Closed Door

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In Closed Door Jesus brought home the message of the Great Banquet parable to his audience.

How to cite this article:
Joshua N. Tilton and David N. Bivin, “Closed Door,” The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction (Jerusalem Perspective, 2024) [https://www.jerusalemperspective.com/28488/].

(Matt. 7:22-23; Luke 13:25-27)

(Huck 42, 165, 227; Aland 74, 211, 289;
Crook 57, 248, 304)[1]

מִשֶּׁיָּקוּם בַּעַל הַבַּיִת וְיִנְעוֹל אֶת הַדֶּלֶת תַּתְחִילוּ לַעֲמוֹד בַּחוּץ וְלִדְפּוֹק עַל הַדֶּלֶת לוֹמַר אֲדוֹנֵנוּ פְּתַח לָנוּ וְיַעֲנֶה וְיֹאמַר לָכֶם לֹא יָדַעְתִּי אֶתְכֶם מִנַּיִין אַתֶּם וְתַתְחִילוּ לוֹמַר אָכַלְנוּ לְפָנֶיךָ וְשָׁתִינוּ וּבִרְחֹבֹתֵינוּ לִמַּדְתָּנוּ וְיֹאמַר לָכֶם לוֹמַר לֹא יָדַעְתִּי מִנַּיִין אַתֶּם סוּרוּ מִמֶּנִּי כָּל פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן

“From the time when the householder rises and locks the door, you will find yourselves standing outside, and you’ll start knocking on the door saying, ‘Our lord! Open up! Let us in!’ But he will answer in reply, ‘I don’t know you. Where are you from?’ And you’ll start explaining, ‘We ate and drank with you! You taught us in our streets!’ But he will say, ‘No. I don’t know where you’re from. Away with all you ne’er-do-wells!’[2]

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Reconstruction

To view the reconstructed text of Closed Door click on the link below:

“Banquet in the Kingdom
of Heaven” complex
Man with Edema

Open Invitation

Great Banquet parable

Closed Door

Coming From All Directions

Waiting Maidens parable

Story Placement

There are two (or perhaps three) versions of Closed Door in the Synoptic Gospels. Matthew’s version (Matt. 7:22-23) appears in the Sermon on the Mount, where it is embedded in the introduction to the Houses on Rock and Sand pericope. Luke’s version (Luke 13:25-27) occurs well outside the Sermon on the Plain in a block of Double Tradition (DT) sayings (Narrow Gate, Closed Door, Coming From All Directions) united by the theme of exclusion. The third possible version of Closed Door (Matt. 25:10b-12) occurs at the end of Matthew’s Waiting Maidens parable (Matt. 25:1-13).[3] Below we will argue that this parallel to Closed Door is not a doublet of the saying but a reiteration in the Waiting Maidens parable of the point Jesus made in the Closed Door saying. For that reason the conclusion of Waiting Maidens echoes the wording of Closed Door without actually being a third version of the saying.

Pre-synoptic block of sayings

Three clues indicate that Matthew’s embedding of Closed Door in the introduction to Houses on Rock and Sand is redactional. First, the absence of Closed Door in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, which is parallel to Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, suggests that the author of Matthew pulled this saying into the sermon from another context.[4] Second, Matthew’s placement of Closed Door interrupts the logical flow of Jesus’ argument, which is better preserved in Luke’s version of Houses on Rock and Sand, where Closed Door is absent.[5] Third, despite the different contexts in which they appear, there is an underlying relationship between the Lukan and Matthean placements of Narrow Gate, Closed Door and Coming From All Directions. Although he spread out these pericopae in chapters seven and eight of his Gospel, the author of Matthew placed these three pericopae in the same order as they appear in Luke and in relatively close proximity to one another.[6] It appears, therefore, that, like the author of Luke, the author of Matthew found these three pericopae grouped together in his source.[7] Unlike the author of Luke, who kept these three pericopae bundled together,[8] the author of Matthew wove them into the concluding section of the Sermon on the Mount and in the pericopae that followed it.[9]

The author of Matthew’s insertions of the Anthology block into chapters 7 and 8 of his Gospel

Despite its being connected to Narrow Gate in the pre-synoptic source(s) behind Matthew and Luke, we are not convinced that this was the original context in which Closed Door appeared. Rather, we suspect that Closed Door may once have been the continuation of Jesus’ teaching following the Great Banquet parable, which itself may have been part of a longer teaching discourse in which Jesus discussed the reversals of fortune that will take place at the eschatological banquet. Many of those who assumed they would have a seat at the eschatological banquet would be surprised to learn that they were excluded, while others whose presence had been deemed unlikely would be honored with a place at the table. The overall message of the discourse appears to be that one’s presence at the eschatological feast is contingent upon one’s response to the divine summons that was being issued through Jesus’ proclamation. That response involved the righting of social inequities by caring for the community’s most vulnerable members (e.g., the poor and the disabled) commensurate with the general amnesty God had extended to Israel that Jesus had been sent to announce.

We have entitled this reconstructed discourse the “Banquet in the Kingdom of Heaven” complex. For an overview of “Banquet in the Kingdom of Heaven” click here.

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

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Conjectured Stages of Transmission

As we discuss in Houses on Rock and Sand, the author of Matthew heavily redacted his version of Closed Door in order to weaponize it against the false prophets against whom he polemicized in the concluding section of the Sermon on the Mount.[10] Despite the heavy redaction, we can be confident that Matthew’s source for Closed Door was the Anthology (Anth.) since, according to Lindsey’s hypothesis, Anth. was the source of all Matthew’s DT pericopae.

The source for Luke’s version of Closed Door is less obvious. The pericope appears not to have been heavily redacted, and certain features in the pericope, such as the use of ἄρχειν + infinitive (L5-8, L16) and ἀποκρίνειν + εἰπεῖν (L12), resemble Hebrew syntax,[11] which might point to Anth. as Luke’s source for Closed Door, since Lindsey described Anth. as the more Hebraic of Luke’s two sources. On the other hand, on the grounds of vocabulary and style we attributed Luke’s version of Narrow Gate to the First Reconstruction (FR), and since the author of Luke tended to take over his source material in blocks, and since we know that Narrow Gate, Closed Door and Coming From All Directions were bundled together in Luke’s source (see the Story Placement discussion above), we think it is likely that Luke’s version of Closed Door stemmed from FR. The reason there are few traces of FR redaction in Luke’s version of Closed Door is that the First Reconstructor had already taken so many measures to conform Narrow Gate to Closed Door that he was able to leave Closed Door more or less as it had appeared in Anth.[12]

The conclusion to the Waiting Maidens parable, in which the foolish maidens beg for the door to be opened in order to be admitted to the wedding feast, is sometimes considered to be yet another version of the Closed Door saying,[13] and we were initially inclined toward this view.[14] Some scholars have argued that the Waiting Maidens parable originally concluded at Matt. 25:10b with the five sensible maidens entering the feast with the groom,[15] or at Matt. 25:10c with the door being shut,[16] but as Luz pointed out, this leaves the story incomplete, the fate of the foolish maidens hanging like a loose thread.[17]

Moreover, Tomson has demonstrated that many of the most important elements of the Waiting Maidens parable can be explained as a midrash on Song of Songs 5:2 and Exod. 11:4-6.[18] This combination of verses is by no means unlikely since the rabbinic sages interpreted Song of Songs as an allegory of Israel’s redemption from Egypt. Exodus 11:4-6 mentions the redeemer coming at midnight and a shout going throughout the land of Egypt, which is similar to the groom coming at midnight and the shout announcing his arrival (Matt. 25:6). Song 5:2 describes the beloved falling asleep, though her heart is awake, hearing her lover come to her door in the night, knock and ask to be let in, which corresponds to ten maidens falling asleep (Matt. 25:5) and the pleading at the door for admittance (Matt. 25:10c-11). The connection between Exod. 11:4 and Song 5:2 is the redeemer/lover coming to Israel/the beloved in the night. The ability of Exod. 11:4 and Song 5:2 to explain the salient elements of the Waiting Maidens parable is too powerful to be dismissed as mere coincidence. And since the conclusion of the parable (Matt. 25:10c-12) cannot be omitted without destroying the connection to Song 5:2, it appears that Matt. 25:10b-12 is integral to the parable, not a later addition. Rather than viewing Matt. 25:10c-12 as a second version of Closed Door, we believe that in the conclusion of Waiting Maidens Jesus echoed the language of Closed Door because the parable was designed to illustrate the point he was making in this and associated sayings.

Versions of Closed Door also occur in 2 Clement and in the writings of Justin Martyr.[19] Although these patristic versions are not identical to either the Lukan or the Matthean versions of Closed Door, they are surely dependent on the Synoptic Gospels.[20]

Crucial Issues

  1. Is the householder in Luke’s version of Closed Door to be identified with Jesus?
  2. In Closed Door did Jesus quote from the Septuagint (LXX)?

Comment

L1 ἀφ’ οὗ ἂν ἐγερθῇ (GR). If we are correct in regarding Closed Door as the continuation of the Great Banquet parable, then there is a surprising shift from describing imaginary people in the world of the parable to directly addressing Jesus’ audience as if they were the ungracious guests who turned down the invitation to the banquet. Although this shift is somewhat unusual, we do not think it is impossible. On the contrary, it is reminiscent of how Nathan the prophet told a parable to King David (2 Sam. 12:1-4) and then declared, “You are the man!” (2 Sam. 12:7). Jesus’ purpose was to jolt his listeners into the realization that they, in their failure to embrace the Kingdom of Heaven, were acting like the guests who turned down the invitation to the great banquet in the parable. His hope would have been to shock them out of their complacency so that they too would take part in God’s redeeming work through the Kingdom of Heaven.

Although the use of the subjunctive mood is not typical of translation Greek, it is not impossible either. We do not believe it is necessary to change the subjunctive to a future tense verb in L1.

