Sunday, February 19, 2017

Transforming Vision

Below is a rough translation and some initial comments regarding Matthew 17:1-9, the story of the transfiguration and the gospel reading for the Transfiguration Sunday.  If you are looking for the reading to the 8th Sunday after Epiphany, click here.

Matthew 17:1-9

1 Καὶ μεθ' ἡμέρας ἓξ παραλαμβάνει ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὸν Πέτρον καὶ Ἰάκωβον καὶ Ἰωάννην τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἀναφέρει αὐτοὺς εἰς ὄρος ὑψηλὸν κατ' ἰδίαν.
And after six days Jesus takes Peter and James and John his brother, and leads them into a high mountain privately.
παραλαμβάνει: PAI 3s, παραλαμβάνω, 1) to take to, to take with one's self, to join to one's self 
ἀναφέρει: PAI 3s, ἀναφέρω, 1) to carry or bring up, to lead up
1. The word ἰδίαν can mean a number of things, such as “oneself”, “one’s own”, etc. When combined with κατά it can mean “privately” or “alone.” Even though it is feminine and singular, it is regularly translated here to mean that Jesus and the three disciples are getting away from the others.

2 καὶ μετεμορφώθη ἔμπροσθεν αὐτῶν, καὶ ἔλαμψεν τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ὡς ὁ ἥλιος, τὰ δὲ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο λευκὰ ὡς τὸ φῶς.
And was transformed before them, and his face shone as the sun, then his clothes became bright as the light.
μετεμορφώθη: API 3s, μεταμορφόω, to transform, transfigure.
ἔλαμψεν: AAI 3s, λάμπω, 1) to shine
ἐγένετο: AMI 3s, γίνομαι, 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being
1. Outside of Mark’s and Matthew’s use in this story, the only other uses of μεταμορφόω in the NT are Romans 12:2 and II Corinthians 3:18. 
2. See Jesus’ description of the resurrection life in Mt. 13:43, “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” and Matthew’s description of the angel at the resurrection in Mt.28:3, “His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.”

3 καὶ ἰδοὺ ὤφθη αὐτοῖς Μωϋσῆς καὶ Ἠλίας συλλαλοῦντες μετ' αὐτοῦ.
And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elijah speaking together with him.
ἰδοὺ: AMImp of εἶδον, a form of ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes 
ὤφθη: API 3s, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind,
συλλαλοῦντες: PAPart npm, συλλαλέω, 1) to talk with
1. Luke’s double use of the verb ὁράω (“behold” and “appeared”) here feels almost like an invitation for the reader to experience the same thing as the “them” – presumably the three disciples. As it ‘appeared’ to them, so the reader is invited to ‘behold.’
2. “Behold” is one of those verbs (which takes on the sense of a particle in Greek) that I believe defies the categories that we have built up around verbs. In the middle voice, it is neither active nor passive – or, rather, it is both active and passive. One actively beholds by paying attention; one is passively beholden by what appears. I would call it a “participatory” verb, if I were making up a new category for grammar. I would add “let” to the category as well.
3. Moses and Elijah = law and prophets, ‘speaking together’ with Jesus. I find this imagery to be stunning. For P, J, and J, it is hard to imagine a better fellowship to behold.
4. One has to wonder whether Matthew intends this revelatory experience to be the fulfillment of Jesus’ words which immediately precede it: “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (16:28) If so, the “kingdom” of the son of man is depicted as a conversation with the law and the prophets. I just bolded and italicized that comment because I like what it suggests. A lot. It circles back to Jesus’ comments in Mt. 5:17 and 7:12 and forward to 22:40.

