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M.

Pazzini
P. Laurence
G. Ghiberti

J. Loza Vera

J.-M. Poffet
Y. Magen
M. Piccirillo

I. Shahd
A. Lewin
M. Waner
Z. Safrai
Ch. Eger

Aspectos gramaticales en el Evangelio en hebreo


aprut.
de la piedra de toque de Ibn S
Grammatiche e dizionari di ebraico-aramaico in italiano.
Catalogo ragionato Aggiornamento (dicembre 2001)
Sainte Mlanie et les reliques des martyrs
Documento della Pontificia Commissione Biblica
sul popolo ebraico e le sue Sacre Scritture
nella Bibbia cristiana
LAncien Testament dans lglise : Perspectives
du rcent document de la Commission
Biblique Pontificale
La Bible au risque de la lecture et de la relecture
The Crusader Church of St. Mary in el-Bira
The Church of Saint Sergius at Nitl. A Centre
of the Christian Arabs in the Steppe
at the Gates of Madaba
The Sixth-Century Church Complex at Nitl, Jordan.
The Ghassanid Dimension
Kastron Mefaa, the Equites Promoti Indigenae
and the Creation of a Late Roman Frontier

LI
2001
109
133

145
183
191

213

233
251
257

267
285
293

A Catalogue of Coin Hoards and the Shelf Life of Coins


in Palestine Hoards During the Roman-Byzantine Period 305
Grtelschnallen des 6. bis 8. Jahrhunderts aus der
Sammlung des Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
337
Sintesi degli articoli (Abstracts)
Ricerca storico-archeologica
in Giordania XXI 2001
Recensioni e libri ricevuti
SBF: Anno accademico 2000 - 2001
Tavole

351
359
395
465
1-34

LIBER ANNUUS

G. Bissoli
J.-V. Nicls
M. Rauret

9
31
55

FRANCISCANUM

M. Pazzini
A. Niccacci
F. Manns

STUDIUM BIBLICUM

L. J. Hoppe

INDICE GENERALE
Articoli
The Afterlife of a Text. The Case of Solomons Prayer
in 1 Kings 8
La Massorah del Libro di Rut (BHS)
Poetic Syntax and Interpretation of Malachi
The Prayers of the Books of Maccabees
and the Shemone Ezre
Kindynos Pericolo nella Prima Clementis

STUDIUM BIBLICUM FRANCISCANUM

LIBER ANNUUS
LI
2001

JERUSALEM

LIBER ANNUUS
Annual of the
Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
Jerusalem

STUDIUM BIBLICUM FRANCISCANUM

LIBER ANNUUS
LI
2001

JERUSALEM

Editor
Co-editors
Editorial Board

Eugenio Alliata
Carmelo Pappalardo, L. Daniel Chrupcaa
Giovanni Bissoli, G. Claudio Bottini, Marcello A.
Buscemi, Nello Casalini, Lino Cignelli, Gregor Geiger,
Pietro Kaswalder, Stanislao Loffreda, Frdric Manns,
Alviero Niccacci, Massimo Pazzini, Michele Piccirillo,
Rosario Pierri, Tomislav Vuk

Pubblications of the STUDIUM BIBLICUM FRANCISCANUM


sponsored by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land:
SBF Liber Annuus (LA)
Collectio Maior
Collectio Minor
Analecta
Museum

1951-2001
41 volumes
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All correspondence, papers for publication in LA,


books for review, and any request for exchanges
should be adressed:
Editor of Liber Annuus
Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
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Tel +972-2-6286594 Fax +972-2-6272274 Email: fpp@bezeqint.net
Printed in Jerusalem 2003

ISSN 0081-8933

INDICE GENERALE

Articoli

L. J. Hoppe

The Afterlife of a Text. The Case of Solomons


Prayer in 1 Kings 8

M. Pazzini

La Massorah del Libro di Rut (BHS)

31

A. Niccacci

Poetic Syntax and Interpretation of Malachi

55

F. Manns

The prayers of the books of Maccabees


and the Shemone Ezre

109

Kindynos Pericolo nella Prima Clementis

133

Aspectos gramaticales en el Evangelio en


hebreo de la piedra de toque de Ibn apru

145

Grammatiche e dizionari di ebraico-aramaico


in italiano. Catalogo ragionato Aggiornamento
(dicembre 2001)

183

P. Laurence

Sainte Mlanie et les reliques des martyrs

191

G. Ghiberti

Documento della Pontificia Commissione Biblica


sul popolo ebraico e le sue Sacre Scritture
nella Bibbia cristiana

213

LAncien Testament dans lglise : Perspectives


du rcent document de la Commission
Biblique Pontificale

233

La Bible au risque de la lecture et de la relecture

251

G. Bissoli
J.-V. Nicls
M. Rauret

M. Pazzini

J. Loza Vera

J.-M. Poffet

Y. Magen
M. Piccirillo

I. Shahd

A. Lewin

M. Waner
Z. Safrai

Ch. Eger

The Crusader Church of St. Mary in el-Bira

257

The Church of Saint Sergius at Nitl. A Centre


of the Christian Arabs in the Steppe
at the Gates of Madaba

267

The Sixth-Century Church Complex at


Nitl, Jordan. The Ghassanid Dimension

285

Kastron Mefaa, the equites promoti indigenae


and the creation of a late Roman frontier

293

A Catalogue of Coin Hoards and the Shelf Life


of Coins in Palestine Hoards During the
Roman-Byzantine Period

305

Grtelschnallen des 6. bis 8. Jahrhunderts


aus der Sammlung des Studium Biblicum
Franciscanum

337

Sintesi degli articoli (Abstracts)

351

Ricerca storico-archeologica
in Giordania XXI 2001

359

Recensioni e libri ricevuti

395

SBF: Anno accademico 2000 - 2001

465

Tavole

1-34

ARTICOLI

LA 51 (2001) 7-350; tavv. 1-22

THE AFTERLIFE OF A TEXT


THE CASE OF SOLOMONS PRAYER IN 1 KINGS 8
L. J. Hoppe

Introduction
A. The thesis
Most studies of 1 Kings 8 have tended to focus on the compositional history of this text. While this has led to important contributions to our understanding of the process of tradition and reinterpretation that produced the
text with its theological affirmations and negations, the final form of
Solomons prayer has not always attracted the attention it deserves. While
not discounting the insights derived from the examination of the texts formation, this study will consider the final form of 1 Kgs 8 and its contribution to the development of early Judaism. The thesis of this paper is that 1
Kgs 8 does indeed possess a literary unity that needs to be taken seriously.
It is the work of the Deuteronomistic Historian, writing during the exile.
The Deuteronomist tells the story of the Temples dedication to underscore
the significance of the Temple as a place of prayer. He underplays the
Temples role in the socio-political sphere and undercuts its significance as
a place of sacrificial worship. In doing so, the Deuteronomist follows a
pattern of subordinating all ancient Israels institutions to the written, authoritative Torah, the observance of which was regarded as the key to
Judahs future. Ironically, the Deuteronomists efforts in 1 Kgs 8 made possible the continuity of the Temple idea in a world without a temple.

B. The study of the Deuteronomistic History


The study of the Former Prophets has come full-circle. Nineteenth century
critics noticed that throughout the books from Joshua to 2 Kings there was
phraseology that was reminiscent of the Book of Deuteronomy. These interpreters concluded that this was the work of an editor who was influenced
by the Deuteronomic source (D), one of the four sources in the Pentateuch.
In his seminal 1943 monograph, Martin Noth asserted, however, that a
careful reading of the Former Prophets reveals something more than a few
glosses from the Book of Deuteronomy. Instead one should consider the
books from Joshua through Second Kings as a unified literary composition.
LA 51 (2001) 9-30

10

L. J. HOPPE

Noth called this composition the Deuteronomistic Historical Work


(DtrH).1 It was the continuous story of Israel in its land from the time of its
entrance under Joshua to its exile under the Babylonians. The Book of
Deuteronomy provided the theological principles that shaped the telling of
this story. Noth concluded that the Deuteronomistic Historical Work was
the achievement a single author who wrote some time after Jehoiachins
parole (ca. 550 B.C., see 2 Kgs 25:29) to explain the catastrophe of
Jerusalems fall and the exile of its people. While this author did use
sources, the work as a whole is essentially a unified composition.
While Noths monograph set the parameters for subsequent study of the
Former Prophets, there were two closely related components of his hypothesis that have been subject to repeated criticism. The first had to do with
Noths views regarding the religious purpose of DtrH and the second was
his suggestion that a single author was responsible for it.
According to Noth, the author of the Deuteronomistic History composed
this sweeping work to persuade the exiles of Judah that the fall of their national state and dynasty, the destruction of the Temple and the scattering of
its priesthood were the direct consequences of the nations repeated failures
to serve God alone and to be obedient to the stipulations of the covenant. In
other words, Israel brought its fate upon itself. The exile, then, was certainly
not the result of any failure on Gods part. Whether Israel had any future was
not an explicit concern of the Deuteronomist. Many of Noths colleagues
were not persuaded by his assertions about the purpose of the Deuteronomistic History. Why would someone produce such monumental work only
to express a negative conclusion about Israels future?
There have been several attempts to suggest that DtrH had a more positive message than Noths hypothesis allowed. For example, Hans Walter Wolff
read the Former Prophets as a call for Israel to repent. Israels repentance
would then reverse the effects of divine judgment and bring Israel back to its
land from which it had been exiled.2 Taking his cue from Wolff, Walter
Brueggemann argued that DtrH shows a continuing concern for the good,
which he described as the faithfulness and graciousness of God that evoke a
response of repentance from Israel.3 Gerhard von Rad saw DtrHs repeated
1. M. Noth, berlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien, Darmstadt 1963, 3-110. This is a reprint
of Noths 1943 essay.
2. Das Kerygma des Deuteronomischen Geschichtswerks, ZAW 73 (1961) 171-186. ET:
The Kerygma of the Deuteronomic Historical Work, in: W. Brueggemann and H.W.
Wolff (ed.), The Vitality of Old Testament Traditions, Atlanta 1975, 83-100.
3. The Kerygma of the Deuteronomistic Historian, Int 22 (1968) 387-402.

SOLOMONS PRAYER IN 1 KINGS 8

11

reference to the promises made to the Davidic house (e.g., 2 Sam 7:16; 1 Kgs
9:5) as providing Israel with the assurance that led to hope for the futurea
hope that centered on the deposed and exiled Judahite monarch, Jehoiachin.4
While Frank Moore Cross agreed with von Rad that the DtrH presents the
monarchy as the key to Israels future, he did not believe that Jehoiachin was
the focus of hope. After all, until his death Jehoiachin was a prisoner of the
Babylonians and, therefore, an unlikely choice on which to attach expectations for a glorious future. Cross asserted that the DtrH was written to promote Josiah as the Judahite king in whom the promises made to David were
realized.5 Josiah presided over a political and religious renewal made possible by the deterioration of Assyrian hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean
region. The Deuteronomistic Historian praised Josiah as it did no other Judahite
king, asserting that Josiah walked in the ways of David his forefather and
did not turn aside to the right or the left (2 Kgs 22:2) and that he fulfilled the
prophecy that a descendant of David would purge Bethels illegitimate cult (1
Kgs 13:2-3; 2 Kgs 23:15). Of course, to sustain this hypothesis Cross had to
locate the origins of the Deuteronomistic History in the pre-exilic period. But
Second Kings continue its narrative beyond the time of Josiah to the fall of
Jerusalem and the exile so Cross had to conclude that there was a second
stage in the composition of the Deuteronomistic History as it has come down
to us. This second stage was an exilic work that narrates the effects of divine
judgment upon Judah.6 Thus, to counter von Rads thesis about Jehoiachin
Cross had to posit a pre-exilic and postexilic redaction of the Deuteronomistic History. Crosss hypothesis, however, advances more than a reworking of earlier material by a later editor. His Dtr 2 turns his Dtr 1 on its head.
McConville characterized the transformation of a crudely triumphalistic work
into a wholly pessimistic one as improbable.7
While the scholars of what some have called the Smend school8 also
asserted that the Deuteronomistic History as it exists now is the result of
revisions, the original work and its revisions were assigned dates in the

4. The Deuteronomic Theology of History in I and II Kings in his The Problem of the
Hexateuch and Other Essays, New York 1966, 205-221.
5. The Themes of the Book of Kings and the Structure of the Deuteronomistic History in
his Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, Cambridge 1973, 278-285.
6. The Themes of the Book of Kings, 285-287.
7. See his 1 Kings 8:46-53 and the Deuteronomic Hope, VT 42 (1992) 69.
8. A.F. Campbell and M.A. OBrien, Unfolding the Deuteronomistic History. Origins, Upgrades, Present Text, Minneapolis 2000, 37.

12

L. J. HOPPE

postexilic period. Their purpose was to describe how Judah could secure
its future. According to the scholars of the Smend school, there were three
postexilic editions of the Deuteronomistic Historyeach with its own view
about how Judahs future. DtrG, the first of these, asserts that Judahs destiny was tied to that of the Davidic dynasty, implying that Judahs restoration will not be complete without the restoration of its native dynasty.9 The
promises made to David remain in force (2 Sam 7:1-17) and these are the
basis for Judahs hopes for the future. A second edition, DtrP, associated
Judahs future with the institution of prophecy.10 That future depended upon
the peoples willingness to heed the prophets sent to them. Both David (2
Sam 12:1-15a) and Ahab (1 Kgs 21:27-29) provide examples of what happens when sinners listen to the prophets and repent while the fate of the
Northern Kingdom shows what happens to those who ignore the prophets
(2 Kgs 17:13-14). DtrN, the third and final redaction of the Deuteronomistic History, is responsible for the present shape of the Former Prophets.
It is this nomistic redaction that asserts that it is obedience to the Torah that
brings blessing while disobedience brings a curse, implying that Judahs
future is dependent upon its observance of the written, authoritative Torah,
i.e., the Book of Deuteronomy.11 The latter then serves as more than a theological introduction to and the interpretive principle of the story of Israels
life in the land, but it is the key to its future. Deuteronomy speaks of the
choice that God placed before the people of Israel (30:15-26) and the
Deuteronomistic History supplies example after example of how they chose
the way of death until they suffered the loss of the land promised to their
ancestors. The conclusion that must be drawn from this homiletic recital of
Israels life in its land is that Israels future depends upon its obedience to
the commandments that God gave to Moses.
Today, after more than fifty years of study, there appears to be a shift
from a focus on the compositional history of the Deuteronomistic historical work to a focus on its canonical shape. While this shift may not always
mean support for Noths views on the authorship of the Deuteronomistic
History, it does involve treating the Former Prophets as a single narrative

9. T. Veijola, Das ewige Dynastie, Helsinki 1975. The problem of this view is how to explain the tragic end of Josiah.
10. W. Dietrich, Prophetie und Geschichte. Eine redakionsgeschichliche Untersuchung zum
deuteronomistischen Geschichtswerk, Gttingen 1972.
11. R. Smend, Das Gesetz und die Vlker. Ein Beitrag zur deuteronomischen Redaktionsgeschichte, in: H.W. Wolff (ed.), Probleme biblischer Theologie. Fs. G. von Rad,
Mnchen 1971, 494-509.

SOLOMONS PRAYER IN 1 KINGS 8

13

with a literary integrity that requires that this integrity be taken seriously.12
Still, it seems that Noths views regarding the purpose of the historical
work still need modification. While the Deuteronomistic author is not explicit in describing the shape of Judahs future, it is clear that the Deuteronomist wants to turn Israels past into a series of object lessons whose goal
is to lead people to find in the written, authoritative, Deuteronomic Torah
the way to secure their future.
The developments in the study of the Deuteronomistic History as a
whole have been mirrored in the study of individual units such as
Solomons Prayer in 1 Kings 8. Noth regarded this entire chapter as the
work of his Deuteronomist except for vv. 27 and 34b, which he regarded at
later additions.13 In his 1968 commentary on 1 Kings, Noth posited a more
complex compositional history for 1 Kings 8. He no longer regarded vv.
27 and 34b as secondary additions but he asserted that vv. 38-39, 44-51,
52-53, 59-60 were added to the prayer by a later hand.14
Basing himself on Crosss Dtr1 and Dtr 2 hypothesis, Jon Levenson
identifies four speeches in 1 Kings 8. The first (vv. 12-13) is pre-deuteronomistic, the second (vv. 15-21) is Dtr 1, the third (22-53) is Dtr 2 and the
fourth (vv. 56-61) may be either Dtr 1 or 2 though Levenson leans toward
Dtr 2.15 John Gray also saw that the hands of two Deuteronomistic editors
in 1 Kgs 8. The first of these had no idea that the Davidic dynasty would
collapse while the second experienced the Exile. In particular, Gray regards
vv. 44-53 as an expansion by the later Deuteronomist.16 G.H. Jones believes
that 1 Kings 8 is the result of a long process of reworking material that is
basically Deuteronomistic.17 Dietrich tries to be more specific and assigns
verses to specific postexilic redactions.18 Victor Hurowitz suggests that the
12. Scholars who propose a single exilic author for the DtrH include H.-D. Hoffmann, Re-

form und Reformen, Zurich 1980; B. Peckham, The Composition of the Deuteronomistic
History, Atlanta 1985; J. van Seters, In Search of History, New Haven 1983. S.L. McKenzie
also agrees with Noth that the DtrH was an original unit but he sees some secondary
additions as an inevitable consequence of the transmission of such a long text. See his The
Trouble with Kings, Leiden 1991, 145.
13. berlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien, 7, n. 6.
14. Knige 1, Neukirchen-Vluyn 1968, 174, 184-186, 188-190, 193.
15. J.D. Levenson, From Temple to Synagogue: 1 Kings 8, in: B. Halpern and J.D.
Levenson (ed.), Traditions in Transformation. Fs. F.M. Cross, Winona Lake, IN 1981,
153-164.
16. I and II Kings, Philadelphia 1970, 2nd ed., 213-214.
17. 1 and 2 Kings, Grand Rapids 1984, I:197-198.
18. Prophetie und Geschichte, 74.

14

L. J. HOPPE

Deuteronomist did not have to create this prayer ex nihilo since its content reflects a long, well-attested ancient Near Eastern literary tradition of
building prayers.19 Eep Talstra sees a least three redactional layers in 1
Kgs 8: a pre-exilic, postexilic, and post-deuteronomic layer.20 Campbell and
OBrien assert that 1 Kgs 8 is made up of some predeuteronomic material
though the bulk of the chapter comes from their Josianic Deuteronomist
whose work was supplemented by later editors with a royal and national
focus.21 More recently, Gary Knoppers has argued persuasively for the literary unity of 1 Kgs 8.22

I. The Literary Unity of 1 Kings 8


Knoppers argues for the literary unity of 1 Kgs 8 by describing a chiastic
structure for this text. What follows differs from what Knoppers arrangement of the texts structure. But though we differ in some details, I agree
with him that 1 Kgs 8 is a literary unity:
A. The Narrative Introduction: vv. 1-13: the description of a gj (v. 2) during which a large number of sacrifices yjbzm (v. 5) is offered.
B. Prayer of Blessing [lhqAlk ta rbyw v. 14] vv. 14-21: the fulfillment of Gods promises to David regarding his dynasty.
C. Prayer of Assurance vv. 22-30, based on Gods fidelity
D. The Seven Petitions vv. 31-51: the Temple as a place of
prayer
C. Prayer of Assurance vv. 52-53, based on Israels uniqueness
B. Prayer of Blessing [ lary lhqAlk ta rbyw v. 54] vv. 54-61: the
fulfillment of Gods promise of rest for the people
A. The Narrative Conclusion: vv. 62-66: the description of a gj (v. 65)
during which a large number of communion offerings ymlh jbz (v. 62)
are sacrificed.

19. I Have Built You an Exalted House. Temple Building in the Bible in Light of Mesopo-

tamian and Northwest Semitic Writings (JSOT Supp 115), Sheffield 1992, 300.
20. See E. Talstra, Solomons Prayer. Synchrony and Diachrony in the Composition of I

Kings 8, 14-61, Kampen 1993, 252-256.


21. Campbell and OBrien, Unfolding the Deuteronomistic History, 349-359.
22. Prayer and Propaganda. Solomons Dedication of the Temple and the Deuteronomists

Program, CBQ 57/2 (1995) 229-254.

SOLOMONS PRAYER IN 1 KINGS 8

15

A. The Narrative Introduction, vv. 1-13


The narrative introduction (vv. 1-13) describes the ceremony during
which God takes possession of the Temple built by Solomon. The ceremony takes place in the month of Etanim, the Canaanite name for Tishri
(v. 2). The feast of v. 2 is either the feast of Sukkot (Lev 23:34) or the
New Year Festival at the beginning of the month though Deuteronomy
does not speak of a feast on the first day of the seventh month.23
Solomon assembled the elders for the procession that escorted the ark
from the tent of meeting to the newly built Temple. When the elders had
assembled, the priests took up the ark and moved it to the debir of the
Temple, placing it under the wings of the cherubim (vv. 4, 7). While
this was going on, countless sacrifices were being offered (v. 5). After
the ark was set in its place, the priests left the Temple, which was then
filled with a cloud (vv. 10-11).
Though not always recognized as such, the language of the narrative
introduction is clearly Deuteronomic. The phrase hw:hyAtyrIB] wra} (vv. 1,
6) occurs 32 times in the Bible. All but three of these occur in Deuteronomy (4x) and the Deuteronomistic History (14x) with its parallels in
Chronicles (11x). The phrase dwID; ry[i (v. 1) occurs 48 times in the Hebrew Bible. All but three of these are found in 2 Samuel to 2 Kings
(24x) and parallel texts in Chronicles (21x). rybiD] (v. 6) is the Deuteronomistic word that refers to the Holy of Holies. This word occurs 11
times in 2 Kings and four times in Chronistic parallels. The only other
occurrence of this word as referring to the Holy of Holies is in Psalm
28:2.24
The narrative introduction ends with what Moshe Weinfeld describes
as an ancient song25 in vv. 12-13:
Then Solomon said,
The LORD has set the sun in the heavens,
23. A phrase equivalent to the MTs gjb does not occur in the LXX, leading the BHS editor

to ask if the phrase is an addition. Nowhere does the Bible designate the first day of Tishri
as the New Years Festival. Exodus 12:2 identifies Abib (see Exod 13:4; Abib is later called
Nisan) as the first month of the year but does not speak of a feast to celebrate the New
Year. While Lev 23:23-25 and Num 29:1-6 designate the first day of the seventh month as
a day of sabbath rest, neither text designates that day as New Years Day. Deuteronomy
does not speak of a feast on the first day of the seventh month.
24. The word appears three times as a personal or place name: Josh 10:3; Judg 1:11; 1 Chr
6:43.
25. Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School, Oxford 1972, 195.

16

L. J. HOPPE

but has said that he would dwell in thick darkness.


I have built thee an exalted house,
a place for thee to dwell in forever.26
The final line of this ancient song then speaks of the Temple as a place
for thee (God) to dwell forever (v. 13). But Solomon counters this in v.
27: Can it indeed be that God dwells among people on earth? If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you, how much less this temple
that I have built. The tension between these two notions of the Temple,
however, is woven into the fabric of 1 Kgs 8. It is the thesis of this paper
that the Deuteronomist wanted to undercut the notion that God was actually present in the Temple by insisting on the Deuteronomic formulary that
the Temple was simply the place where Gods name dwelt. But this made
it possible for the Temple idea to survive the destruction of the building in
A.D. 70.

