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Matthew 26:51

Matt 26:51 wrote:Καὶ ἰδοὺ εἷς τῶν μετὰ Ἰησοῦ ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα ἀπέσπασεν τὴν μάχαιραν αὐτοῦ καὶ πατάξας τὸν δοῦλον τοῦ ἀρχιερέως ἀφεῖλεν αὐτοῦ τὸ ὠτίον.
And look one of those with Jesus reached out his hand and unsheathed his sword. And he struck the high priest’s slave and took off his ear.

What is the function of the article in τὸν δοῦλον? Did the high priest have only one slave?

Could well be — that big, burly fellow who looks like the Michelin man! The article does seem to suggest that this slave was a recognizable figure even if the High Priest had other slaves. But admittedly I’m guessing.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
Stephen Carlson wrote:I’m wondering if the man was notorious or something.

(something = famous?) Do you mean for some reason apart from having his ear cut off and healed back on again?

I assume that the story of Malchus was told many times over before the Gospel was written down.
In his own context he may not have been anyone before, but after that encounter… I assume that the definite article comes from his Gospel “notoriety” not from before.

Stephen Hughes
A servant as leader? Possible to be a leader when being a slave, yes, but ordinarily given a different title.It seems you are inching towards taking the reference to Μάλχος as τὸν τοῦ ἀρχιερέως δοῦλον / τὸν δοῦλον τοῦ ἀρχιερέως to mean (something like Βλάστον is said to be in another context (Acts 12:20) τὸν ἐπὶ τοῦ κοιτῶνος τοῦ βασιλέως “the king’s chamberlain”?) – a trusted slave/servant that exercised a degree of authority and influence. While a slave could be a leader, I think that there are better words that could have been used to express that, perhaps οἰκόνομος (the one who looked after his household affairs perhaps also being a δοῦλος), or οἰκοδεσπότης (probably not a δοῦλος but possibly so), or perhaps better than those the less role-specific ὑπηρέτης. (For that sense, you could compare 1 Corinthians 4:1 Οὕτως ἡμᾶς λογιζέσθω ἄνθρωπος, ὡς ὑπηρέτας χριστοῦ καὶ οἰκονόμους μυστηρίων θεοῦ.)

A question about what actually happened might indicate whether Peter was in the thick of the action or coming in from the periphery:
What is the most likely way that 2 men would be fighting (one at least with a sword – or large knife) so that one of them (perhaps the unarmed one) would end up with his ear cut off? I’d always believed that Peters action was a rash and blunderous “sucker punch” that took Malchus off guard. If Malchus was on the periphery, then it would suggest he was not a leader.

Stephen Hughes

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