[B-Greek] Matt. 28:1 OPSE restored to "late" vs "before"

Lars siaxares at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 19 08:00:27 EDT 2006

There has always been critical debate as to how or why OPSE, otherwise "late" becomes "after" at Matthew 28:1, with some scholars holding out that after is inappropriate here.  That's because "late" is an inclusive term and on direct read OPSE DE SABBATON (late sabbaths) suggests late in the day of a sabbath, not after a sabbath.  
  But another complication occurs with an idiomatic reference refining the timing for this event in the second phrase: 
  to the [day]  lightening up into one of sabbaths
  Trans: when it was growing light on the first day of the week
  The complication here is this particular point in time of reference is not yet "one sabbaths", it only approaching "one sabbaths".    Since we know from other scriptures this is after the sabbath the presumption for ONE SABBATHS is that it is one day after the sabbath.   But "lightening up into" is a reference to before that period.  So it is not yet "one sabbaths" and thus there is a contradiction here if "one sabbaths" is believed to be the general idiomatic reference to one day after the sabbath.   
  So you have two stretches here.  One stretch that makes "late" a reference to "after" and one that totally ignores this is just before "one sabbaths" whatever that turns out to be idiomatically.  
  But I would propose to provide the answer to this reference based upon the cultural reference and cosmological concepts of the time of the day for the Jews at that time.  That would simply be that "one sabbaths" is actually a short reference for "morrow one after the sabbaths."    That is, there were two morrows of each day, the first beginning at nightfall and ending at sunrise, the other beginning at sunrise and ending at nightfall.   Based upon Mark 16:8 that describes the time of Jesus' ressurection as PROTH SABBATOU, "first of sabbath", "one of sabbath" is likely the name of the second morrow of the day that begins at sunrise.  
  Thus the morrow from nightfall to sunrise is the "first morrow after the sabbath" and the morrow from sunrise to nightfall is called "one morrow after the sabbath" condensed to simply "one sabbaths."  
  With that in mind, the beginning of "[morrow] one [after] sabbaths" is synonymous with sunrise.   Thus the second phrase about ligtening up into "one sabbaths" is a reference to the beginning of dawn light approaching sunrise.   This explanation is consistent with the textual reference to a time shortly before "one sabbaths" when "one sabbaths" is equivalent to sunrise. 
  But getting back to OPSE as "late", we again are presented with the apparent use of DE (whether used as "but" or "not" or "not quite"?) referencing also the period before "one sabbaths".    In this particular text, since "late sabbaths" becomes equivalent to the time just before "one sabbaths" and at three other references that use "DE MIAN SABBATON", we are presuming here that DE SABBATON is equivalent to DE MIAN SABBATON.  If so, then MIAN is left out likely to avoid redundancy.   But that being the case, DE [MIAN] SABBATON would still have to reference a period of time before sunrise that was long enough so that the beginning of dawn falls into is relatively "late" period.
  With that in mind, DE here again would convey the meaning of "before" one sabbaths, specifically the perido from midnight to sunrise.  Let's just call this the "pre-sunrise" period.   In that way OPSE as "late" makes sense, since dawn begins during the latter third or last two hours of this 6-hour period.  Thus you have equivalency and harmony between the two statements.   The first phrase tells us it is late in the pre-sunrise period adds the specification that it is beginnng to get light toward "one after sabbaths" which occurs at sunrise.  OPSE thus retains its standard universal meaning for the latter part of an inclusive period and not "after" that period.
  As follow-up comparison for DE again suggested as conveying "before" when used with a period of the day, we have a comparison of all four gospels, three references for times before sunrise and one after sunrise.   The three references prior to sunrise all use some from of DE with sabbaths, but the one reference that occurs after sunrise drops the DE.  These are as follows:
  Matthew 28:1   DE SABBATHS, when it is lightening up into "one [after] sabbaths".
  Luke 24:1 "DE MIA SABBATON", deep dawn, and thus just before sunrise.
  John 20:1 "DE MIA SABBATON" during the "early" [PRWI] morning watch while it was still dark.
  Mark 16:2, TN MIA TN SABBATON,  (to the one of sabbaths), at the time when the sun had just risen.    No DE before SABBATON used here.
  The above references thus join another comparison where DE becomes a critical indicator for "before" that would otherwise leave times conflicting.  That is particularly true where out of six references to the time near Jesus' death referencing "preparation" only John 19:14 expresses preparation using DE, but only John 19:14 needs to be a reference to "before preparation" since it's context is of the trial occurring around noon in the context of the impalement at the "third hour" (9:00) and Jesus' death at the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.).   Thus when just the times are considered the impalement would occur nine hours after the trial, followed by darkness occurring at noon for three hours and then Jesus death at the ninth hour at 3:00 p.m. on the "day of preparation."  If DE PARASKEUH at John 19:14 thus actually was a reference understood as conveying "before preparation", particularly the afternoon period from noon to nightfall, then there is no apparent actual contradiction
 between John's account for a trial at noon "but (before) preparation" and Jesus death the following day on preparation.
  In this regard since likely there is much prejudice for this explanation, I would ask and hasten to note that IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS often don't make grammatical sense.  Case in point is our own reference to the hours in military time!   "Twenty-three hundred hours" for intance.  This is an idiomatic expression for 11:00 p.m.  But on direct reading "hundred hours" has no longical meaning for the hour of the day, since there are only 24 hours in a day.  We understand culturally that when hours and minutes were expressed together as say 23:00 that the four-digit number looks like twenty-three hundred, and that's why that practice began.  But without understanding this and without many cross references, the actual words here can be misleading.  Further, it is likely that context will point to the correct time generally so that one understands that 2300 is sometime before midnight, but without truly understanding why it is expressed in that manner.   Thus when an IDIOMATIC
 reference such as we are seeing here with "one sabbaths" and "but preparation" or "but morrow" (DE EPAURION), the context reference if understood must always prevail over the meaning of the words.   Thus we know that some concept of OPSE DE SABBATON pointed to a period _after_ the sabbaths though it seemed to read "late in the sabbaths".    The above proposal though allows OPSE as "late" to retain its generic reference, however, but only if DE is finally recognized as as meaning "before" in idiomatic time references.   
  There are several other Biblical references more than consistent with this application for DE specifically used with times of the day if the list is interested in further discussion.  When DE is allowed to represent "just before", besides alleviating some contradictions as in Matthew 28:1 or John 19:14, times become improved and more specific. But at least with Matthew 28:1 it restores "late" to its traditional meaning and application.
  Larry Wilson

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