Luke 13.2,4 (was Re: aramaic influence)

From: Mark Goodacre (
Date: Mon May 17 1999 - 13:21:49 EDT

On 14 May 99 at 16:38, Jim West wrote:

> one example, i think, of aramaic influence on the greek text seems to reside
> in luke 13:2, 4. here the "sinners" are then called "debtors"- a confusion
> resolved when one realizes that the underlying aramaic most likely would have
> been <aram> chayiv </aram>; a word meaning "indebted" (to God). the greek
> translator rendered it "sinner" in v. 2 but "debtor" in v. 4. the significance
> of understanding something of the aramaic world of Jesus in interpreting
> gospel texts seems reaffirmed.

This is an interesting case and since no-one else has commented, perhaps I may
say something. Jim may be right about underlying Aramaic here, though it is
worth noting that the sinners // debtors (hAMARTWOLOI // OFEILETAI, etc.) link
occurs elsewhere in Luke. Luke 11.4, for example, has "Forgive us our sins
(hAMARTIAS) as we forgive each one who is indebted to us (PANTI OFEILONTI
hHMIN). Likewise 7.36-50 (Anointing) works with the same sin-debt correlation
-- the woman is a sinner (hAMARTWLOS, 7.39) but Jesus tells a story about two
debtors (CREOFEILETAI). I suspect, therefore, that this can be explained in
terms of (a) standard Lukan variation in terminology and tendency to varies his
synonyms and (b) an established correlation between sin and metaphorical debt.

Dr Mark Goodacre
  Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
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