From: Carl W. Conrad (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Aug 03 1998 - 15:08:48 EDT
At 11:58 AM +0000 8/03/98, Jim West wrote:
>Most English translations of Matthew 7:28 translate the Greek word
>exeplhssonto by "and they were amazed". Properly, however, an English
>translation using the word "amazed" would require the Greek word qaumazw,
>which means "to be amazed, to be delighted". The Greek word that the
>writer of the Gospel uses, ekplhssw in its lexical form, means "to be
>overwhelmed, overcome with fright, horror".
>It is my contention that the crowd hearing the "sermon on the mount" was not
>amazed in a positive sense, but appaled, disgusted, horrified, by the things
>Jesus had said.
>Any reaction to this supposition?
Well, it is a novel way of looking at it. For my part, I'll side with Phil
Long on this one. Here's the sum total of instances of EKPLHSSOMAI in the
GNT (from Accordance)--not really all that many, but fairly clearly nuanced
toward a positive sort of amazement:
Matt. 7:28 KAI EGENETO hOTE ETELESEN hO IHSOUS TOUS LOGOUS TOUTOUS,
EXEPLHSSONTO hOI OCLOI EPI THi DIDACHI AUTOU.
Matt. 13:54 KAI ELQWN EIS THN PATRIDA AUTOU EDIDASKEN AUTOUS EN THi
SUNAGWGHi AUTWN, hWSTE EKPLHSSESQAI AUTOUS KAI LEGEIN: POQEN TOUTWi hH
SOFIA hAUTH KAI hAI DUNAMEIS?
Matt. 19:25 AKOUSANTES DE hOI MAQHTAI EXEPLHSSONTO SFODRA LEGONTES, 'TIS
ARA DUNATAI SWQHNAI?'
Matt. 22:33 KAI AKOUSANTES hOI OCLOI EXEPLHSSONTO EPI THi DIDACHi AUTOU.
Mark 1:22 KAI EXEPLHSSONTO EPI THi DIDACHi AUTOU: HN GAR DIDAASKWN AUTOUS
hWS EXOUSIAN ECWN KAI OUC hWS hOI GRAMMATEIS.
Mark 6:2 KAI GENOMENOU SABBATOU HRXATO DIDASKEIN EN THi SUNAGWGHi, KAI
POLLOI AKOUONTES EXEPLHSSONTO LEGONTES: POQEN TOUTWi TAUTA, KAI TIS hH
SOFIA hH DOQEISA TOUTWi, KAI hAI DUNAMEIS TOIAUTAI DIA TWN CEIRWN AUTOU
Mark 7:37 KAI hUPERPERISSWS EXEPLHSSONTO LEGONTES: KALWS PANTA PEPOIHKEN,
KAI TOUS KWFOUS POIEI AKOUEIN KAI TOUS ALALOUS LALEIN.
Mark 10:26 hOI DE PERISSWS EXEPLHSSONTO LEGONTES PROS hEAUTOUS: 'KAI TIS
Mark 11:18 KAI HKOUSAN hOI ARCIEREIS KAI hOI GRAMMATEIS KAI EZHTOUN PWS
AUTON APOLESWSIN; EFOBOUNTO GAR AUTON, PAS GAR hO OCLOS EXEPLHSSETO EPI THi
Luke 2:48 KAI IDONTES AUTON EXEPLAQHSAN, KAI EIPEN PROS AUTON hH MHTHR
AUTOU: 'TEKNON, TI EPOIHSAS hHMIN hOUTWS? IDOU hO PATHR SOU KAGW ODUNWMENOI
Luke 4:32 KAI EXEPLHSSONTO EPI THi DIDACHi AUTOU, hOTI EN EXOUSIAi HN hO
Luke 9:43 EXEPLHSSONTO DE PANTES EPI THi MEGALEIOTHTI TOU QEOU. PANTWN DE
QUAMAZONTWN EPI PASIN hOIS EPOIEI, EIPEN PROS TOUS MAQHTOUS AUTOU:
Acts 13:12 TOTE IDWN hO ANQUPATOS TO GEGONOS EPISTEUSEN, EKPLHSSOMENOS EPI
THi DIDACHi TOU KURIOU.
The only instances of these that I would think might conceivably be a
negative sort of astonishment is the parallel passage Mt 19.25/Mk 10:26
(Rich Young Ruler pericope), and perhaps also Lk 2:48 (Mary shocked at the
12-year old Jesus in the Temple). The other instances all pretty clearly
indicate astonishment at something extraordinarily admirable: wisdom,
authoritative teaching, miracles.
Perhaps the difficulty may lie with the ambiguity of shock as an emotional
phenomenon in Greek which may indeed indicate horror just as well as
amazement. What needs to be considered, however, is that what exceeds the
natural or the ordinary tends to be deemed by the ancients as a mark of
the supernatural, whether of the demonic or of the divine. In this
connection, one might well consider the Attic idiomatic adjective phrase
for a powerful speaker: he is said to be DEINOS LEGEIN, "awesome at
speaking." DEINOS/-H/-ON actually means "fearsome," but more commonly than
not it has the sense of "wonderful." This adjective is sufficiently
ambiguous that the famous Sophoclean "Ode on Man" from the middle of the
Antigone begins with the sentence: POLLA TA DEINA, K(AI) OUDEN ANQRWPOU
DEINOTERON (ESTIN). One finds this sentence normally translated, "Many are
the wondrous things, and nothing is more wondrous than Man"; however, in
Martin Heidegger's fascinating essay on the poem there is a different spin:
Heidegger makes it: "Many are the strange/terrifying things, and none is
more strange/terrifying than Man."
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
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