Luke 2:7 - No room at the inn?

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jeidsath
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Luke 2:7 - No room at the inn?

Post by jeidsath » December 26th, 2019, 4:00 pm

I originally posted this to another forum, but Barry mentioned to me that Stephen Carlson was active here, and that I should repost it on B-Greek to hopefully generate good discussion.

Luke 2:7: καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον, καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ, διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι.

Earlier this year, a fellow member at my church said to me something like "Luke did not mean an inn at Luke 2:7, because they didn't have inns in those days." The statement about inns was clearly fallacious, but as Christmas rolled around this year, I thought I would try to look into what he was saying and find the source. I found various articles discussing this 1984 -> 2011 NIV change:

NIV 1984: and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

NIV 2011: and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And I found one article that went somewhat farther, Carlson's The Accommodations of Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem: Κατάλυμα in Luke 2.7.

Carlson's article was well-researched and well-argued, but not ultimately convincing to me.

-- οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος - dative of possession?

Whatever leading Greek grammars may say, this usage seems well-paralleled as a dative of advantage in the LXX.

LXX Gen 24:23 εἰ ἔστιν παρὰ τῷ πατρί σου τόπος ἡμῖν καταλῦσαι;
LXX Ecclesiasticus 13:22 καὶ οὐκ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ τόπος
LXX Eze 45:4: καὶ ἔσται αὐτοῖς τόπος εἰς οἴκους ἀφωρισμένους τῷ ἁγιασμῷ αὐτῶν
LXX Dan 2:35 καὶ τόπος οὐχ εὑρέθη αὐτοῖς
LXX Reg I 9:22 καὶ ἔθετο αὐτοῖς τόπον ἐν πρώτοις τῶν κεκλημένων ὡσεὶ ἑβδομήκοντα ἀνδρῶν

In each of these, the meaning seems to be "place for us/them/him" not, "our/their/his place"

-- Lack of room due to the birth?

Though Carlson doesn't make this argument, I think that it would be more tenable to accept this as a dative of advantage, and read αὐτοῖς as referring to the mother and her baby, the subject and object referred to in the previous sentence. But the αὐτοὺς in Luke 2:6, including Joseph, makes this too awkward for me to accept: ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἐκεῖ.

The wording that I would have expected Luke to use would simply be: διότι οὐκ ἦν τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι

-- What is the τὸ κατάλυμα?

Carlson is correct to point out the vagueness of this term, as a glance at LXX (and broader Greek) usage will confirm. And perhaps the article doesn't necessarily have mean that this κατάλυμα was associated specifically with Bethlehem? Mary and Joseph were on a journey, and the reader should expect that they were staying somewhere and perhaps τὸ κατάλυμα would receive an article on that basis. But the dative of advantage, as I think I've established, seems to contradict this view. Whether they were staying with relatives, or even in a tent (or cave), one expects that they would have had room for themselves. The article in τὸ κατάλυμα then seems to point to an accommodation associated with Bethlehem.

It seems likely, then, that this would be an "inn" of some sort, using that term loosely. See Moeris: "καταγώγιον καὶ κατάγεσθαι Ἀττικοί· κατάλυμα καὶ καταλύειν Ἕλληνες". On that point, I found the discussions here interesting, though very old:

George Campbell's discussion ("The Works of George Campbell, Volume 4", pg. 318ff): https://books.google.com/books?id=C14TA ... &q&f=false

J. R. Major's notes on Luke:
https://books.google.com/books?id=5y5OA ... &q&f=false
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Joel Eidsath

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Re: Luke 2:7 - No room at the inn?

Post by MAubrey » December 26th, 2019, 5:31 pm

jeidsath wrote:
December 26th, 2019, 4:00 pm
-- οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος - dative of possession?

Whatever leading Greek grammars may say, this usage seems well-paralleled as a dative of advantage in the LXX.

LXX Gen 24:23 εἰ ἔστιν παρὰ τῷ πατρί σου τόπος ἡμῖν καταλῦσαι;
LXX Ecclesiasticus 13:22 καὶ οὐκ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ τόπος
LXX Eze 45:4: καὶ ἔσται αὐτοῖς τόπος εἰς οἴκους ἀφωρισμένους τῷ ἁγιασμῷ αὐτῶν
LXX Dan 2:35 καὶ τόπος οὐχ εὑρέθη αὐτοῖς
LXX Reg I 9:22 καὶ ἔθετο αὐτοῖς τόπον ἐν πρώτοις τῶν κεκλημένων ὡσεὶ ἑβδομήκοντα ἀνδρῶν

In each of these, the meaning seems to be "place for us/them/him" not, "our/their/his place"
You're looking for the wrong parallels. You want only non-verbal predicates, not dative pronouns with location words. The possessive dative is a well-established non-verbal predicate construction. Ezekiel 45:4 is a good one...and it's also a possessive dative.
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Re: Luke 2:7 - No room at the inn?

