Matt. 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30
(Huck 189; Aland 254-255; Crook 294-295)
רַבִּי מַה טּוֹב אֶעֱשֶֹה וְאִירַשׁ חַיֵּי עוֹלָם וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ יֵשׁוּעַ לָמָּה אַתָּה אוֹמֵר טוֹב אֵין טוֹב אֶלָּא אֶחָד אֶת הַמִּצְוֹת אַתָּה יוֹדֵעַ לֹא תִנְאַף לֹא תִרְצָח לֹא תִגְנֹב לֹא תַעֲנֶה עֵד שָׁקֶר וַיֹּאמֶר כָּל אֵלּוּ עָשִׂיתִי מִיַּלְדוּתִי וַיִּשְׁמַע יֵשׁוּעַ וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ עוֹד אַחַת חֲסֵרָה לְךָ כָּל שֶׁיֵּשׁ לְךָ מְכֹר וְחַלֵּק לָעֲנִיִּים וִיהִי לְךָ אוֹצָר בַּשָּׁמָיִם וּבוֹא לֵךְ אַחֲרַי וַיִּשְׁמַע וַיֵּעָצֵב כִּי הָיָה עָשִׁיר מְאֹד וַיַּרְא אֹתוֹ יֵשׁוּעַ וַיֹּאמֶר מַה קָשֶׁה לְאֵלּוּ שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהֶם נְכָסִים לָבוֹא בְּמַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם נוֹחַ לַגָּמָל לְהִכָּנֵס בַּחֲרִירָהּ שֶׁלְּמַחַט מִלֶּעָשִׁיר לָבוֹא בְּמַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם וַיֹּאמֶר פֶּטְרוֹס הֲרֵי אָנוּ הִנַּחְנוּ אֶת הַכֹּל וְהָלַכְנוּ אַחֲרֶיךָ וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם אָמֵן אֲנִי אוֹמֵר לָכֶם כָּל שֶׁהִנִּיחַ בֵּיתוֹ לְשֵׁם מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם יְקַבֵּל כִּפְלַיִם בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וּבָּעוֹלָם הַבָּא חַיֵּי עוֹלָם
“Teacher,” he asked, “what ‘good’ can I do to obtain eternal life?”
Yeshua replied: “Why do you refer to a deed as ‘good’? Call only one thing ‘good’—the Torah. You know how to obtain eternal life: keep the commandments—‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not give false testimony….’”
“All these I have kept since I was a child,” the man interrupted.
At that, Yeshua said: “There is something more you should do: Give away all your wealth to charity—you will have heavenly wealth—and become my disciple.”
The man’s face fell—he was very wealthy.
When Yeshua saw that, he said: “How difficult it is for someone who is rich to join my band of disciples; it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye.”
“Look at us, we have left everything to become your disciples!” Petros exclaimed.
“You have done the right thing,” Yeshua replied. “I promise you that all who have left family, livelihood and possessions to join my band of disciples will in this life get much, much more than what they have given up, and in the life after death, eternal life.”
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To view the reconstructed text of Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven click on the link below:
The Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven story is presumed to be set in the Galilee, during the period when Jesus began to select a band of full-time disciples who would study and travel with him. Lindsey believed that the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident in the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven story was only the first segment of a longer literary complex that originally included the Demands of Discipleship discourse (Matt. 10:37-38; Luke 14:25-27, 33) and the Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl parables (Matt. 13:44-46). We have named this conjectured complex of passages “Cost of Entering the Kingdom of Heaven.” This literary complex appears in a division of the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua designated “Calling and Training Disciples.”
Although all three Synoptists precede the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident with the story about Jesus blessing the children (Matt. 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17), the two stories probably were not linked in the first biography of Jesus. Their juxtaposition has created the mistaken impression that Jesus’ saying, “Whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it,” elicited the rich man’s question, “What good deed can I do to inherit eternal life?” It is more likely that the two incidents took place on separate occasions, but were placed together at a later redactional stage, perhaps because both stories include the phrase “enter the Kingdom of God.” Jesus’ response to the rich man and his subsequent teaching about the Demands of Discipleship and the worth of the Kingdom of Heaven (Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl) may have been prompted solely by the rich man’s question.
Conjectured Stages of Transmission
The Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven is a Triple Tradition pericope. Signs of Greek improvement indicate that Luke copied this pericope from his second source, First Reconstruction (FR). Mark copied the pericope from Luke, making characteristic literary changes. Matthew copied the pericope from Mark, but not without making significant changes of his own. Nevertheless, Matthew preserves some superior readings because of his habit of combining his two sources (Mark and Anthology).
- What did the rich man refer to as “good,” Jesus or a good deed?
- What is the “one good thing” Jesus referred to?
- What is the meaning of “Kingdom of Heaven” in the context of the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven story?
L1-6 This gospel story has come to be titled “The Rich Young Ruler.” However, the words “rich young ruler” do not appear together in any of the versions of the story. The title is a composite: “ruler” comes from Luke 18:18 where it is part of the Lukan story setting; “young man” comes from Matt. 19:20, 22. Luke’s “ruler” was probably not part of the pre-synoptic story since it does not appear in the Markan or Matthean parallels. It is likely that Matthew’s “young man” resulted from the words ἐκ νεότητος (“from youth”), which Matthew saw in Mark 10:20, as well as in his second source, Anth. The rich man’s testimony that he had kept the commandments from his youth would seem to indicate that he was not a young man. Having transformed the man into a young man, Matthew deliberately omitted ἐκ νεότητὸς μου (“from my youth”) in his parallel to Mark 10:20, in order to avoid the contradiction that retaining this phrase would have caused.
Since the three story openings (L1-6) are so dissimilar, we surmise that each synoptic author composed his own story setting. It is therefore impossible to reconstruct the introduction to the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven. Our Hebrew Reconstruction (HR) begins with “and he asked him, saying….” No doubt a story character was mentioned in the preceding sentence or sentences. Perhaps the story setting was: מַעֲשֶׂה בְּאָדָם שֶׁבָּא לִפְנֵי יֵשׁוּעַ (“The story of a person who came before Jesus”), parallel to the words in t. Yev. 6:7ff.: “The story of a person who came to R. Yose: ‘Rabbi,’ he said, ‘what does it mean to…?’”
L2 ἐκπορευομένου αὐτοῦ (Mark 10:17). The gen. abs. construction in Mark’s opening phrase is characteristic of Greek composition, rather than translation from a Hebrew source.
L3-4 προσδραμὼν εἷς καὶ γονυπετήσας αὐτὸν (Mark 10:17). This Markan dramatization, “a man ran up and knelt before him,” appears to have been composed in Greek for it does not translate easily to Hebrew. The sentence displays two fronted aorist participles (“having run” and “having knelt”) followed by the main verb, ἐπηρώτα (“he asked”; L5). This is good Koine Greek syntax, but not what one would expect of Greek translated quite literally from Hebrew, which would be, “and he ran, and he knelt, and he asked.” Compare, for example, the syntax of Matt. 21:33: “he planted…and put around…and dug…and built…and let it out…and departed.”
L5 ἐπηρώτα αὐτόν (Mark 10:17). Mark substituted an imperfect form of the verb ἐπερωτᾶν (eperōtan, “to ask”) for Luke’s aor. form. According to Lindsey, this seems to be an example of Mark’s method of writing his Gospel by revising Luke’s text. Mark may have borrowed this word from Luke 23:9 where Luke also used the imperfect verb form. In all of Luke and Acts (of a total of 19 occurrences of the verb), this form occurs only once, in Luke 23:9. It is not used by any NT writers except Luke (23:9) and Mark (5:9; 8:23, 27, 29; 9:33; 10:17; 13:3; 14:61; 15:4).
L6 ἄρχων (Luke 18:18). The detail that the rich man was a “ruler” is unique to Luke. It is likely that the introduction to this pericope was lost and that Luke, or more likely his source (FR), supplied this description of the rich man.
L5-6 יִּשְׁאָלֵהוּ לֵאמֹר (HR). Having concluded that the original introduction to the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven was lost, our Hebrew reconstruction is only a guess, which can be compared to Gen. 37:15, which reads וַיִּשְׁאָלֵהוּ הָאִישׁ לֵאמֹר (“…and the man asked him saying….”).
L7 διδάσκαλε ἀγαθέ (Mark 10:17; Luke 18:18). Both Mark and Luke give an account of a man who addressed Jesus as “good teacher.” This form of address is contrary to normal Jewish custom. While it is true that the sages sometimes described human beings as “good,” examples of a teacher or any other person being addressed as “good” are extremely rare. In Jewish culture, “good” was used when speaking about someone, almost never to someone.
On the other hand, in Greek culture, the form of address suggested by Mark and Luke was quite usual. “Good teacher” conforms to Greek ideas of politeness, and one may suppose that either Mark or Luke introduced the improvement, only to be copied by the other. Matthew seems to preserve the original address of the rich man—simply “Teacher.”
רַבִּי (HR). The rich man addressed Jesus as “Teacher.” This was the usual respectful form of address employed when approaching a sage. The Hebrew equivalent for διδάσκαλος (didaskalos, “teacher”) in Jesus’ day was רַב (rav, “master”). In addressing a teacher, one said רַבִּי (rabi, “my teacher”), adding the first person pronominal suffix (“my”). Adding a possessive pronoun is unidiomatic in Greek and was therefore probably dropped when the Hebrew text was translated to Greek.
In the time of Jesus, רַבִּי was used in its literal sense to refer to one’s own teacher, or, idiomatically, in addressing any teacher. It did not become an official title (e.g., Rabbi Eleazar, Rabbi Meir) until the second cent. C.E.
Notice that the rich man did not address Jesus by name. A sage might address his disciples by name (e.g., Matt. 16:17-18; Luke 22:31, 34, 48); however, out of respect, the sage’s disciples and the general public avoided addressing him by name. This social convention is confirmed in the Synoptic Gospels: Jesus is never addressed by name by his disciples, and is ordinarily addressed as רַבִּי rather than by name by outsiders.
L8 τί ἀγαθόν (Matt. 19:16). On account of its rabbinic sophistication, Matthew’s version, “Teacher, what good can I do…?” appears to preserve the pre-synoptic version better than Luke and Mark’s “Good teacher, what can I do…?” (Mark 10:17; Luke 18:18).
As a result of Flusser’s insistence that the Markan-Lukan “Good teacher” is impossible in the context of first-century Jewish society, Lindsey reexamined Matthew’s parallel. Translating the text to Hebrew, Lindsey discovered that Matthew’s τί ἀγαθόν (ti agathon, “what good?”) reflects מַה טוֹב (mah ṭōv, “what good?”), a phrase found in Mic. 6:8: “What good does the LORD require of you?” Apparently the rich man held a misguided, popular understanding of “good” in the Micah passage, and asked, “What mitzvah can I do to obtain eternal life?” In other words, the rich man wanted to perform a single extraordinary deed that would secure an eternal reward.
τί ποιήσας (Luke 18:18). The verb ποιεῖν (poiein, “to do”) in the rich man’s question (Matt. 19:16; Mark 10:17; Luke 18:18) may indicate that the man was thinking of a specific act, a single commandment (good deed) as opposed to a whole way of life. For our Greek Reconstruction (GR) we have accepted Luke’s participial form, because the subjunctive verb (ποιήσω) + ἵνα + subjunctive verb (κληρονομήσω [Mark]; σχῶ [Matt.]) construction appears to be a Greek stylistic improvement to Luke’s comparatively more Hebraic construction.
מַה טּוֹב אֶעֱשֶֹה (HR). In MH עָשָׂה (‘āsāh, “do”) replaced שָׁמַר (shāmar, “guard”) as the verb that usually accompanied “commandments.” The rabbinic saying, כָּל הָעוֹשֶׂה מִצְוָה אַחַת מְטִיבִים לוֹ וּמָאֲרִיכִים אֶת יָמָיו וְנוֹחֵל אֶת הָאָרֶץ (“Anyone who performs [lit., does] even a single commandment will be blessed, have length of days and inherit the land”; m. Kid. 1:10), is a typical example.
In the time of Jesus, the expression “do Torah” was a synonym for “do commandments,” as shown, for example, in this opinion of Hillel and Shammai: “If you have performed many mitzvot [lit., If you have done much Torah], do not think that you have any merit [i.e., that you are entitled to a reward]. This is the purpose for which you have been created!” This insight enables us to better understand Jesus’ abrupt switch from “Torah” to “commandments” in his reply to the rich man: “There is no good except one [i.e., Torah]. You know the commandments….”
L9 ζωὴν αἰώνιον (Matt. 19:16; Mark 10:17; Luke 18:18). In Jewish sources eternal life does not imply that the person who is granted eternal life will never die. This is clearly seen to be the case in 2 Macc. 7:9 where a Jewish martyr anticipates eternal life as a reward for suffering death for the sake of Torah (cf. 4 Macc. 15:3). Likewise, in the book of Daniel, the righteous who die will arise to eternal life (ζωὴν αἰώνιον = חַיֵי עוֹלָם; Dan. 12:2; cf. Pss. Sol. 3:12). Τhe Jewish concept of eternal life is therefore distinct from the Greek notion of the immortality of the soul.
חַיֵי עוֹלָם (HR). In BH the noun עוֹלָם (‘ōlām) referred to a (very long) duration of time and not to the physical world, which explains why עוֹלָם was usually rendered in LXX as αἰών (aiōn, “age,” “aeon”), but never rendered as κόσμος (kosmos, “world,” “universe”) in LXX. In construct phrases עוֹלָם could be used in the sense of “perpetual,” or “eternal,” as for instance בְּרִית עוֹלָם (“eternal covenant”; Gen. 9:16) or אֵיבַת עוֹלָם (“perpetual enmity”; Ezek. 35:5). Thus, חַיֵי עוֹלָם does not mean “life of the world,” but “eternal life.”
When עוֹלָם appeared in construct phrases with the meaning “eternal,” the LXX translators often rendered עוֹלָם adjectivally as αἰώνιος (aiōnios, “eternal”). Thus, ζωὴ αἰώνιός (“eternal life”) is the expected translation of חַיֵּי עוֹלָם, and as we have seen it was the translation adopted in Dan. 12:2. Examples of חַיֵי עוֹלָם also appear in DSS (4Q181 1 II, 4, 6) and in rabbinic literature (e.g., t. Sanh. 13:3 [Vienna MS]; Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Amalek chpt. 4 [ed. Lauterbach, 2:288]).
L10 κληρονομήσω (Mark 10:17; Luke 18:18). The Matthean form of the rich man’s question asks, “What good deed could I do that I might have eternal life?” Luke and Mark, by contrast, read, “…that I might inherit eternal life?” Matthew’s subjunctive verb σχῶ (schō, “I might have”) is probably a Greek improvement for non-Jewish readers who might not be familiar with the phrase “inherit eternal life.”
וְאִירַשׁ (HR). In rabbinic literature there are numerous synonyms for “inherit eternal life,” including: ירש…את…העולם הבא (“he inherited the age to come”; Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Beshallah chpt. 7, on Exod. 15:1 [ed. Horovitz-Rabin, 114]); יוֹרְשִׁים לְגַן עֵדֶן (“they are inheriting the Garden of Eden”; m. Avot 5:19 [Kaufmann and Cambridge]); and נוֹחֵל אֶת הָאָרֶץ (“he is inheriting the land”; m. Kid. 1:10). And note the antonymic phrase יוֹרֵשׁ לְגֵיהִינָם (“he is inheriting Gehinnom”; m. Avot 1:5).
It is difficult to decide between reconstructing κληρονομεῖν (klēronomein, “to inherit”) with י-ר-ש or with נ-ח-ל. These two Hebrew roots are synonymous and they are both commonly translated with κληρονομεῖν in LXX. We have reconstructed with the root י-ר-ש on the basis of linguistic parallels such as the following:
שלשה הניחו כתרן בעה″ז וירשו חיי העה″ב ואילו הן יונתן בן שאול ואלעזר בן עזריה. וזקני בתירה.
Three gave up their crown in this age, and inherited the life of the age to come [וירשו חיי העה″ב], and they are: Jonathan the son of Saul, Eliezer the son of Azariah, and the elders of Bathyra. (y. Pes. 6:1 [39b])
In the Jewish Prayerbook we also find the petition:
יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁ-…נִירַשׁ…לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא
May it be thy will, O Lord our God and God of our fathers, that…we may inherit…the life of the age to come.
ת″ר אומר לפניה דברים של הגדה ומעשים שאירעו בכתובים הראשונים כגון אשר חכמים יגידו ולא כחדו מאבותם יהודה הודה ולא בוש מה היה סופו נחל חיי העולם הבא ראובן הודה ולא בוש מה היה סופו נחל חיי העולם הבא
Our Rabbis have taught: He tells her [i.e., a woman accused of adultery—DNB and JNT] narratives and incidents which occurred in the early writings; for instance, Which wise men have told and have not hid it [from their fathers], namely Judah confessed and was not ashamed; what was his end? He inherited the life of the age to come [נחל חיי העולם הבא]. Reuben confessed and was not ashamed; what was his end? He inherited the age to come [נחל חיי העולם הבא]. (b. Sot. 7b; Soncino)
While it may be difficult to determine which verb to utilize for reconstruction, these linguistic parallels provide strong support for preferring the Markan-Lukan reading κληρονομήσω over Matthew’s σχῶ.
L12 יֵשׁוּעַ (HR). In LXX the name Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous) usually represents יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (yehōshua‘, “Joshua”) in the underlying Hebrew text. In the books of Chronicles and 2 Esdras (= Ezra and Nehemiah), however, Ἰησοῦς also represents יֵשׁוּעַ (yēshūa‘, “Jesus”), a shortened form of יְהוֹשֻׁעַ first attested in the early Second Temple period. The shortened form, יֵשׁוּעַ, is almost certainly the name borne by Jesus of Nazareth. This name was common among Jews living in Israel during the first century C.E., with numerous examples of ישוע inscribed on ossuaries and ostraca. Moreover, an early rabbinic text refers to Jesus by the name יֵשׁוּעַ.
L13-14 τί λέγεις ἀγαθόν (GR). The word μέ (me, “me”) has been omitted from GR. It follows that if the rich man did not address Jesus as “good,” then Jesus did not ask, “Why do you call me good?” Although μέ is found here in all three Synoptic Gospels, it probably was not present in the earliest version of the Greek text.
Lindsey found it strange that καλεῖς (kaleis, “call”) is not used in Jesus’ reply if the meaning of his question was “Why do you call me good?” (cf. Acts 14:12; Rom. 9:25; Heb. 2:11; 1 Pet. 3:6). Furthermore, Lindsey argued that if λέγεις (“you say”) is to have the meaning “you call” in Jesus’ question, then one would expect the sentence structure to be: τί με λέγεις ἀγαθὸν εῖναι (“Why do you say that I am good?”).
The Markan-Lukan version of Jesus’ question is also problematic because in the late Second Temple period neither the Greek verb λέγειν (legein, “to say”) nor its Hebrew equivalent אָמַר (’āmar, “say”) had the meaning “to call” in the sense of “to speak of” or “address by a specified name.” Therefore, it is improbable that Mark and Luke’s “Why do you say to me good?” is the earliest form of the text.
It is unlikely that Jesus was questioning the rich man about what he meant when he used the word “good.” Jesus probably understood what the rich man meant, but criticized him for the way he used “good.” Thus, it is more likely that Jesus used אוֹמֵר in the sense of “interpret.” His question, “Why do you say ‘good’?” would then mean, “Why do you use ‘good’ in this way?”
If we are correct, then Jesus’ response was not a reaction to being addressed as “good,” but rather a reaction to the rich man’s use of “good” in the sense of “good deed” or “mitzvah.” Jesus opposed attempts to obtain eternal life by performing one good deed.
L16 θεός (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). Some scholars suppose that the Markan-Lukan version of Jesus’ response is authentic because Jesus’ words, “No one is good except one—God,” conflict with early Christian belief in the trinity. They believe that Matthew rewrote Mark’s version in order to eliminate this contradiction to orthodox theology. Their reasoning is that since Jesus’ denial of divinity in this passage does not fit the theology of the early Church, a later Christian editor would not have put the saying in Jesus’ mouth. The Markan-Lukan version must, therefore, be authentic.