B. The First Prayer of Blessing, vv. 14-21


The first prayer of blessing begins with Solomon blessing the whole assembly (v. 14). The prayers main theme is the fulfillment of Gods promise to David through the accession of Solomon as king. The prayer is a
recapitulation of Nathans oracle (2 Sam 7:8-17). Such summaries of the
past are common features of Deuteronomistic speeches.27 This first prayer
of blessing states four times that the Temple was built as a place for Gods
name (vv. 17-20), a common Deuteronomic motif. The fourfold repetition
of the Deuteronomic conception of the Temple as a place for Gods name
begins the process of undercutting the Temples importance. It also expands
26. Solomons claim here is similar to that of Gudea who, on completing the temple at

Lagash, asserts that he built a palace for the god Ningirsu and his consort Bau. See. G.A.
Barton, The Royal Inscriptions of Sumer and Akkad (1929), 239. Weinfeld offers other ancient Near Eastern parallels. See his Deuteronomy, 35-37, 248-251.
The LXX displaces this text after v. 53 and gives the source of the quotation as the Book
of the Song (en bibliw thv wjdhv). G.H. Jones suggests emending the Hebrew that stands
behind the Greek from ry to ry This would have the quotation come from the Book of
Yashar which is known from Josh 10:13 and 2 Sam 1:18. See his 1 and 2 Kings, I:196 and
note b to 1 Kgs 8:13 in the BHS. Jones also suggests an alternative translation for v. 13: I
have built a royal house for thee, an established place for thy throne forever. This translation does not imply that the Temple is Gods dwelling place.
27. E.g., Joshuas testament in Joshua 23 and the editorial comment on the fall of Samaria
in 2 Kings 17:7-40.

SOLOMONS PRAYER IN 1 KINGS 8

17

the statement in 2 Samuel 7:13 that it was Gods will that Solomon build
the Temple. Though the promise of an eternal dynasty was the core of
Nathans oracle, here it is secondary to the promise that Solomon would
build the Temple (v. 20).
A significant text in this unit is v.16. It asserts that God chose David to
be king over Israel but God did not choose a city where a temple may be
built.28 The assertion that God did not choose a city but a king does not
occur in 2 Sam 7. The prayer also affirms that the building of a temple was
Davids idea (v. 17). This is subtle but clear subversion of status of Jerusalem and its Temple, implying that the project itself and the selection Jerusalem as the site of the Temple were the result of human initiative. Here the
Deuteronomist associates the city and the Temple with the Davidic dynasty.
The city and Temple fell to the Babylonians sharing the fate of the Davidic
dynasty.
Another significant motif in this prayer is the ark, which the Deuteronomic tradition sees simply as a box containing the two tablets of the
Law rather than the means whereby Gods presence is manifest in the
Temple (Deut 10:1-5; compare Exod 25:1-22; Num 10:33-36).29 The prayer
of blessing does not mention the cherubim although the narrative introduction does in v. 7 and 1 Kings 6:23-32 gives a detailed description of their
fabrication and the use of the cherubim motif in the decoration of the
Temple. This silence may be explained by the formula which spoke of God
as enthroned upon the cherubim (see 1 Sam 4:4; 2 Sam 6:2; 2 Kgs
19:15). First Kings 8 is moving away from such a notion of Gods presence in the Temple.
The first prayer of blessing ends by moving beyond the promises made
to David and fulfilled in Solomon by mentioning the exodus and covenant
that constitute Israel as Gods people (v. 21). The ark, which symbolizes
this relationship, will be placed in the Temple. The Deuteronomist plays
down the dynastic functions of the Temple in favors of the peoples interests served by this building. The effect of v. 21 then is to transform the
building of the Temple from an expression of royal prerogatives to an expression of the covenant relationship that exists between God and Israel.
The Deuteronomist, then, is transcending the dynastic concerns with which

28. Both the LXX of 1 Kings 8 and 2 Chronicles 6:16 (MT) do assert that God chose Jerusa-

lem. 1 Kings 8:16 implies that Jerusalems position derives from the election of the Davidic
dynasty.
29. See Weinfeld, Deuteronomy, 208-209.

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L. J. HOPPE

the prayer began. A similar movement can be discerned in the seven petitions (vv. 31-51) and the narrative conclusion (vv. 62-66). This move away
from dynastic concerns is another indication of the Deuteronomists attempt
to rework the idea of the Temple.

C. The First Prayer of Assurance, vv. 22-30


The first prayer of assurance begins by proclaiming the uniqueness and
fidelity of Israels God: O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like
thee, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing
steadfast love to thy servants who walk before thee with all their heart.
This verse is an amalgam of Deuteronomic formulae (see Deut 4:39; 6:4;
7:9). It implies that the basis for the assurance that prayers offered in the
Temple will be heard is Gods fidelity. Next follows a recapitulation of
the prayer of blessing (vv. 24-26, see vv. 15-21) which recounted the
fulfillment of the promises made to David. But there is an addition of a
conditional clause in v. 25b: if only your (Davids) sons take heed to
their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.30 Verse 27,
which is sometimes characterized as secondary, reiterates the notion of
Gods uniqueness in another key by affirming that the God of Israel cannot be contained in the Temple. The conclusion to the first prayer of
assurance (vv. 29-30) serves as a bridge to the petitions to follow since it
asks God to hear those petitions.
This first prayer of assurance is the last time 1 Kings 8 shows any
concern for the dynasty. The emphasis shifts to the destiny of the people
as a whole. In the second prayer of blessing (vv. 55-61) the focus is not
on the promises made to David and the dynasty but the promises made to
the people through Moses. Similarly the second prayer of assurance (vv.
52-53) implies that the confidence in presenting petitions to God comes
from the uniqueness of Israel and its relationship with God. Dynasty and
Temple receive no mention. The shift from dynasty to people is still another indication of the Deuteronomists goal of giving new significance
to the Temple.

30. While the basis of this rehearsal of the promises made to David is Nathans oracle in 2

Samuel 7especially vv. 12, 14-16, the Deuteronomist introduces a condition as was done
in 1 Kings 2:4. The Deuteronomistic reinterpretation of Nathans oracle serves to subvert
the notion that the promises of an eternal dynasty were unconditional.

SOLOMONS PRAYER IN 1 KINGS 8

19

D. The Seven Petitions, vv. 31-51


The seven prayers of petition in vv. 31-51 clearly undercut the idea expressed in v. 13namely, that the Temple is Gods exalted house(lbuz tyBe
v. 13). These petitions imagine the Temple to be a place where Israelites
and non-Israelites alike gather to offer their prayers to God whose dwelling place is in the heavens (vv. 30, 32, 34, 36, 39, 43, 45, 49). In fact, it is
not even necessary that the one who prays be present in the Temple. Those
who pray need simply orient themselves toward Jerusalem (v. 44-45). The
prayer undermines the notion that God is present in the Temple.
The first petition (vv. 31-32) is unlike the others. It does not describe a
situation in which the worshiper invokes God in a time of trouble as do the
other petitions. It asks God to insure that justice is done when a person
accused of a crime takes an oath of innocence before the altar (see Exod
22:7-12; Num 5:11-31). It is not clear if the person taking the oath is guilty
or is unjustly accused.31 The prayer simply asks God to hear the oath in
heaven and judge between the two parties in the dispute. The petition
makes a distinction between the oath-taking that takes place before the altar of the Temple and the passing of judgment that takes place in heaven.
The second (vv. 33-34) and third (vv. 35-36) petitions focus on Israel
as a nation and ask for that nations forgiveness and restoration. Petition
two asks for the return to the land following the Exile and petition three
asks for rain so that Israel could survive on that land. Gods forgiveness
and Israels restoration will follow upon the peoples repentance.
The fourth (vv. 37-40) and fifth (vv. 41-43) petitions end with a clause
introduced by ['m'l] (vv. 40a and 43b). These clauses suggest a goal for
Gods deliverance beyond simply the amelioration of a difficult situation.
Verse 40a prays that Gods deliverance may lead the people of Israel to
fear (God) as long as they live on the land while v. 43b prays that
Gods response to the prayer of the foreigner may lead all people to the
knowledge and fear of God.
The final two petitions (vv. 44-45 and vv. 46-51) return to the theme of
war and deportationthe subjects of the second petition. While the latter
assumes that the people will have access to the Temple (v. 33), petitions
six and seven assume the opposite. While both petitions 6 and 7 pray for
deliverance from Israels enemies, petition 6 is a concise and petition 7 a
longer prayer for Gods mercy after military defeat and exile. The petitions

31. Talstra, Solomons Prayer, 110-111.

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L. J. HOPPE

assume that the people will recognize their sin and repent. Though the petitions do not explicitly ask for release from captivity that is the point of
the prayers. The allusion to the Exodus in v. 51 makes that clear.
There are differences among these petitions, e.g., the first deals with
the individual and others with the entire people, some assume the Exile and
others do not, some assume repentance and others do not. One element
common to all seven petitions is the request that God hear these petitions
from heaven. Petitions 1 to 5 use the formula: yIm'V;h' [m'v]Ti (vv. 32, 34, 36,
39, 43) while petitions 6 and 7 use the formula yIm'V;h' T;[]m'v;w (vv. 45, 49).
The request that God should hear prayers from heaven undercuts the notion that God lives in the Temple. While the first two petitions locate the
petitioners in the Temple ( hZ<h' tyIB'B' vv. 31, 33), the other five petitions
suggest that the prayers need only be offered while the petitioner is facing
in the direction of the Templeactual presence in the Temple is not necessary (vv. 35, 38, 42, 44, 48). It is the disposition of the petitioners that will
lead to their prayers being heardnot their presence in the Temple.
The Book of Deuteronomy implies that Jerusalem is the place which
the Lord your God chooses as the dwelling place for his name and so
invests the city with the highest dignity while 1 Kings 8 appears to divest
Jerusalems Temple of its function as Gods dwelling place. Here the Deuteronomic tradition stands in contrast to the cultic legislation of the Priestly
Code, which assumes that God is actually present in the Temple to receive
the sacrifices and prayers of those who come to the sanctuary (Exod 25:8;
29:45-46). But the Deuteronomistic History apprears to reject the attempt
to conceive of God dwelling simultaneously in heaven and on earth. For
the Deuteronomist, heaven was the exclusive place of Gods dwelling. The
Temple is the dwelling place for Gods name. Also, the prayers of petition
transform the Temple from a place of sacrifice to a place for prayer. This is
not to imply that Deuteronomy sees sacrifice and prayer as diametrically
opposed, but it does recognize that one must have a Temple for sacrifice
but not for prayer.
In an article on the role of the Temple in ancient Israelite religion, Jon
D. Levenson argues that Solomons prayer is about the function of the
Temple as a place that enables worshipers to escape mundane reality. According to Levenson, then, the Temple was a vehicle of self-transcendence.32 But the petitions of 1 Kings 8 focus not merely on the functions of

32. The Temple and the World, JR 64/3 (1984) 297-298. The article begins with the

authors criticism of certain scholars who denigrate the theological significance

SOLOMONS PRAYER IN 1 KINGS 8

21

the Temple but especially on the relationship between Israel and God. What
God does in these petitions is listen, take action, pass judgment,
condemn the wicked, acquit the just, forgive bring (the people)
back, afflict, teach (the people) the right way, send rain, render to
each according to his conduct, do, send (the) people forth. What the
people do in these petitions is sin, repent, acknowledge (Gods)
name, and pray. All Gods activity takes place in heaven. The peoples
activity is not directly related to the Temple except for v. 33. The petitions
make no mention of the dynasty and the Temple serves merely to orient
the worshiper for prayer. Dynasty and Temple slip into the background
while God and Israel come to center stage. And the interaction between
God and Israel can take place independently of the Temple.
Talstra is correct when he rejects Weinfelds assertion that the function
of Solomons prayer was to unfold the principle of divine retribution acting in Israelite history.33 The function of the prayer is not to explain the
past but to point to the future. This is clear from the petitions that make up
the core of 1 Kings 8. For example, petitions 2 and 3 that deal with military defeat (vv. 33-34) and drought (vv. 35-36) stipulate that these calamities were due to the peoples sins (vv. 33, 35), but the prayer goes beyond
divine judgment on sin to repentance, prayer, and forgiveness. Solomons
prayer is not concerned with asking why divine judgment took placethat
is obvious enough. What concerns the Deuteronomist is what the people
are to do after having experienced Gods judgment. The Deuteronomist
suggests that repentance expressed through prayer will bring Gods forgiveness. First Kings 8, then, voices hope for Judah beyond the exile.34

C. The Second Prayer of Assurance, vv. 52-53


The purpose of the second prayer of assurance (vv. 52-54) is identical to
that of the first. It is to affirm that the prayers offered by both Solomon
of the Temple and who have created a negative stereotype of temple-centered worship in
the ancient world and in ancient Israel in particular. I hope that this paper is not seen as
reflecting that brand of Christian Old Testament scholarship. What I hope to do is describe
the Deuteronomistic response to the exilic situation in which the Temple and other religious
and political institutions of ancient Israel were in ruins.
33. Talstra, Solomons Prayer, 259.
34. See J.G. McConville, 1 Kings 8:46-53 and the Deuteronomic Hope, VT 42 (1992)
368-369, and R.A. Werline, Penitential Prayer in Second Temple Judaism. The Development of a Religious Institution (SBL Early Judaism and Its Literature 13), Atlanta 1998, 28.

22

L. J. HOPPE

and the people in the Temple will be heard by God in heaven. The horizon
of the second prayer is Moses and the Exodus rather than David and his
dynasty. As 1 Kings 8 progresses, the dynasty and the Temple diminish.
Coming to the foreground in the prayer is God and Israel. The first prayer
of assurance (vv. 22-30) finds confidence in the uniqueness of Israels God:
O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above or on
earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to thy servants
who walk before thee with all their heart (v. 23). This second prayer finds
it in the uniqueness of Israel: For thou didst separate them (Israel) from
among all the peoples of the earth, to be thy heritage, as thou didst declare
through Moses, thy servant, when thou didst bring our ancestors out of
Egypt, O Lord GOD (v. 53).

B. The Second Prayer of Blessing, vv. 54-61


In this second prayer of blessing, Solomon blesses whole community of
Israel (v. 55). The content of this prayer bears no direct relationship to the
dedication of the Temple and has no parallel in the Chroniclers version of
this prayer (2 Chr 6). This portion of Solomons prayer praises God for
fulfilling the promises made through Moses and for giving Israel rest (v.
56; see Deut 12:9). The prayer speaks of the nearness of God to Israel and
speaks of that nearness as reflected not through Israels service in the
Temple but though Israels obedience to the law: The LORD our God be
with us, as God was with our ancestors; may God not leave us or forsake
us; that God may incline our hearts to God, to walk in all Gods ways, and
to keep Gods commandments, statutes, and ordinances, which God commanded our ancestors (vv. 57-58).
This portion of Solomons prayer reflects a transformation of the Deuteronomistic notion of rest, which usually refers to the settlement in
Canaan (e.g., Josh 23:1) or the rest from his enemies that David enjoyed
(2 Sam 7:1,11). Here rest means Gods accessibility to Israel through prayer
and obedience.35 Here rest is a relational term rather than a historical
one. Solomon then prays that God may do justice for God and the people
(v. 59) so that all peoples may know that Israels God is God (v. 60). The
35. W.M.W. Roth notices this change and explains it using the scheme of the so-called
Smend school regarding the redactions of the DtrH. See his Deuteronomistic Rest Theology. A Redactional-Critical Study, BR 21 (1976). He sees 1 Kings 8:56 as reflecting the
perspectives of the nomistic redaction (DtrN), see pp. 11-12.

SOLOMONS PRAYER IN 1 KINGS 8

23

final verse of the praise speech exhorts the people to obedience, using Deuteronomic formularies: May your heart be whole with the Lord our God,
following Gods laws and keeping Gods commandments .

A. The Narrative Conclusion, vv. 62-66


The ceremonies connected with the dedication of the Temple conclude with
additional sacrifices (vv. 63-64).36 The sacrifices that are offered are ymil;V]
in which the fat and entrails are offered to God while the people eat the
flesh of the sacrificed animal. The choice of this type of sacrifice to conclude the dedication of the Temple is an example of the Deuteronomists
humanizing efforts. The sacrifices were not simply offered to persuade the
deity to take up residence in the Temple but to manifest a covenant between
God and the people. The Temple then is not so much a place where Israel
can feed and clothe its God but is a means to make concrete the relationship between Israel and God that God established at the Exodus and Israel
maintains by its obedience to Torah.

II. Dynasty and Temple in Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic


Tradition
The final form of Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History see ancient Israels life and institutions through the lens of the fall of the two
Israelite national states and the exile of their citizens. It hardly could be
otherwise. The production of these works reflects a belief in the future of
Israel, but they do not sketch out precise contours of Israels future existence except to insist that Israels life depends upon its obedience to the
written, authoritative Torah, i.e., the Book of Deuteronomy (see Deut
30:15-20). The Deuteronomic tradition subordinates all religious, political, and economic institutions to the Torah. The Temple is one of these
institutions.
The Temple, of course, occupied a central position among the institutions of the Judahite national state. It was the place where heaven and earth
converged. As such it was Gods dwelling place on earth and the place from
36. Jones, 1 and 2 Kings offers ancient Near Eastern parallels to the sacrifices and celebra-

tions described in vv. 62-66. The purpose of these activities was to persuade the deity to
take up residence in the newly built temple. See I:207.

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L. J. HOPPE

which Gods rule over the world was effected. By constructing and maintaining the Temple, the kings of the Davidic dynasty participated in the
rule. The psalms celebrated Zion, its Temple and the dynasty. The problem
is that reality did not match the ideology or the rhetoric. The Temple and
dynasty did not prevent the disaster that befell Judah. In fact, prophets like
Isaiah, Jeremiah and Micah asserted that these institutions actually hastened
the day of Judahs judgment.
The failure of the Temple and dynasty effected the way the Deuteronomist sketched out the parameters of Israels future. The Deuteronomic
resignification of the dynasty begins with Deuteronomys law of the king
(Deut 17:14-20). According to that law, an Israelite king is not allowed a
significant military force. He is not to arrange alliances through multiple
marriages with the daughters of neighboring monarchs. He is not to control the economy for his benefit. The king is to occupy himself with the
study of Torah to insure that he does not set up a stratified social system.
According to Deuteronomy, the king had no role in the appointment of
other officials such as judges, priests, and prophets. Also, these others exercised their offices independently of the king.37 The law of the king is certainly an ideological statement rather than practical legislation. What
ancient Near Eastern monarch would allow his rule to be limited by its restrictions?
The Deuteronomistic History sets up expectations regarding the monarchy that are not met. The concluding statement of the Book of Judges
(In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what they
thought best. Judg 21:25) implies that the kingship will change the moral
anarchy that marked the period of the Judges period. The rest of the Deuteronomistic History illustrates that it did not. On the contrary, the kings
only increased it. The Deuteronomistic History makes it clear that kingship did not descend from heaven as ancient Near Eastern kingship
ideology would have it. The monarchy in Israel came about because of
the peoples initiative despite Samuels warnings (1 Sam 8). The Deuteronomistic History tells the story of God who promised David an eternal dynasty (2 Sam 7) but then goes on to describe the collapse of that
dynasty. Stories such as the Succession Narrative (2 Sam 920; 1 Kgs 1

37. N.Lohfink points out that the Deuteronomic legislation regarding these other office

holders gives no role to the king in their appointment or the execution of their responsibilities. See his Distribution of Functions of Power. The Laws Concerning Public Offices in
Deuteronomy 16:1818:22, in: D.L. Christensen (ed.), A Song of Power and the Power of
Song. Essays on the Book of Deuteronomy, Winona Lake, IN 1993, 336-352.

SOLOMONS PRAYER IN 1 KINGS 8

25

2), the story of the dark side of Solomons reign in 1 Kings 11, the Deuteronomistic evaluation of all the kings of the North and most of the
South make it clear that the Deuteronomic tradition considered the monarchy an abject failure as a social, political, and religious institution.38
Actions of a few kings of Judah such as Josiah did not prevent the disaster that Judah eventually faced. Thus, the Deuteronomic tradition
resignifies the dynasty through law and story.
The Deuteronomic tradition follows a similar pattern in its treatment of
the Temple. The Book of Deuteronomy does speak of the Temple as a place
of sacrificial worship (see 12:4-6) though the Deuteronomic name theology39 appears to undercut the significance of the Temple as Gods dwelling place on earth. It introduces the notion of a Temple that is without a
divine resident. First Kings 8 asserts that God dwells in heaven and speaks
of the Temple as a place of prayer. Solomons prayer explicitly contrasts
the Temple as the place where Gods name dwells and the place toward
which one prays with heaven as the place where God dwells and the place
where God hears prayers and forgives sins. Behind this, is the belief that
while the Temple is legitimate and has a role in the relationship between
God and Israel, that role is subordinate to Torah.40
As was the case with the Deuteronomistic story of the dynasty, its
narratives about the Temple are sadeven tragic. The growing impotence
of the state and the infidelity of its monarchs are mirrored in what hap-

38. Dating the first redaction of DtrH to the time of Josiah as Cross does leads some inter-

preters to see the Deuteronomic tradition as more positive to the monarchy. But the text
itself makes it clear that even a king like Josiah was unable to save himself let alone the
nation.
Noth held that a negative view of the monarchy was an essential feature of the Deuteronomistic conception of Israels history. See berlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien, 110.
There have been attempts to undercut Noths viewmost notably by G.E. Gerbrandt, Kingship according to the Deuteronomistic History (SBLDS 87), Missoula, MT 1986. He argued that the king had an extremely important role within the structure of Israel for the
Deuteronomist (p. 194). The role was to lead the people in covenant obedience and loyalty
to Yahweh. While that may be true, reading the Deuteronomistic History makes it clear that
the monarchy as an institution utterly failed to fulfill that responsibility.
39. G. von Rad, Deuteronomys Name Theology and the Priestly Documents Kabod
Theology, in his Studies in Deuteronomy (SBT 9), London 1952, 45-59.
40. S.L. McKenzie asserts that 1 Kings 8 could not have been written by the same person
who wrote 2 Kings 23:2625:26. He asserts that the former presents the Temple as a channel of blessing while the latter undermines this by its story of the Temples destruction.
See his The Trouble with Kings, 139. It is the thesis of the paper that 1 Kings 8 itself serves
to undermine the significance of the Temple. The blessings that come to Israel come because of its prayers of repentance. These blessings come independently of the Temple.

