Yohanan the Immerser’s Question

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When John the Baptist asked Jesus, “Are you the Coming One?” did Jesus reply, “Yes, I am” or “No, I’m not”?

Matt. 11:2-6; Luke 7:18-23
(Huck 64, 81; Aland 106; Crook 122)[1]

Revised: 2 March 2022

וַיַּגִּידוּ לְיוֹחָנָן תַּלְמִידָיו עַל כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה וַיִּקְרָא לִשְׁנֵי תַּלְמִידִים מִתַּלְמִידָיו וַיִּשְׁלַח אֶל הָאָדוֹן לֵאמֹר הַאַתָּה הוּא הַבָּא אוֹ לְאַחֵר נְיַחֵל וַיָּבֹאוּ אֵלָיו הָאֲנָשִׁים וַיֹּאמְרוּ יוֹחָנָן הַמַּטְבִּיל שָׁלַח אוֹתָנוּ אֵלֶיךָ לוֹמַר הַאַתָּה הוּא הַבָּא אוֹ לְאַחֵר נְיַחֵל בְּאוֹתָהּ הַשָּׁעָה רִפֵּא רַבִּים מֵחֳלָאִים וּמִמַּכּוֹת וּמֵרוּחוֹת רָעוֹת וּלְעִוְרִים רַבִּים נָתַן לִרְאוֹת וַיַּעַן יֵשׁוּעַ וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם לְכוּ הַגִּידוּ לְיוֹחָנָן מַה שֶּׁאַתֶּם רוֹאִים וְשׁוֹמְעִים עִוְרִים נִפְקָחִים וּפִסְחִים מִתְהַלְּכִים מְצֹרָעִים מְטוֹהָרִים וְחֵרְשִׁים שׁוֹמְעִים וּמֵתִים קָמִים וַעֲנִיִּים מִתְבַּשְּׂרִים וְאַשְׁרֵי מִי שֶׁלֹּא יִכָּשֵׁל בִּי

Now, Yohanan’s disciples told him all about these things, so he picked two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you he who is coming, or must we continue waiting for someone else?”

So the men came to Yeshua and said, “Yohanan the Immerser sent us to ask you, ‘Are you he who is coming, or must we continue waiting for someone else?’”

(Now at that time Yeshua healed many from sickness and injury and demonic oppression, and he gave many blind people the ability to see.)

So Yeshua replied, “Go tell Yohanan about what you yourselves can see and hear: people who were blind are now seeing and people who were lame are now walking around. People who were impure from bearing the marks of scale disease on their bodies are now being purified and people who were deaf are now hearing sounds. And what’s more, people who were dead are now living and people who are poor are receiving the good news that the Kingdom of Heaven is here.

“So my answer is this: blessed is the one who does not get tripped up trying to define me.”[2]





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“Yohanan the Immerser and
the Kingdom of Heaven” complex
Yohanan the Immerser’s Question

Yeshua’s Words About Yohanan the Immerser

The Kingdom of Heaven Is Increasing

Mustard Seed and Starter Dough parables

Story Placement

The author of Luke placed Yohanan the Immerser’s Question immediately following Widow’s Son in Nain (Luke 7:11-17). In this way, the reader of Luke’s Gospel is prepared for the startling claim that in the course of Jesus’ ministry the dead have been raised (L42; Matt. 11:5 ∥ Luke 7:22). The author of Matthew displayed even greater forethought in his placement of Yohanan the Immerser’s Question by having reported in chapters 8 and 9 of his Gospel an example of each of the miracles Jesus will mention in his reply to John, while the Mission of the Twelve, described in chapter 10, provides a basis for the claim that the poor have had the Gospel proclaimed to them.[3]

In both Luke and Matthew, Yohanan the Immerser’s Question is the first in a series of three pericopae (the others being Yeshua’s Words about Yohanan the Immerser and Like Children Complaining) that have been adopted in the same order (with some deletions and/or insertions) from the same source.[4] We believe that at a pre-synoptic stage of transmission Yohanan the Immerser’s Question (Matt. 11:2-6 ∥ Luke 7:18-23), together with Yeshua’s Words about Yohanan the Immerser (Matt. 11:7-11 ∥ Luke 7:24-28), The Kingdom of Heaven Is Increasing (Matt. 11:12-15 ∥ Luke 16:16) and the Mustard Seed and Starter Dough parables (Matt. 13:31-33 ∥ Luke 13:18-21; cf. Mark 4:30-32), formed a single literary unit, which we refer to as the “Yohanan the Immerser and the Kingdom of Heaven” complex.[5] Click here to read an overview of this complex.

Click here to view the Map of the Conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua. __________________________________________________________________

Conjectured Stages of Transmission

Lindsey classified Yohanan the Immerser’s Question as a Type 1 DT pericope, which is characterized by high verbal identity.[6] According to our analysis, approximately 67% of Matthew’s wording of this pericope is identical to Luke’s, while nearly 41% of Luke’s wording in Yohanan the Immerser’s Question is identical to Matthew’s.[7] Their high levels of verbal agreement, as well as their agreed-upon placement of Yohanan the Immerser’s Question together with Yeshua’s Words about Yohanan the Immerser and Like Children Complaining, point to Matthew and Luke’s reliance upon the same document,[8] namely the Anthology (Anth.), as the source of this pericope.

Scholars have noted that while the verbal identity in Yohanan the Immerser’s Question is high when repeating the words of Jesus’ reply, there is actually a low level of verbal agreement with respect to the narrative introduction. Some scholars have supposed that the authors of Matthew and Luke each wrote their own narrative introductions to Jesus’ reply,[9] but since both authors agree on the basic outline of the narrative (John hears about Jesus and sends disciples to Jesus with the question “Are you the Coming One?”), at least this basic narrative must have appeared in their common source (Anth.).[10] The differences between the Matthean and Lukan narrative introductions (e.g., Matthew’s mention of John’s imprisonment, Luke’s repetition of John’s question) may be due to one author’s redactional activity and the other’s fidelity to the wording of Anth., or to redactional activity on the part of both authors. Other scholars have suggested that Jesus’ statement in Matt. 11:5 ∥ Luke 7:22b originally existed as an independent saying, which only became attached to the (secondary) narrative introduction at a pre-synoptic stage of transmission.[11] But since it is difficult to imagine how the statement “blind people see, lame people walk around, scale-diseased people are purified, deaf people hear, corpses are raised, and poor people are told good news” would conjure associations with John the Baptist on its own, it is safer to suppose that the narrative introduction was integral to the saying from the beginning.[12]

Crucial Issues

  1. Is “the Coming One” in John the Baptist’s question a messianic title?
  2. Was Jesus’ answer to John the Baptist’s question “Yes, I am the Coming One” or “No, I’m not”?


L1-13 In the opening lines of Yohanan the Immerser’s Question, verbal agreement is limited to mentioning John’s name (L3), the use of the verb πέμπειν (pempein, “to send”) in L11, albeit in different forms, and the mention of John’s disciples, albeit at different locations (L5, L9 [Luke], L12 [Matt.]). Both Luke and Matthew agree that somehow John got wind of Jesus’ activity, but they express how this happened with different words. This limited agreement is enough to convince us that both the Lukan and Matthean narratives rely on a common source (Anth.), but the question remains whether one author adhered to Anth.’s wording more closely than the other, or whether both authors reworked the wording of their source.

Several observations lead us to the conclusion that the author of Luke followed Anth.’s wording in the narrative introduction to Yohanan the Immerser’s Question more closely than did the author of Matthew. First, Luke’s wording in L1-13 reverts relatively easily to Hebrew (see Comments below), whereas Matthew’s version contains un-Hebraic word order (e.g., ὁ δὲ Ἰωάνης ἀκούσας; L1-4)[13] and phrases such as πέμψας διὰ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ (“sending through his disciples”), which are difficult to revert to Hebrew.[14] Second, Matthew’s reference to τὰ ἔργα τοῦ Χριστοῦ (ta erga tou Christou, “the works of the Messiah”) appears to be a secondary gloss reflecting the author of Matthew’s Christology (see below, Comment to L7), especially when compared to Luke’s more neutral “all these things.” Third, Matthew’s reference to John’s imprisonment seems to be an inference drawn by the author of Matthew from Mark’s statement that Jesus’ public career did not begin until after John had been put in prison (Mark 1:14; cf. Matt. 4:12). Luke’s version of Yohanan the Immerser’s Question does not say anything about John’s imprisonment, which is an odd detail for the author of Luke to have omitted, had it appeared in his source, since at first glance it seems to explain why John sent disciples rather than going to hear Jesus’ response first-hand. All this leads us to believe that the author of Matthew subjected the narrative opening of Yohanan the Immerser’s Question to considerable editorial reshaping.

L1-2 καὶ ἀπήγγειλαν (GR). Luke’s narrative introduction to Yohanan the Immerser’s Question opens with καί + aorist, which can easily be reconstructed as a vav-consecutive. In LXX ἀπαγγέλλειν (apangellein, “to report”) is usually the translation of הִגִּיד (higid, “report,” “tell”).[15] Likewise, הִגִּיד is usually rendered in LXX as ἀπαγγέλλειν or as ἀναγγέλλειν (anangellein, “to report”).[16] Thus, for HR, וַיַּגִּידוּ (vayagidū, “And they told”) is the obvious choice.

L3 Ἰωάνῃ (GR). At first glance, Luke’s word order might seem un-Hebraic, since it is tempting to reconstruct καὶ ἀπήγγειλαν Ἰωάνῃ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ (“And they reported to John, the disciples of him…”) as וַיַּגִּידוּ תַּלְמִידָיו לְיוֹחָנָן (“And reported his disciples to John…”), placing the messengers before the name of the recipient.[17] However, a survey of MT shows that the order לְ- + הִגִּיד + recipient + messenger, which is indicated by the Greek text, is just as possible as the more usual הִגִּיד + messenger + -לְ + recipient word order.[18] For example:

וַתַּגֵּד לְדָוִד מִיכַל אִשְׁתּוֹ לֵאמֹר

And Michal his wife reported to David, saying…. (1 Sam. 19:11)

καὶ ἀπήγγειλεν τῷ Δαυιδ Μελχολ ἡ γυνὴ αὐτοῦ λέγουσα

And his wife Melchol told Dauid, saying…. (1 Kgdms. 19:11; NETS)[19]

This example provides a nearly exact grammatical parallel to our Greek and Hebrew reconstructions.

לְיוֹחָנָן (HR). On reconstructing the name Ἰωάνης (Iōanēs, “John”) as יוֹחָנָן (yōḥānān, “John”), see Choosing the Twelve, Comment to L25.

L5 תַּלְמִידָיו (HR). Training disciples was not distinctive to the Pharisaic-rabbinic sages. Josephus claims to have been the disciple of a desert-dwelling hermit, Bannus by name, whose lifestyle is in some ways similar to John the Baptist and the Essenes (Life §11). Disciples of John the Baptist are also mentioned in the Question About Fasting pericope (Matt. 9:14; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33) and in Luke’s introduction to the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1).

On reconstructing μαθητής (mathētēs, “disciple”) with תַּלְמִיד (talmid, “disciple”), see Lord’s Prayer, Comment to L4.

L6 ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ (Matt. 11:2). The author of Luke reported the imprisonment of John the Baptist following the Yohanan the Immerser’s Eschatological Preaching pericope as a way of closing the chapter on John in order to make a new beginning with Jesus. Since Luke’s report of John’s imprisonment occurs prior to the account of Jesus’ baptism by John,[20] it is clear that the author of Luke’s report of John’s imprisonment was not intended to be chronological. It is possible, therefore, that neither the author of Luke nor his source believed that the Baptist was in prison when he sent his disciples to Jesus with his question.

The author of Matthew, on the other hand, reported the Baptist’s imprisonment as having taken place in advance of Jesus’ public appearance in the Galilee (Matt. 4:12). This he did under the influence of Mark 1:14. Thus the author of Matthew had no choice but to assume that John the Baptist was still in prison when he sent his disciples to inquire of Jesus on his behalf. Note too that the term the author of Matthew used for “prison” in Matt. 11:2 (δεσμωτήριον [desmōtērion),[21] differs from that which occurs in Yohanan the Immerser’s Execution (φυλακή [fūlakē]; Matt. 14:3; Mark 6:17; Luke 3:20), where the vocabulary appears to be indebted to Anth.[22] It seems likely, therefore, that the reference to John’s incarceration ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ (en tō desmōtēriō, “in the prison”; Matt. 11:2) is a Matthean addition, but it is one that creates more problems than it solves: how could John the Baptist be free to meet with and dispatch disciples wherever and whenever he wished, when he was supposed to be under the constant supervision of Antipas’ guards, whose duty it would surely have been to curtail communications between leaders of popular movements whom the tetrarch feared would inspire his subjects to rebel against his rule?

L7 τὰ ἔργα τοῦ Χριστοῦ (Matt. 11:2). Although Flusser and Lowe suggested that Matthew’s τὰ ἔργα τοῦ Χριστοῦ (ta erga tou Christou, “the works of the Christ”) could be reconstructed as מַעֲשֵׂי מָשִׁיחַ (ma‘asē māshiaḥ, “messianic works”),[23] their reconstruction causes Matt. 11:2 to leave unstated to whom these “messianic works” ought to be ascribed. Moreover, we have not found any instances of the phrase מַעֲשֵׂי מָשִׁיחַ in ancient Jewish sources, whether in MT, DSS or rabbinic literature, so the claim that מַעֲשֵׂי מָשִׁיחַ would have been understood as “messianic works” remains unsupported from the extant sources.[24]

We believe that Matthew’s phrase “the works of the Christ” is redactional. First, as a number of scholars have pointed out, it is difficult to believe that the author of Luke, who was comfortable using ὁ Χριστός (ho Christos, “the Christ,” “the Messiah”) for Jesus elsewhere in his Gospel, would have eliminated this title from Yohanan the Immerser’s Question had it appeared in his source.[25] Second, Davies and Allison noted that τὰ ἔργα τοῦ Χριστοῦ (Matt. 11:2) is parallel to the phrase τῶν ἔργων αὐτῆς (tōn ergōn avtēs, “her works”; Matt. 11:19), where the works are those belonging to Wisdom.[26] We think it likely that the author of Matthew used the phrases “the works of the Christ” (Matt. 11:2) and “her [i.e., Wisdom’s] works” (Matt. 11:19) as a means of bracketing the unit on John the Baptist he copied from Anth.[27] Since “the works of the Christ” looks like the work of the author of Matthew, we have preferred Luke’s reading for GR.

עַל כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה (HR). In LXX the combination περί + πᾶς frequently translates עַל כָּל.‎[28] In MT אֶת + הִגִּיד is more common than עַל + הִגִּיד,‎[29] but examples of the latter are not wanting. The following are examples of עַל + הִגִּיד translated by ἀπαγγέλλειν + περί, as in our reconstruction of Luke 7:18:

הִגִּיד מָרְדֳּכַי עַל־בִּגְתָנָא וָתֶרֶשׁ שְׁנֵי סָרִיסֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ

…Mordecai reported concerning Bigthana and Teresh, two eunuchs of the king…. (Esth. 6:2)

ὡς ἀπήγγειλεν τῷ βασιλεῖ περὶ τῶν δύο εὐνούχων τοῦ βασιλέως

…how he reported to the king concerning two of the king’s eunuchs…. (Esth. 6:2)

וַיֵּלְכוּ וַיַּגִּידוּ לְדָוִיד עַל הָאֲנָשִׁים

And they came and reported to David concerning the men…. (1 Chr. 19:5)

καὶ ἦλθον ἀπαγγεῖλαι τῷ Δαυιδ περὶ τῶν ἀνδρῶν

And they came to report to Dauid concerning the men…. (1 Chr. 19:5; NETS)

The things that John the Baptist’s disciples reported are not specified,[30] and it could either be that their report suggested to John that Jesus might be the Someone whose coming he had foretold (Matt. 3:11-12; Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:16-17), or that their report planted a seed of doubt in John’s mind.[31] If the report concerned Jesus’ proclamation of divine favor toward Israel (Luke 4:19), his opinion that the time had not yet come to mourn God’s judgment on the Temple (Matt. 9:15; Mark 2:19-20; Luke 5:34-35),[32] his insistence that during the period of the Kingdom of Heaven the wicked will coexist with the righteous (Matt. 13:24-30, 47-50), and his command to love enemies (Matt. 5:43-48 ∥ Luke 6:27-36), then John the Baptist may have doubted whether Jesus was the one whose axe was already at the root of the tree (Matt. 3:10; Luke 3:9) and whose winnowing shovel was already in his hand (Matt. 3:12; Luke 3:17).[33] On the other hand, if John’s disciples had reported that Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man, that he had raised the dead as Elijah the prophet had done (1 Kgs. 17:17-24), and had spoken of a fiery immersion (Luke 12:49-50), then the Baptist may have begun to consider whether Jesus might be the Someone whose coming he had foretold.[34]

Reaching a definite decision in this matter is impossible, but we think that it is more likely that the reports about Jesus inspired John to hope rather than doubt for the simple reason that the Synoptic Gospels give no indication that John had ever entertained such high hopes for Jesus prior to hearing the report from his disciples.[35] John cannot have begun to doubt something he had not previously affirmed, but his acute eschatology may have predisposed him to believing that he would personally witness the arrival of the Someone whose coming he had foretold.

L8 וַיִּקְרָא (HR). On reconstructing προσκαλεῖν (proskalein, “to call,” “to summon”) with -קָרָא לְ (qārā’ le, “call to,” “summon”), see Choosing the Twelve, Comment to L6. There and in Sending the Twelve: Commissioning, L14, we reconstructed καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος (kai proskalesamenos, “and summoning”) as -וַיִּקְרָא לְ (vayiqrā’ le, “and he summoned”), and in both locations, as here, the summons was issued to disciples. Note that καί + participle + aorist (e.g., καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος…ἔπεμψεν; Luke 7:18-19) is a typical rendering of vav-consecutive + vav-consecutive in LXX.[36]

L9 לִשְׁנֵי תַּלְמִידִים מִתַּלְמִידָיו (HR). We initially considered whether Luke’s δύο τινὰς τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ (dūo tinas tōn mathētōn avtou, “a certain two of his disciples”)[37] should be reconstructed as שְׁנַיִם מִתַּלְמִידָיו (shenayim mitalmidāv, “two of his disciples”) since we find examples of מִן + שְׁנַיִם in Hebrew.[38] We abandoned this possibility, however, when we were unable to locate any examples of שְׁנַיִם מִתַּלְמִידִים (or -מִתַּלְמִיד + pronominal suffix [e.g., תַּלְמִידָיו] or construct [e.g., תַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים]) in rabbinic sources. We have therefore adopted the phrase שְׁנֵי תַּלְמִידִים מִתַּלְמִידָיו (shenē talmidim mitalmidāv, “two disciples from his disciples”) for HR. Admittedly this precise phrase does not exist in rabbinic sources either, but it is analogous to תַּלְמִיד אֶחָד מִתַּלְמִידֵי, which does occur, for example:

שוב מעשה בתלמיד אחד מתלמידי בית הלל שסמך על העולה מצאו תלמיד אחד מתלמידי בית שמאי אמ′ לו מה זה סמיכה

Another anecdote about a certain disciple of the disciples of [תַּלְמִיד אֶחָד מִתַּלְמִידֵי] Bet Hillel who laid hands on a whole burnt offering. A certain disciple of the disciples of [תַּלְמִיד אֶחָד מִתַּלְמִידֵי] Bet Shammai found him and said to him, “What’s this laying on of hands?” (t. Hag. 2:12; Vienna MS)

אמ′ ר′ שמעון כששבתתי בכפר בית פאגי מצאני תלמיד אחד מתלמידי ר′ עקיבא ואמ′ לי

Rabbi Shimon said, “When I spent the Sabbath in the village of Bet Fage, a certain disciple of the disciples of [תַּלְמִיד אֶחָד מִתַּלְמִידֵי] Rabbi Akiva found me and said to me….” (t. Meil. 1:5; Vienna MS)

אמ′ לפניו תלמיד אחד מתלמידי בית שמיי ר′ אומר לפניך טעם שבית שמיי אומ′ בו

A certain disciple of the disciples of [תַּלְמִיד אֶחָד מִתַּלְמִידֵי] Bet Shammai said before him [i.e., Rabbi Yehoshua—DNB and JNT], “Rabbi, may I say before you something that Bet Shammai says concerning it?” (t. Ohol. 5:11; Vienna MS)

The phrase שְׁנֵי תַּלְמִידִים is found, for example, in a story about two disciples of Antigonus of Soko (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 5:2 [ed. Schechter, 26]).

If לִשְׁנֵי תַּלְמִידִים מִתַּלְמִידָיו is the correct reconstruction, the repetition of the noun תַּלְמִיד may explain the otherwise superfluous τις (tis, “certain”) in Luke 7:18.

L10 ὁ Ἰωάνης (Luke 7:18). The position of John’s name in L10 is un-Hebraic. In Hebrew John’s name would have come immediately following the verb in L8 (i.e., וַיִּקְרָא יוֹחָנָן; “and John called”). It is possible that the author of Luke (or his source) changed the word order, but since from the context it would have been understood that John was the subject of the sentence, we think it is more likely that the author of Luke added John’s name to his source for the sake of clarity. We have therefore omitted John’s name from GR and HR in L10.

L11 ἔπεμψεν (GR). The Lukan-Matthean agreement to use the verb πέμπειν (pempein, “to send”) assures us that this verb appeared here in Anth. Despite the author of Matthew’s editorial activity in L1-13, verbal agreements such as this provide strong evidence that both the Lukan and the Matthean narrative introductions to Yohanan the Immerser’s Question were based on a common source.

וַיִּשְׁלַח (HR). Although the LXX translators usually rendered שָׁלַח (shālaḥ, “send”) with ἀποστέλλειν (apostellein, “to send”),[39] the few instances of πέμπειν in LXX are usually the translation of שָׁלַח.‎[40]

L12 διὰ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ (Matt. 11:2). Some scholars consider Matthew’s πέμπειν διά (pempein dia, “to send via”) to be an Aramaism, but Black claimed that no Aramaic equivalent to πέμπειν διά exists,[41] while other scholars note that πέμπειν διά is attested in non-literary Greek papyri.[42] It therefore seems more likely that πέμπειν διά in Matt. 11:2 (L11-12) is simply the author of Matthew’s paraphrase of Anth.’s description of John’s sending his disciples to Jesus with his inquiry.

L13 אֶל הָאָדוֹן (HR). On reconstructing κύριος (kūrios, “lord,” “master”) as אָדוֹן (’ādōn, “lord,” “master”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L10. Although reference to Jesus as “the Lord” in the voice of the narrator is unique to the Gospel of Luke,[43] we believe that most, if not all, of these references can be traced back to Anth., Luke’s source, rather than to the author of Luke’s redactional preference to add references to Jesus as “the Lord.” If by “the Coming One” John the Baptist alluded to Mal. 3:1-4 (see below, Comment to L15), then the author of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua may have felt that referring to Jesus by the title הָאָדוֹן (hā’ādōn, “the Lord”) was especially appropriate, given that according to Malachi, “The Lord [הָאָדוֹן; LXX: κύριος] whom you are seeking will suddenly come to his temple” (Mal. 3:1).

L14 λέγων (GR). Luke and Matthew agree to use forms of the verb λέγειν (legein, “to say”), but since Luke’s version of the narrative introduction to Yohanan the Immerser’s Question appears to have adhered more closely to the wording of Anth., we have adopted Luke’s reading in L14.