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » December 26th, 2019, 6:51 pm

As a side note, you'll get more information about the Koine ("definitive") article in https://www.sil.org/system/files/reapda ... lation.pdf, p. 141 ff. It can explain both "accommodation" and "a manger". Both are hearer-old in the scenario; the accommodation because it's already clear they were staying somewhere, the manger because it was customary for rural houses to have a place for animals and therefore one manger.

(This isn't against what jeidsath said, but is in line with Carlson. Some who argue for "the inn" seem to use the rules of English or maybe some other modern language's article to explain the Koine article.)
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jeidsath
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Re: Luke 2:7 - No room at the inn?

Post by jeidsath » December 26th, 2019, 6:54 pm

Eze 45:4: ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς ἔσται τοῖς ἱερεῦσιν τοῖς λειτουργοῦσιν ἐν τῷ ἁγίῳ καὶ ἔσται τοῖς ἐγγίζουσι λειτουργεῖν τῷ κυρίῳ καὶ ἔσται αὐτοῖς τόπος εἰς οἴκους ἀφωρισμένους τῷ ἁγιασμῷ αὐτῶν

So you are saying that it's not a place "for them" but a place "they have"? Perhaps. But that ending "εἰς οἴκους ἀφωρισμένους..." makes me think the other. It seems to be a statement about use rather than ownership.

"You want only non-verbal predicates, not dative pronouns with location words."

I was confused by this, but then I saw that I had left in Ecclesiasticus 13:22 by mistake. You'll have to be a bit more explicit about your objection to the others though. They seem clear enough.
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Re: Luke 2:7 - No room at the inn?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » December 26th, 2019, 11:04 pm

BDAG:
κατάλυμα, ατος, τό (Polyb. 2, 36, 1; 32, 19, 2; Diod S 14, 93, 5; IG V/1, 869; SIG 609, 1; UPZ 120, 5 [II B.C.] al. in pap; LXX; TestLevi 3:4 v.l.; s. B-D-F §109, 2; Rob. 151) lodging place. The sense inn is possible in Lk 2:7, but in 10:34 Lk uses πανδοχεῖον, the more specific term for inn. κ. is therefore best understood here as lodging (PSI 341, 8 [256 B.C.]; EpArist 181) or guest-room, as in 22:11; Mk 14:14, where the contexts also permit the sense dining-room (cp. 1 Km 1:18; 9:22; Sir 14:25). In further favor of this rendering is the contrast between two quarters: a φάτνη and a κατάλυμα. The latter could be a space in various types of structures. Cp. also the use of the cognate καταλύω (s. κ.4) Lk 19:7 in ref. to hospitality.—PBenoit, BRigaux Festschr., ’70, 173–86 (Lk 2:7); EPax, Bibel und Leben 6, ’65, 285–98. DELG s.v. λύω. M-M. TW.
Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 521). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Jerome:

et peperit filium suum primogenitum et pannis eum involvit et reclinavit eum in praesepio quia non erat eis locus in diversorio...
dēuersōrium ~(i)ī neut. Also dīu-. [dēuertō + -tōrium] FORMS: deuor- CIC. Fam. 6.19.1, Sen. 84, ULP. dig. 20.2.3. A building or similar (whether private house or public inn) where one breaks one’s journey, lodging, stopping place.
Glare, P. G. W. (Ed.). (2012). Oxford Latin Dictionary (Second Edition, Vol. I & II). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

BDAG mentions Luke 10:34, πανδοχεῖον, but Jerome renders stabulum.
2. Esp., a public-house, pothouse, tavern, hostelry, etc.: cauponam vel stabulum exercere, Dig. 4, 9
Lewis, C. T., & Short, C. (1891). Harpers’ Latin Dictionary (p. 1750). New York; Oxford: Harper & Brothers; Clarendon Press.

I find it interesting that Jerome renders a very non-specific term with a non-specific term in Latin, but the more specific term with its equivalent in Latin. My original thought was that Jerome supported the traditional interpretation, but now I'm not so sure.

As for the dative, I have alway read it as an ethical dative, "no place for them." Dative of possession is used when somebody has something in their actual possession, and I doubt that that works with the temporary situation in view here.
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Re: Luke 2:7 - No room at the inn?

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 27th, 2019, 6:26 am

jeidsath wrote:
December 26th, 2019, 4:00 pm
I originally posted this to another forum, but Barry mentioned to me that Stephen Carlson was active here, and that I should repost it on B-Greek to hopefully generate good discussion.

Luke 2:7: καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον, καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ, διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι.

***

Carlson's article was well-researched and well-argued, but not ultimately convincing to me.
Thanks for reading my article, jeidsath!
jeidsath wrote:
December 26th, 2019, 4:00 pm
-- οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος - dative of possession?