Rather than supposing that Matthew deleted “God” from his source, we suggest that it is more likely that a later Greek editor added θεός (theos, “God”) to the sentence as it appeared in a pre-synoptic source. The Greek editor was apparently misled by a mistranslation of the Hebrew word for “one” (see below). We have therefore omitted the word (ὁ) θεός from GR.
The Hebrew equivalent of εἷς (eis, “one”), the Greek word preceding “God,” is אֶחָד (’eḥād, “one”). Since Hebrew, unlike Greek, has no distinct form for the neuter gender, אֶחָד can mean “one person” (masc.) or “one thing” (neut.). We believe that the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua mistranslated this word by using the masculine form of “one” (εἷς) rather than the neuter form (ἔν). This caused later Greek editors of the text to assume that Jesus was referring to God, and eventually, one of them added θεός. However, when Jesus spoke of the one good, he was referring to Torah, not God.
L15-16 οὐδεὶς ἀγαθὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς (GR). The one good of which Jesus spoke is Torah. This seems clear from his continuation, “You know the commandments…,” and from the structural similarity of Jesus’ saying, “There is no good except one,” to a well-known saying of the sages, אֵין טוֹב אֶלָּא תּוֹרָה (“There is no good except Torah”).
Jesus not only connected “good” and “Torah,” he also connected “eternal life” and “Torah”: when the rich man expressed a desire to obtain eternal life, Jesus directed him to the commandments. Jesus indicated that by observing the Torah’s commandments, the rich man could obtain eternal life. Flusser has shown that the association of Torah with eternal life is ancient, being found already in the writings of Ben Sira (cf. Sir. 17:11; 45:5).
It seems that Jesus strongly opposed the rich man’s implicit suggestion that eternal life could be procured by performing a single good deed. Jesus agreed with other contemporary Jewish teachers that there exists a statement in Scripture that is so comprehensive that it summarizes all the commandments; however, he opposed the idea that there is a single extraordinary deed a person can perform that can substitute for a life of Torah observance. Like many contemporary sages, Jesus accepted the distinction between “light” and “heavy” commandments (Matt. 5:19; cf. Matt. 23:23). Yet for Jesus, and indeed for many other sages, concern for the “heavy” commandments must not lead to neglect of the “light” commandments. In his view, care must be taken to observe even the most obscure commandments. Therefore, there cannot be one commandment, a single “good deed,” that opens the door to eternal life.
L17 εἰ δὲ θέλεις (Matt. 19:17). That the phrase “if you want to enter life” is a product of Matthean editorial activity is likely, given the frequency with which εἰ + θέλειν occurs in Matthew but is unsupported by the other Synoptic Gospels.
L20 τὰς ἐντολὰς οἶδας (Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20). The Markan-Lukan continuation of Jesus’ response to the rich man, “You know the commandments…,” strongly suggests that the Hebrew underneath οὐδεὶς ἀγαθὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς (“No one is good except one”) originally referred to the Torah and not to God. Out of context, it might be plausible to assume that the word εἷς (“one”) refers to God, for God is called “good” in Scripture (Ps. 136:1; cf. Ps. 145:9), and references to God such as הַטּוֹב וְהַמֵּטִיב (“the Good and the Doer of Good”) occur frequently in ancient Jewish prayers and blessings. In this context, however, it is almost impossible to suppose that the reference is to God, for Jesus immediately goes on to mention the Torah’s commandments.
Thus, in response to the rich man’s question, “What mitzvah can I do…?” Jesus rejected the notion that by performing a single deed a person could merit eternal life. Moreover, Jesus opposed the very mindset of seeking heavenly rewards for the performance of good deeds. This mindset was opposed not only by Jesus, but, apparently, by most sages of his day. Already in the second cent. B.C.E. Antigonus of Socho is reported to have said:
Do not be like slaves who serve their master in order to receive a reward; rather, be like slaves who do not serve their master in order to receive a reward. (m. Avot 1:3)
The Pharisees likewise criticized those of their number who continually asked, “What good deed may I do?” They caricatured themselves by speaking of seven types of Pharisees. The fifth type was the “Calculating Pharisee” who was always saying, “Tell me what good deed I can do to offset a bad deed” (y. Ber. 9:5 [67b]; b. Sot. 22b; Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, chpt. 37 [ed. Schechter, 109]; Version B, chpt. 45 ).
One should also compare such rabbinic sayings as the following:
Blessed is the man that delights greatly in His commandments [Ps. 112:1]—in His commandments, not in the reward of His commandments. (b. Avod. Zar. 19a)
According to Jesus, when one has performed all the mitzvot, one has done no more than one’s duty and is still just an undeserving slave, not having earned any reward (Luke 17:7-8, 10). On this point Jesus was in agreement with Hillel and Shammai who, according to Yohanan ben Zakkai, said:
If you have done much Torah, do not think that you have any merit [i.e., that you are entitled to a reward—DNB and JNT]. This is the purpose for which you have been created! (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version B, chpt. 31 [ed. Schechter, 66])
Jesus reprimanded the rich man because the man did not interpret “good” as referring to Torah, that is, referring to a Torah-centered life of good deeds and repentance.
L21 λέγει αὐτῷ ποίας (Matt. 19:18). In Matthew’s version the rich man asks which commandments he ought to keep. Throughout this pericope Matthew increases the back and forth between Jesus and the rich man and later on between Jesus and the disciples.
L23-31 Jesus directs the rich man to the Torah by citing the commandments in the second table of the Decalogue. Chana Safrai observed: “According to Jesus’ response, abiding by the commandments, or more precisely the Ten Commandments, paves the way to enter the kingdom of heaven. In other words, the kingdom of heaven is a direct continuation of the ideals advocated in the Torah.”
L23 τὸ οὐ φονεύσεις (“the ‘Do not murder’”; Matt. 19:18). Commenting on the article τό with which Matthew introduces the list of commandments, van de Sandt suggests that Matthew’s text may “reflect traces of a common catechism, a view substantiated by the article τό preceding the Decalogue commands…. When Matthew, deviating from Mark 10:19 (and Luke 18:20), appends this τό he as much as says he is reproducing extant (catechetical) material.” In other words, the definite article (τό, “the”) suggests that Matthew was citing a stock response to the rich man’s question.
Van de Sandt also comments on Matthew’s formulation of the commandments “having the negative οὐ followed by a second person future indicative instead of μή followed by an aorist subjunctive…[which] varies from Mark’s wording.” Van de Sandt argues that Matthew’s formulation cannot be attributed to his use of the Septuagint, which has a different order (Adultery, Steal, Murder). Thus Matthew’s wording “may have fallen back on the Two Ways wording that exhibits the same phraseology.” If van de Sandt is correct, then Matthew may have deliberately reworked his version of the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven story to reflect the Jewish treatise known as the Two Ways, a conclusion that supports our Greek Reconstruction.
L24-25 μὴ μοιχεύσῃς μὴ φονεύσῃς (Luke 18:20). In Luke, the commandment “Do not commit adultery” precedes “Do not murder.” We have preferred the Lukan order of the commandments to the Matthean-Markan order.
There were two traditions regarding the order of the Ten Commandments which circulated in the time of Jesus: one like that preserved in MT, and one like that preserved in LXX.
In addition to MT, the Matthean-Markan order, “Do not murder; Do not commit adultery,” is supported by a manuscript of Deut. from Qumran (4QDeutn IV, 9-10), Josephus (Ant. 3:91-92), the Samaritan version of the Pentateuch, rabbinic literature, Matt. 5:21-30, Matt. 15:19 (= Mark 7:21-22) and the Didache (Did. 2:2).
The Lukan order, “Do not commit adultery; Do not murder,” is supported by LXX (its order in Exod. 20 is “Do not commit adultery; Do not steal; Do not murder”), Philo (Decal. 12:51), Rom. 13:9 (cf. Jas. 2:11), the Nash Papyrus, the Epistle of Barnabas 20:1 and Pseudo-Philo’s Biblical Antiquities 11:10-11 (where “Do not steal” is omitted; however, 44:6-7 presents the same commandments in reverse order).
There is no reason to reject the Lukan order of the Ten Commandments; this order is well attested in Second Temple period sources.
L27 μὴ ψευδομαρτυρήσῃς (2nd sing. aor. act. subjv.; “do not give false testimony”; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20) vs. οὐ ψευδομαρτυρήσεις (2nd sing. fut. act. indic.; “you will not give false testimony”; Matt. 19:18). Codex Vaticanus’ reading, ψευδομαρτυρης (Luke 18:20), is a scribal error for ψευδομαρτυρήσῃς. Therefore, in actuality, the textually superior reading, μὴ ψευδομαρτυρήσῃς, is shared by Luke and Mark. We have accepted the Markan-Lukan reading, a non-Septuagintalism, supposing that Matthew corrected to οὐ ψευδομαρτυρήσεις, as he did for L23, 24 and 26.
μὴ ἀποστερήσῃς (Mark 10:19). This commandment is omitted in the Vaticanus manuscript, the text which serves as the basis for our reconstruction and commentary.
L28-29 τείμα/τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου καὶ τὴν μητέρα (Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20). One would expect this commandment, which belongs to the first half of the Decalogue, to be found at the head of the list rather than at the end. It therefore seems likely that the commandment “Honor your father and mother” was originally absent from Jesus’ statement. It was probably first inserted by the First Reconstructor, the source from which Luke copied the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident. This pericope was later copied from Luke by Mark, and still later from Mark by Matthew. The reason for inserting the commandment to honor parents is unknown. Perhaps it was to counterbalance the demands of discipleship, which involve forsaking family ties, or perhaps it was because this commandment explicitly includes a promise of life (Exod. 20:12), which was the issue at stake for the rich man.
L30-31 καὶ ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν (Matt. 19:19). Matthew has one commandment more than Mark and Luke: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). This commandment is out of place here. Perhaps Matthew inserted it on the basis of an association with a similar story (Matt. 22:34-40) about commandments of Torah and a man who came to ask Jesus a question. It appears that Luke also connected the two stories; in Luke 10:25, in the lawyer story, Luke substituted “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (from the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident) for the presumed pre-synoptic “What is the great commandment in the Torah?” which is preserved in the Matthean parallel (Matt. 22:36).
L32 ὁ νεανίσκος (Matt. 19:20). The author of Matthew transformed the rich man into a youth (cf. Matt. 19:22), evidently on the basis of the phrase ἐκ νεότητός μου (“from my youth”) in Mark’s version of the story (Mark 10:20; Luke’s parallel is ἐκ νεότητος [“from youth”; Luke 18:21]). Having written “The youth says” (Matt. 19:20), in contrast to Mark and Luke’s “he said,” Matthew was obliged to delete “from my youth” in the continuation of the verse.
Matthew may have been motivated to refer to the rich man as young in order to emphasize the word τέλειος (L43) in Matthew’s version of Jesus’ response to the rich man. As van de Sandt observes, τέλειος “in addition to meaning ‘perfect’ also signifies ‘mature, grown up’…. Matthew may have identified the questioner as a ‘young man’ so as to emphasize the instruction needed to enter a new life…. Because Matthew was interested in the condition for admission in the community he compared the rich man to a convert and calls him ‘young.'”
L34 ταῦτα πάντα ἐφύλαξα (Matt. 19:20; Mark 10:20; Luke 18:21). In HR we have used the verb עָשָׂה (‘āsāh, “do”), despite the fact that all three Synoptic Gospels have forms of φυλάσσειν (fūlassein, “to guard,” “to keep”), which is normally the LXX translation of שָׁמַר (shāmar, “guard,” “keep”). In BH, “to guard” was the verb that usually accompanied “commandments”; however, it was replaced in MH by “to do” (see Comment to L8 above). In LXX we find one instance where the combination עָשָׂה + מִצְוָה is translated using the verb φυλάσσειν (1 Chr. 28:7), the verb that appears here in L34.
L35 ἐκ νεότητός μου (Mark 10:20; cf. Luke 18:21). The phrase ἐκ νεότητος occurs 26xx in LXX, 3xx in Pseud., 8xx in Philo and 0xx in Josephus. For GR we have accepted Mark’s reading with its possessive pronoun μοῦ (mou, “my”). Hebrew syntax demands the pronominal suffix (see below) and we conjecture that this would have been reflected in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua. Luke or FR may have dropped the possessive pronoun in an attempt to improve the Greek style of the verse. This appears to be a rare instance where Mark preserved a more Hebraic reading by correcting Luke’s text on the basis of Anth.
מִיַּלְדוּתִי (HR). In LXX, νεότης is the translation of נְעוּרִים (neotēs, “youth” [in the sense of “a stage of life”]) over 30xx, but the translation of יַלְדוּת (yaldūt, “youth,” “adolescence”) only 2xx; consequently, נְעוּרִים might appear to be the better option for HR. However, since יַלְדוּת only occurs a total of 3xx in MT (Ps. 110:3; Eccl. 11:9, 10), the above data can be misleading.
In rabbinic sources יַלְדוּת is often contrasted with “old age,” and יַלְדוּת is mentioned as the stage in life when Torah study ought to begin, as the following sources demonstrate:
ויש מהן או′ אשרי ילדותי שלא בייש את זקניתי, אילו אנשי מעשה. ויש מהן שהיו אומ′ אשריך זקנתי שתכפרי אל ילדותי, אילו בעלי תשובה.
And there were some of them [i.e., Hasidim in the Temple—DNB and JNT] who would say, “Blessed is my youth [ילדותי], which has not put my old age to shame”—these were the men of deeds. And there were some of them who would say, “Blessed are you, my old age, for you atone for my youth [ילדותי]”—these were the practitioners of repentance. (t. Suk. 4:2; Vienna MS)
רבי ישמעאל אומר אם למדת תורה בילדותך אל תאמר איני לומד בזקנותי אלא למוד תורה כי אינך יודע איזה יכשר
Rabbi Yishmael says, “If you studied Torah in your youth [בילדותך], do not say ‘I am not studying in my old age,’ rather study Torah, for you do not know which will prosper [Eccl. 11:6].” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 3:6 [ed. Schechter, 16])
Since these nuances of יַלְדוּת fit the context of Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, and we have adopted it for HR.
L36 τί ἔτι ὑστερῶ (Matt. 19:20). Matthew reports that the rich man added, “What yet do I lack?” Then, according to Matthew, Jesus said, “If you wish to be perfect….” According to Mark and Luke, Jesus said, “You are lacking one thing.” It is more likely that Jesus mentioned the rich man’s deficit since Matthew’s “perfect” does not seem to reflect the earliest version of the text (see below, Comment to L43).
L37-41 וַיִּשְׁמַע יֵשׁוּעַ וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ (HR). Luke’s phrase ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ (“and hearing him Jesus said to him”) can be easily reconstructed in Hebrew, since the participle + δέ + aorist construction frequently appears in LXX as the translation of vav-consecutive + vav-consecutive. For similar sentences in MT, see Exod. 32:17; 2 Sam. 3:28; 1 Kgs. 13:26. Matthew 19:21, on the other hand, opens with an un-Hebraic historical present, and likely reflects the author of Matthew’s editorial activity.
On reconstructing ἀκούειν (akouein, “to hear”) with שָׁמַע (shāma‘, “hear”), see Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L24-25.
On reconstructing the name Ἰησοῦς as יֵשׁוּעַ, see above, Comment to L12.
L39-40 ἐμβλέψας αὐτῷ ἠγάπησεν αὐτὸν (Mark 10:21). The Lukan-Matthean agreement to omit Mark’s colorful phrase, “looking at him loved him,” indicates that this phrase was introduced by the author of Mark, and is an example of the editorial dramatization so characteristic of Mark’s Gospel, but rarely found in Hebrew narrative. Perhaps Mark inserted this detail in order to ease the apparent harshness of Jesus’ demand.
L42 ἔτι ἕν σοι λείπει (GR). Note the Lukan-Matthean agreement to use the word ἔτι (eti, “still”; Luke, L42; Matt., L36).
Jesus did not dispute the rich man’s claim to have kept all the commandments. Jesus, like other Jews of his time, considered the keeping of the commandments to be within the grasp of human beings. Granting that the rich man had properly performed the Torah’s commandments, Jesus recommended one further action if the rich man still required assurance of his place in the age to come: he should enter the Kingdom of Heaven by becoming a full-time disciple of Jesus.
עוֹד אַחַת לְךָ (HR). On the reconstruction of ἔτι with עוֹד, see Tower Builder and King Going to War Similes, Comment to L16.
The Greek word ἔν (en, “one [thing]”) in Jesus’ statement to the rich man could be the translation of אַחַת (’aḥat, fem. form of “one”) or אֶחָד (’eḥād, masc. form of “one”). Both Hebrew words are sometimes used in a neuter sense, that is, in the sense of “one thing,” since Hebrew has no distinct form for the neuter gender. We have adopted the feminine form, אַחַת, in HR.
L43 εἰ θέλεις τέλειος εἶναι (Matt. 19:21). This is the third in a series of unique Matthean readings: “the youth,” “What yet do I lack?” and “If you wish to be perfect.” Therefore, we suspect that these changes are the product of Matthew’s editorial activity.
In this case, Matthew seems to have imported the word τέλειος (teleios, “perfect”) from Matt. 5:48, the only other place that the word appears in the Gospels, and used it here as a replacement for “There is still one thing you are lacking,” which he saw in Anth. and, in a slightly modified form, in Mark. “Perfect” fits the context of Matt. 5:43-48, in which Jesus urges his disciples to be loving and merciful, like God. However, in the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident, it is unlikely that Jesus would have used “perfect” in a discussion about Torah commandments. Matthew here seems to suggest that Jesus demanded a higher perfection than the keeping of the commandments.
L44-46 ὕπαγε πώλησόν σου τὰ ὑπάρχοντα (Matt. 19:21). At first glance, Matthew’s “go sell your belongings” appears to represent more idiomatic Hebrew than Luke’s version, πάντα ὅσα ἔχεις πώλησον (“all what things you have sell”); ὕπαγε πώλησον (“go sell”) is the equivalent of לֵךְ מְכוֹר (“go sell”) and is more elegant than מְכוֹר alone. Furthermore, in Hebrew the normal position of the verb is at the beginning of the clause (as here in Matthew) rather than at its end (as in Mark and Luke).
However, when we compare the three synoptic versions of this clause, we find that ὕπαγε is not present in Luke’s parallel. The word ὕπαγε was probably introduced by Mark, and then copied from Mark by Matthew. Lindsey pointed out that the verb ὑπάγειν is one of Mark’s stereotypic verbs. This casts doubt on its originality here. Furthermore, the expression that appears here in Luke, πάντα ὅσα ἔχεις (“all what things you have”), also appears in Matt. 13:44, 46 in the Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl parables (L7, L14). This verbal contact caused Lindsey to conclude that the two parables originally belonged to the same literary complex as the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident, since it is natural for a speaker, as he develops a teaching theme, to repeat an expression he used earlier. If these parables and the rich man episode originally belonged to the same context, then it is probable that the expression πάντα ὅσα ἔχεις represents the conjectured Hebrew Ur-text.
L45-47 πάντα ὅσα ἔχεις πώλησον καὶ διάδος πτωχοῖς (Luke 18:22). Jesus’ demand was probably not unique; there were streams within Jewish society that viewed poverty as an ideal. The Hasidim, for instance, believed that as long as one holds on to any wealth, one is apt to violate the higher meaning of the commandments; the only way to avoid such sin is to get rid of one’s wealth. Many people gave all of their wealth, or a large part of it, to the needy. This practice apparently became common enough that the sages eventually ruled that one should give away no more than twenty percent of one’s wealth (y. Peah 1:1; cf. m. Arach. 8:4). Their objective was to prevent the donor from becoming destitute and constituting a burden to the community.
There is an example in rabbinic literature of someone who gave all his wealth to the poor: Yeshevav, a sage and scribe who lived at the end of the first cent. C.E. Rabban Gamaliel of Yavneh rebuked Yeshevav for his action: “Don’t you know that the sages have ruled, ‘[One should distribute no more than] a fifth of his wealth as alms’?”
