lundi 9 janvier 2017

Did St Matthew Err About Which Prophet Has Said What?

Matthew 27:9-10 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was prized, whom they prized of the children of Israel. And they gave them unto the potter' s field, as the Lord appointed to me.

This has been considered as a reference, not to Jeremias, but to Zacharias.

Zacharias 11:12-13 And I said to them: If it be good in your eyes, bring hither my wages: and if not, be quiet. And they weighed for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me: Cast it to the statuary, a handsome price, that I was prized at by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and I cast them into the house of the Lord to the statuary.

So, was St Matthew wrong? If not, why did he say Jeremias instead of Zacharias?

I know from J. P. Holding that one attack on inerrantism does bring this up:

Fifth, Cragun argues that church fathers did not "idolize" the Scriptures, but that is not really the point. What he needs to show is that the church fathers thought Scripture erred. As it is, he can come no closer to this than e.g., Jerome discussing problems in the text (such as Matthew referring to the "thirty pieces of silver" passage in Zechariah -- an issue, by the way, that is easily resolved under Jewish exegetical and citation procedures). Although Jerome discusses the problem, he does not say, "this is an error." What Jerome does do is suppose that e.g., Matthew might be charged with "falsehood" for such things as adding, "I say unto thee" to the translation of "Talitha cumi." But as Cragun admits, this sort of thing comes more of Jerome's perceived neurotic compulsion for detail than from any real problem.

First of all, I totally take my distance from the qualification "neurotic compulsion" about Saint Jerome's care for detail.

I take my distance from the psychological idealogy it involves, I consider it an idiotic observation about writers (where would Tolkien's Middle Earth have been if he had not had a real concern for detail - mutatis mutandis applicable also to writers touching on real life), and I consider that on the one hand learned people in Antiquity and Middle Ages had a very great respect for verbal exactitude, and on the other hand at any time when Christianity was socially strong, apologists were obliged to deal with people "really neurotic" about detail (insofar as "neurotic" has any meaning at all), and ready to twist things.

Now, what about Zacharias or Jeremias? There are at least three solutions, not sure if all are distinct.

J. P. Holding, as cited:
(such as Matthew referring to the "thirty pieces of silver" passage in Zechariah -- an issue, by the way, that is easily resolved under Jewish exegetical and citation procedures)

Damien Mackey
whom I follow on Academia, once said that Jeremias and Zacharias have the exact same person as an author.

AND while googling,
I just found yet another soloution.

KJV Today thinks
we are instead dealing with another text:

The words from Zechariah 11:12-13 are not the exact words recorded at Matthew 27:9-10. Zechariah does not mention the "children of Israel" and the "field". In fact, only Jeremiah mentions the "field". Jeremiah 32:6-10 describes Jeremiah being commanded by the LORD to buy a field with seventeen shekels of silver.

In other words, when St Matthew writes about thirty pieces, he is estimating this as equivalent to Jeremias' "seventeen shekels" (Douay Rheims has seven staters and ten pieces of silver).

Jeremias 32:6-10 And Jeremias said: The word of the Lord came to me, saying: ehold, Hanameel the son of Sellum thy cousin shall come to thee, saying: Buy thee my field, which is in Anathoth, for it is thy right to buy it, being akin. And Hanameel my uncle' s son cam to me, according to the word of the to the entry of the prison, and said me: Buy my field, which is in in the land of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thins, and thou art next of kin to possess it. And I understood this was the word of the Lord. And I bought the held of my uncle' s son, that is in Anathoth: and I weighed him the money, seven staters, and ten pieces of silver. And I wrote it in a book and sealed it, and took witnesses: and I weighed him the money in the balances.

Now, I'd be surprised if Haydock comment didn't somehow cite St Jerome's solution for Matthew 27:

Ver. 9. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias. Jeremias is now in all Latin copies, and the general reading of the Greek; whereas the passage is found in Zacharias xi. 12. Some judge it to have been in some writing of Jeremias, now lost; as St. Jerome says he found it in a writing of Jeremias, which was not canonical. Others conjecture, that Zacharias had also the name of Jeremias. Others, that St. Matthew neither put Jeremias nor Zacharias, but only of the prophet: and that the name of Jeremias had crept into the text. Jeremias is not in the Syriac; and St. Augustine says it was not in divers copies.