4 ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Πέτρος εἶπεν τῷ Ἰησοῦ, Κύριε, καλόν ἐστιν ἡμᾶς ὧδε εἶναι: εἰ θέλεις, ποιήσω ὧδε τρεῖς σκηνάς, σοὶ μίαν καὶ Μωϋσεῖ μίαν καὶ Ἠλίᾳ μίαν.
Yet Peter having responded said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you are willing, I will make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
ἀποκριθεὶς: APPart nsm, ἀποκρίνομαι, 1) to give an answer to a question proposed, to answer 2) to begin to speak, but always where something has preceded  (either said or done) to which the remarks refer 
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
ἐστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present 
εἶναι: PAInf, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present 
θέλεις: PAI 2s, θέλω, 1) to will, have in mind, intend
ποιήσω: FAI 1s, ποιέω, 1) to make  1a) with the names of things made, to produce, construct, 
1. I typically translate ἀποκρίνομαι as “answered” when it comes as part of a conversation. Nobody was speaking to Peter at this point – in fact, Matthew rather emphatically says that Moses, and Elijah were speaking to one Jesus. Still, Peter is “responding” to what he is beholding, which is one of the shades of meaning for ἀποκρίνομαι.

5 ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος ἰδοὺ νεφέλη φωτεινὴ ἐπεσκίασεν αὐτούς, καὶ ἰδοὺ φωνὴ ἐκ τῆς νεφέλης λέγουσα, Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα: ἀκούετε αὐτοῦ.
While he is speaking behold a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold a voice out of the clouds saying, “This is my son the beloved, in whom I delighted; listen to him.”
λαλοῦντος: PAPart gsm, λαλέω, 1) to utter a voice or emit a sound  2) to speak 
ἰδοὺ: AMImp of εἶδον, a form of ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes 
ἐπεσκίασεν: AAI 3s,  ἐπισκιάζω, 1) to throw a shadow upon, to envelop in a shadow, to overshadow
λέγουσα: PAPart nsf, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
ἐστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present 
εὐδόκησα: AAI 1s, εὐδοκέω, 1) it seems good to one, is one's good pleasure 
ἀκούετε: PAImpv 2p, ἀκούω, 1) to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, 2) to hear 2b) to attend to
(Compare Mt. 3:17)
1. A perplexing verbal choice here is Matthew’s decision to put εὐδοκέω (delight) in the aorist tense, a simple past tense. One expects a present tense. I don’t know what the significance might be for Matthew to make it aorist. Most translations don’t either, apparently, since they simply make it present tense. Perhaps they are trying to even the score from making the present verb “saying” into a past tense.
2. The imperative “Listen” is important. While it could be translated “pay attention,” the primary meaning of ‘hearing’ in the word ἀκούω seems to indicate that of all of the phenomena attached to this moment – transformation, Moses and Elijah, brightness, etc. – the significant thing is that one listens to Jesus. Even the elusiveness of Moses’ and Elijah’s physical presence – in contrast to the abiding presence of the law and the prophets via sacred texts – seems to indicate that the thing to behold in Jesus is not his momentary existence or his phenomenal appearance, but his words. Those words likewise abide via gospel accounts like Matthew’s.
3. I don’t know if every school of thought in Judaism felt that Elijah was the epitome of the prophets, but there are two reasons in my poor head as to why Elijah might be the prophet of choice for this event:
a) The ending of Malachi, the final book in the OT, which reads, “Remember the teaching of my servant Moses, the statutes and ordinances that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse.” (4:4-6)
b) The fact that, like Jesus, Elijah did not write, but was an oral prophets whose words and deeds are remembered in story.
(If any biblical scholar of renown says that my proposals are hogwash – I yield, and you have my blessings to discard them. That’s always true, but especially here.)
4. In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism, the voice from the heavens also says, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (3:17). In that case, Matthew does not record any reaction by those who hear the voice.  

6 καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ μαθηταὶ ἔπεσαν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον αὐτῶν καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν σφόδρα.
And having heard the disciples fell on their faces and were greatly afeared.
ἀκούσαντες: AAPart, ἀκούω, 1) to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf  2) to hear  2b) to attend to
ἔπεσαν: AAI 3p, πίπτω, 1) to descend from a higher place to a lower 
ἐφοβήθησαν: API 3p, φοβέω, to strike with fear, scare, frighten.
1. Whenever I see ἐφοβήθησαν I turn into my Granddaddy from North Carolina and say “afeared” because “afraid” is an adjective and this is an aorist passive verb. The other option I’ve seen is “affrighted,” but that doesn’t feel like much of an upgrade to me, so I’m staying with my Granddaddy’s language. While φοβέω is the word that transliterates into “phobia” in English, it seems that it indicates a rather intense form of fear, more like terror than nervousness. “Terrified” would be a better word than “afraid” here, if one is not inclined toward “afeared.”
2. It is interesting that neither the transformation of Jesus, the appearance of Moses and Elijah, nor the bright light evoked fear in the disciples. Hearing the voice out of the clouds is what did them in.