לֵאמֹר (HR). Since in L14 we are reconstructing narrative, we have adopted the BH form לֵאמֹר (lē’mor, “saying”) rather than the MH form לוֹמַר (lōmar, “saying”). Examples of לֵאמֹר + שָׁלַח, as in our reconstruction, include:

וַיִּשְׁלַח שָׁאוּל אֶל־יִשַׁי לֵאמֹר

And Saul sent to Jesse, saying…. (1 Sam. 16:22)

καὶ ἀπέστειλεν Σαουλ πρὸς Ιεσσαι λέγων

And Saoul sent to Iessai, saying…. (1 Kgdms. 16:22; NETS)

וַיִּשְׁלַח שְׁלֹמֹה אֶל־חִירָם לֵאמֹר

And Solomon sent to Hiram, saying…. (1 Kgs. 5:16)

καὶ ἀπέστειλεν Σαλωμων πρὸς Χιραμ λέγων

And Salomon sent to Chiram, saying…. (3 Kgdms. 5:16; NETS)

וַיִּשְׁלַח מַלְאָכִים אֶל־חִזְקִיָּהוּ לֵאמֹר

And he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying…. (2 Kgs. 19:9; cf. Isa. 37:9)

καὶ ἀπέστειλεν ἀγγέλους πρὸς Εζεκιαν λέγων

And he sent messengers to Hezekias, saying…. (4 Kgdms. 19:9; cf. Isa. 37:9)[44]

We also reconstructed a sentence with וַיִּשְׁלַח…לֵאמֹר in Preparations for Eating Passover Lamb, L10-12.

L15 הַאַתָּה הוּא הַבָּא (HR). In L15 the wording of Luke and Matthew is exactly the same, thereby removing all uncertainty as to GR. In MT questions about a person’s identity are often phrased as הַאַתָּה + (demonstrative or pronoun) + identifier, for example, הַאַתָּה זֶה בְּנִי עֵשָׂו (“Are you my son Esau?”; Gen. 27:21). In LXX these questions are typically translated as εἰ σὺ εἶ + (pronoun) + identifier, for example, εἰ σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱός μου Ησαυ (“Are you my son Esau?”; Gen. 27:21). Additional examples include:

הַאַתָּה הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתָּ אֶל הָאִשָּׁה

Are you the man who spoke to the woman? (Judg. 13:11)

εἰ σὺ εἶ ὁ ἀνὴρ ὁ λαλήσας πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα

Are you the man who spoke to the woman? (Judg. 13:11)

הַאַתָּה אִישׁ הָאֱלֹהִים אֲשֶׁר בָּאתָ מִיהוּדָה

Are you the man of God who came from Judah? (1 Kgs. 13:14)

εἰ σὺ εἶ ὁ ἄνθρωπος τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ ἐληλυθὼς ἐξ Ιουδα

Are you the man of God who came from Ioudas? (3 Kgdms. 13:14; NETS)

הַאַתָּה זֶה אֲדֹנִי אֵלִיָּהוּ

Are you my lord Elijah? (1 Kgs. 18:7)

εἰ σὺ εἶ αὐτός, κύριέ μου Ηλιου

Are you he, my lord Eliou? (3 Kgdms. 18:7; NETS)

הַאַתָּה זֶה עֹכֵר יִשְׂרָאֵל

Are you the troubler of Israel? (1 Kgs. 18:17)

εἰ σὺ εἶ αὐτὸς ὁ διαστρέφων τὸν Ισραηλ

Are you he who perverts Israel? (3 Kgdms. 18:17; NETS)[45]

The example closest to our GR and HR is found in the book of Ezekiel:

הַאַתָּה הוּא אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתִּי בְּיָמִים קַדְמוֹנִים בְּיַד עֲבָדַי נְבִיאֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

Are you he of whom I spoke in early days by means of my servants, the prophets of Israel…? (Ezek. 38:17)

σὺ εἶ περὶ οὗ ἐλάλησα πρὸ ἡμερῶν τῶν ἔμπροσθεν διὰ χειρὸς τῶν δούλων μου προφητῶν τοῦ Ισραηλ

You are [the one] about whom I spoke before former days by means of my servants, the prophets of Israel…. (Ezek. 38:17)

As in Matt. 11:3 ∥ Luke 7:19, where John’s question opens with σὺ εἶ (sū ei, “You are”), Ezek. 38:17 has σὺ εἶ as the equivalent of הַאַתָּה (ha’atāh, “Are you?”). Both Ezek. 38:17 and our HR have the third person pronoun הוּא (hū’, “he”) following the interrogative, and in Ezek. 38:17 and in Matt. 11:3 ∥ Luke 7:19 the question being asked is whether someone is to be identified as one who had been foretold.

On reconstructing ἔρχεσθαι with בָּא (bā’, “come”), see Demands of Discipleship, Comment to L8.

Silver denarius coined during the Bar Kochva revolt. The legends written in paleo-Hebrew script read שמע (sh-m-‘, an abbreviation of שִׁמְעוֹן [shim‘ōn, “Simon”]) on the obverse, and on the reverse beginning at the jug handle אלעזר הכוהן (’El‘āzār hakōhēn, “Eleazar the priest”). The base of the jug intrudes between the heh and the kaf. Image courtesy of the Classical Numismatic Group.

Scholars frequently interpret the Baptist’s question as asking whether Jesus is the Messiah,[46] but such an interpretation lacks nuance as well as solid internal and external evidence.[47] Whereas among Christians all eschatological roles and redemptive figures came to be subsumed under the title “the Messiah,” this was not necessarily the case for most Jews of the first century. From the later prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible, we learn of two redeemer figures, an anointed priest as well as an anointed king (Zech. 4:14).[48] The expectation of two messiah figures (priestly and royal) is also attested in DSS[49] and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs,[50] and is perhaps manifested in the two founders of the “Fourth Philosophy,” one of whom was a priest and the other of whom displayed kingly aspirations (Jos., Ant. 18:4ff.), and on the coins minted during the Bar Kochva revolt, where the name of the rebellion’s leader, Shimon ben Kosiba, is paired with that of Eleazar the priest.[51] Other redeemer figures include an eschatological judge and an eschatological prophet,[52] who may (or may not) have been identified as Elijah,[53] and “the anointed of the spirit” (מְשִׁיחַ הָרוּחַ; meshiaḥ hārūaḥ; 11QMelch [11Q13] II, 18). In some sources the role of eschatological judge is carried out by the Son of Man, who is variously identified as the collective saints of Israel (Dan. 7:27), Enoch (1 Enoch 71:14-17) or Abel (T. Abr. [A] 13:1-3). In these sources the role of the Son of Man is not played by a Davidic (or royal) messiah.[54] In a Qumran document the role of eschatological judge is filled by Melchizedek (11QMelch),[55] who was likewise not a Davidic messiah. Since in the Second Temple period the various eschatological roles and redeemer figures were fluid and need not have been filled by “the [Davidic] Messiah,” it is necessary to identify which eschatological figure John the Baptist had in mind when he referred to “he who is coming.”

In the first place, “he who is coming” refers back to Yohanan the Immerser’s Eschatological Discourse (Matt. 3:11-12; Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:15-17), in which John the Baptist prophesied the coming of Someone whom the Baptist was unworthy to serve, who would administer an immersion that surpassed his own, and who would purify the threshing floor, gathering in the wheat and burning up the stubble.[56] Notley has suggested that John the Baptist’s imagery of the threshing floor in want of purification was an oblique reference to the Temple, which was built on a threshing floor (cf. 2 Chr. 3:1).[57] Certain groups in the first century, such as the Essenes, believed that the Temple had been defiled by the illegitimate priests who officiated there.[58] They looked forward to the day when the Temple would be purified and the sacrifices would once again be (in their view) acceptable to the LORD, and in the meantime they ceased participating in the cult.[59] John the Baptist, who shared many characteristics in common with the Essenes,[60] and who, despite his priestly lineage, proclaimed his message in the desert far away from the Temple, may have shared the Essenes’ opinion that the Temple was impure. The Baptist’s reference to the separation of the wheat from the chaff might therefore be best understood as a figurative way of speaking of a regime change within the Temple’s leadership. The corrupt priesthood (the chaff) would be expelled, and a new righteous priesthood (the wheat) would be brought in.

If this understanding of John the Baptist’s message is correct, then the figure John described sounds more like an eschatological priest than a royal messiah, since the Temple cult and rites of purification were within the purview of the priesthood. John’s preaching appears to have been based on the prophecy in Malachi concerning the messenger who will come to purify the priesthood and the Temple:

הִנְנִי שֹׁלֵחַ מַלְאָכִי וּפִנָּה דֶרֶךְ לְפָנָי וּפִתְאֹם יָבוֹא אֶל הֵיכָלוֹ הָאָדוֹן אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם מְבַקְשִׁים וּמַלְאַךְ הַבְּרִית אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם חֲפֵצִים הִנֵּה בָא אָמַר יי צְבָאוֹת׃ וּמִי מְכַלְכֵּל אֶת יוֹם בּוֹאוֹ וּמִי הָעֹמֵד בְּהֵרָאוֹתוֹ כִּי הוּא כְּאֵשׁ מְצָרֵף וּכְבֹרִית מְכַבְּסִים׃ וְיָשַׁב מְצָרֵף וּמְטַהֵר כֶּסֶף וְטִהַר אֶת בְּנֵי לֵוִי וְזִקַּק אֹתָם כַּזָּהָב וְכַכָּסֶף וְהָיוּ לַיי מַגִּישֵׁי מִנְחָה בִּצְדָקָה׃ וְעָרְבָה לַיי מִנְחַת יְהוּדָה וִירוּשָׁלִָם כִּימֵי עוֹלָם וּכְשָׁנִים קַדְמֹנִיּוֹת

Behold, I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare a way before me, and suddenly the Lord whom you are seeking will come [יָבוֹא] to his Temple, also the messenger of the covenant whom you desire, behold, he comes [בָא]—says the LORD of hosts. But who is he that endures the day of his coming [יוֹם בּוֹאוֹ]? And who is he that stands at his appearing? For he is like a smelter’s fire and like a launderer’s soap. And he will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver and he will purify the sons of Levi [i.e., the priests—DNB and JNT] and refine them like gold and like silver. And they will be for the LORD presenters of an offering in righteousness. And the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in days of long ago, and as in former years. (Mal. 3:1-4)

Like the winnower at the threshing floor in John’s preaching, the smelter in Malachi’s prophecy comes with a fiery purification to purge the priesthood and the Temple.[61] Malachi 3:23 (ET 4:5), which identifies this eschatological purifier of the priesthood as Elijah, might seem to preclude the interpretation that the purifier would be a priestly messiah, but since some ancient Jewish traditions maintain that Elijah was a priest,[62] this verse poses no obstacle for identifying the purifier of the priesthood as the priestly messiah.

If John’s eschatological preaching was based on Malachi’s prophecy, then the repeated use of the verb בָּא (bā’, “come”) in Mal. 3:1-2 likely provides the scriptural background behind John’s prediction that “Someone is coming,” as well as his question, “Are you he who is coming?” (Matt. 11:3 ∥ Luke 7:19).[63] In other words, when John asked whether Jesus was the Someone whose coming he prophesied, it is reasonable to suppose that the Someone he had in mind was an eschatological priestly figure (possibly envisioned in terms of Elijah)[64] whose mission was to purify the priesthood and restore the Temple to its proper order.

L16 ἢ ἕτερον προσδοκῶμεν (GR). In L16 and L25 the MSS vary as to whether Luke read ἄλλος (allos, “another”) or ἕτερος (heteros, “a second one”). Elliott documented a tendency among scribes to replace ἕτερος with the more grammatical ἄλλος, and concluded that in Luke 7:19, 20 the original reading was ἕτερος.[65] We have followed his opinion in GR.

אוֹ לְאַחֵר נְיַחֵל (HR). On reconstructing (ē, “or”) as אוֹ (’ō, “or”), see Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry, Comment to L47. On reconstructing ἕτερος with אַחֵר (’aḥēr, “other”), see Not Everyone Can Be Yeshua’s Disciple, Comment to L15. Examples of לְאַחֵר occur in Isa. 42:8; 48:11; Job 31:10, where אַחֵר is translated in LXX as ἕτερος.

Several synonymous verbs could be used to reconstruct προσδοκᾶν (prosdokan, “to wait for,” “to expect”). In LXX προσδοκᾶν translates שִׂבֵּר (sibēr, “hope”; Ps. 103[104]:27; 118[119]:166) and קִוָּה (qivāh, “hope”; Lam. 2:16). Other options include חִכָּה (ḥikāh, “wait”)[66] and צִפָּה (tzipāh, “watch,” “expect,” “wait”). We have adopted יִחֵל (yiḥēl, “wait,” “hope”), mainly due to its use in a Qumran text (see below, Comment to L38-43) which has strong parallels to Yohanan the Immerser’s Question and where יִחֵל is twice used to describe the hopeful expectation that is rewarded by witnessing the era of messianic redemption (4Q521 2 II, 4, 9).

L17-25 Luke’s Gospel reports the arrival of the Baptist’s disciples and their repetition of John’s question to Jesus. This material is not present in Matthew’s version. The question we must decide is whether the author of Luke added this description despite its absence in Anth., or whether the author of Matthew eliminated it. Several factors support our conclusion that Luke’s longer version reflects the reading of Anth.

In the first place, in Comment to L13 we found that the author of Matthew extensively revised the narrative introduction to Yohanan the Immerser’s Question, while the author of Luke reproduced Anth.’s wording with a high degree of fidelity. It is jarring to suppose that the authors suddenly switched tack, with Luke introducing massive revisions and Matthew remaining true to Anth.

In the second place, it is difficult to find a motive that would explain Luke’s addition of redundant material,[67] whereas it is easy to understand why the author of Matthew would have omitted the inessential and repetitive description of the arrival of John’s disciples and their reiteration of their master’s question.

A scene from a series of mosaics in the Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistery of Saint John) in Florence, Italy depicting the life of John the Baptist. In this scene the imprisoned John sends two disciples to Jesus, thus harmonizing details from the parallel accounts of Yohanan the Immerser’s Question in Matthew and Luke. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In the third place, verbatim or near verbatim repetition, especially of speech, is not atypical of Hebrew narrative.[68] For example, in the story of Abraham’s servant who was sent to find a wife for Isaac (Gen. 24:1-54), the servant repeats to Laban the instructions Abraham had given him (Gen. 24:3-8, 37-41). Likewise in the story of Dinah (Gen. 34), Hamor and Shechem repeat to their countrymen the terms they had agreed upon with Jacob’s sons (Gen. 34:15-16, 21-22). Again, in the story of Pharaoh’s dreams (Gen. 41:1-45), Pharaoh repeats the contents of his dream to Joseph (Gen. 41:1-7, 17-24). Similarly, in the story of Joseph’s reunion with his brothers, the brothers report to their father Jacob the conversation they had had with Joseph (Gen. 42:13, 19-20, 31-34), and later on Judah recounts to Joseph the conversation the brothers had had with Joseph on a prior occasion and Jacob’s response (Gen. 44:19-29). Yet another example of repetition in Hebrew narrative is found in a story about Elijah (2 Kgs. 1:1-8), wherein the prophet receives a word from the LORD and messengers repeat it to the king (2 Kgs. 1:3-4, 6). These instances of verbatim or near verbatim repetition, especially of dialogue, in Hebrew narrative amply demonstrate that the repetition of John the Baptist’s question could have appeared in the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua.

In the fourth place, we find other examples of narrative repetition in the Synoptic Gospels that can probably be traced back to Anth., and ultimately to the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua. Thus, in the Prodigal Son parable (Luke 15:11-32) the wayward son rehearses a speech he plans to recite to his father and then repeats the speech upon his return (Luke 15:18-19, 21). So, too, in the Talents parable (Matt. 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27) the king throws the servant’s words back in his face (Matt. 25:24, 26; Luke 19:21, 22).[69] Similarly, in the Persistent Widow parable the judge repeats the description of himself from the opening of the parable in his soliloquy (Luke 18:2, 4). And in the Entering Yerushalayim story the disciples repeat the words of instruction Jesus had given them (Luke 19:31, 33-34).[70]

The most important factor in our decision, however, is the test of Hebrew retroversion. According to Lindsey, if a passage in the Synoptic Gospels yields easily to Hebrew retroversion it is likely to have descended from the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua, whereas if a passage resists retroversion it was probably composed in Greek or subjected to a high level of Greek redaction. As we shall see in the comments below, Luke 7:20 (L17-25) is easily reconstructed in Hebrew, and therefore was more likely taken from Anth. than the product of Lukan redaction.[71]

L17 וַיָּבֹאוּ (HR). Although at first glance the participle + δέ construction might appear to be a sign of Greek composition, it is common to find examples of participle + δέ + aorist as the translation of two vav-consecutives in LXX.[72] Examples in LXX of παραγίνεσθαι (paraginesthai, “to come beside”) in participial form + δέ as the translation of וַיָּבֹא (vayāvo’, “and he came”) include the following:

וַיָּבֹא הַפָּלִיט וַיַּגֵּד לְאַבְרָם הָעִבְרִי

And the escapee came and reported to Abram the Hebrew. (Gen. 14:13)

παραγενόμενος δὲ τῶν ἀνασωθέντων τις ἀπήγγειλεν Αβραμ τῷ περάτῃ

And one of those who had been rescued, when he arrived, told Abram the emigrant. (Gen. 14:13; NETS)

וַיָּבֹאוּ הָרֹעִים וַיְגָרְשׁוּם

And the shepherds came and drove them away. (Exod. 2:17)

παραγενόμενοι δὲ οἱ ποιμένες ἐξέβαλον αὐτάς

But when the shepherds arrived, they were driving them away. (Exod. 2:17; NETS)

In LXX παραγίνεσθαι almost always translates בָּא (bā’, “come,” “enter”).[73]

L18 In LXX παραγίνεσθαι πρός is frequently the translation of בָּא אֶל.‎[74] On adopting בָּא אֶל for HR, see Persistent Widow, Comment to L9. Other examples of בָּא אֶל in HR are found in Demands of Discipleship, L8; Friend in Need, L6-7.

L19 הָאֲנָשִׁים (HR). The two main LXX equivalents of אִישׁ (’ish, “man”) are ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos, “person,” “man”) and ἀνήρ (anēr, “man”), the latter being much more common.[75] We also find that ἀνήρ is more frequently the translation of אִישׁ than of any other noun, with אֱנוֹשׁ (enōsh, “human”) taking second place.[76] The combined data make אִישׁ the most probable and natural reconstruction of ἀνήρ.

L21 יוֹחָנָן הַמַּטְבִּיל (HR). John is referred to as ὁ βαπτιστής (ho baptistēs, “the immerser,” traditionally, “the Baptist”) in both the Gospels and in the writings of Josephus (Ἰωάννου τοῦ ἐπικαλουμένου βαπτιστοῦ; “John, the one being called ‘immerser’”; Ant. 18:116). The form of John the Baptist’s name as it appears in the Gospels conforms to the construction of personal name + occupation attested in ossuary inscriptions from the first century (e.g., תפלוס הכהן הגדול [“Toflos the high priest”; Rahmani no. 871]; חנניה הספר [“Hananyah the scribe”; Rahmani no. 893]). The noun βαπτιστής does not occur in LXX, but the cognate verb βαπτίζειν (baptizein, “to immerse”) does occur once with a Hebrew equivalent (4 Kgdms. 5:14). This single instance describes a ritual immersion for purification, and the Hebrew verb that βαπτίζειν translates is טָבַל (ṭāval, “immerse”). The hif‘il form is not found in MT, but it does occur in the Mishnah, for instance:

הַמַּטְבִּיל כֵּלִים בַּשַּׁבָּת

The one who immerses [הַמַּטְבִּיל] vessels on the Sabbath…. (m. Ter. 2:3)

הַמַּטְבִּיל כְּלִי לַחַטָּאת בְּמַיִם שֶׁאֵינָן רְאוּיִים

The one who immerses [הַמַּטְבִּיל] a vessel for the sin offering in water that is unfit…. (m. Par. 5:2)

הַמַּטְבִּיל אֶת כֵּלָיו וְהַמְכַבֵּס אֶת כְּסוּתוֹ בַמְּעָרָה

The one who immerses [הַמַּטְבִּיל] his vessels or launders his clothing in a cave…. (m. Maksh. 4:5)

Lindsey noted the following examples where the participle מַטְבִּיל is used of one person presiding over the ritual immersion of another:[77]

האיש מטביל את האיש והאשה מטבלת את האשה אבל לא את האיש

A man immerses [מַטְבִּיל] a man, and a woman immerses a woman but not a man. (Gerim 1:4 [ed. Higger, 69])

אִם רוֹצָה לְהִתגַּיֵּיר, מַטְבִּילָהּ וּמְשַׁחְרְרָהּ וּמוּתָּר בָּהּ מִיָּד

If she [i.e., a non-Israelite woman captured in battle] wishes to become a proselyte, he [i.e., her captor] immerses her [מַטְבִּילָהּ] and sets her free and he is permitted to marry her directly. (Semahot 7:13 [ed. Zlotnick, 17])

L22 שָׁלַח אוֹתָנוּ אֵלֶיךָ (HR). Note Luke’s Hebraic word order. On reconstructing ἀποστέλλειν (apostellein, “to send”) as שָׁלַח (shālaḥ, “send”), see “The Harvest Is Plentiful” and “A Flock Among Wolves,” Comment to L49.

L23 לוֹמַר (HR). Above in L14 we reconstructed λέγων (legōn, “saying”) with the BH form לֵאמֹר (lē’mor, “saying”). That was in prose, but here in direct speech we have adopted the MH form לוֹמַר (lōmar, “saying”) to reflect a more colloquial style.

L24 הַאַתָּה הוּא הַבָּא (HR). Luke’s Greek and HR are identical to that in L15.

L25 ἢ ἕτερον προσδοκῶμεν (GR). On the variations between ἄλλος and ἕτερος in the MSS and our decision to adopt ἕτερος for GR, see above, Comment to L16. GR and HR in L25 are identical to that in L16.

L26-31 In L26-31 we once again encounter material in Luke that is unparalleled in Matthew’s version. Our reasons for accepting Luke 7:21 for GR and HR are more or less the same as those discussed in Comment to L17-25:

  1. Up to this point Luke’s version has been found to be more faithful to Anth. than Matthew’s version, and it is reasonable to expect Luke’s version to continue in the same vein.
  2. It is easy to understand why the author of Matthew would have omitted what he regarded as superfluous material.
  3. Authorial asides, comparable to that in Luke 7:21, are a feature of Hebrew narrative.[78]
  4. Luke 7:21 reverts easily to Hebrew (see our comments below), so there is no reason to suspect extensive Greek redaction, let alone free composition on the part of Luke.

L26 בְּאוֹתָהּ הַשָּׁעָה (HR). In Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, L1, we adopted בְּאוֹתָהּ הַשָּׁעָה (be’ōtāh hashā‘āh, “in the same hour”) as the reconstruction of the phrase ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ (en avtē tē hōra, “in it the hour”). In fact, Codex Bezae and a few other MSS read ἐν αὐτῇ δὲ τῇ ὥρᾳ here in L26, and some scholars are of the opinion that this is the better reading for Luke 7:21.[79] Whether the correct reading is ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ (en ekeinē tē hōra, “in that the hour”) or ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ, בְּאוֹתָהּ הַשָּׁעָה is a good option for HR.

