Randall Buth may have discovered an idiom in the Greek text of Luke that could help us determine the original language of Jesus’ biography. In Luke 19:33, did the donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday have more that one owner as the Greek text states?
As Jesus approached Jerusalem for the last time, he and his large band of Galilean disciples climbed the steep eastern slopes of the Mount of Olives. Near Bethany (בית עניה), he sent two of his disciples to a nearby village, presumably Bethphage (בית פגי), with instructions to bring him a previously unridden donkey colt, which they would find tethered at the entrance of the village.
His disciples did as they were asked, but as they were untying the donkey, according to Luke 19:33, its “owners” (not “owner”!) said, “Why are you untying the colt?”
A Usage Without Precedent
All English translations of the New Testament, with the exception of The Jerusalem Bible, give “owners” at this point in the text. But why would this young donkey have had more than one owner, a thing that was unusual in ancient Jewish society? Was this a special donkey, so valuable that it had to be syndicated as many racehorses are today, or owned in partnership as a business investment?