L46 מְכֹר (HR). In LXX πωλεῖν (pōlein, “to sell”) is almost always the translation of מָכַר (māchar, “sell”). Examples of מְכֹר, the imperative of מָכַר, are found in m. Betz. 3:7; m. Bab. Bat. 5:1, 2; m. Hul. 10:3.
L48-49 καὶ ἕξεις θησαυρὸν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς (Luke 18:22; cf. Matt. 19:21; Mark 10:21). Note the Lukan-Matthean agreement to write the more Hebraic οὐρανοῖς (“heavens” [plur.]) against Mark’s οὐρανῷ (“heaven” [sing.]).
Jesus promised the rich man “treasure in heaven” for giving his wealth to the poor. Elsewhere Jesus taught, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” (Matt. 6:19-20). Although there is no mention of the poor in this second passage (Matt. 6:19-21), it too is probably a teaching about giving alms to the poor.
The following examples from ancient Jewish literature illustrate the connection between giving to the poor and “storing treasure in heaven”:
Give alms from your possessions to all who live uprightly, and do not let your eye begrudge the gift when you make it. Do not turn your face away from any poor man, and the face of God will not be turned away from you. If you have many possessions, make your gift from them in proportion; if few, do not be afraid to give according to the little you have. So you will be laying up a good treasure for yourself against the day of necessity. For charity delivers from death [Prov. 10:2—DNB and JNT] and keeps you from entering the darkness…. (Tob. 4:7-10; RSV; emphasis ours)
Ben Sira, another book of the Apocrypha, offers this advice:
Be patient with a man in humble circumstances, and do not make him wait for your alms. Help a poor man for the commandment’s sake, and because of his need do not send him away empty. Lose your silver for the sake of a brother or a friend, and do not let it rust under a stone and be lost. Lay up your treasure according to the commandments of the Most High, and it will profit you more than gold. Store up almsgiving in your treasury, and it will rescue you from all affliction; more than a mighty shield and more than a heavy spear, it will fight on your behalf against your enemy. (Sir. 29:8-13; RSV; emphasis ours)
Likewise, in rabbinic literature we find the concept of treasure in heaven linked to the distribution of alms:
Monobazus the king gave away all his wealth to the poor. His officials complained to him: “Your forefathers added to their wealth and to what their forefathers had accumulated, but you have squandered your wealth and the wealth of your forefathers.” He replied: “Certainly! My forefathers stored up on earth, but I have stored up in heaven…my forefathers stored up treasures that do not produce fruit, but I have stored up treasures that produce fruit…my forefathers accumulated mammon, but I have accumulated souls…my forefathers gathered in this age, but I have gathered for the age to come….” (y. Peah 1:1 [3a]; emphasis ours)
Paul’s charge to Timothy also contains a striking parallel to Jesus’ teaching about wealth. Paul wrote of those who are rich in “this world,” of laying up treasure “as a good foundation for the future,” and of taking hold of “true life” (1 Tim. 6:9-11a, 17-19).
L50 καὶ δεῦρο ἀκολούθει μοι (Matt. 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22). It is very important to understand that “follow” in this context means, lit., “to walk after.” Jesus, like contemporary sages, was on the move. Lacking modern methods of mass communication, sages had to carry their teachings to the people. Jesus spent much of his time itinerating throughout the country, and those who wanted to learn from him were required to follow him from place to place, literally being covered with the dust of his feet. As a result, individuals who wanted to be full-time disciples left their families and belongings behind in order to travel with Jesus from place to place.
Today, many Christians often read another meaning into Jesus’ words to the rich man by assuming that “follow Jesus” means “become a believer in Jesus.” Thus, we miss the point of the invitation extended to this rich man: it was a call to join Jesus’ traveling school of disciples, not a summons to adopt an inward conviction. Accepting Jesus’ call, of necessity, meant leaving family and property behind. On a different occasion, Jesus warned one would-be disciple what he would face if he decided to accompany him: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Not Everyone Can Be Yeshua’s Disciple; Matt. 8:20; Luke 9:58). Jesus’ expectation that his disciples would travel the country with him under austere conditions was similar to what other sages demanded of their disciples, and would not have been considered extreme by the standards of first-century Jewish society.
L51-54 ὁ δὲ στυγνάσας ἐπὶ τῷ λόγῳ ἀπῆλθεν λυπούμενος (Mark 10:22). Mark’s text is “fresher,” more dramatic than Luke’s parallel: “And hearing these things he became very sad.” Matthew followed Mark in the use of “the word” and “went away.” According to Luke’s version, the rich man did not necessarily leave. Perhaps he remained to hear the rest of Jesus’ teaching.
L51 στυγνάσας (Mark 10:22). Abbott observed that the description of the rich man’s disappointment has a conceptual link with a passage from Isaiah:
Because of the iniquity of his covetousness I was angry, I smote him, I hid my face and was angry; but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart. (Isa. 57:17; RSV)
Although lacking a corresponding word for “covetousness,” the LXX translation of this verse has vocabulary in common with Mark 10:22:
δι’ ἁμαρτίαν βραχύ τι ἐλύπησα αὐτὸν καὶ ἐπάταξα αὐτὸν καὶ ἀπέστρεψα τὸ πρόσωπόν μου ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐλυπήθη καὶ ἐπορεύθη στυγνὸς ἐν ταῖς ὁδοῖς αὐτοῦ.
Because of sin I grieved him a little while; I struck him and turned my face away from him, and he was grieved and went on sullen in his ways. (Isa. 57:17; NETS)
Perhaps Mark was reminded of this verse when he copied the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident and wrote that the man was downcast (στυγνάσας). Isaiah 57:17 could also have inspired Mark’s additional detail that the rich man went away, a detail not recorded in Luke.
L57 καὶ περιβλεψάμενος (Mark 10:23). For Luke’s ἰδὼν δὲ αὐτὸν (“and seeing him”; Luke 18:24) Mark substituted the more dramatic καὶ περιβλεψάμενος (“and looking around”). In Lindsey’s opinion, Mark “picked up” περιβλεψάμενος from Luke 6:10 (its only occurrence in NT outside Mark). Lindsey suggested that Mark’s περιβλεψάμενος came from copying Luke 6:10 at Mark 3:5. As with many such “Markan pick-ups,” Mark proliferated its use, employing the word repeatedly in subsequent chapters of his Gospel (Mark 3:34; 5:32; 9:8; 10:23; 11:11). It became, in Lindsey’s terminology, a “Markan stereotype.” Matthew never used περιβλέπειν even though he gave sentence or phrase parallels to four of the Markan occurrences of the word.
This evidence suggests that περιβλεψάμενος was not found in the earliest Greek versions of the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident, nor is it likely that a Hebrew equivalent of περιβλεψάμενος was part of the Hebrew substratum. The word is rare in translation Greek; although περιβλεψάμενος appears 10xx in LXX, it is only 6xx the translation of a word in the Hebrew text, and in only two of these instances is it the translation of a word for seeing.
ἰδὼν δὲ αὐτὸν (GR). On participle + δέ + aorist (e.g., ἰδών δὲ…εἶπεν [“but seeing…he said”]; L57-58) as the equivalent of vav-consecutive + vav-consecutive, see above, Comment to L37-41. On reconstructing ἰδεῖν (idein, “to see”) with רָאָה (rā’āh, “see”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L10.
L58 εἶπεν (Matt. 19:23; Luke 18:24). Matthew and Luke agree against Mark’s use of the historical present. Whereas Mark frequently employs the historical present in his Gospel, we believe the Lukan-Matthean agreement against Mark reflects the reading of the pre-synoptic source.
L60 ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν (Matt. 19:23). Matthew probably introduced this phrase. Here, “amen” is not a response, which is the way “amen” is normally used in Hebrew, and it therefore seems out of place. Additionally, there is no support for the phrase in the Markan or Lukan versions of this pericope.
L63 εἰσελθεῖν (GR). Luke and Mark both use the verb ἐισπορεύεσθαι (eisporevesthai, “to enter”) in Jesus’ exclamation about the difficulty of entering the Kingdom of God. Every other instance of the phrase “enter the Kingdom of Heaven/God” in the Gospels, however, uses the verb εἰσέρχεσθαι (eiserchesthai, “to enter”), including the doublet of this saying in Mark 10:24 (L75), and in the comparison between a camel entering the eye of a needle and a rich person entering the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 19:24; Mark 10:25; Luke 18:25; L76-82). We suspect this sole instance of ἐισπορεύεσθαι in the phrase “enter the Kingdom of Heaven/God” may be due to the editorial work of FR.
If we are correct that Luke copied ἐισπορεύεσθαι from FR and that Mark copied ἐισπορεύεσθαι from Luke, then the presence of εἰσέρχεσθαι in Matt. 19:23 and in the Mark 10:24 doublet may be a reflection of εἰσελθεῖν in Anth.
לָבוֹא (HR). There are two main options for reconstructing εἰσελθεῖν in Hebrew: בָּא (bā’, “came,” “entered”), which is closer to BH, and נִכְנַס (nichnas, “entered”), which uses MH vocabulary. Although we usually prefer a MH style for reconstructing direct speech, extra consideration is required in this particular case.
Randall Buth has suggested that “enter the Kingdom of Heaven” is hybrid phrase that Jesus constructed from the Pharisaic-rabbinic expression “receive the Kingdom of Heaven” and the Essene locution “enter the covenant.” Jesus was able to combine the Pharisaic-rabbinic and Essene terminology since both expressions were used, in their respective circles, to refer to the recitation of the Shema. If Buth’s suggestion is correct, then Jesus exploited the semantic overlap of the two expressions in order to bring out their disparate connotations in the new phrase “enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” By using “Kingdom of Heaven” Jesus was able to draw on the connotations of God’s redemptive activity, which the term מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם (malchūt shāmayim, “Kingdom of Heaven”) has in Pharisaic-rabbinic tradition, while, on the other hand, using the term “enter” Jesus was able to capture the communal connotations of the Essene phrase “enter the covenant.”
If by coining the phrase “enter the Kingdom of Heaven” Jesus did intend to signal the use of a Pharisaic-rabbinic concept of malchūt shāmayim with an Essene twist, then this tips the balance in favor of reconstructing εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν (“to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven”) as לָבוֹא בְּמַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם (lāvō’ bemalchūt shāmayim) instead of לְהִכָּנֵס לְמַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם (lehikānēs lemalchūt shāmayim) since we never encounter the phrase נִכְנַס לִבְרִית (nichnas livrit, “enter the covenant”) in DSS.
Note that εἰσελθεῖν is used in LXX to translate “enter the covenant” in the following examples:
וְכָל הָעָם אֲשֶׁר בָּאוּ בַבְּרִית
καὶ πᾶς ὁ λαὸς οἱ εἰσελθόντες ἐν τῇ διαθήκῃ
…and all the people who entered the covenant…. (Jer. 34:10)
וָאָבוֹא בִבְרִית אֹתָךְ
καὶ εἰσῆλθον ἐν διαθήκῃ μετὰ σοῦ
…and I will enter a covenant with you…. (Ezek. 16:8)
Indeed, in LXX εἰσέρχεσθαι is far more often the translation of בָּא than of any other Hebrew verb.
L64-65 τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν (Matt. 19:23). The phrase ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν (ē basileia tōn ouranōn, “the Kingdom of the Heavens”) is unique to Matthew, and since Mark and Luke always write ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ (ē basileia tou theou, “the Kingdom of the God”), many scholars believe that Matthew is responsible for introducing this phrase into the Synoptic tradition. However, the Hebrew equivalent of the phrase “the Kingdom of God/Heaven” is מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם (malchūt shāmayim, “[the] Kingdom [of the] Heavens”), which causes us to suspect that the original Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua, whose translation technique was highly literal, probably rendered מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם as ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν. This literal translation was retained in Anth., but subsequently changed to ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ in FR, which often introduced Greek stylistic improvements. When the author of Luke encountered ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ in FR, he decided to systematically replace ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν with the more acceptable Greek equivalent ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ wherever he encountered it in Anth. Mark copied ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ from Luke, but the author of Matthew, who depended on Anth. as well as Mark, saw that Anth. consistently used the phrase ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν opposite Mark’s ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ as well as in non-Markan passages, and therefore Matthew often wrote ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν. Our Greek Reconstruction reflects this hypothesis.
The sages developed the term “Kingdom of Heaven” to describe the rule of God. “Kingdom of God” was an appropriate Greek equivalent for the Hebraic “Kingdom of Heaven” because “Heaven” was used in Jewish society as a synonym for “God.” By using substitutes for God’s name, Jews avoided the risk of employing the Divine Name irreverently. It is likely that a Greek editor supposed that “heaven” (lit., “heavens”) would be unclear to his Gentile readers, possibly even suggesting to them the pagan belief in a pantheon of gods on high.
מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם (HR). It seems apparent from this Gospel story that Jesus equated following him with joining the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus invited the rich man to follow him, and when this prospective disciple declined, Jesus said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to come into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Similarly, when Peter declared that he and the others had left everything to follow Jesus (L96-98), Jesus spoke of leaving home for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, that is, leaving home in order to join his Kingdom of Heaven movement. The Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven story provides the clearest evidence in SG of Jesus’ use of the term “Kingdom of Heaven” in the sense of his band of itinerating disciples, a usage that is without precedent in contemporary Jewish literature.
Because the term “Kingdom of Heaven” has not always been properly understood, the entire Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident has often been misconstrued. Scholars such as Claude Montefiore and Julius Wellhausen (cf. Montefiore, TSG, 1:244), who assumed that “Kingdom of God” is synonymous with “eternal life,” saw in the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident a series of increasingly severe demands. First, Jesus indicates that a person can obtain eternal life by keeping the commandments; it is only Jesus’ disciples who are required to leave family and possessions. Next, Jesus says that it is difficult for rich persons to enter the Kingdom of God. (Here, Montefiore assumes that “Kingdom of God” is a synonym for “eternal life.”) Finally, when asked who can be saved, Jesus replies, “The impossible for men is the possible for God.” (At this point, according to Montefiore, there is a switch from the rich to all men: Jesus makes leaving family and possessions a universal requirement for all who want to enter the Kingdom.) Having mistakenly equated “eternal life” with “Kingdom of Heaven,” these scholars reached the erroneous conclusion that the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident underwent several stages of development in its transmission.
While it is true that Jesus promised eternal life to those who joined the Kingdom of Heaven (Luke 18:30), he did not demand that the rich man give up his possessions in order to gain eternal life. When the rich man inquired about obtaining eternal life, Jesus simply pointed him to the Torah. It was only when Jesus invited the man to become a full-time disciple that he required him to dispose of his wealth.
L66-68 οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο ἐπὶ τοῖς λόγοις αὐτοῦ (Mark 10:24). Mark heightened the drama by repeating Jesus’ statement about the difficulty the rich have in becoming part of his movement. Mark’s text reads: “And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus again answers and says to them, ‘Children, how hard it is for those who trust in their riches to enter the kingdom of God.’” Matthew and Luke independently agreed to omit this passage from their accounts, evidence that Mark composed it (cf. Bundy, 401). Notice the amazement of Jesus’ disciples. The proliferation of verbs of amazement and wonder is characteristic of Mark’s writing (Bundy, 402).
L76 εὐκοπώτερον ἐστιν (Matt. 19:24; Mark 10:25; Luke 18:25). We have used נוֹחַ (nōaḥ, “pleasing,” “kind,” “easy”) to reconstruct εὐκοπώτερος (evkopōteros, “easier”), the comparative of the Greek adjective εὔκοπος (evkopos, “easy”). In BH, “easy” was expressed by נָקֵל (nāqēl; cf. 2 Kgs. 20:10; Prov. 14:6); in the time of Jesus, however, one used the word נוֹחַ, as is done, for example, in m. Avot 5:11.
Unlike Greek adjectives, Hebrew adjectives do not have degrees of comparison. The Hebrew equivalent of εὐκοπώτερος (“easier”) can mean “easy,” “easier” or “easiest,” depending on the context. It is unnecessary to add יוֹתֵר (yōtēr, “more”) to an adjective to form its comparative, as in colloquial modern Hebrew.
L77 κάμηλον (Matt. 19:24; Mark 10:25; Luke 18:25). Jesus used the camel in his caricature because it was the largest animal in the land of Israel (cf. Fitzmyer, 2:1204). In rabbinic literature there are two instances of the hyperbole of a large animal entering, or trying to enter, the eye of a needle. Both instances are found in the Babylonian Talmud in Aramaic contexts (b. Ber. 55b; b. Bab. Metz. 38b), and in both cases the animal is an elephant rather than a camel. S. Safrai believed that in Babylonia the elephant replaced the camel in this hyperbole. Elephants were the largest animals found in Babylonia, having been imported from India; however, there were no elephants in the land of Israel. The only elephants to reach the land of Israel during the Second Commonwealth were those that took part in the military campaigns of foreign rulers (1 Macc. 1:17; 6:30, 34, 35, 37, 46; 2 Macc. 11:4; 13:2, 15; 15:20, 21).
Since ancient times, many people have been unable to bear Jesus’ hyperbolic statement. At least one NT copyist assumed that κάμηλον (kamēlon, “camel”) was a mistake for κάμιλον (kamilon, “rope,” “ship’s hawser”) and corrected the text accordingly. While amending the text may reduce the exaggeration, it does not solve the problem—a hawser will not go through the eye of a needle either. Hyperbole was simply a part of Jesus’ teaching style.
לַגָּמָל (HR). Indefinite Greek nouns are often the translation equivalents of definite Hebrew nouns that are indefinite or generic in sense. The indefinite Greek nouns πτωχοῖς (“poor [persons]”; L47), κάμηλον (“camel”; L77) and πλούσιον (“rich person”; L79), which appear in the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven story, are probably the translations of the definite Hebrew nouns הָעֲנִיִּים (“the poor”), הַגָּמָל (“the camel”) and הֶעָשִׁיר (“the rich person”), respectively. These definite Hebrew nouns are indefinite in meaning; the article הַ- (“the”) is employed to indicate a group or class.
L78 τρήματος βελόνης (Luke 18:25) vs. τῆς τρυμαλιᾶς τῆς ῥαφίδος (Mark 10:25). Both phrases refer to the eye of a needle. Which phrase reflects a pre-synoptic source? The Lukan-Matthean minor agreement to use τρήματος against Mark’s τρυμαλιᾶς supports our reconstruction of the Greek Translation of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua. In Mark we observe a pattern of replacing Luke’s wording with synonyms. Matthew’s habit was to weave his sources (Mark and Anth.) together, in this instance accepting τρήματος from Anth. and ῥαφίδος from Mark. Luke probably preserves the earliest text.
L78-79 τρήματος βελόνης εἰσελθεῖν (Luke 18:25). A rabbinic midrash on Song of Songs 5:2 helps us to better understand this saying of Jesus.
ר′ יוסי אמר הקב″ה פתחי לי פתח כחרירה של מחט ואני פותח לכם פתח שיהיו אהלים (ובצוצריות) [וכצוצריות] יכולים נכנסין בו
Rabbi Yose said: “The Holy One, blessed be he, said: ‘Open for me a door as big as the eye of a needle [חֲרִירָהּ שֶׁל מַחַט], and I will open for you a door through which tents and camels can enter.’” (Pesikta Rabbati 15:7 [ed. Friedmann, 70a]; cf. Pesikta de-Rav Kahana 5:6 [ed. Mandelbaum, 1:87]; 24:12; Song Rab. 5:2 §2)
This midrash conveys a message about repentance: if a person will only “open a door,” will only make a beginning, turn and start back to God, God in his mercy will accept him and help him go the rest of the way. By referring to the eye of a needle, Jesus may have hinted at a rabbinic tradition similar to the above. Therefore, Jesus’ saying, while pointing out the difficulty rich individuals have in joining the Kingdom of Heaven, also subtly alludes to God’s willingness to accept a rich person’s repentance.
לְהִכָּנֵס בַּחֲרִירָהּ שֶׁלְּמַחַט (HR). Whereas we have reconstructed the verb “to enter” with בָּא (bā’, “enter”) in the phrase “enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (see above, Comment to L63) here we have reconstructed εἰσελθεῖν (eiselthein, “to enter”) with נִכְנַס (nichnas), since, all things being equal, we prefer a MH style for reconstructing direct speech. Note that the verb for “enter” in the Pesikta Rabbati passage quoted above is נִכְנַס.
L80 εἰσελθεῖν εἰς (GR). For GR we have adopted Matthew’s more Hebraic word order, which he may have copied from Anth. On reconstructing “enter the Kingdom of Heaven” with בָּא, see above, Comment to L63.
L81 τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν (GR). Despite the agreement of all three Synoptic Gospels to write τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ, this appears to be one of the exceptional cases where Matthew accepted Mark’s reading (“Kingdom of God”) over Anth.’s (“Kingdom of Heaven”).
L83-84 οἱ δὲ περισσῶς ἐξεπλήσσοντο (Mark 10:26). Mark described the disciples further, noting their even greater amazement: the disciples were “exceedingly astonished.” Although Mark might have logically assumed this detail from the content of Luke 18:26, there is no explicit reference to astonishment in Luke’s text. Matthew’s parallel, “they were greatly astonished,” is probably due to the influence of Mark’s text, which Matthew copied at this point.
L83 ἀκούσαντες δὲ (GR). The Lukan-Matthean ‘minor’ agreement to mention “hearing” strongly suggests that the participle ἀκούσαντες (akousantes, “hearing”) should be traced back to Anth.
L84 οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ (GR). Since we believe the Lukan-Matthean ‘minor’ agreement in L83 was achieved by the author of Matthew’s correction of Mark on the basis of Anth., it seems likely that he was continuing to utilize Anth. when he mentioned the disciples here in L84.
L85-93 We have omitted nearly all of Matt. 19:25-26 // Mark 10:26-27 // Luke 18:26-27 from GR and HR for the following reasons:
- The passage is extremely difficult to reconstruct in Hebrew, indicating that it may originally have been composed in Greek. Notice, for instance, the a privativus (ἀδύνατα, “impossible”), a grammatical form that is common in normative Greek, but rare in translation Greek.
- The verb σωθῆναι (sōthēnai, “to be rescued”) is used in its later Christian sense of final eschatological salvation (cf. Luke 8:12; 13:23; Mark 16:16). In Hebrew, verbs for “save” refer to discrete acts of deliverance from physical danger, that is, the saving of human life, or the restoration of the body to health.
- The disciples’ question does not make sense. Of all people, the disciples would have understood that “enter the Kingdom of Heaven” referred not to final eschatological salvation, but to joining Jesus’ band of traveling disciples. Jesus had already made it clear to the rich man that keeping the commandments was all that was required for acquiring a share in the age to come, so the question of final eschatological salvation was no longer on the table. When Jesus said that it was difficult for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, a logical response from the disciples would have been: “Yes, we can see that it must be difficult for a rich man such as this, who is accustomed to comforts and leisure, to give it all up in order to become a disciple. It was hard enough for us to give up the things we owned, and they were paltry compared to the many fine possessions that must belong to him!”
- Flusser pointed out that “The impossible with men is possible with God” is almost identical to a statement in the works of Philo, who lived ca. 20 B.C.E.-50 C.E.: “Not even the longest [space of time can transform the behavior of a soul trained in prostitution], but only God, with whom the impossible with us is possible [ᾧ δυνατὰ τὰ παρ᾿ ἡμῖν ἀδύνατα]” (Spec. 1:282). On the basis of the evidence in Philo, Flusser believed this saying must have enjoyed a fairly wide circulation in first-century Hellenistic Jewish circles, and that the author of Luke, or the author of Luke’s source, inserted this saying into the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident.
The foregoing considerations lead us to the conclusion that the dialogue about the impossible being possible for God was inserted by the First Reconstructor (the author of Luke’s source for the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven pericope) between the disciples’ hearing (L83-84) and Peter’s response (L95).
One important objection to our decision to omit L83-93 from GR and HR, however, is “What about the Lukan-Matthean ‘minor’ agreements in L88 and L90/93?” Our answer is that these agreements are indeed so minor and so bland as to lack much probative value. The author of Matthew could easily have added δέ (de, “but”) in L88 on his own initiative as stylistic improvement to Mark’s wording. Likewise the author of Matthew frequently changed Mark’s historical presents to the aorist tense. There is no need to suppose that the author of Matthew made these changes on the basis of Anth. Similarly, the author of Matthew’s addition of ἐστιν (estin, “it is”) looks more like a Greek stylistic improvement to Mark’s wording than a correction based on a Hebraic-Greek source such as Anth.
L94-95 ἤρξατο λέγειν (Mark 10:28). Mark wrote “began to say” in contrast to Luke’s “said” and Matthew’s “answered and said.” “Began to say” is a Hebrew idiom, and therefore at first glance Mark’s text would seem to reflect a Hebrew undertext; however, we have omitted “began to say” from GR because Luke and Matthew provided no confirmation. The phrase appears to be a Markan editorial change.
The Greek phrase employed here by Mark, ἤρξατο λέγειν, appears 12xx in NT: 5xx in Luke (4:21; 7:24; 11:29; 12:1; 20:9); 5xx in Mark (10:28, 32, 47; 13:5; 14:69); and 2xx in Matthew (4:17; 11:7). Matthew and Luke even agree once in DT to use the expression (Matt. 11:7; Luke 7:24), evidence that the idiom can reflect the earliest Greek text. However, every instance of this expression’s use in Mark appears to be secondary. Luke has a parallel to each of the five passages in which the phrase appears in Mark, but Luke’s parallel never contains “began to say.” Matthew also has parallels to the five Markan passages, but he, too, never uses the expression opposite Mark. This is an example of Mark’s practice of systematically replacing Luke’s vocabulary using synonyms he gleaned from Luke and other sources.
L95 εἶπεν Πέτρος (GR). The Lukan-Matthean agreement to write εἶπεν (eipen, “he said”) instead of Mark’s ἤρξατο λαλεῖν suggests that εἶπεν was the reading of Anth. Luke’s εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Πέτρος (“But Peter said”) may be the First Reconstructor’s polished version of Anth.’s simpler εἶπεν Πέτρος (“Peter said”). The participle + δέ + aorist construction, which we have in GR L83-84, L95, is common in the Synoptic Gospels; in LXX this construction was typically employed as the translation of two vav-consecutives (see above, Comment to L37-41).
וַיֹּאמֶר פֶּטְרוֹס (HR). Hebrew-speaking residents of the land of Israel, who used Greek as their second or third language, borrowed the word πέτρος (petros, “stone”) and turned it into a Hebrew nickname, פֶּטְרוֹס (Petrōs, “Peter”).
L96-98 ἡμεῖς ἀφέντες τὰ ἴδια ἠκολουθήσαμέν σοι (Luke 18:28). According to Luke, Peter said ἡμεῖς ἀφέντες τὰ ἴδια (“we leaving our own things”). According to Matt. 19:27 and Mark 10:28, he said ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν πάντα (“we left all [things]”). Which version reflects the Hebrew undertext? Has Mark changed Luke’s wording, replacing τὰ ἴδια with πάντα (perhaps picked up from Luke 5:11), or has Mark copied πάντα from Anth.? The decision is not easy.
It is possible that originally Peter used the word בַּיִת (bayit, “house”), probably with a pronominal suffix: בֵּיתֵנוּ (“our house”). Jesus’ response, “Everyone who has left house…” (L112-113), might indicate that Peter used the singular or plural of “house.” If Peter had said, “We have left everything,” we might have expected Jesus to have responded, “Everyone who has left everything….”
The Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua may have employed τὰ ἴδια (“our own things”) to translate Peter’s בֵּיתֵנוּ (“our house”). Alternatively, the Greek translator may have employed οἰκία, the literal Greek translation of בַּיִת. In that case, it was probably the First Reconstructor (the creator of FR) who replaced the accusative οἰκίαν (“house”), which he found in Anth., with τὰ ἴδια.
After considerable vacillation, we have decided that Matthew and Mark reflect the earliest version of the text:
- The Matthean-Markan “we left…and followed” is more Hebraic than Luke’s “leaving [Greek ptc.]…we followed.”
- The Greek τὰ ἴδια is not usually found in translation Greek, and it is unclear how one should reconstruct the expression in Hebrew.
- It is unlikely that a Greek translator who found בַּיִת in Peter’s statement would have translated it differently than he did the בַּיִת in Jesus’ immediately following words, “everyone who left house.”
- Peter may have been referring to Jesus’ words to the rich man, “sell everything [πάντα]” (Luke 18:22), when he exclaimed, “We have left everything.” Therefore, πάντα is the logical choice in reconstructing Peter’s exclamation.
- Jesus had just spoken to the rich man about giving up his possessions; it therefore seems more natural that Peter would have responded, “We have given up our possessions, too,” rather than, “We have left our home [i.e., our family].” “We have given up our possessions” is a more compatible response to the situation described in the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident.
L96 הֲרֵי אָנוּ (HR). On reconstructing ἰδού (idou, “behold,” “look”) as הֲרֵי (harē, “behold,” “look”), see Preparations for Eating Passover Lamb, Comment to L22. Our reconstruction reflects MH usage, which we prefer when reconstructing direct speech. BH usage would be הִנֵּה אֲנַחְנוּ (hinēh ’anaḥnū).
Notice that the Greek pronoun ἡμεῖς preserves the Hebrew emphasis on “we”: “We [אָנוּ] have left everything….”
L97 הִנַּחְנוּ אֶת הַכֹּל (HR). In MH the verb הִנִּיחַ (hiniaḥ, “leave”) replaced the BH verb עָזַב (‘āzav, “leave”). On reconstructing πᾶς (pas, “all,” “every”) with כָּל (kol, “all,” “every”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L26.
In support of our reconstruction, compare the following rabbinic tradition regarding the Rechabites:
[ומנין] הם מתפרנסין בניו של יתרו מן היצירה שנאמר (ד″ה א ב) ומשפחות סופרים יושבי יעבץ ואומר (שם ד) המה היוצרים יושבי נטעים וגו’. בני אדם גדולים היו ובעלי בתים ובעלי שדות וכרמים היו ובשביל מלאכתו של מלך מלכי המלכים הקב”ה הניחו הכול והלכו. להיכן הלכו אצל יעבץ ללמוד תורה ונעשו עם למקום.
Now how did the descendants of Jethro make their living? By pottery work, for it is said, And the families of scribes that dwelt at Jabez…these are the Kenites that came of Hammath, the father of the house of Rechab (I Chron. 2:55), and it says, These are the potters, and those that dwelt among plantations, etc. (I Chron. 4:23). They had been people of importance, householders, owners of fields and vineyards, but for the sake of the service of the King of kings of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, they gave up everything and went off. Where did they go to? To Jabez, to study Torah; and (thus) they became God’s people. (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, chpt. 35 [ed. Schechter, 105]; Goldin trans.)
According to this rabbinic tradition, the Rechabites gave up their possessions (הניחו הכול; “they left everything”) in order to study Torah in much the same way Peter claimed the disciples had left everything in order to follow Jesus.
Lindsey suggested that Mark may have picked up ἀφήκαμεν πάντα καὶ ἠκολουθήκαμέν σοι (L97-98; Mark 10:28) from Luke 5:11, 28. In that case, the Markan-Matthean agreement against Luke in L97-98 would be the result of Matthew’s dependence on Mark.
Despite Lindsey’s suggestion, we have accepted the Matthean-Markan version for our reconstruction, given the difficulty of reconstructing Luke’s version in Hebrew and the cultural and linguistic parallel in the rabbinic tradition cited above.
L99 τί ἄρα ἔσται ἡμῖν (Matt. 19:27). In Matthew’s version Peter asks what he and the other disciples can expect as their reward. This question belongs to Matthew’s editorial activity. Its secondary nature is shown by the “Amen!” in Jesus’ response (L102). In Hebrew, “Amen!” is an affirmation, and can hardly be the answer to a question.
L100-102 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι (Luke 18:29). In these lines, the words δέ, εἶπεν, αὐτοῖς and ὁτι are Lukan-Matthean agreements against Mark’s wording. According to the common theory of Markan Priority, both Matthew and Luke independently copied Mark in writing their Gospels, yet here they exhibit significant agreements against Mark, including the form of the verb—εἶπεν rather than ἔφη—and the addition of the pronoun αὐτοῖς.
Such minor agreements, hundreds of which exist in SG, in narrative as well as sayings, are evidence that the authors of Matthew and Luke copied a literary source other than Mark. In this case, it appears that FR preserved the reading of Anth., which allowed Luke (who depended on FR) and Matthew (who depended on Anth.) to reach verbal agreement against Mark (see “Conjectured Stages of Transmission” above).
L102 ἀμήν λέγω ὑμῖν (Matt. 19:28; Mark 10:29; Luke 18:29). Jesus said “Amen!” in affirmation of Peter’s statement. The words λέγω ὑμῖν begin a new sentence (see Comment to L60 above). Nevertheless, English translations of the Gospels understand the Greek word ἀμήν, a transliteration of אָמֵן, as an adverb, e.g., “truly,” “verily.” If this understanding is correct, Jesus would seem to have been the only person to have used “amen” in this way. Assuming this to be the case, many scholars have supposed that “Amen I tell you…” is an example of Jesus’ uniqueness, while other scholars have suggested that it was simply a convenient heading for invented sayings attributed to Jesus.
Lindsey examined the occurrences of “amen” in the Gospels and detected a pattern. Almost every “amen” spoken by Jesus is preceded by a statement or event that had attracted his notice, and is followed by a teaching in which he emphasizes the significance of that statement or event. This prompted Lindsey to conclude that Jesus’ “amen” is not connected to “I tell you…,” but, as in normal Hebraic usage, stands alone as an affirmative response to what precedes it. Here too, “amen” fits Hebraic usage if it is considered Jesus’ response to Peter’s statement. Jesus affirmed Peter’s declaration by saying “Amen!” and went on to make a further point prefaced with “I tell you.”
According to Lindsey, “I tell you” was typically Jesus’ opening to a teaching discourse. Here, however, the expression appears in the story’s last sentence; therefore, Lindsey suggested that originally this story was merely the first part of the much longer “Cost of Entering the Kingdom of Heaven” complex.
L103-111 This section is unique to Matthew, and shows signs of Greek editing. It appears that Matthew took a text like Luke 22:28-30 (“You are those who have continued with me in my trials; and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel”; RSV) from Anth., partially rewrote it and inserted it here. The saying is peculiar in this context (see below, “Redaction Analysis: Matthew’s Version”). Its original context was more likely Jesus’ last Passover meal and Jesus’ instructions to his disciples that the leaders of his movement were to behave like servants (cf. Luke 22:24-30; Greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven).
L104 ἐν τῇ παλινγενεσίᾳ (Matt. 19:28). The word translated “regeneration” (παλινγενεσία) appears only one other time in NT (Titus 3:5). It never occurs in LXX, and there is no obvious Hebrew equivalent for this word. In Stoic literature παλινγενεσία refers to the periodic reconstitution of the cosmos. The term appears in the writings of Philo 13xx, usually when discussing Stoic philosophy (Aet. 9, 47, 76, 85, 93, 99, 103, 107), but also to refer to the new world after Noah’s flood (Mos. 2:65; cf. 1 Clem. 9:4), to life after death (Cher. 114), rebirth (used metaphorically; Legat. 325), and apparently also to reincarnation (Post. 124). Josephus used the term only once (Ant. 11:66), where it describes the reestablishment of Israel after the exile. Its appearance in Matt. 19:28 is likely due to a Greek editor.
L112-129 The hardships inherent in discipleship are frequently mentioned in rabbinic sources. In the addendum to the Mishnah’s tractate Avot, for example, we read the following:
כַּךְ הִיא דַּרְכָּהּ שֶׁל תּוֹרָה, פַּת בְּמֶלַח תֹּאכֵל וּמַיִם בִּמְשׂוּרָה תִּשְׁתֶּה, וְעַל הָאָרֶץ תִּישָׁן וְחַיֵי צַעַר תִּחְיֶה וּבַתּוֹרָה אַתָּה עָמֵל. אִם אַתָּה עֹשֶׂה כֵּן אַשְׁרֶיךָ וְטוֹב לָךְ, אַשְׁרֶיךָ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְטוֹב לָךְ לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא.
This is the way of Torah: a morsel [of bread] with salt shall you eat, and water in measure shall you drink [Ezek. 4:11], and on the ground shall you sleep, and a life of hardship shall you live as you labor in the Torah. If you do thus, Blessed are you, and it shall be well with you [Ps. 128:2]. Blessed are you—in this age. And it shall be well with you—in the age to come. (m. Avot 6:4)
Jesus’ challenge and promise to prospective disciples is similar to this rabbinic saying. Disciples could expect discomfort and difficulty, but they also received assurances that they would be cared for in this age as well as partake of the life of the age to come.
L112-113 καὶ πᾶς ὅστις ἀφῆκεν (Matt. 19:29). In HR we have followed Matthew’s Hebraic construction, “And everyone who left…will receive…” (L112-121), rather than the Markan-Lukan, “There is no one who left…who will not receive…” (L112-119).
πᾶς ὅστις (“everyone who”) very likely reflects the MH כָּל שֶׁ- or כֹּל הַ-. Rabbinic sayings frequently began in this way; however, in rabbinic literature, one rarely meets the sentence arrangement, “There is no one who…who will not….” In Greek, the opposite is true. Matthew’s sentence, coming from the very Hebraic Anth., probably appeared somewhat inelegant to a Greek speaker, and perhaps Luke or the First Reconstructor improved it.
The “everyone who” syntax seems to indicate translation Greek. All examples of this construction in the Synoptic Gospels are in sayings of Jesus, and all such sayings appear to have descended from the conjectured Hebrew Ur-text. Apparently, “everyone who” is such a deeply embedded Hebrew structure that it has survived the attempts of Greek editors to improve the Hebraic Greek of the Synoptic Gospels.
Although many parts of this saying (Matt. 19:29) are better preserved in Luke, there is no need to prefer the Markan-Lukan “there is no one who” sentence structure. Matthew has broken with Mark’s syntax, and, according to the Lindsey-Flusser synoptic theory, this may indicate that Matthew has begun to copy the second of his two sources, Anth. The odd πᾶς ὅστις (“everyone of whatever kind”)—the combination occurs in NT only in Matt. 7:24, 10:32 and 19:29—should not cause one to favor the Markan-Lukan syntax. This πᾶς ὅστις usage is simply a Matthean substitute for the ordinary πᾶς ὅς (“all which,” “everyone who”).
L113-116 ἢ γυναῖκα ἢ ἀδελφοὺς ἢ γονεῖς ἢ τέκνα (Luke 18:29). We suspect that Jesus did not say, “or wife or brothers or parents or children.” In ancient Hebrew, a reference to בַּיִת (“house”) was sufficient to imply “family.” There was no need to clarify by the addition of “wife, brothers, parents and children.” They are included in this sense of “house.”
According to Lindsey, it is probable that the explanatory list, “or wife or brothers or parents or children,” was introduced by Luke or the First Reconstructor due to the influence of Luke 14:26, a similar passage (Demands of Discipleship). That passage is also about giving up family to be Jesus’ disciple. There Jesus even states that one must “hate” one’s family members.
The use of ἤ (ē,”or”) in Luke 18:29 (L113-116) to connect wife, brothers, parents and children is a sign of Greek improvement. Another indication of Greek editing is the use of γονεῖς (goneis, “parents”) instead of “father and mother.”
The author of Mark expanded Luke’s list of family members by specifying “mother or father” in place of Luke’s “parents.” Perhaps prompted by Luke’s “brothers,” Mark also added “sisters.” However, the most conspicuous difference in the two lists is Mark’s addition of “fields.” Apparently, he understood the word “house” in its non-Hebraic, literal sense, and therefore felt justified in introducing “fields,” the corollary of “houses.” That Mark really understood “house” to be a building is confirmed by his change to the plural “houses” (L122) in Mark 10:30 where he repeats the list.
Such repetition is characteristic of the author of Mark. In duplicating the list (Mark 10:30) Mark inserted “houses” and “persecutions.” Since Mark used “house” in a literal sense, he was obliged to drop the reference to “wife” that he saw in Luke—a follower of Jesus cannot expect to get more wives (“much more”) in this life! At his second reference to “fields” (L124), Mark perhaps felt uncomfortable at the idea of the believer receiving so much material wealth, and therefore he added “with persecutions” (L125).
The author if Matthew copied Mark’s first list word for word, but reversed the order of “mother” and “father” (L115). Matthew also knew Mark’s second list: this is shown by Matthew’s change to “houses” (L113; Matt. 19:29) in the phrase “everyone who left houses.” Matthew, like Mark, apparently did not understand the Hebraic nuance of “house.” Matthew 10:12-13 confirms that the author of Matthew did not know Hebrew: “And when you enter into the house, greet it.” However, as the parallel in Luke 10:5-7 makes clear, in this saying Jesus used the word “house” in its Hebraic sense of “family.”
L113 שֶׁהִנִּיחַ בֵּיתוֹ (HR). On reconstructing οἰκία (oikia, “house”) with בַּיִת (bayit, “house”), see Healing Shimon’s Mother-in-law, Comment to L7.
One of the most nuanced words in the Hebrew language is בַּיִת (bayit, “house”). Clearly, Jesus did not refer merely to a building when he mentioned “house.” Rather, he probably used בַּיִת in another of its meanings, perhaps in the sense of “family.”
“House” can also mean “wife” in Hebrew. During the Second Temple period, a priest was prepared as an understudy for the high priest beginning seven days before the Day of Atonement. If the high priest was disqualified by becoming ritually impure, the understudy replaced him. According to one tradition (m. Yom. 1:1), a second wife was prepared for the high priest in case his wife should die before the Day of Atonement. This custom was based on Lev. 16:6, “He shall make atonement for himself and for his house,” where “his house” was interpreted to mean, “his wife.” At least one sage, a disciple of Akiva, always referred to his wife as “house”:
Rabbi Yose said, “I have never called my wife ‘my wife [אִשְׁתִּי]’…rather, I have always called my wife ‘my house [בֵּיתִי].’” (b. Shab. 118b)
Another Hebraic nuance of “house,” extremely significant in this context, is “wealth.”
And the man of God said to the king, “If you give me half your house, I will not go in with you.” (1 Kgs. 13:8 [RSV]; “Even if you were to give me half your possessions….” [NIV])
L117 לְשֵׁם (HR). We have used the expression לְשֵׁם to reconstruct the preposition ἕνεκεν (heneken, “on account of,” “because of”). Literally, לְשֵׁם means “for [the] name [of],” that is, “for the sake of.” Here, the phrase לְשֵׁם מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם (“for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven”) probably means, “in order to join the Kingdom of Heaven,” that is, “in order to join me and my company of itinerating disciples.”
L117-118 ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ καὶ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου (Mark 10:29). Mark’s “for my sake and for the sake of the gospel” was almost certainly not part of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua. Matthew and Luke agree against Mark to omit the word “gospel,” which suggests that the term is a Markan addition.
When the rich man refused to give up everything to follow him (i.e., become a disciple), Jesus spoke about how hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God (i.e., join Jesus’ band of disciples). Peter pointed out that he and the other disciples had left everything to follow Jesus. It is therefore more natural that Jesus should then speak about making a sacrifice for the Kingdom of God, as in Luke’s text, than speaking about a sacrifice for him and for the gospel.
L119 ὃς οὐχὶ μὴ λάβῃ (Luke 18:30). The emphatic negative οὐχί (ouchi, “not”) is probably a sign of Greek editing. It is not the same Semitic οὐχί representing הֲלֹא (halo’, “surely,” “certainly”) that we find in Matt. 5:46, 47; 6:25; 10:29 (= Luke 12:6); 13:27; and 20:13. Moreover, it is the only οὐχί followed by μή (mē, “not”) in NT (of 52 occurrences of οὐχί). It is probable that the structure of the Lukan saying, “There is no one who…who will not…,” is also a Greek editorial “improvement.”
L120 πολλαπλασίονα (GR). Lindsey suggested that the author of Mark substituted Luke’s πολλαπλασίονα with ἑκατονταπλασίονα (hekatontaplasiona), which he had picked up from Luke’s version of the Four Soils parable (Luke 8:4-8). The adjective ἑκατονταπλασίων (hekatontaplasiōn, “a hundred times as much”) is found only 2xx in NT: in Mark 10:30 and in Luke 8:8.
There are two variants of Matthew’s parallel (at Matt. 19:29): one is identical with Luke’s text —πολλαπλασίονα, the reading of Manuscripts B and L; the other is identical with Mark’s text—ἑκατονταπλασίονα, the reading of Manuscripts א, C, D and W. If πολλαπλασίονα is the correct reading, the Lukan-Matthean minor agreement furnishes significant additional evidence that Luke preserves the superior text at this point and that the author of Mark was responsible for the word ἑκατονταπλασίονα.
כִּפְלַיִם (HR). It is impossible to know for sure what Hebrew expression might lie behind πολλαπλασίονα. The adjective πολλαπλασίων (pollaplasiōn, “many times as much”) does not occur in LXX; therefore, it has no Septuagintal translation equivalent. With a great deal of uncertainty, we have reconstructed πολλαπλασίων using כִּפְלַיִם (kiflayim, “double”), which is found twice in MT (Isa. 40:2; Job 11:6). However, both instances of כִּפְלַיִם were rendered by διπλοῦς (diplous, “double”) in LXX. The term כִּפְלַיִם also appears in a Hebrew MS of Ben Sira (parallel to διπλάσιος in LXX [Sir. 26:1]), and in rabbinic literature (cf. t. Pes. 3:20; 4:12; 2xx in t. Bab. Metz. 9:4). Gill (7:458) drew attention to the Targum to Song of Songs 8:7, “where the Lord of the world is represented as saying; ‘If a man will give all the substance of his house to obtain wisdom in the captivity, I will return unto him, כפול לעלמא דאתי, double in the world to come.'” Other possible reconstructions are הַרְבֵּה (harbēh, “much”) and הַרְבֵּה מְאֹד (harbēh me’od, “very much”), but their Greek equivalents in LXX are σφόδρα and πολλὰ σφόδρα.
L121 בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה (HR). The phrase ἐν τῷ καιρῷ τούτῳ (en tō kairō toutō, “in this time”) seems to be a free translation of בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה (bā‘ōlām hazeh, “in this age”), since here it is contrasted with ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τῷ ἐρχομένῳ (en tō aiōni tō erchomenō, “in the coming age”), apparently the translation of בָּעוֹלָם הַבָּא (bā‘ōlām habā’, “in the coming age”). The expressions הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה (“this age”) and הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא (“the coming age”) are frequent in rabbinic literature. When הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא appears with an opposite in rabbinic sources, that opposite is always הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה.
Fitzmyer (2:1206) noted, “Neither Philo nor Josephus makes use of this distinction of aeons, nor is it found in Qumran literature; but it occurs later in rabbinic literature.” Although rabbinic literature only began to be written down in the third cent. C.E., it often reflects the linguistic, cultural and social milieu of first-century Israel. Here, two NT documents, Mark and Luke, confirm that the contrasting expressions we find in rabbinic sources, “this age” and “the coming age,” already existed in the first century. This example also reminds us that, much of the time, Jesus was more closely aligned with the Pharisaic-rabbinic tradition than with other streams of first-cent. Judaism.
L126-128 וּבָּעוֹלָם הַבָּא חַיֵּי עוֹלָם (HR). Our reconstruction of Jesus’ saying concludes with a play on the word עוֹלָם. In the coming age (עוֹלָם הַבָּא) the disciples will enjoy eternal life (חַיֵּי עוֹלָם). As we noted above in Comment to L9, ἀιών (aiōn, “age,” “aeon”) was the usual LXX rendition of עוֹלָם. On reconstructing ζωὴ αἰώνιός (“eternal life”) with חַיֵּי עוֹלָם (“eternal life”), see above, Comment to L9.
L129 κληρονομήσει (Matt. 19:29). The author of Matthew omitted the beautiful Hebraisms “in this age” (L121) and “in the age to come” (L126-127) preserved in Luke and Mark, and instead added the verb κληρονομεῖν (“to inherit”; L129) after the words ζωὴν αἰώνιον (“life eternal”; L128), perhaps due to the influence of Mark 10:17, τί ποιήσω ἵνα ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω (“What may I do that life eternal I may inherit?”; L8-10), in the early part of the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident.
L130-132 πολλοὶ δὲ ἔσονται πρῶτοι ἔσχατοι (Matt. 19:30; Mark 10:31). Mark, followed by Matthew, wrote, “And many that are first will be last, and that are last first.” However, this saying appears to be out of context. Its original context is probably the Latecomers Get Equal Pay parable (Matt. 20:1-16). It appears that Mark copied the saying from Luke 13:30 where it was part of a complex of five short passages (Luke 13:22-30). The parallels scattered in Matthew (7:13-14; 25:10b-12; 7:22-23; 8:11-12; 19:30) suggest that this complex was put together by the First Reconstructor, whose text Luke copied. Taylor (435) regards the saying as secondary: “In view of Mark’s editorial methods elsewhere…it is best to regard the saying as an appendage to the story.”
In this Triple Tradition pericope we find that both Matthew and Luke preserve early authentic readings that reflect a Hebrew Ur-text. However, each of the Synoptic Gospels also show signs of later Greek redaction.
The Greek word λέγεις (legeis, “you say”) seems to have been the primary source of confusion in L5-19 of the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident. The word can be confidently reconstructed in Hebrew as אַתָּה אוֹמַר (“you say”); but in the sentence, τί λέγεις ἀγαθόν (“Why do you say good?”), λέγεις is so unidiomatic that the authors of Matthew, Mark, Luke and FR would probably not have understood its meaning. The word has a wholly Hebraic sense, and this Hebraism seems to have caused all the alterations of the Greek text in these lines.
Apparently, the story as it appeared in the Hebrew Life of Yeshua was progressively corrupted as follows:
- When אַתָּה אוֹמַר (HR, L13) was translated in a highly literal manner as λέγεις (“you say”), the sentence in which λέγεις appeared (“Why do you say good?”) made little sense to Greek readers. (Notice Matthew’s attempt to substitute something that makes sense: “Why do you ask me about the good?”)
- The First Reconstructor added μέ (“me”) to give the sentence some meaning (i.e., “Why do you say me good?”).
- With the addition of μέ (L13), the sentence seemed to mean, “Why are you calling me ‘good’?” If Jesus reprimanded the rich man for calling him “good,” it appeared that the rich man had addressed Jesus as “good.” Therefore, the First Reconstructor (or the author of Luke) added the modifier ἀγαθέ (“good”) to διδάσκαλε (“teacher”) in the rich man’s question (L7).
- The final stage in the text’s corruption was the addition of θεός (“God”) to οὐδεὶς ἀγαθὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς (“No one is good except one”). A Greek editor probably added θεός because he was misled by the mistranslation of the Hebrew word for “one.” “God,” therefore, is a later addition intended to clarify the meaning of “one.”
Apparently, it was the First Reconstructor who added “God” to the text. However, it was to the Torah, not God, that Jesus originally referred. This is made clear by the continuation of Jesus’ response: “You know the commandments…” (Luke 18:20). Matthew’s “One there is who is good” is his modification of “No one is good except one,” which Matthew saw in Anth.
This interpretation of a segment of the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven story illustrates how it is sometimes possible to reconstruct the conjectured Hebrew Ur-text even when the conjectured earliest Greek translation is not perfectly preserved by any of the Synoptic Gospels.
Comparison with Matthew’s version of the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven story shows that Luke copied this pericope from a source that had undergone significant Greek redaction, in other words, from FR. This source included διδάσκαλε ἀγαθέ (L7), θεός (L16), ἢ γυναῖκα ἢ ἀδελφοὺς ἢ γονεῖς (L113-114), οὐχὶ μὴ (L119) and other secondary readings. Why didn’t Luke correct the readings of FR on the basis of Anth., the source he shared with Matthew? The answer appears to be that Luke was not usually eclectic, that is, he did not consider at each word or phrase whether to copy his first or second source. Instead, for each of his story units, he chose either Anth.’s version in its entirety or FR’s version in its entirety. For the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident, Luke chose to copy the version in FR.
Mark copied this pericope from Luke, but not without introducing midrashic-like changes, such as dramatization and duplication, to Luke’s text. Examples of dramatization include the details that the man ran to Jesus (L3) and knelt before him (L4), that Jesus looked at the man and loved him (L39-40), and that Jesus looked around at those who were present after the man had left (L57). Mark also heightened the drama of the scene by emphasizing the disciples’ amazement (L66-68). Examples of duplication include the repetition of “Teacher” (L33), Jesus’ duplicated assertion of the difficulty of entering the Kingdom (L71-75) and the duplicated list of forsaken relationships (L122-124). These changes notwithstanding, Mark did not significantly transform the meaning of the story. Mark’s version is embellished, but not essentially different from the version he received from Luke.
Unlike Luke, who copied his sources en bloc, Matthew wove together his two sources, Mark and Anth., to produce a hybrid text. For example, in an attempt to harmonize Mark’s τί με λέγεις ἀγαθόν (“Why me you say good?”) with the conjectured reading of Anth., τί ἀγαθὸν ποιήσας/ποιήσω (“What good doing/am I to do…?”), Matthew wrote (L13-14), τί με ἐρωτᾷς περὶ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ (“Why do you ask me about the good?”).
Because Matthew compared the highly Hebraic text of Anth. with Mark’s text, Matthew preserved some excellent readings. Thus, alone of the synoptic writers, Matthew preserved the pre-synoptic Greek version of the rich man’s question (L8-9). It is improbable that a Greek editor could have changed a text like Luke or Mark’s to produce a text like Matthew’s, which at this point is Hebraically and rabbinically sophisticated.
Despite preserving some early and authentic readings, however, Matthew’s version of the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven has been significantly rewritten. Matthew transformed the rich man into a young man, a change that required Matthew to omit the man’s claim to have kept the commandments since his youth (L35) and to introduce a question in its place, “What do I still lack?” (L36). Matthew also introduced the concept of perfection (L43) and the enthronement of the twelve disciples to judge the tribes of Israel at the time of the regeneration (L103-111).
Van de Sandt suggests that the changes Matthew made to this pericope may reflect Matthew’s desire to present the story of the rich man as a paradigm for religious conversion. Thus the author of Matthew transformed the rich man into a young man in order that he would resemble the new beginning experienced by Christian proselytes. Van de Sandt notes that many of the Matthean changes show affinity with the early Christian treatise, the Didache, which served as a pre-baptismal instruction manual for new converts. The points of similarity between Matthew’s version of the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven and the Didache include the way Matthew cites the second table of the Ten Commandments (see Comment to L23), Matthew’s inclusion of the command to love one’s neighbor at the end of the Ten Commandments (L30-31; cf. Did. 1:2; 2:1), and the concept of perfection (L43; cf. Did. 1:4; 6:2). If van de Sandt is correct, the author of Matthew may have reworked the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven story in order to emphasize aspects of the conversion experience of early Christians in his community.
Flusser suggested that the author of Matthew belonged to a stream of early Christianity also represented by the Christian redactor of 4 Ezra (sometimes referred to as 5 Esdras) and certain eschatological traditions embedded in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho. This Gentile stream of Christianity saw itself as the true Israel that replaced the Jewish people (cf. Matt. 8:12; 21:43; 4 Ezra 1:24-25), whom God had rejected for their persecution of the prophets and their refusal to accept Jesus as the Messiah. Although this Gentile movement was anti-Jewish, it was not anti-Torah, for they kept the commandments according to their distinct interpretation (Matt. 5:17-20; 4 Ezra 1:35). Moreover, this strange current within early Christianity espoused a type of anti-Jewish Gentile Zionism, according to which the Gentile Christians would inherit the land formerly possesed by Israel (cf. Matt. 21:43; 4 Ezra 2:10; Justin, Dial. 26:1; 80:1; 113:3-4; 139:4-5). Matthew’s insertion of the enthronement of the disciples who will sit in judgment over the tribes of Israel (L103-111) may have been motivated by this peculiar outlook according to which the Gentile Church had claimed the perogatives of Israel.
Whatever the reason, Matthew’s reworking of the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven substantially transformed the shape and meaning of the story. Matthew’s editorial activity may, however, give us a window through which to view an early stream of Gentile Christianity.
Results of This Research
1. What did the rich man refer to as “good,” Jesus or a good deed? We conclude that Matthew’s version, according to which the rich man asks Jesus, “What good thing can I do?” reflects an authentic Jewish background. The rich man’s question reflects a popular misapplication of Micah 6:8 which suggested that a single extraordinary good deed could secure the reward of eternal life. Addressing a fellow human being as “good” is virtually unknown in Jewish sources.
2. What is the “one good thing” Jesus referred to? The “one good thing” Jesus referred to was the Torah. Rejecting the popular belief that a single good deed could merit eternal life, Jesus directed the rich man to the Torah: “Do this and you will have eternal life.”
3. What is the meaning of “Kingdom of Heaven” in the context of the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven story? The concept of eternal life should not be conflated with the Kingdom of Heaven, nor are the two interchangeable. Whereas keeping the Torah’s commandments would secure eternal life for an observant Jew, the Kingdom of Heaven was an exciting new movement that was headed by Jesus and consisted of his band of disciples. Jesus and the disciples were a group over whom God reigned as King, and through this band of disciples God was bringing redemption into the world. Whereas eternal life was something that would be experienced in the age to come, the Kingdom of Heaven was taking place in the present. But in order to participate in the Kingdom of Heaven great sacrifice was required. One had to give up other pursuits in order to join Jesus’ band of disciples.
The Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven pericope describes an encounter between Jesus and a man of high social standing who had lived a Torah-based life but who nevertheless felt that something more was required of him in order to inherit life in the age to come. Jesus reassured the man that keeping the commandments would guarantee his share in the future redemption, but if he desired to participate in bringing that redemption about the rich man should join Jesus’ band of itinerating disciples, a process Jesus referred to as “entering the Kingdom of Heaven.” It was Jesus’ view that it was through this group of dedicated followers that God was asserting his reign within the human sphere and bringing about Israel’s redemption. But in order to join his band of full-time disciples the rich man would have to commit himself to a radically different lifestyle: he would need to sell his possessions, give up his natural means of making a living, leave family and friends behind, and trust that God would provide for the needs of his day to day existence. The rich man was not up to the challenge, for as Jesus’ admitted, it is as difficult for a person with great wealth and status to give these things up in order to join his band of disciples as it is for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle.
-  For abbreviations and bibliographical references, see “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction.’“ ↩
-  Revised with the assistance of Joshua N. Tilton and Lauren S. Asperschlager. ↩
-  This translation is a dynamic rendition of our reconstruction of the conjectured Hebrew source that stands behind the Greek of the Synoptic Gospels. It is not a translation of the Greek text of a canonical source. ↩
-  Preliminary research on the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident was carried out in 1986-1987. Seventeen Jerusalem School seminar sessions were devoted to this pericope: eight seminars were held February-June 1986, and a further nine seminars between November 1986 and May 1987.
Jerusalem School Seminar participants engaged in discussing the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident. From left to right: David Bivin, Robert Lindsey, Weston Fields, Mirja Ronning, Shmuel Safrai, Stephen Pfann, Chana Safrai, Brad Young, Halvor Ronning.
Seminar participants were: Bivin, Buth, Fields, Flusser, Lindsey, Jerome Lund, Jeffrey Magnuson, Charles Meehan, Notley, Claire Pfann, Stephen Pfann, H. Ronning, M. Ronning, C. Safrai, S. Safrai and Young. These participants, especially Lindsey, Flusser and S. Safrai, contributed to a new understanding of the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven story.
The results of the seventeen seminars on the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven story appeared as a special double issue of Jerusalem Perspective magazine (May/August 1993). The magazine’s editor, David N. Bivin, attempted where possible to note major contributions of seminar participants to an understanding of this passage. Where credit is attributed but there is no reference to a published work, the reader can assume that the opinion expressed was communicated orally during the seminar. The present edition of the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven story is a major revision of Bivin’s edition of 1993. The earlier edition made little attempt to interact with the scholarly literature on this passage. That weakness has been rectified in this new edition. ↩
According to Lindsey, it is possible to restore narrative-sayings complexes that existed as continuous literary units in the Hebrew Life of Yeshua from fragments of these larger units that are preserved in the Synoptic Gospels. These narrative-sayings complexes generally had a recognizable pattern: 1) a remarkable incident in the course of Jesus’ travels; 2) a teaching discourse by Jesus elicited by the incident; 3) twin parables that drive home Jesus’ lesson. See Robert L. Lindsey, JRL, 94; idem, “From Luke to Mark to Matthew: A Discussion of the Sources of Markan ‘Pick-ups’ and the Use of a Basic Non-canonical Source by All the Synoptists,” under the subheading “Restoration of Narrative-Sayings Complexes.” Elsewhere in this commentary, where credit is attributed to Lindsey but there is no reference to a published work, the reader can assume that the information was communicated to Bivin personally. ↩
-  For a discussion of literary changes typical of Markan redaction, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: Mark’s Editorial Style.” ↩
-  Lindsey’s opinion, expressed during the seminar. For a discussion of Mark’s editorial habits, see Robert L. Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark”; and David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: Mark’s Editorial Style.” ↩
-  Moses is a prime example of a person who is described as good. Cf. b. Men. 53b (quoted by Abrahams), יבוא טוב ויקבל טוב מטוב לטובים (“Let the good come and receive the good from the good for the good,” that is, “Let Moses come and receive the Torah from God [given] for Israel”). Cf. also Prov. 12:2, “A good man obtains favor from the LORD”; Prov. 14:14, “The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, and the good man rewarded for his”; Eccl. 9:2, “As it is with the good man, so with the sinner.” According to T. Sim. 4:4, “Joseph was a good man”; similarly, T. Dan 1:4 records: “…Joseph, a man who was true and good.” And in T. Ash. 4:1 we read: “Persons who are good…are righteous before God.” In NT, Joseph of Arimathea is called “a good and righteous man” (Luke 23:50), and Barnabas is called “a good man” (Acts 11:24). Jesus refers to persons as “good” in Matt. 5:45, “For he [your father who is in heaven] makes his sun shine on evil persons and good persons”; Matt. 12:35 (parallel to Luke 6:45), “The good man from the good treasure brings forth good.” In Rom. 5:7, Paul says that some might dare to die on behalf of “a good man.” ↩
-  One rare example of a person being addressed as “good” in a Jewish context may be found in the Talents parable, where the master says to his slave, “Well done, good and faithful slave” (Matt. 25:21, 23), or in the Lukan parallel to Matt. 25:21, “Well done, good slave” (Luke 19:17). However, the way the slave is addressed, εὖ δοῦλε ἀγαθὲ καὶ πιστέ in Matthew, and εὖγε ἀγαθὲ δοῦλε in Luke, seems un-Hebraic. Lindsey suggested that the conjectured Hebrew Ur-text simply read עַבְדִּי (“my slave”).
Abrahams (2:186) claimed that the Aramaic example quoted by Dalman (337) is “a quite clear instance” of a person being addressed as good in a Jewish context. Abrahams’ reference is to a statement of Rabbi Eleazar:
Rabba once decreed a fast for the residents of a city near Nehardea in Babylonia. When no rain fell he commanded the people to continue their fast overnight. The next morning he asked if anyone had had a dream. Rabbi Eleazar replied: “To me in my dream the following was said: ‘Good greetings to the good teacher from the good Lord who from His bounty dispenseth good to His people.” (b. Taan. 24b; Soncino)
If the greeting was addressed to Eleazar, then this would be an example of “good” used in addressing a teacher. However, as Abrahams notes, it is not clear from the context whether the term “good teacher” refers to Eleazar or Rabba. (Rabba was a third-generation Babylonian Amora who died ca. 339 C.E.) Was the anonymous messenger who spoke to Eleazar in a dream greeting Eleazar, or was the messenger, through Eleazar, sending greetings to Rabba, and thus referring to Rabba in the third person (i.e., “Greet the good teacher for me”)? ↩
-  Already in 1896, Plummer (Luke, 422) noted, “There is no instance in the whole Talmud of a Rabbi being addressed as ‘Good Master.’” He also cited the rabbinic saying, “There is nothing else that is good but the Law.” However, from this evidence he drew the conclusion that the title “Good Master” was “an extraordinary address, and perhaps a fulsome compliment.” Plummer did not suppose that Matthew exhibits a superior reading. ↩
-  Cf. Taylor, 425: “The address διδάσκαλε ἀγαθέ is very rare in Jewish literature, but similar examples of the use of the adjective are common in Gk.” In fact, typical Greek address prefers κράτιστε (kratiste, “most noble,” “most excellent”): cf., e.g., κράτιστε Μωσῆ (“Most excellent Moses”; Ezek. Trag. 243); κράτιστε Θεόφιλε (“Most excellent Theophilus”; Luke 1:3); κράτιστε Φῆλιξ (“Most excellent Felix”; Acts 24:3); κράτιστε Φῆστε (“Most excellent Festus”; Acts 26:25); κράτιστε ἀνδρῶν Ἐπαφρόδιτε (“Most excellent of men, Epaphroditus”; Jos., Life 430); ὦ κράτιστοι νέων (“O you illustrious young men!”; Ant. 4:134); κράτιστε Διόγνητε (“Most excellent Diognetus”; Diogn. 1:1). However, there are examples in Greek literature comparable to διδάσκαλε ἀγαθέ: cf., e.g., ὦ παῖδες ἀγαθοί (“O my good children”; Jos., J.W. 1:465); ἄνδρες ἀγαθοί (“Good men”; J.W. 7:323). ↩
-  Cf. the following examples from the Mishnah: m. Rosh Hash. 2:9; m. Ned. 9:5; m. Bab. Kam. 8:6. ↩
-  See Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L10. ↩
-  See Preparations for Eating Passover Lamb, Comment to L36. ↩
-  Schürer, 2:325-326. See also David N. Bivin, “Was Jesus a Rabbi?” ↩
-  Cf. the exchange between the sage Eliezer (beginning of second cent. C.E.) and his disciples (b. Sanh. 101a-101b). According to a baraita it was considered to be insulting for a student to fail to address his teacher as rabbi (b. Ber. 27b). Eventually, it was even asserted that one who calls his teacher by name is an epikoros (“unbeliever”):
R. Nahman [died ca. 320 C.E.—DNB and JNT] said: [An epikoros is] one who calls his teacher by name, for R. Johanan [ca. 180-279 C.E.—DNB and JNT] said: Why was Gehazi punished? Because he called his master by name, as it is written, And Gehazi said, My lord, O King, this is the woman, and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life [2 Kgs. 8:5]. (b. Sanh. 100a; Soncino)
-  Exceptions are: Ἰησοῦ Ναζαρηνέ (“Jesus the Nazarene!”; Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34), by an impure spirit, which Jesus rebuked and told to be silent; Ἰησοῦ υἱὲ τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ὑψίστου (“Jesus, Son of God the Most High!”; Mark 5:7; Luke 8:28), by a demoniac; Ἰησοῦ ἐπιστάτα (“Jesus, Master!”; Luke 17:13), by ten men with scale disease; Ἰησοῦ υἱὲ Δαυίδ (“Jesus, Son of David!”; Luke 18:38), by a blind man at Jericho; and Ἰησοῦ (“Jesus!”; Luke 23:42), by the thief on the cross. ↩
-  Davies and Allison cite Jos., J.W. 1:392; Paraleipomena Jeremiou 7:22; b. Ber. 28b as linguistic parallels to Matthew’s form of the rich man’s question (Davies-Allison, 3:42). ↩
-  Cf. Plummer, Luke, 422. ↩
-  Cf. Plummer, Luke, 422; Davies-Allison, 3:42. ↩
-  For examples of the subjunctive verb + ἵνα + subjunctive verb construction in Greek composition, cf. John 6:28 (τί ποιῶμεν ἵνα ἐργαζώμεθα τὰ ἔργα τοῦ θεοῦ; “What must we do to be doing the works of God?”); Rom. 3:8 (ποιήσωμεν τὰ κακά, ἵνα ἔλθῃ τὰ ἀγαθά; “Let us do evil that good may result”). ↩
-  For examples of an aorist participle + future indicative translating consecutive Hebrew verbs of the same tense, compare the following verses in LXX and MT: Gen. 19:2 (καὶ ὀρθρίσαντες ἀπελεύσεσθε = וְהִשְׁכַּמְתֶּם וַהֲלַכְתֶּם); Gen. 43:8 (καὶ ἀναστάντες πορευσόμεθα = וְנָקוּמָה וְנֵלֵכָה); Gen. 45:28 (πορευθεὶς ὄψομαι αὐτὸν = אֵלְכָה וְאֶרְאֶנּוּ); Num. 5:17 (καὶ λαβὼν ὁ ἱερεὺς ἐμβαλεῖ εἰς τὸ ὕδωρ = יִקַּח הַכֹּהֵן וְנָתַן אֶל־הַמָּיִם); Num. 21:8 (ἰδὼν αὐτὸν ζήσεται = וְרָאָה אֹתוֹ וָחָי); Ezek. 39:15 (καὶ ἰδὼν ὀστοῦν ἀνθρώπου οἰκοδομήσει = וְרָאָה עֶצֶם אָדָם וּבָנָה). ↩
-  Although rare, the usage “do commandments” is already found in the Hebrew Bible: עָשָׂה appears 28xx in combination with מִצְוָה or one of its synonyms. ↩
-  This is the reading of the Kaufmann, Cambridge and Parma manuscripts. ↩
-  S. Safrai provided Bivin with the following additional examples of the expression “do Torah” (personal communication):
- a. Before Mattathias died, he commanded his sons to “rally about you all who observe [lit., do] the Torah [πάντας τοὺς ποιητὰς τοῦ νόμου]” (1 Macc. 2:67).
- b. Mattathias’ son, Simon, the Maccabean military leader and high priest, after capturing the city of Gezer, resettled it with “men who would observe [lit., would do] the Torah [τὸν νόμον ποιήσωσιν]” (1 Macc. 13:48).
- c. In a number of rabbinic sources we find the following saying of Rabbi Meir:
How do we know that even a Gentile who keeps the commandments [lit., does Torah] is equal [in status] to the High Priest? From the verse, “…which if a man does them he will live by them” [Lev. 18:5]. It does not say “priests, Levites and Israelites,” but “a man,” which shows that even a Gentile who keeps the commandments is equal [in status] to the High Priest. (b. Bab. Kam. 38a; Cf. Sifra, Ahare Mot [ed. Weiss, 86b]; b. Sanh. 59a; b. Avod. Zar. 3a)
Further examples include m. Avot 6:7, “Great is the Torah for it gives life to them that do it, in this age and in the age to come,” and from the NT, cf. ποιητὴς νόμου (“an observer [lit., a doer] of law”) in Jas. 4:11, and ποιεῖ τὸν νόμον (“observes [lit., does] the law”) in John 7:19. ↩
-  Cf. Taylor, 426; Mann, 399. Wright suggests that the rich man’s question was not “What must I do to go to heaven when I die?” but a question about how he can share in the final vindication of Israel. See N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), 301. In other words, the focus of the rich man’s question was not personal salvation, but rather national redemption. Eternal life in Jewish sources refers to life that will be experienced at the final redemption when God will vindicate the faithfulness of Israel in the eyes of the nations who oppressed them. ↩
-  For a full discussion of the term αἰών (aiōn, “aeon”), see Hermann Sasse, “αἰών,” TDNT 1:197-208. ↩
-  See Dos Santos, 152. In MH עוֹלָם acquired the meaning “world” or “universe,” as seen in phrases such as אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם (“gentiles of the world”). However, this physical sense of the term is not present in the phrase חַיֵי עוֹלָם. On the phrase אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם, see Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry, Comment to L51. ↩
-  Compare the rabbinic phrases חַיֵּי הַעוֹלם הַבָּא (m. Bab. Metz. 2:11; m. Sanh. 10:2; m. Avot 2:7; t. Sanh. 12:5; 13:1) and חַיֵי הָעוֹלָמִים (m. Tam. 7:4). Fitzmyer (2:1198-1199) notes the similar phrase חיי נצח in DSS (1QS IV, 7; 4Q257 V, 5; CD III, 20). ↩
-  On this mishnah, see Shmuel Safrai, “The Land of Israel in Tannaitic Halacha,” in Das Land Israel in biblischer Zeit (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1983), 201-215, esp. 203-204. The eschatological expression “inherit the land” was developed from Scripture (cf. Ps. 37:9, 11, 22, 29; Isa. 60:21). Cf. Matt. 5:5: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.” ↩
-  See Joseph H. Hertz, The Authorized Daily Prayer Book (rev. ed.; New York: Bloch, 1975), 204. ↩
-  Noted already by Gill, 7:215. ↩
-  See Hatch-Redpath, vol. 2, Supplement, 84. The plenary spelling יְהוֹשׁוּעַ (yehōshūa‘) is less common in MT. ↩
-  Ἰησοῦς stands for יֵשׁוּעַ in 1 Chr. 24:11; 2 Chr. 31:15; 2 Esd. 2:2, 36, 40; 3:2, 8, 9; 4:3; 5:2; 8:33; 10:18; 13:9; 17; 7, 11, 39, 43; 18:7, 17; 19:4, 5; 20:9; 22:1, 7, 10, 16. In Sir. 50:27 where LXX has Ἰησοῦς a Hebrew manuscript of Ben Sira (MS B; 12th cent. C.E.) has ישוע. ↩
-  On the development of the name יֵשׁוּעַ, see Hurvitz, 130-132. ↩
-  Ilan ranks יֵשׁוּעַ as the sixth most common name among Jewish men in the land of Israel during the first century C.E. See Ilan, Lexicon of Jewish Names, 56. Cf. Rachel Hachlili, “Hebrew Names, Personal Names, Family Names and Nicknames of Jews in the Second Temple Period,” in Families and Family Relations as Represented in Early Judaisms and Early Christianities: Texts and Fictions (ed. Jan Willem van Henten and Athalya Brenner; Leiden: Deo, 2000), 83-115, esp. 113; Bacukham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, 70. ↩
-  See Ilan, Lexicon of Jewish Names, 126-133. ↩
-  Jesus’ name appears as יֵשׁוּעַ in t. Hul. 2:22 (Vienna MS). ↩
-  This interpretation contradicts Lindsey’s opinion, first expressed in an unpublished background paper prepared in advance of the Jerusalem School’s Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven seminars that began in February 1986. Lindsey wrote: “In Hebrew the verb אָמַר sometimes means ‘to intend’ (cf. Exod. 2:14; 1 Kgs. 5:5; 2 Chr. 13:8). Thus, [Jesus said], ‘What do you mean by “good”?’” ↩
-  Jesus’ reply, “Why do you say ‘good’? …You know the commandments…,” indicates that he knew the rich man was hinting at Mic. 6:8. ↩
-  The use of אָמַר (“say”) in the sense of “interpret” is common in rabbinic literature, especially when two sages disagree over how a passage of Scripture should be understood: הוּא אוֹמֵר…וַאֲנִי אוֹמֵר (“He says…and I say…,” that is, “He interprets [as follows]…but my interpretation is…”). Cf. t. Sot. 6:6-11; Sifre Deut. §31, on 6:4 (ed. Finkelstein, 49-51); b. Rosh Hash. 18b. Also, compare Jesus’ statements: “You have heard that it was said…but I say…” (Matt. 5:21-22, 27-28, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44), that is, “You have heard such and such an interpretation of Scripture…but I differ with that interpretation. My interpretation is….” ↩
-  Cf. W. Manson, 205. Luke 18:19 is one of the pillar texts used by Schmiedel to prove that Jesus never intended for anyone to think of him as God. See P. W. Schmiedel, “Gospels,” Encyclopaedia Biblica (4 vols.; ed. T. K. Cheyne and J. S. Black; Macmillan: New York, 1899-1903), 2:839-898. ↩
-  Note that Matthew is the only Synoptic Gospel with a trinitarian formula: “…baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19; RSV). Flusser, however, argued that this trinitarian formula is an interpolation into the text of Matthew’s Gospel. Early patristic citations of the ending of Matthew lack this trinitarian formula. See David Flusser, “The Conclusion of Matthew in a New Jewish Christian Source,” Annual of the Swedish Theological Institute 5 (1966-1967): 110-120. ↩
-  Note that in the LXX translation of the Shema (Deut. 6:4) God is referred to as εἷς: ἄκουε Ισραηλ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν κύριος εἷς ἐστιν. According to the Jerusalem Talmud (y. Sot. 7:1 [21b]), the Shema was recited in Greek by at least some Jews even in the land of Israel. This well-known verse may therefore have facilitated the editor’s mistaken identification of the one good thing with God. Cf. Nolland, Luke, 2:886; Nolland, Matt., 789-790; Hagner, 557. ↩
-  See Hagner, 557. ↩
-  According to Matt. 19:17 (L17-20), “If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” ↩
-  Cf. m. Avot 3:14; Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, chpt. 39 (ed. Schechter, 118); b. Ber. 5a. The rabbinic saying, “There is no good except Torah,” is a midrash based on Prov. 4:2 in which “good teaching” is synonymous with “Torah”: כִּי לֶקַח טוֹב נָתַתִּי לָכֶם תּוֹרָתִי אַל־תַּעֲזֹבוּ (“For I give you good teaching; do not forsake my Torah”). From this verse, the sages deduced that “good” means “Torah,” and therefore they coined the saying, “There is no good except Torah.” As Flusser noted, Jesus’ reply to the rich man reflects this rabbinic midrash on Prov. 4:2. Cf. Paul’s statement: “The Torah is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12). See David Flusser, “The Ten Commandments and the New Testament,” in The Ten Commandments in History and Tradition (ed. Ben-Zion Segal and Gershom Levi; Jerusalem: Magnes, 1990), 219-246, esp. 222. ↩
-  See David Flusser, “The Ten Commandments and the New Testament,” 219-246; and idem, “‘He Planted It as Eternal Life in Our Midst,'” (Flusser, JSTP2, 199-206). Cf. m. Avot 6:7, “Great is the Torah for it gives life to them that do it in this age and in the age to come.” ↩
-  The sages referred to a comprehensive summary of Scripture as כְּלָל גָּדוֹל בַּתּוֹרָה (“a great rule of Torah”). Rabbi Akiva (ca. 50-135 C.E.) said that the most important summary statement in Scripture is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Sifra, Kedoshim, on Lev. 19:18 [ed. Weiss, 89b]). Cf. Luke 10:27 and parallels. ↩
-  One expression of the ideology Jesus opposed is found in the Mishnah:
כָּל הָעוֹשֶׂה מִצְוָה אַחַת מְטִיבִים לוֹ וּמָאֲרִיכִים אֶת יָמָיו וְנוֹחֵל אֶת הָאָרֶץ וְכָל שֶׁאֵינוּ עוֹּשֶׂה מִצְוָה אַחַת אֵין מְטִיבִים לוֹ וְאֵין מַאֲרִיכִין אֶת יָמָיו וְאֵינוּ נוֹחֵל אֶת הָאָרֶץ
For anyone who does even a single commandment, it will go well for him, and his days will be lengthened and he will inherit the land, but anyone who does not do even a single commandment, it will not go well for him, and his days will not be lengthened, and he will not inherit the land. (m. Kid. 1:10)
The rabbinic statement attempts to hold two opposing views in tension. One is the idea that Jesus rejected, that there is a single good deed that can substitute for a life of Torah observance. This idea is reflected in the first half of the rabbinic saying. The other idea, with which Jesus would have agreed, is that the neglect of even one commandment is enough to disqualify a person from receiving the promised blessings of the Torah. ↩
-  This approach is known by its abbreviation, קַלָּה כַּחֲמוּרָה (“light as heavy,” i.e., a light [commandment is as important] as a heavy [commandment]). According to this approach, the less serious commandments are no less significant than the serious commandments. Cf. m. Avot 2:1, “Be as careful of a ‘light’ commandment as of a ‘heavy’ commandment, because you do not know the reward of each commandment.” See also Sandt-Flusser, 220-225. ↩
-  Cf. Davies-Allison, 3:43. The instances of εἰ + θέλειν in the Synoptic Gospels are as follows:
Matt. 11:4 U
Matt. 16:24 TT (= Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)
Matt. 17:4 TT (cf. Mark 9:5; Luke 9:33)
Matt. 19:17 TT (cf. Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19)
Matt. 19:21 TT (cf. Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22)
Matt. 27:43 U (Scripture quotation)
Mark 8:34 TT (= Matt. 16:24; Luke 9:23)
Mark 9:35 U
Luke 9:23 TT (= Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34)
TT = verse has parallels in all three Synoptic Gospels; U = verse unique to that Gospel
The above data show that there is only one example where all three Synoptic writers have εἰ + θέλειν (Matt. 16:24 // Mark 8:34 // Luke 9:23). Apart from this one example εἰ + θέλειν does not occur in Luke and occurs only once more in Mark (Mark 9:35), as compared with five additional instances of εἰ + θέλειν in Matthew. ↩
-  A mistranslation in Greek of the conjectured Hebrew Ur-text, אֵין טוֹב אֶלָּא אֶחָד (“There is no good except one”). ↩
-  See, for example, m. Ber. 9:2. ↩
-  In other words, one should serve God out of love. To the saying of Antigonus, cf. the phrase found in Derech Eretz Rabbah 2:13 (ed. Higger, 284): עוֹשִׂין מֵאַהֲבָה (“those who do [i.e., perform good deeds] out of love”). ↩
-  Cf. the midrash on Psalm 141, according to which David said: “Some trust in their fair and upright deeds, and some in the works of their fathers, but I trust in you. Although I have no good works, yet because I call upon you, you answer me” (Midr. Ps. 141 [ed. Buber, 530-531]). ↩
-  Chana Safrai, “The Kingdom of Heaven and the Study of Torah” (JS1, 189). ↩
-  See Huub van de Sandt, “Eternal Life as a Reward for Choosing the Right Way: The Story of the Rich Young Man (MATT 19:16-30),” in Life Beyond Death In Matthew’s Gospel: Religious Metaphor or Bodily Reality? (ed. Wim Weren, Huub van de Sandt, and Joseph Verheyden; Leuven: Peeters, 2011), 116. ↩
-  Ibid., 115. ↩
-  Flusser, “‘Do not Commit Adultery,’ ‘Do not Murder,’” Textus 4 (1964): 220-224; Flusser, “The Ten Commandments and the New Testament,” 219-246. For the textual witnesses to the two traditions, see ibid., 220-221 n. 2. ↩
-  One of the characteristics of Vaticanus is that it often drops syllables. For the idiosyncrasies and scribal habits of the copyist of Codex Vaticanus, see the publications of Peter M. Head, James R. Royse and E. C. Colwell. ↩
-  For the rationale behind basing our reconstruction on the text of Vaticanus, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction,'” under the subheading “Codex Vaticanus or an Eclectic Text?”