L27 רִפֵּא רַבִּים (HR). On reconstructing θεραπεύειν (therapevein, “to treat,” “to heal”) with רִפֵּא (ripē’, “heal”), see Sending the Twelve: Commissioning, Comment to L22-23.[80] Examples of substantive רַב (rav, “many”) rendered as πολύς (polūs, “many”) in LXX include:

וְרַבִּים הֵשִׁיב מֵעָוֹן

…and many he turned back from iniquity. (Mal. 2:6)

καὶ πολλοὺς ἐπέστρεψεν ἀπὸ ἀδικίας

…and many he turned back from unrighteousness. (Mal. 2:6)

וְאַתֶּם סַרְתֶּם מִן־הַדֶּרֶךְ הִכְשַׁלְתֶּם רַבִּים בַּתּוֹרָה

But you have turned from the way and caused many to stumble in the Torah. (Mal. 2:8)

ὑμεῖς δὲ ἐξεκλίνατε ἐκ τῆς ὁδοῦ καὶ πολλοὺς ἠσθενήσατε ἐν νόμῳ

But you turned out of the way and many you made weak in the Law. (Mal. 2:8)[81]

L28 מֵחֳלָאִים וּמִמַּכּוֹת (HR). Although not superabundant, examples of the root ר-פ-א followed by the preposition מִן (min, “from”) are found in MT, DSS and rabbinic sources, for instance:

וַיָּשָׁב יוֹרָם הַמֶּלֶךְ לְהִתְרַפֵּא בְיִזְרְעֶאל מִן הַמַּכִּים אֲשֶׁר יַכֻּהוּ אֲרַמִּים בָּרָמָה

And Joram the king returned to be healed [לְהִתְרַפֵּא] in Jezreel from the wounds [מִן הַמַּכִּים] that the Arameans gave him in Ramah…. (2 Kgs. 8:29; cf. 9:15)

καὶ ἐπέστρεψεν ὁ βασιλεὺς Ιωραμ τοῦ ἰατρευθῆναι ἐν Ιεζραελ ἀπὸ τῶν πληγῶν, ὧν ἐπάταξαν αὐτὸν ἐν Ρεμμωθ

And King Ioram returned to be healed [ἰατρευθῆναι] in Iezrael of the wounds [ἀπὸ τῶν πληγῶν] with which they struck him at Remmoth…. (4 Kgdms. 8:29; NETS; cf. 9:15)

כִּי אַעֲלֶה אֲרֻכָה לָךְ וּמִמַּכּוֹתַיִךְ אֶרְפָּאֵךְ נְאֻם יי

For I will raise up health for you, and from your wounds [וּמִמַּכּוֹתַיִךְ] I will heal you [אֶרְפָּאֵךְ]—says the LORD…. (Jer. 30:17)

ὅτι ἀνάξω τὸ ἴαμά σου, ἀπὸ πληγῆς ὀδυνηρᾶς ἰατρεύσω σε, φησὶν κύριος

…because I will bring up your healing and I will cure [ἰατρεύσω] you from a painful blow [ἀπὸ πληγῆς ὀδυνηρᾶς], quoth the Lord…. (Jer. 37:17; NETS)

In these instances, LXX used a different Greek verb to translate the root ר-פ-א than the one found in Luke 7:12, but the preposition is the same.

In DSS there is a fascinating example of מִן + ר-פ-א where the healing is from evil spirits, just like we find in Luke 7:21:

כל איש אשר ימשלו בו רוחות בליעל ודבר סרה כמשפט האוב והידעוני ישפט וכל אשר יתעה לחלל את השבת ואת המועדות לא יומת כי על בני האדם משמרו ואם ירפא ממנה ושמרוהו עד שבע שנים ואחר יבוא אל הקהל

Every man who is ruled over by spirits of Belial and he spoke a word of rebellion, according to the judgment of the one who consults ghosts and familiar spirits he shall be judged. But every man who errs so as to profane the Sabbath or the appointed times shall not be put to death, for his protection is the responsibility of human beings. And if he is healed from it [ואם ירפא ממנה], then they must watch him for seven years and after that he may enter the congregation. (CD A XII, 2-6)

The following passage is also similar to Luke 7:21:

כיא תרפאנו משגעון ועורון ותמהון

For you heal us from madness and blindness and confusion. (4QDibHama [4Q504] 1-2 II, 14)

And in a rabbinic homily on David’s repentance we find:

בוא וראה כמה גדולה כחה של תשובה, שממלכת את בני אדם בעולם, וקושרת לבני אדם קשרים בראשיהן, ומרפא את חולה מחוליו, ומצילתו מכל צער יגון ואנחה, ומצילתו מדינה של גיהינם.

Come and see how great is the power of repentance, which causes human beings to reign in the world, and sets crowns upon their heads, and heals the sick from his diseases [ומרפא את חולה מחוליו], and delivers him from every trouble, pain and grief, and delivers him from the judgment of Gehenna. (Eliyahu Rabbah, chpt. 18 [ed. Friedmann, 94])

These examples of מִן + ר-פ-א demonstrate that Luke’s θεραπεύειν + ἀπό could easily reflect an underlying Hebrew text.

In LXX νόσος (nosos, “disease,” “sickness”) is not terribly common. Where it does occur, νόσος serves as the translation of חֳלִי (oli, “sickness”; Deut. 28:59; 2 Chr. 21:19; Hos. 5:13), מַדְוֶה (madveh, “disease”; Deut. 7:15), מַחֲלָה (maḥalāh, “sickness”; Exod. 15:26), מַחֲלֶה (maḥaleh, “sickness”; 2 Chr. 21:15) and תַּחֲלוּאִים (taḥalū’im, “diseases”; Deut. 29:21; Ps. 102[103]:3), which occurs only in the plural. The noun μάστιξ (mastix) is also relatively uncommon. Often it occurs in LXX with its usual meaning, “whip,” and serves as the translation of שׁוֹט (shōṭ, “whip”; 3 Kgdms. 12:11, 14; 2 Chr. 10:11, 14; Prov. 26:3; Job 5:21; Nah. 3:2), but it also occurs as the translation of נֶגַע (nega‘, “mark,” “plague”; Ps. 38[39]:11; 88[89]:33; 90[91]:10) and מַכָּה (makāh, “wound”; Jer. 6:7).

In Sending the Twelve: Commissioning, Comment to L22-23, we suggested that the commissioning of the apostles to heal “every disease and sickness” might have alluded to the warnings of punishment in Deuteronomy for disloyalty to the covenant:

אִם לֹא תִשְׁמֹר לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת־כָּל־דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת…. וְהֵשִׁיב בְּךָ אֵת כָּל־מַדְוֵה מִצְרַיִם אֲשֶׁר יָגֹרְתָּ מִפְּנֵיהֶם וְדָבְקוּ בָּךְ׃ גַּם כָּל־חֳלִי וְכָל־מַכָּה אֲשֶׁר לֹא כָתוּב בְּסֵפֶר הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת יַעְלֵם יי עָלֶיךָ עַד הִשָּׁמְדָךְ׃

If you are not careful to do all the words of this Torah…. Then he [i.e., the LORD—DNB and JNT] will bring upon you again every disease of Egypt [כָּל־מַדְוֵה מִצְרַיִם] that you were afraid of and they will cling to you. Also every sickness [כָּל־חֳלִי] and every wound [וְכָל־מַכָּה] that was not written in this book of the Torah the LORD will bring upon you until you are destroyed. (Deut. 28:58-61)

We also suggested that if an allusion to these verses in Deut. 28 was intended, then its purpose was to signal that through the Kingdom of Heaven the curses were being lifted and divine favor was being shown to Israel, which would lead to its redemption. We believe that an allusion to these verses with the same intended message is likely to be embedded in Luke 7:21, and we have accordingly reconstructed νόσος and μάστιξ in L28 with חֳלִי and מַכָּה, respectively.[82] Of course, if we are correct in detecting an allusion to Deut. 28:58-61 in Luke 7:21, then the allusion was not informed by LXX, and therefore it is more likely to have come from Luke’s source (Anth.) than to have been created by the non-Jewish, Greek-speaking, Septuagint-using author of Luke. Thus the possible allusion to Deut. 28:58-61 is another argument in favor of regarding Luke 7:21 as original.

L29 וּמֵרוּחוֹת רָעוֹת (HR). We cited an example of healing from evil spirits (מִן ‏+ ‏ר-פ-א) in DSS above in Comment to L28. The term πνεῦμα πονηρόν (pnevma ponēron, “evil spirit”) occurs in LXX as the translation of רוּחַ רָעָה (rūaḥ rā‘āh, “evil spirit”; Judg. 9:23; 1 Kgdms. 16:14, 23).[83] Examples in tannaic sources of רוּחַ רָעָה occur in m. Shab. 2:5; m. Eruv. 4:1; t. Eruv. 3:8; t. Taan. 2:12.

On reconstructing πνεῦμα (pnevma, “wind,” “spirit”) with רוּחַ (rūaḥ, “wind,” “spirit”), see Return of the Twelve, Comment to L25. On reconstructing πονηρός (ponēros, “evil”) as רַע (ra‘, “evil”), see Lord’s Prayer, Comment to L25. Note Luke’s Hebraic noun + adjective word order.

L30 καὶ τυφλοῖς πολλοῖς (Luke 7:21). The adjective τυφλός (tūflos, “blind”) is the LXX equivalent of עִוֵּר (‘ivēr, “blind”);[84] in nearly every instance τυφλός translates עִוֵּר.‎[85]

L31 ἔδωκεν βλέπειν (GR). The only redactional touch we find in Luke 7:21 is the presence of the verb χαρίζεσθαι (charizesthai, “to grant”). This verb is found 3xx in Luke (Luke 7:21, 42, 43) and 4xx in Acts (Acts 3:14; 25:11, 16; 27:24), but never in the Gospels of Mark or Matthew. It seems likely that the author of Luke inserted χαρίζεσθαι in place of a more generic verb such as διδόναι (didonai, “to give”). We have therefore replaced ἐχαρίσατο βλέπειν (“he granted to see”) with ἔδωκεν βλέπειν (“he gave to see”) in GR.

נָתַן לִרְאוֹת (HR). On reconstructing διδόναι with נָתַן (nātan, “give”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L18. Although the LXX translators rendered most instances of רָאָה (rā’āh, “see”) with verbs other than βλέπειν (blepein, “to see”), we nevertheless find that in LXX most instances of βλέπειν do occur as the translation of רָאָה,‎[86] so we can be fairly confident of our selection for HR.

We find instances of נָתַן + infinitive similar to our reconstruction in the following examples:

שֵׁשׁ עָרֵי הַמִּקְלָט אֲשֶׁר תִּתְּנוּ לָנֻס שָׁמָּה הָרֹצֵחַ

…six cities of refuge to which you will allow the murderer to flee…. (Num. 35:6)

τὰς ἓξ πόλεις τῶν φυγαδευτηρίων, ἃς δώσετε φεύγειν ἐκεῖ τῷ φονεύσαντι

…the six cities of places of refuge that you shall give to the murderer to flee there…. (Num. 35:6; NETS)

וְלֹא נְתָנָם לָקוּם אֶל שָׁאוּל

…and he did not allow them to rise up against Saul. (1 Sam. 24:8)

καὶ οὐκ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἀναστάντας θανατῶσαι τὸν Σαουλ

…and [he] did not permit them to get up to put Saoul to death. (1 Kgdms. 24:8; NETS)[87]

L32-34 καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς (GR). On reconstructing καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς + speaker + εἶπεν as וַיַּעַן + speaker + וַיֹּאמֶר, see Call of Levi, Comment to L58. Luke’s version lacks Jesus’ name while Matthew’s version includes it in L33. Since the inclusion of the speaker’s name fits the Hebraic וַיַּעַן + speaker + וַיֹּאמֶר pattern, we have accepted ὁ Ἰησοῦς (ho Iēsous, “the Jesus”) in L33 for GR.[88]

L35 לְכוּ הַגִּידוּ (HR). On reconstructing a participle + imperative (e.g., πορευθέντες ἀπαγγείλατε [porevthentes apangeilate, “Going, report!”]) with two successive Hebrew imperatives (e.g., לְכוּ הַגִּידוּ [lechū hagidū, “Go! Report!”]), see Call of Levi, Comment to L62.

In MT it is common to find the coordinating conjunction -וְ between two adjacent imperatives (e.g., קְחוּ וָלֵכוּ [qeḥū vālēchū, “Take and leave!”; Gen. 42:33]), but examples of לְכוּ + imperative without the intervening conjunction are also common, for instance:

וְעַתָּה לְכוּ עִבְדוּ וְתֶבֶן לֹא יִנָּתֵן לָכֶם

And now, go, work! But straw will not be given to you…. (Exod. 5:18)

νῦν οὖν πορευθέντες ἐργάζεσθε· τὸ γὰρ ἄχυρον οὐ δοθήσεται ὑμῖν

Now, therefore, going, get to work! For the straw will not be given to you…. (Exod. 5:18)[89]

Since in L35 there is no conjunction (e.g., καί or δέ) in either the Lukan or Matthean version, and given the many examples where there is no intervening conjunction between לְכוּ and an adjacent imperative in MT, we see no need to add the conjunction to HR.[90]

On reconstructing πορεύεσθαι (porevesthai, “to go”) with הָלַךְ (hālach, “walk”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L2.

On reconstructing ἀπαγγέλλειν (apangellein, “to report”) with הִגִּיד (higid, “tell,” “report”), see above, Comment to L1-2.

L36 לְיוֹחָנָן (HR). On reconstructing Ἰωάνης as יוֹחָנָן, see above, Comment to L3.

L37 ἃ βλέπετε καὶ ἀκούετε (GR). In L37 the Lukan and Matthean versions differ in three respects: with regard to word order, with regard to tense, and with regard to the verb for “seeing.” Luke 7:22 has “what you saw and heard,” using the verb ἰδεῖν (idein, “to see”), whereas Matt. 11:4 reads “what you hear and see,” using the verb βλέπειν (blepein, “to see”). Asking which word order is more natural in Hebrew cannot resolve which version is more original, since examples of both “hear→see” and “see→hear” occur in Hebrew sources.[91] Likewise, both βλέπειν and ἰδεῖν occur in LXX as the translation of רָאָה (rā’āh, “see”), and we have accepted both verbs at various points in GR.[92] To reach our decision, therefore, it is necessary to consider the redactional and literary tendencies of the two authors.

As we discussed above (see “Story Placement”), the author of Matthew appears to have arranged a great deal of his Gospel with Yohanan the Immerser’s Question in mind. In chapters 8-9 the author of Matthew supplied an example of each of the miracles Jesus mentions in his reply to John. Some scholars have noted that the order “hear→see” matches the arrangement of Matthew’s Gospel, with the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) preceding the collection of miracle stories (Matt. 8-9).[93] Thus, there is a clear motive that could account for Matthew’s order “hear→see.”[94]

On the other hand, the author of Matthew was generally restrained in terms of modifying Anth.’s vocabulary, in contrast to the author of Luke, who did not mind changing the wording of his source for the sake of sounding more polished to his Greek audience (cf., e.g., Comment to L31). We suspect that both authors reflect Anth.’s wording in different respects: the author of Matthew preserved Anth.’s vocabulary and tense,[95] whereas the author of Luke preserved the order “see→hear.” Note the similarity of GR to the Blessedness of the Twelve pronouncement, which likewise has the order “see→hear” (βλέπειν→ἀκούειν), and which likely refers to the same things that were seen and heard, namely healings and exorcisms and the proclamation that the Kingdom of Heaven had arrived.

מַה שֶּׁאַתֶּם רוֹאִים וְשׁוֹמְעִים (HR). On reconstructing ἃ βλέπετε (ha blepete, “what you see”) as מַה שֶּׁאַתֶּם רוֹאִים (mah she’atem rō’im, “what you see”), see Blessedness of the Twelve, Comment to L6. Also compare our reconstruction of ἃ ἀκούετε (ha akouete, “what you hear”) as מַה שֶּׁאַתֶּם שׁוֹמְעִים (mah she’atem shōme‘im, “what you hear”) in Blessedness of the Twelve, L8, L18.

L38-43 A striking parallel to Jesus’ answer to John the Baptist occurs in a fragmentary text discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls:

‏[כי הש]מים והארץ ישמעו למשיחו
‏[וכל א]שר בם לוא יסוג ממצות קדושים
התאמצו מבקשי אדני בעבדתו
הלוא בזאת תמצאו את אדני כל המיחלים בלבם
כי אדני חסידים יבקר וצדיקים בשם יקרא
ועל ענוים רוחו תרחף ואמונים יחליף בכחו
כי יכבד את חסידים על כסא מלכות עד
מתיר אסורים פוקח עורים זוקף כפ[ופים]
ול[ע]לם אדבק [במ]יחלים ובחסדו י[ ]
ופר[י מעש]ה טוב לאיש לוא יתאחר
ונכבדות שלוא[96] היו יעשה אדני כאשר ד[בר]
כי ירפא חללים ומתים יחיה ענוים יבשר
ו[דלי]ם ישב[יע ]נתושים ינהל ורעבים יעשר

[For heav]en and earth will listen to his anointed one
[and all th]at is in them[97] will not turn back[98] from the commandments[99] of the holy ones.
Seekers of my Lord[100] empower yourselves in his service.
Will it not be in this that you will find my Lord, all who expect in their hearts?[101]
For my Lord will attend to the pious, and he will call the righteous by name.
And upon the meek his Spirit will hover,[102] and he will renew the faithful by his strength.[103]
For he will honor the pious upon the throne of the everlasting kingdom;[104]
freeing captives, opening [the eyes of] blind persons, straightening be[nt over] persons.[105]
And fo[re]ver I will cling to the expectant, and to his covenant faithfulness y[ ][106]
And the fruit of a man’s good deeds will not be delayed
and glorious things that have never been my Lord will do, just as he said.
For he will heal stabbed persons,[107] and corpses he will make alive, to meek persons he will proclaim good news,[108]
and [the poo]r he will sat[isfy], exiles he will lead, and the hungry he will enrich[109] …. (4Q521 2 II, 1-13)

Jesus’ reply to John the Baptist’s question displays several interlocking points of similarity to the above-quoted Dead Sea text. A side-by-side comparison of the redemptive works mentioned in both sources reveals that three of the redemptive works mentioned in 4Q521 and in Jesus’ reply in Yohanan the Immerser’s Question are identical:

4Q521 Yohanan the Immerser’s Question
freeing captives  
giving sight to blind persons blind people see
straightening bent over persons  
  lame persons walk
  deaf people hear
  scale-diseased persons are purified
he will heal stabbed persons  
he will make corpses live corpses are raised
he will proclaim good news to meek persons poor persons receive good news
he will satisfy poor persons  
he will lead exiles  
he will enrich hungry persons  

The giving of sight to the blind, the restoration of life to the dead, and the proclamation of good news to the meek/poor occur in both sources.

Also common to 4Q521 and Jesus’ reply to the Baptist is the influence of Isaiah 61. Despite relying on different constellations of biblical verses—4Q521 depends heavily on Ps. 146:7-8 and Isa. 61:1-2, whereas Jesus’ reply to John depends on a combination of Isa. 29:18-19; 35:5-6; 61:1-2—Isaiah 61 is prominent in both 4Q521 and Jesus’ reply to the Baptist, since proclaiming good news to the meek/poor is a clear allusion to Isa. 61:1, wherein the speaker is anointed by the LORD’s spirit to proclaim good news to the meek (LXX: poor). Another allusion to Isaiah 61 in both 4Q521 and in Jesus’ reply to John may include the raising of the dead, since in Isa. 61:2 the anointed figure is commissioned to comfort mourners, and surely there could be no greater consolation to the bereaved than the restoration of the dead whose loss they mourned.[110]

Another feature common to 4Q521 and Jesus’ reply to John is the attribution of the redemptive works they describe directly to God. Often overlooked is the fact that nowhere in his reply to John did Jesus explicitly claim responsibility for the miraculous works he mentioned.[111] In response to the Baptist’s question Jesus did not say, “I am making lame people walk, I am making blind people see, etc.”; he either stated the fact that formerly blind people were now seeing and formerly deaf people were now hearing, or he used divine passives to indicate that God was responsible for the redemptive works John’s disciples had witnessed. Similarly, in 4Q521 it is God (referred to as אֲדֹנָי [“my Lord”]) who releases captives, opens the eyes of the blind, and straightens the bent over. Even the healing of the stabbed, the making alive of the dead, and the proclaiming of good news to the poor are ascribed to the glorious things that “my Lord” will do (4Q521 2 II, 11).

The attribution of the redemptive works to God notwithstanding, both 4Q521 and Jesus’ reply to John hint at an intermediary figure through whom God performs these acts.[112] This is especially clear with respect to proclaiming good news to the meek, since in Isa. 61:1 this task is assigned to a figure who is anointed by the Spirit. Thus, the intermediaries envisioned by the author of 4Q521 and by Jesus are “messianic” figures (as 4Q521 2 II, 1 makes explicit), although not necessarily royal (Davidic) messiahs.[113] The figure in Isa. 61:1 who is anointed to proclaim good news (לְבַשֵּׂר [levasēr]) was probably understood to be the same person as the messenger (מְבַשֵּׂר [mevasēr]) mentioned in Isa. 41:27 and Isa. 52:7. That being the case, it is noteworthy that another Qumran text specifies which kind of messiah the מְבַשֵּׂר was expected to be:

הואה יום ה[שלום א]שר אמר[ — ביד ישע]יה הנביא אשר אמר[ מה ]נאוו על הרים רגל[י] מבש[ר מ]שמיע שלום מב[שר טוב משמיע ישוע]ה [א]ומר לציון [מלך ]אלוהיך פשרו ההרים[ המה] הנביאי[ם ]המה א[ — ]מ[] לכול [ — ] והמבשר הו[אה ]משיח הרו[ח] כאשר אמר דנ[יאל עליו עד משיח נגיד שבועים שבעה ומבשר] טוב משמי[ע ישועה ]הואה הכתוב עליו אשר [ — ] לנח[ם] ה[אבלים]

…it is the day o[f peace, wh]ich he spoke of [through Isa]iah the prophet, who said, [How] beautiful on the hills are the fee[t] of the messen[ger who a]nnounces peace, the [good] mes[senger who announces salvatio]n, [s]aying to Zion, “Your God [reigns]!” [Isa. 52:7]. Its interpretation: the hills, [they are] the prophet[s]…to all…. And the messenger [המבשׂר], h[e is] the anointed of the Spiri[t] [משיח הרוח], as Dan[iel said concerning him: until an anointed one, a leader—seven weeks (Dan. 9:25). And the] good [messenger] who announ[ces salvation] he is the one about whom it is written…to comfor[t] the [mourners] [Isa. 61:2]. (11QMelch [11Q13] II, 15-20)

According to this source, the מְבַשֵּׂר is someone who stands in the tradition of the prophets and who is described as “the anointed of the Spirit” (or “the messiah of the Spirit”).[114] Thus, the מְבַשֵּׂר in 11QMelch is probably best understood as the eschatological prophet, as are the messianic figures envisioned by the author of 4Q521 and by Jesus (with reference to himself) in his reply to John the Baptist.

