rejection of the 
"old Jesus" idea if such occurred in Papias's works.

Greg Jordan


From: "David B. Gowler" <dgowler@minerva.cis.yale.edu>
Date: Sat, 15 Jul 1995 15:29:13 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: the greek jesus

On Fri, 14 Jul 1995, Kenneth Litwak wrote:

>    While I tend to agree with Mikeal Parsons in his view that Greek was
> probably well-used and agree with Porter, et al., on its use, it has
> been objected (when I mentioned similar evidence on Ioudaios) that
> only those with power or money (don't those always go together?) would
> have been able to afford ossuary inscriptions and the like, os this tells
> us little about the general populace.  I am not sure how valid this is,
> so I'd like to hear from those with more expertise in this regard.

Many thanks to Mikeal and Ken.  These elements are also addressed by
Martin Hengel (*Judaism and Hellenism*) and by many who followed him --
Porter's article collates much of this data.  The book on Roman Galilee by
Martin Goodman is also very helpful in this regard. 

Hengel tends to argue the position Ken asks about.  Many scholars --
including Hengel, oddly enough -- become uneasy when evidence starts to
mount about how widespread the use of Greek was in Palestine 1st c. CE,
among all levels of society.  One reason is that Jeremias, Black, and
Dalman had done some significant work in "proving" the Aramaic
nature/background of the sayings of Jesus.  But another reason is that
many Jewish and Christian scholars do not want to admit that Jesus and his
followers were "tainted" by Hellenistic culture; they want to keep the 
"background" primarily Jewish (and Hebrew Bible). 

The external evidence is quite impressive, but I am presently interested
in the data from the NT itself.  Brad Young and David Flusser argue, for
example, that Jesus taught in Hebrew -- and Young even translates some
parables "back into" Hebrew.  His work is unconvincing.  Is the similar 
work on the Greek or Aramiac background more convincing?

What Funk, Porter, and Hedrick (and others) do is to attempt to show the
importance of assonance, etc., in the parables IN GREEK.  That means that
these poetic elements (almost) always (and ONLY) occur in Greek.  The
result, if these arguments are true, is one of two choices:  (1) Jesus
either originally taught the parables in Greek; or (2) an additional
"creative genius" (besides Jesus) extensively worked over or created these
parables -- much more than Jeremias, in his wildest nightmares, ever
dreamed.  Or perhaps the answer is somewhere in the middle. 

My question is:  Are the Greek language/poetic arguments of Funk, Porter, 
Hedrick, etc. convincing to you?  Or do the works of Jeremias, Black, and 
Dalman still "hold more water?"

My own predisposition is that Jesus spoke Aramaic primarily, but that he
also knew a fair-to-small amount of Greek.  I have difficulty
demonstrating that from an internal study of the texts, however.  Of
course, the Aramaic words (e.g., talitha koum) in the Gospels are an



David B. Gowler
Associate Professor of Religion
Chowan College
Summer address (until Aug 11):


End of b-greek-digest V1 #785


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