Re: Matt. 28.1 (EPIFWSKOUSHi)

From: Mark Goodacre (
Date: Thu Oct 02 1997 - 06:43:24 EDT

Susan Coomes asked about the translation of Matt. 28.1. There have
been a couple of useful answers, pointing out that EPIFWSKEIN must
mean 'to dawn' in our sense of dawn / early light. I think that this
is right, but feel also that there is some ambiguity in Matthew's
expression here. There is a useful piece on this in an article by
Michael Goulder and he will probably explain it better than I, so I
will quote (note - Markan priority is assumed here. Apologies to
those offended):

'Matthew replaces Mark's 'when the sabbath was past' with an
ambiguous expression, OYE SABBATWN, which he then clarifies with the
phrase, 'as (the night) was dawning into the first day of the week'.
OYE is normally an adverb or noun meaning 'late' . . . and there is
no example elsewhere in the Greek Bible of any use but this. Matthew
uses it here however as a preposition . . . meaning 'after': the
first instance we have of such a use in a literary work. Even the
Revisers misunderstood this, translating 'late on the sabbath': this
is clearly wrong, as Matthew knew the sabbath ended with sunset, and
RSV properly corrects to 'after the sabbath'.' (*NTS* 24 (1978), pp.
218-234 (p. 233).)

The word EPIFWSKEIN occurs again in a similar context in Luke 23.54,
KAI SABBATON EPEFWSKEN, which seems to mean something like 'when
sabbath was dawning' or 'when sabbath was drawing on'. And this, in
context, can clearly not be a reference to 'dawn' on Sunday morning.
This use of the word in Luke, in close parallel to Matt., is clearly
something of a puzzle.

Good wishes


Mark Goodacre
Department of Theology
University of Birmingham
Birmingham B15 2TT

Tel.: +44 (0)121 414 7512 Email:
Fax.: +44 (0)121 414 6866 Homepage:

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