[b-greek] Re: Matthew 11.11

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Fri Mar 23 2001 - 09:36:37 EST

At 9:20 AM -0500 3/23/01, Brian Malley wrote:
>In the immediate context, I don't see a contrast. John's disciples have
>just left, and Jesus asks the crowd rhetorically why they went out to see
>John. I think (tentatively) that the implication here is that they went out
>to see John because they recognized that he was someone spiritual (hence the
>contrast with the wealthy).
>Jesus' statement in 11.11 seems to have the entailment that even John didn't
>make it into the kingdom of heaven (the least person in the kingdom of
>heaven is greater than John), and by implication it is difficult for the
>audience as well. In this it strikes me as similar to the reasoning in 5.20
>"For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the
>Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the
>kingdom of heaven."
>The next verse (11.12) is the very enigmatic APW DE hHMERWN JWANNOU hEWS
>don't really understand what Jesus is saying in this verse, but if there is
>a contrast being maintained, it is not obvious from the grammar.
>If there is a contrast intended by the hO DE of 11.11, then it is not
>evidenced by the context. The fact that most English translations see a
>contrast there indicates, I think, the plausibility of that interpretation.
>But, having read the English before I could read Greek, I had frankly
>expected a stronger contrast, perhaps ALLA.

I don't think we have a case of hO DE here but a DE that shifts the focus
from a comment about John to a general statement about the new era implying
that John's activity belongs to the age now past. One of the enduring
aspects of Conzelmann's study of Luke (whose marvelous German title, DIE
MITTE DER ZEIT, was watered down to "Theology of St. Luke" for the English
translation) was the recognition that Luke makes the era of Jesus follow
upon the conclusion of the earlier age of Israel that ends with the
activity of John the Baptist: that is why the baptism of Jesus is different
in Luke from the other Synoptics: the opening up of the heavens and the
vision of the descending dove takes place while Jesus kneels in prayer
AFTER his baptism and, in terms of Luke's narrative, as if it were AFTER
John the Baptist has been imprisoned.


Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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