Re: EI = Since & irony in Matthew

From: Mark Goodacre (
Date: Mon Jun 01 1998 - 06:47:47 EDT

I wrote:

> >
> >Would we naturally read this as "since you are the Son of God"?

Jim West replied:

> I think so, Mark.

I had written:
> >Would we not rather translate "*if* you are the Son of God", with an
> >element of sarcasm, doubt or irony implied?

Jim answered:

> If this were Johannine material I would give a hearty yes; but as it
> is Matt. I do not think so. Unless, of course, there are examples
> of Matthean irony that can be pointed to.

The irony in the Matthean Passion Narrative is not as thick, in my
opinion, as it is in Mark's, but it is certainly there -- most
clearly in Matt. 27.27-31: scarlet robe, crown of thorns, "King of
the Jews". Do the mockers in the narrative really think that Jesus
is a king? Of course not. Does the implied reader think that Jesus
is a king? Of course. This is dramatic irony par excellence.

But thinking again about Matt. 27.40, surely to translate it "since
you are the Son of God . . ." only increases the element of dramatic
irony. The mockers are saying sarcastically "since you are [but
really you are not]" and the reader is thinking "he IS, and how
little they realise the truth that comes out of their mouths".

However we translate EI here, "if" or "since", the reader surely
takes Matt. 27.40 to imply that the mockers did not think Jesus was
the Son of God. In which case, to bring us back to the original
question, does not this help us to understand the same phrase in the
Temptation narrative?

All the best

Dr Mark Goodacre
  Dept of Theology, University of Birmingham

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