7 καὶ προσῆλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ ἁψάμενος αὐτῶν εἶπεν, Ἐγέρθητε καὶ μὴ φοβεῖσθε.
And Jesus went and having touched said to them, “Arise and do not be afeared.”
προσῆλθεν: AAI 3s, προσέρχομαι, 1) to come to, approach
ἁψάμενος: AMPart nms, ἅπτω, 1) to fasten to, adhere to 
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
Ἐγέρθητε: APImpv 2p, ἐγείρω, 1) to arouse, cause to rise 
φοβεῖσθε: PMImpv 2p, φοβέω, to strike with fear, scare, frighten.
1. Everything the disciples do is undone by the words of God or Jesus. Peter speaks in response to what he is seeing, and the voice tells him to listen. All three fall and are afeard and Jesus tells them to rise and not to be afeared.
2. Perhaps we are too tough on Peter for speaking out as he does. Perhaps his speaking out is no different in kind than all three of them falling and being afeared. Rather than a sign of stupidity or rashness, perhaps his speaking, like their falling and fearing, is normal human response to things holier and more wonder-filled than much of human life. Who knows how to react correctly to the phenomenal?

8 ἐπάραντες δὲ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτῶν οὐδένα εἶδον εἰ μὴ αὐτὸν Ἰησοῦν μόνον.
Then having lifted their eyes they beheld nobody except Jesus alone.
ἐπάραντες: AAPart npm, ἐπαίρω, 1) to lift up, raise up, raise on high 
εἶδον: AAI 3p, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes 
1. Again, Matthew uses ὁράω rather than the more common word for ‘to see.’

9 Καὶ καταβαινόντων αὐτῶν ἐκ τοῦ ὄρους ἐνετείλατο αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων, Μηδενὶ εἴπητε τὸ ὅραμα ἕως οὗ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκ νεκρῶν ἐγερθῇ.
And leading them down out of the mountain Jesus commanded them saying, “Tell the vision to nobody until the son of man has been raised out of death.”
καταβαινόντων: PAPart gpm, καταβαίνω, 1) to go down, come down, descend 
ἐνετείλατο: AMI 3s, ἐντέλλομαι, 1) to order, command to be done, enjoin
λέγων: PAPart nsm, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
εἴπητε: AASubj 2p, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
ἐγερθῇ: APSubj 3s, ἐγείρω, 1) to arouse, cause to rise 
1. The verb ἐγερθῇ (has been raised) is an aorist passive subjunctive, but according to those who know more than I the aorist in the subjunctive voice is not an indicator of time as much as repetition. An aorist subjunctive would be a one time event; a present subjunctive would indicated a repeated event.
2. Regarding τὸ ὅραμα, “the vision.” That noun seems to throw this whole event into a different kind of light, since “vision” in the NT does not necessarily refer to something actual but to something seen and heard. This is the only use of the word in the NT outside of Acts, where it is used a lot. Two uses in Acts are particularly compelling. First, in Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7:31, Luke uses the word ‘vision’ to describe Moses wondering at the burning-but-not-consumed bush. Almost every translation makes it the “sight” instead of “vision” – but only in that instance. Everywhere else the translators use “vision.” I wonder if the translators are afraid that using the word ‘vision’ might imply ‘not real,’ or if they are simply recognizing that so far Moses only saw the burning bush and had not yet heard God speaking. Second, in Acts 12:9, when an angel delivers Peter from prison, the distinction is rather hard between ‘reality’ and ‘vision.’ Peter did not think the rescue was real, thinking it was a ‘vision’ instead. Because Matthew only uses the word once, it is hard to know what he intends by it. Mark does not use this word, but uses a relative pronounce and a related word meaning “that which they saw.” 
3. As one commentator [and I am sorry but I did not retain the source in my notes] has helpfully pointed out, this story and the previous story of Peter’s confession (16:16-20) seem related in three ways.
a) Peter’s words, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” and God’s words, “This is my son the beloved” are similar.
b) Jesus’ response to Peter attributes his confession to a revelation that comes from God, as opposed to ‘flesh and blood’ (16:17). I wonder if Jesus’ words speak of a difference in understanding between what the incarnational presence of Christ discloses and what a revelation/vision discloses. That may be a rich theological theme to pursue from this text.  Could it be that the incarnational presence of Jesus led to something like what Lessing later called “the ugly ditch,” the gap between this flesh-and-blood reality and a beyond-flesh-and-blood confession of Jesus as the son of God?

