Monday, January 20, 2014

The Reason of Following

Below is a rough translation and some initial comments regarding Matthew 4: 12-23. The thing that strikes me this time around - on this very familiar 'call' story - is how random Matthew seems to make the walk along the shore and the spotting of the fishers before Jesus calls them. In some ways, I am seeing Jesus as the fisher, demonstrating a dragnet sort of approach, which might evoke a 'no' but seems to evoke an unmediated following. 
Your comments are welcomed. 

12 Ἀκούσας δὲ ὅτι Ἰωάννης παρεδόθη ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν. 
Yet having heard that John had been handed over, he withdrew into Galilee. 
Ἀκούσας  AAPart nms, ἀκούω, 1) to be endowed with the faculty of hearing,
παρεδόθη  API 3s, παραδίδωμι, 1) to give into the hands (of another)  ἀνεχώρησεν  AAI 3s, ἀναχωρέω, 1) to go back, return  2) to withdraw 
1. Matthew uses the word παραδίδωμι (hand over) often. It can mean something fairly benign, but in the gospels it often has the more sinister sense of betrayal. See the list below for Matthew’s uses.
2. The word ἀναχωρέω also has intense meaning in Matthew. Audrey West (Lutheran School of Theology) says, “The verb ἀναχωρέω is typically used in Matthew when there is movement from one place to another in the face of threatening circumstances. (MD: see 2:12, 2:14, 2:22, 12:15, 14:13) … Thus, the pericope's opening verse is not simply a way to mark time, but it signals that John's arrest is a dangerous situation for Jesus, and he must choose how to respond.”

13 καὶ καταλιπὼν τὴν Ναζαρὰ ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς Καφαρναοὺμ τὴν 
παρα θαλασσίαν ἐν ὁρίοις Ζαβουλὼν καὶ Νεφθαλίμ: 
And having left Nazareth having arrived he settled in Capernaum by the sea in region of Zebulon and Naphtali;
καταλιπὼν  AAPart nms, καταλείπω, 1) to leave behind  1a) to depart from, leave  
ἐλθὼν : AAPart nms, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come  
κατῴκησεν  AAI 3s, κατοικέω, 1) to dwell, settle
1. This verse reminds me of the constant moving that characterizes Matthew’s birth narrative. Audrey West’s comment above helps to place this motion in the context of Jesus being displaced from the very beginning of this life and now at the onset of his ministry.

14 ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος, 
In order that which was spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled, saying,
πληρωθῇ  APS 3s, πληρόω, 1) to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full 
ῥηθὲν: APPart nms, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
λέγοντος PAPart gms, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 

15 Γῆ Ζαβουλὼν καὶ γῆ Νεφθαλίμ, ὁδὸν θαλάσσης, πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου, 
Γαλιλαία τῶν ἐθνῶν, 
Land of Zebulon and land of Naphtali, road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles/nations,  
1. Matthew makes a lot of OT references to Jesus’ movements. They come across almost like proof-texts, but I wonder if there is something much more sophisticated at work. So many of these references seem to be M material instead of Mark or Q material. Has anyone come across a study of the wandering movement in Matthew’s gospel and its possible theological meaning? Sounds like a NT dissertation waiting to happen!

16  λαὸς  καθήμενος ἐν σκότει φῶς εἶδεν μέγα, καὶ τοῖς καθημένοις ἐν 
χώρᾳ καὶ σκιᾷ θανάτου φῶς ἀνέτειλεν αὐτοῖς. 
The people who are seated in darkness saw a great light, and a light rose on the ones who are seated in a space and shadow of death.
καθήμενος  PMPart nms, κάθημαι, 1) to sit down, seat one's self
εἶδεν: AAI 3s, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes 
καθημένοις  PMPart dmp, κάθημαι, 1) to sit down, seat one's self 
ἀνέτειλεν  AAI 3s, ἀνατέλλω, 1) rise  1a) to cause to rise
1. I did not note to myself where I got this piece of information – perhaps from Audrey West’s article – but it is well put:
When one compares the text of Matt 4:16 to the Greek and Hebrew forms of Isa 9:1, the differences are immediately apparent. First, it is clear that the Gospel of Matthew has not followed the text of the LXX here. Matthew writes:
ό λαός ό καθήμενος έν σκότει φως ειδεν μέγα, και τοις καθημένοις έν χώρα και σκιά θανάτου φως άνέτειλεν αύτοΐς.
The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, and to those who sit in the region and shadow of death a light has arisen to them.
The LXX differs substantially with:
ό λαός ό πορευόμενος έν σκότει ΐδετε φως μέγα* οί κατοικοϋντες έν χώρα και σκιφ θανάτου φως λάμψει έφ' υμάς.
You people who walk in darkness see a great light, those who dwell in the region and shadow of death a light shines upon you.

