Matt 26:51 τὸν δοῦλον τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, the high priest's slave

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Matt 26:51 τὸν δοῦλον τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, the high priest's slave

Postby Stephen Carlson » September 14th, 2013, 6:22 am

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?
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Re: Matt 26:51 τὸν δοῦλον τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, the high priest's s

Postby cwconrad » September 14th, 2013, 7:20 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
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.
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Re: Matt 26:51 τὸν δοῦλον τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, the high priest's s

Postby Stephen Carlson » September 14th, 2013, 8:01 am

I'm wondering if the man was notorious or something. For what it's worth, John 18:10 further identifies him as having the name Malchus.
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Re: Matt 26:51 τὸν δοῦλον τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, the high priest's s

Postby Stephen Hughes » September 14th, 2013, 10:00 am

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.
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Re: Matt 26:51 τὸν δοῦλον τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, the high priest's s

Postby Stephen Carlson » September 14th, 2013, 10:22 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
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?

Yes. If a character is famous merely from telling the Gospel story, I would expect many other characters to get the definite article treatment too.
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Re: Matt 26:51 τὸν δοῦλον τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, the high priest's s

Postby Stephen Hughes » September 14th, 2013, 10:39 am

John 18:26 wrote:Λέγει εἷς ἐκ τῶν δούλων τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, συγγενὴς ὢν οὗ ἀπέκοψεν Πέτρος τὸ ὠτίον, Οὐκ ἐγώ σε εἶδον ἐν τῷ κήπῳ μετ’ αὐτοῦ;
He is here also a known reference point in the narrative (from the harm without mentioning the healing - My bad).

Stephen Carlson wrote:Did the high priest have only one slave?
I know you were asking a retorical question, but to answer your question... No apparently he could afford more than one.
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Re: Matt 26:51 τὸν δοῦλον τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, the high priest's s

Postby Stephen Carlson » September 14th, 2013, 11:29 am

As for John, we get the same issue in 18:10 with τὸν τοῦ ἀρχιερέως δοῦλον. John had characterized this arresting party in v.3 as a cohort and officers of the high priests and Pharisees. Would this δοῦλος be one of those? (Matt 26:47 just talks about a large crowd from the high priests and elders of the people.)

I wonder if there was some sort of expectation among the audience that a particular high priests' slave (servant?) would have led such a party.

(My interest here is more about the semantics of the article than the actual history wie es eigentlich gewesen.)
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Re: Matt 26:51 τὸν δοῦλον τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, the high priest's s

Postby Stephen Hughes » September 14th, 2013, 1:26 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:I wonder if there was some sort of expectation among the audience that a particular high priests' slave (servant?) would have led such a party.
A servant as leader? Possible to be a leader when being a slave, yes, but ordinarily given a different title.

It seems you are inching towards taking the reference to Μάλχος as τὸν τοῦ ἀρχιερέως δοῦλον / τὸν δοῦλον τοῦ ἀρχιερέως to mean (something like Βλάστον is said to be in another context (Acts 12:20) τὸν ἐπὶ τοῦ κοιτῶνος τοῦ βασιλέως "the king's chamberlain"?) - a trusted slave/servant that exercised a degree of authority and influence. While a slave could be a leader, I think that there are better words that could have been used to express that, perhaps οἰκόνομος (the one who looked after his household affairs perhaps also being a δοῦλος), or οἰκοδεσπότης (probably not a δοῦλος but possibly so), or perhaps better than those the less role-specific ὑπηρέτης. (For that sense, you could compare 1 Corinthians 4:1 Οὕτως ἡμᾶς λογιζέσθω ἄνθρωπος, ὡς ὑπηρέτας χριστοῦ καὶ οἰκονόμους μυστηρίων θεοῦ.)

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.
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Re: Matt 26:51 τὸν δοῦλον τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, the high priest's s

Postby Stephen Carlson » September 14th, 2013, 2:03 pm

For what it's worth, here is Richard Bauckham's take on the article:
R. Bauckham, Jesus & Eyewitnesses, pp. 194-195 wrote:It is notable that in all four Gospels this character is called "the servant of the high priest" (Matt 26:51; Mark 14:47; Luke 22:50; John 18:10). The high priest certainly had many more servants or slaves than one, and according to John 18:26 more than one such were members of the arresting party in Gethsemane. Commentators have therefore been hard pressed to explain the definite "the" in this case. Perhaps the meaning is that this servant of the high priest was the officer in charge of the arresting party. He was the most important person in that party, but his name may have been remembered in the early Jerusalem church not simply for that reason but also because of the injury to him remained, so to speak, an unsolved crime of which Peter was the as yet undetected perpetrator. Malchus was an influential person in the high priest's entourage with a personal grudge against the disciples of Jesus.

Not exactly sure what Bauckham is suggesting but perhaps having a personal grudge against Jesus made this man notorious enough to refer to him with the article? Bauckham also floats the leadership idea, but I think your argument against it is probably the stronger. At any rate, John 18:26 (which you also cited) is fairly clear that there was more than one slave in Gethsemane in at least John's mind. (The healing, though not the name, of Malchus is told in the Lukan account.)

In terms of semantics, Stéphanie Bakker proposes the following definition for the (definite) article:
Bakker, The Noun Phrase in Ancient Greek, p. 162 wrote:I therefore conclude that a definite article is appropriate if the speaker presents the referent in question as unequivocally relatable to an available cognitive structure that is relevant in a given discourse.

But I don't know how to relate this dude to a cognitive structure unless he was fairly well-known / notorious / something to first-century Christians.

Bakker's definition also has problems with two other definite nominals in Matt 26:51, Καὶ ἰδοὺ εἷς τῶν μετὰ Ἰησοῦ ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα ἀπέσπασεν τὴν μάχαιραν αὐτοῦ καὶ πατάξας τὸν δοῦλον τοῦ ἀρχιερέως ἀφεῖλεν αὐτοῦ τὸ ὠτίον. Since people have two hands and two ears, the referent is not unequivocal because we're not told which one in either Matthew or Mark. (Perhaps the reference to the hand is OK under the assumption that it would be the dominant hand, probably the right. The detail in Luke and John that ear was the right one might suggest that he was attacked from behind or from an angle.)
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Re: Matt 26:51 τὸν δοῦλον τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, the high priest's s

Postby Stephen Hughes » September 14th, 2013, 11:02 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:Not exactly sure what Bauckham is suggesting
Of course for the actual facts behind the story, the evangelists give us the viewpoints that best suited their writing -drawing on the oral traditions that they received. Those things are Scripture. Bauckham's ideas, (and yours and mine) are at best plausible conjecture.

Stephen Carlson wrote:In terms of semantics, Stéphanie Bakker proposes the following definition for the (definite) article:

Bakker, The Noun Phrase in Ancient Greek, p. 162 wrote:I therefore conclude that a definite article is appropriate if the speaker presents the referent in question as unequivocally relatable to an available cognitive structure that is relevant in a given discourse.


But I don't know how to relate this dude to a cognitive structure unless he was fairly well-known / notorious / something to first-century Christians.


I find the Greek definite article a lot more intimate / immediate than a definition like that (can) describes. For example John 14:26 "Καὶ ἐγὼ ἐρωτήσω τὸν πατέρα" The feeling is much more intimate than just known to a reasonable speaker in a discourse context. In these cases, it is almost translatable (into English) as "my", "our" etc.

I like your suggestion of the "right" hand (even though that is not appropriate to all people). The active hand, the one that reflexively goes into action.
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