c) In response to both Peter’s confession and Peter, James, and John seeing the vision, Jesus orders them to say nothing.

Anxiety and Power

Below is a rough translation and some comments on Matthew 6:24-34, the Revised Common Lectionary gospel reading for the 8th Sunday after Epiphany, which is often omitted because that same Sunday falls just before the season of Lent, so he Transfiguration story is substituted instead. (If you are looking for my comments on the Transfiguration story, entitled “Transforming Vision,” click here.)

24 Οὐδεὶς δύναται δυσὶ κυρίοις δουλεύειν:  γὰρ τὸν ἕνα μισήσει καὶ τὸν 
ἕτερον ἀγαπήσει,  ἑνὸς ἀνθέξεται καὶ τοῦ ἑτέρου καταφρονήσει: οὐ 
δύνασθε θεῷ δουλεύειν καὶ μαμωνᾷ.
No one has the power to serve two lords; For either he will hate one and love the other, or he will embrace one and disdain the other; You do not have the power to serve God and mammon.
δύναται: PMI 3s, δύναμαι, 1) to be able, have power whether by virtue of one's own ability and  resources
δουλεύειν: δουλεύω, 1) to be a slave, serve, do service 
μισήσει: FAI 3s, μισέω, 1) to hate, pursue with hatred, detest 
ἀγαπήσει: FAI 3s, ἀγαπάω, 1) of persons  1a) to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly 
ἀνθέξεται: FMI 3s, ἀντέχομαι, 1) to hold before or against, hold back, withstand, endure. In the ΝΤ only in middle voice to keep one's self directly opposite to any one, hold to him firmly, cleave to, paying heed to him
καταφρονήσει: FAI 3s, καταφρονέω, 1) to contemn, despise, disdain, think little or nothing of
δύνασθε: PMI 2p, δύναμαι, 1) to be able, have power whether by virtue of one's own ability and  resources
1. The verb δύναμαι is a bit of a challenge to translate. As the definition shows, it can mean ‘to be able’ or ‘to have power.’ I have some discomfort with the NRSV, NIV, ESV, and KJV, who translate it as “can.” With that choice, the last phrase becomes “You cannot serve God and Mammon,” which sounds like a command, rather than a continuation of the thought that it is simply not doable.
2. It sounds like Jesus is setting up two different either/or possibilities: either hate or love a lord; and either embrace or disdain a lord – as if Jesus is simply saying the same thing in two different ways. But, grammatically, the ἢ … ἢ or “either … or” is contrasting the hate/love with the embrace/disdain.
3. This is the only use of “mammon” in Matthew’s gospel. Luke uses it three times, all in the same pericope that parallels this one (16:9, 16:11, 16:13).  
4. It seems a bit odd that, since serving Mammon is the antithesis to serving God, this is the only direct mention of Mammon in Matthew’s gospel. Perhaps that is too simplistic, because one could make the argument that Mt. 5:19-21 says the same thing in other terms, and so might many other verses.
5. For the sake of this pericope, I am trying to see the relationship between this verse and the matter of “worrying” in the following verses.

25Διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν, μὴ μεριμνᾶτε τῇ ψυχῇ ὑμῶν τί φάγητε [ἢ τί πίητε,] 
μηδὲ τῷ σώματι ὑμῶν τί ἐνδύσησθε: οὐχὶ  ψυχὴ πλεῖόν ἐστιν τῆς τροφῆς 
καὶ τὸ σῶμα τοῦ ἐνδύματος; 
Therefore I say this to you, do not be anxious for your soul, what you might eat [or what you might drink] nor for your body what you might wear; Is not the soul more than the food and the body (more) than the clothes?
μεριμνᾶτε : PAImpv 2p, μεριμνάω, 1) to be anxious  1a) to be troubled with cares
φάγητε: AASubj 2p, ἐσθίω, 1) to eat  2) to eat (consume) a thing  
πίητε: AASubj 2p, πίνω, 1) to drink
ἐνδύσησθε: AMSubj 2p, ἐνδύω, 1) to sink into (clothing), put on, clothe one's self 
ἐστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
1. Here is the imperative: Do not be anxious. (I really wish there were a good transitive verb for anxiety that stays in the family, like ‘to anx’ or something. As it is, in order to keep the word “anxiety,” which I think has more volume to it than “worry,” one must make this “be anxious.” It is permissible grammatically, but seems to lose some of its bite that way. If only “angst” were a verb!)
2. Most translations are translating ψυχῇ as “life” and not “soul.” ψυχῇ is transliterated into English as “psyche” and whenever the word “soul” is found in Matthew (as in 10:28. 11:29, 12:18, and 22:37 in the NRSV) it is the same Greek term. Either translation is permissible, but I wish for consistency, especially because of the connotations that “soul” has taken on over time.
3. This use of the word “soul” refers to that which is sustained by eating and drinking, which can suffer from a lack of eating and drinking, and yet is more than eating and drinking. This verse posits a distinction but not a dualism of soul and body. At the very least, we can say that, in this verse, the soul/psyche is not some ethereal part of us, disconnected with all things fleshly. On the contrary, the soul/psyche relies on food and drink. 
4. Here’s an attempt to align vv. 24 and 25: The soul/psyche needs food and drink, just as the body needs clothes. Yet, neither of these needs should be a cause for anxiety, because we can only either love God and hate money or cling to God and disdain money. Hmm…
5. The phrase “or what you might drink” is not found in some of the older manuscripts.

26 ἐμβλέψατε εἰς τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ὅτι οὐ σπείρουσιν οὐδὲ θερίζουσιν 
οὐδὲ συνάγουσιν εἰς ἀποθήκας, καὶ  πατὴρ ὑμῶν  οὐράνιος τρέφει αὐτά: 
οὐχ ὑμεῖς μᾶλλον διαφέρετε αὐτῶν; 
Gaze at the birds of the heaven that they neither sow nor reap nor gather into a granary, and your heavenly father feeds them; are you not of greater value than they?
ἐμβλέψατε: AAImpv 2p, βλέπω (see) with the prefix ἐν (in or on): to look upon, view with steadfastness and attention
σπείρουσιν: PAI 3p, σπείρω, 1) to sow, scatter, seed 
θερίζουσιν: PAI 3p, θερίζω, 1) to reap, harvest  2) proverbial expression for sowing and reaping
συνάγουσιν: PAI 3p, συνάγω, 1) to gather together, to gather  1a) to draw together, collect
διαφέρετε: PAI 2p, διαφέρω, 1) to bear or carry through any place
1. I know that the phrase “birds of the air” has taken on a life of its own outside of this verse, so it is tempting to keep it. But, οὐρανοῦ is the term translated “heaven” practically everywhere else in the NT, so why not here?
2. Not to belabor the point, but if birds are fed by God, they are creatures with “souls,” at least in the way that Jesus is speaking of the soul in v.25.
3. Taking this verse strictly seems like we’re being called out of the domestication of crops and back into being gatherers for our food and drink. Some ascetic and voluntary poverty groups seem to have taken this verse to that extent – although living off of the kindness of people who are sowing, reaping, and storing seems to be a bit different than living off the land as birds do.