מִשֶּׁיָּקוּם (HR). The construction ἀφ̓ οὗ ἂν + subjunctive is quite rare in LXX, occurring only in Ezek. 48:35 and Dan. 12:11. Nevertheless, this Greek construction is similar to -מִשֶּׁ + imperfect verb in Mishnaic Hebrew.[21] We often find -מִשֶּׁ + imperfect constructions in answer to the question “From what time does X take place?” For instance:

מֵאֵמָּתַיִ קוֹרִין אֶת שְׁמַע בַּשְּׁחָרִים מִשֶּׁיַכִּירוּ בֵין תְּכֵלֶת לַלָּבָן

From what time do they recite the morning Shema? From when they can distinguish [מִשֶּׁיַכִּירוּ] between a blue thread and a white thread. (m. Ber. 1:2)

מֵּאֵמָּתַי כָּל אָדָם מותָּרִין בַּלֶּקֶט מִשֶּׁיְּהַלְכוּ הַנָּמֹשׁוֹת וּבַּפֶּרֶט וְבָעוֹלְלוֹת מִשֶּׁיְּהַלְּכוּ הָעֲנִיִּים בַּכֶּרֶם וְיָּבוֹאוּ וּבַזֵּיתִים מִשֶּׁתֵּרֵד רְבֵיעָה שְׁניַּיה

From what time is everyone permitted to glean? From when the poor have departed [מִשֶּׁיְּהַלְכוּ]. And to take fallen grapes and discarded clusters? From when the poor have come [מִשֶּׁיְּהַלְכוּ] to glean and departed. And olives? From when the second rain has fallen [מִשֶּׁתֵּרֵד]. (m. Peah 8:1)

מֵאֵמָתַי נִקְרֵא אַנָּס מִשֶּׁיִּשְׁקַע

From what time is it [i.e., a vineyard—DNB and JNT] called by the name of a usurper? From when it is forgotten [מִשֶּׁיִּשְׁקַע] [who the rightful owner was—DNB and JNT]. (m. Kil. 7:6)

מֵאֵמָּתַי תְּבוּאָה מִתְקַדֶּשֶׁת מִשֶּׁתַּשְׁרִישׁ וַעֲנָבִים מִשֶּׁיַּעֲשׂוּ כְּפוּל הַלָּבָן

From what time is grain [sown near a vine] forfeit? From when it puts out roots [מִשֶּׁתַּשְׁרִישׁ]. And grapes? From when they are [מִשֶּׁיַּעֲשׂוּ] like white beans. (m. Kil. 7:7)

On reconstructing ἐγείρειν (egeirein, “to rise”) with קָם (qām, “rise”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L15.

L2 πολλοὶ ἐροῦσίν μοι (Matt. 7:22). Although we regard all of Matthew’s wording in L2 as redactional, all of it was drawn in some way from the wording of Matthew’s sources. Thus πολλοί (polloi, “many”) was drawn from Anth.’s version of Narrow Gate (L13), according to which “many [πολλοί] are the ones entering through” the wide gate.[22] On the other hand, the use of the future-tense verb ἐροῦσίν (erousin, “they will say”) echoes the double use of the future-tense verb ἐρεῖ (erei, “he will say”; L12, L20) in Anth.’s version of Closed Door.[23] Likewise, the pronoun μοι (moi, “to me”) was taken from the introduction to Houses on Rock and Sand (L1-2), where Jesus asked, τί δέ με καλεῖτε κύριε κύριε (ti de me kaleite kūrie kūrie, “Why do you call me ‘Lord! Lord!’…?”), which the author of Matthew paraphrased as οὐ πᾶς ὁ λέγων μοι κύριε κύριε (ou pas ho legōn moi kūrie kūrie, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’…”).[24] This tendency on the part of the author of Matthew to recycle the wording of his source(s) demonstrates that Matthew’s wording, even in redactional sentences, must be carefully considered when attempting to reconstruct the pre-synoptic versions of the pericopae he included in his Gospel.

ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης (GR). Whereas Luke’s version of Closed Door refers to a householder in the third person, in Matthew’s version the householder’s role is taken over by the risen Christ, who speaks in the first person (“to me”). Since it is inconceivable that the author of Luke would have downgraded the protagonist of the saying from the risen Christ to a mere householder, it is clear that the author of Matthew reworked Closed Door into an apocalyptic preview of the eschatological judgment.[25] Moreover, the householder mentioned in L2 links Closed Door to the Great Banquet parable (L47), in which the man who invites the guests is identified as a householder (Luke 14:21).

בַּעַל הַבַּיִת (HR). The noun οἰκοδεσπότης (oikodespotēs, “master of a house”) does not occur in LXX. The term בַּעַל בַּיִת (ba‘al bayit, “master of a house”) does occur 3xx in the Hebrew Scriptures (Exod. 22:7; Judg. 19:22, 23), which the LXX translators consistently rendered as ὁ κύριος τῆς οἰκίας (ho kūrios tēs oikias, “the lord of the house”). Perhaps the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua preferred to avoid the term κύριος (kūrios, “Lord”) when rendering בַּעַל בַּיִת because of its religious connotations. In any case, בַּעַל בַּיִת is a semantic equivalent of οἰκοδεσπότης that occurs frequently in rabbinic sources, which makes בַּעַל בַּיִת a good candidate for HR.[26]

L3 ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ (Matt. 7:22). The phrase “on that day” was sufficient to conjure the image of the final judgment for the author of Matthew’s readers. Although the apocalyptic judgment scene the author of Matthew described in Matt. 7:22-23 is redactional, it is based on Anth.’s version of Closed Door, which describes future events. For further discussion of Matthew’s redactional wording in L3, see Houses on Rock and Sand, Comment to L9.

L4-15 As we discussed in Houses on Rock and Sand,[27] we believe there are two reasons why the author of Matthew omitted the first scene described in Closed Door. First, the shutting of the door, the knocking, and the begging for admittance did not fit the apocalyptic judgment scene the author of Matthew wished to portray. Second, the author of Matthew knew that these details would recur (more or less) in the Waiting Maidens parable, which provided an excuse for him to omit them here.

Nevertheless, there are clues that the author of Matthew did know a longer version of Closed Door, like Luke’s, that did include these details. First, the vocative κύριε κύριε (kūrie kūrie, “Lord! Lord!”), which the author of Matthew includes in his version of Closed Door, parallels the single vocative κύριε (kūrie, “Lord!”) in Luke’s version of the saying, where it occurs in the section the author of Matthew omitted, not in the section the author of Matthew chose to include. Second, Matthew’s apocalyptic judgment scene is incomplete. It begins already in progress with the condemned appealing their unfavorable verdict. The missing action presupposed in Matthew’s version of Closed Door is included in Luke’s version. It therefore appears that the author of Matthew abbreviated Anth.’s version of Closed Door in addition to extensively rewriting it.

L4 καὶ κλείσῃ τὴν θύραν (GR). That Luke’s wording in L4 is echoed in the Waiting Maidens parable is only natural, since in our view Waiting Maidens was intended to reinforce Jesus’ message in Closed Door (see the Conjectured Stages of Transmission discussion above). Moreover, Matthew’s parallel alerts us to the possibility that either the author of Luke or the First Reconstructor changed the simple verb κλείειν (kleiein, “to close,” “to lock”) to the more sophisticated compound verb ἀποκλείειν (apokleiein, “to close,” “to lock”).[28] Since simple verbs are more typical of the style of the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua, we have adopted κλείσῃ (kleisē, “he might shut”) for GR.

וְיִנְעוֹל אֶת הַדֶּלֶת (HR). On reconstructing κλείειν (kleiein, “to close,” “to lock”) with נָעַל (nā‘al, “lock,” “close”), see Friend in Need, Comment to L11.

On reconstructing θύρα (thūra, “door”) with דֶּלֶת (delet, “door”), see Friend in Need, Comment to L11.

Examples of shutting a door expressed in Mishnaic Hebrew include the following:

לא ימיתנו לא במקל ולא בקנה ולא ינעול דלת בפניו בשביל שימות

He may not kill it [i.e., an animal—DNB and JNT] with a staff or a reed, and he may not shut [יִנְעוֹל][29] a door [דֶּלֶת] in its face so that it will die. (t. Bech. 1:17 [ed. Zuckermandel, 535])

שׂוֹכְרִין אוֹתוֹ וְנִשְׂכָּרִין עִמּוֹ לֹא בִּשְׁבִיל לֵיהָנוֹת עִמּוֹ אֶלָּא כְדֵי שֶׁלֹּא לִנְעוֹל הַדֶּלֶת לְפָנָיו

They may hire him [i.e., a person who has been excommunicated—DNB and JNT], and they may be hired by him, not in order to do him a favor, but so as not to shut [לִנְעוֹל] the door [הַדֶּלֶת] in his face. (Semaḥot 5:14 [ed. Zlotnick, 223])

L5 τότε ἄρξησθε (GR). Both Luke (L16) and Matthew (L20) include the adverb τότε (tote, “then”) somewhere in the Closed Door pericope. Therefore, although this adverb is a characteristically Matthean redactional term,[30] we cannot entirely discount the possibility that it does belong someplace in Closed Door. But just as Matthew’s use of the future-tense verb ἐροῦσίν (erousin, “they will say”) preserves a reminiscence of the future-tense verb ἐρεῖ (erei, “he will say”; L12, L20) in Anth.’s version of Closed Door (see above, Comment to L2), without, however, preserving the verbs’ original positions, so Matthew’s τότε in L20 may echo Anth.’s wording without preserving the location of τότε within Anth.’s version of the pericope.

The difficulty is that we do not think Luke’s version of Closed Door preserves the original position of τότε either. Luke’s current positioning of τότε in L16 marks the transition between protasis (i.e., the “when” part of the saying = all of Luke 13:25) and the apodosis (i.e., the “then” part of the saying = Luke 13:26-27).[31] In other words, as it currently stands, all of Luke 13:25 merely sets the stage for the action described in Luke 13:26-27 (“From whenever the master of the house rises and shuts the door and you begin [to beg for admittance and he refuses on the grounds of not knowing you]…then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank before you…’”). But such a run-on sentence is more typical of Greek than Hebrew syntax. We suspect, therefore, that the τότε in Luke 13:26 was moved down to its location in L16 from an original position here in L5. This relocation of the adverb τότε could have been the work either of the author of Luke or the First Reconstructor before him. The redactor’s purpose in relocating the τότε in L5 to L16 would likely have been to concentrate the pericope’s action and to focus the readers’ attention on the final scene of the saying.

Scholars have noted that ἄρχειν + infinitive (e.g., ἄρξησθε…ἑστάναι καὶ κρούειν [“begin…to stand and to knock”] in Luke 13:25) is “Semitic,”[32] i.e., more typical of Hebrew and/or Aramaic than Greek. Since ἄρχειν + infinitive appears not to be typical of Lukan redaction,[33] this Hebraic feature in Closed Door probably was taken over from Anth. via FR.

תַּתְחִילוּ (HR). Although we have included τότε in GR, we think this adverb was supplied by the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua for the sake of syntactic clarity. Therefore, we have not included an equivalent such as אָז (’āz, “then”) in HR.

On reconstructing ἄρχειν (archein, “to begin”) with הִתְחִיל (hitḥil, “begin”), see Tower Builder and King Going to War, Comment to L8.

L7 ἔξω ἑστάναι (GR). “To stand outside” is a verbal link that connects Closed Door with Coming From All Directions (ὑμᾶς δὲ ἐκβαλλομένους ἔξω [“but you are thrown outside”] in Luke 13:28). Since we believe Coming From All Directions was the continuation of Closed Door in the pre-synoptic discourse we call “Banquet in the Kingdom of Heaven,” this verbal link is important to highlight.

Although the word order of ἔξω ἑστάναι (adverb→infinitive) is not typical of Hebrew, we have not opted to reverse the word order in GR. Such minor departures from his Hebrew vorlage on the part of the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua are not unusual.

לַעֲמוֹד בַּחוּץ (HR). On reconstructing ἑστάναι (hestanai, “to stand”) with עָמַד (‘āmad, “stand”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L14.

