λάθρᾳ in Matt 1:19

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Iver Larsen
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Re: λάθρᾳ in Matt 1:19

Post by Iver Larsen » February 21st, 2012, 1:36 am

Stephen initially asked why Bible translators have translated the way they have. As a bible translator, I suggest that one reason is that translators generally have a holistic approach to translation, looking at the whole context. Context can mean different things. A translation requires two separate steps. The first step is the exegesis where we try as much as possible to put ourselves in the sandals of the original writer and intended audience. There is also a general guideline that the simplest exegesis is most likely to be the correct one. The second step is to put ourselves in the shoes of the new audience: how would they understand the translated text. I am here concerned with the first step.

πρὶν ἢ συνελθεῖν αὐτοὺς εὑρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου. Ἰωσὴφ δὲ ὁ ἀνὴρ αὐτῆς, δίκαιος ὢν καὶ μὴ θέλων αὐτὴν δειγματίσαι, ἐβουλήθη λάθρᾳ ἀπολῦσαι αὐτήν. ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος

At some point in time Joseph realized (εὑρέθη) that Mary was pregnant. There is no way he could discover this to be from the Holy Spirit, so Mary had probably told him about the angel and his visit. Joseph was a righteous man, but he was also her designated husband. He was not gullible, so he did not believe the angel story. Since he knew and we know from the text that he was not the father, somebody else must be, and that is adultery. Since he was a righeous man who followed the laws of God, it was not a question to him whether he should divorce her or not. That was a foregone conclusion. Therefore, it does not make sense in context to suggest that "Joseph wanted to divorce her". The question was how this should best be done in a way that would hurt Mary the least. He did not have to send her to a more or less public trial, which is the implication of δειγμᾰτίζω. He could write her a letter of divorce and send her away quietly, away from the public eye.

LSJ:
δειγμᾰτίζω, make a show of, Ep.Col.2.15; make an example of, Ev.Matt.1.19; ... 2. make trial of, test,
δειγμᾰτισμός, οῦ, ὁ, public inspection, verification

These reasons alone are enough to conclude that λάθρᾳ is to be understood with ἀπολῦσαι.

But further evidence can be found by looking at the three other places where λάθρᾳ occurs in the NT. (Mat 2:7, Jhn 11:28, Act 16:37). In each case λάθρᾳ is placed before the verb it relates to. This is to be expected since this adverb naturally indicates a contrast between a secret/private and a more public event. In order to show this contrast the adverb is placed before the verb.

It has already been mentioned that λάθρᾳ does not naturally collocate with ἐβουλήθη. If it was a group of people who made plans together, then that could have been done secretly, but Joseph did not ask anybody. It was his own wish/decision in his own mind, and that is naturally away from the public eye.
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David Lim
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Re: λάθρᾳ in Matt 1:19

Post by David Lim » February 21st, 2012, 6:16 am

Iver Larsen wrote:πρὶν ἢ συνελθεῖν αὐτοὺς εὑρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου. Ἰωσὴφ δὲ ὁ ἀνὴρ αὐτῆς, δίκαιος ὢν καὶ μὴ θέλων αὐτὴν δειγματίσαι, ἐβουλήθη λάθρᾳ ἀπολῦσαι αὐτήν. ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος

At some point in time Joseph realized (εὑρέθη) that Mary was pregnant. There is no way he could discover this to be from the Holy Spirit, so Mary had probably told him about the angel and his visit. Joseph was a righteous man, but he was also her designated husband. He was not gullible, so he did not believe the angel story. Since he knew and we know from the text that he was not the father, somebody else must be, and that is adultery. Since he was a righeous man who followed the laws of God, it was not a question to him whether he should divorce her or not. That was a foregone conclusion.
Just wondering, how did you conclude that Joseph thought that Mary was lying? "πριν η συνελθειν αυτους ευρεθη εν γαστρι εχουσα εκ πνευματος αγιου" does not seem to say that. Moreover, since he knew that he was not the father, perhaps he thought it would be adultery if he married her? The reason for his intention to privately divorce her instead of publicly would then be because others would not believe her account anyway.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: λάθρᾳ in Matt 1:19

Post by Stephen Carlson » February 21st, 2012, 1:40 pm

Iver Larsen wrote:Stephen initially asked why Bible translators have translated the way they have. As a bible translator, I suggest that one reason is that translators generally have a holistic approach to translation, looking at the whole context. Context can mean different things. * * *

πρὶν ἢ συνελθεῖν αὐτοὺς εὑρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου. Ἰωσὴφ δὲ ὁ ἀνὴρ αὐτῆς, δίκαιος ὢν καὶ μὴ θέλων αὐτὴν δειγματίσαι, ἐβουλήθη λάθρᾳ ἀπολῦσαι αὐτήν. ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος

At some point in time Joseph realized (εὑρέθη) that Mary was pregnant. There is no way he could discover this to be from the Holy Spirit, so Mary had probably told him about the angel and his visit. Joseph was a righteous man, but he was also her designated husband. He was not gullible, so he did not believe the angel story. * * *
The details about the angel visiting Mary etc. come from Luke, not Matthew. I find it hard to believe that professional Bible translators of one text would really import details from another text in the course of their work. That seems exegetically illegitimate to me. Every author should be allowed to speak for himself, particularly as here where the consensus of scholarship is that Matthew's infancy account does not depend on Luke's.