27 τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν μεριμνῶν δύναται προσθεῖναι ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτοῦ 
πῆχυν ἕνα; 
Yet who out of your anxieties has the power to add one hour to your lifespan?
δύναται: PMI 3s, δύναμαι, 1) to be able, have power whether by virtue of one's own ability and  resources
προσθεῖναι: προστίθημι, 1) to put to  2) to add 
τὴν ἡλικίαν: afs, ἡλικία1) age, time of life  1a) age, term or length of life
1. This verse has some real challenges. One is whether it should read, “Yet can any one out of you” or “Yet who out of your anxieties.” The “you” (ὑμῶν) is plural and genitive; so is “anxieties” (μεριμνῶν). The question is whether the “you” accompanies “anxieties” or “anyone” (τίς) – whether it is “who, out of your anxieties” (my translation) or “who out of you … anxieties” (everybody else).
2. The second issue here is whether we are talking about adding time to a lifespan or adding height to a stature. τὴν ἡλικίαν can go either way. It is translated as a temporal term by the NRSV, NIV, ESV, YLT. The KJV uses the word “stature.”
Argument for translating τὴν ἡλικίαν as “stature”: While this is the only use of the term in Matthew, it is the same word that is found to describe Zacchaeus in Luke 19:3 and Jesus growing up in Luke 2:52.  Likewise, the phrase πῆχυν ἕνα (one cubit) is typically a term measuring length (about 25 inches, I read). See John 21:8 or Rev.21:17. Again, this verse is the only use of πῆχυν in Matthew.
Argument for translating τὴν ἡλικίαν as “lifespan”: In John’s gospel, the parents of the man born blind do not want to answer for him, arguing that he is “of age” (9:21 and 9:23). If one sees τὴν ἡλικίαν as “lifespan,” however, one must translate πῆχυν ἕνα from a measure of length to a metaphor for time.
3. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Verses 26-27 are elaborations of the imperative in v.25, not to be anxious about the soul/psyche, what to eat or drink. Verses 28-30 will be elaborations about the imperative of v.25 not to be anxious about what to put on the body. 

28 καὶ περὶ ἐνδύματος τί μεριμνᾶτε; καταμάθετε τὰκρίνα τοῦ ἀγροῦ πῶς 
αὐξάνουσιν: οὐ κοπιῶσιν οὐδὲ νήθουσιν: 
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider lilies of the field how they grow; they neither toil nor spin;
μεριμνᾶτε: PAI 2p, μεριμνάω, 1) to be anxious  1a) to be troubled with cares
καταμάθετε: AAImpv 2p, καταμανθάνω, 1) to learn thoroughly, examine carefully  2) to consider well
αὐξάνουσιν: PAI 3p, αὐξάνω, 1) to cause to grow, augment 

29 λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐδὲ Σολομὼν ἐν πάσῃ τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ περιεβάλετο ὡς ἓν τούτων. 
Yet I say to you that Solomon in all of in his glory was not arrayed like one of them.
περιεβάλετο: AMI 3s, περιβάλλω, 1) to throw around, to put around  1a) to surround a city with a bank (palisade)  1b) of garments, to clothe one 
1. Warren Carter argues that the “Yet I say to you” is an indicator that Solomon is a negative example of how to be clothed. It is the phrase that Jesus uses in the six antitheses, from “you have heard … but I say to you …” Phrases like this are frequent in Matthew (5:18, 20, 22, 26, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44; 6:2, 5, 16, 25), where the phrase sets up a contrast. “’Solomon in All His Glory’: Intertextuality and Matthew 6:29” JSNT 65 (1997).
Carter’s argument is important because Solomon is typically remembered for his request for wisdom above anything else (I Kings 3). But, that is only part of his story. He was a harsh and luxuriant tyrant (I Kings 3-4). He should have aspired to be the kind of king described in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. Instead, Solomon fulfilled the warning that Samuel gave the people in I Samuel 8:10-18.
2. The point would be that God provides arraignment for the totally receptive lilies of the field that was better than the harsh power and luxury of Solomon.

