Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Life of Christ
Life of Christ

WWI. Grenades exploding, Greek Testaments bleeding, life and death incur a vision.

WWII. Darkness shrouding, skies falling, a Gospel ratifies the Padre???s sight.

1941, University of Rome. An author???s preface is forged in love.

D-Day; three weeks later. Nihil obstat sees way to Imprimatur courtesy Archbishop of Baltimore-Washington.

Now: Forgotten, abandoned, sitting dusty in a foreign state???s library basement, single dollar bill buys this fool for Christ a ragamuffin???s gild of out-of-print gold.

Sitting in solace, I sway in tears at the love dripping from these Forty???s pages. Could there be, God? Could there really be a priest, who love You, since Luther? Could there be a Catholic who had something to offer me? Some thing which benefit mankind, rather than take away? Alas, what other book can come to mind of recent, which yank my heart like this? My God, not an author at Amazon lacks a single star in their review, nor disagree on any point, that from the Gospel this truly be the greatest life of Christ ever written. And yes, from a catechetical and sacramental point of view. I weep in thanks.

Giuseppe Ricciotti, commander of Sacred Scripture; of Canon Law, of canon law of Rome, and canon law of Judaism.

I am interested to see those here in listening to some extractions from his ???Critical Introduction??? concerning ???The Sources???, if it please the reader.

Though a defender of the Apostolic language and their original oral catecheses as well as the earliest published Semitic text of Matthew being in that of Aramaic, based on what I can gather to come from not only Patristic writings but also some extant source (p.132-134), he nevertheless displays no seeming knowledge of the Eastern Church???s Peshitta:
[p.101-102, Matthew]

Yet from the beginning the language in which it was written furnished a serious obstacle to the wide use and diffusion of St. Matthew???s work. The information offered by Papias that Matthew wrote in ???the Hebrew dialect??? (???????????????? ????????????????), is in fact confirmed by other early authors ??? like Irenaeus, Origen, Eusebius, Jerome ??? who all speak of a ???Hebrew??? or ???ancestral??? language. Almost certainly the term ???Hebrew??? here denotes Aramaic (as it does in the contemporary Flavius Josephus, Wars of the Jews, VI, 96; cf. V, 272, 361, etc.), which was generally spoken throughout Palestine at the time of St. Matthew. In any case, this original Semitic language, whether Hebrew or Aramaic, was not understood by Christians of non-Jewish origin or even by the numerous converts of the Diaspora who knew no language but Greek ???..

But the obstacle was overcome, for better or worse, in the manner mentioned by the same Papias. The ???sayings??? in their original Semitic text were taken up by various readers and catechists and ???each one then interpreted them as he was able??? (???????????????????? ?? ????????????? ?????? ???? ?????????????? ????????????????). This statement suggests the great activity which soon arose about so opportune and authoritative a text. Some catechists must have made extemporaneous oral translations of the passages they happened to need in the course of their ministry. Others probably made written translations also of certain parts, or more rarely of the whole work. And there must have been other writings too which, like the Explanation of Papias, were an illustrative exegesis rather than a simple translation. But Papias??? observation that each interpreted ???as he was able??? also shows that the good will characterizing this activity was not always accompanied by adequate knowledge, especially with regard to the language of the original, or even that into which the translation was being made ???..

But the Church, which had fostered by her authority the catechesis written in a Semitic dialect by St. Matthew, must at a certain point have extended her vigilant care also to the translations of the original text lest her official sanction be unduly invoked to recommend translations which did not deserve the honor. We do not know precisely what happened, but the results are clear and eloquent. The oral and extemporaneous translations must have grown constantly fewer as there were gradually fewer catechists able to understand the original Semitic text. The written translations, whether partial or complete, remained more or less in the background, that is, private but not official use was made of them, and so they were bound sooner or later to be lost. Only one translation was not lost and has come down to us, and that because it was officially adopted by the Church as a substitute for the too difficult Semitic text of the original, namely, the Greek text of our canonical Matthew ???..

