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Matthew 18: 3 - "Turn" or "Change"? - Printable Version

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Matthew 18: 3 - "Turn" or "Change"? - Charles Wilson - 02-20-2019

Matthew 18: 3 (RSV):

[3] and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Younan Translation:

<and said> - <truly> - < i say> - <to you> - <that unless> - <you change> - <and become> - <like> - <children> - [<not> - <you will enter>] - <into the kingdom> - <of heaven>.

Hello everyone --

I keep coming back to this verse and it appears to straddle the 2 languages involved.  There are versions that have "...turn as a child..." and Paul Younan has "...change as a child...".  I certainly understand the  Intentionality here.  However, what does the Language of the verse tell us?  Does the Peshitta and the Greek both have the 2 meanings for "turn/change" here?

Thank you and more later, if needed,

CW


RE: Matthew 18: 3 - "Turn" or "Change"? - Charles Wilson - 05-21-2019

Luke 13: 23 - 24 (RSV):

[23] And some one said to him, "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And he said to them,
[24] "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able..."

Matthew 18: 1 - 4 (RSV):

[1] At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
[2] And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them,
[3] and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
[4] Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Hello everyone.

1. No one has commented on the initial Post of this Thread so I am adding a few thoughts to "fill in a few blanks" as to what I'm thinking.  Comments are welcome.  O/W, this is simply a record.

2. This is a very, very Alternative Reading of the NT Stories.  Many study Marcion, the Synoptics, "Why John?", etc.  I see another Story that has been dismembered and rewritten.  The External Story is found in several Sources, most particularly Josephus.  Zakkai and the Academy at Yavneh may play a role.  The posited Community seen by Weitzman may  be involved as well.

The Internal Story is seen in the rewritten Story of the NT.

3. I would ask that you see the 2 quoted Passages as part of a single Story.  The external Story in Josephus is found in Antiquities..., 17, 9, 3 and Wars of the Jews, 2, 1, 3+.  As Josephus tells it (probably quoting from Nicholas of Damascus), Archelaus is worried of a Coup at Passover and sends in the troops in the early morning, killing at least 3000 around the Temple area.  The Internal Story tells of a Priest who has been caught out in the Death.  There is no escape.  It is a Story seen elsewhere.  Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five is such a story.  No one survived the firebombing of Dresden.  No one.  Only, Vonnegut and a few more did.

The Priest is saved by a child who takes the Priest to a small opening in Fortress Antonia.  No one survived when the soldiers attacked the Temple area at the Ascension of Archelaus at Passover, 4 BCE.  No one.  Only, the Priest and the child who saved him and a few others did (See Mark 6 - "The Squall", and the end of Mark 6 especially.).

4. To see this, you must make some assumptions not seen in most Commentary.  For these two Passages, you must see the "Kingdom of Heaven" as a Real, Physical Place.   The Moffatt Translation has this rendered in Matthew as "Realm of Heaven" and I certainly find that Phrase pleasing. 

Matthew 23: 13 (Moffatt):

[13] "Woe to you, you impious scribes and Pharisees!  You shut the Realm of heaven in men's  faces; you neither enter yourselves, nor will you let those enter who are at the point of entering.

The Scribes and Pharisees should have no control over spirits.  They are accused of shutting the Realm of Heaven from access by MEN.  This is a physical act, preventing those who would enter from entering.  The Scribes and Pharisees are not righteous enough to enter the Realm of Heaven:

Matthew 5: 20 (RSV):

[20] For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

5. Thus the problem: The two Passages together make sense only if "...you must TURN as a child..."  NOT "...CHANGE as a child...".  The door is so small that only a child may fit through it or one who is small (not rich and fat) and even then, the person must humble himself as a child - "Make himself as small as possible".

6. This should not be a Greek Problem.  Unless a Nicholas of Damascus wrote the Story from his observations in Herod's Court in Greek, this should be an example of Aramaic Primacy with a Greek mistranslation.  Nick-o-Damascus is a Player in this History.  He was there.  Josephus used him.  The question is, "Did this Story originate in the Aramaic and get translated into the Greek"?  I think we all know the answer to this one.

So, what is it here?  "Turn" or "Change"?

