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  #1  
Old 6th September 2006, 03:54 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Default The Gospel of Matthew

Any members who wish to participate in this Bible study of the Gospel of Matthew, please read chapter 1.

You can read the chapter in any Catholic edition of the Bible, including the NAB, JB, NJB, RSV, or the Douay. I'll be teaching mainly from my own translation:
http://www.sacredbible.org/catholic/index.htm
and I'll be referring, at times, to the Pope Sixtus V and Pope Clement VIII Latin Vulgate Bible also. But knowledge of Latin is not required for participation in this forum.


Ron Conte
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Old 7th September 2006, 04:31 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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[Matthew 1]
{1:1} The book of the lineage of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

This first line has the function of the title of the book. The Gospel message is based on the undestanding that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, the fulfillment of the promise of God to the Jews, the son of David.

{1:16} And Jacob conceived Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Notice that this lineage is of Joseph, even though Joseph is not the bioloical father of Jesus. But Joseph and Mary were betrothed prior to the Incarnation, and under the Old Testament Law the beginning of the marriage was the betrothal.

{1:18} Now the procreation of the Christ occurred in this way. After his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they lived together, she was found to have conceived in her womb by the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, one way that the Promise is fulfilled, the promise that the Messiah would be from the descendants of Abraham and of David, is through Joseph as the legal father of Jesus. Mary herself was also of the house of David, as we later learn in the Gospel of Luke.

{1:24} Then Joseph, arising from sleep, did just as the Angel of the Lord had instructed him, and he accepted her as his wife.
{1:25} And he knew her not, yet she bore her son, the firstborn. And he called his name JESUS.

According to Saint Bridget of Sweden, based on her private revelations from the Virgin Mary, Joseph did not suspect that Mary had sinned or been unfaithful, but rather he felt himself unworthy to be the husband of the woman who was fulfilling the Scripture passages saying that the mother of the Messiah would be a virgin.

The translation of this last verse is interesting. Most translations have 'until she bore her son.' But the Catholic understanding that Mary was ever-virgin affects the wording of the translation, avoiding the confusion that might be caused by the word 'until'. Also, the phrasing 'her son, the firstborn' could have been rendered as 'her firstborn son' but Jesus is THE Firstborn, so the translation prefers the wording with the greater depth of meaning.


Does anyone have any questions or comments on this passage?


Ron
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  #3  
Old 7th September 2006, 04:41 PM
Climacus Areopagite Climacus Areopagite is offline
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Default "firstborn"

Ron,

Does "firstborn" in 1:25 mean that Jesus is her firstborn, and all faithful Catholics are also her children. I bring it up cause I have heard Protestants use this passage against the Virginity of the Blessed Mother. They say she bore other children, which is blasphemous.
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  #4  
Old 7th September 2006, 07:10 PM
Nathan
 
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Default thoughts from an exegetical curmugdeon

Indeed, Climacus, "firstborn" implies not that subsequent sons are born, at least not necessarily; rather, it refers to Jesus' status. Firstborn was a special category in the law, and we see that this sets us up for the presentation of our Lord.

Ron, you translate v18, "before they lived together," which, in my understanding of English, implies an original imperfect infinitive in the Greek. Yet synelthein is in the aorist, implying a one-time event rather than a state. Furthermore, from what I know of the use of synelthein in Greek literature, this is idiomatic for the commencement of the marital state. Or are you assuming that Mary and Joseph lived in a state of perpetual betrothal as many in Tradition suggest?

Also, I appreciate your translation of v25; nevertheless, I cannot help but feel that translating eos ou as "yet" changes the sense of the verse. Eos ou does not imply that Mary gave birth despite not having relations with Joseph, as "yet" suggests; rather, it sets a temporal reference between the two clauses. Even if we want to emphasize the ever-virginity in our translation, we are stuck in whatever way we interpret this passage with eos ou being the grammatical equivalent of "until." I know that the Peshita avoids the issue entirely, but I cannot remember how it translates the verse off the top of my head. One Catholic exegete I know translates this as: "he did not know her while she gave birth to her first born son...," but again, gave birth is aorist so I dont think that this really works just in order to avoid the implication that the action (sexual abstention) ceased after the birth of Christ.

That leads to an exegetical dilemma that I have felt after puzzling over this for a few years now. "Eos ou" need not imply the cessation of the previously mentioned action in Septuagint Greek, but it sure does seem to in 1st century Greek literature with this same grammatical context. If MAtthew was written in Aramaic, and the Peshita has it more correct, is it possible that this Greek version in the Receptus and other texts is a faulty translation? Or is it possible that, as (I think) Raymond Brown has suggested, Matthew did not know that Mary was ever-virgin?

I know that I am going to get pouncd on for this, but I have neither time nor patience for lengthy exegetical arguments about this verse or how I arrived at my present set of possibilities... just granting this conundrum, are there any outside-the-box solutions? Granted, any statistical analysis of the Greek, or any historical-grammatical interpretation can only claim levels of likelihood, never textual certainty. That is where Tradition fills the gaps. But it sure helps when Tradition speaks in concert with good, solid historical-grammatical support as well.
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  #5  
Old 7th September 2006, 07:33 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Climacus Areopagite View Post
Does "firstborn" in 1:25 mean that Jesus is her firstborn, and all faithful Catholics are also her children. I bring it up cause I have heard Protestants use this passage against the Virginity of the Blessed Mother. They say she bore other children, which is blasphemous.

I agree with your first statement. Good insight.

To say that Mary bore other children is heretical, but not blasphemous, because Mary is not God.


Ron
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  #6  
Old 7th September 2006, 07:50 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan View Post
Indeed, Climacus, "firstborn" implies not that subsequent sons are born, at least not necessarily; rather, it refers to Jesus' status. Firstborn was a special category in the law, and we see that this sets us up for the presentation of our Lord.

Yes, I agree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan View Post
Ron, you translate v18, "before they lived together," which, in my understanding of English, implies an original imperfect infinitive in the Greek. Yet synelthein is in the aorist, implying a one-time event rather than a state. Furthermore, from what I know of the use of synelthein in Greek literature, this is idiomatic for the commencement of the marital state. Or are you assuming that Mary and Joseph lived in a state of perpetual betrothal as many in Tradition suggest?
Yes, the OT Law has provisions for a betrothed virgin. Mary, in her marriage to Joseph was a perpetual betrothed virgin, so that she had a valid OT marriage to Joseph, without marital relations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan View Post
Also, I appreciate your translation of v25; nevertheless, I cannot help but feel that translating eos ou as "yet" changes the sense of the verse. Eos ou does not imply that Mary gave birth despite not having relations with Joseph, as "yet" suggests; rather, it sets a temporal reference between the two clauses. Even if we want to emphasize the ever-virginity in our translation, we are stuck in whatever way we interpret this passage with eos ou being the grammatical equivalent of "until." I know that the Peshita avoids the issue entirely, but I cannot remember how it translates the verse off the top of my head. One Catholic exegete I know translates this as: "he did not know her while she gave birth to her first born son...," but again, gave birth is aorist so I dont think that this really works just in order to avoid the implication that the action (sexual abstention) ceased after the birth of Christ.

When any verse is translated, there is a range of possible wordings. Considering the great liberties that many Bible translations take with the wording of many different passages, this use of 'yet' instead of 'until' (in order to clarify that this verse does not contradict the infallible teaching of the Church on Mary's perpetual virginity) is not at all a loose or free translation. This kind of translation choice occurs in every translation of the Bible, even in literal translations. It is only controversial because of Protestant and heretical Catholic objections to Mary's virginity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan View Post
That leads to an exegetical dilemma that I have felt after puzzling over this for a few years now. "Eos ou" need not imply the cessation of the previously mentioned action in Septuagint Greek, but it sure does seem to in 1st century Greek literature with this same grammatical context. If Matthew was written in Aramaic, and the Peshita has it more correct, is it possible that this Greek version in the Receptus and other texts is a faulty translation?
No, I think that you are taking too literal an approach to understanding and translating texts. It is not possible, except in an interlinear translation, to translate each word as literally as you are suggesting. Also, I have a general criticism of Bible scholars in that they often claim that a word in the Bible has a very specific and exquistitely crafted meaning -- and no other! But my experience of the Bible is that words are used in the ordinary way, with a broad range of meanings possible, which varies depending on context and on interpretation. So the fault is not in the text, but in an overly-rigid view of what a word can mean.

I think that the word donec (I'm translating from the Latin, remember) has a range of meaning that, in this context, clearly means 'yet' and not 'until' especially not 'until' in the more modern view of that word (which would seem to imply subsequent events).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan View Post
Or is it possible that, as (I think) Raymond Brown has suggested, Matthew did not know that Mary was ever-virgin?
Raymond Brown is an idiot.[/quote]

{1:16} Iacob autem genuit Ioseph virum Marić, de qua natus est Iesus, qui vocatur Christus.
{1:16} And Jacob conceived Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

~ Notice that after many uses of the formula ‘one man conceived another man,’ the passage does not say that Joseph conceived (genuit) Jesus. The break in this formula indicates the understanding of Matthew and of the Church from its earliest days, that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus.



Ron
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  #7  
Old 7th September 2006, 08:02 PM
Climacus Areopagite Climacus Areopagite is offline
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To say that Mary bore other children is heretical, but not blasphemous, because Mary is not God.
Ron

Thanks for the correction Ron

Climacus
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  #8  
Old 7th September 2006, 09:48 PM
VeiledProphetess
 
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Default Questions & observations

Ron,

Please bear with me, since I was raised Protestant--So we must interpret Scripture in light of Tradition, and not vice-versa? I ask because, when I was Episcopalian, I read Protestant commentaries saying these verses in Matthew clearly state that Mary had other children after Jesus' birth, and that this disproves the Catholic position. (My husband, the ex-Catholic, says I should put more weight on Church Tradition and less on the Bible, but I'm not sure just what the balance should be here.)

Also, this might be a minor point, but I've always wondered--if Isaiah's prophecy points to the birth of Christ, why didn't they name Him Emmanuel instead of Jesus?

Thanks for including passages from the Vulgate. It's good to dust off my high school Latin! (I was one of the last to learn it before they took Latin out of our district's public schools.)

Last edited by VeiledProphetess : 7th September 2006 at 09:50 PM. Reason: correct typo in title
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Old 7th September 2006, 10:40 PM
Joan
 
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Veiled Prophetess, I, too, am a convert from Protestantism; and, just when I think it's all settled...

Ron, you say, "According to Saint Bridget of Swede[n], based on her private revelations from the Virgin Mary, Joseph did not suspect that Mary had sinned or been unfaithful, but rather he felt himself unworthy to be the husband of the woman who was fulfilling the Scripture passages saying that the mother of the Messiah would be a virgin." Then, why did St. Joseph, being a compassionate [righteous] man think to "put her away privilly" Surely, the insight granted to a Saint is not to be dismissed in favor of just what I always thought in an unreflective manner; however--maybe St. Joseph experienced a complex gamut of emotions in such astonishing circumstances?
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Old 8th September 2006, 12:17 AM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VeiledProphetess View Post
So we must interpret Scripture in light of Tradition, and not vice-versa? I ask because, when I was Episcopalian, I read Protestant commentaries saying these verses in Matthew clearly state that Mary had other children after Jesus' birth, and that this disproves the Catholic position. (My husband, the ex-Catholic, says I should put more weight on Church Tradition and less on the Bible, but I'm not sure just what the balance should be here.)
Scripture is interpreted in the light of Tradition and Magisterium. But all three reveal one Deposit of Faith, the Word of God. It's hard to say how this should work out in practice. You don't have to consult with Tradition and Magisterium for every verse of the Bible.

Of the three, Tradition is greater, then Scripture, then Magisterium, because Scripture came from Tradition, and the Magisterium only teaches the truths of Tradition and Scripture.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VeiledProphetess View Post
Also, this might be a minor point, but I've always wondered--if Isaiah's prophecy points to the birth of Christ, why didn't they name Him Emmanuel instead of Jesus?

This kind of expression is found in various passages of the Bible. It doesn't mean that they will call him the name Emmanuel, but that they will understand him to be God among us. So, it's not a prophecy of his name, but of who he is, i.e. that the Messiah would be the Son of God. And that is a much greater revelation than if only his name was revealed.


Ron
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