Re: PTWCOS (ptochos)

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Apr 18 1996 - 20:28:41 EDT

At 4:39 PM -0500 4/18/96, Edward Hobbs wrote:
>Ken Litwak's question about the meaning/translation of PTWCOS needs to be
>repeated often. "Poor" is certainly inadequate (for that, PENHS is fully
>adequate). The English words "destitute," "beggarly", "miserable," are
>surely nearer to the general Hellenistic usage. (Don't quote LXX back to
>me; they were often desperate for synonymies when translating [esp. the
>I strongly suspect that the major culprit in our tendency to translate with
>"poor" is Matthew 5; who wants to be "spiritually destitute"? On the other
>hand, we've never really been comfortable with Luke's (original?) version
>of the saying either: Is it possible that those who are blessed by God are
>the (truly) destitute?

Edward, what's wrong with the suggestion that the PTWCOI of the original
saying-complex--assuming that Luke's version is earlier than Matthew's, as
I think most people are likely to concede--are the itinerant evangelists
referred to in the Missionary Discourse(s) (which I suppose COULD have been
early church rules for evangelistic circuits) as conducted by pairs who
take no provisions for the road but are to beg from the villages to which
they go? And wouldn't this also be consistent with the petition in the
hHMERAN--and in general with the tone of those Jesus-sayings on anxiety? It
was at one time fashionable, was it not, to suppose that this whole complex
of sayings concerned itinerant begging evangelists (Gerd Theissen et al.)?
Might that designation of at least one early community of believers have
stuck as a self-designation for the Jerusalem community? But of course, I
think the more common assumption might be that there were different kinds
of communities in Galilee and in Jerusalem, and that the itinerant begging
preacher perhaps was more characteristic of Galilee. OOPS! I just realized
something: the best-known itinerant begging preachers in the Hellenistic
world were the Cynics! Am I going to have to concede a point to Burton Mack
after all?

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:41 EDT