On reconstructing ἔξω (exō, “outside”) with חוּץ (ḥūtz, “outside”), see Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, Comment to L18, where we supply examples of עָמַד בַּחוּץ (‘āmad baḥūtz, “stand outside”) in rabbinic sources, and where we note that the LXX translators rendered בַּחוּץ + עָמַד with ἑστάναι + ἔξω in Gen. 24:31; Deut. 24:11; 2 Esd. 10:13.

L8 καὶ κρούειν τὴν θύραν (GR). Since there is no difficulty in reverting Luke’s wording in L8 to Hebrew, we have adopted it without change for GR.

וְלִדְפּוֹק עַל הַדֶּלֶת (HR). Elsewhere we have reconstructed the verb κρούειν (krouein, “to knock”) with הִרְתִּיק (hirtiq, “knock”),[34] but here we have preferred the Biblical Hebrew verb דָּפַק (dāfaq, “knock,” “beat”) because we believe that the Waiting Maidens parable alluded to Song 5:2,[35] where the verb דָּפַק occurs, and that, in anticipation of this allusion, the verb דָּפַק would likely have appeared in Closed Door. The verb דָּפַק continued to be used in Mishnaic Hebrew, as we see in the following example:

וְהַמְמוּנֶה יָבוֹא וְדָפַק עֲלֵיהֶן וְהֵן פָּתְחוּ לוֹ

The officer [of the Temple—DNB and JNT] came and knocked [וְדָפַק] on them [i.e., the gates—DNB and JNT], and they [i.e., the priests within—DNB and JNT] opened to him. (m. Tam. 1:2)

The example cited above supports our use in HR of the preposition עַל (‘al, “upon”), as does the following example from the book of Judges:

וְהִנֵּה אַנְשֵׁי הָעִיר אַנְשֵׁי בְנֵי־בְלִיַּעַל נָסַבּוּ אֶת הַבַּיִת מִתְדַּפְּקִים עַל הַדָּלֶת

And behold! The people of the city, worthless persons, surrounded the house and were knocking on [מִתְדַּפְּקִים עַל] the door…. (Judg. 19:22)

The following example in a late midrashic compilation is of interest because it describes someone knocking at a door who is not recognized by the person inside and therefore has to identify himself, a scenario that is parallel to the one described in Closed Door:

פעם אחת…בא אליהו ז″ל ודפק על פתח הדלת, אמר לו מי אתה, אמר לו אליהו אני, אמר לו מה תרצה, אמר לו באתי להודיעך שרבי עקיבא רבך מת

One time…Elijah of blessed memory came and knocked on the opening of the door [וְדָפַק עַל פֶּתַח הַדֶּלֶת] [of Rabbi Yehoshua’s house—DNB and JNT]. He [i.e., Rabbi Yehoshua—DNB and JNT] said to him, “Who are you?” He said to him, “I am Elijah.” He said to him, “What do you want?” He said to him, “I have come to inform you that Rabbi Akiva, your master, is dead.” (Midrash Aggadah, Emor to Lev. 21:1 [ed. Buber, 2:52])

On reconstructing θύρα (thūra, “door”) with דֶּלֶת (delet, “door”), see above, Comment to L4.

L9 λέγοντες (GR). The participle λέγοντες (legontes, “saying”) is both Hebraic and echoed in the Waiting Maidens parable, two good reasons for adopting Luke’s wording in L9 for GR.

לוֹמַר (HR). On reconstructing λέγειν (legein, “to say”) with אָמַר (’āmar, “say”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L15. We have adopted the Mishnaic form of the infinitive, לוֹמַר (lōmar, “to say”), rather than the Biblical form לֵאמֹר (lē’mor, “to say”) because we prefer to reconstruct direct speech, including parables, in Mishnaic-style Hebrew.

L10 κύριε (GR). We believe Anth.’s version of Closed Door included only a single vocative κύριε (kūrie, “Lord!”), as in Luke, rather than the double vocative found in Matthew’s version of Closed Door and in the Waiting Maidens parable.[36] Double vocatives are more common in Luke than in Matthew’s Gospel, so it appears unlikely that either the author of Luke or the First Reconstructor would have eliminated the double vocative if it had occurred in Anth. The author of Matthew, on the other hand, was incentivized to add a second vocative to his version of Closed Door in order to help this interpolated version fit into its new context inside the introduction to the Houses on Rock and Sand parable, since Luke and Matthew agree that a double κύριε κύριε occurred in the introduction to that parable (L2).[37]

The double vocative in Waiting Maidens is best explained as an example of Matthean cross-pollination. Just as the author of Matthew allowed the motif of “sensible vs. foolish” to seep into his version of Houses on Rock and Sand from Waiting Maidens, so he allowed the double κύριε κύριε from Houses on Rock and Sand to cross over into the Waiting Maidens parable.[38]

אֲדוֹנֵנוּ (HR). On reconstructing κύριος (kūrios, “lord,” “master”) with אָדוֹן (’ādōn, “lord,” “master”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L10.

To אָדוֹן we have attached a pronominal suffix despite the lack of an equivalent in GR. We have noted, however, that it was typical of Greek translators of Hebrew texts to omit equivalents to pronominal suffixes attached to titles of address.

We reconstruct the vocative κύριε (kūrie, “Lord!”) either as אֲדוֹנֵנוּ (adōnēnū, “our Lord”) or אֲדוֹנִי (adōni, “my Lord”) depending on whether the speakers represented others in addition to themselves or spoke as part of a group,[39] or whether the speakers spoke individually on their own behalf.[40] Here we believe the speakers speak with one voice, so we have preferred אֲדוֹנֵנוּ for HR.

L11 ἄνοιξον ἡμῖν (GR). Not only does Luke’s wording in L11 revert easily to Hebrew (see below), it is also echoed in the Waiting Maidens parable. Both of these facts recommend the adoption of ἄνοιξον ἡμῖν (anoixon hēmin, “Open to us!”) for GR.

פְּתַח לָנוּ (HR). On reconstructing ἀνοίγειν (anoigein, “to open”) with פָּתַח (pātaḥ, “open”), see Yeshua’s Immersion, Comment to L27.

There are two examples in LXX of imperative of ἀνοίγειν + dative personal pronoun (Ps. 117:19; Song 5:2). In both cases they occur as the translation of לְ- + פָּתַח + pronominal suffix:

ἀνοίξατέ μοι πύλας δικαιοσύνης

Open to me gates of righteousness…! (Ps. 117:19)

פִּתְחוּ לִי שַׁעֲרֵי צֶדֶק

Open to me gates of righteousness…! (Ps. 118:19)

φωνὴ ἀδελφιδοῦ μου, κρούει ἐπὶ τὴν θύραν ἄνοιξόν μοι, ἀδελφή μου, ἡ πλησίον μου, περιστερά μου, τελεία μου

The voice of my beloved relative, he knocks on the door. “Open to me, my sister, my neighbor, my dove, my perfect one!” (Song 5:2)

קוֹל דּוֹדִי דוֹפֵק פִּתְחִי־לִי אֲחֹתִי רַעְיָתִי יוֹנָתִי תַמָּתִי

The voice of my lover, he knocks. “Open to me, my sister, my beloved, my dove, my blameless one!” (Song 5:2)

The example from Song of Songs is of particular interest because we believe this verse informs both Closed Door and especially Waiting Maidens.

L12 καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ἐρεῖ (GR). The use of ἀποκρίνειν (apokrinein, “to answer”) as an auxiliary to εἰπεῖν/λέγειν is sometimes regarded as a Semitism.[41] Its adoption here is favored by the ease with which it reverts to Hebrew and the echoing of Luke’s wording in the Waiting Maidens parable. In Waiting Maidens, however, the tense is aorist because the parable is narrated as though the events it describes had already taken place, whereas in Closed Door the verb is in the future tense because here Jesus projects the grim fortunes of those whom he addresses.

וְיַעֲנֶה וְיֹאמַר (HR). On reconstructing ἀποκρίνειν (apokrinein, “to answer”) with עָנָה (‘ānāh, “answer”), see Call of Levi, Comment to L56.

On reconstructing εἰπεῖν (ἐρεῖν) (eipein [erein], “to say”) with אָמַר (’āmar, “say”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L12.

L13 ὑμῖν (GR). Matthew’s ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν (amēn legō hūmin, “Amen I say to you”) in the Waiting Maidens parable is probably redactional,[42] and the fact that it lines up with Luke’s ὑμῖν (hūmin, “to you”) in Closed Door is probably just coincidental.[43] But even if we cannot appeal to the Waiting Maidens parable in support of Luke’s ὑμῖν in L13, there is no reason to suppose that it was added by the author of Luke or the First Reconstructor.

L14 οὐκ οἶδα ὑμᾶς (GR). Since Luke’s wording in L14 is echoed in the Waiting Maidens parable and repeated in L21, we can be confident in adopting οὐκ οἶδα ὑμᾶς (ouk oida hūmas, “I have not known you”) for GR.[44]

לֹא יָדַעְתִּי אֶתְכֶם (HR). On reconstructing εἰδεῖν (eidein, “to know”) with יָדַע (yāda‘, “know”), see Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L20. There we note that Hebrew often uses a perfect (≈ past tense) form of יָדַע where English speakers might have expected a participle (≈ present tense). For instance, compare our reconstruction to the following examples:

וְלָקַחְתִּי אֶת לַחְמִי…וְנָתַתִּי לַאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר לֹא יָדַעְתִּי אֵי מִזֶּה הֵמָּה

Should I take my bread…and give it to men that come from I do not know [יָדַעְתִּי; LXX: οἶδα] where? (1 Sam. 25:11)

L15 πόθεν ἐστέ (Luke 13:25). Some scholars regard the phrase πόθεν ἐστέ (pothen este, “Where are you from?”) in Closed Door as a Lukan addition.[45] But while it is true that Matthew’s version of Closed Door lacks an equivalent to Luke’s second πόθεν ἐστέ in L22, and the Waiting Maidens parable does not corroborate Luke’s πόθεν ἐστέ in L15, the evidence from Matthew is not entirely reliable. Matthew’s wording in L22 is almost certainly redactional, whereas the absence of πόθεν ἐστέ in the Waiting Maidens parable could either be explained as Matthean abbreviation or as the result of a desire for conciseness in the original parable. In Closed Door πόθεν ἐστέ has a narrative function that would not have been required in Waiting Maidens. Namely, the petitioners in Closed Door seize on the interrogative πόθεν ἐστέ (“Where are you from?”) as an opportunity to identify themselves to the householder. Waiting Maidens, on the other hand, aimed to emphasize the finality of the refusal.

In favor of Luke’s wording in L15 we note that the interrogative adverb πόθεν (pothen, “whence?” “from where?”) cannot be characterized as especially Lukan, since it occurs fewer times in Luke’s Gospel (4xx)[46] than in the Gospel of Matthew (5xx)[47] and only once more than in Mark’s much shorter Gospel (3xx).[48] Moreover, πόθεν never occurs in Acts, where the author of Luke’s personal writing style comes to the fore. Therefore, since Luke’s wording in L15 does not bear obvious marks of redaction, and since πόθεν ἐστέ reverts easily to Hebrew, we have adopted Luke’s wording in L15 for GR.

