[B-Greek] Periphrastic constructions in Mat 10 (Joseph Justiss)

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Wed Aug 18 13:45:56 EDT 2010

> In reading through Matthew I noticed that an abnormally large
concentration of periphrastic constructions with a form of eimi +
a participle shows up in chapter 10 (e.g. vv20, 22, 26, 30).
Has anyone argued, or would it be possible to argue, that this is
due to the more literal translation here at this point in the text
from an original Aramaic source into Koine Greek?>

Many have argued Aramaic substrata in the gospels.
Most widely quoted over the last generation or two is Matthew
Black's Aramaic Approach. Nigel Turner is noted for arguing
that some/much of this entered 'Jewish Greek'.

On the data themselves:
Although Mt 10:20 isn't a periphrastic (it is EINAI with noun
clauses) the point is well taken. In fact Mishnaic Hebrew is noted
for becoming more sensitive to aspect (through contact with
Greek, in my opinion). The results of this in Hebrew were more
periphrastic structures because Hebrew had trouble
differentiating aspect.

Between Hebrew and Aramaic in Matthew 10 there is little to
differentiate, especially after this material would enter into
Greek, going through one or more compilations.
However, there are two clues:
1. As Grintz (JBL 1960) pointed out, "Israel" is used in Hebrew
while 'yehudi/yehud' is used in Aramaic. Matt 10:23 uses Israel, so
presumably Hebrew was being used between Jesus and the
twelve. (Actually, that might even be expected with most any
first century rabbi and their disciples. So say Mishnaic
Hebrew scholars. In fact, the interplay and Aramaic-Hebrew
bilinguality of the people at that time was amazing.)
2. Verse 5-6, 'don't go to the gentiles' might suggest a more
inter-Jewish language, i.e. Hebrew. Aramaic (Greek too) was
a public language that included gentiles. (See the discussion
on Acts 21-22 in a separate thread. Also, 10:5-6 again
mentions Israel. So it looks like this is ultimately coming from
a Hebrew source, but the wording in Matthew has been worked
over in Greek pretty well. I haven't checked what RAymond
Martin's statistics produced for this particular passage where
he tests for translationese.

ερρωσο, שלום לך, יסגא שלמך

Randall Buth, PhD
randallbuth at gmail.com
Biblical Language Center
Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life

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