Whatever leading Greek grammars may say, this usage seems well-paralleled as a dative of advantage in the LXX.
I think that it has already been pointed out above that your parallels are not really to the point, so I'm happy to stay with the leading Greek grammars here.

In any event, my reading of the text can still work with a dative of advantage "... because there was not room for [the three of] them in their place to stay." I don't really see much difference between them as far as I read the story. A nice benefit of bringing up the dative of possession reading is to get the reader to reconsider what the τόπος and what the κατάλυμα could and should refer to--especially since the lexical support for κατάλυμα meaning an inn is so poor.
jeidsath wrote:
December 26th, 2019, 4:00 pm
-- Lack of room due to the birth?

Though Carlson doesn't make this argument, I think that it would be more tenable to accept this as a dative of advantage, and read αὐτοῖς as referring to the mother and her baby, the subject and object referred to in the previous sentence. But the αὐτοὺς in Luke 2:6, including Joseph, makes this too awkward for me to accept: ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἐκεῖ.

The wording that I would have expected Luke to use would simply be: διότι οὐκ ἦν τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι
I'm not sure how to respond to such a subjective argument. I don't find it awkward and I don't have that expectation.
jeidsath wrote:
December 26th, 2019, 4:00 pm
-- What is the τὸ κατάλυμα?

Carlson is correct to point out the vagueness of this term, as a glance at LXX (and broader Greek) usage will confirm. And perhaps the article doesn't necessarily have mean that this κατάλυμα was associated specifically with Bethlehem? Mary and Joseph were on a journey, and the reader should expect that they were staying somewhere and perhaps τὸ κατάλυμα would receive an article on that basis. But the dative of advantage, as I think I've established, seems to contradict this view. Whether they were staying with relatives, or even in a tent (or cave), one expects that they would have had room for themselves. The article in τὸ κατάλυμα then seems to point to an accommodation associated with Bethlehem.
There's a lot going on here. Mary and Joseph were not merely on a journey. They had come to their destination, Bethlehem, and were staying there (for some inspecified period of time). Moreover, Luke tells us that their destination is the hometown of Joseph, and, in accordance with the usual norms of ancient Near Eastern hospitality, ancient readers would expect that they'll be staying, not in an inn, but with relatives. This alone should doom the "inn" reading, except for the exegetical inertia of the traditional (medieval) reading, and no amount of subtle exegesis over categories of the dative can really override this background expectation. To be sure, the text presumes a certain amount of background knowledge to be intelligible, but it is unwarranted to assume that their accommodations would necessarily be large enough to accommodate the delivery of the baby, particularly in light of evidence of guestrooms and marital chambers being located in a small room on the roof or side of a larger family house. I cite Bailey, Salman, and Safrai on this. Plus you need to take into account the space needed to deliver the child.
jeidsath wrote:
December 26th, 2019, 4:00 pm
It seems likely, then, that this would be an "inn" of some sort, using that term loosely. See Moeris: "καταγώγιον καὶ κατάγεσθαι Ἀττικοί· κατάλυμα καὶ καταλύειν Ἕλληνες". On that point, I found the discussions here interesting, though very old:

George Campbell's discussion ("The Works of George Campbell, Volume 4", pg. 318ff): https://books.google.com/books?id=C14TA ... &q&f=false

J. R. Major's notes on Luke:
https://books.google.com/books?id=5y5OA ... &q&f=false
Moeris simply gives the Attic equivalent for κατάλυμα: καταγώγιον, which also has similar vagueness issues. I haven't looked at Campbell or Major, but discussions on this are very old. I gave one from the 16th century, when the basic contours of the case were already known to a Spanish philologist.
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Re: Luke 2:7 - No room at the inn?

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 28th, 2019, 8:01 pm

jeidsath wrote:
December 26th, 2019, 4:00 pm
And I found one article that went somewhat farther, Carlson's The Accommodations of Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem: Κατάλυμα in Luke 2.7.
You can get the PDF here:

http://www.hypotyposeis.org/papers/Carl ... %20NTS.pdf
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Re: Luke 2:7 - No room at the inn?

Post by Brian Gould » December 29th, 2019, 9:09 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
December 27th, 2019, 6:26 am
Moeris simply gives the Attic equivalent for κατάλυμα: καταγώγιον, which also has similar vagueness issues. I haven't looked at Campbell or Major, but discussions on this are very old. I gave one from the 16th century, when the basic contours of the case were already known to a Spanish philologist.
The Bordeaux Pilgrim lists Bethlehem as the location of the first mansio on the road from Jerusalem to Hebron. Is it possible that the same arrangement of mutationes and mansiones was already in place three centuries earlier, in the Herodian period? If so, could either κατάλυμα or καταγώγιον have been in use as a translation of mansio, or would that have been ξενοδοχείον?
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