And they took the thirty pieces of silver; each of which was called an argenteus. The evangelist cites not the words, but the sense of the prophet, who was ordered to cast the pieces into the house of the Lord, and to cast them to the potter:[2] which became true by the fact of Judas, who cast them into the temple: and with them was purchased the potter's field. The price of him that was prized. In the prophet we read, the handsome price, spoken ironically, as the Lord did appoint me; i.e. as he had decreed. (Witham)

So, St Jerome says it was in a non-canonical writing of Jeremias. And that Matthew found it there.

I wonder whether J. P. Holding is here by "easily resolved under Jewish exegetical and citation procedures" meaning sth like it being OK to cite a conglomerate of Zacharias 11:12-13 with Jeremias 32:6-10.

But that would also be a solution.

And KJV Today gives yet a solution, same page as previous:

The text of Matthew 27:9-10 says "that which was spoken", not "that which was written", so there is no need to look for the exact quotation in the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah spoke the prophecy but did not write it. Zechariah then wrote Jeremiah's oral prophecy while omitting the reference to a field because that detail had already been described in Jeremiah 32:6-10.

A very laudable sentiment, too sad that the site is dedicated to King James Version rather than Vulgate / LXX / Douay Rheims.

In other words, while I am not often engaged in this sort of problems about the Bible, where it is supposed to contradict itself, it seems that the solutions abound well over the problems.

However, both the problems and the solutions assume a familiarity with all aspects of the Bible well above my level - that is why I usually leave this kind of thing to others.

Let's return to this:

What Jerome does do is suppose that e.g., Matthew might be charged with "falsehood" for such things as adding, "I say unto thee" to the translation of "Talitha cumi."

Would that be St Mark? I found it in Mark 5:41. Now, I go to Corpus Thomisticum, Catena Aurea in Marcum, to chapter 5, lectio 3, and find, nope, there is a passage in Matthew too! Anyway, the reference to St Jerome is indeed there in the lectio 3 of chapter 5 of St Mark's Gospel:

Hieronymus de optimo genere Interpret.

Arguat aliquis Evangelistam mendacii, quare exponendo addiderit tibi dico; cum in Hebraico Thabitha, cumi tantum significet puella, surge. Sed ut emphaticoteron** faceret et sensum vocantis et imperantis exprimeret, addit tibi dico, surge.

Let someone argue the Gospeller [guilty] of lying, because exposing he added "I say unto thee"; when in Hebrew Thabitha, cumi only signifies "maid, stand up". But in order to make it more emphatical and express the sense of [Him] calling and of [Him] commanding, he adds "I say unto thee, stand up".

It could of course also be that Christ in fact used the Hebrew or Aramaic (St Jerome was using the word Hebrew for both Hebrew and Aramaic*) equivalent of "I say unto thee" but St Mark thought "thalitha cumi" was as much "Hebrew" as non-Hebrew speaking faithful could stomach, or perhaps St Peter cited only those verbatim from memory, as a side remark to St Matthew's:

9:25 And when the multitude was put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand. And the maid arose.

Or to St Luke's:

8:54 But he taking her by the hand, cried out, saying: Maid, arise.

If St Luke's sources could not recall "I say unto thee" neither they nor St Luke said anothing actually false in stating "maid, arise", while St Marc could be giving a fuller quote along with a translation back to Aramaic of the words. Either way, there is no falsehood.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Sts Julian and Basilissa

* This is perhaps one of the arguments for those saying the Vulgate relied on Aquila rather than direct and own reading of OT text.

** St Jerome is very clear that "emphaticos" is Greek, so that it needs a Greek comparative and neuter accusative "emphaticoteron" rather than Latin "emphaticius". Forming "emphaticius" which would be the Latin form, I think his taste was good.