מִנַּיִין אַתֶּם (HR). In LXX the adverb πόθεν often occurs as the translation of מֵאַיִן (mē’ayin, “from where?”).[49] We also find that the LXX translators rendered nearly every instance of מֵאַיִן as πόθεν.[50] We even find an example of denying knowledge of a person’s origin expressed with מֵאַיִן:

וַתִּקַּח הָאִשָּׁה אֶת־שְׁנֵי הָאֲנָשִׁים וַתִּצְפְּנוֹ וַתֹּאמֶר כֵּן בָּאוּ אֵלַי הָאֲנָשִׁים וְלֹא יָדַעְתִּי מֵאַיִן הֵמָּה

And the woman [i.e., Rahab—DNB and JNT] took the two men and hid them. And she said, “Indeed, the men came to me, but I did not know from whence [מֵאַיִן] they came.” (Josh. 2:4)

However, in Mishnaic Hebrew מֵאַיִן was usually contracted to מִנַּיִין (minayin).[51] Since we prefer to reconstruct direct speech in Mishnaic-style Hebrew, this is the form we have adopted for HR. An example of מִנַּיִין occurs in the following rabbinic dictum:

דַּע מֵנַיִן בָּאתָה מִּלֵּחָה סְרוּחָה וּלְאַיִן אַתָּה הוֹלֵךְ לְרִימָּה וּלְתוֹלֵיעָה

Know from where [מֵנַיִן] you came: from a putrid drop; and to where you are going: to maggots and worms. (m. Avot 3:1)

L16 καὶ ἄρξεσθε λέγειν (GR). As we discussed above in Comment to L5, we believe the First Reconstructor or the author of Luke may have moved the adverb τότε to L16 from its original position in L5. If so, then the relocated τότε probably displaced an original καί (kai, “and”),[52] which we have restored in GR.

Scholars have noted that the repetition of ἄρχειν + infinitive in L16 (also in L5-8) is stylistically awkward, and would therefore probably not have been introduced by a Greek redactor.[53] Therefore, rather than attributing ἄρχειν + infinitive in L16 to the author of Luke or to the First Reconstructor, we believe this construction appeared in Anth. and have accordingly accepted ἄρξεσθε λέγειν (arxesthe legein, “you will begin to say”) for GR.

וְתַתְחִילוּ לוֹמַר (HR). On reconstructing ἄρχειν (archein, “to begin”) with הִתְחִיל (hitḥil, “begin”), see above, Comment to L5.

On reconstructing λέγειν (legein, “to say”) with אָמַר (’āmar, “say”), and on our preference in HR for the Mishnaic form of the infinitive, לוֹמַר (lōmar, “to say”), see above, Comment to L9.

L17 οὐ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι ἐπροφητεύσαμεν (Matt. 7:22). Matthew’s version of Closed Door polemicizes against false prophets who mislead the community, devour its resources (Matt. 7:15), and teach Gentile believers that observance of the Torah’s commandments is not necessary (Matt. 7:21). This polemic, which deals with problems the Matthean community was facing, is clearly a reworking of an earlier version of Jesus’ saying, since false prophets speaking in Jesus’ name and misleading the community was not a problem for the early believers prior to Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.

The reference to prophesying in Jesus’ name alludes to verses in Jeremiah (Jer. 14:14; 27[34]:15) in which the Lord denounces prophets who have presumed to speak in his name.[54] Having picked up the motif of the unauthorized use of the Lord’s name, the author of Matthew repeated it in the other two proofs the petitioners offer that the Lord knows them.

ἐφάγομεν ἐνώπιόν σου (GR). Although Bovon is emphatic that eating “in front of you” is not equivalent to dining “with you,”[55] Wolter has pointed out examples where “to eat [and drink] ἐνώπιόν τινος [enōpion tinos, ‘in front of someone’—DNB and JNT]” is used “to describe shared meals,”[56] for instance:

καὶ ἐκάλεσεν αὐτὸν Δαυιδ, καὶ ἔφαγεν ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔπιεν, καὶ ἐμέθυσεν αὐτόν

And David invited him [i.e., Uriah the Hittite—DNB and JNT], and he ate before [ἐνώπιον] him and drank, and he made him drunk. (2 Kgdms. 11:13)

וַיִּקְרָא לוֹ דָוִד וַיֹּאכַל לְפָנָיו וַיֵּשְׁתְּ וַיְשַׁכְּרֵהוּ

And David summoned him, and he ate before him [לְפָנָיו] and drank, and he made him drunk. (2 Sam. 11:13)

καὶ ἐκάλεσεν πάντας τοὺς υἱοὺς τοῦ βασιλέως καὶ τοὺς ἄρχοντας τῆς δυνάμεως καὶ Αβιαθαρ τὸν ἱερέα, καὶ ἰδού εἰσιν ἐσθίοντες καὶ πίνοντες ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ καὶ εἶπαν Ζήτω ὁ βασιλεὺς Αδωνιας

And he summoned all the sons of the king and the commanders of the military and Aviathar the priest. And behold! They are eating and drinking before [ἐνώπιον] him. And they said, “Long live King Adoniah!” (3 Kgdms. 1:25)

וַיִּקְרָא לְכָל־בְּנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ וּלְשָׂרֵי הַצָּבָא וּלְאֶבְיָתָר הַכֹּהֵן וְהִנָּם אֹכְלִים וְשֹׁתִים לְפָנָיו וַיֹּאמְרוּ יְחִי הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲדֹנִיָּהוּ

And he [i.e., Adoniah—DNB and JNT] summoned all the sons of the king and the commanders of the military and Aviathar the priest. And behold them eating and drinking before him [לְפָנָיו]. And they said, “Long live King Adoniah!” (1 Kgs. 1:25)

אָכַלְנוּ לְפָנֶיךָ (HR). On reconstructing ἐσθίειν (esthiein, “to eat”) with אָכַל (’āchal, “eat”), see Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry, Comment to L5. The form אָכַלְנוּ (’āchalnū, “we ate”) happens not to occur in MT, but it is attested in Mishnaic Hebrew, for instance:

אָמַ′ ר′ פַּפְּיָס אֲנִי מֵעִיד שֶׁהָיְתָה לָּנוּ פָרָה זִבְחֵי שְׁלָמִים וַאֲכַלְנוּהָא בַפֶּסַח וְאָכַלְנוּ וַולְדָהּ שְׁלָמִים בֶּחָג

Rabbi Papyas said, “I testify that we had a heifer for peace offerings and we ate it [וַאֲכַלְנוּהָא] at Passover, and we ate [וְאָכַלְנוּ] its calf as peace offerings at the Feast [i.e., of Shavuot—DNB and JNT].” (m. Edu. 7:6)

אמר ר′ לעזר בי ר′ צדוק פעמים הרבה אכלנו בבית רבן גמליאל

Rabbi Lazar said in the name of Rabbi Zaddok, “Many times we ate [אָכַלְנוּ] in the house of Rabban Gamliel….” (t. Betz. 2:13 [Vienna MS]; cf. t. Betz. 2:14)

On reconstructing ἐνώπιον (enōpion, “before,” “in front of”) with לִפְנֵי (lifnē, “before,” “in front of”), see Lost Sheep and Lost Coin, Comment to L58.

Comment to GR above provides examples of ἐσθίειν ἐνώπιον (esthiein enōpion, “to eat in front of”) in LXX occurring as the translation of אָכַל לִפְנֵי (’āchal lifnē, “eat in front of”).

L18 καὶ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι δαιμόνια ἐξεβάλομεν (Matt. 7:22). As we noted in Houses on Rock and Sand, Comment to L13-14, the protest “Did we not cast out demons in your name?” in Matthew’s version of Closed Door probably explains why the author of Matthew omitted the incident reported in Mark 9:38-40 (cf. Luke 9:49-50) of a non-disciple whom Jesus nevertheless permitted to continue driving out demons in his name.[57] Jesus’ relaxed attitude in that narrative conflicts with the stern portrayal of the risen Christ in Matthew’s apocalyptic judgment scene.

καὶ ἐπίομεν (GR). We initially considered adding the phrase ἐνώπιόν σου (“in front of you”) to GR following καὶ ἐπίομεν (kai epiomen, “and we drank”), supposing that either the First Reconstructor or the author of Luke omitted these words on account of their redundancy. However, 2 Sam. 11:13, which we cited above in Comment to L17, proves that the repetition of ἐνώπιόν σου/לְפָנֶיךָ is not necessary from a Hebrew point of view:

וַיִּקְרָא לוֹ דָוִד וַיֹּאכַל לְפָנָיו וַיֵּשְׁתְּ וַיְשַׁכְּרֵהוּ

And David summoned him, and he ate before him and drank, and he made him drunk. (2 Sam. 11:13)

Although it would have been more usual to have placed a single “in front of you” after “we drank,”[58] the placement of “in front of you” after “we ate” is acceptable in Hebrew. Therefore, we have not seen fit to either relocate to L18 or duplicate ἐνώπιόν σου in GR.

וְשָׁתִינוּ (HR). On reconstructing πινεῖν (pinein, “to drink”) with שָׁתָה (shātāh, “drink”), see Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry, Comment to L6.

The form שָׁתִינוּ (shātinū, “we drank”) does not occur in MT, but it does occur in the following rabbinic midrash:

אֵין לִי רְשׁוּת לִיכָּנֵס עַכְשָׁיו, אֵין לְפָנָיו לֹא אֲכִילָה וּשְׁתִיָּה אֶלָּא בִּשְׁבִילֵנוּ עַל שֶׁאָכַלְנוּ וְשָׁתִינוּ

I [i.e., Moses—DNB and JNT] have no authority to enter [i.e., the Tent of Meeting—DNB and JNT] now, for there is no eating or drinking before him [i.e., God—DNB and JNT], but as for us, because we ate and we drank [וְשָׁתִינוּ] [I may not enter—DNB and JNT]. (Num. Rab. 18:7 [ed. Merkin, 10:196])

L19 καὶ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι δυνάμεις πολλὰς ἐποιήσαμεν (Matt. 7:22). Although we consider Matthew’s wording in L19 to be redactional (see Houses on Rock and Sand, Comment to L15-16), it is noteworthy that, despite his extensive editorial activity, the author of Matthew preserved the tripartite structure of the petitioners’ response.[59] To do so he included “and we did many powerful deeds in your name” as the petitioners’ third proof. This third proof is surprisingly generic after the references to such specific activities as prophesy and exorcism, but it appears the author of Matthew had run out of examples of the types of behavior that characterized the false believers he sought to criticize.