17 Ἀπὸ τότε ἤρξατο Ἰησοῦς κηρύσσειν καὶ λέγειν, Μετανοεῖτε, ἤγγικεν 
γὰρ  βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν. 
From there, Jesus entered to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has come near.”
ἤρξατο: AMI 3s, ἄρχω, 1) to be chief, to lead, to rule
κηρύσσειν: PAInf, κηρύσσω, 1) to be a herald, to officiate as a herald  1a) to proclaim after the manner of a herald
λέγειν: PAInf, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
Μετανοεῖτε: PAImpv 2p, μετανοέω, 1) to change one's mind, i.e. to repent 
ἤγγικεν  PerfAI 3s, ἐγγίζω, 1) to bring near, to join one thing to another 
1. When Matthew specifies that Jesus came ‘to preach and to say’ I wonder if the preaching was one thing and the words that Matthew quotes are another thing.

18 Περιπατῶν δὲ παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας εἶδεν δύο ἀδελφούς, 
Σίμωνα τὸν λεγόμενον Πέτρον καὶ Ἀνδρέαν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ, βάλλοντας 
ἀμφίβληστρον εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν: ἦσαν γὰρ ἁλιεῖς. 
Yet walking along the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers.
Περιπατῶν  PAPart nms, περιπατέω, 1) to walk
εἶδεν: AAI 3s, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know
λεγόμενον: PPPart asm, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
βάλλοντας  PAPart amp, βάλλω, 1) to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls  1a) to scatter, to throw, cast into 
ἦσαν : IAI 3p, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
1. This all sounds disturbingly happenstance. “As Jesus was walking along …” rather than, “From there he set out to find ….” More like ‘first available’ than ‘specifically destined.’ Maybe Jesus was casting a net like fishers do – toss it out and see what happens to get tangled up in it.

19καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Δεῦτε ὀπίσω μου, καὶ ποιήσω ὑμᾶς ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων. 
And he says to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of people.”
Δεῦτε 1) come hither, come here, come  2) interjection, come!, come now! ποιήσω: FAI 1s, ποιέω, 1) to make
1. If my comment from the last verse has any validity (and that’s always a concern when I comment), maybe this activity of fishing for people is not quite the precise technique or process that we’ve often pretended it is.

20 οἱ δὲ εὐθέως ἀφέντες τὰ δίκτυα ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ.
Yet immediately having left the nets they followed him. 
ἀφέντες  AAPart, nmpl ἀφίημι, 1) to send away  … of a husband divorcing his wife  … to yield up, to expire   to let go, let alone, let be   to disregard   to leave.
ἠκολούθησαν  AAI, 3pl. ἀκολουθέω, 1) to follow one who precedes, join him as attendant, accompany
1. See the comment below v.22 on the disciples’ immediate reactions.

21 Καὶ προβὰς ἐκεῖθεν εἶδεν ἄλλους δύο ἀδελφούς, Ἰάκωβον τὸν τοῦ 
Ζεβεδαίου καὶ Ἰωάννην τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ, ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ μετὰ Ζεβεδαίου τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτῶν καταρτίζοντας τὰ δίκτυα αὐτῶν: καὶ ἐκάλεσεν αὐτούς.
And going forward from that place, he saw two other brothers, James the of Zebedee and John his brother, in their work with Zebedee their father mending their nets; and he called them. 
προβὰς  AAPart, nms προβαίνω, 1) to go forwards, go on 
εἶδεν: AAI 3s, ὁράω,v  \{hor-ah'-o}
1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know
καταρτίζοντας  PAPart, ampl, καταρτίζω, 1) to render, i.e. to fit, sound, complete  1a) to mend (what has been broken or rent), to repair 
ἐκάλεσεν AAI, 3sg καλέω, 1) to call  1a) to call aloud, utter in a loud voice 