Jesus’ reply to John the Baptist also displays a kinship to 4Q521 in the way the messianic figures in both sources are described in Elijianic terms. In the first place, Scripture attributes the raising of the dead to the “historical” Elijah (1 Kgs. 17:17-24), as well as to his successor Elisha (2 Kgs. 4:18-37; 13:21). Later Jewish tradition associated Elijah with the future resurrection, for instance:

רוּחַ הַקּוֹדֶשׁ לִידֵי תְחַיַּית הַמֵּיתִים תְּחַיַית מֵיתִים בָּאָה ליְדֵי אֵלִיָהוּ זָכוּר לָטוב

The Holy Spirit leads to the resurrection of the dead. Resurrection of the dead comes through Elijah, of good memory. (m. Sot. 9:15)

Thus, the intermediary figures who are anointed by the Spirit and who raise the dead in 4Q521 and in Jesus’ reply to John naturally conjure the image of Elijah. In the second place, in both 4Q521 and in Yohanan the Immerser’s Question we find allusions to the eschatological return of Elijah described in Malachi 3. A fragment of 4Q521 not quoted above states:

ואת חק חסד{יך}ך ואתר אותם ב[ — כי] נכון באים אבות על בנים א[ — ] אשר ברכת אדני ברצונו

…and the statute of your covenant faithfulness. And I will release them with [ — for] it is established: fathers coming to sons ’[ — ], which the blessing of my Lord in his favor…. (4Q521 2 III, 1-3)

“Fathers coming to sons” in the above quotation alludes to Mal. 3:24 [ET: 4:6], which states, “And he [i.e., Elijah—DNB and JNT] will cause the heart of the fathers to turn back to the sons and the heart of the sons to the fathers.”[115] Due to the fragmentary state of 4Q521, it is impossible to say with certainty how the allusion to Elijah relates to the messianic figure described in this source (Are they, for instance, complementary figures?), but since the messianic figure has already been given the Elijianic task of raising the dead, it is likely that he is also the one who reconciles fathers and sons. As for the influence of Malachi 3 in Yohanan the Immerser’s Question, we have already discussed above (see Comment to L15) how John’s reference to “he who is coming” probably refers to the eschatological priest who is identified as Elijah in the third chapter of Malachi.

What are we to make of these striking and interlocking points of similarity between 4Q521 and Jesus’ reply to the Baptist’s question? First, the commonalities shared by these two sources can hardly be dismissed as coincidental. Since 4Q521 predates the time of Jesus,[116] we must conclude that Jesus’ response to John was informed by a pre-existing tradition regarding the redemptive works God will accomplish through an Elijianic Spirit-anointed figure, of which 4Q521 is an early witness.[117]

Second, although scholars are not agreed whether 4Q521 is an Essene composition, or whether it reflects broader trends within Second Temple Judaism,[118] Flusser presented convincing arguments that the latter possibility is more likely.[119] Thus it is improbable that Jesus’ reply was an encoded Essene message to John.[120] Informed listeners would have recognized the complex of ideas concerning God’s redemptive works and his prophetic Spirit-anointed intermediary, which Jesus alluded to in his response.

Third, 4Q521 helps us to understand that an important dynamic in Yohanan the Immerser’s Question is a competition between two very different ideas about Elijah’s eschatological role. Whereas John the Baptist envisioned a role for Elijah in terms of an eschatological priest whose fiery judgment would focus on the Temple and the priesthood, Jesus cast the Elijianic role in terms of a prophet whose acts of healing and restoration signaled the LORD’s favor toward Israel, culminating in the redemption of the twelve tribes. Jesus’ answer to John’s question can therefore be understood as “yes” and “no” simultaneously. No, Jesus was not the priestly messiah who was coming to exact fiery judgment,[121] but yes, his mission could be understood in Elijianic terms as a prophetic redeemer who announces and actualizes God’s favor toward Israel.

4Q521, which attributes the redemptive works it describes to God while pushing the messianic intermediary into the background, also helps us to understand that Jesus was not alone in downplaying the importance of “the Messiah.”[122] What is of foremost importance is the redemption that God brings to his people and Israel’s participation in the blessings of that redemption.[123] The identity of the agent through whom God accomplishes his redemptive purposes is a secondary concern (cf. Matt. 11:6 ∥ Luke 7:23).[124] For Jesus, diverting attention away from himself and redirecting it toward God’s redemptive activity was also a function of his distaste for a personality cult that fetishized Jesus’ role or status to the detriment of interest and participation in the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Matt. 7:21-23; Luke 6:46).[125]

Finally, the striking correspondences between Jesus’ reply to John the Baptist and 4Q521 help us to appreciate the degree to which Isaiah 61 influenced Jesus’ understanding of his divine appointment to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven.[126] On three separate occasions Isaiah 61 stands at the center of a constellation of scriptural texts to which Jesus alluded in order to explain his mission; they are Jesus’ sermon in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30), the Matthean version of the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-10; cf. Luke 6:20-26),[127] and Jesus’ reply to John the Baptist (Matt. 11:4-6; Luke 7:22-23).[128] On two of these occasions (in Nazareth and in response to John the Baptist) the role of Elijah is also prominent. The discovery of 4Q521 enables us to understand that the combination of Isaiah 61 with Elijianic themes is not unique to the Gospels and that Jesus was heir to a tradition that emphasized the restorative works of God at the time of the redemption.

L38 עִוְרִים נִפְקָחִים (HR). Although Delitzsch translated τυφλοὶ ἀναβλέπουσιν (tūfloi anablepousin, “blind persons see again”) as עִוְרִים רֹאִים (‘ivrim ro’im, “blind persons are seeing”), in LXX ἀναβλέπειν (anablepein, “to look up”) almost never occurs as the translation of רָאָה (rā’āh, “see”).[129] Moreover, the use of ἀναβλέπειν in such close proximity to βλέπειν (L31, L37) may hint that different Hebrew roots stood behind the two Greek verbs for “seeing.” Having found רָאָה to be a suitable reconstruction for βλέπειν, it behooves us to inquire whether a different Hebrew verb might be more fitting for the reconstruction of ἀναβλέπειν.

In LXX ἀναβλέπειν usually occurs in phrases such as ἀναβλέπειν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς (“to look up with one’s eyes”)[130] as the equivalent of נָשָׂא עֵינַיִם (“raise one’s eyes”). In other instances ἀναβλέπειν on its own can stand for נָשָׂא עֵינַיִם (Gen. 33:1, 5; Deut. 4:19; Dan. 8:3). In two cases, however, ἀναβλέπειν is used in LXX for the restoration of sight. In Isa. 42:18 καὶ οἱ τυφλοί, ἀναβλέψατε ἰδεῖν (“And you blind persons, look up to see!”) occurs as the translation of וְהַעִוְרִים הַבִּיטוּ לִרְאוֹת (“And you blind persons, look to see!”). Even more pertinent for HR is the LXX translation of Isa. 61:1, which renders the difficult phrase לִקְרֹא לִשְׁבוּיִם דְּרוֹר וְלַאֲסוּרִים פְּקַח קוֹחַ (“to proclaim liberty to prisoners and opening up for captives”) as κηρύξαι αἰχμαλώτοις ἄφεσιν καὶ τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν (“to proclaim release to prisoners and recovery of sight to blind persons”). Unless the LXX translators had a Hebrew text different from MT before them, ἀνάβλεψις (anablepsis, “recovery of sight”), a cognate of ἀναβλέπειν, is their translation of the root פ-ק-ח.‎[131]

In MT פָּקַח (pāqaḥ, “open”) is usually used with reference to the opening of eyes or ears, although in Ps. 146:8 we find פֹּקֵחַ עִוְרִים (poqēaḥ ‘ivrim, “opening blind persons”) as an idiom for giving visual perception to blind people. This idiom also appears in 4Q521 2 II, 8, and it seems likely to us that this is the idiom that stands behind τυφλοὶ ἀναβλέπουσιν here in L38. For HR we have used the nif‘al stem, since the word order indicated by the Greek text demands a passive sense for the root פ-ק-ח,‎[132] and a divine passive fits the context in which Jesus points to God’s redemptive works in reply to John’s question.

An example of פ-ק-ח in the nif‘al stem occurs in the serpent’s words to Eve in Genesis:

כִּי יֹדֵעַ אֱלֹהִים כִּי בְּיוֹם אֲכָלְכֶם מִמֶּנּוּ וְנִפְקְחוּ עֵינֵיכֶם וִהְיִיתֶם כֵּאלֹהִים יֹדְעֵי טוֹב וָרָע

For God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened [נִפְקְחוּ] and you will be like gods, knowers of good and evil. (Gen. 3:5)

Another example occurs in a rabbinic text cited above in Comment to L38-43:

כשילדה שרה כל סומא שהיה בעולם נפתח, וכל פסח [נעשה] שוה, וכל אלם נפקח, וכל שוטה נתרפא

When Sarah gave birth every blind person who was in the world was given sight, and every lame person was made straight, and every mute person was given speech [נִפְקַח], and every mentally ill person was healed. (Pesikta Rabbati 42:4 [ed. Friedmann, 177])

Note that the word order in the rabbinic text above is the same as that in HR, and as in HR the nif‘al forms are divine passives.

On reconstructing τυφλός as עִוֵּר, see above, Comment to L30.

L39 καὶ χωλοὶ περιπατοῦσιν (GR). The only difference between Matthew and Luke in L39 is the coordinating conjunction καί (kai, “and”) in Matthew’s version. Luke has arranged the list of redemptive works into two sets of triplets divided by a single καί,[133] whereas Matthew’s version has three sets of pairs with καί linking each member of the pair and with the final pair also introduced with καί.[134] Since it seems more natural in Hebrew to link the members of the pairs with a conjunction, and as Luke’s two sets of triplets might be regarded as more refined in Greek,[135] we have accepted Matthew’s καί for GR.

וּפִסְחִים מִתְהַלְּכִים (HR). In LXX the adjective χωλός (chōlos, “lame,” “having a limp”) is always the translation of פִּסֵּחַ (pisēaḥ, “lame,” “having a limp”).[136] Isaiah 35:6 describes how lame people will leap like deer when the exiles return to Zion (cf. Isa. 35:10). In LXX περιπατεῖν (peripatein, “to walk around”) often translates הִתְהַלֵּךְ (hithalēch, “walk around”).[137]

Kvalbein rightly points out that the healings mentioned in the scriptural texts alluded to in 4Q521 and in Jesus’ reply to John occur in contexts that describe the collective redemption of Israel from foreign domination and their return to Jerusalem. In these scriptural passages the miraculous works function as metaphors or symbols of the restoration of the people as a whole.[138] Kvalbein also points out that there is little evidence in ancient Jewish sources to suggest that any of the messianic figures were expected to be miracle workers who performed individual healings.[139] It was the collective redemption of all Israel that the messiah(s) was (were) expected to accomplish; the miraculous healings were but one small component of a much larger event. Hence, the interpretation Jesus gave to the individual healings in his reply to John the Baptist was an innovative one. Other prophets, sages and holy men had performed miraculous healings or had been granted such healings in response to their prayers, but these had not signaled the commencement of Israel’s redemption. Jesus conceived of the healings he performed differently. To his miracles Jesus assigned “a meaning far beyond the concrete physical and social relief to the (relatively few) persons who were healed.” They were “signs of the eschatological renewal of the whole people of God promised in the Scripture.”[140]

L40 מְצֹרָעִים מְטוֹהָרִים (HR). The Hebrew terms for persons afflicted by scale disease are two participles from the root צ-ר-ע, which are often used substantivally: צָרוּעַ (tzārūa‘; cf. Lev. 13:45; 14:3; Num. 5:2) and מְצֹרָע (metzorā‘; cf. Lev. 14:2; 2 Sam. 3:29; 2 Kgs. 5:11; 7:3, 8; 15:5; 2 Chr. 26:21 [2xx], 23). In all these cases, except in 4 Kgdms. 15:5, LXX renders צָרוּעַ and מְצֹרָע as λεπρός (lepros), the term we find here in L40. Since מְצֹרָע is three times more common in LXX than צָרוּעַ, we have chosen מְצֹרָע for HR.

Although modern readers might expect to find “healing” in connection with scale disease, from a first-century perspective the emphasis on purification is natural. The marks of scale disease imparted severe ritual impurity not only to those who bore the affliction, but even to those who entered the personal space of those afflicted with scale disease.[141] Scale-diseased persons were accordingly excluded from normal social interactions, not to mention being barred from access to the Temple and all things holy. Hence the focus on purification. While sticklers might quibble that Jesus could not purify people from scale disease, but only heal them in order to be purified by a priest, it is more correct to say that the healing effects the purification, while a priest is necessary to declare the formerly scale-diseased person pure and to offer the sacrifices that purify the Temple from the contagious impurity imparted to it by the presence of scale disease in Israel.

In LXX καθαρίζειν (katharizein, “to purify”) usually translates the root ט-ה-ר,‎[142] and likewise we find that the root ט-ה-ר is most commonly rendered καθαρίζειν in LXX.[143] Instances of ט-ה-ר in the pu‘al stem are rare, but examples do exist, such as:

אַתְּ אֶרֶץ לֹא מְטֹהָרָה

You are a land not purified [מְטֹהָרָה]. (Ezek. 22:24)

רבי יהושע אומר משעה שהכהנים מטוהרים לאכול בתרומתן

Rabbi Yehoshua said, “From the time that the priests are purified [מְטוֹהָרִים] to eat their terumah.” (b. Ber. 2b)

Once again, the passive form is employed to indirectly indicate divine action.

L41 וְחֵרְשִׁים שׁוֹמְעִים (HR). In its narrowest sense חֵרֵשׁ (ḥērēsh) means “deaf,” and can be applied to someone who cannot hear but has the ability to speak, but it was usually assumed that the inability to hear went hand in hand with (or was usually the cause of) the inability to speak, and therefore חֵרֵשׁ generally describes one who suffers from both impairments. This broader definition of חֵרֵשׁ is explicit in the following statement from the Mishnah:

חֵרֵשׁ שֶׁדִּיבְּרוּ חֲכָמִ′ בְּכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁאֵינוּ לֹא שׁוֹמֵעַ וְלֹא מְדַבֵּר

The ḥērēsh of whom the sages spoke in every instance is one that does not hear or speak. (m. Ter. 1:2)

The term אִלֵּם (’ilēm, “mute”) describes a person who can hear but cannot speak.

Deafness was, and remains, a major obstacle to full inclusion in society, which is worsened by the false assumption that the inability to hear is correlated with sub-average intelligence. In rabbinic sources this bias is reflected in the common trio “the deaf person, the insane person, and the minor,” who are regarded as incapable of making informed decisions and cannot be held responsible for their actions.[144] The giving of hearing to people who were deaf was, in its own way, an ingathering of the lost sheep of the house of Israel, because it facilitated their full inclusion in the community.

In LXX the adjective κωφός (kōfos, “deaf and/or mute”) always translates חֵרֵשׁ (“deaf,” “deaf and mute”), except in Hab. 2:18, where it is the translation of אִלֵּם (“mute”), and in Isa. 44:11, where it mistakenly translates חָרָשׁ (ḥārāsh, “engraver,” “craftsman”). The Hebrew adjective חֵרֵשׁ is always rendered κωφός in LXX.[145]

L42 וּמֵתִים קָמִים (HR). On reconstructing νεκρός (nekros, “dead,” substantive: “corpse”) with מֵת (mēt, “dead,” substantive: “corpse”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L16.

For several reasons we initially considered whether to reconstruct ἐγείρειν (egeirein, “to raise,” passive: “to rise”) with a nif‘al form of ח-י-ה (“live”). For one thing, the restoring of life to the dead is described using a pi‘el form of the root ח-י-ה in 4Q521 2 II, 12 (ומתים יחיה), the strongest parallel to Jesus’ reply to John in all known ancient Jewish sources. For another thing, examples of the root ח-י-ה in the nif‘al stem used as divine passives are known from rabbinic texts.[146] Also, in a medieval Hebrew version of the Gospel of Matthew (Shem Tov’s Matthew) we find the root ח-י-ה in the place where ἐγείρειν stands in the Greek text of Matt. 11:5.[147]

Despite these initial considerations, we decided against using a nif‘al form of ח-י-ה, in part because this root is not attested in the nif‘al stem except in the infinitive form. Moreover, קָם (qām, “rise”) is a more natural reconstruction of ἐγείρειν.[148] Compare our reconstruction to the following verse in Isaiah where קָם is used to describe restoration to life:

יִחְיוּ מֵתֶיךָ נְבֵלָתִי יְקוּמוּן

Your dead will live, corpses will rise. (Isa. 26:19)

ἀναστήσονται οἱ νεκροί, καὶ ἐγερθήσονται οἱ ἐν τοῖς μνημείοις

The dead shall rise, and those who are in the tombs shall be raised…. (Isa. 26:19; NETS)[149]

Jeremias noted that several of the afflictions Jesus mentioned in response to John the Baptist’s question are compared to death in the following baraita:[150]

תניא, ארבעה חשובין כמת עני ומצורע וסומא ומי שאין לו בנים עני דכתיב כי מתו כל האנשים מצורע דכתיב אל נא תהי כמת וסומא דכתיב במחשכים הושיבני כמתי עולם ומי שאין לו בנים דכתיב הבה לי בנים ואם אין מתה אנכי

It was taught [in a baraita]: Four are regarded as though dead: a poor person and a scale-diseased person and a blind person and a person who has no children. A poor person, as it is written, for all the men have died [Exod. 4:19]. A scale-diseased person, as it is written, do not let her [i.e., Miriam—DNB and JNT] be like one dead [Num. 12:12]. And a blind person, as it is written, he has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago [Lam. 3:6]. And a person who has no children, as it is written, Give me children, and if not I am dead! [Gen. 30:1]. (b. Ned. 64b)

The language of this baraita is late and interspersed with Aramaic, but it does illustrate the desperation experienced by those in antiquity who suffered from blindness, scale disease and severe poverty.

The portion of the Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa) where the opening verses of Isaiah 61 are recorded. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

L43 וַעֲנִיִּים מִתְבַּשְּׂרִים (HR). Jesus’ statement that “poor persons receive a good report” (πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται; ptōchoi evangelizontai) is a clear allusion to Isa. 61:1; however, in the Hebrew text (at least according to MT) of Isa. 61:1 the speaker is commissioned “to proclaim a good report to meek persons” (לְבַשֵּׂר עֲנָוִים; levasēr ‘anāvim) rather than to the poor. In this respect Jesus’ statement resembles the LXX version of Isa. 61:1, which reads εὐαγγελίσασθαι πτωχοῖς (evangelisasthai ptōchois, “to proclaim a good report to poor persons”). The question before us is whether Jesus’ statement as recorded in Matt. 11:5 ∥ Luke 7:22 relies on LXX, as some scholars assume,[151] or whether πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται in Jesus’ reply to John could be a reflection of a Hebrew source. At least four scenarios accounting for the agreement between the LXX version of Isa. 61:1 and Jesus’ reply to John are possible:

  1. The authors of Luke and Matthew independently corrected Jesus’ reply to John the Baptist in order to agree with the LXX version of Isa. 61:1, although they both read “meek persons receive a good report” in Anth.[152]
  2. The pre-synoptic source (Anth.) from which the authors of Luke and Matthew copied Yohanan the Immerser’s Question had already corrected Jesus’ reply to conform to the LXX version of Isa. 61:1.
  3. Jesus’ reply to John the Baptist had always depended on the LXX version of Isa. 61:1, which could either indicate that the saying was composed by the Greek-speaking church, or that Jesus himself had taught in Greek.
  4. Both Jesus’ reply to John in Matt. 11:5 ∥ Luke 7:22 and the LXX version of Isa. 61:1 bear independent witness to a pre-MT text that read “to proclaim a good report to poor persons” instead of “to proclaim a good report to meek persons,” as we find in MT.

The first scenario seems unlikely to us because editorial activity on the part of one or both of the synoptic writers tends to create disagreement between their parallel versions. Verbal agreement between Luke and Matthew is best explained as the faithful reproduction of Anth. by both authors.

The second scenario, though more probable than the first, fails to take account of the highly Hebraic character of the Anthology. The numerous Hebraisms in Anth. and the ease with which Anth. pericopae revert to Hebrew indicate that the Anthologizer (the creator of Anth.) typically did not attempt to improve the Greek style of his source. Moreover, the conspicuous departures from LXX in biblical quotations that appear in Anth. (cf., e.g., Luke 4:18-19, which we discuss below) suggest that although the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua was undoubtedly aware of LXX and even had recourse to LXX, he did not correct the biblical quotations in the Hebrew Life of Yeshua to conform to LXX when the two differed.

The third scenario, with its corollary that Jesus’ reply to John must have been formulated in Greek either by the early church or by Jesus himself, is improbable for two reasons. First, the ease with which Jesus’ saying reverts to Hebrew challenges the assumption that the saying was formulated in Greek. Second, as Notley and García have pointed out, there is no record of any Jewish teacher from the land of Israel addressing a Jewish audience during the Second Temple period who relied on LXX.[153] The hypothesis that Jesus taught Jewish audiences in Greek strains credulity, since conducting Scripture lessons for Jewish audiences in the land of Israel in any language other than Hebrew is unprecedented in the historical record of the period.[154]

What, then, of the fourth scenario? First, it must be understood that the difference between the MT and LXX versions of Isa. 61:1 depends on a single letter: instead of reading ענוים (anāvim, “meek persons”), as in MT, the LXX translators might have read עניים (aniyim, “poor persons”). Mistaking yod for vav and vice versa is easy, especially in hand-written manuscripts where the two letters can at times be indistinguishable. Second, LXX is a witness to a Hebrew text older than, and sometimes different from, MT. It should not come as a shock to learn that Jesus was familiar with a non-Masoretic version of the Hebrew Bible, and of Isa. 61:1 in particular, since MT did not yet exist in the time of Jesus.[155]

Our suspicion that Jesus was familiar with a pre-Masoretic version of Isa. 61:1 that read לְבַשֵּׂר עֲנִיִּים (levasēr ‘aniyim, “to proclaim a good report to poor persons”) emerges not only from Jesus’ reply to John in Matt. 11:5 ∥ Luke 7:22, but also from two other occasions when Jesus quoted or alluded to Isa. 61:1. One of these occurs in Luke’s account of Jesus’ sermon in Nazareth, where Jesus reads from the scroll of Isaiah (Luke 4:16-30). Despite the many verbal agreements between Luke 4:18-19 and the LXX version of Isa. 61:1-2, there are also glaring differences, including the omission of one stanza from Isa. 61:1 and the insertion of another stanza from Isa. 58:6.[156] Notley and García have recently shown that one of the departures from LXX in Luke 4:18-19 is best explained as an example of the ancient Jewish exegetical technique known as gezerah shavah, which allowed verses from distant contexts to be woven together on the basis of uniquely shared vocabulary.[157] As Notley and García observe, Isa. 61:2 and Isa. 58:5 both share the phrase רָצוֹן לַיי (rātzōn la’donāi, “favor to the LORD”), a phrase that occurs exclusively in these two verses. While the gezerah shavah that links Isa. 61:2 and Isa. 58:5 works in Hebrew, it does not work on the basis of LXX, which strongly suggests that a Hebrew source underlies the quotation of Isa. 61:1-2 in Luke 4:18-19. In other words, it appears that the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua was willing to use LXX for scriptural quotations only insofar as LXX agreed with his Hebrew source. Where LXX disagreed with the way biblical verses were quoted in the Hebrew Life of Yeshua, the Greek translator abandoned LXX and followed the form of the quotation in the Hebrew Life of Yeshua. If this is correct, then εὐαγγελίσασθαι πτωχοῖς (“to proclaim a good report to poor persons”) in Luke 4:18 was probably adopted from LXX because it agreed with the quotation of Isa. 61:1 in the Hebrew Life of Yeshua according to a pre-Masoretic version that read לְבַשֵּׂר עֲנִיִּים (“to proclaim a good report to poor persons”).