καὶ ἐν ταῖς πλατείαις ἡμῶν ἐδίδαξας (GR). The third proof the petitioners offer refers not to something they did, as in the first two examples (eat and drink), but to something the householder himself did: he taught in their streets. This shift is somewhat surprising, but it is rhetorically effective. Even if the householder could forget that the petitioners had dined with him, how could he forget what he had done with them?[60]

וּבִרְחֹבֹתֵינוּ לִמָּדְתָּנוּ (HR). In LXX the noun πλατεῖα (plateia, “street”) usually occurs as the translation of רְחוֹב (reḥōv, “street”),[61] and the LXX translators rendered most instances of רְחוֹב as πλατεῖα.[62] Rabbinic sources speak of sages teaching in public places including marketplaces, town squares and streets.[63]

On reconstructing διδάσκειν (didaskein, “to teach”) with לִמֵּד (limēd, “teach”), see Lord’s Prayer, Comment to L5. For HR we have added the first-person plural pronominal suffix to the verb because clearly the point is that the householder not only taught near where the petitioners lived but that he taught the petitioners themselves and ought, therefore, to have been able to recognize them. We have not found it necessary to add the accusative pronoun ἡμᾶς (hēmas, “us”) in GR because it was not unusual for Greek translators of Hebrew texts to omit equivalents to Hebrew pronominal suffixes. Moreover, καὶ ἐν ταῖς πλατείαις ἡμῶν ἐδίδαξας ἡμᾶς (“and in our streets you taught us”) may have sounded too clunky even for the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua.

Plenty of instances of לִמָּדְתָּנוּ (limādetānū, “you taught us”) occur in rabbinic sources. For our purposes a single example will suffice:

שאלו תלמידיו את רבן יוחנן בן זכאי באלו כלים פרה נעשית אמר להם בבגדי זהב אמרו לו והלא למדתנו רבינו בבגדי לבן

Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai’s disciples asked him, “In what vestments is the red heifer prepared?” He said to them, “In robes of gold.” They said to him, “But have you not taught us [לִמָּדְתָּנוּ], our master, [it was prepared] in robes of white!” (Sifre Num. §123 [ed. Horovitz, 151]; cf. t. Par. 4:7; t. Ohol. 16:8)[64]

Some scholars have opined that the householder who taught in the streets must be none other than Jesus,[65] but we do not believe this identification is justified. In the Great Banquet parable the householder who invites the guests is analogous to God, and if Closed Door really is the continuation of that parable, then the analogous relationship between the householder and God (not Jesus) should remain unchanged. Teaching in public may not have been a typical role for most householders, but for a householder who represents God a teaching role does not seem so unnatural. After all, it was God who, through the giving of the Torah, gave instruction to all Israel.

A doorway in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Photographed by Joshua N. Tilton in 2006.

L20 καὶ τότε ὁμολογήσω αὐτοῖς ὅτι (Matt. 7:23). As we discussed in Houses on Rock and Sand, Comment to L17, the author of Matthew probably used the verb ὁμολογεῖν (homologein, “to confess”) in order to link the apocalyptic judgment scene he describes in his version of Closed Door with his version of Acknowledgement of the Son of Man, where Matthew and Luke agree to use ὁμολογεῖν in a saying that describes what will happen at the final judgment (Matt. 10:32; Luke 12:8).[66]

καὶ ἐρεῖ ὑμῖν λέγων (GR). Luke’s wording in L20, “and he will say saying to you,” is awkwardly redundant, and for that very reason it is unlikely to be the product of Lukan or FR redaction. More likely, Luke’s awkward wording reflects an underlying Hebrew source. We think it is probable, however, that either the author of Luke or the First Reconstructor moved the pronoun ὑμῖν (hūmin, “to you”) to the end of the phrase from its more Hebraic location between the verb and the participle. With this slight adjustment we have accepted Luke’s wording in L20 for GR.

וְיֹאמַר לָכֶם לוֹמַר (HR). In the Hebrew Scriptures the combination of לֵאמֹר + אָמַר is not as uncommon as one might suppose. In Genesis alone we find the following examples:

וְרִבְקָה אָמְרָה אֶל־יַעֲקֹב בְּנָהּ לֵאמֹר הִנֵּה שָׁמַעְתִּי אֶת־אָבִיךָ מְדַבֵּר אֶל־עֵשָׂו אָחִיךָ לֵאמֹר

And Rebekah said [אָמְרָה] to Jacob her son saying [לֵאמֹר], “Behold! I heard your father speaking to Esau, your brother, saying….” (Gen. 27:6)

וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבִיכֶם אֶמֶשׁ אָמַר אֵלַי לֵאמֹר הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ מִדַּבֵּר עִם יַעֲקֹב מִטּוֹב עַד־רָע

The God of your father said [אָמַר] to me last night saying [לֵאמֹר], “Take care of yourself not to speak with Jacob either good or bad.” (Gen. 31:29)

וַיֹּאמֶר שְׁכֶם אֶל־חֲמוֹר אָבִיו לֵאמֹר קַח־לִי אֶת־הַיַּלְדָּה הַזֹּאת לְאִשָּׁה

And Shechem said [וַיֹּאמֶר] to Hamor his father saying [לֵאמֹר], “Get me this maiden for a wife.” (Gen. 34:4)

וַתִּקְרָא לְאַנְשֵׁי בֵיתָהּ וַתֹּאמֶר לָהֶם לֵאמֹר רְאוּ הֵבִיא לָנוּ אִישׁ עִבְרִי לְצַחֶק בָּנוּ

And she [i.e., Potiphar’s wife—DNB and JNT] summoned the people of her household and said [וַתֹּאמֶר] to them saying [לֵאמֹר], “Look! He [i.e., Potiphar—DNB and JNT] has brought us a Hebrew man to laugh at us!” (Gen. 39:14)

וַיֹּאמֶר רְאוּבֵן אֶל־אָבִיו לֵאמֹר אֶת־שְׁנֵי בָנַי תָּמִית אִם־לֹא אֲבִיאֶנּוּ אֵלֶיךָ

And Reuben said to his father saying, “My two sons you may kill if I do not bring him [i.e., Benjamin—DNB and JNT] to you.” (Gen. 42:37)

וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו יְהוּדָה לֵאמֹר הָעֵד הֵעִד בָּנוּ הָאִישׁ לֵאמֹר לֹא־תִרְאוּ פָנַי בִּלְתִּי אֲחִיכֶם אִתְּכֶם

And Judah said [וַיֹּאמֶר] to him saying [לֵאמֹר], “The man strictly warned us saying, ‘You will not see my face unless your brother is with you.’” (Gen. 43:3)

וַיֹּאמֶר פַּרְעֹה אֶל יוֹסֵף לֵאמֹר אָבִיךָ וְאַחֶיךָ בָּאוּ אֵלֶיךָ

And Pharaoh said [וַיֹּאמֶר] to Joseph saying [לֵאמֹר], “Your father and your brothers have come to you.” (Gen. 47:5)

Given all these examples, we have no reluctance in reconstructing καὶ ἐρεῖ λέγων ὑμῖν (kai erei legōn hūmin, “and he will say to you saying”) as וְיֹאמַר לָכֶם לוֹמַר (veyo’mar lāchem lōmar, “and he will say to you saying”).

L21 οὐδέποτε ἔγνων ὑμᾶς (Matt. 7:23). Some scholars, basing themselves on Strack-Billerbeck (1:469), claim that Matthew’s wording in L21 reflects the rabbinic ban formula איני מכירך מעולם (“I never knew you”).[67] The only source Strack and Billerbeck cite in evidence for this supposed ban formula is the following passage from the Talmud:

ר″ש בר רבי ובר קפרא הוו יתבי וקא גרסי קשיא להו שמעתא א″ל ר″ש לבר קפרא דבר זה צריך רבי א″ל בר קפרא לר″ש ומה רבי אומר בדבר זה אזל א″ל לאבוה איקפד אתא בר קפרא לאיתחזויי ליה א″ל בר קפרא איני מכירך מעולם ידע דנקט מילתא בדעתיה נהג נזיפותא בנפשיה תלתין יומין

Rabbi Shimon, son of Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi], and Bar Kappara were once sitting rehearsing the lesson together when a difficulty arose about a certain passage. Rabbi Shimon said to Bar Kappara, “This matter needs Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi to explain it].” Bar Kappara said to him, “And what can Rabbi say about this matter?” He [i.e., Rabbi Shimon] went and repeated it to his father, who was angered. When Bar Kappara next presented himself before Rabbi, he said, “Bar Kappara, I never knew you [איני מכירך מעולם]!” He [i.e., Bar Kappara] realized that he [i.e., Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nasi] had taken the matter to heart and submitted himself to the [disability of a] ‘reproof’ for thirty days. (b. Moed Kat. 16a)[68]

The alleged ban formula איני מכירך מעולם does not appear anywhere else in rabbinic literature, and even in this story it is clear that איני מכירך מעולם is not a formal pronouncement of a ban but a casual expression of the Nasi’s displeasure from which Bar Kappara infers that he ought to put himself under the restrictions of one who has been censured in order to appease his social superior.[69] Moreover, it is unpardonably anachronistic to suppose that a rabbinic ban ever existed in the time of Jesus.

While the linguistic parallel to Matthew’s wording is not without interest, we must not overlook the fact that the adverb οὐδέποτε (oudepote, “never”), which appears in L21, occurs with a higher frequency in Matthew (5xx) than in the Gospels of Mark (2xx) or Luke (2xx), and is likely to be a sign of Matthean redaction.[70]

οὐκ οἶδα (GR). At L21 the text of Luke 13:27 is uncertain. Important manuscripts (e.g., Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus) include the pronoun ὑμᾶς (hūmas, “you”), as in L14, but other equally important witnesses including Codex Vaticanus and 𝔓75 omit ὑμᾶς. The omission of ὑμᾶς is the more unexpected reading,[71] since it is easy to understand why scribes might insert ὑμᾶς in order to perfect the parallelism with Luke’s wording in L14, but it is difficult to understand why scribes would wish to omit ὑμᾶς in L21.[72] It is likely, therefore, that the original text of Luke did not include ὑμᾶς in L21.

With the omission of ὑμᾶς the householder’s words in L22, πόθεν ἐστέ (pothen este, “from where you are”) cannot be construed as a question as they had been in L15. In L15 the question “Where are you from?” afforded the people at the door the opportunity to identify themselves. Here in L21-22 the householder’s words are a definite denial: He does not know where these bothersome people come from.

לֹא יָדַעְתִּי (HR). On reconstructing εἰδεῖν (eidein, “to know”) with יָדַע (yāda‘, “know”), see above, Comment to L14.

L22 πόθεν ἐστέ (GR). The author of Matthew’s redactional activity in L21 explains his omission of πόθεν ἐστέ in L22. The phrase πόθεν ἐστέ in Luke 13:27 is repeated from 13:25, but with a subtle difference of meaning. In L15 πόθεν ἐστέ had been an independent interrogative sentence; here in L22 it is the final clause of an emphatic denial (see previous Comment).

מִנַּיִין אַתֶּם (HR). On reconstructing πόθεν (pothen, “from where?”) with מִנַּיִין (minayin, “from where?”), see above, Comment to L15.