26

L. J. HOPPE

pened to the Temple. Rehoboam has to hand over the Temples treasury
to the invading Shishak of Egypt (1 Kgs 14:25-26). Asa had to hand over
what was left of the Temples silver and gold to get Aram to help him
resist the incursions of Israel into Judahite territory (1 Kgs 15:18). Joash
emptied the Temple of the votive offerings made by his three immediate
predecessors to appease Hazael of Aram (2 Kgs 12:17-18). Ahaz installed
an altar to Assyrian gods after his visit with Tiglath-Pileser III in Damascus (2 Kgs 16:10-16). Hezekiah stripped the Temple of its silver and
gold to offer Sennacherib tribute (2 Kgs 18:14-16). Manasseh installed a
variety of non-Yahwistic cults in the Temple (2 Kgs 21:3-5) during his
long reign. Josiahs reforms could not stop divine judgment upon Jerusalem and the kind of worship that had been going on in its Temple. When
the Deuteronomist describes the fall of Jerusalem to Nabuchadnezzar, the
first thing mentioned is the burning of the Temple (2 Kgs 25:9). The
Deuteronomist describes in some detail the sacking of the Temple (2 Kgs
25:13-17) though he does not describe the sacking of the royal residence
or the houses of the rich.
The Deuteronomic tradition resignifies other of ancient Israels religious institutions such as the priesthood and prophecy as well. The goal of
this resignification is to underscore the role of the Torah for Israels future.
If Israel was to have any hope for a future beyond the exile, that future
would have to be founded on its commitment to the covenant and its obedience to the written authoritative law found in the Book of Deuteronomy:
May God turn our hearts toward God so that we may follow all Gods
ways and keep the commandments, statutes and ordinances that God gave
our ancestors (1 Kgs 8:58). The monarchy, the Temple, the priesthood, and
prophecy all proved incapable of preventing the judgment that came upon
Israel in the form of the political and military defeat it experienced at the
hands of the Babylonians. Why should Israel look to these institutions for
its future?41

III. The Afterlife of Solomons Prayer


In his Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel, Wellhausen asserted:
The connecting link between old and new, between Israel and Judaism, is

41. McConville, 1 Kings 8:46-54 and the Deuteronomic Hope, 79 noted that Kings may

be saying that hope for the future should not be reposed in any institution.

SOLOMONS PRAYER IN 1 KINGS 8

27

everywhere Deuteronomy.42 Though I do not think that Wellhausen meant


this as a compliment, I do think that he was correct in his assessment of
Deuteronomys influence on the development of the religion of early Judaism. Ancient Israels religion was, for the most part, a national cult whose
goals were the survival and prosperity of Israel as a nation through the fertility of its land and the defeat of external threats to its existence. These
goals were achieved through the sacrificial worship of Yahweh, the nations
patron deity, who gave the land its fertility was the Lord of Israels armies.
The Temple had a central role in the national and international life of Judah.
Building and maintaining a Temple was an essential element in the formation of a national state in the ancient Near East. But the Temple and its
sacrificial cult meant that a few priests performed the principal acts of religion on behalf of the many.
On the other hand, the religion of early Judaism was an assemblybased, lay religion whose goal was the salvation of the individual through
a life of obedience to Torah. This salvation will take place in the world to
come. Believers can have a place in that world by careful obedience to the
Torah. While some of the religious institutions of ancient Israel such as the
priesthood, Temple and sacrifice did have a place in early Judaism, they
came to be subordinated to study, prayer, and the observance of Torah by
the individual Jew. Thus, Judaism was able to survive the loss of the
Temple in A.D. 70 because the Temple like all other institutions of ancient
Israelite religion became subordinate to the Torah. As Wellhausen asserted,
a key element in the transformation of ancient Israelite religion to that of
early Judaism was the growing influence of the Deuteronomic tradition.
The Deuteronomic resignification of the Temple from a place of sacrificial
worship to a place of prayer was a highly significant element in the development of early Judaism. Solomons Prayer in 1 Kings 8 exemplifies this
development.
The fundamental thrust of 1 Kings 8 is toward the future. Absent from
this text is any allusion to obligation of Israel to serve Yahweh alonea
motif that is prominent in other Deuteronomistic speeches, e.g., Joshua 23,
Judges 2 and 2 Kings 17. The struggle against idolatry is not an issue in
Solomons prayer. Similarly, this prayer does not attempt to explain the
tragedies of ancient Israels past; rather, it looks forward to the future. Of
course, it does not ignore the problems of Israels past either, but suggests
that repentance and prayer will bring Gods forgiveness (vv. 46-51).The

42. Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel, New York 1957, 362.

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L. J. HOPPE

verb jls occurs five times in Solomons prayer (v. 30, 34, 36, 39, 50). This
represents 15 percent of the 33 times the qal form of this verb occurs in
the Masoretic Text. Such concentration in a single unit is remarkable.43
Also, this verb occurs only with God as its subject. What the prayer implies is that the basis of Judahs future is Gods forgiveness. While the
people can repent, this alone will not guarantee any restoration of Judahs
status as the people of God. That can come only through Gods initiative.
Solomons prayer attempts to provide confidence that God will forgive in
answer to the peoples prayers offered following their repentance. Hope for
the future, then, has a foundation in Gods readiness to hear the prayers of
Gods people.
One goal of the Deuteronomist in 1 Kings 8 is to help Israel cope
with the loss of the Temple. This loss combined with the end of Israelite
political autonomy threatened the very existence of the postexilic community. It is important, however, to distinguish between the the problems
caused by the fall of Jerusalem from those caused by the loss of the
Temple. For example, while the Book of Lamentations expresses profound grief over the Jerusalem, it mentions the sanctuary and altar
only to note that God had rejected them (2:7). Second Isaiahs vision of
the restoration mentions the Temple only once (44:28). After some hesitation (see Hag 1), the Temple destroyed by the Babylonians was rebuilt
and provided a focus for a reconstituted Jewish community though it is
clear from Isaiah 66:1-6, for example, that not all factions of the Jewish
community were happy with the shape of the restored community and its
patterns of worship and leadership. Still, the Second Temple was a force
for survival. The Temple, however, was losing its position as the principal means by which Jewish religious life could find expression. The center of shifting toward the study and observance of the written authoritative
Torah. In fact, one important function of the Second Temple was that its
precints became a setting for the teaching of the Law (Ant. 17:149; Luke
21:3 and Pes 26a).

43. Weinfeld does not include this word among his list of Deuteronomic terminology.

E.W. Nicholson, however, asserts that it is highly characteristic of Deuteronomistic literature, see his Preaching to the Exiles. A Study of the Prose Tradition in the Book of
Jeremiah, New York 1970, 44-45. Talstra asserts that the verses containing this verb were
introduced into the prayer in the course of the post-deuteronomistic redaction. See his
Solomons Prayer, 201. Deciding whether jls is Deuteronomistic language may be important for reconstructing the composition history of the text, but that is not the concern here.

SOLOMONS PRAYER IN 1 KINGS 8

29

The loss of the Second Temple in A.D. 70 had to be a most serious


threat of the very existence of Judaism. In fact, Levenson asserts that the
most remarkable feature of Jewish history the survival of Judaism after the
destruction of the Second Temple.44 The Deuteronomistic History in general and 1 Kgs 8 in particular helped make that survival possible. There
were three attempts at rebuilding the Temple destroyed by the Romans under Titus. The first was connected with the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132-135),
the second during the reign of Julian the Apostate (363-363), and the third
during the short-lived Persian hegemony of the Holy Land following the
defeat of the Byzantines in 614. The entrance of the Muslims into Jerusalem in 638 and the building of two Islamic shrines on the Temple Mount
precluded any further attempts at rebuilding the Temple.
Judaism had to reconstitute itself in a world without a temple. One way
the early rabbis accomplished theis was to shift focus from the Temple to
the merits of a righteous person as the way to obtain rain, fertility, and
safety from enemy attack. In the view of some, prayer and obedience obviated the need for a return to the sacrifices of Temple service (b. Ber. 26b,
32b; Deut. Rab 16:18; Sifre Deut. 41).45 Another way was to make the
Temple part of the Jewish eschatological vision. The early rabbis were convinced that one day the Temple would be rebuilt. It became, then, a special
object of their prayer, poetry, and legal discussions. The restoration of the
Temple and its sacrificial system became a major theme of Jewish prayer.
Levenson also points out that the Temple continued to have a central function in Judaism even after its destruction because the Temple was never
defined solely by its material reality. From the very beginning it had cosmic significance. The Temples significance transcended its physicality so
the absence of the earthly dimension of the Temple did not mean the end
of its heavenly existence.46 Maimonides taught that the Third Temple will
not be built with human hands but will descend to Jerusalem from its place
in heaven. This effectively prevents any human initiative in restoring the
Temple and its sacrificial worship and preserves the Torah-centeredness of
Judaism.

44. J.D. Levenson, Sinai and Zion, Minneapolis 1985, 181.


45. See S.J.D. Cohen, The Temple and the Synagogue, in: T.G. Madsen (ed.), The Temple

in Antiquity, Provo 1984, 162-168. Cohen describes the ambivalent and complex attitude of
the early rabbis toward the Temple and its sacrificial cult.
46. Levenson, Sinai and Zion, 181-184.

30

L. J. HOPPE

Conclusion: A World without a Temple


What I have suggested is that the prayer of Solomon in 1 Kgs 8 is almost
completely at odds with the tenor of the event that the DtrH is narrating:
the dedication of the Temple. One expects the story of the Temples dedication to describe a joyous occasion. The building of the Temple showed
Gods fidelity to the promises made to David (2 Sam 7). The narratives
present the completion of the Temple as a triumph of Solomons political
and organizational prowress. Still, Solomons prayer at the Temples dedication focuses on what action Israel should take once it experiences natural disaster, military defeat and exile. But it is the thesis of this paper that
the Deuteronomistic conception of the Temple and its significance as exemplified in 1 Kings 8 contributed to the reinterpretation and, therefore, the
continuity of the Temple idea in early Judaism. By transforming the Temple
from a place of sacrifice to a place of prayer, the Deuteronomists set the
stage for the rabbinic assertion that prayer is the one form of sacrifice still
available to Judaism in this world without a temple.
Leslie J. Hoppe, ofm
Catholic Theological Union - Chicago
Visiting professor, Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem

LA MASSORAH DEL LIBRO DI RUT (BHS)

M. Pazzini

Queste pagine sono state scritte con lo scopo di presentare e spiegare in maniera
semplice le note della Massorah parva (Mp) e della Massorah magna (Mm)
stampate in margine e in calce al testo della Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia
(BHS). Sono destinate a coloro che, non essendo specialisti, desiderano leggere
e comprendere le sigle tipiche della Massorah trasmesse in una lingua mista
(ebraico rabbinico e aramaico), non sempre di facile interpretazione.
Lutilit di questo studio consiste soprattutto nel fornire di seguito tutte
le note che compaiono in margine e in calce al testo biblico di Rut. Questo
ci permetter di farci unidea pi organica e articolata dellopera dei
massoreti. Lo scopo non quello di introdurre alla complessa problematica
della massorah; per questo esistono, infatti, opere specialistiche. A noi interessa piuttosto mostrare come vanno interpretate in pratica le note sintetiche dei massoreti, e questo in un testo continuo.
Faremo uso di una bibliografia essenziale e sufficiente allo scopo che
ci siamo prefissi. Partendo dal testo biblico stampato (BHS) daremo prima
linterpretazione delle note marginali della Mp, poi esamineremo i rimandi
alle liste della Mm pubblicate nella monografia di G. Weil aiutandoci, in
entrambi i casi, con le concordanze di A. Even Shoshan e di S. Mandelkern.
Faremo uso, pur senza citarlo esplicitamente, del manuale di P.H. Kelley
(e collaboratori) di recente edizione, il quale rappresenta una guida esauriente e fedele per chiunque si accinga su questo cammino. Alloccorrenza
consulteremo anche ledizione facsimile del codice di Leningrado (L) sul
quale basata ledizione della BHS.

Capitolo primo
Il segno [aOs^] sulla sinistra della prima riga indica la divisione del testo per
la lettura sinagogale. La lettera s (con laccento biblico Pazer: s^) abbreviazione della parola rd<se ordine, sezione. La lettera aO ha il valore numerico di 1: sezione prima. Nel libro di Rut ci sono altre due divisioni del
genere: [bOs^] al v. 2,12 e s^ al v. 3,12. Le prime due sono fra parentesi
quadre; infatti nel codice di Leningrado non compaiono, mentre la terza,
senza parentesi, presente nel codice. Questi segni rappresentano le diverLA 51 (2001) 31-53

32

M. PAZZINI

se tradizioni di divisione del testo per uso liturgico (in ogni caso il testo
diviso in due yrId:s] ordini, sezioni). In pratica, secondo L, le due sezioni
comprendono il testo da 1,1 a 3,11 e da 3,12 alla fine. Nella seconda tradizione le due sezioni comprendono il testo da 1,1 a 2,11 e da 2,12 alla fine.
Rut 1,1 (6 note)
1) ymeyBi yhi%yw" : 5 volte. Il numero 1 in esponente rimanda alla lista 91
della Massorah magna (Mm, edizione di G. Weil) dove vengono riportate
le 5 citazioni (Gen 14,1; Is 7,1; Ger 1,3; Rut 1,1; Ester 1,1).
2) fpov] : 2 volte, delle quali 1 plene scriptum (alem;) e 1 defective
scriptum (rsej;). Non c alcun rimando alla Mm. La Massorah parva (Mp)
si riferisce alla Mater lectionis w. Cercando nella concordanza troviamo la
seconda forma in Gen 19,9 (f/pv;).
3) yfi+p]Voh' : 4 volte. Il n. 2 in esponente rimanda alla lista 1168 della
Mm. Qui troviamo che la parola ricorre 4 volte al pl. preceduta da articolo:
Dt 19,18; Rut 1,1; 2Re 23,22; 2Cr 19,6. Nella lista viene riportato anche
un caso simile (dj'w) che si distingue dai quattro precedenti perch preceduto da Waw (-h'w in Dt 19,17).
4) r<a-B; b[`r: yhiyw" : lespressione ricorre 2 volte con significati insoliti,
speciali (ydIj}y"m)] . Il n. 3 in esponente rimanda alla lista 3660 della Mm. Le
occorrenze sono tre: Gen 12,10; 26,1; Rut 1,1. Il riferimento, in questo
caso, agli accenti biblici; quindi il passo che ci riguarda Gen 12,10 dove
lespressione compare con gli identici accenti che compaiono in Rut 1,1.
5) vyai l,YE!w" : 2 volte. Il n. 4 in esponente rimanda alla lista 377 della
Mm dove troviamo il riferimento a Es 2,1 nel quale ricorre la stessa espressione. Nella stessa nota viene menzionata unespressione simile (col sost.
articolato: vyaih;) che compare due volte (yrET] o yyErT') in Gdc 1,26 e 17,8.
6) wyn:b; ynEv]W /Tv]aiw : lespressione non c (tyle) altrove. Si tratta di un
hapax.
Rut 1,2 (1 nota)

vw : 13 volte allinizio del versetto (qWsP; vaOr o aq;WsP] vyrE). Il n. 5 in


esponente rimanda alla lista 33 della Mm dove vengono date le 13 citazioni.
Rut 1,3 (1 nota)

raV;Tiw" : 2 volte. Non c alcun rimando alla Mm, ma, con laiuto della
concordanza, troviamo il secondo caso in Rut 1,5 (cf. nota 1).

LA MASSORAH DEL LIBRO DI RUT

33

Rut 1,4 (3 note)


1) Wac]YIw" : 43 volte (forma particolare perch mancante di Dage). In
effetti, cercando nella concordanza, si noter che in tutte queste forme
(imperf. inverso Qal 3 m. pl. di ac;n:) manca il Dage nella c.
2) t/Ybia}mo : la parola non compare altrove scritta con olem senza Waw
(defective scriptum) dopo la Mem iniziale. Cf. 1Re 11,1 e Ne 13,23 dove
compare la stessa forma plene scriptum (-/m).
3) rc,[K] : non compare altrove. Il riferimento al numerale preceduto
da K].
Rut 1,5 (2 note)
1) r~aeV;Tiw" : 2 volte. Cf. Rut 1,3.
2) HvyaimeW : non c altrove.
Rut 1,6 (2 note)
1) h;yt,+Lk'w : non c altrove e il olem defective scriptum (rsej;). Non
si confonda con la forma quasi identica che compare in Rut 1,7 e 1,8 (nota
1).
2) hdEc]Bi : 2 volte scritto con h (per significare che si tratta di stato costr.
s. e non del pl. ydEc]Bi come altrove). Il n. 6 in esponente rimanda alla lista
2329 della Mm dove viene individuato il secondo caso in Rut 4,3.
Rut 1,7 (1 nota)

h;yt`Lk' : 2 volte. Il n. 7 in esponente rimanda alla nota della Mp sub


loco. Cf. Rut 1,8, nota 1.
Rut 1,8 (6 note)
1) h;yt,+Lk' : 2 volte (cf. v. precedente).
2) hn:k]l : 2 volte, delle quali 1 defective scriptum (rsej;), cio senza h
finale (cf. Rut 1,12), e 1 plene scriptum (alem;).
3) hn:b]Vo+ : 3 volte. Il n. 7 in esponente rimanda alla nota della Mp sub
loco. Limperat. f. pl. ricorre altre 2 volte (v senza Dage) in Rut 1,11 e
1,12.
4) HM-ai tybl] : lespressione ricorre 2 volte. Il n. 8 in esponente rimanda
a Gen 24,28 dove troviamo il secondo caso.

34

M. PAZZINI

5) hc['y" : il testo consonantico sarebbe da leggere: hc,[}y", ma il Qere


indica di leggere la forma apocopata dello iussivo c['y" (senza h finale) faccia invece della forma ordinaria hc,[}y" (in entrambi i casi si tratta di imperf.
Qal 3 m. s. di hc;[;).
6) hw:hy c['y" : lespressione ricorre 2 volte (manca la Mm, con la concordanza troviamo il secondo caso in 2Sam 2,6).
Rut 1,9 (4 note)
1) Hv-yai tyB : lespressione ricorre 2 volte. Non c Mm; con la concordanza troviamo la seconda occorrenza in Nm 30,11.
2) Hv-yai : la parola compare 25 volte in questa forma. Il n. 9 in esponente rimanda alla lista 1506 della Mm dove vengono riportate le 25 citazioni.
3) h,+l; : 14 volte. Il n. 10 in esponente rimanda alla lista 190 della Mm
dove vengono riportate le 14 citazioni.
4) l`/q : la parola in questa forma compare 2 volte e plene scriptum.
Non c Mm. Cf. Rut 1,14, nota 2.
Rut 1,10 (1 nota)

HL-Ahn:rm`aTow" : la nota si riferisce a 10 espressioni (fra cui questa) in cui


laccento Tifa precede laccento Etnata (o Atna). Il n. 11 in esponente
rimanda alla lista 3661 della Mm dove compaiono le 10 citazioni. Inoltre
viene riportata una lezione problematica a questo proposito (Ez 10,13).
Rut 1,11 (2 note)
1) hn:b]vo : 3 volte. Cf. Rut 1,8, nota 3.
2) yvin:a}l' : 8 volte. Il n. 12 in esponente rimanda alla lista 1551 della
Mm dove vengono riportati gli 8 casi del sost. preceduto da l'; viene aggiunto un nono caso in cui il sost. preceduto da l; (cio articolato).
Rut 1,12 (3 note)
1) hn:b]vo : 3 volte (cf. Rut 1,8, nota 3).
2) ;k]le+ : 2 volte, una plene scriptum e una defective scriptum (cf. Rut
1,8, nota 2).
3) ynIb; yTidly: g"w : 11 volte alla fine di un versetto. Il n. 13 in esponente rimanda alla raccolta massoretica Okhla we-okhla, 357, dove vengono
elencati i versetti in questione.

LA MASSORAH DEL LIBRO DI RUT

35

Rut 1,13 (4 note)


1)
2)
3)
4)

hl;h} : 2 volte. Non c Mm, ma cf. nota 3.


hn:rBe%c'T] : non c altrove (tyle).
hel;h} : 2 volte (vedi nota 1).
hn:gE[;T : non c altrove (tyle).

Rut 1,14 (2 note)


1) hn:CTiw" : 2 volte senza a (a rs'j}). Il riferimento alla a che dovrebbe
venire dopo la lettera c (radice acn). Il n. 14 in esponente rimanda alla lista
2506 della Mm dove viene riportato il secondo passo (Ger 9,17).
2) l;+/q : 2 volte e, in entrambi i casi, plene scriptum (alem;). Cf. Rut
1,9, nota 4.
Rut 1,15 (3 note)
1) hb;v h~NEhi : lespressione non ricorre altrove.
2) Te+m]biy : 2 volte (vedi nota seguente).
3) Tm]biy : 2 volte (vedi nota precedente).
Rut 1,16 (3 note)
1) rv,a}Ala, : 5 volte. Il n. 15 in esponente rimanda alla lista 602 della
Mm dove vengono riportate le occorrenze dellespressione.
2) rva}b'W : 4 volte. Il n. 16 in esponente rimanda alla lista 2444 della
Mm dove vengono elencate le citazioni nelle quali ricorre la forma in questione.
3) M[' : 5 volte. Il n. 17 in esponente rimanda alla lista 868 della Mm
dove compaiono le 5 citazioni. Viene, inoltre, riportato un caso simile (dj'w)
che ricorre in Is 60,21 (Me['w).
Rut 1,17 (2 note)
1) rva}B' : 15 volte (si noti yh per hy al fine di non creare confusione col
nome divino hwhy), due delle quali allinizio di versetto. Il n. 18 in esponente rimanda alla lista 2386 della Mm dove vengono elencati tutti i casi.
2) dyrIp]y" : 2 volte. Il n. 19 in esponente rimanda a Prov 18,18 dove compare il secondo caso.

36

M. PAZZINI

Rut 1,18 (1 nota)

tx,Ma't]mi : non c altrove.


Rut 1,19 (6 note)
1) h,+yTev] : 2 volte. Il n. 20 in esponente rimanda alla lista 3667 della
Mm dove viene riportato il secondo caso (cf. Rut 4,11, nota 5).
2) hn:a`Bo : 3 volte, due delle quali nel libro di Rut (ar:p]ysiB]) e nel (medesimo) versetto (cf. nota 3). Con la concordanza troviamo la terza occorrenza in Ger 8,7.
3) h~n:a;~boK] : nota uguale alla precedente.
4) hoTew" : 3 volte e defective scriptum (rsej); cio ho. Il n. 21 in esponente
rimanda alla lista 3662 della Mm dove troviamo la citazione dei 3 passi biblici.
5) h,+yle[} : 7 volte, e ogni volta che ricorre con la parola tylk (tyOl;K]
reni - altre 7 volte) cos. Il n. 22 in esponente rimanda alla lista 1197
della Mm dove vengono elencate le 7 occorrenze. Nella concordanza di
Even Shoshan vengono date le 14 citazioni ai nn. 5759-5772 (pp. 873-874).
6) tazOh} : 5 volte. Il n. 23 in esponente rimanda alla lista 2289 della
Mm dove vengono elencati i 5 casi del pronome dimostrativo f. s. preceduto dalla particella interrogativa h}.
Rut 1,20 (3 note)
1) h,+ylea} : 5 volte, quattro delle quali plene scriptum (alem;) e una
defective scriptum (rsej;) cio senza y (Es 1,19). Il n. 24 in esponente rimanda alla lista 1048 della Mm dove vengono elencati i 5 passi biblici.
2) ;ar<q] : non c altrove defective scriptum (rsej;), cio senza h finale.
3) ar:+m; : non c altrove scritto con a.
Rut 1,21 (1 nota)

[r"h : 4 volte. Il n. 23 in esponente rimanda alla lista 407 della Mm


dove vengono riportati i 4 casi. Viene aggiunto un quinto caso simile (dj'w)
dove ricorre [r"hew (Gs 24,20).
Rut 1,22 (1 nota)

tL`jit]Bi : 6 volte. Con laiuto della concordanza si chiarisce che il riferimento alla parola hL;jiT] in stato costr. preceduta da B].