30 εἰ δὲ τὸν χόρτον τοῦ ἀγροῦ σήμερον ὄντα καὶ αὔριον εἰς κλίβανον 
βαλλόμενον  θεὸς οὕτως ἀμφιέννυσιν, οὐ πολλῷ μᾶλλον ὑμᾶς, 
Yet if God so dresses the grass of the field, which exists today and tomorrow is thrown into an oven, will [God] not much more [dress] you, little of faith?
ὄντα: PAPart ams, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present.
βαλλόμενον : PPPart ams, βάλλω, 1) to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls  1a) to scatter, to throw, cast into
ἀμφιέννυσιν: ἀμφιέννυμι, 1) to put on, to clothe
1. The subject and verb of this sentence (God dresses) come rather late, so most translations have moved it earlier. (YLT does not: And if the herb of the field, that to-day is, and to-morrow is cast to the furnace, God doth so clothe -- not much more you, O ye of little faith?] The words that I have in green are one long participial phrase.
2. Non-essential matters of adorning the body also are places where God provides. This is important, it seems to me. Even if the body is more than clothing and even if grass is here today, cooked tomorrow, God provides beauty there.
3. Matthew uses the term ὀλιγό/πιστοι (little of faith) four times (here, 8:26, 14:31, 16:8). The only other use in the NT is Luke 12:28, a parallel to this verse.

31 μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε λέγοντες, Τί φάγωμεν; ἤ, Τί πίωμεν; ἤ, Τί 
Therefore may you not be anxious saying, “What shall we eat?” or, “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we array ourselves?”  
μεριμνήσητε: AASubj 2p, μεριμνάω, 1) to be anxious  1a) to be troubled with cares
περιβαλώμεθα: AMSubj 1p, περιβάλλω, 1) to throw around, to put around  1a) to surround a city with a bank (palisade)  1b) of garments, to clothe one 
1. Instead of a repeat of the imperative “Do not be anxious” from v.25, the verb here is a subjunctive (the mood indicating possibility) “May you not be anxious.” Some translations blur the distinction.

32 πάντα γὰρ ταῦτα τὰ ἔθνη ἐπιζητοῦσιν: οἶδεν γὰρ  πατὴρ ὑμῶν  
οὐράνιος ὅτι χρῄζετε τούτων ἁπάντων. 
For the Gentiles seek about these things; for your heavenly father knows that you need them all.
ἐπιζητοῦσιν: ἐπιζητέω, 1) to enquire for, seek for, search for, seek diligently 2) to wish for, crave 3) to demand, clamor for 
χρῄζετε: PAI 2p, χρήζω 1) to need, have need of, want.

33 ζητεῖτε δὲ πρῶτον τὴν βασιλείαν [τοῦ θεοῦ] καὶ τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ, 
καὶ ταῦτα πάντα προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν. 
Yet seek first the reign [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
ζητεῖτε: PAImpv 2p, ζητέω, 1) to seek in order to find  1a) to seek a thing  
προστεθήσεται: FPI 3s, προστίθημι, 1) to put to  2) to add  2a) i.e. to join to
1. Here is the other imperative of this pericope, in addition to the “Do not worry” that we saw earlier. “Seek first the reign [of God]”
2. The ταῦτα πάντα (all these things) picks up on the ἁ/πάντων (all) of v.32 and the matters of what to eat, drink, and wear in v.31.

34 μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε εἰς τὴν αὔριον,  γὰρ αὔριον μεριμνήσει ἑαυτῆς: 
ἀρκετὸν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ  κακία αὐτῆς. 
Therefore may you not be anxious about the morrow, for the morrow will be anxious about itself; sufficient to the day the evil in itself.  
μεριμνήσητε: AASubj 2p, μεριμνάω, 1) to be anxious  1a) to be troubled with cares
μεριμνήσει: FAI 3s: μεριμνάω, 1) to be anxious  1a) to be troubled with cares
1. There is no verb in this last phrase: “evil sufficient in itself to the day.” Instead, it is comprise of three different cases for the nouns/adjectives, an implied verb and a nominative predicate: sufficient (nominative adj) to the day (dative) the evil (nominative) [is: implied verb] in itself (genitive). Of course, in a refined translation, this would come out something like what all the translations have.

Blog Archive