L23-24 The final words of Closed Door allude to Psalm 6, in which the Psalmist declares:

סוּרוּ מִמֶּנִּי כָּל־פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן

Turn aside from me, all workers of iniquity! (Psalm 6:9)

ἀπόστητε ἀπ̓ ἐμοῦ, πάντες οἱ ἐργαζόμενοι τὴν ἀνομίαν

Stand back from me, all the workers of lawlessness! (Psalm 6:9)

Neither the Lukan nor the Matthean version of Closed Door reproduces LXX exactly, but on the whole Matthew’s wording is closer to LXX than Luke’s.[73] There has been a tendency among scholars to suppose either that the pre-synoptic source behind Luke and Matthew was as far away as possible from LXX,[74] or that the pre-synoptic quotation matched LXX exactly.[75] Both explanations presume that both evangelists modified the wording of their source.[76] We, on the other hand, believe the quotation of Ps. 6:9 in Luke’s version of Closed Door represents a translation mostly independent of LXX.

To substantiate our view that the quotation of Ps. 6:9 in Luke 13:27 is independent of LXX we note the following facts:

  1. While ἀπόστητε (apostēte, “stand back!”) agrees with LXX, this is no proof of dependence on LXX since, according to Dos Santos (140), the verb ἀφιστάναι (afistanai, “to stand back”) is the second most common verb (40xx) in LXX to render סָר (sār, “turn aside”) after ἐκκλίνειν (ekklinein, “to turn from”) (55xx). Therefore, it would be no great coincidence if a translator independent of LXX selected ἀφιστάναι as the equivalent of סָר in Ps. 6:9. Moreover, we have identified other instances (Yeshua’s Testing, L110; Four Soils interpretation, L48) where we believe the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua translated ἀφιστάναι as סָר.
  2. While the phrase ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ πάντες (ap emou pantes, “from me all”) agrees with LXX, there is hardly any other option for translating מִמֶּנִּי כָּל (mimeni kol, “from me all”).
  3. The anarthrous ἐργάται ἀδικίας (ergatai adikias, “workers of unrighteousness”) in Luke 13:27 more accurately represents פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן (po‘alē ’āven, “workers of iniquity”) than does LXX’s doubly definite phrase οἱ ἐργαζόμενοι τὴν ἀνομίαν (hoi ergazomenoi tēn anomian, “the ones working the lawlessness”).
  4. The LXX translators never rendered פֹּעֵל (po‘ēl, “worker”) as ἐργάτης (ergatēs, “worker”), but we can be certain that ἐργάτης occurred in Anth., since there is Lukan-Matthean agreement to use this noun twice in “The Harvest is Plentiful,” L43, L46 (Matt. 9:37-38 ∥ Luke 10:2), and once in Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, L97 (Matt. 10:10 ∥ Luke 10:7). We determined that behind those instances of ἐργάτης the underlying Hebrew text read פֹּעֵל. It appears, therefore, that the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua habitually rendered פֹּעֵל as ἐργάτης, so there is every reason to suppose he would have done the same when translating the quotation of Ps. 6:9 in Closed Door.[77]
  5. By no means is ἀδικία (adikia, “unrighteousness”) an unusual rendering of אָוֶן (’āven, “iniquity”). The LXX translators rendered אָוֶן with ἀδικία several times,[78] including in the expression פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן (Ps. 13[14]:4 [Vaticanus]; 27[28]:3; 63[64]:3 [Sinaiticus]; 100[101]:8 [Vaticanus]). Therefore, a translator independent of LXX could easily have chosen to render פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן as ἐργάται ἀδικίας. In one respect this rendering of Ps. 6:9 is even preferable to LXX’s translation, since it appears from Ps. 15:2 that the opposite of פֹּעֵל אָוֶן (po‘ēl ’āven, “worker of iniquity”) is פֹּעֵל צֶדֶק (po‘ēl tzedeq, “worker of righteousness”). The rendering ἐργάται ἀδικίας (ergatai adikias, “workers of unrighteousness”) better captures this contrast than does LXX’s οἱ ἐργαζόμενοι τὴν ἀνομίαν (hoi ergazomenoi tēn anomian, “the ones working the lawlessness”).

Thus an unbiased observer must admit that the form of the quotation in Luke 13:27 could represent a Greek translation of Ps. 6:9 independent of LXX.

Matthew’s version of the quotation, on the other hand, looks like it has been adapted to more closely conform to LXX. The two points of disagreement with LXX—ἀποχωρεῖτε (apochōreite, “Depart!”) instead of ἀπόστητε (apostēte, “Stand back!”) and the omission of πάντες (pantes, “all”)—can be explained on the basis of the author of Matthew’s redactional interests (see below).[79]

L23 ἀποχωρεῖτε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ (Matt. 7:23). The author of Matthew exhibited a redactional preference for the verb χωρεῖν (chōrein, “to progress,” “to have room for”) and its compounds,[80] so it is unlikely that the author of Matthew copied ἀποχωρεῖτε (apochōreite, “Depart!”) from Anth. or that Matt. 7:23 represents an independent translation of the Hebrew text of Ps. 6:9.[81] As we will see, the author of Matthew’s purpose in conforming the end of the quotation to LXX was driven by polemical interests, not special reverence for LXX’s wording in general. Therefore, the author of Matthew’s departure from LXX in L23 is not contradictory. Probably the author of Matthew preferred ἀποχωρεῖν (apochōrein, “to depart”) to Anth.’s (and LXX’s) ἀφιστάναι (afistanai, “to stand back”) because ἀποχωρεῖν sends the condemned away, whereas ἀφιστάναι simply creates distance between the condemned and the speaker.

ἀπόστητε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ (GR). As we discussed above in Comment to L23-24, we believe the quotation of Ps. 6:9 in Luke 13:27 represents a translation of the Hebrew text independent of LXX. Since it is unlikely that the author of Luke knew Hebrew, it is probable that this independent translation stems from Anth. via FR. We have therefore accepted Luke’s wording in L23 for GR.

סוּרוּ מִמֶּנִּי (HR). As we noted above in Comment to L23-24, the LXX translators frequently rendered the verb סָר (sār, “turn aside”) as ἀφιστάναι (afistanai, “to stand back”),[82] and here we add that in LXX ἀφιστάναι occurs more often as the translation of סָר than of any other Hebrew verb.[83] We have also reconstructed ἀφιστάναι with סָר in Yeshua’s Testing, L110, and Four Soils interpretation, L48. In any case, the fact that here Closed Door quoted Ps. 6:9 ensures that our reconstruction is correct.

L24 οἱ ἐργαζόμενοι τὴν ἀνομίαν (Matt. 7:23). The reason the author of Matthew omitted πάντες (pantes, “all”), despite its presence in LXX, and the reason he changed Anth.’s ἐργάται ἀδικίας (ergatai adikias, “workers of unrighteous”) to οἱ ἐργαζόμενοι τὴν ἀνομίαν (hoi ergazomenoi tēn anomian, “the ones working lawlessness”) in agreement with LXX are related. The author of Matthew had constructed an apocalyptic judgment scene that depicted the condemnation not of all sinners, hence his omission of πάντες, but of certain types of Christians he deemed to be heretical. In his view, their heresy consisted of failure to observe the Torah in the manner he thought was required, therefore he charged these “false” believers with ἀνομία (anomia, “lawlessness”). Probably he had in mind Torah-free Gentile believers such as those belonging to the Pauline churches. The author of Matthew’s theological agenda determined both his departures from and adherence to LXX’s translation of Ps. 6:9.

πάντες ἐργάται ἀδικίας (GR). As we discussed above in Comment to L23-24, Luke’s wording in L24 looks like an independent translation of Ps. 6:9 made by the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua and transmitted to Luke from Anth. via FR.[84] We have therefore adopted Luke’s wording in L24 for GR.

כָּל פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן (HR). On reconstructing πᾶς (pas, “all”) with כָּל (kol, “all”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L19.

On reconstructing ἐργάτης (ergatēs, “worker”) with פּוֹעֵל (pō‘ēl, “worker”), see Sending the Twelve: “The Harvest Is Plentiful” and “A Flock Among Wolves,” Comment to L43.

In LXX ἀδικία (adikia, “unrighteousness”) more often occurs as the translation of nouns such as עָוֹן (‘āvon, “iniquity”), עַוְלָה (’avlāh, “iniquity”) or חָמָס (ḥāmās, “violence”) than אָוֶן (’āven, “iniquity”).[85] Nevertheless, there are several instances where ἀδικία does occur as the translation of אָוֶן, some of which we noted above in Comment to L23-24. We also find that the LXX translators more often rendered אָוֶן as ἀνομία (anomia, “lawlessness”) than as ἀδικία (adikia, “unrighteousness”).[86] That here we are reconstructing a quotation of Ps. 6:9 leaves us in no doubt that אָוֶן is the correct choice for HR.

Redaction Analysis

Closed Door has come down to us in two drastically different versions. Luke’s version is remarkably faithful to the pre-synoptic version, whereas Matthew’s version was thoroughly revised to serve the author of Matthew’s polemical aims.

Luke’s Version[87]

Closed Door
Luke Anthology
Total
Words:
59 Total
Words:
59
Total
Words
Identical
to Anth.:
58 Total
Words
Taken Over
in Luke:
58
%
Identical
to Anth.:
98.31 % of Anth.
in Luke:
98.31
Click here for details.

Both the First Reconstructor and the author of Luke left Anth.’s version of Closed Door more or less untouched. This unusually high fidelity to Anth.’s wording was mainly due to the extensive editing the First Reconstructor had done to transform Narrow Gate into an introduction to Closed Door. Having done so much to make Narrow Gate conform to Closed Door, revision of Closed Door was largely unnecessary. The few changes the First Reconstructor or the author of Luke made to Closed Door were stylistic in nature. Thus, it is likely that either the First Reconstructor or the author of Luke changed Anth.’s κλείσῃ (kleisē, “he might shut”) in L4 to ἀποκλείσῃ (apokleisē, “he might shut”), moved Anth.’s τότε (tote, “then”) from L5 to L16 in order to focus attention on the end of the saying, and slightly rearranged Anth.’s word order in L20. Otherwise, Luke’s version of Closed Door preserves Anth.’s wording remarkably well.

Matthew’s Version[88]

Closed Door
Matthew Anthology
Total
Words:
42 Total
Words:
59
Total
Words
Identical
to Anth.:
7 Total
Words
Taken Over
in Matt.:
7
%
Identical
to Anth.:
16.67 % of Anth.
in Matt.:
11.86
Click here for details.

