re: Re: John 8:58 (longish)

From: Eric Weiss (
Date: Thu Aug 08 1996 - 15:13:35 EDT

["lars" wrote asking about puns in the Greek altering syntax for the sake of
the pun. This response relates to puns in the Greek in general. I, too, am
interested in books/articles on this.]

Not only might there be puns in the Greek, but also in the Hebrew/Aramaic
behind the Greek.

Moule in his New Testament idiom book points out a) If John the Baptist had
been speaking to the Pharisees in Hebrew, he could have been making a pun
with the Hebrew words for "sons" and "stones" in "God is able to raise up
from these stones children of Abraham." (Samuel Lachs (?) in A RABBINIC
COMMENTARY ON THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS, however, points out an alternate "pun"
based on his view of a possible misunderstanding by the author of Matthew of
the Hebrew words spoken.)--AND--(Moule again) b) Paul's statement about this
light affliction working for us an "eternal weight of glory" in 2 Cor. 4:17
could be based on the fact that the Hebrew words for "weight" and "glory" are
the same (KABOD?)

I found the following on the Internet the other day quoted from someone named
Ed Form:

The Greek of each of Paul's letters is stylish, grammatical, and
erudite, and this is made all the more remarkable by the fact
that Hebrew thought, Hebrew language forms, and Hebrew word-play
may be discerned behind much of what they contain. Examples are
legion, but one may serve to illustrate:

     For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach
     the gospel--not with words of human wisdom, lest the
     cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the
     message of the cross is foolishness to those who are
     perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the
     power of God. For it is written:

          "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the
          intelligence of the intelligent I will
          frustrate." [Isaiah 29:14]

     Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is
     the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish
     the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God
     the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was
     pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to
     save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs
     and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ
     crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to
     Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews
     and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of
     God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's
     wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's
     strength. - 1 Corinthians 1:17-25

In 1 Corinthians 1:17-25, the words... "we preach Christ
crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks
foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and
Greeks, Christ the Power of God, and the wisdom of God"... are an
extended parachesis of Hebrew words which sound similar...
     Christ, Mashiac
     Cross, Maskal
     Stumbling-block, Michshol
     Foolishness, Sechel
     Wisdom, Sekel
     Power, Haschil
In fact the entire paragraph is laced with these "rhyming" words....
The presence of a Hebrew shadow, lightly concealed behind the
writings of the New testament has been the subject of much
scholarly comment. Not just Hebrew thought, but actual cleverness
of words, when a Hebrew version of the text is assembled, is
commonplace, but in Paul's writings it reaches the level of high

     - Ed Form

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