LA MASSORAH DEL LIBRO DI RUT

37

Capitolo secondo

Rut 2,1 (1 nota)

[d"/ m : il testo consonantico esprime la forma del Ketiv (bytiK]) [D:ymU ] (part.
Pual m. s. di [dy presente 6 volte nella Bibbia ebraica) conosciuto; il
Qere (yrEq]) [d"/m esprime il sostantivo sinonimo dalla stessa radice (ricorre
anche in Prv 7,4). Cf. apparato della BHS. Il n. 1 in esponente rimanda alla
lista 832 della Mm. Si tratta di unampia lista in ordine alfabetico nella
quale vengono elencate tutte le parole che hanno al loro interno la lettera
Yod da leggersi Waw.
Rut 2,2 (3 note)
1) hfql'a}w" : non c altrove.
2) ax;m]a, rva} : non c altrove.
3) wyn:y[eB] : 51 volte. Manca la Mm. Nella concordanza di Even Shoshan
i 51 casi sono numerati da 697 a 747 (p. 856).
Rut 2,3 (2 note)
1) rq,YIw" : non c altrove.
2) h;r<+q]mi : non c altrove.
Rut 2,4 (2 note)
1) yrIx]/Ql' : 4 volte plene scriptum (-/q; cf. Rut 2,5.6.7). Il n. 2 in esponente rimanda alla lista 3663 della Mm dove vengono riportati i 4 passi di
Rut nei quali compare la parola yrIx]/q.
2) hw:hy k]r<b;y : 4 volte con senso speciale; e tutto il libro dei Salmi
(yliTi) cos. Il n. 3 in esponente rimanda alla lista 2636 della Mm dove
vengono elencati i 4 casi in cui ricorre lespressione con significati particolari (ydIj}y"m]). Viene, inoltre, precisato che in tutto il libro dei Salmi cos.
Consultando la concordanza si evince che lespressione compare in totale
11 volte nella Bibbia ebraica. Di solito seguita dalla parola yhiOla fatta
eccezione per i 4 casi ricordati nella lista (Nm 6,24; Dt 15,4; Ger 31,23;
Rut 2,4) ai quali vanno aggiunte due occorrenze nei salmi (Sal 128,5;
134,3).

38

M. PAZZINI

Rut 2,5 (1 nota)

yrIx]/Qh' : 4 volte plene scriptum (cf. v. precedente, nota 1). Il n. 2 in


esponente rimanda alla lista 3663 della Mm (cf. Rut 2,4, nota 1).
Rut 2,6 (2 note)
1) yrIx]/Qh' : 4 volte plene scriptum. Il n. 2 in esponente rimanda alla
lista 3663 della Mm (cf. Rut 2,4, nota 1).
2) rm-aYow" : 91 volte. Manca la Mm. Non chiaro a cosa si riferisca la
nota. In effetti la forma pausale in questione attestata pi di 91 volte
(Even Shoshan, a p. 89, la segnala con i nn. 4435-4557).
Rut 2,7 (2 note)
1) hf;ql'a} : non c altrove (da non confondersi con la forma simile
hf;ql'a}w" in Rut 2,2).
2) yrIx]/Qh' : 4 volte plene scriptum. Il n. 2 in esponente rimanda alla
lista 3663 della Mm (cf. Rut 2,4, nota 1).
Rut 2,8 (6 note)
1) a/lh} : 9 volte plene scriptum (/) negli Scritti/Agiografi (ybiytiK]). Il n.
4 in esponente rimanda alla lista 3664 della Mm dove vengono elencati i
nove passi biblici.
2) T]['mv; : 4 volte. Il n. 5 in esponente rimanda alla lista 1865 della Mm
dove vengono forniti i 4 passi in cui ricorre la forma.
3) f~qol]li : 2 volte. Il n. 6 in esponente rimanda alla lista 488 della Mm
dove compare il secondo caso. Viene, inoltre, riportata la forma simile (dj'w)
fqol]liw; Ct 6,2).
4) hd<c;B] : 5 volte Rafe (yper: / ypir:). Il n. 7 in esponente rimanda alla
lista 957 della Mm dove vengono fornite le 5 occorrenze. Il termine Rafe
significa, in questo contesto, che la parola va intesa senza articolo, quindi
va vocalizzata hdcB] e non hdCB'.
5) al g"w : 5 volte. Il n. 8 in esponente rimanda alla lista 2837 della
Mm dove compaiono le 5 citazioni (3 volte in Qo 9,11).
6) yqi`B;dti : 2 volte. Manca riferimento alla Mm. Il secondo caso si trova in Rut 2,21.

LA MASSORAH DEL LIBRO DI RUT

39

Rut 2,9 (7 note)


1) yIn"@y[e : 11 volte. Manca riferimento alla Mm.
2) Wrxoq]yI : non c altrove. Da non confondersi con Wrxoq]yI (Os 8,7; Sal
126,5) e Wr/xq]yI (Gb 24,6).
3) a/lh} : 9 volte plene scriptum (/) negli Scritti/Agiografi (ybiytiK]). Il n.
4 in esponente rimanda alla lista 3664 della Mm (cf. v. precedente, nota 1).
4) [-gn: : non c altrove.
5) tmi%x;w : non c altrove.
6) tytiv;w : 2 volte. Manca riferimento alla Mm. Con la concordanza individuiamo la seconda occorrenza in Ez 23,34.
7) Wba}v]yI : non c altrove.
Rut 2,10 (3 note)
1) h;yn<P;Al[' : 3 volte. Manca riferimento alla Mm. Con la concordanza
si trovano gli altri 2 casi in 1Sam 25,23 e 2Re 21,13.
2) ~yn<y[eB] : 66 volte. Manca riferimento alla Mm. Tutte le occorrenze
sono riportate in Even Shoshan, 855, nn. 544-609.
3) ynIrE+yKih'l] : non c altrove.
Rut 2,11 (3 note)
1) dG"@hu dGE!hu : 2 volte. Il n. 9 in esponente rimanda alla lista 1295 della
Mm che ci fornisce il secondo caso (Gs 9,24).
2) lKo : la Mp ha un circello seguito dal n. 10 in esponente. Questa nota
della Mm riferisce che molti manoscritti hanno lKo tae che rappresenta il
testo occidentale. Il Qere tae rappresenta il testo orientale, la Mp sub loco.
3) /vl]vi l/mT] : 2 volte. Il n. 11 in esponente rimanda a Es 5,8 dove
lespressione ricorre una seconda volta.
Rut 2,12 (6 note). Per il segno [bOs^] si veda linizio del capitolo primo.
1) l-[P; : non c altrove. Il riferimento alla forma con suff. 2 f. s.
2) yhit]W : 14 volte Rafe (yper: / ypir:). Il n. 12 in esponente rimanda alla
lista 174 della Mm dove vengono elencate le 14 occorrenze. Il termine Rafe
significa, in questo contesto, che la lettera Waw vocalizzata come congiunzione (W da w) e non w" (Waw inversivo).

40

M. PAZZINI

3) h~w:hy [ime : 9 volte, e dallinizio dei libri dei Re fino a laer:c]yI lK; arY"w"
(1Re 12,16) cos. Il n. 13 in esponente rimanda alla lista 3417 della Mm
dove vengono segnalate le 9 occorrenze dellespressione.
4) lae+r:c]yI yhla h~w:hy : 2 volte. Manca riferimento alla Mm. Lespressione piuttosto frequente. Non facile comprendere a quale particolarit si
riferisca la Mp. La nota manca in L.
5) taB` : 2 volte. Il n. 14 in esponente rimanda a Gen 16,8 dove la forma compare una seconda volta.
6) t/sj}l' : 8 volte (il n. 15 in esponente rimanda alla lista 3046 della
Mm) Rafe (yper: / ypir:) 3 delle quali nella lingua e ogni volta che ricorre
hs,ja, cos eccetto una (hs,j]a, in Sal 57,2). Il termine Rafe significa, in
questo contesto, che la lettera j vocalizzata j} (t/sj}l') come in Sal
118,8.9 e non con j] (t/sj]l' in Is 30,2). La lista 3046 della Mm segnala
gli otto casi in cui diverse parole derivanti dalla radice hsj hanno la
vocalizzazione j}.
Rut 2,13 (5 note)
1) yn<y[eB] : 66 volte. Manca riferimento alla Mm (cf. Rut 2,10, nota 2).
2) yKi : 31 vv. nei quali ricorre yKi seguito da ykiw. Il n. 16 in esponente
rimanda alla lista 2059 della Mm dove vengono elencate le 31 occorrenze.
3) ynIT;+m]j'nI : la forma non ricorre altrove con laccento Zaqef e vocale
Qame. Il n. 17 in esponente rimanda a Sal 86,17 dove c una forma simile (ynTmjnw) con vocale Qame, ma accento biblico diverso (Silluq) e preceduta da Waw.
4) tj`a'K] : 2 volte. Manca riferimento alla Mm. Il secondo caso si trova
in Gs 10,2.
5) ytjop]vi : non c altrove ed scritto defective (rsej;).
Rut 2,14 (7 note)
1) hl; : 3 volte con la lettera h senza Mappiq. Il n. 18 in esponente rimanda alla lista 3154 della Mm che riporta anche i 2 passi restanti (Nm
32,42 e Zc 5,11).
2) ~lh} : 11 volte. Manca riferimento alla Mm. La parola compare 11
volte in questa forma e una volta preceduta da Waw (Even Shoshan, 303).
3) T]l]bf;w : non c altrove.
4) T`Pi : non c altrove.
5) b~v,Te~w" : 12 volte. Il n. 19 in esponente rimanda alla lista 140 della
Mm che riporta le 12 occorrenze della parola nel testo biblico.

LA MASSORAH DEL LIBRO DI RUT

41

6) fB;x]YIw" : non c altrove.


7) rtTow" : non c altrove ed scritto defective (rsej;), senza Waw.
Rut 2,15 (1 nota)

hWmylik]t' : non c altrove ed scritto plene (alem;), con Yod e Waw.


Rut 2,16 (4 note)
1) g"w : 20 volte allinizio del versetto negli Scritti/Agiografi ybiytiK]). Il
n. 20 in esponente rimanda alla lista 4070 della Mm. Qui vengono elencati
i 20 passi biblici.
2) WLvoT; : non c altrove.
3) hf`Q]liw : non c altrove. Questa forma, con altre due simili (cf. 2,17
nota 1 e 2,18 nota 1), non compare nella concordanza di Even Shoshan che
elenca solo 34 forme verbali dalla radice fql. I tre verbi compaiono invece in Mandelkern che elenca 37 forme verbali.
4) Wr[}gti : non c altrove.
Rut 2,17 (2 note)
1) hf;Qe+li : 2 volte. Manca riferimento alla Mm, ma cf. Rut 2,18, nota 1.
2) hpyaeK] : non c altrove. Il riferimento al sostantivo preceduto da K].
Rut 2,18 (3 note)
1) hf;Q-li : 2 volte. Manca riferimento alla Mm, ma cf. Rut 2,17, nota 1.
2) a~xe/Tw" : 3 volte, delle quali 1 defective scriptum e 2 plene scriptum. Il
n. 21 in esponente rimanda alla lista 2645 della Mm dove vengono segnalati gli altri due passi (Gen 1,12 plene e Ger 32,21 defective).
3) hr:ti`/h : non c altrove ed scritto defective (ti e non yti).
Rut 2,19 (3 note)
1) hpoyae : 10 volte scritto con h (per distinguerlo da a/pae//pae). Il n. 22
in esponente rimanda alla lista 1750 della Mm dove vengono elencate le
10 occorrenze.
2) T]f]Qli : non c altrove.
3) rEyKim' : non c altrove. La nota si riferisce al participio sostantivato
ryKim' con suff. 2 f. s.

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M. PAZZINI

Rut 2,20 (3 note)


1) /D+s]j' bz"[;Aal r~v,a} : non c nella Torah. Il n. 23 in esponente rimanda alla lista 3665 della Mm la quale ricorda che lespressione, contrariamente a quanto notato nella Mp, ricorre anche in Gen 24,27. La nota della
Mp non compare nel codice L.
2) yYIj'h'Ata, : 3 volte. Il n. 24 in esponente rimanda alla lista 1223 della
Mm dove vengono segnalati i restanti due passi biblici (Dt 30,15 e Qo
2,17).
3) yti-Meh'Ata,w : non c altrove. Il n. 25 in esponente rimanda a Qo 4,2
dove compare ytiMeh'ta, (non preceduto da Waw).
Rut 2,21 (2 note)
1) yqi+B;dTi : 2 volte. Manca riferimento alla Mm, ma cf. Mp di Rut 2,8,
nota 6.
2) WL+KiAai : 2 volte. Manca riferimento alla Mm. Il secondo caso si trova in Gen 24,19.
Rut 2,22 (3 note)
1) yaix]t : 3 volte. Il n. 26 in esponente rimanda alla lista 2461 della Mm
che segnala le tre occorrenze della forma verbale.
2) wyt;+/r[}n" : 2 volte plene scriptum. Manca riferimento alla Mm. La forma ricorre una seconda volta in Rut 3,2.
3) hd<c;B] : 5 volte Rafe. Il n. 27 in esponente rimanda alla lista 957 della Mm. Cf. Rut 2,8, nota 4.
Rut 2,23 (3 note)
1) yrI[oC]h'Aryxiq] : non c altrove. Generalmente il secondo sostantivo
dellespressione (yrI[oc]) viene senza articolo come, ad esempio, in Rut 1,22
e 2Sam 21,9.
2) yFi-jih ryxiq]W : non c altrove. Generalmente il secondo sostantivo
(yFiji) viene senza articolo come, ad esempio, in Gen 30,14; Es 34,22, ecc.
3) bv,T`w" : 12 volte. Il n. 28 in esponente rimanda alla lista 140 della
Mm. Cf. Rut 2,14, nota 5.

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43

Capitolo terzo
Rut 3,1 (1 nota)

j"/nm; : in tutte le occorrenze (lKo) plene scriptum (/). La parola


attestata 7 volte nellAT.
Rut 3,2 (3 note)
1) WnT;+[]d"mo : non ricorre altrove ed scritto cos.
2) wyt-/r[}n" : 2 volte plene scriptum. Manca la Mm, ma cf. Rut 2,22, nota 2.
3) hr<zO : 2 volte. Manca la Mm. La seconda occorrenza in Is 30,24.
Rut 3,3 (5 note)
1) T]k]s'%w: : non c altrove.
2) yItlm]ci : il Ketiv tel;m]ci singolare il tuo vestito. Il Qere dice di
leggere al pl. yIt'lm]ci i tuoi vestiti. Una delle 6 occorrenze nella lingua
(an:V;liB]). Il n. 1 in esponente rimanda alla lista 1213 della Mm. Questa lista
riporta 4 passi (Es 22,8.25; Dt 24,13 e 29,4) nei quali bisogna leggere
hm;l]c'; segue una lista di 6 eccezioni nelle quali si deve leggere la parola
hl;m]ci come nel nostro caso.
3) T]dr"y:w : il Ketiv yTidr"y: perf. Qal 1 s. (oppure antica desinenza della
2 f. s.). Il Qere dice di leggere T]dr"y: (2 f. s.).
4) vyai+l; : 32 volte. Il n. 2 in esponente rimanda alla lista 319 della Mm
dove vengono elencati i 32 passi biblici. Ne viene aggiunto uno simile:
vyail;w (Gdc 19,24).
5) /tLK' d[ : 3 volte. Manca la Mm. Con la concordanza individuiamo
i due casi restanti in Dt 28,21 e 1Re 3,1.
Rut 3,4 (5 note)
1) yhiywI : 32 volte. Manca la Mm. Tutti i passi sono rintracciabili nella
concordanza (Even Shoshan, 293, nn. 2920-2951).
2) T]~['d"~y:w : 7 volte. Il n. 3 in esponente rimanda alla lista 2392 della Mm
dove vengono offerte le sette occorrenze della forma T]['d"y:w. Il riferimento
alla forma verbale preceduta da w per distinguerla dalla stessa forma senza
Waw (1Re 2,15; Rut 2,11; Ger 3,24).
3) tabW : 5 volte. Il n. 4 in esponente rimanda alla lista 2052 della Mm
dove vengono elencate le cinque occorrenze della forma tab;W. Viene ag-

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M. PAZZINI

giunta una sesta forma simile (tb;W) che ricorre nel testo aramaico di Daniele (6,19).
4) T]b]k-v;w : il Ketiv yTib]k;v; perf. Qal 1 s. (oppure antica desinenza della
2 f. s.). Il Qere dice di leggere T]b]k;v; (2 f. s.).
5) yci[}T' : non c altrove. La nota si riferisce alla forma con Nun
paragogico, mentre la forma yci[}T' ricorre 4 volte.
Rut 3,5 (1 nota)

yl`ae : nel testo ci sono due vocali con un accento biblico e un circello.
Si tratta delle vocali da apporre alla parola yla a me riportata in margine.
Una delle dieci occorrenze (il n. 5 in esponente rimanda alla lista 2745
della Mm) di Qere wela Ketiv (bytiK] al;w yrEq]) da leggersi anche se non scritta. Questa lista comprende 10 passi nei quali compaiono parole che hanno
questa caratteristica. Cf. Rut 3,17.
Rut 3,6 (1 nota)

hT;W"xi : non c altrove.


Rut 3,7 (5 note)
1) T]~v]YEw" : 6 volte. Il n. 6 in esponente rimanda alla lista 3666 della Mm
che elenca i 6 passi in questione.
2) bK`v]li : la forma ricorre 7 volte; 5 con vocale Pata (K') e 2 con
Qame (K;). Non c Mm. Le sette occorrenze sono facilmente rintracciabili
nella concordanza (Even Shoshan, 1140, nn. 5-11).
3) aboT;w" : 2 volte defective scriptum (senza /) negli Scritti/Agiografi
(ybiytiK]). Con la concordanza troviamo la seconda occorrenza in Sal 109,18.
4) fL;+b' : 4 volte, una volta plene scriptum e 3 volte senza a (a rs'j}). Il
n. 7 in esponente rimanda alla lista 1412 della Mm. Questa lista riporta i 3
passi nei quali, come nel nostro caso, manca la Alef e il quarto passo dove
troviamo la forma con Alef faL;B' (Gdc 4,21).
5) lg"T]w" : 3 volte. Manca Mm, ma con la concordanza troviamo gli altri
due casi in Ez 23,18.
Rut 3,8 (2 note)
1) hl;yL'+h' yxij}B' yhiyw" : 3 volte. Il n. 8 in esponente rimanda alla lista 448
della Mm nella quale vengono portate le 3 occorrenze dellespressione
hl;yL'h' yxij}B' (Es 12,29; Gdc 16,3; Rut 3,8).

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45

2) tp-L;YIw" : non c altrove.


Rut 3,9 (1 nota)

~p,~n:k] : non c altrove defective scriptum (senza Yod fra le ultime due
consonanti) presso gli occidentali.
Rut 3,10 (5 note)
1) hk;WrB] : non c altrove. Il n. 9 in esponente rimanda a 1Sam 25,33
dove compare lespressione simile hk;Wrb]W (preceduta da Waw).
2) DEs]j' : 2 volte. Il n. 10 in esponente rimanda a Gen 20,13 dove compare il secondo caso.
3) /varIh; : 64 volte. Manca Mm. La concordanza di Even Shoshan
elenca 63 casi della parola preceduta dallarticolo (nn. 9-71) e 1 caso in
cui preceduta dalla particella interrogativa h} (Gb 15,7).
4) lD"Aai : non c altrove. Non si confonda con lespressione simile
lD"Aaiw (Lv 14,21).
5) lD" : 12 volte; e ogni volta che compare nellespressione /yb]a,w lD"
povero e misero cos. Manca la Mm. La nota si riferisce alla vocale.
La parola compare al singolare 29 volte, 10 delle quali con Pata e 19 con
Qame. A queste dieci bisogna aggiungere il sostantivo lD" porta che
compare in Sal 141,3.
Rut 3,11 (1 nota)

["~dE~/y : 10 volte plene scriptum (/); e ogni volta che compare nei Dodici
(profeti minori), Cronache, Proverbi e Qohelet cos, eccetto (mi rB') 3
volte nelle quali defective (rsej;).
Sul margine destro della BHS compare il segno s^ (cf. la nota allinizio
del capitolo primo) seguito dal n. 12 in esponente che rimanda alla Mp sub
loco. Questo significa che tale segno, che indica linizio della seconda sezione, compare nel codice L.
Rut 3,12 (2 note)
1) a : la parola non vocalizzata, perci non deve essere letta. Uno degli
otto casi (il n. 13 in esponente rimanda alla lista 2752 della Mm) di parola
scritta (bytiK]) che non si legge (yrEq] al;w). In questa lista compaiono, oltre a
a, alcune altre parole che, in determinati contesti, non devono essere lette.

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M. PAZZINI

2) yNIMmi : 57 volte, e in tutto il libro dei Salmi (yLiTi) cos eccetto 11 casi.
Rut 3,13 (3 note)
1) la;+gyI : la forma verbale non ricorre altrove in questa forma, e ogni volta
che la parola indica il nome proprio di una persona (vocalizzata) cos.
2) alAaiw : 17 volte in mezzo (a[;x]mi) al versetto.
3) ykinOa; : 8 volte (il n. 14 in esponente rimanda alla lista 1571 della Mm)
con questo accento, e ogni volta che viene con Zaqef, Etnata e Sof Pasuq
cos eccetto (mi rB') un caso. La lista riporta gli otto casi in cui la parola accentata sulla penultima sillaba e il caso con Etnata che fa eccezione (Gb 33,9).
Rut 3,14 (2 note)
1) wyt;/lGrm' : il Qere specifica che la forma va intesa come pl. e non s.
(/tl;Grm').
2) r<fB] : Ketiv /rf]Bi; Qere r<f,B]. La nota della Mp specifica che il
Waw superfluo (w ryTiy"). Leditore specifica, nella nota 15, di aver aggiunto il Qere che non compare in L.
Rut 3,15 (4 note)
1) ybih; : 8 volte (il n. 16 in esponente rimanda alla lista 1092 della Mm)
con Qame; non compare altrove con questo accento biblico, ed uno di 9
casi in cui manca a nella lingua. Questa lista elenca 8 casi della forma aybih;
(da a/B). La nota riguarda la presenza di Qame sotto la lettera h (h;). Nel
caso di Rut 3,15 si aggiunge che manca la a finale.
2) yzIjaw : non c altrove.
3) zj,aTow" : 2 volte, una defective (senza a) e una plene. Manca la Mm.
La seconda occorrenza, mancante di a, ricorre in 2Sam 20,9.
4) tv,Y:w" : 6 volte. Il n. 6 in esponente rimanda alla lista 3666 della Mm
dove vengono riportate le 6 occorrenze della forma in questione.
Rut 3,16 (nessuna nota)

Rut 3,17 (2 note)


1) yl'+ae : nel testo compaiono le vocali e laccento biblico di yla. Il
circello rimanda alla Mp: uno di 10 casi (il n. 17 in esponente rimanda alla

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47

lista 2745 della Mm) di parola da leggersi, sebbene non scritta


(bytiK] al;w yrEq]). Cf. Rut 3,5.
2) yai/bT; : 3 volte (il n. 18 in esponente rimanda alla lista 2829 della
Mm), 2 delle quali plene scriptum. La lista comprende i 3 passi, due dei
quali plene (Rut 3,17 e Ct 4,1) e uno defective (Ez 16,7).
Rut 3,18 (1 nota)

y[i+dT : non c altrove. La nota della Mp si riferisce alla forma con il


Nun paragogico.

