Koine and Biblical and Medieval Greek • Re: Luke 12:20. Who are “they”?

I hope I’m not breaking any rules by reopening a thread that has been dormant for six months. I just noticed that Joachim Jeremias gives his own answer to your specific question, citing chapter and verse, on p. 9 of his book New Testament Theology (link below).

In the later pre-Christian period, Jeremias says, “to ensure that the second commandment was followed as scrupulously as possible and to exclude any misuse of the divine name, there arose the custom of speaking of God’s actions and feelings in periphrases. Jesus … followed the custom of the time and spoke of the action of God by means of circumlocutions.”

He then gives a numbered list of eighteen different forms that these periphrases or circumlocutions are found to take in the synoptic gospels, when Jesus’ words are quoted in direct speech. The fourth of the eighteen reads:

4. The third person plural: only in the Lucan special material: Luke 6:38; 12:20, 48c (twice); 16:9; 23:31.

In a footnote he adds that this is “the usual periphrasis in Rabbinic literature.”

With reference to Luke’s gospel in particular, Jeremias has noted a few pages earlier:

The sayings of Jesus handed down by the synoptic gospels are clad in the garb of a koine Greek with a number of Semitic characteristics. Although in a Hellenistic setting this Semitic colouring must have been felt to be unattractive and in need of improvement, by and large the tradition has been very restrained in giving the sayings a more pronounced Greek style. This reserve, which stems from reverence towards the Kyrios, comes out particularly strongly in the case of Luke, in whose writing the more Semitic-type logia stand out strikingly from the smooth Greek of the framework in which they are set.

https://archive.org/details/newtestamen ... 8/mode/2up

Statistics: Posted by BrianB — Fri Apr 26, 2024 12:08 pm

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