That the author of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua knew a pre-Masoretic version of Isa. 61:1 that read לְבַשֵּׂר עֲנִיִּים is also supported by the Beatitudes. Some scholars have noted that the first beatitude (Matt. 5:3; cf. Luke 6:20) corresponds chiastically to the commissioning of the Spirit-anointed figure to proclaim good news to the meek/poor in Isa. 61:1:[158]

The chiastic allusion to Isaiah 61 in the first Beatitude (Matt. 5:3). Notice the equation this chiasm makes between the proclamation of good news and the Kingdom of Heaven.

Given the highly Hebraic quality of the Beatitudes, especially in Matthew’s version, it is unlikely that this beatitude was formulated on the basis of LXX. Therefore, if the first beatitude was based on Isa. 61:1, it too must have been based on a version that read לְבַשֵּׂר עֲנִיִּים instead of לְבַשֵּׂר עֲנָוִים, as in MT. Also supporting this conclusion is the fact that the third beatitude in Matthew pronounces a blessing on “the meek” (οἱ πραεῖς; hoi praeis; Matt. 5:5) who inherit the earth, a clear allusion to Ps. 37:11 where οἱ πραεῖς is the translation of עֲנָוִים (“meek persons”). Since it is unlikely that there would have been two beatitudes referring to the meek, we can rule out עֲנָוִים (“meek persons”) as the Hebrew term behind πτωχοί (“poor persons”) in Matt. 5:3 ∥ Luke 6:20.

All this leads to our conclusion that the author of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua (and in all probability Jesus before him) knew a Hebrew version of Isa. 61:1 that read עֲנִיִּים instead of עֲנָוִים, and therefore, עֲנִיִּים (“poor persons”) is the best reconstruction for πτωχοί (“poor persons”) in L43.

Tomson noted that the LXX translators “were particular about using the word group εὐαγγελ-” when rendering the Hebrew root ב-שׂ-ר.‎[159] Indeed, in every instance where εὐαγγελίζειν (evangelizein, “to give a good report”) reflects a Hebrew term it is a translation of ב-שׂ-ר in either the pi‘el or hitpa‘el stems,[160] and likewise, verbs from the root ב-שׂ-ר are rarely translated with a word other than εὐαγγελίζειν.[161] In L43 there can be little doubt that εὐαγγελίζειν should be reconstructed with the root ב-שׂ-ר, given the allusion to Isa. 61:1, but the form of the root we have selected does require further discussion.

At first, we considered reconstructing εὐαγγελίζειν with ב-שׂ-ר in the pu‘al stem to indicate another divine passive. But while examples of בֻּשַּׂר do occur in rabbinic sources, they are quite infrequent.[162] Examples of ב-שׂ-ר in the hitpa‘el or nitpa‘el stems are more common. Instances of הִתְבַּשֵּׂר (hitbasēr, “be informed [of good news]”) in BH and of נִתְבַּשֵּׂר (nitbasēr, “be informed [of good news]”) in MH include the following:

וַיֹּאמֶר הַכּוּשִׁי יִתְבַּשֵּׂר אֲדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ כִּי שְׁפָטְךָ יי הַיּוֹם מִיַּד כָּל הַקָּמִים עָלֶיךָ

And the Cushite said, “Let my lord the king be informed [יִתְבַּשֵּׂר] [of the good news] that the LORD has delivered you today from the hand of all who rise against you.” (2 Sam. 18:31)

καὶ εἶπεν τῷ βασιλεῖ εὐαγγελισθήτω ὁ κύριός μου ὁ βασιλεύς, ὅτι ἔκρινέν σοι κύριος σήμερον ἐκ χειρὸς πάντων τῶν ἐπεγειρομένων ἐπὶ σέ

…and [he] said to the king, “Let my lord the king receive good tidings [εὐαγγελισθήτω]! For the Lord has vindicated you today from the hand of all who were stirred up against you.” (2 Kgdms. 18:31; NETS)

רבי יהודה בן בתירה אומר הרי הוא אומר ולא שמעו אל משה מקוצר רוח וגו′ וכי יש לך אדם שהוא מתבשר בשורה טובה ואינו שמח נולד לך בן זכר ואינו שמח רבך מוציאך לחרות ואינו שמח

Rabbi Yehudah ben Batira says, “Look, it says, and they did not listen to Moses because of shortness of spirit [Exod. 6:9]. But do you have [an example of] a person who is informed [מִתְבַּשֵּׂר] of good news and he does not rejoice? [He is told,] ‘A male son is born to you,’ and he does not rejoice? [He is told,] ‘Your master is setting you free,’ and he does not rejoice?” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Pisḥa chpt. 5 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:27])

בשורה רעה נתבשרו ישראל באותה שעה שסוף התורה עתידה להשתכח ויש אומרים בשורה טובה נתבשרו ישראל באותה שעה שהן עתידין לראות בנים ובני בנים להם

At that time Israel was informed [נִתְבִּשְּׂרוּ] of the bad news that in the end the Torah was to be forgotten. But there are some who say that Israel was informed [נִתְבִּשְּׂרוּ] of the good news that they would in future see their children and grandchildren. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Pisḥa chpt. 12 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:66])

כיון ששמע יעקב כן נזדעזע אמר אוי לי שמא אירע פסולת בבניי עד שנתבשר מפי הקדש שעשה ראובן תשובה שנאמר ויהיו בני יעקב שנים עשר, והלא בידוע ששנים עשר הם אלא שנתבשר מפי הקדש ברוך הוא שעשה ראובן תשובה

As soon as Jacob heard this [i.e., that his son Reuben had committed a sexual transgression—DNB and JNT], he was shaken and said, “Woe to me! Perhaps one who is unworthy has arisen among my sons,” until he was informed [נִתְבַּשֵּׂר] [of the good news] from the mouth of the Holy one that Reuben repented, as it is said, And the sons of Jacob were twelve [Gen. 35:22]. And was it not well known that they were twelve? But it was to inform [נִתְבַּשֵּׂר] him [of the good news] from the mouth of the Holy one, blessed be he, that Reuben repented. (Sifre Deut. §31 [ed. Finkelstein, 52])

עד שהוא עומד בהר המוריה נתבשר שנולד זוגתו של בנו

While he [i.e., Abraham—DNB and JNT] was standing on Mount Moriah he was informed [נִתְבַּשֵּׂר] [of the good news] that his son’s partner was born. (Gen. Rab. 57:1 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 2:612])

Although verbs from the root ב-שׂ-ר can be used with reference to bad news, as we saw in one of the examples cited above, this is not the usual sense. A positive connotation can be assumed unless otherwise specified. Schiling noted that in Isa. 61:1, to which Jesus alluded, בִּשֵּׂר (bisēr, “announce good news,” “bear tidings”) “can denote only a saving message for the oppressed and poor, not a neutral message.”[163]

Lines 32-60 of the Priene Calendar Inscription. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Another connotation of εὐαγγελίζειν/בִּשֵּׂר that first-century audiences would have understood was the use of the εὐαγγελ- word group in Roman imperial propaganda.[164] Inscribed on stone monuments, in official documents, and in the historiography of the period we find examples of the εὐαγγελ- word group used to describe the Roman emperor’s triumphs, whether in acceding to the throne or winning a victory in battle. In the Priene Calendar Inscription (ca. 9 B.C.E.) the emperor’s birth is described using the term εὐαγγέλιον (evangelion, “good news”):

ἦρξεν δὲ τῶι κόσμωι τῶν δι᾽ αὐτὸν εὐανγελί[ων ἡ γενέθλιος] τοῦ θεου

But the birthday of the god [i.e., Caesar Augustus—DNB and JNT] was for the world the beginning of tidings of joy [εὐανγελίων] on his account. (OGIS 458 2:40-42)[165]

Stele of bluish marble, found in 1912, ten meters east of the northeast corner column of the temple of Artemis in Sardis (Turkey). The inscription refers to receiving “good news” (εὐανγελίσθη) about the imperial family. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The above inscription hails Caesar as a divinity. In another inscription from Sardis, which dates from the first century B.C.E., we learn that the reception of good news concerning the emperor’s family was tied to the imperial cult:

ἐπεὶ Γάϊος Ἰούλιος Καῖσαρ ὁ πρεσβύτατος τῶν τοῦ Σεβαστοῦ παίδων τὴν εὐκταιοτάτην ἐκ περιτορφύρου λαμπὰν τῶ παντὶ κό(σ)μω ἀνείληφε τήβεννον, ἥδονταί τε πάντες ἄνθροποι συνδιεγειρομένας ὁρῶντες τῶ Σεβαστῶ τὰς ὑπὲρ τῶν παίδων εὐχάς, ἥ τε ἡμετέρα πόλις ἐπι τῆ τοσαύτη εὐτυχία τὴν ἡμέραν τὴν ἐκ παιδὸς ἄνδρα τεληοῦσα[ν] αὐτὸν ἱερὰν ἔκρινεν εἶναι, ἐν ἧ κατ᾽ ἐνιαυτὸν ἐν λαμπραῖς (ἐ)σθῆσιν στεφανηφορεῖν ἅπαντας, θ[υ]σίας τε παριστάν(αι) τοῖς θεοῖς τοὺς κατ᾽ ἐνιαυτὸν στρατηγοὺς καὶ κατευχὰς ποιεῖσθαι διὰ τῶν ἱεροκηρύκων ὑπὲρ τῆς σωτηρίας αὐτοῦ, συνκαθιερῶσαί τε ἄγλαμα αὐτοῦ τῶ τοῦ πατρὸς ἐνιδρύοντασ ναῶι, ἐν ἧ τε εὐανγελίσθη ἡ πόλις ἡμέρα καὶ τὸ ψήφισμα ἐκθρώθη καὶ ταύτην στεφ(αν)ηφορῆσαι τὴν ἡμέραν καὶ θυσίας τοῖς θεοῖς ἐκπρεπεστάτας ἐπιτελέσαι

Whereas Gaius Julius Caesar, the eldest of the sons of Augustus has, as was ardently desired, assumed in its full splendor the pure white toga, in lieu of that with the purple border, and all people rejoice to see the united prayers ascending to Augustus on behalf of his sons: and whereas our city, in view of so happy an event, has decided: that the day which raised him from a boy to the completeness of manhood shall be a sacred day, on which annually everyone shall wear wreaths and festal apparel, when the generals of the year shall perform sacrifices to the gods, shall, through the sacred heralds, make supplications for his welfare, and shall unite in consecrating an image of him, which they shall instal in his father’s temple; that on the day when the city received the good news [εὐανγελίσθη] and when the decree was adopted, on that day, too, wreaths be worn and sumptuous sacrifices be offered to the gods….[166]

The most typical context in which the εὐαγγελ- word group is employed in imperial propaganda is when an official assumes a high office in government, and this usage is reflected even in Jewish writings. In his account of Gaius Caligula’s attempt to have his image installed in the Temple, Philo of Alexandria portrays the people as protesting to Petronius, the governor of Syria, against Caesar’s decree in the following manner:

Γαΐῳ παραλαβόντι τὴν ἡγεμονίαν πρῶτοι τῶν κατὰ Συρίαν ἁπάντων ἡμεῖς συνήσθημεν, Οὐιτελλίου τότε, παρ᾿ οὗ διεδέξω τὴν ἐπιτροπήν, ἐν τῇ πόλει διατρίβοντος ᾧ τὰ περὶ τούτων ἐκομίσθη γράμματα, καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς ἡμετέρας πόλεως εὐαγγελιουμένη πρὸς τὰς ἄλλας ἔδραμεν ἡ φήμη.

When Gaius succeeded to the sovereignty we [i.e., the people of Jerusalem—DNB and JNT][167] were the first of all the inhabitants of Syria to show our joy, for Vitellius your predecessor as governor was staying in the city, and it was to him that the letter telling the news was sent and it was from our city that rumour to carry the good tidings [εὐαγγελιουμένη] sped to the others. (Leg. ad Gaium §231; Loeb)

Josephus described the news of Vespasian’s acclamation as emperor in similar terms:

τάχιον δ᾿ ἐπινοίας διήγγελλον αἱ φῆμαι τὸν ἐπὶ τῆς ἀνατολῆς αὐτοκράτορα, καὶ πᾶσα μὲν πόλις ἑώρταζεν εὐαγγέλια [δὲ] καὶ θυσίας ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ ἐπετέλει.

…quicker than thought rumour spread the news of the new emperor in the east. Every city kept festival for the good news [εὐαγγέλια] and offered sacrifices on his behalf. (J.W. 4:618; Loeb)[168]

For Roman citizens and the ruling elites the well being and successes of the emperor were, indeed, good news. The benefits they enjoyed as a result of the empire’s strength engendered a patriotism that tended to idolize symbols of imperial power and to deify Caesar, the empire’s personification. It was easy for the recipients of the empire’s bounty to ignore or dismiss or even to glorify the oppression upon which it was founded and the violence with which it was maintained. Jesus’ audience, on the other hand, mainly consisted of victims of Roman imperialism. To such an audience, the anti-imperial subtext of Jesus’ message about the inauguration of a new kingdom (not of the god Caesar, but of Israel’s God), which was good news to the poor (not to the wealthy and powerful), must have been unmistakable.

Jesus countered imperial propaganda with masterful allusions to Scripture that spoke of the redemption of Israel and a better world order. Through the power of the Kingdom of Heaven wounds were healed, injustices were corrected, souls were made whole, and true community was created without needing to destroy or humiliate or avenge and without needing to profit from anyone else’s misery. Jesus’ vision of redemption is sublime, but for those who have been embittered by abuse and hardened by disappointment his lofty vision can be difficult to attain. For those trained by cruel experience, the desire for vengeance and the promise of judgment is easier to comprehend, even if it is ultimately unrealistic. The notion that redemption can come only through peacemaking and the power of love, though far more practical, is so foreign to the experience of anyone caught in an imperialist system that it requires real imagination and exceptional faith. It was probably for this reason that Jesus’ preaching was rejected in Nazareth,[169] and why Jesus ultimately despaired that Israel would avert catastrophe by accepting his message (cf. Matt. 23:37-38 ∥ Luke 13:34-35). It may also be for this reason that John the Baptist struggled to reconcile his vision of the coming redemption with the works Jesus performed and the message Jesus proclaimed.[170] Despite the curiosity the report of his disciples had initially aroused within him, it appears that upon mature reflection on Jesus’ reply to his question, John the Baptist concluded that Jesus was not the Someone whose coming he had proclaimed.

L44-46 In the final part of his response to John the Baptist, Jesus pronounced a blessing upon those who are not made to stumble on his account. As scholars note, it is only in this concluding statement that Jesus directly addressed the question of his own person, but contrary to expectations Jesus did not say, “Yes, I am he who is coming,” or “No, I am not.” Rather than defining his role to John or to his audience, Jesus’ blessing aims at dissuading his hearers from attempting to do so. Jesus shunned titles and prepackaged formulae because he did not want to be pressured into conforming to other people’s expectations. Jesus’ unwillingness to accept labels does not imply that he did not have a clear sense of his own calling. On the contrary, his clear sense of purpose was what caused Jesus to dislike being defined by others who might attempt to co-opt his charisma for their own ends. Jesus’ desire to let his deeds speak for themselves was an expression of his high self-awareness and his single-minded devotion to his divinely-appointed task.

L44 καὶ μακάριός ἐστιν (GR). Nolland noted that “Not one of the sixty-five LXX beatitudes is introduced with καί, ‘and’…but Luke has beatitudes introduced with καί also at 1:45 and 14:14.”[171] To this we might add that μακάριος + εἶναι is also unusual, occurring only 3xx in LXX (4 Macc. 7:22; Ps. 127:2; Bar. 4:4). On the other hand, μακάριος + εἶναι occurs with relatively high frequency in the Synoptic Gospels (Matt. 5:11; 11:6; 16:17; Luke 6:22; 7:23; 12:38; 14:14). We take these data to indicate that the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua did not attempt to imitate LXX when not quoting Scripture.

וְאַשְׁרֵי (HR). On reconstructing μακάριος (makarios, “blessed,” “happy”) with אַשְׁרֵי (’ashrē, “blessedness of,” “happiness of”), see Blessedness of the Twelve, Comment to L3. Blessings opening with וְאַשְׁרֵי are found in MT and in rabbinic sources:

וְעַתָּה בָנִים שִׁמְעוּ לִי וְאַשְׁרֵי דְּרָכַי יִשְׁמֹרוּ

And now, sons, listen to me, and blessed [וְאַשְׁרֵי] are those who keep my ways. (Prov. 8:32)

ר′ אחא הוה מתחמד למיחמי אפוי דר′ אלכסנדרי איתחמי ליה בחלמיה הראהו ב′ מילין הרוגי לוד אין לפנים ממחיצתם ברוך שהעביר חרפתן של לוליאנוס ופפוס ואשרי מי שבא לכאן ותלמודו בידו

Rabbi Aha was longing to behold the face of Rabbi Alexandri. He appeared to him in a dream and showed him two things: none have a portion ahead of the martyrs of Lod—Blessed is the one who removed the reproach of Lulianus and Pappus![172] —and blessed is the one who [-וְאַשְׁרֵי מִי שֶׁ] comes here [i.e., to the world to come—DNB and JNT] with his learning intact. (Eccl. Rab. 9:10 §1; trans. adapted from Soncino)

L45 ὃς ἐὰν μὴ σκανδαλισθῇ (GR). According to Codex Vaticanus, there is a minor difference between Matthew’s version, which reads ὃς ἄν (hos an, “whoever”), and Luke’s version, which reads ὃς ἐάν (hos ean, “whoever”). Critical editions erase this difference, reading ὃς ἐάν in both versions. Since the variation is minuscule, and since a single letter might easily be dropped by a scribe, we have adopted the reading of the critical editions for GR.

מִי שֶׁלֹּא יִכָּשֵׁל (HR). In LXX ὃς ἐάν can stand for כָּל אֲשֶׁר (kol ’asher, “all who”; Num. 23:26; Judg. 7:4; Esth. 2:13; Prov. 21:1) or אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר (’ish ’asher, “a man who”; Lev. 20:14, 17), or more often simply אֲשֶׁר (asher, “who”). Each of these are possible options for HR, with the possible substitution of -שֶׁ for אֲשֶׁר to reflect MH style. In the pronouncement of blessings, however, it is common to find the formula -אַשְׁרֵי מִי שֶׁ (’ashrē mi she-, “blessed is the one who”). We have already cited one such example above in Comment to L44. Further examples include:

חסידים ואנשי מעשה היו מרקדין לפניהן באבוקות ואומרי′ לפניהם דברי תושבחות מה היו אומרין אשרי מי שלא חטא וכל מי שחטא ימחל

The Hasidim and men of deeds[173] would dance before them with flaming torches and would recite before them words of praise. What did they say? “Blessed is the one who [-אַשְׁרֵי מִי שֶׁ] has not sinned, but all who have sinned he will cancel their debt [i.e., forgive their sin—DNB and JNT].”[174] (t. Suk. 4:2; Vienna MS)

באותה שעה אמר משה אשרי מי שמת במיתה זו

In that hour Moses said, “Blessed is he who [-אַשְׁרֵי מִי שֶׁ] dies by this death!” (Sifre Deut. §339 [ed. Finkelstein, 389])

כל המצער עצמו עם הציבור זוכה ורואה בנחמת ציבור, שנאמר וידי משה כבדים [וגו′] (שמות י″ז י″ב), וכי לא היה לו למשה רבינו כר או כסא לישב עליה, אלא כך אמר משה, הואיל והציבור שרוי בצער, אף אני אהיה עמהם בצער, ואשרי מי שמצער עצמו עם הציבור

All who [voluntarily] endure hardship in solidarity with the public are granted to see the public’s consolation. As it is said, Moses’ hands grew heavy [Exod. 17:12]. But did not Moses our teacher have a cushion or a chair on which to sit? Rather, this is what Moses said, “So long as the public is steeped in hardship, I too will be with them in hardship.” So blessed is the one who [-וְאַשְׁרֵי מִי שֶׁ] [voluntarily] endures hardship in solidarity with the public. (Eliyahu Zuta, chpt. 1 [ed. Friedmann, 167])

The last of the above examples provides an exact verbal parallel to our reconstruction of καὶ μακάριός ἐστιν ὃς ἐάν as -וְאַשְׁרֵי מִי שֶׁ in L44-45.

In LXX σκανδαλίζειν (skandalizein, “to cause to stumble”) is rare, only occurring once where there is a Hebrew equivalent in MT (Dan. 11:41). In that one instance σκανδαλίζειν translates נִכְשַׁל (nichshal, “be caused to stumble,” “be led to sin,” “be overthrown”).[175] Examples of יִכָּשֵׁל include:

וְרִשְׁעַת הָרָשָׁע לֹא יִכָּשֶׁל בָּהּ בְּיוֹם שׁוּבוֹ מֵרִשְׁעוֹ

And as for the wickedness of the wicked, he will not be made to stumble [יִכָּשֶׁל] by it on the day of his return from his wickedness. (Ezek. 33:12)

אמר ר′ אחא צריך אדם לרגל עצמו באחות אשתו ובקרובתו למה שלא יכשל באחת מהן

Rabbi Aha said, “A person ought to familiarize himself with his wife’s sisters and his female relatives so that he will not be made to stumble [יִכָּשֵׁל] by one of them.” (Gen. Rab. 85:8 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 2:1041]

Flusser suggested that the blessing Jesus pronounced at the end of his reply to John should be compared to the closing statement in the prophecy of Hosea:[176]

כִּי יְשָׁרִים דַּרְכֵי יי וְצַדִּקִים יֵלְכוּ בָם וּפֹשְׁעִים יִכָּשְׁלוּ בָם

For the ways of the LORD are right, and righteous ones will walk in them, but wicked ones will stumble in them. (Hos. 14:10)

If Jesus did allude to Hos. 14:10 with his concluding makarism, this would support our interpretation of Jesus’ response to John the Baptist’s question as a whole. Rather than sitting on the sidelines, bogged down in speculations about Jesus’ identity as a messianic or eschatological figure, Jesus wanted his contemporaries to pay attention to what God was doing and to determine whether and how they themselves might participate in the Kingdom of Heaven. “The ways of the LORD are right,” in other words, trust what God is doing. “The righteous will walk in them,” in other words, the righteous will go along with God’s actions instead of imposing a program of their own. “But the wicked will stumble in them.” What a paradox that obsession with Jesus’ person could itself be a pitfall, and how ironic that John the Baptist, that most august of New Testament figures, could be in danger of being classed among the wicked.

L46 בִּי (HR). The preposition ἐν (en, “in”) is a bit unusual in Greek for expressing “on account of,” but it corresponds perfectly to the preposition -בְּ (be, “in”), which is used in conjunction with the verb נִכְשַׁל.

Redaction Analysis

When repeating the words of Jesus, the authors of Matthew and Luke adhered strictly to their source, but in the narrative introduction the verbal disparity between the Matthean and Lukan versions of Yohanan the Immerser’s Question shows that at least one of the evangelists felt greater freedom to rework the introductory material he inherited from Anth.

