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.
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.
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.