Capitolo quarto
Rut 4,1 (3 note)
1) hr:Ws : non c altrove con questo accento (['f').
2) ynImol]a' ynIlP] : lespressione ricorre 3 volte. Il n. 1 in esponente rimanda alla lista 1648 della Mm che segnala le tre occorrenze (1Sam 21,3; 2Re
6,8; Rut 4,1).
3) bvYEw" : non c altrove. Da non confondersi con bv,YEw" (94 volte).
Rut 4,2 (1 nota)

WbvYEw" : non c altrove. Da non confondersi con Wbv]YEw" (53 volte).


Rut 4,3 (1 nota)

hdEC]mi : 2 volte scritto con h. Il n. 2 in esponente rimanda alla lista 2329


della Mm. Cf. Rut 1,6, nota 2.
Rut 4,4 (8 note)
1) ynI!a}w" : 67 volte allinizio del versetto (qWsP; vaOr o aq;WsP] vyrE), 33 delle quali negli Scritti/Agiografi (ybiytiK]).
2) nza; : 13 volte. Manca Mm. Cf. Even Shoshan, 31, nn. 35-47.
3) dg<n<w : 8 volte. Manca Mm. Cf. Even Shoshan, 738, nn. 53-60.
4) la;+G : non c altrove con Zaqef e Qame. La forma non pausale la'G
attestata in Rut 4,6.

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M. PAZZINI

5) alAaiw : 17 volte in mezzo al versetto. Manca Mm. Cf. Rut 3,13,


nota 2.
6) h~[;daw : il Ketiv [d"ae la forma ordinaria. La forma h[;da il
coortativo (in entrambi i casi si tratta di imperf. Qal 1 s. di [d"y:). Una delle
6 occorrenze nella lingua. Il n. 3 in esponente rimanda alla lista 961 della
Mm che contiene le 6 occorrenze della forma h[;daew nella Bibbia ebraica.
7) ~t]lWz : 2 volte. Il n. 4 in esponente rimanda alla lista 2440 della Mm
che riporta la seconda occorrenza della forma (Is 64,3).
8) l/a+gli : 2 volte plene scriptum. Manca Mm. Cf. Rut 4,6.
Rut 4,5 (3 note)
1) t]/nq] : non c altrove ed plene scriptum (/).
2) ytiynIq; t~Meh'Atv,a : non c altrove. Il n. 5 in esponente rimanda a Rut
4,10 dove compare unespressione simile: ytiynIq; /lj]m' tv,ae.
3) ht;ynIq; : il Ketiv ytiynIq; (1 s.); il Qere ht;ynIq; (2 m. s.). In entrambi i
casi si tratta del perf. Qal di hn:q;.
Rut 4,6 (1 nota)

Ala;gli : Ketiv l/agli; Qere Ala;gli. La Mp aggiunge: Waw superfluo


(w ryTiy"), uno dei due casi plene scriptum nella lingua. Il n. 6 in esponente
rimanda ad una nota delleditore: il codice L senza Qere come la lezione
degli orientali, con la Mp w ryTiy" (Waw superfluo). Lo stesso editore ha aggiunto il Qere in relazione alla Mp di Rut 4,4.
Rut 4,7 (2 note)
1) t*azOw : 25 volte, 16 (il n. 7 in esponente rimanda alla lista 856 della
Mm) delle quali allinizio del versetto. Questa lista riporta i 16 casi nei
quali tazOw si trova allinizio del versetto.
2) tazOw : 25 volte (cf. nota precedente). Le 25 occorrenze si possono
individuare nella concordanza (Even Shoshan, 320, nn. 250-274).
Rut 4,8 (nessuna nota)
Rut 4,9 (4 note)
1) lk;w : ci sono 3 versetti nei quali ricorre la sequenza lK; lK; lk;w. Manca Mm.

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49

2) [;%h;Alk;w : 51 volte in mezzo (a[;x]mi) al versetto e ogni volta che ricorre allinizio del v. (qWsP; vaOr o aq;WsP] vyrE) cos allinfuori di (mi rB') 3
volte.
3) ytiynIq; : la forma verbale ricorre 5 volte. Manca Mm. Un rapido sguardo alla concordanza ci mostra che questa forma compare 5 volte nella Bibbia ebraica, due delle quali in Rut. Cf. Rut 4,10, nota 3.
4) /lj]m'W /yl]kil] : non c altrove, e in tutta la Scrittura (ay:rq)' lordine
delle parole invertito (WLji: cf. Rut 1,2.5).
Rut 4,10 (4 note)
1) g"w : 20 volte allinizio del versetto negli Scritti/Agiografi (ybiytiK]).
Il n. 8 in esponente rimanda alla lista 4070 della Mm. Cf. Rut 2,16, nota 1.
2) ytiynIq; /lj]m' tv,ae : non c altrove. Il n. 9 in esponente rimanda a Rut
4,5 dove ricorre la restante (ra;v)] espressione simile tMeh' tv,ae moglie del
morto.
3) ytiynIq; : la forma verbale ricorre 5 volte. Manca Mm. Cf. Rut 4,9, nota
3.
4) trEK;yIAalw : 4 volte. Il n. 10 in esponente rimanda alla lista 65 della
Mm che elenca le quattro occorrenze dellespressione.
Rut 4,11 (8 note)
1) [h;AlK; Wrm]aYo!w" : 4 volte. Manca la Mm.
2) haB;h' : 3 volte con questo accento biblico. Il n. 11 in esponente rimanda alla lista 344 della Mm. Questa lista riporta le tre occorrenze della
parola accentata sullultima sillaba (Gen 46,26; Rut 4,11; 1Cr 27,1) e le tre
occorrenze nelle quali accentata sulla penultima (Gen 18,21; 46,27; Gb
2,11).
3) ljr:K] : non c altrove. Il nome proprio ljer: compare 47 volte, ma
solo qui preceduto da K].
4) h~a;lek]W : non c altrove. Il nome proprio ha;le compare 34 volte, ma
solo qui preceduto da k]W.
5) ~h,yTev] : 2 volte. Il n. 12 in esponente rimanda alla lista 3667 della
Mm che elenca i due passi, entrambi in Rut (1,19; 4,11). Cf. Rut 1,19, nota
1.
6) lae+r:c]yI tyB : lespressione ricorre 20 volte (il n. 13 in esponente rimanda alla lista 953 della Mm) e tutto Geremia (hy:m]ryI) e Ezechiele (laqezj,y)
cos allinfuori di (mi rB') 18 volte. La lista 953 elenca i 20 passi in questione. La stessa lista riporta anche i 18 casi di Geremia e Ezechiele nei

50

M. PAZZINI

quali compare lespressione laer:c]yI ynEB]. Infine vengono segnalate le due


espressioni anche nei Dodici (profeti minori).
7) ar:q]W : 4 volte. Il n. 14 in esponente rimanda alla lista 3086 della
Mm che elenca i quattro passi (Gen 1,2; 3,2; Gb 13,22; Rut 4,11).
8) j,l tybB] : 3 volte. Il n. 15 in esponente rimanda alla lista 1478 della Mm dove troviamo i tre passi (la nota riguarda la forma pausale: l; per
l,).
Rut 4,12 (3 note)
1) yhiywI : 32 volte. Manca Mm. Cf. Rut 3,4, nota 1.
2) +l] : 10 volte con Zaqef e Qame nei Profeti (yaiybin) e negli Scritti/
Agiografi (ybiytiK)] , 2 delle quali negli Scritti/Agiografi. Manca la Mm.
3) taZOh' hr:[}N"hAmi : lespressione non ricorre altrove.
Rut 4,13 (1 nota)

/yr:he : non ricorre altrove ed plene scriptum (/). Stranamente questa


forma e questo passo non vengono riportati nella concordanza di Even
Shoshan (315).
Rut 4,14 (1 nota)

arEQ;yIw : 2 volte. Il n. 16 in esponente rimanda alla lista 1806 della Mm


nella quale vengono prima elencati i 5 casi di arEQ;YIw", poi i 2 casi di arEQ;yIw
(Gen 48,16; Rut 4,14).
Rut 4,15 (6 note)
1) ~l; hy:hw : 2 volte. Il n. 17 in esponente rimanda alla lista 2431 della
Mm che elenca anche il secondo passo (Is 60,19).
2) lK`l]k'l]W : non c altrove.
3) tL;k' : non c altrove.
4) ~t,b'~hea} : non c altrove.
5) WTd"+l;y : non c altrove.
6) hb;/f : non ricorre altrove con questo accento biblico.
Rut 4,16 (2 note)
1) WhtviT]w" : non ricorre altrove ed defective scriptum (vi e non yvi).

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51

2) tn<maol] : non c altrove. La parola attestata una seconda volta, ma


con suff. 3 m. s. /Tnm'ao (2Sam 4,4).
Rut 4,17 (4 note)
1) h*n:ar<q]Tiw" : 4 volte. Manca la Mm. Il riferimento alla forma hn:ar<q]Ti
che ricorre 4 volte nel libro di Rut (1,20.21 e due volte in 4,17). Compare,
inoltre, una volta la forma ;ar<q]Tiw" (Nm 25,2) scritta defective.
2) t/nkeV]h' : non c altrove.
3) hn:ar<q]Tiw" : 4 volte. Manca la Mm. Cf. nota 1.
4) dbe+/[ : 2 volte (il n. 18 in esponente rimanda alla lista 3668 della
Mm) plene scriptum per gli occidentali e tutto il libro delle Cronache
(ymiY:h' yrEb]DI) cos allinfuori dellespressione doa dbe[o. Cf. Rut 4,21. La
lista 3668 elenca i 2 versetti di Rut.
Alla fine del v. 17 c la lettera p che significa aperta (hj;WtP] o aj;WtP]).
Si riferisce allo spazio che deve intercorrere fra la fine di un paragrafo
(hv;r:P;) e linizio del successivo. Il nuovo paragrafo che segue la lettera p
dovr iniziare su una nuova riga. Talvolta, ma non in Rut, alla fine di un
paragrafo compare la lettera s che significa chiusa (hm;Wts] o am;Wts]). Il
nuovo paragrafo inizier, di solito, nella medesima riga, oppure nella nuova riga ma leggermente rientrato. Queste indicazioni sono valide, in genere, per i manoscritti e non per le edizioni a stampa.
Rut 4,18 (1 nota)

r<P;+ : non c altrove con Zaqef e Qame. La forma pausale con Qame
ma con diverso accento biblico compare altre due volte (Gen 38,29 e Ne
11,4). In totale questo nome proprio compare 15 volte.
Rut 4,19 (1 nota)

r:+Ata, : lespressione non ricorre altrove.


Rut 4,20 (nessuna nota)
Rut 4,21 (1 nota)

db/[ : 2 volte (il n. 18 in esponente rimanda alla lista 3668 della Mm)
plene scriptum per gli occidentali e tutto il libro delle Cronache (ymiY:h' yrEb]DI)
cos allinfuori dellespressione doa dbe[o. Cf. Rut 4,17, nota 4.

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M. PAZZINI

Rut 4,22 (1 nota)

yv;+yI : 2 volte con Zaqef e Qame. La forma pausale con Qame ma con
diverso accento biblico compare altre dieci volte. In totale questo nome
proprio attestato 41 volte.
Il totale dei versetti - yqiWsP]h' Wks]
del libro 85 - hp rp,se lv,
e la sua met : disse Rut la moabita - hY:bia}/Mh' tWr rm,aTow" /yx]j,w
(il n. 19 in esponente rimanda alla Mp di Rut 2,21)
e sezioni 2 - b yrId:s]W

Conclusione
Dopo aver analizzato le note massoretiche di questo breve libro biblico
possiamo tentare di classificarle, in forma breve e schematica, in tre gruppi.
Abbiamo note che riguardano tutto il libro, ad es. quelle che si riferiscono alla divisione del testo in sezioni (cf. linizio del capitolo primo)
oppure in paragrafi (cf. Rut 4,17), quelle che elencano il totale dei versetti
del libro e il versetto che ne indica la met (nota finale).
Abbiamo poi note che si occupano di singole parole oppure di pi parole insieme. Queste note, piuttosto frequenti, ci danno il numero delle occorrenze di determinate parole o sequenze di parole e ci invitano a non
confonderle con altre simili. Si vedano le 6 note a Rut 1,1, in particolare le
note 3-6. Vengono indicate le parole che devono leggersi seppure non scritte (ad es. yl'ae in Rut 3,5 e 3,17) e quelle che, pur essendo scritte, non devono essere lette (ad es. a in Rut 3,12), oppure parole che, in determinati
contesti, hanno significati speciali segnalati con la parola ydIj}y"m] (cf. Rut
1,1, nota 4; 2,4, nota 2), e cos via.
Troviamo, infine, note che riguardano singoli elementi di una parola,
come, ad es., la presenza o la mancanza di una consonante (cf. Rut 1,8, nota
5; 1,12, nota 2; 3,18) o di una mater lectionis (cf. Rut 1,4, nota 2), di un
Dage (Rut 1,4, nota 1), di un Mappiq (Rut 2,14, nota 1), di un accento
biblico (Rut 3,13, nota 3), di una vocale e di un accento allo stesso tempo
(Rut 4,4, nota 4; Rut 4,18.22), ecc.
Anche se non sempre facile capire i motivi delle singole scelte
operate dai massoreti, possiamo affermare che lo scopo generale della

LA MASSORAH DEL LIBRO DI RUT

53

loro acribia stato quello di trasmettere alle generazioni posteriori il


testo biblico in maniera integrale e fedele. Di questo dobbiamo essere
loro grati.
Massimo Pazzini, ofm
Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Jerusalem

Bibliografia
Elliger K. - Rudolph W. (edd.), Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS), Stuttgart 1967-77
(quinta edizione, a cura di A. Schenker, 1997).
Even Shoshan A., A New Concordance of the Bible. Thesaurus of the Bible Hebrew and
Aramaic Roots, Words, Proper Names Phrases and Synonyms, Jerusalem 19813 (in
ebraico).
Kelley P.H. - Mynatt D.S. - Crawford T.G., The Masorah of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia.
Introduction and Annotated Glossary, Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge U.K. 1998.
Loewinger D.S. (ed.), Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographa. Codex Leningrad B 19A the
Earliest Complete Bible Manuscript (facsimile edition), Jerusalem 1970.
Mandelkern S., Veteris Testamenti concordantiae hebraicae atque caldaicae, 2 voll., Berlin 1925 (II ed.), editio nona aucta atque emendata, Tel-Aviv 1971.
Weil G.E., Massorah Gedolah iuxta codicem leningradensem B 19 a, Roma - Stuttgart
20012.

POETIC SYNTAX AND INTERPRETATION


OF MALACHI

A. Niccacci

1. Outline of a Theory of the Verb in Biblical Hebrew


The purpose of this paper is to apply the theory of the verb in Biblical
Hebrew (BH) prose developed by the author to a poetic text like the prophecy of Malachi. A short presentation of this theory is given at the beginning.1
Three general distinctions are to be made at the outset. First, a distinction between temporal axes, on the one side, and verb forms and non-verbal constructions, on the other. The three temporal axespresent, past and
futureare chronological entities (time), while verb forms and non-verbal constructions are grammatical categories (tense). As a rule, the nonverbal sentence belongs to the axis of the present, qatal and wayyiqtol to
the axis of the past, yiqtol and weqatal to the axis of the future.2
A second distinction is to be made between historical narrative and direct speech because distinctive verb forms are employed in each of these
two genres of the prose as will be indicated below. For the same reason, a

1. Based on The Syntax of the Verb in Classical Hebrew Prose, Sheffield 1990. A revised
Spanish edition of it has just been published: Sintaxis del Hebreo Bblico. Traducido por
Guadalupe Seijas de los Ros-Zarzosa, Estella (Navarra) 2002. It also includes an Appendix with a complete analysis of Josh 1-5 translated and revised from my Lettura sintattica
della prosa ebraico-biblica. Principi e applicazioni, Jerusalem 1991. Standard grammars
of biblical Hebrew, such as Gesenius Hebrew Grammar, 2nd English ed., ed. by E.
Kautzsch, rev. by A.E. Cowley, Oxford 1910 (repr. 1985), and P. Joon, A Grammar of
Biblical Hebrew, transl. and rev. by T. Muraoka, vol. II, Roma 1991, will be referred to by
the names of the authors and/or revisors. Commentaries are also quoted by the names of the
authors after the first mention, e.g., C.F. Keil - F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament in Ten Volumes. Vol. X: Minor Prophets, by C.F. Keil, Grand Rapids repr. 1980 (abbr.
Keil). Finally, a standard abbreviation employed is BHS, i.e., Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, ed. by W. Elliger and W. Rudolph. I warmly thank Prof. L. Hoppe for revising my
English.
2. This distinction between time (Zeit) and tense (Tempus) is basis of a classic of textlinguistics, whose methodology I adopted in my description of the BH verb system (see
previous footnote), i.e., H. Weinrich, Tempus. Besprochene und erzhlte Welt, 4. ed.,
Stuttgart - Berlin - Kln 1985.

LA 51 (2001) 55-107

56

A. NICCACCI

third distinction is required between main line, or foreground, vs. secondary line, or off line, or background, in historical narrative as well as in direct speech.3

1.1. Historical Narrative


Beginning of Narrative Beginning of the main line
= ANTECEDENT
= FOREGROUND
(secondary level)
(main level, narrative sequence)
x-qatal
non-verbal sentence
x-yiqtol
weqatal

wayyiqtol in a sequence

Off line
= BACKGROUND
(secondary level)

x-qatal
non-verbal sent.
x-yiqtol
weqatal

Cf. Gen 1:1-2:4; 2:5-25; 3:1-24; 4:1-26; 5:1-6:8, etc.4

(1.1.1) Historical Narrative begins with verb forms of secondary level,


or off line, conveying antecedent information, or setting, i.e., x-qatal, nonverbal sentence, weqatal, x-yiqtol.
(1.1.2) The main line of narrative starts with wayyiqtol. Wayyiqtol also
continues the main line, i.e., wayyiqtol wayyiqtol wayyiqtol (in a
sequence). This is called the narrative sequence. It conveys pieces of information on the main line, coordinated, usually in chronological order.
(1.1.3) The narrative sequence is broken when the writer intends to
convey a piece of information in the secondary level to express, e.g., a circumstance of the main action/event, an action/event accompanying (not
sequential to) the main action/event or anterior to it, a description, a commentary, or a clarification.

3. This terminology is explained in my Syntax of the Verb 2-3. A brief presentation of the

theory is to be found in my paper Essential Hebrew Syntax, in: E. Talstra (ed.), Narrative
and Comment. Contributions Presented to Wolfgang Schneider, Amsterdam 1995, 111-125.
4. On Gen 1-3, see my paper Analysis of Biblical Narrative, in: R.D. Bergen (ed.), Biblical Hebrew and Discourse Linguistics, Dallas 1994, 175-198. In Organizzazione canonica
della Bibbia ebraica: tra sintassi e retorica, RivBiblIt 43 (1995) 9-29 (pp. 21-23), I have
identified the different texts that compose the book of Genesis (according to the definition of text given below, 1.1.5).

POETIC SYNTAX AND INTERPRETATION OF MALACHI

57

(1.1.4) A narrative often includes direct speech. If the introductory formula (e.g., God said) is in the wayyiqtol, the following direct speech
is linked to the main line of the narrative. Sometimes, however, the writer
uses a verb form of the secondary level in the introductory formula for one
of the reasons listed above (1.1.3).
(1.1.5) H. Weinrichs definition of text [with additions for BH] reads
as follows: A text is a logical (i.e. intelligible and consistent) sequence of
linguistic signs [particularly wayyiqtol in BH], placed between two significant breaks in communication [i.e. waw-x-qatal, or other non-verbal constructions, in BH].
(1.1.6) In historical narrative, wayyiqtol indicates connection while
verb forms of the secondary level (1.1.1) indicate a break in the line of
communication. This break is not always a significant break in the sense
that it indicates a beginning of a new text (1.1.5). Syntax signals a phenomenon which needs to be evaluated by means of other criteria, e.g., characters involved, place, time, interpretation.
(1.1.7) The occurrence of an off-line verb form (1.1.1) produces in the
text a change from the main level to the secondary level of communication. This is called tense shift (indicated with ). A list of such cases is
as follows: wayyiqtol x-qatal; wayyiqtol non-verbal sentence;
wayyiqtol weqatal, etc. The tense shifts produce different relief in the
text.
(1.1.8) In the tense shifts just listed (1.1.7), the various forms of secondary level, indicating background, are linked to a preceding wayyiqtol,
indicating foreground. Foreground and background forms constitute an indivisible syntactic unit. Such tense shifts do not signal a significant break
in the line of communication nor the beginning of a new text (1.1.5); they
only indicate a pause in the narrative when another wayyiqtol follows that
carries the main line of narrative further.
(1.1.9) The occurrence of an off-line verb form (1.1.1) constitutes a
significant break in the line of narrative and delimits a text when, on the
basis of the semantic criteria indicated above (1.1.6), it is linked to a following wayyiqtol. In this case the secondary-level verb form(s) convey(s)
pieces of information previous to the beginning of the main line of narrative, which starts with wayyiqtol (1.1.2). We can call these secondary-level
verb forms antecedent, or setting of the story. In this case we have a tense
shift type secondary-level verb form(s) wayyiqtol that is reverse compared with the one indicate above (1.1.7).

58

A. NICCACCI

1.2. Direct Speech


Temporal
Axis

Main Level
(FOREGROUND)

Secondary Level
(BACKGROUND)

Past

(x-) qatal continuation


wayyiqtol (coordinated,
in a sequence, main level)
cf. Deut 1:6 ff.; 5:2 ff.; 5:28

x-qatal, non-verbal sentence,

Non-verbal sent.
with/without participle
cf. Gen 42:9-11.13

non-verbal sent.

Present

Future
Indicative

Future
volitive

Non-verbal sent. (esp. with


participle) continuation
weqatal (in a sequence)
cf. Exod 7:27-29
or:
Initial x-yiqtol continuation
weqatal (in a sequence)
cf. Gen 50:25

x-yiqtol, or weqatal
(background)

with/without participle

x-yiqtol (background)

Imperative weyiqtol
(foreground)

x-imperative (background)

(x-) yiqtol cohortative/jussive


weyiqtol (foreground)
cf. Num 6:24-26

x-yiqtol (background)

Note:
Imperative (volitive) weyiqtol = purpose (in order to)
Imperative (indicative) weqatal = consequence (thus,
therefore)
cf. Exod 25:2 25:8

While the axis of the past is the only one used as main line in historical narrative, in direct speech all the three temporal axes are viable as
main line. The writer freely switches from one to the other. Here is a list
of the verb forms and other constructions used in each axis in direct
speech.
(1.2.1) In the axis of the present, the non-verbal sentence is used both
for main line and for off line.