Luke’s Version[177]

Yohanan the Immerser’s Question
Luke Anthology
102 Total
to Anth.:
96 Total
Taken Over
in Luke:
to Anth.:
94.12 % of Anth.
in Luke:
Click here for details.

The ease with which all parts of Luke’s version of Yohanan the Immerser’s Question revert to Hebrew suggests that the author of Luke did little to change the wording of his source in this pericope.[178] We suspect that in L10 the author of Luke added John’s name for the sake of clarity, while in L33 the author of Luke may have dropped Jesus’ name because repeating it seemed redundant. Luke may also have changed the tense in L37 from present to aorist, and used a synonym for “see.” It also seems likely that the author of Luke grouped the redemptive works Jesus listed into two groups of three by dropping the coordinating conjunction καί (“and”) in L39, L42 and L43. Each of these changes are best explained as stylistic improvements that do not affect the meaning of the pericope in any significant way.

Matthew’s Version[179]

Yohanan the Immerser’s Question
Matthew Anthology
63 Total
to Anth.:
47 Total
Taken Over
in Matt.:
to Anth.:
74.60 % of Anth.
in Matt.:
Click here for details.

The author of Matthew rewrote the narrative introduction to Yohanan the Immerser’s Question, adding the detail about John’s imprisonment (L6), dropping the repetitive account of the arrival of John’s disciples with its duplication of John’s question (L17-25), and cutting out the summary statement of Jesus’ activity (L26-31), which does nothing to advance the plot. The reference to Jesus’ activity as “the works of the Messiah” (L7) is clearly secondary. By making these editorial changes, the author of Matthew made a faster and leaner introduction that included an explicit statement about Jesus’ identity in a pericope that otherwise left this point unresolved. The only change the author of Matthew seems to have made to Jesus’ reply is the reversal of the order “see and hear” to “hear and see” (L37), which gives Jesus’ answer a pleasingly chiastic form and reflects the overall organization of Matthew’s Gospel into teaching (chpt. 5-7) and miracle stories (chpt. 8-9). Matthew’s redactional identification of Jesus as the Messiah obscures Jesus’ personal distaste for labels that tend to flatten complex ideas and to fossilize dynamic concepts.

Results of This Research

1. Is “he who is coming” in John the Baptist’s question a messianic title? There is no evidence in the Hebrew Bible, the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, DSS or rabbinic literature that ὁ ἐρχόμενος/הַבָּא (“he who is coming”) was a recognized title of any kind.[180] “He who is coming” in Yohanan the Immerser’s Question was probably shorthand for the Someone whose coming the Baptist had prophesied in Yohanan the Immerser’s Eschatological Discourse. The similarity of John’s prophecy to Malachi 3 suggests that John the Baptist had in mind an eschatological priestly figure, whom the Baptist probably identified as Elijah. In as much as the eschatological priest was an anointed figure, it would be correct to say that John the Baptist probably had the coming of a (priestly) messiah in mind.

2. Was Jesus’ answer to John the Baptist’s question “Yes, I am the Coming One” or “No, I’m not”? Jesus did not give John a straight yes or no answer, mainly because Jesus did not accept the conceptual categories John’s question presupposed. Jesus’ answer hints that his role could be characterized as Elijianic, but not in the priestly sense John imagined. A prophetic restorer of Israel was more in line with Jesus’ understanding of his mission. But more important for Jesus than speculations about his role in an eschatological scheme were the bright neon signs that God was redeeming his people, and it was to this divine activity that Jesus redirected John’s attention. God would make it clear in his own good time what role (if any) he had assigned to Jesus. Trying to tease it out now would not advance what God was doing, but it could be detrimental insofar as it distracted people from participating in God’s redemptive mission. As ever, the Kingdom of Heaven remained the focus of Jesus’ message; encouraging people to engage with God by entering the Kingdom of Heaven was always Jesus’ chief concern.


In response to John the Baptist’s question about Jesus’ identity, Jesus redirected John’s attention to a far more critical issue: the evidence that God was redeeming Israel from the shame of exile and the scourges of imperialism through the healing of broken bodies and the proclamation of good news to the poor. How Jesus—or anyone else for that matter—fit into God’s redemptive scheme was beside the point, when the miracles Jesus performed were a sign of a much greater work that God was undertaking before their very eyes.

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  • [1] For abbreviations and bibliographical references, see “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction.’
  • [2] 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.
  • [3] See Burnett H. Streeter, “On the Original Order of Q,” in Studies in the Synoptic Problem (ed. W. Sanday; Oxford: Clarendon, 1911), 141-164, esp. 152; Catchpole, 42; Luz, 1:130.
  • [4] See our discussion in “Yohanan the Immerser and the Kingdom of Heaven” complex.
  • [5] We owe this insight to Robert Lindsey, who noticed that the Mustard Seed and Starter Dough parables make an excellent conclusion to The Kingdom of Heaven Is Increasing. See Lindsey, JRL, 76-77.
  • [6] See Robert L. Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark,” under the subheading “Double Tradition.”
  • [7] See David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: Criteria for Distinguishing Type 1 from Type 2 Double Tradition Pericopae.”
  • [8] Cf. Marshall, 287; Fitzmyer, 1:662; Davies-Allison, 2:235.
  • [9] See Beare, Earliest, 88 §64.
  • [10] See Stephan Witetschek, “What Did John Hear? The Reconstruction of Q 7:18-19 and its Implications,” Novum Testamentum 56 (2014): 245-260, esp. 246-247.
  • [11] See Bultmann, 23.
  • [12] For a defense of the integrity and historicity of the Yohanan the Immerser’s Question pericope, see Luz, 2:130.
  • [13] Either καὶ ἀκούσας Ἰωάνης or ἀκούσας δὲ Ἰωάνης would be closer to Hebrew word order (וַיִּשְׁמַע יוֹחָנָן) than Matthew’s ὁ δὲ Ἰωάνης ἀκούσας.
  • [14] Delitzsch’s translation of Matt. 11:2 simply ignores the διά: וַיִּשְׁלַח שְׁנַיִם מִתַּלְמִידָיו (“and he sent two of his disciples”).
  • [15] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:114-115.
  • [16] See Dos Santos, 128.
  • [17] Delitzsch’s translation, for example, reads וְתַלְמִידֵי יוֹחָנָן הִגִּידוּ לוֹ (“And the disciples of John told him…”).
  • [18] Examples of the הִגִּיד + messenger + -לְ + recipient order include:

    וַיַּגִּדוּ עַבְדֵי שָׁאוּל לוֹ

    And the servants of Saul reported to him…. (1 Sam. 18:24)

    καὶ ἀπήγγειλαν οἱ παῖδες Σαουλ αὐτῷ

    And the servants of Saoul reported to him…. (1 Kgdms. 18:24; NETS)

    וַיַּגִּדוּ עֲבָדָיו לְדָוִד אֶת הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה

    And his servants reported to David these things…. (1 Sam. 18:26)

    καὶ ἀπαγγέλλουσιν οἱ παῖδες Σαουλ τῷ Δαυιδ τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα

    And the servants of Saoul told Dauid these words…. (1 Kgdms. 18:26; NETS)

    וַיַּגֵּד יְהוֹנָתָן לְדָוִד לֵאמֹר

    And Jonathan reported to David, saying…. (1 Sam. 19:2)

    καὶ ἀπήγγειλεν Ιωναθαν τῷ Δαυιδ λέγων

    And Ionathan told Dauid, saying…. (1 Kgdms. 19:2; NETS)

    וַיַּגֵּד אֶבְיָתָר לְדָוִד

    And Abiathar reported to David…. (1 Sam. 22:21)

    καὶ ἀπήγγειλεν Αβιαθαρ τῷ Δαυιδ

    And Abiathar told Dauid…. (1 Kgdms. 22:21; NETS)

    וַיַּגֵּד אַחְאָב לְאִיזֶבֶל

    And Ahab reported to Jezebel…. (1 Kgs. 19:1)

    καὶ ἀνήγγειλεν Αχααβ τῇ Ιεζαβελ

    And Achaab told Iezabel…. (3 Kgdms. 19:1; NETS)

    וַיַּגֵּד שָׁפָן הַסּוֹפֵר לַמֶּלֶךְ לֵאמֹר

    And Shaphan the scribe reported to the king, saying…. (2 Chr. 34:18)

    καὶ ἀπήγγειλεν Σαφαν ὁ γραμματεὺς τῷ βασιλεῖ λέγων

    And Saphan the scribe reported to the king, saying…. (2 Chr. 34:18; NETS)

  • [19] Other examples of the order לְ- + הִגִּיד + recipient + messenger include:

    וַיַּגֶּד לוֹ יְהוֹנָתָן אֵת כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה

    And Jonathan told him all these things…. (1 Sam. 19:7)

    καὶ ἀπήγγειλεν αὐτῷ πάντα τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα

    …and [Jonathan] related all these words to him…. (1 Kgdms. 19:7; NETS)

    וַתַּגֶּד לוֹ אִשְׁתּוֹ אֶת הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה

    And his wife reported to him these things…. (1 Sam. 25:37)

    ἀπήγγειλεν αὐτῷ ἡ γυνὴ αὐτοῦ τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα

    …his wife told him these things…. (1 Kgdms. 25:37; NETS)

    וַיַּגֶּד לָהּ שְׁלֹמֹה אֶת כָּל דְּבָרֶיהָ

    And Solomon reported to her all her words…. (1 Kgs. 10:3)

    καὶ ἀπήγγειλεν αὐτῇ Σαλωμων πάντας τοὺς λόγους αὐτῆς

    And Salomon reported to her all her words…. (3 Kgdms. 10:3; NETS)

    וַיַּגֵּד לָהֶם מִכָיְהוּ אֵת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִים

    And Michaiah reported to them all the words…. (Jer. 36:13)

    καὶ ἀνήγγειλεν αὐτοῖς Μιχαιας πάντας τοὺς λόγους

    And Michaias told them all the words…. (Jer. 43:13; NETS)

  • [20] Meier suggested that Luke reported John’s imprisonment prior to Jesus’ baptism in order to avoid having to explicitly state that John baptized Jesus. See John P. Meier, “John the Baptist in Matthew’s Gospel,” Journal of Biblical Literature 99.3 (1980): 383-405, esp. 384.
  • [21] The noun δεσμωτήριον does not occur elsewhere in the Synoptic Gospels, but the author of Luke was certainly willing to use this word, since it occurs 3xx in Acts (Acts 5:21, 23; 16:26). It seems reasonable to suggest, therefore, that δεσμωτήριον in Matt. 11:2 came not from the author of Matthew’s source, but from his own pen.
  • [22] See Yohanan the Immerser’s Execution, Comment to L16.
  • [23] See Malcolm Lowe and David Flusser, “A Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” New Testament Studies 29.1 (1983): 25-47, esp. 43 n. 36. Cf. Meier, “John the Baptist in Matthew’s Gospel,” 392.
  • [24] According to Luz (2:132 n. 20), “There are in Judaism no particular concepts of ‘messianic deeds.’ …The expression ἔργα τοῦ Χριστοῦ is a Matthean creation and is to be interpreted on Matthew’s terms.”
  • [25] See Catchpole, 43-45; Witetschek, “What Did John Hear? The Reconstruction of Q 7:18-19 and its Implications,” 252.
  • [26] See Davies-Allison, 2:235.
  • [27] Cf. Fitzmyer, 2:666.
  • [28] On reconstructing πᾶς (pas, “all,” “every”) with כָּל (kol, “all,” “every”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L19. In LXX περί + πᾶς is the translation of עַל כָּל in Exod. 24:8; Lev. 16:33; Num. 15:25; Deut. 9:18; 2 Chr. 29:24; 2 Esd. 8:35; Eccl. 1:13; Jer. 1:16; 3:8; 12:14; 38:35 [31:37]; 40[33]:5, 9 (2xx); Lam. 1:22.
  • [29] Examples of אֶת + הִגִּיד which occur in the Pentateuch include Gen. 41:25; 42:29; 44:24; 45:13; 49:1; Exod. 4:28; 19:9; Deut. 4:13; 5:5; 17:9. Cf. Gen. 27:42. We encounter הִגִּיד combined with the phrase אֶת כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה in 1 Sam. 19:7; Jer. 16:10; 36:16. By contrast, the only examples of עַל + הִגִּיד we could find in the entire MT are found in 1 Sam. 27:11; Job 36:33; Esth. 6:2; 1 Chr. 19:5. Cf. Gen. 26:32; 43:7.
  • [30] Our best guess is that by “concerning all these things” the narrator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua meant, at least in a general way, everything he had related about Jesus’ words and deeds up to this point in his biography of Jesus.
  • [31] France (422, 425) suggested that John’s doubts about Jesus arose when he heard that Jesus associated with sinners, but this interpretation seems improbable, since both Matthew and Luke agree that tax collectors, prostitutes and other sinners attached themselves to John as well as to Jesus (Matt. 21:31b-32; Luke 3:12-14; 7:29).
  • [32] For this interpretation of the meaning of Jesus’ use of the bridegroom imagery, see R. Steven Notley, “Luke 5:35: ‘When the Bridegroom Is Taken Away’—Anticipation of the Destruction of the Second Temple,” in The Gospels in First-Century Judaea (ed. R. Steven Notley and Jeffrey Paul García; Leiden: Brill, 2016), 107-121.
  • [33] Scholars who suppose that the report John received about Jesus caused him to doubt include Meier (“John the Baptist in Matthew’s Gospel,” 392-393) and Keener (335). See also R. Steven Notley, “The Kingdom of Heaven Forcefully Advances,” in The Interpretation of Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity: Studies in Language and Tradition (ed. Craig A. Evans; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), 279-322, esp. 306.
  • [34] Luz (2:132) adopts this interpretation.
  • [35] The one exception is the exchange between John the Baptist and Jesus prior to Jesus’ baptism, in which John declares that he ought to be baptized by Jesus (Matt. 3:14-15). But this exchange is unique to the Gospel of Matthew and was probably invented by the author of Matthew in order to explain why Jesus, who was guilty of no sin, needed a baptism of repentance for the release of sin indebtedness, and also to explain how Jesus, who was greater, could be baptized by John, who was lesser. In other words, Matt. 3:14-15 is apologetic and polemical, treating problems of Christian theology rather than reporting historical facts.
  • [36] See Return of the Twelve, Comment to L1.
  • [37] According to Marshall (289), whereas in Koine Greek δύο τινάς means “a certain two,” in Classical Greek δύο τινάς would mean “about two.”
  • [38] Examples of מִן + שְׁנַיִם in the Mishnah include:

    אַרְבָּעָה אָחִין שְׁנַיִם מֵהֶן נְשׂוּאִין שְׁתֵּי אַחְיוֹת

    Four brothers, two of whom married two sisters…. (m. Yev. 3:1; cf. m. Edu. 5:5)

    שְׁלוֹשָׁה אַחִין שְׁנַיִם מֵהֶן נְשׂוּאִין שְׁתֵּי אַחְיוֹת אוֹ אִשָּׁה וּבִתָּהּ אוֹ אִשָּׁה וּבַת בִּתָּהּ אוֹ אִשָּׁה וּבַת בְּנָהּ

    Three brothers, two of whom married two sisters, or a woman and her daughter, or a woman and her daughter’s daughter, or a woman and her son’s daughter…. (m. Yev. 3:4; cf. m. Yev. 3:5, 6, 7; m. Edu. 4:9)

    כִּסֵּא שֶׁנִּיטַּלוּ שְׁנַיִם מֵחֲפוּיָיו

    A chair from which two of its seat-boards were removed…. (m. Kel. 22:7; cf. m. Edu. 2:8)

  • [39] See Dos Santos, 209.
  • [40] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1116.
  • [41] See Black, 84. Black claimed that there is a Hebrew equivalent to πέμπειν διά in the Jerusalem Talmud, but without stating what that equivalent is. Presumably, the equivalent Black had in mind was שִׁלַּח בְּיָד (shilaḥ beyād, “send by the hand [of]”), which occurs, for example, in y. Bik. 1:5 (4a):

    שלקטן לשלחן ביד אחר אבל אם להביאן הוא לא ישלחן ביד אחר

    [This applies in a case] when he harvested them to send them by the hand of [לשלחן ביד] another, but if [he harvested them with the intent] to bring them [himself] he may not send them by the hand of another.

    Why Black needed to cite such an obscure example is unclear, since שׁ-ל-ח בְּיָד occurs in MT (cf., e.g., Lev. 16:21; 1 Sam. 16:20; 2 Sam. 11:14; 12:25; 15:36) and the Mishnah (cf., e.g., m. Bab. Kam. 6:4; m. Shevu. 4:12; m. Meil. 6:2). In LXX שׁ-ל-ח בְּיָד is usually translated as ἀποστέλλειν/ἐξαποστέλλειν ἐν χειρί, although we do find an example of שָׁלַח בְּיָד translated as ἐξαποστέλλειν διά in Esth. 8:10 (cf. Esth. 3:13).

  • [42] See Luz, 2:133 n. 22, citing Moulton-Milligan, 502.
  • [43] The sole exception is in the spurious ending of Mark (Mark 16:20). Other references to Jesus as “the Lord” in the voice of the narrator occur in Luke 7:13; 10:1, 39, 41; 11:39; 12:42; 13:15; 17:5, 6; 18:6; 19:8; 22:61 (2xx); 24:3.
  • [44] Additional examples of לֵאמֹר + שָׁלַח are found in 1 Kgs. 5:22; 21:14; 2 Kgs. 5:8; Jer. 23:38; Neh. 6:8; 2 Chr. 35:21.
  • [45] Additional examples of הַאַתָּה + (demonstrative or pronoun) + identifier are found in 2 Sam. 2:20; 9:2; 20:17.
  • [46] Scholars who interpret John’s question as asking whether Jesus is the (Davidic) Messiah include Hagner (1:300); J. Green (295); Bock (137); France (Matt., 423). Cf. Davies-Allison (2:241), where they hover between identifying “he who is coming” as Elijah or the Messiah. Luz (2:132-133) thought that “he who is coming” refers to the Son of Man.
  • [47] There is no evidence that “the Coming One” was a messianic title in DSS or rabbinic sources. Even in NT there is no explicit identification of “the Coming One” with “the Messiah.”
  • [48] For an introduction to the concept of dual priestly and royal messiahs, see David Flusser, The Spiritual History of the Dead Sea Sect (trans. Carol Gluker; Tel Aviv: MOD Books, 1989), 83-89.
  • [49] For references to a pair of priestly and royal messiahs in DSS, see, inter alia, CD A XII, 23-XIII, 1; XIV, 19; CD B XIX, 10; XX, 1.
  • [50] For references to a pair of eschatological figures (one priestly, the other royal) in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, see T. Sim. 7:2; T. Jud. 21:2-4; T. Gad 8:2; T. Jos. 19:11.
  • [51] For a description of the coins of the Bar Kochva period naming Eleazar the priest on one side and the name of the royal messianic pretender on the other, see Leo Mildenberg, “The Eleazar Coins of the Bar Kochba Rebellion,” Historia Judaica 11 (1949): 77-108; idem, The Coinage of the Bar Kochba War (ed. Patricia Erhart Mottahedeh; Frankfurt am Main: Sauerländer, 1984), esp. 29-31. Buchanan (1:479, 481-482) supposed that initially Jesus and John the Baptist regarded themselves as the Davidic and priestly messiahs.
  • [52] References to an eschatological prophet include 1 Macc. 4:46; 14:41; 1QS IX, 11; Philo, Spec. Leg. 1:64-65; Luke 7:16; John 1:21.
  • [53] John 1:21 distinguishes between Elijah and the eschatological prophet. It may be that Elijah played the role of the priestly messiah rather than the eschatological prophet.
  • [54] On the other hand, some sources did fuse the Son of Man and royal messiah concepts. For a brief discussion of the various identifications of the Son of Man figure, see David Flusser, “Son of Man,” in Encyclopaedia Judaica (2d ed.; 22 vols.; ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik; Detroit: Macmillan, 2007), 19:25.
  • [55] Is Melchizedek in the role of eschatological judge to be identified as the Son of Man? This is not explicitly stated in 11QMelch, but the description of Melchizedek as being “without father or mother or genealogy” in Heb. 7:3 might hint that Melchizedek was regarded as a “son of man” (i.e., member of the human race) but not the son of any man in particular. We owe this observation to Daniel R. Schwartz, who commented upon these texts in a 2005 lecture in his “Approaching Classical Jewish Texts” course at the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. For a fuller discussion on Melchizedek and the Son of Man, see Flusser, JOC, 186-192.
  • [56] Cf., e.g., John A. T. Robinson, “Elijah, John and Jesus: An Essay in Detection,” in his Twelve New Testament Studies (London: SMC Press, 1962; repr. from New Testament Studies 4 [1958]: 263-281), 28-52, esp. 38; Marshall, 290; Catchpole, 61; Luz, 2:130; Christopher M. Tuckett, “John the Baptist In Q,” in his Q and the History of Early Christianity: Studies on Q (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996), 107-137, esp. 119, 125; Simon J. Joseph, “‘Blessed Is Whoever Is Not Offended by Me’: The Subversive Appropriation of (Royal) Messianic Ideology in Q 3-7,” New Testament Studies 57.3 (2011): 307-324, esp. 319.
  • [57] See R. Steven Notley’s lecture “The Gospel According to John the Baptist,” from the lecture series Are You the One Who Is to Come? Jesus in First-Century Understanding, recorded September 19-21, 2002 in Zeeland, Michigan and distributed by the En-Gedi Resource Center. And see also Yohanan the Immerser’s Eschatological Discourse, Comment to L28.
  • [58] On the defilement of the Temple, cf. CD A IV, 15-19; V, 6-8. The halachic letter 4QMMT specifies ways in which the Essenes believed the Jerusalem priesthood had defiled the Temple.
  • [59] On the Essenes’ non-participation in the Temple cult, see Philo, Prob. §75; Jos., Ant. 18:19; 1QS IX, 3-6; CD A VI, 11-19.
  • [60] Points of similarity between John the Baptist and the Essenes include non-participation in the Temple cult, withdrawal from society to live in the desert, describing their role in terms of Isa. 40:3, voluntary poverty, and the expectation of imminent eschatological judgment. On affinities between John the Baptist and the Essenes, see David Flusser, “The Magnificat, the Benedictus and the War Scroll” (Flusser, JOC, 126-149, esp. 143ff.).
  • [61] On the influence of Malachi 3 on John the Baptist’s preaching, see Jeffrey A. Trumbower, “The Role of Malachi in the Career of John the Baptist,” in The Gospels and the Scriptures of Israel (ed. Craig A. Evans and W. Richard Stegner; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), 28-41, esp. 34-36.
  • [62] Already in the Hebrew Bible Elijah played a priestly role in offering sacrifices on Mount Carmel (1 Kgs. 18:16-38). On Elijah as (high) priest in ancient Jewish and early Christian sources, see Ginzberg, 2:996 n. 3. On Elijah as the priestly messiah, see John C. Poirier, “The Endtime Return of Elijah and Moses at Qumran,” Dead Sea Discoveries 10.2 (2003): 221-242, esp. 227-236; idem, “Jesus and Elijah in Luke 4:16-30.”
  • [63] Other possible Scripture passages that have been proposed as the background to “the Coming One” include Ps. 118:26 (Fitzmyer, 1:666, rejects this); Dan. 7:13 (cf. Flusser, Jesus, 259); Zech. 9:9.

