Based on various descriptions in the Gospels of the ᾽red/purple᾽ robe that the Romans temporarily put on Jesus prior to His crucifixion (in light of other valid examples of these colors in Greek), is it safe to conclude that "scarlet" (κόκκινον) and “purple” (πορφύρα/πορφυροῦν) were quite distinct and NOT easily confused? Or were they similar and/or interchangeable to some degree?
I imagine people’s interpretation here will be colored by their view of the ‘synoptic problem’ and ‘inerrancy’. This seems to be the case in various commentaries and lexicons. But it seems to me like the robe in gMatthew was meant to entail a brighter color of ‘κόκκινον’ (per my current color chart) than what gMark and gJohn describe as ‘πορφύρα’ and ‘πορφυροῦν’ respectively.
I’m not sure how a proponent of the 2-source or 4-source hypotheses would approach this vis-à-vis a 'Q source', since gMatthew and gLuke are in conflict here. In other words, I’m not sure what color 'Q' would have referred to. But here’s how I would interpret the progression of the color descriptions in the Gospels, based on the Farrer hypothesis:
- gMark portrays the Romans temporarily dressing Jesus in expensive πορφύρα to (mockingly) indicate His royalty.
- gMatthew seemingly portrays the garments as being of a cheaper κόκκινον fabric; decidedly NOT πορφύρα.
- gLuke avoids nailing down a specific color; rather the ‘clothing’ (ἐσθύς) was ‘fine, expensive, luxurious’ (λαμπρά); though I imagine this could be interpreted as ‘light, bright (of color)… and thus closer to gMatthew, without blatantly contradicting gMark.
- gJohn comes down on the side of Mark, describing the robe as πορφυροῦν.
Here are the verses in question from the Gospels:
Mark 15:17a, 15:20a
*"in a scarlet robe and" seems to have been interpolated into verse 17 in Codex Θ-Coridethianus, Family 13 and Minuscule 124, harmonizing Mark towards Matthew.
They dressed Him [in a scarlet robe and] in purple fabric (πορφύραν)… they took [the robe and] the purple fabric (πορφύραν) off Him and put His own garments on Him.
They stripped Him and put [a purple robe and] a scarlet robe (χλαμύδα κοκκίνην) on Him
*"a purple robe and" seems to have been interpolated into verse 28 in Codex Bezae, Minuscule 157 (omit καί) and in several Latin and Syriac witnesses, corroborated by Chromatius, harmonizing Matthew towards Mark.
*A gloss of ‘λαμπρός’ as ‘fine (of clothing)’ or as “gorgeous” seems to negate any potential association with ‘brilliance’ or ‘brightness (of color)’.
John 19:2, 19:5a
And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in *fine robe (ἐσθής λαμπρά) and sent Him back to Pilate.
And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe (ἱμάτιον πορφυροῦν) on Him… Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe (πορφυροῦν ἱμάτιον).
Rodney J. Decker’s ‘A Handbook of the Greek Text’ of Mark 9-16 states -
πορφύρα refers to "purple cloth/garment," or perhaps "a red-colored cloak, such as common soldiers wore" (Souter, 211, citing this text; cf. BDAG, 855). Matt 27:28 refers to the garment as a χλαμύδα κοκκίνην (“scarlet robe”).
Here Decker appears to be open to the possibility that πορφύρα could actually be similar or equivalent to κόκκινον. But I wonder if this interpretation is theologically biased in light of gMatthew. Can this be backed up by any extra-biblical references that conflate κόκκινον with πορφυροῦν? I do get a hit for ‘κοκκίνη πορφύρα’ from Gymnasmata pneumatica.
https://books.google.com/books?id=rSBIZ ... B1&f=false
Are there any other examples of the conflation of κόκκινον and πορφύρα/πορφυροῦν? Based on the textual variants in the Gospels (mentioned above) it's hard to believe that 'correcting' scribes would have felt the need for harmonization if the colors were relatively interchangeable.
BDAG specifically says the following under πορφύρα:
Of the red garment which the soldiers put on Jesus Mk 15:17, 20; GPt 3:7 (Appian, Bell. Civ. 2, 150 the Roman soldier’s cloak is called ἡ πορφύρα; s. χλαμύς.—Dio Chrys. 4, 71 and Jos., Ant. 11, 256; 257 of a royal purple garment; cp. 1 Macc 10:62).—Lit. s. κόκκινος, also RGradwohl, Die Farben im AT, Beih. ZAW 83, ’63, 66–73 and lit.; Pauly-W. XXIII 2200–220; Kl. Pauly IV 1243f; BHHW III 1532f; ABD s.v. ‘Purple’ (V 557–60) and ‘Zoology (Animal Profiles)’ (VI 1149f); New Docs 2, 25–27 (lit.); CHemer, New Docs 3, 53–55; also Hemer, Acts 114; HStulz, Die Farbe Purpur im frühen Griechentum ’90.—Schmidt, Syn. III 44–51. DELG. M-M.
BDAG says the following under κόκκινος:
ParJer 9:18; Philo; Jos., Ant. 8, 72 v.l.; Just., D. 46, 5) red, scarlet χλαμὺς κ. a red cloak of the ‘sagum purpureum (paludamentum)’ of Roman soldiers, a cheaply dyed garment in contrast to the expensive ‘purple’ garments (cp. Gradwohl 73–75; WBorn, Scarlet: CIBA Review 7, ’38, 206–27; GFaber, Dyeing in Greece, ibid. 284; LJensen, JNES 22, ’63, 111) whose hues were derived from shellfish and worn in the upper classes (s. πορφυροῦς) Mt 27:28
This may be a meaningless aside for most/all readers here. But, for what it's worth, the Old Slavic translation of uses "препряда" for "πορφύρα" and "багряна" for "πορφυροῦν" and "червлёный" for "κόκκινον (in Mark and John and Matthew respectively). In Luke the garment is unambiguously described as "light" colored (светлая).
The terms "препряда" and "багряна" are BOTH rendered in Russian Bibles as "багряница", which appears to be an umbrella term for BOTH κόκκινον and πορφύρα. However, the adjectival form - багряный - is blood-red, which appears to be consistent with the RED color of Jesus' robe in Orthodox iconography. For example: