A healthy eye (Mt 6:22-6:23)

“The eye is the lamp

Of the body.

So,

If your eye is clear,

Your whole body

Will be full of light.

But if your eye is

Evil,

Your whole body

Will be full of darkness.

If then the light

In you

Is darkness,

How great is that darkness!”

 

Ὁ λύχνος τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν ὁ ὀφθαλμός. ἐὰν οὖν ᾖ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ἁπλοῦς, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου φωτεινὸν ἔσται·

ἐὰν δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρὸς ᾖ, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου σκοτεινὸν ἔσται. εἰ οὖν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἐν σοὶ σκότος ἐστίν, τὸ σκότος πόσον.

 

This saying of Jesus is similar to what is in Luke, chapter 11:34-35, so that it may be from the Q source.  The eye was the lamp of the body (Ὁ λύχνος τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν ὁ ὀφθαλμός).  If there was a healthy clear sound eye (ἐὰν οὖν ᾖ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ἁπλοῦς), then you would have a whole body full of light (ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου φωτεινὸν ἔσται).  This is the only time that the word “ἁπλοῦς” is used in the New Testament literature.  Both Luke and Matthew used it here, since it means simple, sound, clear, or perfect.  If, on the other hand, your eye was not healthy or evil (ἐὰν δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρὸς ᾖ), your whole body would be full of darkness (ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου σκοτεινὸν ἔσται).  Notice that Matthew did not use the opposite of clear, but chose the more common word for evil, “πονηρὸς.”  Thus, you had an evil eye.  On the other hand, both Luke and Matthew used a word that appears only here, “σκοτεινὸν,” to talk about a full total darkness.  If the light that is in you is dark (εἰ οὖν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἐν σοὶ σκότος ἐστίν), that is a really great darkness (τὸ σκότος πόσον).  Light and darkness was a common theme among the early Christians.  Light was good, but darkness was evil.  The connection of light to the eye was natural since the sense of blindness and darkness centered around the eyes.

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Unusual kindness (Mt 5:40-5:42)

“If anyone wants

To sue you,

If they want

To take your tunic coat,

Give your outer cloak as well!

If anyone forces you

To go one mile,

Go also the second mile!

Give to everyone

Who begs from you!

Do not refuse anyone

Who wants

To borrow

From you!”

 

καὶ τῷ θέλοντί σοι κριθῆναι καὶ τὸν χιτῶνά σου λαβεῖν, ἄφες αὐτῷ καὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον·

καὶ ὅστις σε ἀγγαρεύσει μίλιον ἕν, ὕπαγε μετ’ αὐτοῦ δύο.

τῷ αἰτοῦντί σε δός, καὶ τὸν θέλοντα ἀπὸ σοῦ δανίσασθαι μὴ ἀποστραφῇς

 

Once again, these sayings can be found in Luke, chapter 6:29-30, perhaps from the Q source.  Matthew indicates that the followers of Jesus should be kind people.  We might even call these activities unusual acts of kindness.  If someone wished to sue you (καὶ τῷ θέλοντί σοι κριθῆναι), not only should you give him your inner tunic coat (τὸν χιτῶνά σου λαβεῖν), but also your outer cloak as well (ἄφες αὐτῷ καὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον).  This seems like you would give all the clothes off your back, since most people did not own more than 2 coats.  If someone, probably a Roman soldier, forced you to go a mile with them (καὶ ὅστις σε ἀγγαρεύσει μίλιον ἕν), then go with them a second mile (ὕπαγε μετ’ αὐτοῦ δύο), since Roman soldiers could order people to carry their stuff for only a mile.  If anyone begs from you, give him something (τῷ αἰτοῦντί σε δός).  If someone wished to borrow money from you, you should not refuse them or turn away from them (καὶ τὸν θέλοντα ἀπὸ σοῦ δανίσασθαι μὴ ἀποστραφῇς).  These were tough difficult recommendations, but actually based on the Torah.  People were expected to give charity and at the same time offer interest free loans.

Turn the other cheek (Mt 5:39-5:39)

“But I say to you!

‘Do not resist

An evildoer!

But if anyone

Strikes you

On the right cheek,

Turn the other also.’”

 

ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν μὴ ἀντιστῆναι τῷ πονηρῷ· ἀλλ’ ὅστις σε ῥαπίζει εἰς τὴν δεξιὰν σιαγόνα σου, στρέψον αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν ἄλλην·

 

Matthew is not alone in having Jesus solemnly speak (ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν) about turning the other cheek.  Luke, in chapter 6:29, around his blessings and curses, had the exact same saying, perhaps another example of the Q source.  Jesus told them not to resist the evildoer (μὴ ἀντιστῆναι τῷ πονηρῷ).  Is this evil one the devil, as implied earlier in this chapter?  Or is this just another evil person?  If they were struck on the right cheek (ἀλλ’ ὅστις σε ῥαπίζει εἰς τὴν δεξιὰν σιαγόνα σου), they should turn the other cheek (στρέψον αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν ἄλλην).  A slap on the right cheek was usually a back handed slap since most people were right handed.  Jesus himself would be struck on the cheek in the passion narrative.  They would be true followers of Jesus, if they did not resist, as in the passion story.  This is one of the strongest arguments for Christian pacifism.

Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights (Mt 4:2-4:2)

“Jesus fasted

Forty days

And forty nights.

Afterwards,

He was hungry.”

 

καὶ νηστεύσας ἡμέρας τεσσεράκοντα καὶ τεσσεράκοντα νύκτας ὕστερον ἐπείνασεν.

 

Once again, this text is like Luke, chapter 4:2, word for word, indicating a common source, perhaps the Q source.  There was a symbolism in this fast of 40 days (ἡμέρας τεσσεράκοντα) and 40 nights (καὶ τεσσεράκοντα νύκτας).  Fasting (νηστεύσας) was a common Hebrew exercise, while 40 was the same number of years that the Israelites were in the wilderness during the Exodus.  This was a real fast, not one that ended when the sun went down, since it included a night fast also.  Jesus was really hungry of famished (ἐπείνασεν) at the end of this time. (ὕστερον).

The Q source

The Q source is a hypothetical written or oral collection of Jesus’ sayings that was common to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke but not in the Gospel of Mark.  This Q source included many parables and the beatitudes.  According to this hypothesis, these sayings of Jesus was taken from the early Church’s oral tradition.  In the 19th century, some New Testament scholars favored Mark as the first written gospel.  They assumed that that the authors of Matthew and Luke had used the Gospel of Mark.  However, there were large sections of the gospels of Luke and Matthew that were not found in Mark.  They suggested that neither gospel drew upon each other, but from a second common source, termed Q, from the German word Quelle.  Many scholars have tried to reconstruct this lost source with limited success.  Another group of scholars thought that the 20th century discovered Gospel of Thomas might be that source.  Others have maintained that this similarity also demanded a written rather than an oral document.  Did Q even predate the Gospel of Mark?  Another question is whether Luke used Matthew instead of having a common source, the older hypothesis.