    Another possibility is Gen. 49:10, which in 4Q252 V, 1-4 is given a messianic interpretation, and which was interpreted christologically among early Christian writers (cf. Justin Martyr, 1 Apol. 32:1-3; Dial. chpt. 110). The verse in Genesis reads:

    לֹא יָסוּר שֵׁבֶט מִיהוּדָה וּמְחֹקֵק מִבֵּין רַגְלָיו עַד כִּי יָבֹא שִׁילֹה [שִׁילוֹ] וְלוֹ יִקְּהַת עַמִּים

    A scepter will not turn aside from Judah nor a ruler’s staff from between his feet until what is his comes and peoples will obey him. (Gen. 49:10)

    A Qumran document interprets this verse in the following manner:

    [ — לו]לא יסור שליט משבט יהודה בהיות לישראל ממשל [לוא י]כרת יושב כסא לדויד כי המחקק היא ברית המלכות [ואל]פי ישראל המה הדגלים ⟦ ⟧ עד בוא משיח הצדק צמח דויד כי לו ולזרעו נתנה ברית מלכות עמו עד דורות עולם אשר שמר [ — ]התורה עם אנשי היחד כי [ — ] היא כנסת אנשי

    A ruler will not turn aside from the tribe of Judah [Gen. 49:10]. While Israel has dominion, someone sitting on David’s throne will not be cut off, for the ruler’s staff [Gen. 49:10], that is, the covenant of the kingship, [and the thousan]ds of Israel, they are the banners…until the coming of the rightful anointed one [עד בוא משיח הצדק], the branch of David. For to him and to his seed was given the covenant of kingship with him until everlasting generations that kept…the Torah with the men of the Community. For…it is the assembly of the men of…. (4Q252 V, 1-4)

    In the Qumran text the reference is to a royal Davidic messiah.

    John the Baptist’s question contains vocabulary similar to the LXX translation of Gen. 49:10:

    John’s Question Gen. 49:10 (LXX)
    σὺ εἶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἢ ἕτερον προσδοκῶμεν; οὐκ ἐκλείψει ἄρχων ἐξ Ιουδα καὶ ἡγούμενος ἐκ τῶν μηρῶν αὐτοῦ, ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ τὰ ἀποκείμενα αὐτῷ, καὶ αὐτὸς προσδοκία ἐθνῶν.
    Are you the coming one or might we expect another? A ruler shall not be wanting from Ioudas and a leader from his thighs until the things stored up for him come, and he is the expectation of nations. (NETS)

    Justin Martyr paraphrased the crucial line of Gen. 49:10 as ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ ᾧ ἀπόκειται καὶ αὐτὸς ἔσται προσδοκία ἐθνῶν (“until he comes for whom it is laid up, and he will be the expectation of the Gentiles”; Dial. chpt. 120), which is even closer to John’s question in that it is the coming of the messianic figure himself, not the things rightfully due him, that is predicted.

    Genesis 49:10 is given a messianic interpretation in rabbinic literature as well. Cf. b. Sanh. 98b.

  • [64] See Robinson, “Elijah, John and Jesus: An Essay in Detection,” 30-31.
  • [65] See James Keith Elliott, “The Use of ἕτερος in the New Testament,” Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 60.1-2 (1969): 140-141.
  • [66] Delitzsch made חִכָּה the translation of προσδοκᾶν in Matt. 11:3 and Luke 7:19, 20.
  • [67] Attributing the addition of redundant material to the author of Luke seems especially unlikely in view of Cadbury’s observation that Lukan redaction tends to eliminate repetition. See Cadbury, Style, 85.
  • [68] For a discussion of repetition in Hebrew narrative, including verbatim and near verbatim repetition, see Robert Alter, “The Techniques of Repetition,” in his The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York: Basic Books, 1981), 88-113.
  • [69] The Lukan-Matthean agreement makes it all but certain that the repetition occurred in Anth.
  • [70] Mark’s version of the Entering Yerushalayim pericope omits the repetition. The author of Matthew followed Mark in this instance.
  • [71] Other scholars who suppose that Matthew omitted the description of the arrival of John’s disciples and their repetition of his question include Manson (Sayings, 66), Beare (Earliest, 88 §64), Marshall (290), Davies-Allison (1:240) and Hagner (1:299).
  • [72] On participle + δέ + aorist as the equivalent of vav-consecutive + vav-consecutive, see Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L37-41.
  • [73] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1056-1057.
  • [74] Examples of παραγίνεσθαι πρός as the translation of בָּא אֶל include Exod. 2:18; 18:6, 15; 19:9; Num. 21:7; Josh. 22:15; Judg. 8:15; 13:9; 18:8; 1 Kgdms. 15:13; 19:18; 22:11; 25:36; 30:21; 2 Kgdms. 5:1; 15:6, 13; 19:42; 23:16; 3 Kgdms. 12:12.
  • [75] See Dos Santos, 9.
  • [76] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:88-95.
  • [77] See Robert L. Lindsey, “The Major Importance of the ‘Minor’ Agreements,” under the subheading “An Un-Hebraic Element in Mark’s Version of Jesus’ Baptism.”
  • [78] Authorial asides comparable to Luke 7:21 are found in Gen. 6:4 (in the middle of the reasons for the flood; Gen. 6:1-8); Josh. 4:14 (in the middle of the account of taking twelve commemorative stones from the Jordan; Josh. 4:1-18); Judg. 17:6 (in the middle of the story of Micah; Judg. 17:1-13); Judg. 20:27b-28a (in the middle of describing Israel’s inquiring of the LORD before going to battle with Benjamin; Judg. 20:24-28); 2 Sam. 16:23 (in the middle of the story of Absalom’s advisors; 2 Sam. 16:15-17:14); 2 Kgs. 10:32 (in the middle of describing the reign of Jehu; 2 Kgs. 10:30-36); 2 Kgs. 15:37 (in the middle of describing the reign of Jotham; 2 Kgs. 15:32-38); 2 Chr. 15:5 (in the middle of Azariah’s speech to Asa; 2 Chr. 15:2-7).
  • [79] See Black, 80; John F. Craghan, “A Redactional Study of Lk 7,21 in the Light of Dt 19,15,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 29.3 (1967): 353-367, esp. 358-361.
  • [80] We also used רִפֵּא to reconstruct θεραπεύειν in Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, L103.
  • [81] Additional examples of the substantival use of רַבִּים for “many” in MT are found in Isa. 8:15; 52:14; 53:12; Ps. 3:2, 3; 4:7; 31:14; 40:4.
  • [82] The combination of חֳלִי and מַכָּה in MT occurs only in Deut. 28:59, 61 and Jer. 6:7.
  • [83] In 1 Kgdms. 16:16 πνεῦμα πονηρόν translates רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים רָעָה (“an evil spirit of God”), and in 1 Kgdms. 16:23, referring to the same spirit, πνεῦμα πονηρόν translates רוּחַ־אֱלֹהִים (“spirit of God”). We also find πνεῦμα κυρίου πονηρόν (“an evil spirit of the Lord”; 1 Kgdms. 16:15) as the translation of רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים רָעָה (“an evil spirit of God”) and πνεῦμα θεοῦ πονηρόν (“an evil spirit of God”; 1 Kgdms. 19:9) as the translation of רוּחַ יי רָעָה (“an evil spirit of the LORD”).
  • [84] See Dos Santos, 152.
  • [85] The two exceptional cases where τυφλός translates something other than עִוֵּר occur in Lev. 22:22 and Isa. 61:1. In Lev. 22:22 τυφλός is the translation of עַוֶּרֶת (‘averet, “blind”), which comes from the same Hebrew root as עִוֵּר. In Isa. 61:1 τυφλός is the translation of אָסוּר (’āsūr, “bound”).
  • [86] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:221.
  • [87] Additional examples of נָתַן + infinitive construct are found in Gen. 20:6; Num. 22:13; Josh. 10:19; Judg. 1:34; 3:28; 1 Sam. 18:2.
  • [88] Nevertheless, it should be noted that there is one instance in LXX where καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν (without the name of the speaker) occurs as the translation of וַיַּעַן וַיֹּאמֶר (Isa. 21:9).
  • [89] Additional examples of לְכוּ + imperative (without the intervening conjunction) occur in Gen. 29:7 (לְכוּ רְעוּ; “Go, pasture [the flock]!”); Gen. 42:19 (לְכוּ הָבִיאוּ שֶׁבֶר; “Go, bring grain!”); Gen. 45:17 (לְכוּ בֹאוּ אַרְצָה כְּנָעַן; “Go, enter the land of Canaan!”); Exod. 5:11 (לְכוּ קְחוּ לָכֶם תֶּבֶן; “Go, take for yourselves straw!”); Exod. 8:21 (לְכוּ זִבְחוּ לֵאלֹהֵיכֶם; “Go, sacrifice to your God!”); Exod. 10:8 (לְכוּ עִבְדוּ אֶת יי אֱלֹהֵיכֶם; “Go, serve the LORD your God!”); Josh. 2:1 (לְכוּ רְאוּ אֶת הָאָרֶץ; “Go, see the land!”); Judg. 18:2 (לְכוּ חִקְרוּ אֶת הָאָרֶץ; “Go, explore the land!”); 1 Sam. 15:6 (לְכוּ סֻּרוּ רְדוּ מִתּוֹךְ עֲמָלֵקִי; “Go, turn aside, go down from among the Amalekites!”); 2 Kgs. 1:2 (לְכוּ דִרְשׁוּ בְּבַעַל זְבוּב; “Go, inquire of Baal Zevuv!”), 2 Kgs. 1:6 (לְכוּ שׁוּבוּ אֶל הַמֶּלֶךְ; “Go, return to the king!”); 2 Kgs. 22:13 (לְכוּ דִרְשׁוּ אֶת יי; “Go, inquire of the LORD!”); Isa. 55:1 (לְכוּ שִׁבְרוּ בְּלוֹא כֶסֶף; “Go, buy grain without silver!”); Jer. 12:9 (לְכוּ אִסְפוּ כָּל חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה; “Go, gather all the animals of the field!”); Zech. 6:7 (לְכוּ הִתְהַלְּכוּ בָאָרֶץ; “Go, walk about in the land!”); Ps. 46:9 (לְכוּ חֲזוּ מִפְעֲלוֹת יי; “Go, see the works of the LORD!”); Ps. 66:16 (לְכוּ שִׁמְעוּ; “Go, listen!”); Neh. 8:10 (לְכוּ אִכְלוּ; “Go, eat!”); 1 Chr. 21:2 (לְכוּ סִפְרוּ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל; “Go, count Israel!”).
  • [90] Delitzsch translated πορευθέντες ἀπαγγείλατε as לְכוּ הַגִּידוּ in Matt. 11:4, but in Luke 7:22 he translated the same phrase as לְכוּ וְהַגִּידוּ.
  • [91] Examples of “hear→see” are found, inter alia, in Deut. 4:12; 2 Kgs. 19:16; 20:5; Isa. 6:9; 21:3; 30:30; 37:17; 38:5; 64:3; 66:8, 19; Ps. 45:11; 48:9; Prov. 20:12; Dan. 9:18. Examples of “see→hear” are found, inter alia, in Gen. 24:30; Exod. 3:7; Deut. 4:28; 29:3; Isa. 6:10; 18:3; 32:3; Jer. 4:21; 5:21; 23:18; 42:14; Ezek. 12:2; Job 13:1; Song 2:14.
  • [92] We have reconstructed βλέπειν with רָאָה in Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, L21, L22; Blessedness of the Twelve, L5, L6, L16. Likewise, in Widow’s Son in Nain, L10; Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, L57; Blessedness of the Twelve, L14, L17, we reconstructed ἰδεῖν as רָאָה.
  • [93] See Luz, 2:134.
  • [94] Scholars also note that by adopting the order “hear→see” the author of Matthew achieves a chiastic structure in Jesus’ reply: “what you hear and see” is followed by a list of miracles and the climactic statement “meek persons receive a good report.” See Luz, 2:134; Nolland, Matt., 451.
  • [95] See Marshall, 291; Luz, 2:130.
  • [96] Tabor and Wise write: “It is surprising to encounter the relative pronoun ש in this text, as it is rarely used in Qumranic Hebrew.” See James D. Tabor and Michael O. Wise, “4Q521 ‘On Resurrection’ and the Synoptic Gospel Tradition: A Preliminary Study,” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 10 (1992): 149-162, esp. 155.
  • [97] Given the very clear allusion to Ps. 146:7-8 in 4Q521 2 II, 8, it is noteworthy that Ps. 146:6 describes God as “maker of heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them” (עֹשֶׂה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ אֶת־הַיָּם וְאֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־בָּם), which is similar to “heaven and earth will listen to his anointed and all that is in them will not turn back” (השמים והארץ ישמעו למשיחו וכל אשר בם לוא יסוג‎; 4Q521 2 II, 1-2). See Tabor and Wise, “4Q521 ‘On Resurrection’ and the Synoptic Gospel Tradition,” 151.
  • [98] Tabor and Wise (“4Q521 ‘On Resurrection’ and the Synoptic Gospel Tradition,” 152) cite Ps. 80:19 (וְלֹא נָסוֹג מִמֶּךָּ; “and we will not turn back from you”) as a parallel to 4Q521 2 II, 2, but in Zeph. 1:6 we find a reference to “those who have turned back from the LORD and who did not seek the LORD” (הַנְּסוֹגִים מֵאַחֲרֵי יי וַאֲשֶׁר לֹא בִקְשׁוּ אֶת יי), which matches the references “not turning back from the commandments of the holy ones” (4Q521 2 II, 2) and “seekers of my Lord” (4Q521 2 II, 2).
  • [99] Tabor and Wise (“4Q521 ‘On Resurrection’ and the Synoptic Gospel Tradition,” 152) prefer reading מצות in 4Q521 2 II, 2 as a singular.
  • [100] In addition to Zech. 1:6, cf. “the Lord whom you are seeking” (הָאָדוֹן אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם מְבַקְשִׁים; Mal. 3:1).
  • [101] Compare “empower yourselves…all who expect in their hearts” (התאמצו…כל המיחלים בלבם) to “be strong and empower your hearts, all who expect the LORD” (חִזְקוּ וְיַאֲמֵץ לְבַבְכֶם כָּל־הַמְיַחֲלִים לַיי; Ps. 31:25). See Tabor and Wise, “4Q521 ‘On Resurrection’ and the Synoptic Gospel Tradition,” 152.
  • [102] Cf. Gen. 1:2, where the Spirit of God hovers over the waters.
  • [103] The combination of הֶחְלִיף with כֹּחַ occurs only in Isa. 40:31 (וְקוֹיֵ יי יַחֲלִיפוּ כֹחַ; “and those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength”) and Isa. 41:1 (וּלְאֻמִּים יַחֲלִיפוּ כֹחַ; “and peoples will renew their strength”).
  • [104] Compare “everlasting kingdom” (מלכות עד;‎ 4Q521 2 II, 7) to “the LORD will reign forever” (יִמְלֹךְ יי לְעוֹלָם; Ps. 146:10).
  • [105] Here, an allusion is made to Ps. 146:7-8: “…the LORD frees captives; the LORD gives sight to blind persons; the LORD straightens bowed down persons…” (יי מַתִּיר אֲסוּרִים יי פֹּקֵחַ עִוְרִים יי זֹקֵף כְּפוּפִים).
  • [106] Compare “I will cling to the expectant, and to his covenant faithfulness” (אדבק במיחלים ובחסדו;‎ 4Q521 2 II, 9) to “the LORD is pleased with those who fear him, and with those who expect his covenant faithfulness” (רוֹצֶה יי אֶת יְרֵאָיו אֶת הַמְיַחֲלִים לְחַסְדּוֹ; Ps. 147:11).
  • [107] Kvalbein (91) noted that חלליםpierced (hullelim) is a frequent description of those who were mortally wounded (by sword) in a fight (1 Sam. 17.52; Jer. 14.18),” and further added (100) that “The same two words for dead and pierced (metim, chalalim) [that appear in 4Q521 2 II, 12—DNB and JNT] are used as parallels in Ps. 88:6.” See Hans Kvalbein, “The Wonders of the End-time: Metaphoric Language in 4Q521 and the Interpretation of Matthew 11.5 Par.,” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 18 (1998): 87-110.
  • [108] “To meek ones he will proclaim good news” (ענוים יבשר) is an allusion to Isa. 61:1: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me because the LORD anointed me to proclaim good news to meek ones” (רוּחַ אֲדֹנָי יי עָלָי יַעַן מָשַׁח יי אֹתִי לְבַשֵּׂר עֲנָוִים).
  • [109] Compare 4Q521 2 II, 13 to “he gives bread to the hungry” (נֹתֵן לֶחֶם לָרְעֵבִים; Ps. 146:7).
  • [110] Moreover, no other convincing scriptural basis for the revival of the dead in 4Q521 and Jesus’ reply to John has been found.

    A portion of 4Q521 not quoted above that refers to “the blessing of my Lord in his favor” (ברכת אדני ברצונו;‎ 4Q521 2 III, 3) might also allude to Isa. 61:2, in which the anointed figure is commissioned to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor (לִקְרֹא שְׁנַת רָצוֹן לַיי).

  • [111] But see Nolland, Matt., 451-452: “Jesus’ response is theocentric rather than christological, but it is quite clear that Jesus accepts the role of one who functions as the agent of God in this fresh initiative.”
  • [112] On the likelihood that an intermediary figure is presupposed in 4Q521, see Tabor and Wise, “4Q521 ‘On Resurrection’ and the Synoptic Gospel Tradition,” 157-158; John J. Collins, “The Works of the Messiah,” Dead Sea Discoveries 1.1 (1994): 98-112, esp. 100.
  • [113] See Collins, “The Works of the Messiah,” 101.
  • [114] Certain rabbinic traditions also identify Isaiah’s מְבַשֵּׂר as a messianic figure, although in the rabbinic sources the distinction between priestly and royal messiahs and the messiah of the spirit attested in Second Temple times has been forgotten, and only the royal messiah remains. For instance:

    ר′ ברכיה בש′ ר′ לוי אמר בזכות ולקחתם לכם ביום הראשון הרי אני נגלה לכם ראשון, ופורע לכם מן הראשון, ובונה לכם ראשון ומביא לכם ראשון. אני נגלה לכם ראשון, שנאמר אני י″י ראשון. ופורע לכם מן הראשון, זה עשו הרשע דכתיב ביה ויצא הראשון אדמוני. ובונה לכם ראשון, זה בית המקדש, דכתיב ביה כסא כבוד מרום מראשון. ומביא לכם ראשון, זה מלך המשיח דכתיב ביה ראשון לציון הנה הנם

    Rabbi Berekiah said in the name of Rabbi Levi, “By the merit of [the commandment of the palm branch, which states,] and you shall take for yourselves on the first day [Lev. 23:40], behold, I am revealing myself to you first, and I am punishing you from the first, and I am building for you the first, and I am bringing for you the first. I am revealing myself to you first, as it is said, I, the LORD, am first [Isa. 41:4]. And I am punishing for you from the first, that is, wicked Esau [i.e., Rome—DNB and JNT], as it is written, the first came out red [’admōni] [Gen. 25:25]. And I am building for you the first, that is the Temple, as it is written, a throne of glory on high from the first [is the place of our Temple] [Jer. 17:12]. And I am bringing for you the first, this is the anointed king [i.e., the Messiah], as it is written, the first for Zion, behold them [and for Jerusalem I will give a messenger] [Isa. 41:27].” (Lev. Rab. 30:16 [ed. Marguiles, 2:714]; cf. Pesikta de-Rav Kahana 27:10 [ed. Mandelbaum, 2:416-417])

    הגיע זמנה של מלכות הרשעה שתעקר מן העולם, הגיע זמנה של מלכות השמים שתגלה, והיה י″י למלך על כל הארץ וג′. וקול התור נשמע בארצינו, א″ר יוחנן קול תייר טב נשמע בארצינו, זה מלך המשיח, מה נאוו על ההרים רגלי מבשר

    The time has arrived when the wicked kingdom will be uprooted from the world, the time has come when the Kingdom of Heaven will be revealed, and the LORD will be king over all the earth [Zech. 14:9]. And the voice of the turtle dove will be heard in our land [Song 2:12]. Rabbi Yohanan said, “The voice of the good guide will be heard in our land, this is the anointed king [i.e., the royal Messiah—DNB and JNT], [as it is said,] How beautiful on the hills are the feet of the messenger [Isa. 52:7].” (Pesikta de-Rav Kahana 5:9 [ed. Mandelbaum, 1:97])

  • [115] See Collins, “The Works of the Messiah,” 102-103; John C. Poirier, “Jesus as an Elijianic Figure in Luke 4:16-30,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 71.2 (2009): 349-363, esp. 356.
  • [116] The handwriting of the scroll indicates that 4Q521 was copied in the Hasmonean period. See Collins, “The Works of the Messiah,” 99. If 4Q521 is a copy, then the original date of composition is earlier still.
  • [117] It is not necessary to suppose that Jesus knew 4Q521 itself. See Collins, “The Works of the Messiah,” 107; Kvalbein, “The Wonders of the End-time,” 93; Tomson, If This Be, 131. Prior to the discovery of DSS, Bultmann (126) opined that “it is impossible for any Jewish tradition to provide an origin” for Jesus’ reply to the Baptist’s question. It is fascinating to see how perceptions change in light of new discoveries from the past and new historical circumstances in the present.
  • [118] Puech has argued for an Essene attribution. See Émile Puech, “Resurrection: The Bible and Qumran,” in The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls (2 vols.; ed. James H. Charlesworth; Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, 2006), 247-281, esp. 268.
  • [119] Flusser doubted that 4Q521 was of Essene origin, noting that חָסִיד (ḥāsid, “pious”) is not a typical self-designation in Essene compositions, though this term occurs twice in 4Q521. Flusser also noted that terminology that is distinctive to the Qumran sectarians is lacking in 4Q521. Likewise, the concept of an eschatological resurrection, which appears in 4Q521 7+5 II, 6, is at odds with the Essene belief in the immortality of the soul (Jos., J.W. 2:154; Ant. 18:18). See David Flusser, “A Qumran Fragment and the Second Blessing of the Amidah” (Flusser, JSTP1, 66-69, esp. 66). On the absence of resurrection in Essene compositions, see George E. Nickelsburg, Resurrection, Immortality, and Eternal Life in Intertestamental Judaism and Early Christianity (rev. ed.; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006), 179-209. See also Devorah Demant, “Resurrection, Restoration, and Time-curtailing in Qumran, Early Judaism, and Christianity,” Revue de Qumrân 19.4 (2000): 527-548, esp. 527-529. Collins (“The Works of the Messiah,” 106) also entertained doubts as to whether 4Q521 was a “product of the Dead Sea Sect.”
  • [120] Pace Joseph, who wrote: “Jesus’ answer to John’s query appeals to a Qumranic sequence of ‘proof texts’, which not only implies that John the Baptist would recognize them, but establishes that Jesus himself knew what they were. Q 7.22 thus represents Jesus as fulfilling John the Baptist’s and Qumran/Essene messianic expectations, although not quite in the way they may have anticipated.” Simon J. Joseph, “‘Blessed Is Whoever Is Not Offended by Me’: The Subversive Appropriation of (Royal) Messianic Ideology in Q 3-7,” New Testament Studies 57.3 (2011): 307-324, esp. 323.
  • [121] Cf. Robinson, “Elijah, John and Jesus: An Essay in Detection,” 38.
  • [122] A more distant parallel to Jesus’ reply to John the Baptist than 4Q521 in rabbinic literature also attributes eschatological redemptive works to God:

    ר′ אחא בשם ר′ שמעון בן חלפתא כל מה שהקב″ה עתיד לעשות בעולם הבא כבר הקדים ועשה מקצת על ידיהם של נביאיו הצדיקים בעולם הזה. הקב″ה א′ אני עתיד להחיות את המתים, כבר עשה כן על ידי אליהו ועל ידי אלישע ועל ידי יחזקאל. א′ הקב″ה אני עתיד לעשות את הים יבשה, לא כבר עשה כן על ידי משה, ובני ישראל הלכו ביבשה בתוך הים. א′ הקב″ה אני עתיד לפקוח עיני עיורים, לא כבר עשה כן, ויפקח אלהים את עיני הנער. א′ הקב″ה אני עתיד לפקוד עקרות, לא כבר עשה כן, וי″י פקד את שרה.‏

    Rabbi Aha said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Halafta, “All that the Holy one, blessed be he, intends to do in the world to come he has already proceeded to do on a small scale through his righteous prophets in this world. The Holy One, blessed be he, said, ‘I intend to raise the dead.’ He has already done so through Elijah and Elisha and Ezekiel. The Holy One, blessed be he, said, ‘I intend to make the sea dry.’ Has he not already done so through Moses, [as it is said,] And the children of Israel walked on dry land in the midst of the sea [Exod. 14:29]? The Holy One, blessed be he, said, ‘I intend to open the eyes of blind people.’ Has he not already done so, [as it is said,] And God opened the eyes of the servant [2 Kgs. 6:17]? The Holy One, blessed be he, said, ‘I intend to visit barren women [in order to make them fecund].’ Has he not already done so, [as it is said,] And the LORD visited Sarah [Gen. 21:1]?” (Pesikta de-Rav Kahana 9:4 [ed. Mandelbaum, 1:152; cf. Lev. Rab. 27:4 [ed. Marguiles, 2:630])

    (The text above mainly follows Mandelbaum’s edition, but we have accepted a few readings from Buber’s edition [76a] and from the parallel in Lev. Rab. 27:4.) We have characterized the above rabbinic tradition as a more distant parallel to Jesus’ reply to John than 4Q521, not only because it is further removed chronologically, but also because the rabbinic tradition lacks the crucial Isaiah 61 basis. Moreover, unlike Jesus’ reply to John and 4Q521, this rabbinic source completely lacks an intermediary figure through whom God will accomplish the redemptive works it describes.