Stephen
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jonathan.borland
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Re: λάθρᾳ in Matt 1:19

Post by jonathan.borland » April 6th, 2012, 12:16 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Matt 1:19 wrote:Ἰωσὴφ δὲ ὁ ἀνὴρ αὐτῆς, δίακαιος ὢν καὶ μὴ θέλων αὐτὴν δειγματίσαι, ἐβουλήθη λάθρᾳ ἀπολῦσαι αὐτήν.
Third, the prosody of the verse corroborates the view that λάθρᾳ does not construe with ἀπολῦσαι. After all, αὐτήν is an unemphatic pronoun and its natural position is second within its intonation unit. This suggests that ἀπολῦσαι is in a separate intonation unit from ἐβουλήθη λάθρᾳ. If λάθρᾳ were to construe with ἀπολῦσαι, we should expect λάθρᾳ αὐτὴν ἀπολῦσαι or ἀπολῦσαι αύτῆν λάθρᾳ as more prosodically suitable candidates.
Dear Stephen,

You may be correct, but for the sake of argument regarding what Matthew should have written were he intending to construe λαθρα with απολυσαι, wouldn't your former suggestion, εβουληθη λαθρα αυτην απολυσαι, at least suggest the possibility that λαθρα was to be taken with εβουληθη, and your latter, εβουληθη απολυσαι αυτην λαθρα, place emphasis on λαθρα? Supposing Matthew intended to do neither, wouldn't the position that actually occurs be the one that he would use to suggest quite naturally that λαθρα was to be taken with απολυσαι?

Sincerely,

Jonathan C. Borland
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: λάθρᾳ in Matt 1:19

Post by Stephen Carlson » April 6th, 2012, 12:39 pm

jonathan.borland wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:
Matt 1:19 wrote:Ἰωσὴφ δὲ ὁ ἀνὴρ αὐτῆς, δίακαιος ὢν καὶ μὴ θέλων αὐτὴν δειγματίσαι, ἐβουλήθη λάθρᾳ ἀπολῦσαι αὐτήν.
Third, the prosody of the verse corroborates the view that λάθρᾳ does not construe with ἀπολῦσαι. After all, αὐτήν is an unemphatic pronoun and its natural position is second within its intonation unit. This suggests that ἀπολῦσαι is in a separate intonation unit from ἐβουλήθη λάθρᾳ. If λάθρᾳ were to construe with ἀπολῦσαι, we should expect λάθρᾳ αὐτὴν ἀπολῦσαι or ἀπολῦσαι αύτῆν λάθρᾳ as more prosodically suitable candidates.
You may be correct, but for the sake of argument regarding what Matthew should have written were he intending to construe λαθρα with απολυσαι, wouldn't your former suggestion, εβουληθη λαθρα αυτην απολυσαι, at least suggest the possibility that λαθρα was to be taken with εβουληθη, and your latter, εβουληθη απολυσαι αυτην λαθρα, place emphasis on λαθρα? Supposing Matthew intended to do neither, wouldn't the position that actually occurs be the one that he would use to suggest quite naturally that λαθρα was to be taken with απολυσαι?
Thanks for your questions, Jonathan.

As for your first question, whether ἐβουλήθη λάθρᾳ αὐτὴν ἀπολῦσαι "at least suggest[s] the possibility that λαθρα was to be taken with εβουληθη," I don't think so. Unless αὐτήν is emphatic (and I can't see why, since there is no other fiancee of Joseph to contrast Mary with), then, as an unemphatic personal pronoun, it is going to be found in the "second position" of its intonation unit. This means that αὐτήν is in the same intonation unit as λάθρᾳ and both of these together are separated from ἐβουλήθη.

As for your second question, whether ἐβουλήθη ἀπολῦσαι αύτῆν λάθρᾳ "place[s] emphasis on λαθρα," I don't think so either. In fact, it is right where I would expect it to be if it didn't have any special emphasis.

As for your third question, it is premised on different answers to the first two questions. Even so, it does not seem to take into account the option that λάθρᾳ construes with ἐβουλήθη, the very point under discussion.

Stephen
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jonathan.borland
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Re: λάθρᾳ in Matt 1:19

Post by jonathan.borland » April 10th, 2012, 7:42 am

Dear Stephen,

How does thinking privately about divorcing Mary correspond with his unwillingness to put her to shame? Would a private decision lessen the public shame of the divorce? I don't think so. Perhaps this context is the primary reason why, as far as I know, no major interpreter has ever construed λαθρα with εβολουθη.

Sincerely,

Jonathan C. Borland
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: λάθρᾳ in Matt 1:19

Post by Stephen Carlson » April 10th, 2012, 3:01 pm

A divorce is public and it would expose her to shame, because it would announce that he is not the father. His other option is to go through with the wedding, which is what he does in the end. By keeping his thoughts private, he keeps her from being shamed about the pregnancy until he decides what to do.
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