From: Carl W. Conrad (email@example.com)
Date: Tue Aug 04 1998 - 08:41:22 EDT
I appreciate your comments on these individual instances of the verb that
I've cited, Jim. I do think you've shown that more of these than I had
assumed are open to interpretation as negative, but I still think that
you're misreading the fundamental sense of EXPLHSSW/EKPLHSSOMAI (although
the active is common enough in the tradition, only the M/P appears in the
NT) as being negative; I still think that the fundamental sense is "be
shocked," "be astounded," hear or see something altogether contrary to what
one might have expected--and that "dismay" or "disgust" isn't really
fundamental to the content of the verb itself.
At 4:13 PM -0400 8/03/98, Jim West wrote:
>At 03:08 PM 8/3/98 -0400, you wrote:
>>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.
>the verse under question- at least for me, for now.
Yes, and it is similar to Mt 22:33 below; I think the formulaic phrase here
used by Matthew to conclude one of the five long discourses is intended by
'Matthew' to underscore neither approval nor disapproval of the speech but
to register astonishment at a lecture that shattered the audience's
conventional notions about morality.
>>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?
>But he was not well received in his home town. The gospels as a whole show
>that he was rejected there.
Undoubtedly so. But the point of this passage is that the people of
Nazareth, whether or not they react favorably to Jesus, are astounded at
his display of intelligence and miraculous power. The focus of the verb is
not on approval or disapproval but on the shock that has been experienced.
>>Matt. 19:25 AKOUSANTES DE hOI MAQHTAI EXEPLHSSONTO SFODRA LEGONTES, 'TIS
>>ARA DUNATAI SWQHNAI?'
>A question of disbelief- no?
Not so simply. I'd say that once again it is shock that is underscored--the
overturning of what hitherto has been assumed to be true: that the wealthy
can buy their way into paradise.
>>Matt. 22:33 KAI AKOUSANTES hOI OCLOI EXEPLHSSONTO EPI THi DIDACHi AUTOU.
>And then they kill him a few days later.... hum- what kind of amazement in
>a positive sense swayed them?
I'd say that this is amazement that Jesus can turn the "question of the
resurrection" from an embarrassment into a display of wisdom that
embarrasses the questioners. As for what the crowds did a few days later, I
don't think that Matthew would attribute the demand for his crucifixion to
the crowd reaction to this; rather it shows a response to a different kind
>>Mark 1:22 KAI EXEPLHSSONTO EPI THi DIDACHi AUTOU: HN GAR DIDAASKWN AUTOUS
>>hWS EXOUSIAN ECWN KAI OUC hWS hOI GRAMMATEIS.
>He taught "non- traditionally"- would that have been a positive assesment in
>1st century Judaism? I dont really think it would have been. We moderns
>love novelty- but did 1st c. Jews? Again, the implication seems rather
Quite frankly, Jim, I think you're missing the point of this statement,
which is a key assertion made at the point of Mark's first account of
Jesus' activity as a teacher. Yes: that Jesus is unconventional is
underscored here; but the point of hWS EXOUSIAN ECWN in contrast to the
teaching manner of the Scribes is surely a positive one: this man KNOWS
what he's talking about and is convincing as those who SHOULD know what
they're talking about are not.
>>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
>He's unlearned! I take this to mean that they are not favorably impressed
>with a village carpenter presuming to tell them about God!
This, of course, is the Marcan parallel to Mt 13:54, discussed above. I
assume that Matthew took this from Marcan tradition, and I would say the
same things here as I said above about the Matthean passage.
>>Mark 7:37 KAI hUPERPERISSWS EXEPLHSSONTO LEGONTES: KALWS PANTA PEPOIHKEN,
>>KAI TOUS KWFOUS POIEI AKOUEIN KAI TOUS ALALOUS LALEIN.
>This one is a muddy wheel!
Che cosa? And what do you make of the KALWS PANTA? This is not your
>>Mark 10:26 hOI DE PERISSWS EXEPLHSSONTO LEGONTES PROS hEAUTOUS: 'KAI TIS
>Another question implying disbelief, no?
Again, this is the Marcan parallel to Mt 19.25. Cf. my comments above.
>>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
>Another difficulty. The crowd is offended- so the priests dont want to
>arrest him. This weighs against my thesis- but, so far, is the only place
Do you really believe this, Jim? Most will read this to mean that the high
priets and scribes feel that their hands are tied in acting against Jesus
because the crowd is strongly in Jesus' favor. So they must bide their time
and wait for a more favorable opportunity--arrest him stealthily when the
crowds are not present.
>>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
>The Doctors in the temple arguing with a boy- really, this is dishonorable
>behavior- the behavior of an arrogant little chap- no?
Surely something that sticks in a mother's memory. But I think that the
parents in this instance are hurt (ODUNWMENOI) by the child's behavior as
much as they are shocked to see him doing what he is doing. Certainly there
is no indication that the Doctors in the temple are upset with the child.
>>Luke 4:32 KAI EXEPLHSSONTO EPI THi DIDACHi AUTOU, hOTI EN EXOUSIAi HN hO
>An ambiguous context at best, I think.
Ambiguous? Hardly. This is Luke's parallel to Mark 1:22. What is implied by
Lk's EN EXOUSIAi is surely the same as what is implied by HN GAR DIDAASKWN
AUTOUS hWS EXOUSIAN ECWN KAI OUC hWS hOI GRAMMATEIS, as discussed above.
>>Luke 9:43 EXEPLHSSONTO DE PANTES EPI THi MEGALEIOTHTI TOU QEOU. PANTWN DE
>>QUAMAZONTWN EPI PASIN hOIS EPOIEI, EIPEN PROS TOUS MAQHTOUS AUTOU:
>Another gremlin in the works- thats two now! :)
>>Acts 13:12 TOTE IDWN hO ANQUPATOS TO GEGONOS EPISTEUSEN, EKPLHSSOMENOS EPI
>>THi DIDACHi TOU KURIOU.
>I dunno about this Acts stuff. Its kinda removed from my primary interest
I guess you missed Clay's question about this very passage a week or two
ago; it was a brief but interesting thread, I thought.
>>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.
>I dunno- really. It seems to me that the things he says and does may be
>honorable to moderns, but how would they have been viewed by Jesus'
Quite frankly, I rather suspect moderns are less impressed by these things
than were Jesus' contemporaries. It's a worthwhile question, at any rate.
>>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.
>Ah, now this is certainly true.
>>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."
>I didn't know I was a Heideggerian (though I am by confession an unabashed
Were you not aware that Bultmann's theology was heavily influenced by
Heidegger? The celebrated "demythologization" scheme certainly leaned on
Heidegger. Personally, however, I'm more impressed by the enduring
achievement of Bultmann's synoptic criticism than by the theology.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
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