7. I understand that I could simply be wrong in the Analysis here, but I don't think so.

CW


RE: Matthew 18: 3 - "Turn" or "Change"? - sestir - 05-21-2019

Quote:Does the Peshitta and the Greek both have the 2 meanings for "turn/change" here?

I'd say, at least the Greek has the one meaning "turn/change" there. It is this word: στραφῆτε

Lust Eynikel Hauspie (LEH) Lexicon of the Septuagint give "to be turned into, to change into", when it's followed by εἴς. It also list: "To be turned upside down" and refer to Proverbs 12:7, where στραφῆτε corresponds to הפוך., a form of the same word that Peshitta has in Matthew 18:3.

For the meaning of στραφῆτε in Matthew 18:3, BDAG suggest "to experience an inward change, turn, change". They refer to Oracula Sibyllina 3, 625 for further study.


RE: Matthew 18: 3 - "Turn" or "Change"? - Charles Wilson - 05-21-2019

THANK YOU, sestir, very much.

The extended Passage should be:

Matthew 18: 1 - 6 (RSV):

[1] At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
[2] And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them,
[3] and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
[4] Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

[5] "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me;

[6] but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

I separated verses 5 and 6 for a reason:

Mark 9: 34 - 37 (RSV):

[34] But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest.
[35] And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, "If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all."
[36] And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them,
[37] "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me."

"Isn't this simply the same Story just sorta' rewritten a bit by Matthew?"
No.

Verse 35 in Mark is certainly telling something that is not in Matthew.  It may go to the organization of the Temple and the relationship between the youngest - "the least" -  and the older Priests.  Maybe this is for another day.

Notice the last part of 37: "...whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me."

This is Transvaluation.  You know what it means and I know what it means for Christianity.  Did it mean that originally?  I believe that there is another alternative and it involves the return of the Priest who was trapped outside as 3000+ are being hacked to bits around the Temple.  The "...one who sent me" would be Jairus.

Mark 9: 43 - 47 (RSV):

[42]"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea.

[43] And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.
[45] And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell.
[47] And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell

Verse 42 is a Herod story.  Herod did drop "Millstones of a donkey" into the sea at Caesarea to create a Safe Harbor so that ships from Petronius could safely deliver grain during a great famine at that time.  Verses 43 - 47 are deeply ironic.  In the Realm of Heaven, the Priests are without blemish.  After the Slaughter, the few who survived are maimed, cut and disfigured.  Yet, they made it into the Realm of Heaven.

John did not.  Thus, even the least in the Realm of Heaven are greater than John.

This leads us back to the original question: Is it "Turn" or "Change"?

sestir Wrote:where στραφῆτε corresponds to הפוך., a form of the same word that Peshitta has in Matthew 18:3

I yield to your superior knowledge here, sestir.  However, which way does the translation appear to go?  Bauscher has "Gabbatha", for example, as a one-way translation from Aramaic to Greek.  He states that it never could have pointed from Greek to Aramaic.  Is that true here?

There is something strange about "...turn as a child...".  I still want to know what that strangeness is.

I thank you very much again for this contribution.

CW


RE: Matthew 18: 3 - "Turn" or "Change"? - Charles Wilson - 05-22-2019

There may be a "fit" here with a Section of Second Chronicles:

2 Chronicles 7: 12 - 14 (RSV):

[12] Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: "I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice.
[13] When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people,
[14] if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

1. There certainly was a Great Famine in Judea, so great that Herod hocked everything of value in the Palace to buy grain from the Procurator Petronius in Egypt.  Compare this with Leviticus 26.  Verse 13 here would be "active".

2. Accept that "Turn/Change" IS  the meaning in Matthew 18: 3.  The meaning of "Humble" is well understood.

3. The Passage in Matthew 18 then becomes an embodiment of this Passage in 2 Chronicles.  There is a war between the Hellenized and Corrupted Jerusalem High Priesthood and the Mishmarot Priesthood that serves in the Temple.

4. To review:

Matthew 18: 1 - 4 (RSV):

[1] At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
[2] And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them,
[3] and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
[4] Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

As an aside, the answer to the question in verse 1 is, "Anyone who is alive and has made it into the Realm of Heaven from the Slaughter outside is the greatest in the Realm of Heaven", recalling Ecclesiastes, "Even a live dog is better than a dead lion...".