Matthew’s version of Closed Door was completely rewritten in order to transform it into an apocalyptic judgment scene that was inserted into the introduction to Matthew’s version of Houses on Rock and Sand, where it serves a new purpose as a polemic against believers the author of Matthew and his community deemed to be false. In order to achieve his purpose the author of Matthew omitted the opening scene that described the householder shutting the door, the addressees standing outside knocking and expressing their desire to be admitted, and the householder’s initial denial. These details did not fit the apocalyptic judgment scene the author of Matthew wanted to portray. Instead, the householder was transformed into the risen Christ, and the original addressees became the “many” who will appeal to Jesus on Judgment Day. Only the appeal “Lord!” (L10) was preserved from this omitted scene. As a result, Matthew’s apocalyptic scene opens with the trial already in progress. In fact, the trial is already over and the “false” believers have already been condemned. When Matthew’s scene opens the condemned believers are appealing to the risen Christ to ask the Judge to reconsider his decision.[89]

Instead of the mundane proofs the appellants give in Luke’s version of Closed Door (L17-19), in Matthew’s version the “false” believers give spectacular proofs that Jesus is their Lord: they prophesied in his name (L17), in his name they exorcised demons (L18), and in his name they did many other deeds of power (L19). Continuing the courtroom imagery, the author of Matthew had Jesus “confess” (L20) to the Judge that he never knew the condemned believers using vocabulary typical of Matthean redaction (οὐδέποτε; L21). In L23-24 the author of Matthew adapted the quotation of Ps. 6:9 to drive home his message and to reveal the error that had earned the false believers their condemnation. Thus, Matthew’s verb ἀποχωρεῖν (apochōrein, “to depart”) in L23 is more final and decisive than Anth.’s (and LXX’s) ἀφιστάναι (afistanai, “to stand back”). Likewise, the author of Matthew dropped πάντες (“all”) in L24 because he wished to portray the condemnation of false believers in particular, not of all evildoers in general. And most especially, in L24 the author of Matthew changed “workers of unrighteousness” to “the ones working lawlessness,” in conformity with LXX, because it was his opponents’ non-observance of the Jewish Law that he wanted to condemn.

Results of This Research

1. Is the householder in Luke’s version of Closed Door to be identified with Jesus? We believe that prior to the Anthologizer’s rearrangement of the stories in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua Closed Door was the continuation of the Great Banquet parable. In the Great Banquet parable the householder is analogous to God, and this analogous relationship between God and the householder would be expected to continue into Closed Door. Therefore, we do not believe Jesus identified himself as the householder.

The main similarity between Jesus and the householder is that both were teachers, but it should not be forgotten that God, too, played the role of a teacher. The Torah was God’s instruction for Israel.

2. In Closed Door did Jesus quote from the Septuagint (LXX)? While neither Matthew’s nor Luke’s quotation of Ps. 6:9 is identical to LXX, Matthew’s quotation is quite close, so close, in fact, that it appears he adapted the quotation in the direction of LXX. Nevertheless, the author of Matthew’s adaptation was not for the sake of agreement with LXX but to further his polemical agenda. That is why he felt free to deviate from LXX when it suited him. Luke’s quotation of Ps. 6:9 is close to LXX, too, but not so close as to prove dependence. After all, two independent translators of the same Hebrew text are likely to agree on some, perhaps even most, of the vocabulary in their target language. When we take into account that Luke’s form of the quotation more closely resembles the Hebrew text than LXX and uses vocabulary that turns up in other DT pericopae (ἐργάτης), and so is consistent with the style of the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua, there is good reason to suppose that the form of the quotation in Luke’s version of Closed Door is independent of LXX. It appears likely, therefore, that Closed Door preserves a reminiscence of Jesus quoting Hebrew Scripture, not LXX.

Conclusion

In Closed Door Jesus brought home the message of the Great Banquet parable to his audience by rhetorically bringing them inside the imaginary world of the parable. The invited guests of the Great Banquet parable become the “you” of Closed Door, the people who stand outside knocking and begging for admittance.

As we stated above, this shift from the imaginary world of the parable to the “real” world of Jesus’ audience reminds us of how the prophet Nathan, after telling King David a parable about how a rich man stole a beloved sheep from a poor neighbor, declared to King David, “You are the man!”

The point Jesus made in Closed Door is that Jesus’ audience had been invited to take part in the Kingdom of Heaven by showing radical hospitality to the poor, but through their skeptical attitudes and preoccupation with their own wealth and status they were in danger of turning down that invitation. Unless they changed their ways, they would find themselves shut out of the Kingdom of Heaven.


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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] Cf. McNeile, 363; Creed, 185; Bundy, 369 §267; Kilpatrick, 23; Beare, Earliest, 174 §165; Fitzmyer, 2:1021; Nolland, Luke, 2:734; Bovon, 2:313; Fleddermann, 680.
  • [4] On the author of Matthew’s method of pulling in additional sayings from elsewhere in his sources to build the Sermon on the Mount out of a pre-existing sermon he found in the Anthology (Anth.), see the introduction to the “Torah and the Kingdom of Heaven” complex.
  • [5] See Houses on Rock and Sand, under the “Story Placement” subheading.
  • [6] Cf. Bundy, 369 §267.
  • [7] Pace Bultmann, 116, 130.
  • [8] See Narrow Gate, under the “Story Placement” subheading.
  • [9] Cf. Fleddermann, 694-695.
  • [10] See Houses on Rock and Sand, Comment to L9-20. Cf. Knox, 2:80; Davies-Allison, 1:714; Nolland, Luke, 734; Catchpole, 42.
  • [11] Cf. Marshall, 566.
  • [12] Cf. Nolland, Luke, 734.
  • [13] Cf. Davies-Allison, 3:393; Luz, 2:228; Nolland, Matt., 1009; Llewellyn Howes, “‘I Do Not Know You!’: Reconsidering the Redaction of Q 13:25-27,” Journal of Theological Studies NS 67.2 (2016): 479-506, esp. 484.
  • [14] Alternatively, some scholars have argued that Luke 13:25 is a faint reminiscence of the Waiting Maidens parable. See Bultmann, 117, 130; C. H. Dodd, Parables of the Kingdom (rev. ed.; New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, [1935] 1961), 137-138; Knox, 2:79-80; Jeremias, Parables, 96; David Flusser, “Two Anti-Jewish Montages in Matthew” (JOC, 552-560), esp. 555 n. 2; François Bovon, “Tracing the Trajectory of Luke 13,22-30 Back to Q: A Study in Lukan Redaction,” in From Quest to Q: Festschrift James M. Robinson (ed. Jon Ma. Asgeirsson, Kristin de Troyer, and Marvin W. Meyer; Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2000), 285-294, esp. 288-289.
  • [15] Cf. Bundy, 474 §387; Davies-Allison, 3:393.
  • [16] See McNeile, 363; Nolland, Matt., 1002, 1009. Cf. Kilpatrick, 76.
  • [17] See Luz, 3:228. Cf. Kilpatrick, 32.
  • [18] See Peter J. Tomson, “The Song of Songs in the Teachings of Jesus and the Development of the Exposition of the Song,” New Testament Studies 61 (2015): 429-447, esp. 441-443; idem, “Parables, Fiction, and Midrash: The Ten Maidens and the Bridegroom (Matt 25:1-13),” in his Studies on Jews and Christians in the First and Second Centuries (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2019), 253-260.
  • [19] In 2 Clement we read:

    εἶπεν ὁ κύριος· Ἐὰν ἦτε μετ’ ἐμοῦ συνηγμένοι ἐν τῷ κόλπῳ μου καὶ μὴ ⸀ποιῆτε τὰς ἐντολάς μου, ἀποβαλῶ ὑμᾶς καὶ ἐρῶ ὑμῖν· Ὑπάγετε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ, οὐκ οἶδα ὑμᾶς πόθεν ἐστέ, ἐργάται ἀνομίας.

    The Lord said, “If you are gathered to me in my bosom but you do not do my commandments, I will throw you away and say to you, ‘Go away from me! I do not know where you are from, workers of lawlessness.’” (2 Clem. 4:5)

    Like Matthew’s version of Closed Door, the saying is spoken by Jesus (the Lord), and his recognition of his true followers depends on their obedience. Also, like Matthew, 2 Clem. refers to workers of “lawlessness” rather than “unrighteousness” as in Luke. On the other hand, the Lord’s denial that he knows where these persons come from resembles Luke’s version of Closed Door.

    Justin Martyr cited a version of Closed Door in this manner:

    Πολλοὶ ἐροῦσί μοι τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ, Κύριε, κύριε, οὐ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι ἐφάγομεν, καὶ ἐπίομεν, καὶ προεφητεύσαμεν, καὶ δαιμόνια ἐξεβάλομεν; Καὶ ἐρῶ αὐτοῖς, Ἀναχωρεῖτε ἀπ᾽ ἐμου.

    Many will say to me in that day, “Lord! Lord! Did we not eat and drink in your name and prophesy and cast out demons?” And I will say to them, “Depart from me!” (Dial. §76 [ed. Trollope, 2:7])

    While on the whole Justin’s version of Closed Door is closer to Matthew’s, it is interesting to note that he included Luke’s “eating and drinking” (in Justin’s mind a reference to the eucharist?) and dropped Matthew’s anti-climactic “many deeds of power.” In Justin’s First Apology, however, Closed Door is cited as follows:

    πολλοὶ δὲ ἐροῦσί μοι Κύριε, κύριε, οὐ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι ἐφάγομεν καὶ ἐπίομεν καὶ δυνάμεις ἐποιήσαμεν; καὶ τότε ἐρῶ αὐτοῖς, Ἀναχωρεῖτε ἀπ᾽ ἐμου, ἐργάται τῆς ἀνομίας.

    But many will say to me, “Lord! Lord! Did we not eat and drink in your name and do deeds of power?” And then I will say to them, “Depart from me, workers of lawlessness!” (1 Apol. 16:11 [ed. Blunt, 27])

    In this version the vague reference to “deeds of power” takes the place of prophecy and exorcism.