POETIC SYNTAX AND INTERPRETATION OF MALACHI

59

(1.2.2) In the axis of the past, an oral narrative begins with first-place
qatal, or second-place x-qatal, without any difference, and continues with
a sequence of wayyiqtol forms. From wayyiqtol the oral narrative switches
to x-qatal (or non-verbal sentence, or weqatal, or x-yiqtol) for off-line information (i.e. to express simultaneity, anteriority, posteriority, description,
custom, emphasis on the x element, or the like).
(1.2.3) In the axis of the future, a non-volitive prediction begins with
x-yiqtol, or with a non-verbal sentence (eventually with participle), and
continues with main-line weqatal. (Note that weqatal is not used at the beginning of direct speech.) From weqatal it switches to x-yiqtol for off line.
This theory is derived from prose texts. Poetry basically behaves like
direct speech. The main difference is that while direct speech, as prose in
general, consists of pieces of information conveyed in a sequence, poetry
communicates pieces of information in parallelism. The result is linear versus segmented communication.5 As a consequence poetry switches from
one temporal axis to the other even more freely than direct speech. This
results in a greater variety of, and more abrupt transition from, one verb
form to the other.
Given the difficulty of understanding the verb system in poetry, most
scholars simply disregard the verb forms appearing in the texts and translate
according to their own taste. However, as a norm one should assign to the
various verb forms their usual function(s) and interpret the text accordingly,
rather than to make the analysis of the various verb forms dependent on ones
own interpretation. It is only reasonable to assume that if a writer uses different verb forms, he has in mind different temporal or aspectual references.
Our task is to interpret his mind on the basis of the verb forms he uses.
The prophecy of Malachi is presented here as an example of a poetic
text analyzed according to these principles.6 On the one side, the fact that
it is written in poetry will be practically shown by the division in lines presented below ( 2), a division that reflects a segmented type of communication and parallelism characteristic of poetry. On the other side, the verb
system employed is that of direct speech as is the case in poetry.7
5. See my paper Analysing Biblical Hebrew Poetry, JSOT 74 (1997) 77-93. Also see no.

9 below.
6. Recent bibliography on Malachi is reviewed by J.M. OBrien, Malachi in Recent Re-

search, CR:BS 3 (1995) 81-94. See further M.F. Floyd, Minor Prophets. Part 2, Grand
Rapids (MI) - Cambridge 2000, 559-626.
7. Differently, according to P.A. Verhoeff, The Books of Haggai and Malachi, Grand Rapids (MI) 1987, 166: The book of Malachi is written in prose, with a few traces of a rhythmical pattern

60

A. NICCACCI

Three levels of the Hebrew text of Malachi are identified according to


the verb forms used and their respective functions as illustrated above, i.e.,
according to their usual functions in BH prose, specifically in direct speech.
The non-verbal constructions belonging to the axis of the present are placed
in the right margin, while the verb forms and non-verbal constructions belonging to the axes of the past and of the future are indented towards the
left. In the axis of the future are also placed the imperative along with the
volitive/jussive verb forms yiqtol and weyiqtol.
The complete Hebrew text of Malachi with an English translation
(based on the Revised Standard Version, with modifications) is given,
structured according to my syntactic analysis and subdivided into verses,
or lines,8 according to the criteria of grammar and symmetry ( 2).9
A syntactic and interpretive commentary will follow ( 3), accompanied by an illustration of the internal coherence of the prophecy ( 4) and
by some remarks on the functions of the verb forms occurring in it ( 5).

8. The criterion adopted in my paper Analysing Biblical Hebrew Poetry reads as follows:

Lines consist of parallel grammatical units, that normally constitute a complete sentence
(p. 89). This means that usually a complete sentence is taken to constitute a line by itself.
However, another criterion is the relative equilibrium among the lines. In Mal 1:2a, for instance, I put hwhyrAmDa in the same line with MRkVtRayI;tVbAhDa, although both are complete sentences, in order to obtain a line symmetrical with those following; on the contrary, for a
similar reason, in 1:6d I separate twaDbVxhwhyrAmDa from what precedes. In my paper mentioned
above, I illustrated this principle by analyzing Prov 10:1-10 and other parallel texts.
9. Of the three main characteristics of poetry versus prose that I identified in my paper
Analysing Biblical Hebrew Poetry, I would say today that two are valid, i.e., (1) segmented versus linear communication; (2) parallelism of similar bits of information versus
sequence of different bits of information, while the third is not, i.e., (3) non-detectable
versus detectable verbal system (pp. 77-78; also see the concluding statement on this subject on p. 91). In the meantime, I have became more and more convinced that the BH verb
system is basically the same in prose and in poetry as the present paper is trying to show.
Methodologically, at least, the same system is to be applied unless it proves impossible.
Eventually, this methodology will help discover peculiarities of poetry versus prose.

61

POETIC SYNTAX AND INTERPRETATION OF MALACHI

2. Text and Translation

yIkDaVlAm dyV;b lEarVcy_lRa hwhy_rAbd aDcAm


(1:1) (This is) the burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.

2.1.1. Mal 1:2-5


(1:2a)
(1:2b)
(1:2c)
(1:2d)
(1:3a)
(1:3b)
(1:3c)
(1:4a)
(1:4b)
(1:4c)
(1:4d)
(1:4e)
(1:4f)
(1:5a)
(1:5b)
(1:5c)

I have loved you, said the Lord.


But you shall say, In what have you
loved us?
Was not Esau Jacobs brother?
oracle of the Lord.
Yet I have loved Jacob
while I have hated Esau.
I have laid waste his mountains
and his heritage to jackals of the desert.
When Edom will say,
We have been shattered but we want
to build the ruins again,
thus said the Lord of hosts,
they will build, but I will tear down.
Thus one shall call them the territory of
wickedness
and the people with whom
the Lord was angry for ever.
Your own eyes shall see,
and you yourselves shall say,
May the Lord be great beyond
the territory of Israel!

hwhy rAmDa MRkVtRa yI;tVbAhDa


wnD;tVbAhSa hD;mA;b MR;trAmSaw
hwhy_MUan bOqSoyVl wDcEo jDa_awlSh
bOqSoy_tRa bAhOaw
yItanDc wDcEo_tRaw
hDmDmVv wyrDh_tRa MyIcDaw
rD;bdIm twnAtVl wtDlSjn_tRaw
MwdTa rAmat_yI;k
twbrFj hnVbnw bwvnw wnVvAvr
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa hO;k
swrThRa ynSaw wnVby hD;mEh
hDoVvr lwbg MRhDl warqw
MDlwo_dAo hwhy MAoz_rRvSa MDoDhw
hnyRarI;t MRkynyEow
wrVma;t MR;tAaw
lEarVcy lwbgIl lAoEm hwhy l;dgy

2.1.2. Mal 1:6-8


(1:6a)
(1:6b)
(1:6c)
(1:6d)

A son will honor his father,


and a servant his master.
If then I am a father, where is my honor?
And if I am a master, where is my fear?
said the Lord of hosts

wynOdSa dRbRow bDa dE;bAky NE;b


ydwbVk hyAa ynDa bDa_MIaw
yIarwm hyAa ynDa MynwdSa_MIaw
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa
Present
Past

.........................................................................................
......................................................................................
...........................................................................

Future

62
(1:6e)
(1:6f)
(1:7a)
(1:7b)
(1:7c)
(1:8a)
(1:8b)
(1:8c)
(1:8d)
(1:8e)

A. NICCACCI

to you, O priests, who despise my name.


But you shall say, Wherein
have we despised your name?
While offering upon my altar
polluted food.
But you shall say, Wherein have we
polluted you?
By saying, The Lords table,
it is despicable.
When you were offering what is blind
in sacrifice, was there no evil?
And when you were offering what is
lame or sick, was there no evil?
Present that to your governor!
Will he be pleased with you
or show you favor?
said the Lord of hosts.

yImVv yzw;b MynShO;kAh MRkDl


KRmVv_tRa wnyzDb hR;mA;b MR;trAmSaw
lDagVm MRjRl yIjV;bzIm_lAo MyIvygAm
KwnVlAag hR;mA;b MR;trAmSaw
awh hzVbn hwhy NAjVlUv MRkrDmTaR;b
or NyEa AjO;bzIl rwIo NwvgAt_yIkw
or NyEa hRlOjw AjE;sIp wvygAt yIkw
KRtDjRpVl an whEbyrVqAh
KynDp aDcySh wa KVxrySh
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa

2.1.3. Mal 1:9-14


(1:9a)
(1:9b)
(1:9c)
(1:9d)
(1:10a)
(1:10b)
(1:10c)
(1:10d)
(1:10e)
(1:11a)
(1:11b)
(1:11c)
(1:11d)
(1:11e)

And now entreat the favor of God,


that he may be gracious to us.
It is from your hand that this occurred,
will (God) show favor (to anybody)
because of you?
said the Lord of hosts.
Who is there among yourselves
who would shut the doors,
and so you will not light my altar in vain!
I have no pleasure in you,
said the Lord of hosts,
and not a single offering shall I accept
from your hand.
For from the rising of the sun to its setting
my name is great among the nations,
and in every place incense is burned
and sacrifice is offered to my name,
and a pure offering;
for my name is great among the nations,

wnnDjyw lEa_ynVp an_w;lAj hD;tAow


taz hDtyDh MRkdyIm
MynDp MR;kIm aDcySh
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa
MyAtDl;d rOgVsyw MRkD;b_Mg yIm
MnIj yIjV;bzIm wryIaDt_alw
MRkD;b XRpEj yIl_NyEa
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa
MRkdyIm hRxrRa_al hDjnImw
wawbVm_dAow vRmRv_jrzI;mIm yI;k
MywgA;b yImVv lwdg
yImVvIl vgUm rDfVqUm MwqDm_lDkVbw
hrwhVf hDjnImw
MywgA;b yImVv lwdg_yI;k
Present
Past

.........................................................................................
......................................................................................
...........................................................................

Future

63

POETIC SYNTAX AND INTERPRETATION OF MALACHI

(1:11f)
(1:12a)
(1:12b)
(1:12c)
(1:13a)
(1:13b)
(1:13c)
(1:13d)

(1:13e)
(1:13f)
(1:13g)
(1:14a)
(1:14b)
(1:14c)
(1:14d)
(1:14e)

said the Lord of hosts.


But you are profaning it
by saying, The Lords table, it is polluted,
and its fruit, its food is despicable.
But you shall say, Behold, what
a weariness this is,
and thus you shall sniff at it,
said the Lord of hosts.
If you shall bring what
hRlwjAh_tRaw
has been taken by violence
or the lame or the sick,
and thus you shall bring the offering,
shall I accept that from your hand?
said the Lord.
Cursed is the one who cheats while
he has a male in his flock,
and who vows and sacrifices to the Lord
what is blemished;
for I am a great King,
said the Lord of hosts,
and my name is feared among the nations.

twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa


wtwa MyIlV;lAjVm MR;tAaw
awh lDagVm ynOdSa NAjVlUv MRkrDmTaR;b
wlVkDa hzVbn wbynw
hDaDlV;tAm hnIh MR;trAmSaw
wtwa MR;tVjApIhw
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa
AjE;sIpAh_tRaw lwzg MRtaEbShw

hDjnI;mAh_tRa MRtaEbShw
MRkdyIm ;hDtwa hRxrRaAh
hwhy rAmDa
rDkz wrdRoV;b vyw lEkwn rwrDaw
ynOdaAl tDjVvDm AjEbOzw rdOnw
ynDa lwdg JKRlRm yI;k
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa
MywgAb arwn yImVvw

2.1.4. Mal 2:1-9


(2:1)
(2:2a)
(2:2b)
(2:2c)
(2:2d)
(2:2e)
(2:2f)
(2:2g)
(2:2h)
(2:3a)
(2:3b)
(2:3c)
(2:3d)

And now, for you is this dispensation,


MynShO;kAh tazAh hwVxI;mAh MRkyElSa hD;tAow
O priests.
If you will not listen,
woVmVvIt al_MIa
and if you will not lay it to heart
bEl_lAo wmyIcDt al_MIaw
to give glory to my name,
yImVvIl dwbD;k tEtDl
said the Lord of hosts,
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa
then I will send the curse upon you
hrEaV;mAh_tRa MRkDb yI;tVjA;lIvw
and I will curse your blessings;
MRkyEtwkrI;b_tRa yItwrDaw
indeed I have already cursed each one of them,
DhyItwrDa Mgw
because you are not laying it to heart.
bEl_lAo MyImDc MRknyEa yI;k
Behold, I am about to rebuke the seed
orzAh_tRa MRkDl rEoOg ynnIh
because of you,
I will spread dung upon your faces,
MRkynVp_lAo vrRp yItyrzw
the dung of your feasts,
MRkygAj vrRp
and one will take you together with it.
wyDlEa MRkVtRa aDcnw
Present
Past

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64
(2:4a)
(2:4b)
(2:4c)
(2:5a)
(2:5b)
(2:5c)
(2:5d)
(2:6a)
(2:6b)
(2:6c)
(2:6d)
(2:7a)
(2:7b)
(2:7c)
(2:8a)
(2:8b)
(2:8c)
(2:8d)
(2:9a)
(2:9b)
(2:9c)
(2:9d)

A. NICCACCI

Thus you will


tazAh hwVxI;mAh tEa MRkyElSa yI;tVjA;lIv yI;k MR;tVodyw
know that I have sent this dispensation to you,
that my covenant may be with Levi,
ywEl_tRa yItyrV;b twyVhIl
said the Lord of hosts.
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa
Indeed, my covenant was with him;
w;tIa hDtyDh yItyrV;b
life and peace, I gave them to him;
wl_MnV;tRaw MwlDvAhw MyyAjAh
as to fear, he feared me.
ynEaryyw arwm
Indeed, before my name he stood in awe;
awh tAjn yImVv ynVpImw
there was a law of truth in his mouth
whyIpV;b hDtyDh tRmTa trw;t
and absolutely no wrong was found on his lips;
wyDtDpVcIb aDxVmn_al hDlwAow
in peace and uprightness he walked with me;
yI;tIa JKAlDh rwvyImVbw MwlDvV;b
and many he turned from iniquity.
NOwDoEm byIvEh MyI;brw
For the lips of a priest
tAod_wrVmVvy NEhOk yEtVpIc_yI;k
will keep knowledge,
and men will seek law from his mouth,
whyIpIm wvVqAby hrwtw
for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.
awh twaDbVx_hwhy JKAaVlAm yI;k
But you, on your part, have turned
JKr;dAh_NIm MR;trAs MR;tAaw
aside from the way;
you have caused many to stumble at the law;
hrw;tA;b MyI;br MR;tVlAvVkIh
you have corrupted the covenant of Levi,
ywE;lAh tyrV;b MR;tAjIv
said the Lord of hosts,
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa
and I, on my part, have made you despised
MyzVbn MRkVtRa yI;tAtn ynSa_Mgw
and abased before all the people,
MDoDh_lDkVl MyIlDpVvw
inasmuch as you are not keeping my ways
yAkr;d_tRa MyrVmOv MRknyEa rRvSa yIpV;k
and are showing partiality in the law.
hrw;tA;b MynDp MyIaVcOnw

2.1.5. Mal 2:10-16


(2:10a) Have we not all one Father?
wnD;lUkVl dDjRa bDa awlSh
(2:10b) Has not one God created us?
wnDarV;b dDjRa lEa awlSh
(2:10c) Why then shall we be faithless
wyIjDaV;b vyIa dgVbn Aow;dAm
to one another,
(2:10d) to profane the covenant of our fathers?
wnyEtObSa tyrV;b lE;lAjVl
(2:11a) Judah has been faithless,
hdwhy hdgD;b
(2:11b) and abomination was committed
MIDlDvwryIbw lEarVcyVb hDtVcRon hDbEowtw
in Israel and in Jerusalem;
(2:11c) for Judah profaned the sanctity
bEhDa rRvSa hwhy vdOq hdwhy lE;lIj yI;k
of the Lord, which he loves,
(2:11d) as one used to marry the daughter of a foreign god,
rDkn lEa_tA;b lAoDbw
Present
Past

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65

POETIC SYNTAX AND INTERPRETATION OF MALACHI

(2:12a) only to the effect of letting God


hDnRcSoy rRvSa vyIaDl hwhy trVky
cut off, to the man who shall do this,
(2:12b) anyone who is awake and answers,
bOqSoy yElFhDaEm hnOow rEo
out of the tents of Jacob,
(2:12c) and who presents an offering
twaDbVx hwhyAl hDjnIm vygAmw
to the Lord of hosts.
wcSoA;t tynEv tazw
(2:13a) Further, this second thing you shall do:
(2:13b) covering with tears the altar
hwhy jA;bzIm_tRa hDoVm;d tw;sA;k
of the Lord,
(2:13c) weeping and groaning,
hqnSaw yIkV;b
(2:13d) because (God) will no longer regard
hDjnI;mAh_lRa twnVp dwo NyEaEm
the offering
(2:13e) or accept it with favor from your hand.
MRkdyIm Nwxr tAjqDlw
(2:14a) And you shall say, Why?
hDm_lAo MR;trAmSaw
(2:14b) Because the Lord has been
Kyrwon tRvEa NyEbw KnyE;b dyIoEh hwhy_yI;k lAo
witness between you and the wife of your youth,
(2:14c) to whom you have been faithless,
;hD;b hD;tdgD;b hD;tAa rRvSa
(2:14d) while she is your companion and the wife
KRtyrV;b tRvEaw KV;trRbSj ayIhw
of your covenant.
(2:15a) Yet has not the One (God) made (you)
hDcDo dDjRa_alw
(2:15b) and the rest of the spirit is not his?
wl Ajwr rDaVvw
(2:15c) And what does the One (God) seek?
v;qAbVm dDjRaDh hDmw
(2:15d) The offspring of God!
MyIhlTa orz
(2:15e) Therefore you shall take heed to your spirit,
MRkSjwrV;b MR;trAmVvnw
(2:15f) and to the wife of his youth let none be
dOgVby_lAa Kyrwon tRvEaVbw
faithless.
jA;lAv anDc_yI;k
(2:16a) For (I) hate divorce,
(2:16b) said the Lord the God of Israel,
lEarVcy yEhlTa hwhy rAmDa
(2:16c) thus he shall cover his own garment
wvwbVl_lAo sDmDj hD;sIkw
with violence,
(2:16d) said the Lord of hosts.
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa
(2:16e) Therefore you shall take heed to your spirit
MRkSjwrV;b MR;trAmVvnw
(2:16f) and shall not be faithless.
wdOgVbIt alw

2.2.1. Mal 2:17-3:7b


(2:17a) You have wearied the Lord with your words.
(2:17b) But you shall say, In what have we
wearied (him)?

MRkyrVbdV;b hwhy MR;tVogwh


wnVogwh hD;mA;b MR;trAmSaw

Present
Past

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Future

66

A. NICCACCI

(2:17c) By saying, Every one who


hwhy ynyEoV;b bwf or hEcOo_lD;k MRkrDmTaR;b
does evil is good in the sight of the Lord,
(2:17d) and in them he delights;
XEpDj awh MRhDbw
(2:17e) Or, Where is the God of judgment?
fDpVvI;mAh yEhlTa hyAa wa
(3:1a) Behold, I am about to send my messenger,
yIkDaVlAm AjElOv ynnIh
(3:1b) and he will prepare the way before me,
ynDpVl JKrd_hnIpw
(3:1c) and suddenly there will come
wlDkyEh_lRa awby MOaVtIpw
to his temple
(3:1d) the Lord whom you are seeking.
MyIvVqAbVm MR;tAa_rRvSa NwdDaDh
(3:1e) For his part,
aDb_hnIh MyIxEpSj MR;tAa_rRvSa tyrV;bAh JKAaVlAmw
the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight,
behold, he is about to come,
(3:1f) said the Lord of hosts.
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa
(3:2a) And who shall be able to endure
waw;b Mwy_tRa lE;kVlAkVm yImw
the day of his coming,
(3:2b) and who shall be able to stand
wtwarEhV;b dEmOoDh yImw
when he appears?
(3:2c) For he shall be like a refiners fire
PrDxVm vEaV;k awh_yI;k
(3:2d) and like fullers soap;
MyIsV;bAkVm tyrObVkw
(3:3a) he will sit as a refiner and purifier
PRsR;k rEhAfVmw PrDxVm bAvyw
of silver,
(3:3b) and he will purify the sons of Levi
ywEl_ynV;b_tRa rAhIfw
(3:3c) and refine them like gold and silver.
PRsD;kAkw bDhzA;k MDtOa q;qzw
(3:3d) Thus they shall be for the Lord
hqdVxI;b hDjnIm yEvygAm hwhyAl wyDhw
presenting an offering in justice,
(3:4a) and the offering of Judah
MIDlDvwryw hdwhy tAjnIm hwhyAl hDbrDow
and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord
(3:4b) as in the days of old and as
twynOmdq MynDvVkw MDlwo yEmyI;k
in former years.
fDpVvI;mAl MRkyElSa yI;tVbrqw
(3:5a) Then I will draw near to you
for judgment
(3:5b) and I will be a swift witness
rEhAmVm dEo yItyyDhw
(3:5c) against the sorcerers, against the adulterers,
MyIpSanVmAbw MyIpVvAkVmA;b
(3:5d) against those who swear falsely,
rqDvAl MyIoD;bVvnAbw
(3:5e) against those who oppress
Mwtyw hnDmVlAa ryIkDc_rAkVc yqVvOoVbw
the wages of the hireling, the widow and the orphan,
(3:5f) against those who thrust aside the sojourner,
ynwary alw rg_yEfAmw
and do not fear me,
(3:5g) said the Lord of hosts.
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa
(3:6a) For I the Lord did not change,
yItynDv al hwhy ynSa yI;k
Present
Past

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POETIC SYNTAX AND INTERPRETATION OF MALACHI

(3:6b)
(3:7a)
(3:7b)

and you, O sons of Jacob, on your part,


did not perish.
Indeed, from the days of your fathers
you have turned aside from my statutes
and have not kept them.

