Mt 28:19-20 participial sequence and subordination

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Mt 28:19-20 participial sequence and subordination

Postby cwconrad » February 5th, 2013, 3:16 pm

Text:
Matt 28:19 πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος, 20 διδάσκοντες αὐτοὺς τηρεῖν πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην ὑμῖν· καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ μεθ᾿ ὑμῶν εἰμι πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας ἕως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος.


Wieland Willker has put to me a question regarding the sequence of the participles βαπτίζοντες (variant βαπτίσαντες) and διδάσκοντες in relation to μαθητεύσατε in Mt 28:19-20. He notes that Loisy (cited below) felt that the sequnce μαθητεύσατε … βαπτίζοντες … διδάσκοντες is somewhat awkward, inasmuch as διδάσκοντες links up better with μαθητεύσατε than does βαπτίζοντες. The sequence in the Matthean text, it is argued, subordinates instruction to “baptism” and notes that in Didache “instruction” precedes baptism.

My own view of the matter is that such a reading of this text fails to take into consideration Matthew’s distinctive conception of “discipleship” and the fact that μαθητής is in fact his preferred term for one who earnestly heeds the instruction of Jesus as lawgiver and rabbi. While Matthew does indeed consider baptism important, I think it would be wrong to say that he gives it priority over instruction; the central relationship between Jesus and believer is that of διδάσκαλος and μαθητής.

Alfred Loisy, Les Évangiles Synoptiques, II, 1908, p. 752:
Le rapport grammatical et logique des deux participes βαπτίζοντες, ou βαπτίσαντες, et διδάσκοντες est passablement embarrassé; le second participe se rattache bien plus naturellement à μαθητεύσατε, si l'on omet βαπτίζοντες KTL. On observe (Holtzmann, 299) que, avec la leçon βαπτίσαντες, διδάσκοντες est explicative de μαθητεύσατε, mais il l'explique de bien loin; et que, avec la leçon βαπτίζοντες, l'instruction apparaît subordonnée au baptême, comme dans Didaché, VII, 1; mais, dans la Didaché, l'enseignement précède le baptême, et ici l'on dirait qu'il le suit. Ne semble-t-il pas que la mention du baptême altère, par l'intrusion d'une idée particulière, la définition générale du ministère apostolique et ecclésiastique, μαθητεύσατε ... διδάσκοντες ... ?


What do others think? In the text of Mt 28:19-20 is instruction subordinated to baptism by virtue of the priority of the participial phrase with βαπτίζοντες to the participial phrase with διδάσκοντες? Or are baptism and instruction both deemed essential elements in the process of μαθητεῦσαι?
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: Mt 28:19-20 participial sequence and subordination

Postby Barry Hofstetter » February 6th, 2013, 7:06 am

My initial reaction is no, certainly not. I think we have two participles used coordinately (notice the asyndeton) to unpack what is necessary in the imperative... I'll have more to say on this later, particularly on the comparison with the Didache.
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Re: Mt 28:19-20 participial sequence and subordination

Postby Alan Patterson » February 6th, 2013, 6:14 pm

Carl,

19 πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος,
20 διδάσκοντες αὐτοὺς τηρεῖν πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην ὑμῖν· καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ μεθ᾿ ὑμῶν εἰμι πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας ἕως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος.

What is your position on πορευθέντες? Are you reading it as an Imperative?
χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη,
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Re: Mt 28:19-20 participial sequence and subordination

Postby cwconrad » February 6th, 2013, 8:52 pm

Alan Patterson wrote:Carl,

19 πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος,
20 διδάσκοντες αὐτοὺς τηρεῖν πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην ὑμῖν· καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ μεθ᾿ ὑμῶν εἰμι πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας ἕως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος.

What is your position on πορευθέντες? Are you reading it as an Imperative?


I know what you mean (and, I guess, what others mean) by this, but I really object to that sort of description. I'm satisfied with Englishing πορευθέντες μαθητεύσατε as "Go and make disciples of ... "-- but no, I won't call it anything but participle indicating action prior to the imperative. It implies the necessity of missionary journeys in order to turn all people into disciples, but I don't think that the participle is functioning otherwise than as Lk 2:17 ἰδόντες ... ἐγνώρισαν ("When they saw/once they had seen, they understood ... "). But this is, of course, irrelevant to the question originally raised here.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: Mt 28:19-20 participial sequence and subordination

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » February 7th, 2013, 12:29 pm

cwconrad wrote:The sequence in the Matthean text, it is argued, subordinates instruction to “baptism”


I feel that if there's any such subordination, it has nothing to do with Greek and everything to do with real-life context or referents of the words. The argumentation must be completely theological, not philological.
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Re: Mt 28:19-20 participial sequence and subordination

Postby Barry Hofstetter » February 7th, 2013, 6:10 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
cwconrad wrote:The sequence in the Matthean text, it is argued, subordinates instruction to “baptism”


I feel that if there's any such subordination, it has nothing to do with Greek and everything to do with real-life context or referents of the words. The argumentation must be completely theological, not philological.


Following up on my earlier brief comments in response to Eeli's comments here, with which I completely agree. There is nothing in the Greek that I can see which supports any such conclusion. First, baptism is placed first followed by teaching. Secondly, as I noted above, notice the asyndeton -- the lack of coordinating conjunction could easily be read of two parallel and equal ideas. If I read the French correctly, Loisy seems to be suggesting that somehow Didache 7.1 supports the idea that the instruction which precedes baptism is the comprehensive instruction described in Mt 28:20. However, what Didache 7.1 actually says is:

Περὶ δὲ τοῦ βαπτίσματος, οὕτω βαπτίσατε· ταῦτα πάντα προειπόντες βαπτίσατε εις τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος ἐν ὕδατι ζῶντι.


Loisy would need to explain precisely what the reference of ταῦτα is, all these things. The writer seems to have a specific set of instructions in mind, which may be the equivalent of "πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην ὑμῖν" of Mt 28:20, but then again, may not be. I can see nothing in the immediate context to which he would be referring, but he could conceivably have a set of instructions in mind that might be known to his readers, but not to us, and would be different from Mt 28:20. One suggestion might be the pronouncement of the baptismal formula itself, though I think that interpretation has at least a couple difficulties with it. But I don't want to waste time talking about the Didache, merely to show that it is not absolutely clear support for the argument.
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Re: Mt 28:19-20 participial sequence and subordination

Postby Iver Larsen » February 8th, 2013, 3:42 am

cwconrad wrote:Text:
Matt 28:19 πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος, 20 διδάσκοντες αὐτοὺς τηρεῖν πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην ὑμῖν· καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ μεθ᾿ ὑμῶν εἰμι πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας ἕως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος.


What do others think? In the text of Mt 28:19-20 is instruction subordinated to baptism by virtue of the priority of the participial phrase with βαπτίζοντες to the participial phrase with διδάσκοντες? Or are baptism and instruction both deemed essential elements in the process of μαθητεῦσαι?


I would agree with the last suggestion, although the meaning of the first one is not quite clear. It is worthwhile to look at the Semitic thought pattern that probably lies behind the sentence. By this I mean the common Semitic practice to state the main point first and briefly, and then give details later about the main point.

The main verb here is μαθητεύσατε, and that is a process that takes time. This process involves two elements: baptizing and teaching. Baptizing is done and over with very quickly, while teaching takes time. Both are present participles, indicating that they are both elements within the process of discipling. They are coordinated rather than subordinated to each other, but the order of these two within the sentence suggests that baptizing is envisioned to come before teaching.
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