Re: Contradiction in Nestle-Aland text?

From: Stephen Carlson (
Date: Thu Oct 26 1995 - 00:07:35 EDT

Rod Decker wrote:
> Carl is certainly right on the textual issue. A number of possible
> explanations have been suggested. One that sounds interesting to me is that
> two different staffs are referenced: Mark permits a walking staff, but
> Matthew records the prohibition of the shepherd's staff/club used for
> protection. (See: E. Power, "The Staff of the Apostles," _Biblica_ 4
> (1923): 241-66. This is a secondary ref. from Lane's comm. [207 n. 31]; I
> haven't read Power's article.)
> Is it feasible that there are divergent Aramaic words for these items, both
> of which could be translated by the same Greek word? Anyone with adequate
> expertise in the Aramaic of first century Palestine to comment?

I can't tell you anything about Aramaic, but I can discuss its cognate
language, Hebrew, and the LXX's translation of it.

Walking staff in Hebrew is MQL and is usually translated as BAKTHRIA
(Ex12:11 1Sm17:40) or hRABDOS (Gn32:11 Nm22:27). Another word for
walking staff is M$`NT/M$`NH and is likewise translated either as
BAKTHRIA (2Kg4:29a b 31) or hRABDOS (Ex21:19 Jg6:21 Zc8:4).

A shepherd's staff is $B+ and is always translated as hRABDOS (Gn30:37
38 39 41a b Lv27:32 Ps23:4 Ez20:37 Mi7:14 Zc11:7 10 14), except once as
BAKTHRIA in Je1:11. Ps23:4 ("thy rod and thy staff") uses both SB+ and
M$`NT for hRABDOS and BAKTHRIA, respectively.

Looking at the Hebrew evidence (with the appropriate caveat for what
that means for Aramaic), I'd say that Greek hRABDOS readily translates
both a walking staff and a shepherd's staff. BAKTHRIA is another word
to translate the former, but it is not found in the NT at all. So, that
idea is feasible on this evidence.

Stephen Carlson

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