MRtyIlVk al bOqSoy_ynV;b MR;tAaw


y;qUjEm MR;trAs MRkyEtObSa yEmyImVl
MR;trAmVv alw

2.2.2. Mal 3:7c-12


(3:7c)
(3:7d)
(3:7e)
(3:8a)
(3:8b)
(3:8c)
(3:8d)
(3:9a)
(3:9b)
(3:10a)
(3:10b)
(3:10c)
(3:10d)
(3:10e)
(3:10f)
(3:11a)
(3:11b)
(3:11c)
(3:11d)
(3:12a)
(3:12b)
(3:12c)

Return to me, that I may


MRkyElSa hDbwvDaw yAlEa wbwv
return to you,
said the Lord of hosts.
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa
But you shall say, Wherein shall
bwvn hR;mA;b MR;trAmSaw
we return?
Will man rob God,
MyIhlTa MdDa oA;bVqySh
that you are robbing me?
yItOa MyIoVbOq MR;tAa yI;k
But you shall say, In what
KwnSoAbVq hR;mA;b MR;trAmSaw
did we rob you?
In your tithes and offerings.
hDmwrV;tAhw rEcSoA;mAh
With a curse you are being cursed
MyrDan MR;tAa hrEaV;mA;b
because me you are robbingthe whole nation.
w;lU;k ywgAh MyIoVbOq MR;tAa yItOaw
Bring the full tithes into
rDxwaDh tyE;b_lRa rEcSoA;mAh_lD;k_tRa wayIbDh
the storehouse [of the temple]
and let there be food in my house;
yItyEbV;b PrRf yIhyw
and then put me to the test herewith,
tazD;b an ynwnDjVbw
said the Lord of hosts,
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa
if I will not open for you
MyAmDvAh tw;brSa tEa MRkDl jA;tVpRa al_MIa
the windows of heaven
and pour down for you an
yd_yIlV;b_dAo hDkrV;b MRkDl yItOqyrShw
overflowing blessing.
I will rebuke for you the devourer,
lEkOaD;b MRkDl yI;trAogw
and it will not destroy to you
hDmdSaDh yrVp_tRa MRkDl tIjVvy_alw
the fruits of the soil;
and the vine in the field shall not
hdDcA;b NRpgAh MRkDl lE;kAvVt_alw
fail to bear to you,
said the Lord of hosts.
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa
Then all nations will call you blessed,
MywgAh_lD;k MRkVtRa wrVvIaw
for you, even you, will be a land
XRpEj XrRa MR;tAa wyVhIt_yI;k
of delight,
said the Lord of hosts.
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa
Present
Past

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Future

68

A. NICCACCI

2.2.3. Mal 3:13-18


(3:13a) Your words have been harsh against me,
MRkyrVb;d yAlDo wqzDj
(3:13b) said the Lord.
hwhy rAmDa
(3:13c) But you shall say, On what have we
KyRlDo wnrA;bdn_hAm MR;trAmSaw
conversed against you?
MyIhlTa dObSo awDv MR;trAmSa
(3:14a) You have said, It is vain to serve God.
(3:14b) And what gain is it that we kept
w;trAmVvIm wnrAmDv yI;k oAxR;b_hAmw
his charge,
(3:14c) and that we walked as in
twaDbVx hwhy ynVpIm tynrOdVq wnVkAlDh yIkw
mourning before the Lord of hosts?
(3:15a) Henceforth we are deeming
Mydz MyrVvAaVm wnVjnSa hD;tAow
the arrogant blessed;
(3:15b) Not only have evildoers been built up,
hDoVvr yEcOo wnVbn_Mg
(3:15c) but they also have put God
wfElD;myw MyIhlTa wnSjD;b Mg
to the test and escaped.
(3:16a) Then those who feared the Lord
whEor_tRa vyIa hwhy yEary wrV;bdn zDa
conversed with one another,
(3:16b) and the Lord heeded and heard them,
oDmVvyw hwhy bEvVqyw
(3:16c) and a book of remembrance was written
wynDpVl NwrD;kz rRpEs bEtD;kyw
before him
(3:16d) concerning those who fear the Lord
wmVv yEbVvOjVlw hwhy yEaryVl
and those who value his name.
(3:17a) Thus they shall be to me,
twaDbVx hwhy rAmDa yIl wyDhw
said the Lord of hosts,
(3:17b) on the day when I am about to act,
hD;lgVs hRcOo ynSa rRvSa MwyAl
as special possession.
(3:17c) And I will have compassion on them
MRhyElSo yI;tVlAmDjw
(3:17d) as a man will be
wtOa dEbOoDh wnV;b_lAo vyIa lOmVjy rRvSaA;k
compassionate on his son who serves him.
(3:18a) Then you shall again distinguish
oDvrVl qy;dAx NyE;b MRtyIarw MR;tVbAvw
between the righteous and the wicked,
wdDbSo al rRvSaAl MyIhlTa dEbOo NyE;b
(3:18b) between one who serves God
and one who did not serve him.

2.2.4. Mal 3:19-21 (Engl. 4:1-3)


(3:19a) For behold, the day is about
to come, burning like an oven,

rwnA;tA;k rEoO;b aD;b MwyAh hnIh_yI;k

Present
Past

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69

POETIC SYNTAX AND INTERPRETATION OF MALACHI

(3:19b) and all the arrogant and all


vq hDoVvr hEcOo_lDkw Mydz_lDk wyDhw
evildoers will be stubble,
(3:19c) the day that is coming shall devour them,
aD;bAh MwyAh MDtOa fAhIlw
(3:19d) said the Lord of hosts,
twaDbVx hwhy
(3:19e) so that it will leave them neither
PnDow vrOv MRhDl bOzSoy_al rRvSa
root nor branch,
hqdVx vRmRv yImVv yEary MRkDl hDjrzw
(3:20a) but the sun of righteousness
shall rise for you who fear my name,
(3:20b) with a healer in its wings.
DhyRpnVkI;b aEprAmw
(3:20c) You shall go forth and leap
qE;brAm yElgRoV;k MR;tVvIpw MRtaDxyw
like calves of the stall,
(3:21a) and you shall tread down the wicked,
MyIoDvr MRtw;sAow
(3:21b) for they will be ashes under
MRkyElgr twpA;k tAjA;t rRpEa wyVhy_yI;k
the soles of your feet,
(3:21c) on the day when I am about to act,
hRcOo ynSa rRvSa MwyA;b
(3:21d) said the Lord of hosts.
twaDbVx hwhy

rAmDa

rAmDa

2.2.5. Mal 3:22-24 (Engl. 4:4-6)


(3:22a) Remember the law of my servant Moses,
yI;dVbAo hRvOm trw;t wrVkz
(3:22b) that I commanded him at Horeb
brOjVb wtwa yItywIx rRvSa
(3:22c) for all Israel, the statutes and the
MyIfDpVvImw MyI;qUj lEarVcy_lD;k_lAo
ordinances.
(3:23a) Behold, I am about to
ayIbnAh hyIlEa tEa MRkDl AjElOv yIkOnDa hnIh
send you Elijah the prophet
(3:23b) before the coming of the great
arwnAhw lwdgAh hwhy Mwy aw;b ynVpIl
and terrible day of the Lord.
(3:24a) He will turn the hearts of fathers
MynD;b_lAo twbDa_bEl byIvEhw
to their children
(3:24b) and the hearts of children to their fathers,
MDtwbSa_lAo MynD;b bElw
(3:24c) lest I will come and smite
MrEj XrDaDh_tRa yItyE;kIhw awbDa_NRp
the land with a curse.

Present
Past

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...........................................................................

Future

70

A. NICCACCI

3. Commentary

3.1.1. Mal 1:1-5


A part of the superscription. i.e., hwhy_rAbd aDcAm, also appears in Zech 9:1
and 12:1. It is followed here by an indication of the addressee (lEarVcy_lRa)
as in Zech 9:1 and 12:1, and by the name of the prophet who conveys the
divine message (yIkDaVlAm dyV;b) as in Hag 1:1.10 The first part of the superscription is most likely in the construct state, i.e., the burden of the word of the
Lord, as translated above, rather than in apposition.11 As a superscription,
Mal 1:1 is grammatically a non-verbal sentence consisting of the predicate
only, while the subject is implied, as is the case with headings, i.e., (This
is) the burden of the word of the Lord.12

10. According to K.W. Weyde, Prophecy and Teaching. Prophetic Authority, Form Prob-

lems, and the Use of Traditions in the Book of Malachi, Berlin - New York 2000, 68, this
phrasing indicates that YHWH has not spoken to him [Malachi]. His authority and message are based on the traditions. It is of course appropriate to investigate the older traditions on which Malachi bases his prophecy as does Weyde, but this fact does not diminish
his prophetic prerogative. Indeed, similar expressions with rbd verb or noun occur in Isa
20:2; Jer 37:2; 50:1; Hag 1:1, 3; 2:1. On dyV;b see, e.g., R.L. Smith, Micah-Malachi, Waco
(Tex.) 1984, 303.
11. The LXX (lhvmma lo/gou kuriou) and the Vulgate (onus verbi Domini) understand it
as a construct while, e.g., A.E. Hill, Malachi. A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, New York etc. 1998, understands it as apposition, i.e., an oracle: the word of God.
On the grammatical analysis of the superscription as well as on the compositional consequences drawn by some scholars from the similarity of Zech 9:1 and 12:1 with Mal 1:1 and
also with Hag 1:1, see Hill, 136-140. Among those who assume an editorial unit comprising
Zech 9-11, 12-14 and Malachi, L. Bauer, Zeit des Zweiten Tempels Zeit der Gerechtigkeit.
Zur sozio-konomischen Konzeption im Haggai-Sacharja-Maleachi-Korpus, Bern 1992 (see
overall literary structure on p. 138), tries to illustrate the date (the Ptolemaic period, according to this author) and the socio-economic and spiritual conditions of this corpus of literature.
A more precise date between Nehemiahs two visits [to Jerusalem], that is, shortly after 443
B.C. has been proposed by Verhoef, 158-162. For J. Nogalski, Redactional Processes in the
Book of the Twelve, Berlin - New York 1993, a definite editorial activity extends to the whole
corpus of the Minor Prophets (see no. 102 below). In my paper, Organizzazione canonica
della Bibbia ebraica, I tried to show a conscious editorial activity in the Hebrew Bible on the
basis of the verb forms used in the beginning and end of the various books.
12. Pace Hill, 143, Mal 1:1 does not omit any verb, be it rbd or hyh, but rather a personal
pronoun functioning as the implied subject. A verb is simply not needed in this type of sentence although it could be present; even in the latter case, however, the sentence would remain of the sane type, e.g., lRahyDhrRvSahwhy_rAb;d (This is) the word of the Lord that came
to (name of the respective prophet: Hos 1:1; Joel 1:1; Mic 1:1; Zeph 1:1), or
ayIbnAhqw;qAbSjhzDjrRvSaaDcA;mAh (This is) the oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw (Hab 1:1).
Differently, the sentence is complete and of a different type (x-qatal) in cases like

POETIC SYNTAX AND INTERPRETATION OF MALACHI

71

The first literary unit is 1:2-5. The prophecy begins right in medias res
with a Gods statement conveyed with qatal and its continuation form
wayyiqtol.13 Indeed, both qatal forms yI;tVbAhDa (1:2a) and yItanDc (1:3a), being
stative verbs, usually indicate a present situation;14 here, however, their
continuation forms wayyiqtolbAhOaw (1:2d) and MyIcDaw (1:3b)make it clear
that a past situation is intended.15 Because of that, the non-verbal construction in 1:2c, which in the axis of the present constitutes the present tense,
indicates contemporaneity with the past and corresponds to the imperfect
of the Latin languages: Was not Esau Jacobs brother?16
In the phrase hwhyrAmDa (1:2a), the qatal has its usual value of past, not
of present,17 both here and in the other variations of the formula found in
this texttwaDbVxhwhyrAmDahO;k (1:4c), twaDbVxhwhyrAmDa (1:6d; 1:8e; 1:9d; 1:10d;
1:11f; 1:13c; 1:14d; 2:2d; 2:4c; 2:8d; 2:16d; 3:1f; 3:5g; 3:7d; 3:10d; 3:11d;
3:12c; 3:17a; 3:19d; 3:21d), lEarVcyyEhlTahwhyrAmDa (2:16b), and hwhyrAmDa
(1:13g; 3:13b).18
Although it is commonly translated with present tense, the weqatal form
MR;trAmSaw (1:2b) conveys as a rule future information19here as well as in the

lRbD;brz_lRaayIbnAhygAj_dyV;bhwhy_rAbdhyDhMyA;tVvtnVvI;b In the second year the word of the Lord


came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel (Hag 1:1), or ynyImVvAhvdOjA;b
hyrAkz_lRahwhy_rAbdhyDh In the eighth month the word of the Lord came to Zechariah
(Zech 1:1). See, briefly, my paper Organizzazione canonica della Bibbia ebraica, 18.
13. As a rule in direct speech, when a past information is to be conveyed, the first verb form

used is either first-place qatal or second-place qatal (i.e., x-qatal) with no difference (except in contextually specific cases); see 1.2.2 above, based on my Syntax of the Verb
74-77 (Narrative discourse).
14. Joon-Muraoka 112a.
15. On the problem of twnAtVl jackals, a term frequently corrected by critics, see discussion
in D. Barthlemy, Critique textuelle de lAncien Testament. 3: Ezchiel, Daniel et les 12
Prophtes, Fribourg - Gttingen 1992, 1016-1017.
16. See my Syntax of the Verb 162. Yet, A. Meinhold, Maleachi, XIV/8/1-2, NeukirchenVluyn 2000-2002, 21, translates as present: Hat nicht Jakob einen Bruder Esau?
17. Among the exceptions are Hill, who consistently translates this formula in the past tense:
Yahweh has said, and Meinhold: hat YHWH gesagt.
18. Cf. J. Krispenz, Grammatik und Theologie in der Botenformel, ZAH 11 (1998) 133139. See no. 88 below.
19. The LXX always translates MR;trAmSaw with past tense: kai eipate And/but you said, except in 3:8c, where it has the future, kai ereite. The Vulgate also translates in the past (et
dixistis), except for one case in the present (1:7b, et dicitis). On his part, Meinhold correctly objects to the translation with a past tense but his argument that die gegenwrtige
Einrede soll zum Ausdruck gebracht werden (p. 21) is hardly valid. In fact, on the one
side, interpretation without a definite idea of BH verb system may be misleading as a linguistic criterion; on the other side, the objection (Einrede) need not occur in the present.

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other occurrences in Malachi (1:6f, 7b, 13a; 2:14a, 17b; 3:7e, 8c, 13c).20 This
verb form constitutes a formula that introduces an objection by the addressees to a specific divine accusation. Such objections are not directly expressed
by the addressees, who never intervene in the discussion, but are anticipated
by God himself. Indeed, God is the speaker throughout the prophecy; only in
certain cases the voice of the prophet is heard as spokesman of the people or
of God himself (see 4.3 below). Not recognizing the future value of these
weqatal forms amounts to altering the perspective of the prophecy. On the one
hand, translating these verb forms with present tenses supposes an exchange
of accusations and objections in actual progress while, on the other hand,
translating them with past tenses supposes a similar exchange in the past,
both of which are unjustified on the basis of verb syntax in BH.21
The analysis of 1:4 illustrates an ambiguity that from time to time faces
the interpreter who evaluates indicative weqatal and x-yiqtol forms. The
ambiguity arises from the fact that they occur both in the axis of the past, in
narrative, both historical and oral, and in the axis of the future, in direct
speech (see 1.2-1.2 above). In the first case, they convey off-line information and correspond to the imperfect of the Latin languages, while in the
second case they convey main-line information (although they are also used
for off-line information) and indicate future tense. Sometimes it is not easy
to decide whether they refer to the axis of the past or to that of the future. In
1:4, for instance, because 1:3 evokes past deeds of the Lord towards Esau,
the verb forms might be taken to refer to the past as well. If so, the x-yiqtol
in 1:4a, 4d, and 5a-b, as well as the weqatal in 1:4e are translated with the
imperfect and signal repetition, or custom, i.e., When Edom was saying
Indeed, in Malachi the objections of the people to Gods affirmations or accusations are
consistently introduced by MR;trAmSaw and/but you shall say, and thus presented as future.
20. Thus the formula MR;trAmSaw appears as follows in the various units of Malachi: in the first
part, once in unit 3.1.1, twice in 3.1.2, once in 3.1.3, never in 3.1.4, and once in 3.1.5; in
the second part, once in 3.2.1, twice in 3.2.2, once in 3.2.3, and never in 3.2.4 and 3.2.5.
The units in which the formula does not appear contain Gods prosecution and no discussion of peoples objections.
21. These dialogues are fictitious in the sense that they are not factual exchanges but both
question/accusation and answer are presented as formulated by God; however the literary
form dialogue or disputation is real. Thus, it is not advisable to reject it out of hand as done
by Weyde, Prophecy and Teaching, 46. Otherwise, the disputation is generally recognized
as the basic literary form of Malachi. D.L. Petersen, Malachi: The Form-Critical Task,
in: K.-D. Schunck - M. Augustin (eds.), Lasset uns Brcken bauen: Collected Communications to the XVth Congress of the International Organization for the Study of the Old
Testament, Cambridge 1995, Bern 1998, 269-274, suggested that a comparison with the
Greco-Roman diatribe is helpful to evaluate the genre of Malachi, while Smith, 300, rather
refers to other prophetic passages such as Mic 2:6-11; Jer 2:23-25, 29-32; 28:1-11; 29:24:32.

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73

They were building, but I was tearing down. Thus one was calling/used to
call them the territory of wickedness Your own eyes were seeing this, and
you yourselves were saying (it) However, it is more probable that the xyiqtol and weqatal forms refer to the axis of the future, i.e., God anticipates,
with MwdTa rAmat_yI;k, the objections and describes the reactions of Esau/Edom,
just as above he anticipated, with MR;trAmSaw, the objections of the descendants
of Jacob (see comment on in 1:2b above).22
In the reported speech of Edom we find a qatal followed by two
weyiqtol forms: hnVbnwbwvnwwnVvAvr (1:4b). As a rule, weyiqtol is the continuation form of volitive yiqtol (while the continuation form of the indicative
yiqtol is weqatal) and as such is indicates volition, not simple prediction
(see 1.2 above). Therefore I translated: we have been shattered but we
want to return and we want to build, i.e., we want to build again, or:
we have been shattered but only in order that we return and build, i.e.,
only to build again (cf. comment on 2:12a). Note, in this expression,
the hendiadys we want to return and we want to build (hnVbnwbwvnw) with
an adverbial use of a finite form of the verb bwv with the meaning of
again (see 3:18a below).23
The x-yiqtol sentences in 1:5a-b lay emphasis on the x element: your
own eyes shall see, and you yourselves shall say.24 Weqatal forms are
avoided here because the two pieces of information stand not on the same
level with weqatal of 1:4e but rather specify it; otherwise, one would have
expected a sequence of coordinated weqatal forms (see 1.2 above).
According to normal use, the yiqtol l;dgy (1:5c) that occupies the first
place in the sentence has volitive force (see the same or similar phrase in
Ps 35:27; 40:17; 70:5).25 It is not clear which is the more suitable meaning
of lwbgIl lAoEmover or beyond the territory of Israel.26
22. In any case, the value of yI;k as conditional or temporal if, when is justified and there
is no need to invoke the deictic value of this conjunction, nor would it yield a better sense,
pace Meinhold, 23. He rejects the conditional value because in this case stellte hk (so)
eine beim Konditionalsatz nicht bliche Einleitung des Nachsatzes dar (ibid.). However,
it seems evident that the apodosis is not twaDbVxhwhyrAmDahO;k but rather swrThRaynSawwnVbyhD;mEh.
23. Cf. Gesenius-Kautzsch-Cowley 120d.
24. This detail is also noted by Hill, 160.
25. Despite contrary views of interpreters like Keil, 432, and Verhoeff, 194, no. 14. Hill,
on his part, translates as jussive and notes that it is an expression stemming from the socalled Zion tradition of the first Davidic corpus of the Psalter (p. 161). Actually, Hill writes
that the expression [yigdal YHWH] is an epithet for Yahweh (ibid.), an opinion that he
reiterates in his note on MywgA;b yImVv lwdg (1:11b), which he translates as follows: Great is
my name among the nations! (see p. 187), but I do not share this view.
26. Various opinions are listed in Hill, 161-162.

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3.1.2. Mal 1:6-8


It is the second literary unit. As the previous one, it starts with a Gods
statement (1:6; cf. 1:2a) followed by an objection of the addressees (1:6f;
cf. 1:2b). The key-word father evokes here the honor that is due to him
(while in 2:10 it evokes respect among brothers).27
The indicative yiqtol in 1:6a is used to express something that is natural and normal, as to say: A son will always (have to) honor his father.
This idiomatic use of x-yiqtol occurs especially in Proverbs, e.g., 10:1, 13,
14, 19, and 28, where such a yiqtol is paralleled with a non-verbal sentence
expressing information in the axis of the present.28
Two questions in 1:6f and 1:7b consist of a syntactic predicate, i.e., hD;mA;b
in both cases, and a syntactic subject, i.e., the verbs wnyzDb in 1:6f and KwnVlAag
in 1:7b, while the answer consists only of the predicate, i.e., the participle
MyIvygAm in 1:7a29 and the prepositional phrase MRkrDmTaR;b in 1:7c. In fact, the last
two elements correspond to hD;mA;b, that is the syntactic predicate, and represent the answers to the respective questions, while the subject, i.e., the two
verbs, is omitted in both cases as the already-known element.30 Because

27. The occurrence in 1:6c of

MynwdSa (in the plural, usually called plural of majesty: see


Gesenius-Kautzsch-Cowley 124i) with reference to the Lord may be due to the parallelism with wynOdSa in 1:6a used for a human lord. On his part, P.J. Botha, Honour and Shame
as Keys to the Interpretation of Malachi, OTE 14 (2001) 392-403, suggests that the whole
text of Malachi can be understood in terms of honor and shame linked to three covenants
between the Lord and the Levites (2:4, 5, 8), between the Lord and the people (2:10; 3;1),
and between husband and wife (2:14, 15, 16).
28. My translation of Prov 10:1 in Analysing Biblical Hebrew Poetry should be revised
as follows: (a) A wise son will make glad his father, / (b) while a foolish son is a sorrow
to his mother (p. 81).
29. The participle is the predicate of an elliptic non-verbal sentence, whose subject you
is implied. Being this sentence a reply to the question Wherein have we despised your
name? a literal translation is: In the fact that (you) are offering, or While you are
offering.
30. This terminology continues to raise criticism by some, e.g. W. Gro, Doppelt besetztes
Vorfeld. Syntaktische, pragmatische und bersetzungstechnische Studien zum althebrischen Verbalsatz, Berlin - New York 2001, 48-49. However, if we agree that the predicate
is the new information that is provided on a subject or topic, then it is only natural to affirm
that, e.g., in the example under examination, hD;mA;b and MyIvygAm / MRkrDmTaR;b constitute the new
information or the predicate while wnyzDb and KwnVlAag are the already-known (from 1:6e and
1:7a, respectively) or the support for the new information, i.e., the subject. See my paper
Marked Syntactical Structures in Biblical Greek in Comparison with Biblical Hebrew, LA
43 (1993) 9-69, esp. 3. On p. 14, I quoted H.J. Polotsky, Etudes de syntaxe copte.
Deuxime tude: Les temps seconds, Le Caire 1944, 24-25, who affirms that in similar cases
grammatical and logical terms do not coincide but what is predicate in a sen-

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75

they are connected with verb forms of the past, both the participle and the
prepositional phrase are put in the axis of the past.
In 1:8a-b the two yI;k + yiqtol constructions, which function as protases,
as well as the two following non-verbal clauses, which function as apodoses, refer to the past because they belong to a past context (established
by the questions/objections in 1:6f and 1:7b). As such they indicate contemporaneity and are translated with the past continuous, where a participle
is present, or with the imperfect, where it does not appear, while the conjunction yI;k takes a temporal value; therefore: When you were offering
was there no evil? / And when you were offering was there no evil? In
this interpretation, the words of 1:8 are spoken by God to the priests and
the two apodoses in the same verse have interrogative force.31

3.1.3. Mal 1:9-14


With hD;tAow a new literary section starts linked to the previous one (see 2:1).
In 1:9a we find a well-attested volitive sequence with imperative continued by weyiqtol (i.e., the imperative weyiqtol construction, see 1.2
above) expressing a command and its intended purpose: entreat the favor
of God, that he may be gracious to us.32 From the 1st person plural pronoun to us it appears that God, or the prophet, is picking up here a request to the priests by the Israelites and by the prophet as well as a new
starting point to continue his accusation.33
tence becomes the support or the subject in the following one (Polotsky examines the
Greek text of 2 Cor 4:3 in comparison with its Coptic translation). This analysis also applies to the passage under consideration (see further comment on 2:17b-c). The only difference between Polotskys analysis and mine is that he speaks of grammatical and logical
terms, while I prefer to speak of grammatical and syntactic categories.
31. If, however, 1:8 is taken as words spoken by the priests and quoted by God as a continuation of 1:6f, then the second-person pronoun in wvygAt / NwvgAt_yIkw refers to the people
presenting an offering to the Temple. Thus explicitly Radak: When people bring to you a
blind sheep to sacrifice and to offer it, you say: This is not evil but it is good to offer it
because the table is contemptible; similarly Ibn Ezra: see A.J. Rosenberg (ed.),
Mikraoth Gedoloth: Twelve Prophets. A New English Translation, etc., New York 1992,
401. Keil, 434 also takes orNyEa in both cases as affirmative, not interrogative, and interpret
Gods words as ironic, while Meinhold attributes this clause to the priests themselves as an
implicit quotation: (, sagt ihr): Es ist nicht schlimm! (p. 64).
32. A dagesh is missing in wnnDjyw, for the expected wnEnDjyw, in the Leningradensis (cf. BHS).
33. Actually, God is referred to in the third person in 1:9a and 1:9c, but then the first person is used in 1:10 ff. Thus, it appears that the words of the prophet and those of God himself are one and the same. Better said, the prophet faithfully relates Gods words to the point

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In 1:9-10 God is addressing the priests in a high rhetorical language.