"[2] And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them": The use of the child here is not merely as a "Prop".  It is significant to the exposition of the Passage. Verses 2 and 4 bracket the Sayings.  If this is simply about "Be Converted" there is no reason for the child.  The actions of the child are Primary and it is the source of my puzzlement.

Again, let us assume that "Turn/Change" is accurate. If this is an embodiment of the 2 Chronicles Passage then we should infer that the child is self-conscious and gives the affect that reflects this. 

"[4] Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven": This "humbleness" is affirmed in the statement given.  The child appears humble.  He has been brought in front of adults and he should be seen in appearance as somewhat puzzled and self-conscious as to why he is being singled out.

The child lives, or at least, the child he represents.  The child he represented sought the Realm of Heaven, even when famine rages, the very High Priesthood is Corrupt and fellow worshipers are being hacked to bits all around him.  He saves a Priest and they are able to enter the Realm of Heaven through the "Narrow Door". 

The comparison to 2 Chronicles may be a stretch.  I still remain certain that the child is a model for those who achieve entrance through the "Narrow Door".  The passageway is so small that you must "scrunch down" to the smallest shape you can in order to squeeze through to obtain passage to  the Realm of Heaven.  You may even have had to crawl upside-down for a short distance at some point.

I can, however, achieve a little peace here with this reading.  To me, it'll probably always be "TURN", as in, "physically turn your body to get through the small passageway".  If it is "Turn/Change", I believe I can live with that as well.  Thank you, 2 Chronicles.

CW


RE: Matthew 18: 3 - "Turn" or "Change"? - sestir - 05-23-2019

You don't need to flatter me. :} I don't know any more than the average guy here about biblical languages.

Koine Greek and Classical Syriac are, in my opinion, more similar to each other than either of them are to Modern English. So it helps a lot to compare directly with Greek, and I can see no reason why Matthew 18:3 couldn't have been translated from a Greek or Syriac original into the other language, whereas it would be reasonable to conclude from the chage/turn/convert/be converted - split in English that it wasn't composed in English.

If the narrow path, which we know leads to life, also leads to heaven, shouldn't we then expect "life in heaven" to be a common expression throughout the gospels and Paul's letters?

(I will probably be a bit slow in replying now, due to work.)


RE: Matthew 18: 3 - "Turn" or "Change"? - Charles Wilson - 05-23-2019

1. Accept the compliment, sestir.  You replied to my Post and you were a great help.  Thnx.

2.
sestir Wrote:I can see no reason why Matthew 18:3 couldn't have been translated from a Greek or Syriac original into the other language

'Zackly, and it is at this point that "Too many cooks spoil the broth".  Who wrote "...turn as a child..." and in what language?  Nicholas of Damascus was there and wrote histories.  He appears to  have been a Jew.  Did he write in Hebrew?  He argued in front of Caesar often - and always won!  He was certainly Hellenized, probably helping Herod install the Greek Ordering of the Court.  Did he "think" in Hebrew?

Perhaps this came from Zakkai at Yavneh.  He had highly detailed knowledge of the inner workings of the Temple as well as specific knowledge of details of the physical buildings and layout of the Temple and Antonia.  He was allowed by Vespasian to survive and teach after the Destruction of the Temple, after which many of those details would have been lost.

Mark 14: 12 - 16 (RSV):

[12] And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the passover lamb, his disciples said to him, "Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the passover?"
[13] And he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him,
[14] and wherever he enters, say to the householder, `The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I am to eat the passover with my disciples?'
[15] And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us."
[16] And the disciples set out and went to the city, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the passover.

Here is another Passage that has the same Type of "Richness".  It is incredibly deep and yet there are also incredible problems ("And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the passover lamb...).  This Passage has puzzled many as well.  "Men" did not carry jars of water, etc.  It shows detailed knowledge of where "The Teacher" stayed.  There is familiarity with the lay-out of the rooms.

It is possible, if you believe such things, that the original word in Matthew 18: 3 was replaced by a Redactor.  As you stated:
Quote:where στραφῆτε corresponds to הפוך., a form of the same word that Peshitta has in Matthew 18:3

"What other words have that "Form", that would mean the same as "Turn/Change", as describing an act of a child "Turn-ing" to make it through a small opening?"

CW