Monday, January 16, 2017

Matthew 4:12-23

This passage occurs in the Epiphany season of the Revised Common Lectionary (Year A), most recently January 22, 2017.
 
Summary: Reading Matthew's call of the disciples after John's seems unfair.  John's seems a work of art.  Matthew's seems like a clean-up job on Mark!  However, Matthew's touch-up work is good theology and good writing.  See blog entry below for more details on this.  But what interests me is something Matthew doesn't clean up from Mark, namely Jesus' command to his disciples to "Follow me."  Actually, Jesus never says "Follow me."  He barks out three words, none of which are a verb:  "Here after me."  A bit rougher indeed than "Come and see" but effective nonetheless.  Get out of the way and let Jesus shake up the people!

Also worth noting:  The Greek reading of Matthew 4:17 is the foundation for Thesis 1 of the Luther's 95.

Key Words:
μετανοειτε (4:17; "Repent"):  It is worth pointing out that this verse, Matthew 4:17, begins the 95 thesis.  Luther had grown up reading the Vulgate, which translated this as, "Do penance."  Luther's reading of Greek helped him see the deeper ethical (and existential demand) of Jesus:  Always and continually repent.  It is not an aorist (one-time) command, but a present tense command, which indicates the intent is for continued action.  Thus Luther says that when Jesus says this, "He wills that the whole life be one of repentance."

καταλιπων (here a participle form of καταλειπω, 4:13; "abandon"):  Jesus leaves his hometown.  This is something that Mark leaves out.  I like this detail though because before Jesus asks his disciple's to leave their home, he has already left his.

πληρωθη (πληροω, 4:14; "fulfilled"):  One of the cliches regarding the Gospels is that Matthew wrote for Jews; Luke for gentiles.  However, a quick search on this verb reveals that Luke takes nearly as much time as Matthew to connect Jesus' actions as "fulfilling" OT prophecies.  The only Gospel writer seemingly unconcerned with fulfillment of the OT is Mark.  Helpful to remember that in the year of Matthew (and Luke) we will find lots of direct OT connections.

δευτε (with οπισω μου, 4:19; "Follow??"):  This word is not a verb.  It is more of an adverb like "quick" or an interjection, like "Here!" or "Come on!"  Jesus does not literally say, "Follow me" using the Greek word follow.  He simply says, "Hey, Come on!  After me!"  In other words, "Follow me" makes it sound like Jesus even gave them more instructions than he did.

ποιησω (4:19; "I will make"):  It is helpful to remember that the task of becoming disciples is not one that we accomplish, but rather Jesus says he will make them fishers (of men).  Jesus is the subject of transformation; we are the object.

Grammar review/ sentence translation:  Let me know if anyone reads this section.  I am trying a different format here.
4:14  ινα πληρωθη το ρηθεν δια Ησαιου του προφητου λεγοντος
NRS Matthew 4:14 so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

A couple of points:
1)  When you have a ινα, expect a verb in the subjunctive form.  Don't translate it with "would" as you might; just know that in Greek the ινα demands a subjunctive verb:  "in order to do X"  In this case, "in order to be fulfilled"
2)   Notice the -ου suffix train?  Three words in a row.  Nice to connect them:  "the prophet Isaiah." 
3)   There are two participles.  One is nice.  One is not.  The nice one is λεγοντος.  This circumstantial is surprisingly nice because your brain can probably recognize the root verb and figure out...the prophet Isaiah is saying something.  Although circumstantial participles are often difficult to translate, λεγοντος is so common you might even be able to recognize it and simply translate it "saying."  Lastly, even if you don't include it, you still get the sentence correct, "What was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:"
The hard participle is το ρηθεν.  It is hard to recognize the participle, in this case the aorist passive form of  λεγω.  It is also a substantive, so you translate it in the form, "The one who/what/which XYZ."  Because it is passive, it is "The one who/which/what XYZ (in passive form)"  In this case, "The one which is said."  Since it is aorist, it is the "the one which was said."  "The one" sounds silly so we just make it:  The thing.
Yuck
4)  The preposition is δια.  So, you could read it, "The word spoken by the prophet Isaiah."  However, this stretches the preposition's meaning.  The more natural reading is, "The thing spoken through the prophet Isaiah."  Who says Matthew doesn't have a concept of the word as an eternal substance coming down to earth??

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