We do not know who made this translation, nor, by his own confession, did St. Jerome even in his day. It was certainly completed a few decades after Matthew???s composition first appeared, that is, when the original Semitic was becoming constantly less usable with the diffusion of Christianity outside of Palestine. Careful comparison of the texts also indicates that the translation was completed after the appearance of the other two synoptic Gospels, for it shows the influence of their mode of expression. The translator, in fact, did not confine himself to the mere literal transfer of terms from one language to another; in addition to aiming at a certain easy and natural style (for which reason to begin with he did not confine himself to a slavish rendering), he had in view the needs of the practical catechist.
[ p.109-110; 112, Mark]

In what sense did Mark become the ???interpreter??? of Peter? The word in itself (??????????????????????) can mean either interpreter of the words, a translator, or interpreter of the thought, a kind of amanuensis or secretary. Both these interpretations are acceptable and in fact have been accepted. After all, it is possible that both apply successively in that Peter ??? who in the first years of his apostolate outside Palestine must have known little Greek and less Latin ??? could have used Mark first as an interpreter in the modern sense of the term and later as an amanuensis and secretary ???..

Later testimony confirms and defines that of the Presbyter and Papias. In the middle of the second century, St. Justin Martyr, in citing a fact contained only in this Gospel (Mark 3:17), says that it is in the ???Memoirs??? (???????????????????????????????) of Peter (Dial. cum Tryph., 106); this designation does not suggest that Justin is referring to some apocryphal writing ??? for which in any case there exists no evidence ??? but rather proves that he considers the writing of the ???interpreter??? of St. Peter a faithful reproduction of the latter???s teaching ???..

Many other later testimonies confirm this same point ???..

As for internal evidence, there are notable traces of this Gospel???s particular origin ???..

Mark???s description of events is vivid and straightforward, and he includes unexpected details often lacking in the other two Synoptics; yet his Greek is poor, his sentences unadorned and even crude, his style elementary and uniform. We seem to be reading the letter of an intelligent rustic who is describing the wonderful events he has witnessed. The narrative of such a writer will be all the more vivid and direct the more profoundly he has been impressed and the more simple and limited are the literary mechanics at his disposal ???..

While Peter needed Mark as an ???interpreter???, the latter in his turn must have had a bare working knowledge of foreign languages, being neither an accomplished man of letters nor even a writer with the experience of Luke or Paul or the stylist of the Epistle to the Hebrews. In the course of his instructions Peter had told his story in the simple but powerfully effective manner of the eyewitness, and his interpreter set it in writing with whatever ingenuous skill he possessed.
[p.117-118, Luke]

Luke???s language is certainly not the classical Greek of Attica, but it has a refinement about it which is not usual in a Hellenistic writer. His vocabulary is rich and often literary, his sentences polished and dignified; so when modern philologists declare his style superior to that of the other Evangelists, they agree in substance with St. Jerome, for whom Luke ???of all the Evangelists was the most skilled in Greek, by virtue of his being a physician???. There are traces of Semitic influence in construction and even in the choice of words, however, and these are especially numerous in the first two chapters which recount the infancy of Jesus, which would indicate that for these the author depended more exclusively on Semitic sources.
[p.133; 134; 130, Synoptics]

First of all, came the Semitic Matthew, which contained both the discourses and the works of Jesus; it was also the principal, if not the only source from which flowed the ???many??? little streams and rivulets of information at the time of Luke ???..

Third in form though not in content, comes our Greek Matthew, which is substantially the same as the Semitic Matthew; but its Greek shows the influence of Mark and Luke for the reasons and to the extent noted above ???..

Historical evidence shows us that chronologically the first of the Synoptics is Matthew???s Semitic writing, corresponding substantially to our Greek Matthew, and that the second is Mark, and the third Luke. But we have also noted that these three writings had a previous history, represented by approximately twenty-five years of oral catechesis, which is mirrored in them from different angles (?? 110). Then, too, we pointed out that the author of the last synoptic had available many previous writings on the same subject which he himself used, though with the object of adding somewhat to their content (?? 140). In fact, there existed still other data outside of these categories, since a few decades after the appearance of the three Synoptics and the ???many??? anonymous writings, the Gospel of John was composed, which contains a great deal of new information. Now how did it happen that out of this sea of facts, which has been explored so little as far as we are concerned, the three Synoptics took almost always the very same pearls and no others, and in addition arranged them always in the same setting? In other words, what is the reason for the striking harmony of the three Synoptics ???..