 22 οἱ δὲ εὐθέως ἀφέντες τὸ πλοῖον καὶ τὸν πατέρα αὐτῶν ἠκολούθησαν 
And immediately leaving the boat and their father they followed him.
ἀφέντες  AAPart nmp, ἀφίημι,
ἠκολούθησαν  AAI 3pl ἀκολουθέω, 1) to follow one who precedes, join him as attendant, accompany
1. Robert Scharlemann has reflected long and philosophically about the disciples’ immediate reaction to Jesus’ invitation in his book, The Reason of Following. He argues that the reasoning in the immediate, i.e. not-mediated-by-thinking-it-over, reaction is different from the 3 traditional types of reason found in western philosophy of thinking, doing, and feeling (or pure reason, practical reason, and aesthetic judgment). Their response is not mediated. It is more intuitive than reflective. As such, Scharlemann argues that it shows a 4th kind of reasoning, which he calls “acolouthetic reason” based on the word ἀκολουθέω, to follow. I see Scharlemann’s acolouthetic reason as being quite similar to what Friedrich Schleiermacher called, in The Christian Faith, “the feeling of absolute dependence,” which is an immediate state of self-consciousness, rather than a mediated one.
While one may not want to drag 4-foot long names into a Sunday sermon, Scharlemann and Schleiermacher offer some keen insight here into how the call and response of discipleship cannot be treated like just another marketing or persuasive activity. There is something about the call, the caller, the called, that evokes an immediate response, the consequences of which have yet to be disclosed. As such, it is a trusting onset of a journey, rather than a conclusion of sorts.

23Καὶ περιῆγεν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Γαλιλαίᾳ, διδάσκων ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν 
καὶ κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας καὶ θεραπεύων πᾶσαν νόσον 
καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν ἐν τῷ λαῷ.
And he was leading in the region of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing all the disease and all the infirmity in the people. 
περιῆγεν  IAI 3s, περιάγω, 1) to lead around, to lead about with one's self 
διδάσκων  PAPart nms, διδάσκω, 1) to teach  1a) to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them,  deliver didactic discourses
κηρύσσων  PAPart nms, κηρύσσω, 1) to be a herald, to officiate as a herald  1a) to proclaim 
θεραπεύων  PAPart nms, θεραπεύω, 1) to serve, do service  2) to heal, cure, restore to health
1. Leading (ostensibly leading the disciples whom he had just called to follow behind him), teaching, preaching, and healing. Sounds like a work plan! It also sounds suspiciously like the “Great Commission” at the end of Matthew’s gospel.

USES of παραδίδωμι in Matthew
...heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into...
...time the adversary deliver thee to the...
...and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
...of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils...
But when they deliver you up, take no thought...
And the brother shall deliver up the brother to...
All things are delivered unto me of...
...of man shall be betrayed into the hands...
...was wroth, and delivered him to the...
...Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief...
And shall deliver him to the...
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted... offended, and shall betray one another, and...
...own servants, and delivered unto them his...
...talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five...
...and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two...
...Son of man is betrayed to be crucified..., and I will deliver him unto you...
...sought opportunity to betray him. of you shall betray me., the same shall betray me.
...Son of man is betrayed! it had been...
Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and...
...Son of man is betrayed into the hands... at hand that doth betray me.
Now he that betrayed him gave them...
...him away, and delivered him to Pontius...
Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he...
...I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood...
...that for envy they had delivered him.
...had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be...

Uses of δεῦτε in Matthew

...saith unto them, Follow me, and I...
Come unto me, all... the heir; come, let us kill...
...things are ready: come unto the marriage...
...his right hand, Come, ye blessed of... he said. Come, see the place..


  1. I never thought to look at verse 13 in that way. Great insight. Thanks.

  2. So good to "see" you! I hope the move went well and that all is starting well for you, your family, and your church. You are missed.

    Crossan argues that it wasn't an accident that Jesus started with the fishin' folk. Their lives were never easy, but Herod built the city Tiberias right on the Sea of Galilee and started to take over the fishing industry - so things were getting much worse. So, they might have left easily, thinking, "Hey, anything is better than this." Which might explain why I don't follow immediately. I think, "wow, there's a lot of worse possibilities than what I'm living right now. I'll stay right here, thank you."

  3. Thanks, Pierre. It's good to hear from you.

  4. Hi Kirsten,
    What a great comment. (I miss hearing those on Tuesdays.) I respect Crossan's work enormously, but I suspect he would have found a way to say any kind of occupation was being co-opted by the Empire. Nonetheless, the effects of Herod's practices on the fisherfolk of Galilee had to be difficult and I've never thought about this call story in light of that before. Thanks. Hope you are well.

  5. I'm glad you posted this - I lead Bible study once a month, and this is my week. I was disappointed that you hadn't been able to post for last week, though - I really wanted to compare the two, since last week's verse gave a very different version of gathering the first disciples. I appreciate the insights you present here, though - you're always very helpful.


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