    Regarding Sarah’s visitation, we find the following tradition, with a list of healings similar to that in Jesus’ reply to John the Baptist:

    כל עקרות שהיו בעולם נפקדו עמה, היא שכתב וה′ פקד את שרה, ולא זו בלבד אלא כשילדה שרה כל סומא שהיה בעולם נפתח, וכל פסח [נעשה] שוה, וכל אלם נפקח, וכל שוטה נתרפא

    All the barren women in the world were visited with her, this is what was written, and the LORD visited את Sarah [Gen. 21:1]. And not only this, but when Sarah gave birth every blind person who was in the world was given sight, and every lame person was made straight, and every mute person was given speech, and every mentally ill person was healed. (Pesikta Rabbati 42:4 [ed. Friedmann, 177])

    Evidently, the genesis of this midrash is the interpretation of the definite object marker את according to its second meaning, “with,” which allows the midrashist to conclude that God visited others along “with” Sarah.

  • [123] As Vermes (280) observed, Jesus “envisioned his healings and exorcisms, not as evidence of personal greatness, but as indicators of the nearness or presence of the Kingdom.”
  • [124] According to Flusser, “The image of the Messiah in Judaism is usually less important than the idea of redemption…. The Messiah is the person who is to fulfill this redemption.” See David Flusser, Jewish Sources in Early Christianity (trans. John Glucker; Tel Aviv: MOD Books, 1989), 55. Cf., idem, “Messiah: Second Temple Period,” in Encyclopaedia Judaica (2d ed.; 22 vols.; ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik; Detroit: Macmillan, 2007), 14:111-112.
  • [125] On Jesus’ disdain for personality cults, see David Flusser, “Two Anti-Jewish Montages in Matthew” (Flusser, JOC, 552-560, esp. 555-556); idem, “Hillel and Jesus: Two Ways of Self-Awareness,” in Hillel and Jesus: Comparative Studies of Two Major Religious Leaders (ed. James H. Charlesworth and Loren L. Johns; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997), 71-107, esp. 102; idem, “The Synagogue and the Church in the Synoptic Gospels” (JS1, 17-40, esp. 25, 32).
  • [126] On this theme, see Peter J. Tomson, “The Core of Jesus’ Evangel: ΕΥΑΓΓΕΛΙΣΑΣΘΑΙ ΠΤΩΧΟΙΣ (Isa 61),” in The Scriptures in the Gospels (ed. C. M. Tuckett; Leuven: Peeters, 1997), 647-658.
  • [127] Allusions to Isaiah 61 in the Beatitudes include the blessing upon the poor in spirit (Matt. 5:3; cf. “to proclaim good news to the meek/poor”; Isa. 61:1) and the blessing upon those who mourn (Matt. 5:4; cf. “to comfort all who mourn”; Isa. 61:2). On allusions to Isaiah 61 in the Beatitudes, see David Flusser, “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit…” (Flusser, JOC, 102-114).
  • [128] Cf. Davies-Allison, 1:245-246.
  • [129] The sole exception is 1 Kgdms. 14:27, where the ketiv is רָאָה, although the qere is אוֹר (’ōr, “be/become light”).
  • [130] The phrase ἀναβλέπειν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς occurs in Gen. 13:14; 18:2; 22:4, 13; 24:63, 64; 31:12; 37:25; 43:29; Exod. 14:10; Deut. 3:27; Josh. 5:13; Judg. 19:17; Zech. 5:5; Ezek. 8:5 (2xx); cf. Isa. 40:26.
  • [131] Tabor and Wise (“4Q521 ‘On Resurrection’ and the Synoptic Gospel Tradition,” 160) suggest that the LXX translators understood וְלַאֲסוּרִים פְּקַח קוֹחַ to mean “the opening (of the eyes) of those bound (by blindness).”
  • [132] If we kept the Greek word order with פ-ק-ח in the qal stem, this would yield עִוְרִים פֹּקְחִים (“blind people are opening”), leaving us with the question, “What are the blind people opening?”
  • [133] See Nolland, Luke, 1:330.
  • [134] See Davies-Allison, 2:242.
  • [135] See Marshall, 291.
  • [136] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1480.
  • [137] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1124.
  • [138] See Kvalbein, “The Wonders of the End-time,” 87-110. See also N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), 243.
  • [139] Cf. Davies-Allison, 2:245; Luz, 2:132 n. 20. On the other hand, Flusser suggested that a popular belief in a wonder-working messiah did exist, but this popular conception was suppressed by the rabbinic sages. See David Flusser, “The Gospel of John’s Jewish-Christian Source,” under the subheading “The Sources of John’s Gospel.” See also Barry L. Blackburn, “The Miracles of Jesus,” in The Cambridge Companion to Miracles (ed. Graham H. Twelftree; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 113-130, esp. 123.
  • [140] Kvalbein, “The Wonders of the End-time,” 109.
  • [141] For an introduction to ritual purity in Second Temple Judaism, see Joshua N. Tilton, “A Goy’s Guide to Ritual Purity.”
  • [142] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:698.
  • [143] See Dos Santos, 73.
  • [144] For a discussion of the status of “the deaf person, the insane person, and the minor” in rabbinic sources, see Daniel R. Schwartz, “Rabbinic Law between Biblical Logic and Biblical Text: The Pitfalls of Exodus 21:33-34,” Harvard Theological Review 107.3 (2014): 314-349. See also David M. Feldman, “Deafness and Jewish Law and Tradition,” in The Deaf Jew in the Modern World (ed. Jerome D. Schein and Lester J. Waldman; New York: New York Society for the Deaf, 1986), 12-23, for a discussion on developments within Judaism of a more positive understanding of people who are unable to hear.
  • [145] See Dos Santos, 71.
  • [146] Examples of the root ח-י-ה in the nif‘al stem include the following:

    אין דרך המתים להחיות

    It is not the way of the dead to be made alive [לְהֵחָיוֹת]. (y. Sanh. 9:3 [47b])

    ר′ יהודה אומ′ כיון שהגיע החרב על צוארו פרחה ויצאה נפשו של יצחק, וכיון שהשמיע קולו מבין הכרובים ואמ′ לו אל תשלח ידך נפשו חזרה לגופו וקם ועמד יצחק על רגליו וידע יצחק שכך המתים עתידים להחיות

    Rabbi Yehudah says, “As soon as the knife touched his neck, Isaac’s soul fled and went out. But as soon as he [i.e., God—DNB and JNT] made his voice heard from between the cherubim and said to him [i.e., Abraham—DNB and JNT], Do not put forth your hand [Gen. 22:12], his [i.e., Isaac’s—DNB and JNT] soul returned to his body and Isaac arose and stood on his feet and Isaac knew that in this manner the dead are to be made alive [לְהֵחָיוֹת] in the future.” (Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer chpt. 31)

    ר′ שמעון אומ′ מכח צדקות המתים עתידים להחיות

    Rabbi Shimon says, “By virtue of almsgiving the dead are to be made alive [לְהֵחָיוֹת] in the future.” (Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer chpt. 33)

  • [147] See George Howard, The Gospel of Matthew according to a Primitive Hebrew Text (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1987), 48.
  • [148] We have reconstructed ἐγείρειν with קָם in Widow’s Son in Nain, L15, L22; Friend in Need, L19.
  • [149] Other places in LXX where the passive or middle form of ἐγείρειν is used to translate qal forms of ק-ו-מ include: 1 Chr. 10:12; 22:19; 2 Chr. 21:9; 22:10; Ps. 126[127]:2; Prov. 6:9. Also, the active form of ἐγείρειν is used to translate hiph‘il forms of ק-ו-מ in LXX: Gen. 49:9; Judg. 2:16, 18; 3:9, 15; 7:19; 2 Kgdms. 12:17; 3 Kgdms. 11:14; Ps. 112[113]:7; Eccl. 4:10 (2xx); Isa. 14:9; 26:19; Jer. 28[51]:12.
  • [150] See Jeremias, Theology, 104.
  • [151] So Davies-Allison, 2:243; but see Nolland, Luke, 1:320.
  • [152] In Greek, “meek persons receive a good report” might have been expressed as ταπεινοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται (tapeinoi evangelizontai) or πραεῖς εὐαγγελίζονται (praeis evangelizontai).
  • [153] See R. Steven Notley and Jeffrey P. García, “Hebrew-Only Exegesis: A Philological Approach to Jesus’ Use of the Hebrew Bible” (JS2, 349-374, esp. 355).
  • [154] An argument that Jesus taught in Greek is advanced by Turner, who bizarrely appeals to the tradition of Byzantine iconography to make his case. See Nigel Turner, “The Language of Jesus and His Disciples,” in his Grammatical Insights into the New Testament (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1965), 174-188.
  • [155] For another example where Jesus may have followed a non-Masoretic version of a scriptural text, see Joseph Frankovic, “Remember Shiloh!” under the subheading “The Connection.” On the history and development of MT, see Martin Jan Mulder, “The Transmission of the Biblical Text,” in Mikra: Text, Translation, Reading and Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity (ed. Martin Jan Mulder; Assen: Van Gorcum; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988), 87-135.
  • [156] In the table below departures in Luke 4:18-19 from the LXX version of Isa. 61:1 are marked in red:

    Isa. 61:1-2 (LXX) Luke 4:18-19
    πνεῦμα κυρίου ἐπ᾿ ἐμέ πνεῦμα κυρίου ἐπ᾿ ἐμὲ
    οὗ εἵνεκεν ἔχρισέν με οὗ εἵνεκεν ἔχρισέν με
    εὐαγγελίσασθαι πτωχοῖς εὐαγγελίσασθαι πτωχοῖς
    ἀπέσταλκέν με ἀπέσταλκέν με
    ἰάσασθαι τοὺς συντετριμμένους τῇ καρδίᾳ [omission]
    κηρύξαι αἰχμαλώτοις ἄφεσιν κηρύξαι αἰχμαλώτοις ἄφεσιν
    καὶ τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν καὶ τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν
      ἀποστεῖλαι τεθραυσμένους ἐν ἀφέσει
    καλέσαι ἐνιαυτὸν κυρίου δεκτὸν…. κηρύξαι ἐνιαυτὸν κυρίου δεκτόν

    While the verbal agreements between Luke 4:18-19 and the LXX version of Isa. 61:1-2 suggest that the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua was willing to utilize LXX where it conformed to his Hebrew text, the stark departures from LXX in Luke 4:18-19 indicate that where LXX did not agree with the biblical quotation as it appeared in the Hebrew Life of Yeshua, the Greek translator adhered to the wording of his Hebrew source.

  • [157] See Notley and García, “Hebrew-Only Exegesis: A Philological Approach to Jesus’ Use of the Hebrew Bible” (JS2, 355-356). See also R. Steven Notley, “Jesus’ Jewish Hermeneutical Method in the Nazareth Synagogue,” in Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality (2 vols.; ed. Craig A. Evans and H. Daniel Zacharias; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2009), 46-59, esp. 52-53.
  • [158] See Tomson, “The Core of Jesus’ Evangel,” 650.
  • [159] See Tomson, “The Core of Jesus’ Evangel,” 648.
  • [160] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:568.
  • [161] See Dos Santos, 31.
  • [162] Examples of ב-שׂ-ר in the pu‘al stem include:

    אמר רבי שמואל בר נחמני אם כוונת את לבך בתפילה תהא מבושר שנשמעה תפילתך…אמר ריב″ל אם עשו שפתותיו של אדם תנובה יהא מבושר שנשמע תפילתו

    Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahmani said, “If you directed your heart in prayer, be informed [מְבוּשָּׂר] [of the good news] that your prayer has been heard.” …Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said, “If a man’s lips were fluent, let him be informed [מְבוּשָּׂר] [of the good news] that his prayer was heard.” (y. Ber. 5:5 [41a])

    יצתה בת קול ואמרה להן כל מי שלא נתעצל בהספדו של רבי יהא מבושר לחיי העולם הבא

    A bat kol went out and said to them, “Everyone who did not excuse himself from the funeral of Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi], let him be informed [מְבוּשָּׂר] [of the good news] that he is to have life in the world to come.” (y. Kil. 9:3 [42a]; cf. y. Ket. 12:3 [65a])

  • [163] See O. Schiling, “בשׂר bśr; בְּשׂוֹרָה beśôrāh,” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (15 vols.; ed. G. Johannes Botterweck et al.; trans. John T. Willis et al.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974-2006), 2:313-316.
  • [164] See Gerhard Friedrich, “εὐαγγελίζομαι, κ.τ.λ.,” TDNT, 2:707-737, esp. 724-725; Tomson, “The Core of Jesus’ Evangel,” 648; Craig A. Evans, “Mark’s Incipit and the Priene Calendar Inscription: From Jewish Gospel to Greco-Roman Gospel,” Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 1 (2000): 67-81, esp. 70.
  • [165] Text according Wilhelm Dittenberger, ed., Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae (2 vols; Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1903-1905), 2:55. Translation according to Adolf Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East: The New Testament Illustrated by Recently Discovered Texts of the Graeco-Roman World (2d ed.; trans. Lionel R. M. Strachan; London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1911), 371.
  • [166] Text and translation according to W. H. Buckler and David M. Robinson, “Greek Inscriptions from Sardes V: Decrees of League of the Greeks in Asia and of Sardians Honoring Menogenes,” American Journal of Archaeology 18.3 (1914): 321-362, esp. 323, 330.
  • [167] Cf. Jos., Ant. 18:124.
  • [168] In a papyrus from the third century (ca. 236) C.E. we read this correspondence between two imperial officials regarding the appointment of the emperor’s son to the throne:

    ἐπεὶ γν[ώ]στ[ης ἐγενόμην τοῦ] εὐανγελ[ίο]υ περὶ τοῦ ἀνηγορεῦσθαι Καίσαρα τὸν τοῦ θεοίλεστάτου κυρίου ἡμῶν Αὐτοκράτορος Καίσαρος Γαΐου Ἰουλίου Οὐήρου Μαξιμίνου…χρή, τιμιώτατε, τὰς θεὰς κωμάζεσθαι.

    For as much as I have become aware of the tidings of joy [εὐανγελίου] concerning the proclaiming as Emperor of Gaius Verus Maximus, the son of our Lord, most dear to the gods, the Emperor Caesar…it is necessary, O most honourable, that the goddesses be celebrated in festal procession.

    Text and translation according to Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, 371-372.

    Here, too, we find the “gospel” of Caesar celebrated through religious expressions.

  • [169] See Notley, “Jesus’ Jewish Hermeneutical Method in the Nazareth Synagogue,” 56ff.
  • [170] See Notley and García, “Hebrew-Only Exegesis: A Philological Approach to Jesus’ Use of the Hebrew Bible,” 356.
  • [171] See Nolland, Luke, 1:331.
  • [172] On Lulianus and Pappus, the two martyrs of Lod, see Zev Vilnay, Legends of Judah and Samaria (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1975), 159.
  • [173] 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.
  • [174] On the mixing of metaphors of sin forgiveness and debt cancellation, see Lord’s Prayer, Comment to L19.
  • [175] Cf. Flusser, Jesus, 53, where he wrote: “The Hebrew verb [viz., יִכָּשֵׁל—DNB and JNT] which in those days was expanded to mean, ‘to be led into sin, to go astray from the right understanding of the will of God,’ was rendered into the Greek of the Gospel literally ‘to stumble.’”
  • [176] See Flusser, Jesus, 49 n. 22.
  • [177]
    Yohanan the Immerser’s Question
    Luke’s Version Anthology’s Wording (Reconstructed)
    καὶ ἀπήγγειλαν Ἰωάνῃ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ περὶ πάντων τούτων καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος δύο τινὰς τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ ὁ Ἰωάνης ἔπεμψεν πρὸς τὸν κύριον λέγων σὺ εἶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἢ ἕτερον προσδοκῶμεν παραγενόμενοι δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ ἄνδρες Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτιστὴς ἀπέστειλεν ἡμᾶς πρὸς σὲ λέγων σὺ εἶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἢ ἄλλον προσδοκῶμεν ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐθεράπευσεν πολλοὺς ἀπὸ νόσων καὶ μαστείγων καὶ πνευμάτων πονηρῶν καὶ τυφλοῖς πολλοῖς ἐχαρίσατο βλέπειν καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς πορευθέντες ἀπαγγείλατε Ἰωάνῃ ἃ εἴδετε καὶ ἠκούσατε τυφλοὶ ἀναβλέπουσιν χωλοὶ περιπατοῦσιν λεπροὶ καθαρίζονται καὶ κωφοὶ ἀκούουσιν νεκροὶ ἐγείρονται πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται καὶ μακάριός ἐστιν ὃς ἐὰν μὴ σκανδαλισθῇ ἐν ἐμοί καὶ ἀπήγγειλαν Ἰωάνῃ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ περὶ πάντων τούτων καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος δύο τινὰς τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ ἔπεμψεν πρὸς τὸν κύριον λέγων σὺ εἶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἢ ἕτερον προσδοκῶμεν παραγενόμενοι δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ ἄνδρες εἶπαν Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτιστὴς ἀπέστειλεν ἡμᾶς πρὸς σὲ λέγων σὺ εἶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἢ ἕτερον προσδοκῶμεν ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐθεράπευσεν πολλοὺς ἀπὸ νόσων καὶ μαστείγων καὶ πνευμάτων πονηρῶν καὶ τυφλοῖς πολλοῖς ἔδωκεν βλέπειν καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς πορευθέντες ἀπαγγείλατε Ἰωάνῃ ἃ βλέπετε καὶ ἀκούετε τυφλοὶ ἀναβλέπουσιν καὶ χωλοὶ περιπατοῦσιν λεπροὶ καθαρίζονται καὶ κωφοὶ ἀκούουσιν καὶ νεκροὶ ἐγείρονται καὶ πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται καὶ μακάριός ἐστιν ὃς ἐὰν μὴ σκανδαλισθῇ ἐν ἐμοί
    Total Words: 102 Total Words: 106
    Total Words Identical to Anth.: 96 Total Words Taken Over in Luke: 96
    Percentage Identical to Anth.: 94.12% Percentage of Anth. Represented in Luke: 90.57%

  • [178] Note that Martin classified Luke’s version of Yohanan the Immerser’s Question as a pericope of the “translation Greek” type, whereas he classified Matthew’s version in the indeterminate category between “original Greek composition” and “translation Greek.” See Raymond A. Martin, Syntax Criticism of the Synoptic Gospels (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen, 1987), 91.
  • [179]
    Yohanan the Immerser’s Question
    Matthew’s Version Anthology’s Wording (Reconstructed)
    ὁ δὲ Ἰωάνης ἀκούσας ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ τὰ ἔργα τοῦ Χριστοῦ πέμψας διὰ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ εἶπεν αὐτῷ σὺ εἶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἢ ἕτερον προσδοκῶμεν καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς πορευθέντες ἀπαγγείλατε Ἰωάνῃ ἃ ἀκούετε καὶ βλέπετε τυφλοὶ ἀναβλέπουσιν καὶ χωλοὶ περιπατοῦσιν λεπροὶ καθαρίζονται καὶ κωφοὶ ἀκούουσιν καὶ νεκροὶ ἐγείρονται καὶ πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται καὶ μακάριός ἐστιν ὃς ἂν μὴ σκανδαλισθῇ ἐν ἐμοί καὶ ἀπήγγειλαν Ἰωάνῃ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ περὶ πάντων τούτων καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος δύο τινὰς τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ ἔπεμψεν πρὸς τὸν κύριον λέγων σὺ εἶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἢ ἕτερον προσδοκῶμεν παραγενόμενοι δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ ἄνδρες εἶπαν Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτιστὴς ἀπέστειλεν ἡμᾶς πρὸς σὲ λέγων σὺ εἶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἢ ἕτερον προσδοκῶμεν ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐθεράπευσεν πολλοὺς ἀπὸ νόσων καὶ μαστείγων καὶ πνευμάτων πονηρῶν καὶ τυφλοῖς πολλοῖς ἔδωκεν βλέπειν καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς πορευθέντες ἀπαγγείλατε Ἰωάνῃ ἃ βλέπετε καὶ ἀκούετε τυφλοὶ ἀναβλέπουσιν καὶ χωλοὶ περιπατοῦσιν λεπροὶ καθαρίζονται καὶ κωφοὶ ἀκούουσιν καὶ νεκροὶ ἐγείρονται καὶ πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται καὶ μακάριός ἐστιν ὃς ἐὰν μὴ σκανδαλισθῇ ἐν ἐμοί
    Total Words: 63 Total Words: 106
    Total Words Identical to Anth.: 47 Total Words Taken Over in Matt: 47
    Percentage Identical to Anth.: 74.60% Percentage of Anth. Represented in Matt.: 44.34%

  • [180] See Tuckett, “John the Baptist in Q,” 125.
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    David N. Bivin

    David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew…
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    Joshua N. Tilton

    Joshua N. Tilton

    Joshua N. Tilton studied at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, where he earned a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies (2002). Joshua continued his studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, where he obtained a Master of Divinity degree in 2005. After seminary…
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