From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Oct 18 1999 - 07:28:50 EDT

At 8:46 AM -0500 10/17/99, Steven Craig Miller wrote:
>To: Carl W. Conrad,
><< ... ; in your previous post on this, you were urging that DIKAIOS meant
>"civilized" here ... >>
>I apologize, for I expressed myself poorly there. What I meant to say was
>DIKAIOS can at times mean "civilized" and I find that to be an interesting
>translation for this term (a moot point as far as Mt 1:19 is concerned),

Actually, I rather like "civilized" for DIKAIOS in the right context, and I
think it works very nicely in Plato's Republic, where DIKAIOSUNH is set
into many different associations, but one of the very first is contrast
with predatory behavior.

>but at Mt 1:19 I would take it to mean "Torah observant" (or something
>similar). In other words, I would concur with Father Brown and Davies and
>Allison. The point I was arguing for was: << it would be a fallacy to
>assume that 1st century Torah observant Jews always followed the letter of
>their law, when there is evidence that 1st century Jewish jurisprudence
>held that one could fulfill the command to "purge the evil from your midst"
>(cf. Deut 22:20-21) through divorce. >> Thus it makes sense to me to see
>Joseph as "Torah observant" in his willingness to divorce (as opposed to
>stone) Mary.

With all due respect to Brown, Davies, and Allison (I certainly have a high
regard for Brown on the birth narratives and John's gospel), I still
QELWN AUTHN DEIGMATISAI ...) carries in it the richer sense of
"righteous/ness" in Matthew's gospel--not strict observance of the law
itself, but appreciation of God's will represented in the law and
attentiveness to that, and most particularly--this is fundamentally
Matthaean--a recognition of God's demand for ELEOS. That's what I think is
involved in the present assertion that Joseph is unwilling to make a public
spectacle of Mary.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649

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