Lindsey, supposing that μὴ ἀποστερήσῃς does belong to the original text of Mark, suggested that “do not defraud” is a “Markan pick-up” from 1 Cor. 7:5. The verb ἀποστρέφειν occurs 5xx in NT (Mark 10:19; 1 Cor. 6:7, 8; 7:5; 1 Tim. 6:5), while the negative imperative forms of ἀποστρέφειν occur only in Mark 10:19 and 1 Cor. 7:5. Lindsey believed that the negative imperative in 1 Cor. 7:5 inspired Mark’s insertion of this commandment at Mark 10:19.
“Do not defraud” is not one of the Ten Commandments. Neither is it an explicitly stated commandment anywhere else in the Hebrew Scriptures. In their attempts to explain μὴ ἀποστερήσῃς in Mark 10:19, some scholars have suggested that “do not defraud” should be inferred from Deut. 24:14-15, (cf., e.g., Gould, 191) which forbids taking advantage of hired laborers, while others have speculated that it is a reference to the eighth commandment, “Do not steal,” or to the tenth commandment, “Do not covet” (cf., e.g., Taylor, 428). If μὴ ἀποστερήσῃς is to be regarded as an original reading in Mark 10:19, Lindsey’s explanation of “do not defraud” as a Markan pick-up from 1 Cor. 7:5 is a simpler solution than the theories proposed by other scholars. ↩
-  Cf. Flusser, “The Ten Commandments and the New Testament,” 223-224; Marshall, 685. ↩
-  See Flusser, “The Ten Commandments and the New Testament,” 232. It is also possible, as van de Sandt suggests, that the inclusion of Lev. 19:18 reflects the familiarity of the final editor of Matthew’s Gospel with the Jewish Two Ways: “By stressing the triad of life (v. 16 and again in v. 17), the second table of the Decalogue (vv. 18b-19a), and the principle of neighbourly love (v. 19b) Matthew’s version of the rich man’s episode reflects a substantial part of the Two Ways teaching” (van de Sandt, “Eternal Life as a Reward,” 116). ↩
-  See van de Sandt, “Eternal Life as a Reward,” 115. ↩
-  Cf. the combination of עָשָׂה with יֹום הַשַּׁבָּת (a commandment) in the phrase עַל־כֵּן צִוְּךָ יי אֱלֹהֶיךָ לַעֲשֹׂות אֶת־יֹום הַשַּׁבָּת (“therefore the LORD your God commanded you to do the Sabbath day”; Deut. 5:15). ↩
-  Gen. 8:21 (= מִנְּעֻרָיו); 48:15 (= מֵעוֹדִי); 1 Kgdms. 12:2 (= מִנְּעֻרַי); 17:33 (= מִנְּעֻרָיו); 2 Kgdms. 19:8 (= מִנְּעֻרֶיךָ); 3 Kgdms. 18:12 (= מִנְּעֻרָי); 1 Macc. 1:6; 2:66; Ps. 70:5, 17 (= מִנְּעוּרָי); Ps. 87:16 (= מִנֹּעַר); Ps. 128:1, 2 (= מִנְּעוּרָי ,מִנְּעוּרַי); Prov. 5:18 (= נְעוּרֶךָ); Job 31:18 (= מִנְּעוּרַי); Wis. 8:2; Sir. 6:18; 7:23; 51:15; Zech. 13:5 (= מִנְּעוּרָי); Isa. 47:12, 15 (= מִנְּעוּרַיִךְ ,מִנְּעוּרָיִךְ); 54:6 (= נְעוּרִים); Jer. 22:21 (= מִנְּעוּרַיִךְ); 38:19 (=נְעוּרָי); 39:30 (= מִנְּעֻרֹתֵיהֶם). ↩
-  T. Ab. (B) 10:14; Jos. Asen. 17:4; Pr. Man. 17. ↩
-  Leg. 3:177, 179; Deus 157; Conf. 181; Her. 296; Fug. 67; QG 2:54 (2xx). ↩
-  For another example where we believe a Greek editor omitted a possessive pronoun for stylistic reasons, see Preparations for Eating Passover Lamb, Comment to L36. ↩
-  In his Hebrew translation of NT, Delitzsch rendered νεότης as נְעוּרִים (ne‘ūrim, “the time of life before betrothal”). MHNT followed suit. ↩
-  According to Shmuel Safrai, no distinction is to be made between the Hasidim and men of deeds. “Men of deeds” was simply an additional epithet by which the Hasidim were known. See Shmuel Safrai, “Teaching of Pietists in Mishnaic Literature,” Journal of Jewish Studies 16 (1965): 15-33, esp. 16 n. 11. ↩
-  There are numerous instances in LXX where participle + δέ + aorist is used to translate vav-consecutive + vav-consecutive. For example:
וַיִּשְׁמַע רְאוּבֵן וַיַּצִּלֵהוּ מִיָּדָם
And Reuben heard and delivered him from their hand.
ἀκούσας δὲ Ρουβην ἐξείλατο αὐτὸν ἐκ τῶν χειρῶν αὐτῶν
And hearing, Reuben delivered him from their hands. (Gen. 37:21)
Further examples of this kind are found in Gen. 6:2; 12:18; 18:2, 16; 19:1, 10; 22:3; 23:7; 26:8, 22; 31:4, 17, 45; 32:1, 23; 33:1; 37:31; 41:14; 42:6, 7; 43:19, 29, 30; 44:6, 18; 46:1, 29; 47:1; 48:8, 13, 14; and many more example can be found in other LXX books. ↩
-  On dramatization as a feature of Mark’s Gospel, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: Mark’s Editorial Style.” ↩
-  As a child grew up observing the commandments became part of the routine of everyday life, and observant Jews—then and now—could sincerely say, “I have kept all the commandments since I became an adult religiously [at age 13 plus one day]. From that time, there has never been a day that I have failed to put on tefillin. I have never profaned the Sabbath or eaten forbidden meats.” The parents of John the Baptist were “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly” (Luke 1:6). Paul claimed that, “in regard to righteousness under the Torah,” he was “blameless” (Phil. 3:6). In rabbinic sources there are many examples of persons making the same claim. Abraham, Moses and Aaron were believed to have kept all the commandments. ↩
-  Cf. אַחַת שָׁאַלְתִּי מֵאֵת יי (“One thing I ask of the LORD”) in Ps. 27:4. ↩
-  Lindsey suggested that in Matt. 5:48 τέλειος represents תָּמִים (tāmim, “sincere,” “honest,” “morally blameless”) rather than שָׁלֵם (shālēm, “complete”). These are the two possible candidates for reconstructing Jesus’ saying in Matt. 5:48. In LXX, τέλειος is 8xx the translation of the root ת-מ-ם, and 7xx of the root שׁ-ל-ם. Cf. Gen. 6:9, “Noah was a righteous man, תָּמִים in his age.” ↩
-  Van de Sandt suggests that the appearance of τέλειος may indicate that the final editor of Matthew belonged to the same community that composed the Didache: “Since the word τέλειος (“perfect”) is lacking in the other Gospels it is surprising to find it in the Didache twice. In Did 1:4 the phrase “and you will be perfect” occurs in a non-retaliation context and in Did 6:2a those who are able to carry the “whole yoke of the Lord” are called “perfect”. …[T]he repeated occurrence of the term “perfect” in precisely those Matthean contexts which display a close association with the Two Ways may indicate that Matthew was acquainted with a copy of the Two Ways which included Did 6:2-3.” See van de Sandt, “Eternal Life as a Reward,” 117. ↩
-  It should be noted that Matt. 19:21 was later seen as important Scriptural justification for Christian monasticism, a religious life that included the vow of poverty, the complete renunciation of personal property. ↩
-  See Lindsey, HTGM, 81. ↩
-  On freedom from possessions as normative for all Jesus’ disciples, see Gerd Theissen, Social Reality and the Early Christians: Theology, Ethics, and the World of the New Testament (trans. Margaret Kohl; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), 37-46, esp. 39. ↩
-  On the Hasidim, see S. Safrai, “Teaching of Pietists in Mishnaic Literature,” JJS 16 (1965): 15-33; idem, “Pietists and Miracle-Workers,” Zion 50 (1985): 133-154 (Heb.); idem, “Jesus and the Hasidim.” ↩
-  Cf., for example, the tax collector Zacchaeus, who gave half of his possessions to the poor (Luke 19:8). ↩
-  According to S. Safrai, Yeshevav was one of the Hasidim, or close to them. On the Yeshevav episode in the Jerusalem Talmud, see Gary A. Anderson, “You Will Have Treasure in Heaven,” in New Approaches to the Study of Biblical Interpretation in Judaism of the Second Temple Period and in Early Christianity (ed. Gary A. Anderson, Ruth A. Clements, and David Satran; Leiden: Brill, 2013), 120. ↩
-  Rabban Gamaliel became nasi, religious and political head of the Jewish people, circa 80 C.E. ↩
-  Cf. y. Peah 1:1 [3a]; b. Ket. 50a, 67b; b. Arach. 28a; Pesikta Rabbati 25 (ed. Friedmann, 126b). The text reads, lit., “a fifth of his wealth for the mitzvah.” In “Jewish Palestinian Aram.” and MH the word מִצְוָה (mitzvāh, “commandment”) often was used in the sense of “alms” or “charity” (Jastrow, 823-824; Sokoloff, 325); and thus, in this context, “for the mitzvah” means “as alms.” On mitzvah in the sense of almsgiving, see Gary Anderson, “You Will Have Treasure in Heaven,” 122-123. ↩
-  See Hatch-Redpath, 2: 1246. ↩
-  See Jeffrey P. García, “‘Treasure in Heaven’: Examining an Ancient Idiom for Charity.” ↩
-  Luke’s equivalent is, “Sell your possessions and give alms” (Luke 12:33). Luke’s version seems to be FR’s paraphrase of a text like the one we see in Matthew. ↩
-  It is not certain that Jesus’ saying concerning the “good eye” and the “bad eye” (Matt. 6:22-23) originally followed Matt. 6:19-21. Therefore, it is not certain that Matt. 6:22-23 was about giving alms to the poor; in Luke’s Gospel the two passages appear in different contexts (Luke 12:33-34; Luke 11:34-36). However, “good eye,” an idiom for “generosity,” is often associated with almsgiving in Jewish sources: “A generous man [lit., good of eye] will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor” (Prov. 22:9; cf. Deut. 15:7-11 [“bad eye”]). The Mishnah divides almsgivers into four types on the basis of whether the almsgiver possesses a “good” or “bad” eye (m. Avot 5:13). The Mishnah also teaches that one of the three characteristics of disciples of Abraham is a “good eye,” and that disciples who have this characteristic inherit the Garden of Eden, i.e., Paradise (m. Avot 5:19). ↩
-  Monobazus became king of Adiabene, a small kingdom in northern Mesopotamia, in 55 C.E. A convert to Judaism, Monobazus is mentioned elsewhere in rabbinic literature (cf. m. Yom. 3:10), and described in great detail by Josephus (Ant. 20:17-53, 75-96). ↩
-  This story also appears with variations in t. Peah 4:18-19; b. Bab. Bat. 11a; Pesikta Rabbati 25 (ed. Friedmann, 126b). ↩
-  Tilton believes that Jesus’ promise to the rich man that he will have treasure in heaven may be an allusion to the “good treasure in heaven” from which God provided the Children of Israel with manna in the wilderness (cf. Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Vayassa chpt. 3, on Exod. 16:4). Jesus’ promise of treasure in heaven might then be understood as a promise that God will take care of the rich man’s daily needs once he has given up his reliance on his personal wealth. See Joshua N. Tilton, “Gentiles Demand All These Things,” under the subheading “Eschatological Piety?”; Lord’s Prayer, Comment to L17. ↩
-  See Demands of Discipleship, Comment to L13. ↩
-  See David N. Bivin, “The Traveling Teacher.” ↩
-  As S. Safrai has pointed out, the correct understanding of Yose ben Yoezer’s saying, “Cover yourself with the dust of their [the sages’] feet” (m. Avot 1:4), is, “Attach yourself to a sage.” Cf. Bivin, “At the Feet of a Sage.” Yose ben Yoezer was active during the first half of the second cent. B.C.E. ↩
-  Edwin A. Abbott, The Corrections of Mark Adopted by Matthew and Luke (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1901), 440. ↩
-  On Markan stereotypes see Robert L. Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark,” under the subheading “The Markan Stereotypes.” ↩
-  For a discussion of Mark’s use of the historical present, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: Mark’s Editorial Style,” under the subheading “Mark’s Freedom and Creativity.” ↩
-  Cf. Robert Lindsey, “‘Verily’ or ‘Amen’—What Did Jesus Say?“ ↩
-  Instances of εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν/τοῦ θεοῦ occur in Matt. 5:20; 7:21; 18:3; 19:23, 24; Mark 9:47; 10:24; Luke 18:25; John 3:5; Acts 14:22. ↩
-  On reconstructing εἰσέρχεσθαι with נִכְנַס, see Healing Shimon’s Mother-in-law, Comment to L5. ↩
-  Buth discussed this idea at the 2015 Lindsey Legacy Conference in the “Shabbat Morning Bible Study: Panel Discussion with David Bivin, Randall Buth, Brad Young, Steven Notley and Halvor Ronning on the Kingdom of Heaven,” at about the one hour mark. ↩
-  See David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: The Kingdom of Heaven in the Life of Yeshua,” under the subheading “The Kingdom of Heaven in the Teachings of Jesus: Between Qumran and the Bet Midrash.” ↩
-  In rabbinic sources we do encounter כ-נ-ס with ברית, for example:
אבי הבן צריך ברכה לעצמו או′ ברוך א′ להכניסו בבריתו של אברהם אבינו העומדים מה הן אומ′ כשם שהכניסתו לברית כן הכניסו לתורה ולחופה ולמעשים טובים
[On the occasion of a circumcision] the father of the [eight-day-old] son says, “Blessed are you [who commanded us] to cause him [i.e., the eight-day-old boy] to enter the covenant of our father Abraham.” What do those standing there say? “Just as you caused him to enter the covenant, so cause him to enter the Torah, the marriage canopy and good deeds.” (t. Ber. 6:12 Vienna MS; cf. y. Ber. 9:3 [66a])
However, reconstructing with נִכְנַס would fail to capture the Essene connotations we believe Jesus intended by coining the phrase “enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” ↩
-  See Hatch-Redpath, 1:410-413. ↩
-  For a full discussion of this difficult problem, see “LOY Excursus: The Kingdom of Heaven in the Life of Yeshua,” under the subheading “Which is Correct: ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ or ‘Kingdom of God’?” ↩
-  See David N. Bivin, “Jesus and the Oral Torah: The Unutterable Name of God”; idem, “‘Jehovah’: A Christian Misunderstanding.” ↩
-  On the conceptual link between the Kingdom of Heaven and Torah study, see Chana Safrai, “The Kingdom of Heaven and the Study of Torah” (JS1, 169-198). ↩
-  On the various nuances of the term “Kingdom of Heaven” in the teachings of Jesus, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: The Kingdom of Heaven in the Life of Yeshua”; idem, “Blessedness of the Twelve,” Comment to L16-18. ↩
-  See Robert L. Lindsey, JRL, 53-60; idem, “The Kingdom of God: God’s Power Among Believers”; Young, JHJP, 196-205; Brad Young, “The Lord’s Prayer (4): ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ (Part 1)”; idem, “The Lord’s Prayer (5): ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ (Part 2).” ↩
-  Cf. Nolland’s comment that, “The problem relates not only to the practical issue of following Jesus in his itinerant ministry, but more basically to entry into the kingdom of God” (Nolland, Mark, 404). The problem Nolland identified is easily resolved if entering the Kingdom of Heaven is a way of referring to joining Jesus’ itinerant band of disciples. Rabbinic sources show that the concept of the Kingdom of Heaven is much more closely related to Torah study and discipleship than to eternal life in the age to come. See Chana Safrai, “The Kingdom of Heaven and the Study of Torah” (JS1, 169-189). ↩
-  See Robert L. Lindsey, A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark, 62; David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: Mark’s Editorial Style.” ↩
-  Today, the word קַל supplies the meaning “easy”; however, this is modern Hebrew usage only (Even-shoshan, 1191). ↩
-  Both Delitzsch and MHNT translated the Greek adjective in this passage, εὐκοπώτερος, with נָקֵל. ↩
-  Cf. Jastrow, 886; Even-shoshan, 835. ↩
-  The suggestion that the rabbinic sayings are dependent on Jesus’ statement (cf. Marshall, 687) is highly improbable. ↩
-  See Metzger, 169. There have been other attempts to soften Jesus, saying. For instance, it has been suggested that the eye of a needle refers to a small opening in a city gate that provided entrance for people but not for animals of burden. However, absolutely no proof exists for this assertion. Fitzmyer (1204) mentions this suggestion and the ship’s hawser suggestion, rejecting them both. ↩
-  Examples of definite Hebrew nouns translated with indefinite Greek nouns in LXX include: Gen. 19:28 (כְּקִיטֹר הַכִּבְשָׁן = ὡσεὶ ἀτμὶς καμίνου); Judg. 14:6 (כְּשַׁסַּע הַגְּדִי = ὡσεὶ συντρίψει ἔριφον [Vaticanus]); Isa. 10:14 (כַּקֵּ֤ן = ὡς νοσσιὰν); 34:4 (כַּסֵּפֶר = ὡς βιβλίον); 38:13 (כָּאֲרִי = ὡς λέοντι). ↩
-  See Gesenius §126 l; Joüon-Muraoka §137 i. Examples of the def. art. in Hebrew denoting class include: Num. 11:12 (כַּאֲשֶׁר יִשָּׂא הָאֹמֵן אֶת־הַיֹּנֵק, “as the [i.e., a] nurse carries the [i.e., an] infant”); 1 Sam. 26:20 (כַּאֲשֶׁר יִרְדֹּף הַקֹּרֵא בֶּהָרִים, “as one pursues the [i.e., a] partridge in the mountains”); Isa. 29:8 (כַּאֲשֶׁר יַחֲלֹם הָרָעֵב, “as when the [i.e., a] hungry man dreams”). ↩
-  Several variant readings appear in the manuscripts for the word here translated “camels.” The text is not clear. Israel Abrahams has suggested that “the real reading is the hapax legomenon כרכרות in Isa 66:20 where the meaning is probably dromedaries” (Abrahams, 2:208). Our translation follows Abrahams’ suggestion. ↩
-  See above, Comment to L64-65. For a full discussion of our decision to reconstruct the Greek Translation as “Kingdom of Heaven,” see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: The Kingdom of Heaven in the Life of Yeshua,” under the subheading “Which is Correct: ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ or ‘Kingdom of God’?” ↩