  • [20] Cf. Bultmann, 116 (2 Clement); Bovon, 2:309 n. 7 (Justin). Bellinzoni concluded that Justin relied upon a written source that harmonized the Synoptic Gospels and that 2 Clement drew upon that same source. See A. J. Bellinzoni, The Sayings of Jesus in the Writings of Justin Martyr (Leiden: Brill, 1967), 22-25.
  • [21] Lindsey (LHNS, 130 §165) offered מִשֶּׁיָּקוּם as a possible reconstruction of ἀφ’ οὗ ἂν ἐγερθῇ in Luke 13:25.
  • [22] See Houses on Rock and Sand, Comment to L9.
  • [23] Cf. Kilpatrick, 23; Fleddermann, 683.
  • [24] See Houses on Rock and Sand, Comment to L1.
  • [25] Cf. Knox, 2:32.
  • [26] We also adopted בַּעַל בַּיִת as the reconstruction of οἰκοδεσπότης in Preparations for Eating the Passover Lamb, L34.
  • [27] See Houses on Rock and Sand, Comment to L9-20.
  • [28] Cf. Fleddermann, 681.
  • [29] On the morphology of יִנְעוֹל, see Segal, 78 §170.
  • [30] On τότε as a typically Matthean term, see Jesus and a Canaanite Woman, Comment to L22.
  • [31] Cf. Plummer, Luke, 347; Marshall, 566.
  • [32] See Marshall, 566; Nolland, Luke, 2:734.
  • [33] See Randall Buth and Brian Kvasnica, “Critical Notes on the VTS” (JS1, 259-317), Critical Note 4 (261-268).
  • [34] On reconstructing κρούειν with הִרְתִּיק, see Friend in Need, Comment to L25.
  • [35] See the Conjectured Stages of Transmission discussion above.
  • [36] Cf. Fleddermann, 682, 684.
  • [37] See Houses on Rock and Sand, Comment to L10.
  • [38] Cf. Kloppenborg, 225 n. 219.
  • [39] Cf., e.g., Lord’s Prayer, L5; Return of the Twelve, L9; Quieting a Storm, L34.
  • [40] Cf., e.g., Not Everyone Can Be Yeshua’s Disciple, L19, L30.
  • [41] See Dalman, 24-25.
  • [42] See Waiting Maidens, Comment to L38. Cf. LHNS, 179 §227; Fleddermann, 682.
  • [43] Pace Gundry, Matt., 501.
  • [44] Cf. Fleddermann, 682.
  • [45] See Nolland, Luke, 2:734; Fleddermann, 682.
  • [46] In Luke’s Gospel πόθεν occurs in Luke 1:43; 13:25, 27; 20:7. See Moulton-Geden, 824.
  • [47] In Matthew’s Gospel πόθεν occurs in Matt. 13:27, 54, 56; 15:33; 21:25.
  • [48] In Mark’s Gospel πόθεν occurs in Mark 6:2; 8:4; 12:37.
  • [49] In LXX πόθεν occurs as the translation of מֵאַיִן in Gen. 29:4; 42:7; Num. 11:13; Josh. 9:8 (2nd instance); Judg. 17:9; 19:17; 4 Kgdms. 6:27; 20:14; Ps. 120[121]:1; Job 1:7; 28:12, 20; Jonah 1:8; Nah. 3:7; Isa. 39:3; Jer. 31[48]:9. In 4 Kgdms. 5:25 we find πόθεν where the qere prefers מֵאַיִן to the written (ketiv) מאן (in MT: 2 Kgs. 5:25). Likewise, in Isa. 41:24 we find πόθεν where MT has מֵאַיִן, which grammarians tell us is to be read as “from nothing” rather than “whence” (cf., e.g., Even-Shoshan, Concordance, 47).
  • [50] In MT מֵאַיִן occurs in Gen. 29:4; 42:7; Num. 11:13; Josh. 2:4; 9:8; Judg. 17:9; 19:17; 2 Kgs. 5:25 (qere); 6:27; 20:14; Isa. 39:3; Jonah 1:8; Nah. 3:7; Ps. 121:1; Job 1:7; 28:12, 20. Apart from Josh. 2:4, where the pertinent part of the verse is omitted, all these instances are rendered πόθεν in LXX.
  • [51] See Segal, 135 §295.
  • [52] Cf. Fleddermann, 683.
  • [53] Cf. Marshall, 566.
  • [54] Cf. Schweizer, 178; Gundry, Matt., 132; Davies-Allison, 1:693, 715; Luz, 1:375-376.
  • [55] See Bovon, “Tracing the Trajectory of Luke 13,22-30 Back to Q,” 289; Bovon, 313.
  • [56] See Wolter, 2:197.
  • [57] See Gundry, Matt., 132; Davies-Allison, 1:717.
  • [58] See LHNS, 131 §165. And cf. Knox, 2:32. Also, compare Delitzsch’s translation of ἐφάγομεν ἐνώπιόν σου καὶ ἐπίομεν in Luke 13:26 as אָכַלְנוּ וְשָׁתִינוּ לְפָנֶיךָ (“we ate and drank before you”).
  • [59] Cf. Gundry, Matt., 132; Davies-Allison, 1:714.
  • [60] We therefore see no need, as Knox (2:32) suggested, to amend the petitioners’ final proof to “we stood before you when you taught in our streets.”
  • [61] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1140-1141.
  • [62] See Dos Santos, 191 (רְחֹב), 192 (רְחוֹב).
  • [63] See Shmuel Safrai, “Master and Disciple,” under the subheading “Movable Schools.”
  • [64] On this episode, see Daniel R. Schwartz, “Was Yohanan ben Zakkai a Priest?” Sinai 88 (1981): 32-39 (in Hebrew). For an English translation of this article on WholeStones.org, click here.
  • [65] Cf., e.g., Nolland, Luke, 2:734; Howes, “‘I Do Not Know You!’: Reconsidering the Redaction of Q 13:25-27,” 491-492; Wolter, 2:197.
  • [66] See Gundry, Matt., 132; Nolland, Matt., 341. Cf. Fleddermann, 684.
  • [67] See Otto Michel, “ὁμολογέω κτλ.,” TDNT, 5:119-220, esp. 208; Lachs, 150; Nolland, Luke, 2:734.
  • [68] The translation of the Aramaic portions of this passage, marked in italics, are adapted from the Soncino edition of the Babylonian Talmud.
  • [69] Cf. Luz, 1:380.
  • [70] See Moulton-Geden, 725. For a more thorough discussion of οὐδέποτε as a marker of Matthean redaction, see Houses on Rock and Sand, Comment to L18.
  • [71] Cf. Wolter, 2:198.
  • [72] Pace Nolland, Luke, 2:732.
  • [73] See Houses on Rock and Sand, Comment to L19.
  • [74] Kilpatrick (24), for example, hypothesized that the pre-synoptic source read, ἀποχωρεῖτε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ ἐργάται ἀδικίας (“depart from me, workers of unrighteousness”).
  • [75] See Catchpole, 231 n. 6; Robinson-Hoffmann-Kloppenborg, 412; Fleddermann, 685; Howes, “‘I Do Not Know You!’: Reconsidering the Redaction of Q 13:25-27,” 497.
  • [76] Cf. Knox, 2:32.
  • [77] Cf. 1 Macc. 3:6, where the phrase οἱ ἐργάται τῆς ἀνομίας (hoi ergatai tēs anomias, “the workers of lawlessness”) likely occurs as the translation of פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן (po‘alē ’āven, “workers of iniquity”). Cf. Daniel R. Schwartz, 1 Maccabees: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB 41B; New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2022), 208.
  • [78] See Dos Santos, 5.
  • [79] Cf. Fleddermann, 685.
  • [80] On the author of Matthew’s redactional preference for χωρεῖν and its compounds, see Houses on Rock and Sand, Comment to L19.
  • [81] Pace Gundry, Use, 76.
  • [82] See Dos Santos, 140.
  • [83] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:184-185.
  • [84] Cadbury (115) regarded πάντες in Luke 13:27 as an example of redactional Lukan generalizing, but this explanation disregards the agreement with the Hebrew and Greek texts of Ps. 6:9. Gundry (Use, 76) suggested the author of Matthew translated from a text of Ps. 6:9 in which כָּל was lacking, but Gundry’s suggestion lacks manuscript evidence and is, in any case, unnecessary.
  • [85] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:25-26.
  • [86] See Dos Santos, 5.
  • [87]

    Closed Door

    Luke’s Version

    Anthology’s Wording (Reconstructed)

    ἀφ’ οὗ ἂν ἐγερθῇ ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης καὶ ἀποκλείσῃ τὴν θύραν καὶ ἄρξησθε ἔξω ἑστάναι καὶ κρούειν τὴν θύραν λέγοντες κύριε ἄνοιξον ἡμῖν καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ἐρεῖ ὑμῖν οὐκ οἶδα ὑμᾶς πόθεν ἐστέ τότε ἄρξεσθε λέγειν ἐφάγομεν ἐνώπιόν σου καὶ ἐπίομεν καὶ ἐν ταῖς πλατείαις ἡμῶν ἐδίδαξας καὶ ἐρεῖ λέγων ὑμῖν οὐκ οἶδα πόθεν ἐστέ ἀπόστητε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ πάντες ἐργάται ἀδικίας

    ἀφ’ οὗ ἂν ἐγερθῇ ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης καὶ κλείσῃ τὴν θύραν τότε ἄρξησθε ἔξω ἑστάναι καὶ κρούειν τὴν θύραν λέγοντες κύριε ἄνοιξον ἡμῖν καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ἐρεῖ ὑμῖν οὐκ οἶδα ὑμᾶς πόθεν ἐστέ καὶ ἄρξεσθε λέγειν ἐφάγομεν ἐνώπιόν σου καὶ ἐπίομεν καὶ ἐν ταῖς πλατείαις ἡμῶν ἐδίδαξας καὶ ἐρεῖ ὑμῖν λέγων οὐκ οἶδα πόθεν ἐστέ ἀπόστητε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ πάντες ἐργάται ἀδικίας

    Total Words:

    59

    Total Words:

    59

    Total Words Identical to Anth.:

    58

    Total Words Taken Over in Luke:

    58

    Percentage Identical to Anth.:

    98.31%

    Percentage of Anth. Represented in Luke:

    98.31%

  • [88]

    Closed Door

    Matthew’s Version

    Anthology’s Wording (Reconstructed)

    πολλοὶ ἐροῦσίν μοι ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ κύριε κύριε οὐ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι ἐπροφητεύσαμεν καὶ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι δαιμόνια ἐξεβάλομεν καὶ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι δυνάμεις πολλὰς ἐποιήσαμεν καὶ τότε ὁμολογήσω αὐτοῖς ὅτι οὐδέποτε ἔγνων ὑμᾶς ἀποχωρεῖτε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ οἱ ἐργαζόμενοι τὴν ἀνομίαν

    ἀφ’ οὗ ἂν ἐγερθῇ ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης καὶ κλείσῃ τὴν θύραν τότε ἄρξησθε ἔξω ἑστάναι καὶ κρούειν τὴν θύραν λέγοντες κύριε ἄνοιξον ἡμῖν καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ἐρεῖ ὑμῖν οὐκ οἶδα ὑμᾶς πόθεν ἐστέ καὶ ἄρξεσθε λέγειν ἐφάγομεν ἐνώπιόν σου καὶ ἐπίομεν καὶ ἐν ταῖς πλατείαις ἡμῶν ἐδίδαξας καὶ ἐρεῖ ὑμῖν λέγων οὐκ οἶδα πόθεν ἐστέ ἀπόστητε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ πάντες ἐργάται ἀδικίας

    Total Words:

    42

    Total Words:

    59

    Total Words Identical to Anth.:

    7

    Total Words Taken Over in Matt.:

    7

    Percentage Identical to Anth.:

    16.67%

    Percentage of Anth. Represented in Matt.:

    11.86%

  • [89] Betz (542-544, 549, 551, 554-556) was probably correct that in the apocalyptic judgment scene Jesus does not play the role of judge but of a witness or advocate. Cf. Matt. 10:32, where Jesus promises to acknowledge before his heavenly Father (i.e., the judge) those who have acknowledged him.

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    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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    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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