Among the Semites memory training was a most important part of education in general and of religious instruction in particular. For long periods abundant teaching was entrusted to the memory alone and only later set in writing. Among the many examples we might quote, it is enough here to mention one which is not Hebrew, but is a classic Semitic example, nevertheless, and of a later date than the Gospels, and that is the Koran. This was not written by Mohammed; for about a generation its contents were entrusted to the memory of his disciples but preserved with verbal fidelity. Hence one theory is that something of the same nature occurred in the case of the Synoptics: they all derived from a body of oral teachings worded in a specific manner, namely, the catechesis of the Apostles, which each of them put in writing with varying degrees of completeness but with verbal fidelity, something like the way in which the Talmud was composed (???? 87, 106) ???..

Yet, while we cannot deny the importance of the memory among the Semites in general and in early Christian catechesis too, this explanation seems a little too elementary and mechanical. We should have to suppose ??? if we may use a modern comparison ??? a rich series of imaginary phonograph records, each corresponding to a particular section of this early catechesis, which were made to play from time to time with mechanical precision. And who made this imaginary recording? The college of Apostles, certainly. And in what language? Surely in Aramaic, then the prevailing tongue in Palestine.
[p.147; 151-152; 151, John]

It is apparent from his style and method of exposition that the author of the fourth Gospel was of Jewish origin, so much so that some modern scholars have ventured to suppose, with some exaggeration, that he wrote originally in Aramaic. As a matter of fact, he not only uses Semitic expressions like ???rejoiceth with joy??? (3:19), ???son of perdition??? (17:12), etc., but also Semitic words which he regularly translates for the benefit of his readers, like ???Rabbi??? and ???Rabboni??? (1:38; 20:16), ???Messias??? (1:41), ???Cephas??? (1:42), ???Siloe??? (9:7), etc. His periods are quite elementary and bare in outline with none of the Greek fondness for subordinate clauses or complicated arrangement. On the other hand, his style shows a pronounced tendency toward parallel ideas which is a fundamental characteristic of Hebrew poetry ???..

In the whole New Testament the word Logos occurs only in these three places. We may conclude from this that the term was not used in the catechesis which derived from Peter and from Paul; but it must have been usual in the catechesis of John for he uses it in the first verses of his writing with no explanation whatever, taking for granted that his readers know what he means. The term itself was a familiar one in Greek philosophy from the time of Heraclitus. But the same word expressed different concepts in different centuries just as it varied in meaning with the Sophists, the followers of Socrates (logic) and the Stoics. It played a great part in the speculations of the Alexandrian Jew Philo also, but his concept of the Logos is different from the Greek and more akin to that of ???Wisdom??? in the Old Testament. This is also true of the thoughts implied in the terms Memra and Dibbura, in the sense of ???word??? (of God), which are extremely frequent in the Jewish Targummim but not in the Talmud ???..

And except for the sublimity of the concepts, the method followed in the discussions with the Scribes and Pharisees offers a number of similarities to those employed in the rabbinic disputations of the time. Modern Jewish scholars particularly well versed in the Talmud have pointed out these similarities with fine discrimination and adjudged them a collective confirmation of the historical character of the discourses in the fourth Gospel. Even with his disciples Jesus must have taken a different tone at different times; we might expect his words to be more simple at first when they had just begun to follow him and more difficult later, until he lifted them to heights never reached before in his discourse of farewell at the Last Supper. Then, too, among the disciples themselves he must have had his chosen and more intimate friends for whom he reserved confidences he did not give the others (cf. 13:21-28); and the most intimate among these, as we know, was John, who is therefore the most important witness of all even from a purely historical point of view.
More sprinklings?

[p.631, Passion Week]

Jesus??? tablet was inscribed in the three languages commonly used in the district, Hebrew (Aramaic), Greek, and Latin, and its text, dictated by Pilate, read substantially as follows (?? 122): ???Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews???.

[p.633, Passion Week, footnote 18.]

Mark (15:23) speaks of ???wine mixed with myrrh???, which seems the most correct expression. Matthew (27:34) speaks of ???wine mixed with gall???. Perhaps this last was a generic term denoting any bitters, including myrrh. It may also be that the Greek translator of the Aramaic Matthew rendered mora, ???myrrh???, for merorah, ???gall???, perhaps echoing the Messianic Psalm 69:22 (Hebrew).
-- Giuseppe Ricciotti, The Life of Christ.
  • Translated by Alba I. Zizzamia, D. of L.
    (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1947).

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)