-  Cf. Beare (194), who wrote: “There is certainly something artificial about the question: ‘Who then can be saved?’ The disciples have not been trained to imagine that if a rich man can hardly enter the kingdom, it will be impossible for others; on the contrary, the kingdom has been promised to the poor from the very begining of the Gospel.” ↩
-  On the historical present in Mark, and the author of Matthew’s frequent rejection of the same, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: Mark’s Editorial Style,” under the subheading, “Mark’s Freedom and Creativity.” ↩
-  Lindsey, on the other hand, regarded the whole of Matt. 19:25-26 // Mark 10:26-27 // Luke 18:26-27 as authentic, and proposed that Jesus, playing on יָכוֹל (yāchōl, “can,” “able”) in the disciples’ question, hinted at יְכֹלֶת (yecholet, “ability”) found in Num. 14:16 (cf. Deut. 9:28). In this passage Moses argued that if God carries through with his decision to destroy the people of Israel, the nations will say, in ridicule, that God lacked the ability (יְכֹלֶת) to bring his people into the land as he promised. Lindsey suggested that Luke 18:26-27 and parallels should be reconstructed, “And the listeners said: ‘Then who can [i.e., Who is able to give away everything he owns? Who has enough strength to make that sacrifice]?’ And he [Jesus] said: ‘Man’s inability is God’s ability [i.e., God can supply a person with the inner resolve to make such a sacrifice].’” ↩
-  Mark gives one parallel (Mark 12:1, opposite Luke 20:9) to the five Lukan occurrences of ἤρξατο λέγειν. The parallel contains the expression “began to say,” but in a different Greek form: Mark uses ἤρξατο λαλεῖν, replacing the infinitive of the verb λέγειν (“say”) with the infinitive of a synonym, λαλεῖν (“say”). This Greek combination occurs only one other time in NT, in Luke 7:15. Mark may have picked up ἤρξατο λαλεῖν from Luke 7:15 and used it in Mark 12:1 parallel to Luke 20:9. ↩
-  The Gospels themselves note that Πέτρος is a nickname: Matt. 10:2; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14. See Choosing the Twelve, Comment to L19; David N. Bivin, “Matthew 16:18: The Petros-petra Wordplay—Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew?” An expanded version of this article was published as “Jesus’ Petros-petra Wordplay (Matthew 16:18): Is It Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew?” (JS2, 375-394). ↩
-  See Abbott, The Corrections of Mark, 169. On the tendency for Greek authors to omit possessive pronouns, see “Preparations for Eating Passover Lamb,” Comment to L36. ↩
-  The expression τὰ ἴδια was sometimes used to translate בַּיִת (“house”): in LXX τὰ ἴδια twice translates בֵּיתוֹ (“his house”; Esth. 5:10; 6:12), and τὰ ἴδια was used in the sense of “home” by non-Jewish Greek authors at least as early as the second cent. B.C.E. (BDAG, 467). ↩
-  The adjective ἴδιος (“one’s own”) does not usually appear in Greek texts translated from Hebrew. For example, of the 83 occurrences of this adjective in LXX, only 22 are translations of a word or phrase in MT. Of these 22 instances, 15 are translations of Hebrew possessive pronouns (“his,” “her,” “our,” etc.). Plural forms of the adjective, such as ἴδια, account for 30 of the 83 occurrences; however, only 6xx (including the Hebrew texts of Ben Sira) is a plural form of ἴδιος the translation of an element in the Hebrew text: 3xx it translates a Hebrew possessive pronoun, and 3xx it is the translation of בֵּיתוֹ (“his house”; Gen. 14:14; Esth. 5:10; 6:12). In NT, the expression τὰ ἴδια occurs 6xx in John (1:11; 10:3, 4, 12; 16:32; 19:27), and once each in Luke (18:28), Acts (21:6) and 1 Thess. (4:11). ↩
-  However, the expression τὰ ἴδια can also reflect “possessions” since, lit., it means “our own things.” If Peter’s πάντα or τὰ ἴδια referred to possessions, then Jesus, in his response, probably used “house” in the sense of “wealth.” ↩
-  See Bendavid, 357. Bendavid’s example is the rabbinic explanation of the phrase וְעֹזְבֵי יי (“and the forsaken of the LORD”; Isa. 1:28) as אלו בני אדם המניחין ספר תורה ויוצאין (“This refers to people who leave the Scroll of the Law [while it is being read from] and go out [from the Synagogue]”; b. Ber. 8a; Soncino). ↩
-  Compare the statement in Sifre Zuta, also attributed to the Rechabites:
לא באתי והנחתי כל מה שהיה לי אלא ללמוד תורה
I did not come and leave everything I had except to study Torah. (Sifre Zuta 10:29)
For these sources, we are indebted to Ze’ev Safrai and Peter J. Tomson, “Paul’s ‘Collection for the Saints’ (2 Cor 8-9) and Financial Support of Leaders in Early Christianity and Judaism,” in Second Corinthians in the Perspective of Late Second Temple Judaism (ed. Reimund Bieringer, Emmanuel Nathan, Didier Pollefeyt, and Peter J. Tomson; Leiden: Brill, 2014), 212 n. 252. ↩
-  See LHNS, 147. ↩
-  On transliterated words in SG, see Joshua N. Tilton and David N. Bivin, “LOY Excursus: Greek Transliterations of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Hebrew/Aramaic Words.” ↩
-  See Robert L. Lindsey, “‘Verily’ or ‘Amen’ —What Did Jesus Say?”; David N. Bivin, “Jesus’ Use of ‘Amen’: Introduction or Response?” Nehemiah 8:6 is an excellent example of “Amen” as a response to a blessing.
Justin Martyr knew that ἀμήν is a response:
οὗ συντελέσαντος τὰς εὐχὰς καὶ τὴν εὐχαριστίαν πᾶς ὁ παρὼν λαὸς ἐπευφημεῖ λἐγων Ἀμήν. τὸ δὲ ἀμὴν τῇ ἑωραΐδι φωνῇ τὸ γένοιτο σημαίνει.
And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to γένοιτο [so be it] (1 Apol. 65:3-4 [ed. Blunt, 98])
Translation according to A. Cleveland Coxe, The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325 (10 vols.; ed. Alexander Robers and James Donaldson; New York: Scribners, 1913; repr. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), 1:185. ↩
-  Presumably because Matthew took this saying from Anth., Hebraic features are still discernable in L103-111. ↩
-  Cf. T. W. Manson, 216. ↩
-  Cf. Schweizer, 386; Davies-Allison, 3:57. ↩
-  Montefiore (RLGT, 283) cited a rabbinic tradition according to which the Amoraic sage, Rabbi Yohanan, sold his land in order to study Torah. When others raised the objection that he had nothing left for security against old age, he replied, “I have sold what was created in six days [i.e., the earth], and acquired what was given in forty days [i.e., the Torah]” (Pesikta de Rav Khanah 178b). ↩
-  Cf., e.g., “Anyone who accepted…is permitted” (כֹּל מִי שֶׁ-; m. Eruv. 8:1); “Anyone who vowed a Nazirite vow…” (כֹֹּל שֶׁ-; m. Naz. 5:4); “Anyone who delves into four things…” (-כֹֹּל ה; m. Hag. 2:1); “Anyone who forgets one word of what he has learned…” (כֹֹּל שֶׁ-; m. Avot 3:9); “Anyone who profanes the name of Heaven in secret…” (-כֹֹּל ה; m. Avot 4:4); “Anyone who honors the Torah…” (-כֹּל ה [2xx]; m. Avot 4:6); “Anyone who fulfills the Torah in poverty…” (כֹֹּל ה- [2xx]; m. Avot 4:9). The phrase כֹּל מִי שֶׁ- occurs 20xx in the Mishnah: m. Peah 8:9 (2xx); m. Bik. 3:7 (2xx); m. Eruv. 8:1 (2xx); m. Pes. 5:9; m. Yom. 2:1; m. Shek. 5:6; m. Suk. 4:4; m. Taan. 4:5; m. Ned. 4:8; m. Git. 9:2; m. Kid. 3:12 (2xx); m. Arayot 22; m. Bab. Bat. 8:7; m. Sanh. 6:1; m. Mid. 3:8; m. Nid. 3:1. The phrase -כֹֹּל מַה שֶׁ appears 13xx in the Mishnah: m. Yom. 1:5; m. Betz. 4:6; m. Rosh Hash. 2:9; m. Bab. Kam. 6:5 (2xx); m. Bab. Bat. 4:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9; 5:1; 9:2. The phrase -כֹֹּל שֶׁ appears 368xx in the Mishnah. ↩
-  πᾶς ὁ (“all the,” “everyone who”): Matt. 5:22, 28, 32; 7:21, 26; Luke 6:47; 14:11; 16:18; 18:14; 20:18; πᾶς ὄς (“all who,” “everyone who”): Luke 12:8, 10; 14:33. ↩
-  One of Flusser’s Hebrew-speaking students drew his attention to the Hebrew idiom “to leave house,” i.e., “to leave family.” Cf. Robert L. Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark,” under the subheading “Collaboration With Professor Flusser.” ↩
-  Cf. the more Semitic syntax of Luke 14:26—“father…and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters.” ↩
-  In NT the words “mother” and “father” appear in proximity 23xx (7xx each in Matt. and Mark, 5xx in Luke, 2xx in Eph., and 1x each in John and Heb.). Their order is always “father” followed by “mother.” This order is reversed only once—here in Mark. ↩
-  Nevertheless, in Deuteronomy’s version of the Ten Commandments we find a Hebrew author who interpreted בַּיִת literally in a context where the broader sense of “members of a household” was originally intended (Deut. 5:21). See Moshe Greenberg, “The Decalogue Tradition Critically Examined,” in The Ten Commandments in History and Tradition (ed. Ben-Zion Segal and Gershom Levi; Jerusalem: Magnes, 1990), 95. Might Deuteronomy’s version of the Ten Commandments have played a role in Mark’s rewriting of Luke 18:29, since the Ten Commandments are mentioned earlier in this pericope? ↩
-  Observe, e.g., Mark’s long expansion in Mark 10:24. There he repeated the disciples’ amazement and Jesus’ statement about the difficulty of the rich. Regarding repetition and expansion as typical features of Mark’s Gospel, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: Mark’s Editorial Style.” ↩
-  See Robert L. Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark,” under the subheading “Collaboration With Professor Flusser.” ↩
-  One well-known example of בַּיִת in the sense of “family” is found in Gen. 45:18. Pharaoh urged Joseph to have his brothers bring their father and “houses” to Egypt. ↩
-  Cf. the expression לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם (e.g., m. Avot 2:12). According to Bundy (403), “He [i.e., Luke—DNB and JNT] preserves the original religious motivation of Jesus for renunciation, ‘for the kingdom of God’s sake.'” ↩
-  Taylor (434) asserts that the phrase “for the sake of the gospel” is “editorial…as many commentators recognize”; cf. Vermes, 272. ↩
-  Cf. Bundy, 402; and contra Marshall, 688. On the term εὐαγγέλιον in the Synoptic Gospels, see Robert L. Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark,” under the subheading “The Markan Stereotypes”; idem, “A New Approach to the Synoptic Gospels,” under the subheading “Personal Encounter with the Problem.” ↩
-  See LHNS 73 §93. ↩
-  Codex Bezae reads ἑπταπλασίονα in place of πολλαπλασίονα at Luke 18:30. Ἑπταπλασίονα (eptaplasiona, “sevenfold”) represents שִׁבְעָתַיִם (shiv‘ātayim, “sevenfold”) which is found 6xx in MT (Gen. 4:15, 24 [ἑπτάκις]; Isa. 30:26 [ἑπταπλάσιον]; Ps. 12:7 [11:7: ἑπταπλασίως]; 79:12 [78:12: ἑπταπλασίονα]; Prov. 6:31 [ἑπταπλάσια]). Streeter (318) wrote: “[Manuscript] D [and] Old Lat. read ἑπταπλασίονα in Luke. This reading, which makes all three Gospels differ, is surely right.” ↩
-  In the past, most critical editions of the Greek text of Matthew adopted the reading πολλαπλασίονα: Tischendorf (1869-1872); Westcott and Hort (1881); Legg (1940); British and Foreign Bible Society (2d ed.; 1958); Albert Huck in his synopsis; and even Kurt Aland in the first editions of his synopsis. Recently, some text critics have tended to adopt the reading ἑκατονταπλασίονα: Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger and Allen Wikgren in their revisions of Nestle’s text of NT (26th ed.; 1979) and the United Bible Societies’ text (3d ed.; 1975). Metzger justified the variant readings that he, Aland, Black, Martini and Wikgren adopted or rejected in preparing the United Bible Societies’ third edition. Metzger (50) states the reasons why the committee adopted ἑκατονταπλασίονα: “What was judged to be predominant external support, as well as considerations involving the dependence of Matthew upon Mark, led the Committee to prefer ἑκατονταπλασίονα.” ↩
-  Outside NT, πολλαπλασίονα occurs in the works of Josephus (J.W. 1:514) and in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (T. Zeb. 6:6). ↩
-  Although כִּפְלַיִם does not appear in the Mishnah, we do find כֶּפֶל (m. Ket. 3:9; m. Bab. Kam. 7:1 [3xx], 3 [2xx], 4 [2xx], 5 [1x]; m. Bab. Metz. 3:1 [2xx]; 4:9 [1x]; m. Sanh. 1:1 [1x]; m. Shevu. 6:5 [1x]; 8:3 [1x], 4 [1x]). ↩
-  It is also possible that the earliest Greek version of this text was ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τῷ τούτῳ (“in this age”), and that ἐν τῷ καιρῷ τούτῳ (“in this time”), the reading of Mark and Luke, reflects the redactional activity of FR. ↩
-  Compare rabbinic sayings such as, “Great is Torah: to those who do it, it gives life in this age and in the coming age” (m. Avot 6:7); “This age is like a vestibule before the coming age; prepare yourself in the vestibule so you may enter the banqueting hall” (m. Avot 4:16). ↩
-  In the Mishnah, e.g., הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא occurs 30xx, 15xx with its opposite, הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה: m. Peah 1:1; m. Kid. 4:14; m. Bab. Metz. 2:11; m. Sanh. 10:3 (4xx); m. Avot 4:1, 16, 17 (2xx); 5:19; 6:4, 7, 9. ↩
-  Examples of the division between the present age (הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה) and the age to come (הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא) in rabbinic literature include: m. Peah 1:1; m. Kid. 4:14; m. Bab. Metz. 2:11; m. Sanh. 10:1, 2, 3; m. Avot 2:7; 3:10; 4:16; Gen. Rab. 44:22. The same distinction between aeons is also found in 4 Ezra 7:47; 8:1. Also note the phrase οὐ μόνον ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι (“not only in this age, but also in the coming age”) in Eph. 1:21. On the term הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא in rabbinic literature, see Shmuel Safrai, “Oral Tora,” in The Literature of the Sages (CRINT II.3; ed. Shmuel Safrai; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987), 1:94. ↩
-  See S. Safrai, “The Value of Rabbinic Literature as an Historical Source.” ↩
-  The Greek word εἷς (“one”) is apparently an overly literal translation of אֶחָד (“one”). ↩
-  Rabbinic sources help to confirm that Matthew’s parallel to Luke 18:18-19 preserves a great deal of the earliest text. Matthew has “What good,” a hint at a popular rabbinic discussion that grew out of Mic. 6:8. ↩
-  For a detailed description of these Markan traits, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: Mark’s Editorial Style.” ↩
-  Cf. Did. 7:1. See van de Sandt, “Eternal Life as a Reward,” 112-113; Sandt-Flusser, The Didache, 280-281. ↩
-  It is possible that in an older version of the Didache known as the Two Ways there was no interruption between Did. 1:2 and 2:1, in which case the command to love one’s neighbor and the summary of the second table of the Ten Commandments would have been linked in the Jewish Two Ways. See van de Sandt and Flusser, The Didache, 161-162. For a conjectured reconstruction of the Greek Two Ways document, see ibid., 120-130. Matthew may have been acquainted with an early version of the Didache that resembled this form of the Two Ways. ↩
-  See David Flusser, “Two Anti-Jewish Montages in Matthew” (Flusser, JOC, 552-560); idem, “Matthew’s Verus Israel” (Flusser, JOC, 561-574); and idem, “Anti-Jewish Sentiment in the Gospel of Matthew” (Flusser, JSTP2, 351-353). ↩
-  Cf. Flusser, JOC, 565, 567, 571-572. ↩
-  The religious community that produced the final redaction of the Didache may also have belonged to this current of early Christianity, or at least have been influenced by it. Although the Didache incorporates a Jewish treatise (the Two Ways) and likely originated in a Jewish-Christian context, the final redaction of the Didache appears to have been produced in a Gentile community. See Huub van de Sandt, “Was the Didache Community a Group within Judaism? An Assessment on the Basis of its Eucharistic Prayers,” in A Holy People: Jewish and Christian Perspectives on Religious Communal Identity (ed. Marcel Poorthius and Joshua Schwartz; Leiden: Brill, 2006), 85-107; and idem, “The Didache Redefining its Jewish Identity in View of Gentiles Joining the Community,” in Empsychoi Logoi: Religious Innovations in Antiquity (ed. Alberdina Houtman, Albert de Jong, and Magda Misset-van de Weg; Leiden: Brill, 2008), 247-265. Points of contact between the Gospel of Matthew and the Didache include strong parallels between the so-called Antitheses in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:21-48) and Did. 3:1-6; a trinitarian baptism formula (Matt. 28:19; Did. 7:1; cf. Justin, 1 Apol. chpt. 61); polemics against the religious practices of Jewish “hypocrites” (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16; Did. 8:1-2); a nearly identical version of the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13; Did. 8:2) in contrast to Luke’s version (Luke 11:2-4); the dominical saying, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs” (Matt. 7:6; Did. 9:5); rules for itinerant preachers (Matt. 10; Did. 11-13); and the procedure for reproof (Matt. 18:15-17; Did. 15:3). However, the Didache lacks the specific anti-Jewish Gentile Zionist tendency evident in Matthew, 5 Esdras and Dialogue with Trypho. See van de Sandt and Flusser, The Didache, 325-329. ↩
-  Pace Bruce, 181; Nolland, Matt., 788, 795. See Joseph Frankovic, “Threading a Needle.” ↩