[b-greek] Re: Titus 1:12 and Hymn to Zeus?

From: dan and rach (dan_rach@ntlworld.com)
Date: Tue Feb 12 2002 - 06:43:26 EST

> I think this is from Epimenides of Knossos (6th-5th century B.C.), who was
> held in honor on Crete as a poet, prophet, and religious reformer.
> to the Anchor Bible Dictionary, "The Cretan poet Epimenides (ca. 600 B.C.)
> describes all Cretans as 'liars, evil brutes, and lazy gluttons' (quoted
> both in Titus 1:12 and Acts 17:28). This characterization is found in
> several ancient sources, e.g., Livy Epit. Per. 44:45; Callimachus Jov. 8;
> and Plutarch Aem 23." Robertson says, "'Their own prophet.' Self-styled
> 'prophet' (or poet), and so accepted by the Cretans and by Cicero and
> Apuleius, that is Epimenides who was born in Crete at Cnossos. It is a
> hexameter line and Callimachus quoted the first part of it in a Hymn to
> Zeus." HTH

A Syrian commentator of 9th century called Isho'dad, claims to quote
Epimenides directly in ref. to this verse (though from what source is
"They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high one
 The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies!
 But thou art not dead; thou livest and abidest forever
 For in thee we live and move and have our being."

Epimenides supposedly attributed it to the mythical king Minos, about whom
he (supposedly) wrote an epic poem (probably called Rhadamanthus)

Callimachus Hymn 1.8.9 quotes Epimenides thus:


We can conclude that Paul knew the verse from Epimenides quoted above in
some format (perhaps the original) other than that quoted by Callimachus,
because Callimachus only quotes the first 3 lines, whereas Paul quotes lines
2 and 4 in different places. The quoting of the fourth line in the Athenian
speech of Acts 17 is particularly apt because the theological point
Epimenides is making here is that there is no point in building homes to
limit a God, whether tomb or temple, for gods are not only immortal but are
fundamental to our own existence. We could not exist without them (or Him).
This is similar to Paul's own argument to the Athenians.

For Paul to use the same passage twice on two wholly different occasions,
once in a letter and once in Acts suggests that it was a quote he knew well
and that Luke's portrayal of the Athenian speech is at least true to life.

Dan King

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