The x-qatal construction in 1:9b puts emphasis on the prepositional phrase
that precedes the verb: It is from your hand that this occurred, i.e., the
custom of offering unsuitable sacrifices. Syntactically, this sentence can
serve as a circumstance (or protasis) linked to the main sentence (or
apodosis), i.e., Because it is from your hand that this occurred, will (God)
show favor? The implicit object of the last verb is anybody, i.e., the
people in general, while the prepositional phrase MR;kIm means because of
you, i.e., the priests.34 Also note the insistence on the pronouns referring
to the priests in this verse and in the following: because of you, among
you, in you, from your hand.
This severe accusation stands in conflict with the request in 1:9a for
interceding for the nation. The intended meaning seems to be: (However,)
because it is from your hand that this occurred, will ever God show favor
(to the nation) because of you?35
In 1:10a, the construction rOgVsywMRkD;b_MgyIm consists of interrogative pronoun and weyiqtol with its usual function of expressing purpose (lit. in
order that he would shut), while Mg strengthens the following complement.36 On the contrary, the negative construction in the next line
MnIjyIjV;bzImwryIaDt_alw is indicative (its positive counterpart would be weqatal)
and expresses simple, non-volitive consequence: and so you will not light
my altar in vain, i.e., by the shining of the sacrificial fire which burned
upon the altar (Keil, 436).
The construction in 1:10e, with the object placed before the negative
verb form, hRxrRa_alhDjnImw, is the negative counterpart of x-yiqtol, not of
weqatal, otherwise the object would have followed the negative verb as is
the case in 1:10b. This fact proves that the construction in 1:10e conveys
off-line information (with weqatal it would convey main-line information).
It seems, in fact, that the choice of this construction has the function of
of incorporating them in his own speech. On the other side, one should also note that sometimes God refers to himself in the third person, as in 1:14b (along with the first person in
1:14c!) and elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible. See 4.3 below.
34. However, a translation like will he show favor to any of you? (RSV), with partitive
min, is also possible.
35. Compare the following explanation by Rashi: And now, you priests, who commit this
evil, how does enter your mind that you can be the messengers of Israel, to supplicate God
to have compassion on them? Lo, this evil has come from your hand (Rosenberg, Mikraoth
Gedoloth, 402).
36. Similar cases of this construction with yIm + weyiqtol are Jer 9:11; Psa 107:43; Job 19:23;
Esth 5:6 = 9:12; Neh 2:4; 2 Chron 10:9. There are also cases without waw apodoseos,
i.e., with simple yiqtol: Judg 7:3; Prov 9:4, 16; Ezra 1:3.

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77

placing special emphasis on the x element, i.e., the object, that precedes
the verb form;37 therefore, I translated: not a single offering38
The term yImVv my name links these verses together; see 1:11b-c, 11e,
12a (where the phrase my name is referred to with a personal pronoun),
and 14e.
In 1:10c and in 1:11 a series of non-verbal sentences convey pieces of
information in the present: I have no pleasure in you / my name is great
among the nations, / and in every place incense is burned and sacrifice is
offered to my name, / and a pure offering (lit., there is something burned
[and] presented to my name, / and there is a pure offering).39 The extraordinary universalistic view of these affirmations should reflect, on the one
side, the scattering of the Jews throughout the Persian empire and, on the
other, a cosmopolitan aura characteristic of that period, but the exact interpretation is an object of controversy.40
Grammatically, awh lDagVm (1:12b) is a complete sentence (with normal
order of words predicate-subject) and therefore, ynOdSa NAjVlUv does not belong
to it, rather it is a casus pendens; lit. as for the Lords table, it is polluted.
The same analysis applies to the following line: as for its fruit, its food is
despicable.41
37. I would call the readers attention to this remarkable but easily overlooked point of BH

grammar. Given the fact that the negation is inseparable from the verb form, x-al + yiqtol
(as hRxrRa_alhDjnImw in 1:10e) is the negative counterpart of x-yiqtol while al + yiqtol-x (as
yIjV;bzImwryIaDt_alw in 1:10b) is the negative counterpart of weqatal-x.
38. Hills translation takes into account this nuance: Indeed, I will not accept [any] offering from your hand, although he adheres to a different description of the BH verb system
from the one proposed in this paper (see Hill, 186-187).
39. Keil, 438 assumes rather that hrwhVfhDjnImw is attached by Vav explic[ativum] in the
form of an explanatory apposition, i.e., an offering is presented to my name, and indeed
a sacrificial gift.
40. See a discussion of the various views in Smith, 312-316, Verhoef, 225-232, and
Meinhold, 128-133. On the similarities of this passage with Ezek 36:23-24, see Weyde,
Prophecy and Teaching, 146-149. A. Viberg, Wakening a Sleeping Metaphor: A New Interpretation of Malachi 1:11, TynBull 45 (1994) 297-319, suggests to interpret Mal 1:11c-d
along with 1:14 as a hyperbole meaning: YHWH is the great king who should be worshipped as such (p. 315). But this is hardly a solution to the problem. On his part, J. Briend,
Malachie 1, 11 et luniversalisme, in: R. Kuntzmann - B. Renaud (eds.), Ce Dieu qui
vient. tudes sur lAncien et le Nouveau Testament offertes au Professeur Bernard Renaud
loccasion de son soixante-cinquime anniversaire, Paris 1995, 191-204, tries to go beyond hyperbole. He identifies a procedure of emulation (le procd dmulation) consisting in faire parler ou agir les peuples trangers pour quIsral ragisse par mulation et
fasse comme eux ou mme mieux queux (p. 199). He identifies this procedure in other
passages, such as Exod 14:25; Psa 126:2; Ezek 16:14; Deut 4:6.
41. See various interpretations of wbyn in Barthlemy, Critique textuelle, 1020-1022.

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The term hDaDlV;tAm (1:13a) is a contraction of hDaDlV;t_hAm: What a weariness it is! (Keil, 440). Now, this term and the following phrase wtwaMR;tVjApIhw
you shall sniff at it (1:13b)42 are introduced by MR;trAmSaw, a verb form that
in all the other eight occurrences in Malachi introduces an objection by the
addressees to a previous accusation by the Lord (see list in 3.1.1 above).
If so, the phrase you shall sniff at it does not directly refer to the sacrificial table in the Temple, as assumed by some scholars, but rather to the
object of Gods new accusation, i.e., that, contrary to what is done by the
nations of the earth, you are profaning it (i.e., Gods holy Name) / by saying, The Lords table, it is polluted, / and its fruit, its food is despicable
(1:12). The priests appear then to complain that Gods accusation against
them is a tribulation, hardship similar to that experienced by Israel during the centuries, according to the meaning of hDaDl;Vt in the other passages
where it occurs (Exod 18:8; Num 20:14; Lam 3:5; Neh 9:32). God himself
anticipates their complaint (with MR;trAmSaw, 1:13a) and then goes on to describe their future behavior toward the cult which, in fact, will only continue the one already established (compare 1:6-7), and restates his rejection
of their service (1:13f, compared with 1:10e).
A grammatical detail is to be noted here. Because no subordinating indicator is present, the two weqatal forms in 1:13d-e and the following interrogative yiqtol are coordinate verb forms. However, since weqatal can
be both a main-line and an off-line verb form (see 1.1-1.2 above), the
syntactic relationship among the three verb forms is aptly interpreted here,
on semantic grounds, as protasis (the two weqatal) and apodosis (the interrogative yiqtol), i.e.: If you shall bring and thus you shall bring, shall
I accept?
Thus, it is advisable to carefully evaluate the various verb forms and
non-verbal constructions occurring in this section because they have the
purpose of conveying the exact perspective of the text. The section begins
with an invitation (imperative weyiqtol) to the priests to entreat the favor of God for the nation; however, this intercession is doomed to failure
(unless they repent; see 3:7c-12) because the priests themselves are responsible for the poor condition of the people (1:9). Gods indignation goes so
42. A certain Jewish tradition finds here a tiqqun soferim (correction of the scribes), sup-

posing a reading yItwaMR;tVjApIhw instead of wtwaMR;tVjApIhw, i.e., with a first-person pronoun referring to the Lord. However, the MT makes good sense although it is debatable which is the
term referred to by the third-person masculine pronounthe table, as indicated above, or
la tche de contrler ltat dintgrit des btes offrir en sacrifice que lon considre
comme ennuyeuse et inutile. See on this Barthlemy, Critique textuelle, 1023-1024 (quotation on p. 1024).

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79

far as to ask that the priests themselves close the Temple and stop offering
unworthy sacrifices. Indeed, said the Lord, I have no pleasure in you
(non-verbal construction = present tense), and not a single offering shall I
accept from your hand (waw-x-al + yiqtol = future tense) (1:10). The reason for that is given by a series of non verbal sentences (= present tense)
governed by yI;k: because in all the earth God is revered and pure offerings
are presented, while the Israelite priests do just the opposite (1:10-12).43 At
this point God anticipates the priests complaint, describes their future behavior and declares his rejection of their offerings (weqatal and interrogative yiqtol = future tense, 1:13). Finally, a new series of non-verbal
constructions (= present tense) again introduced by yI;k, paralleling 1:10-11,
restates the reason for this rejection (1:14).

3.1.4. Mal 2:1-9


A new literary section begins here, introduced by hD;tAow like the previous
one. A further connection is represented by yImVvIl to my name (2:2c; cf.
1:11b).
In 2:2f-g the shift from the plural MRkyEtwkrI;b_tRa to the feminine singular
suffix of DhyItwrDaMgw suggests a distributive nuance of the latter: each one
of them.44
The seed (2:3a) is interpreted in an agricultural sense by the Jewish
traditional commentators and this meaning suits best the context.45 In fact,
the expression orzAh_tRaMRkDlrEoOgynnIh Behold, I am about to rebuke the seed

43. The invitation in 1:9a is dropped for the time being (it will be taken up again in 3:7c-

12) because there is a need for the priests to recognize their misbehavior and repent. Therefore, the invitation is followed by an accusation (1:9b-10) and by a double motivation
introduced by yI;k, one positive (the religiosity of the nations, 1:11) and the other negative
(the priests improper cult, 1:12-14b). The passage concludes with a second positive motivation also introduced by yI;k (1:14c, 14e), parallel to the first (1:11). The structure of 1:11 is
as follows: a) wawbVm_dAowvRmRv_jrzI;mImyI;k, b) MywgA;byImVvlwdg, c) yImVvIlvgUmrDfVqUmMwqDm_lDkVbw, b)
MywgA;byImVvlwdg_yI;k. Differently, Smith, 309 interprets, on the authority of J. Swetnam, the yI;k
in 1:11a as but, while disregarding the occurrence of this conjunction in 1:14c.
44. This is well noted by Keil, 443. He also rightly observes that yItwrDa is a perfect, which
affirms that the curse has already taken effect (ibid.).
45. Thus, e.g., Ibn Ezra: I will rebuke the seedthat it should not growbecause My table
is empty (Rosenberg, Mikraoth Gedoloth, 406). But Keil, 443 disagrees: But since the
priests did not practise agriculture, it is impossible to see how rebuking the seed, i.e., causing a failure of the crops, could be a punishment peculiar to the priests. We must therefore
follow the LXX, Aquila, Vulg., Ewald, and others, and adopt the pointing AoOrVzAh, i.e., the

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because of you parallels 3:11a: lEkOaD;bMRkDlyI;trAogw I will rebuke for you the
devourer.46 The meaning is, of course, reversed: in 2:3a God threatens the
people with sterility of the fields while in 3:11a he promises to curb animals devouring the harvest.
The subject of the verb aDcnw (2:3d) is generic: and one will take, while
the suffix of wyDlEa refers back to dung.47 With very severe language God
announces that he will spread the dung of the sacrifices on the faces of the
priests (2:3b-c) as a sign of utter contempt and, as a result, people will
throw them away together with the dung of the sacrifices (2:3d).48
The consequence of this punishment is indicated as follows: So shall
you know (MR;tVodyw) that I have sent this dispensation (tazAhhwVxI;mAh) to you, /
that my covenant (yItyrV;b) may be with Levi (2:4a-b).49 From the point of
view of text, the expression tazAhhwVxI;mAhtEaMRkyElSa refers back to 2:1, while
yItyrV;b (2:4b) looks forward to 2:5a and 2:8c. As a consequence of the punishment sent on them as a hwVxIm dispensation, the priests shall understand

arm It is with the arm that a man performs his business or the duties of his calling; and
rebuking the arm, therefore, signifies the neutralizing of the official duties performed at the
altar and in the sanctuary. However, while the sterility of the fields can certainly be seen
as a punishment for all the nation, an interpretation of orzAh seed as descendants is also
feasible (compare 2:12b below). For a discussion of the passage see Barthlemy, Critique
textuelle, 1023-1024 (here the meaning descendance is preferred), R.A. Kugler, A Note
on the Hebrew and Greek Texts of Mal 2,3aa, ZAW 108 (1996) 426-429, and Hill, 200201 (also interpreting offspring).
46. A small grammatical difference is that the object of the verb is governed by tRa in 2:3a,
by V;b in 3:11a. Both constructions are actually attestedwith ;Vb (Gen 37:10; Jer 29:27; Ruth
2:16; Isa 17:13; 54:9; Nah 1:4; Zech 3:2; Psa 106:9) and with direct object (Psa 9:6; 68:31;
119:21).
47. See discussion by Barthlemy, Critique textuelle, 1026-1027, where the subject of the
verb is likewise taken as impersonal, while for Hill, 202-203 the subject is God himself.
48. The dung of the sacrificial animals was to be carried away to an unclean place outside
the camp and burned there, in the case of the sin-offerings, upon an ash-heap (Lev. 4:12;
16:27; Ex. 29:14). Scattering dung in the face was a sign and figurative description of the
most ignominious treatment (Keil, 443).
49. Some commentators find problems with this covenant with Levi. See a brief exposition in Smith, 317, and more fully in Hill, 204-206. In my opinion, the term covenant
need not be taken technically, at least not as technically as assumed by some modern scholars. In fact, two more covenants are mentioned in Malachi, that of the fathers (tyrV;b
wnyEtObSa, 2:10d) and that of the legitimate wife (KRtyrV;b tRvEaw, 2:14d). This may suggest that the
term tyrV;b is used here to broadly designate different divine dispositions for the life of Gods
people. Compare Jer 33:20, where God speaks of his covenant (yItyrV;b) with the day and
with the night, meaning the regular succession of day and night. In any case, what disturbs
modern scholars did not apparently disturb Medieval Jewish interpreters (see next footnote).

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that God intends to continue his covenant with Levi.50 Personally, Levi
remained faithful to Gods covenant (2:5-6) while the priests addressed
here have departed from the right way and for this reason God has made
them contemptible in the face of the people (2:8-9).
The recounting of the fidelity of Levi to the covenant of the Lord begins with a x-qatal (2:5a), continues with two x | wayyiqtol constructions
(2:5b-c, on which see the next paragraph) and is further specified with five
x-qatal constructions (2:5d-6d; in 2:6b the qatal is negated). Now, while the
first x-qatal represents the main line of an oral narrative, the other such
constructions represent a secondary line of communication, the specific
function of which has to be determined case by case through interpretation.51 In the present case, the five x-qatal constructions seem to specify
the initial main-line information by emphasizing the x element that precedes the verb form: before my name he stood a law of truth was no
wrong was found in peace and uprightness he walked and many he
turned
Instead of x-qatal in 2:5b-c we find two x | wayyiqtol constructions,52
i.e., with a x non-verbal element preceding a sentence with wayyiqtol.53

50. That my covenant may be with Levi seems the most natural translation of

yItyrV;b twyVhIl
ywEl_tRa, despite Keils contention that hyh does not mean to continue, or to be maintained
(p. 444); therefore he supplies hwVxI;mAh dispensation as the subject from the previous clause
and translates: that it may be my covenant with Levi. Gods purpose in threatening the
priests is that they repent and thus they may have a share in the covenant of their father
Levi. In this way explained Rashi: for I wish that you will exist with Me with the covenant that I formed for the tribe of Levy (Rosenberg, Mikraoth Gedoloth, 406). Instead of
that you will exist with the covenant, it may be better to translate: that you will exist in the covenant (tyrbb wmyyqttv). Similarly explained Rabbi Joseph Kara, a contemporary of Rashi: In order that you keep the covenant that I made with Aaron and with
Phinehas, who belonged to the tribe of Levi (Rosenberg, Mikraoth Gedoloth, 406, Hebrew).
51. According to normal use in direct speech, the main line of an oral narrative begins with
qatal in the first place of the sentence or with second-place x-qatal without any discernible
difference (see no. 13 above). However, the continuation of the main line is not done with
other qatal but with wayyiqtol form(s) as in historical narrative; eventual qatal (actually xqatal) forms found in the continuation are not main-line but off-line constructions. For details see my Syntax of the Verb 74-78 (already quoted above).
52. Differently from the sign - (x-qatal or x-yiqtol), the sign | in the construction x |
wayyiqtol means that the x element is not part of the same sentence with wayyiqtol.
53. This interpretation follows the BHS arrangement of the text and diverges from the
Masoretic accents and from usual interpretation, i.e., My covenant was with him life and
salvation, and I lent them to him for fear, and he feared me (Keil, 444-445), or: My covenant was with hima covenant of life and peace, and these were what I gave hima covenant of respect, and he respected me (RSV). In my opinion, the similarity of 2:5b and

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Because wayyiqtol is found at the start of a sentence per se, both


MwlDvAhwMyyAjAh (2:5b) and arwm (2:5c) are to be analyzed as instances of casus
pendens. As such, they function as protasis: as for life and peace, I gave
them to him; as for fear, he feared me.54 The communicational effect of
these x | wayyiqtol constructions is probably similar to that of the five xqatal in 2:5d-6d discussed above.
The verb tAjn in 2:5d may derive from the root tjn to go down, or
preferably from ttj to terrify, to shake, and therefore to tremble (see
Keil, 445).
The yiqtol forms in 2:7a-b express something that is natural, even suitable for a priest and for the people (see on 1:6a above). In fact, the people
is the subject of the generic 3rd-person plural verb form in 2:7b (contrast
the 3rd-person-singular verb form in 2:3d).
The address MR;tAaw but you, referring to the priests (2:8a), comes in
strong contrast to what we read about Levi (2:5-6). I rendered this contrast
as But you, on your part The accompanying accusations are expressed
with first-place qatal (2:8b-c; contrast x-qatal in the praise of Levi in 2:5d6d above). Afterwards, in 2:9a the main actor in the play, i.e., God himself,
intervenes: ynSa_Mgw and I, on my part. A shift from main-line qatal
(MR;tVlAvVkIh/MR;tAjIv, 2:8b-c) to off-line waw-x-qatal (yI;tAtnynSa_Mgw, 2:9a) presents
Gods intervention as a reaction to the behavior of the priests. It is noteworthy that Gods intervention is conveyed here with qatal, and therefore
as past, while earlier it was announced both as future (2:2e-f, 3a-d) and as
past as well (2:2g). This means that Gods judgment has been already initiated in the past and will be further implemented in the future if the priests
shall not repent.
Thus the logic of Gods dispensation (or command) for the priests
(2:1, 4a) can be outlined as follows: a) If you will not listen / to give glory
to my name / then I will send the curse upon you / because you are not
laying it to heart Behold, I am about to rebuke the seed because of you, / I
will spread dung upon your face / Thus you will know that I have sent this
dispensation to you, / that my covenant may be with Levi (2:1-4); b) Indeed, my covenant was with him (2:5-7); a) But you, on your part, have

2:5c and the plausibility of the x | wayyiqtol construction in 2:5c make this analysis preferable for 2:5b as well. Smith, 309 translates 2:5b as construction with casus pendens, but
not 2:5c: Life and peace, / I gave them to him in fear and he feared me. See discussion in
Hill, 206-207.
54. See my Syntax of the Verb 119, and Finite Verb in the Second Position of the Sentence. Coherence of the Hebrew Verbal System, ZAW 108 (1996) 434-440 (pp. 436-437).

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turned aside from the way and I, on my part, have made you despised
/ inasmuch as you are not keeping my ways (2:8-9).55

3.1.5. Mal 2:10-16


A new literary section begins in 2:10 with verb dgb to be faithless as a
key-word (2:10c, 11a, 14c, 15f, and 16f). It indicates to be faithless toward
each other (2:10-12) as well as toward ones wife (2:14-16). The starting
argument is that God is the common Father and Creator of the nation
(2:10a-b): this should foster faithfulness among brothers. A similar argument was evoked at the beginning of the second section in order to recommend respect toward God (1:6). Another key-word is dDjRa, both as an
adjective modifying Father (2:10a) and God (2:10b) as well as substantive (2:15a, 15c). In my opinion it always refers to God, but this is disputed
(see below).
The use of the 1st person plural in 2:10Have we not created us
our fathers?indicates that the voice of the prophet as the spokesman of
the nation resounds here. While Malachis prophecy usually reports direct
divine words in the 1st person singular (as the formula thus said the Lord
of hosts shows, attested 25x), in this section God is spoken of in the 3rd
person. This stylistic variation, however, does not signal any significant
change because, as usual, the voice of God and that of the prophet merge.
The prophet denounces Judah/Israels unfaithfulness as past with a qatal
form (2:11a) followed by its background construction waw-x-qatal (2:11b),
and further motivates it with yI;k + qatal (2:11c). The following weqatal
(2:11d) is not coordinate to the previous qatal forms, but rather specifies
them by describing a custom:56 i.e., the faithlessness/profanation commit55. Two expressions of Gods reproach mention the divine Law:

hrw;tA;bMyI;brMR;tVlAvVkIh (2:8b)
and hrw;tA;bMynDpMyIaVcOnw (2:9d). The first means: ye have made the law to many a lwvVkIm, instead of the light of their way, through your example and through false teaching, as though
the law allowed or commanded things which in reality are sin; and the second: Battrah,
in the law, i.e., in the administration of the law, they act with partiality. For the fact itself
compare Mic. iii:11 (Keil, 447). See various opinions in Hill, 214-215, and 217-218.
56. In prose, the coordinate verb form of qatal is wayyiqtol, not weqatal; among other things,
this means that the so-called copulative, non-inversive waw is a ghost of BH syntax and
should disappear from our grammars (see, e.g., Joon-Muraoka 115c). Both qatal (actually x-qatal) and weqatal occur in the course of a narrative as off-line verb forms. Between
the two, there is a difference in aspect: x-qatal indicates a single event or state while weqatal
indicates a repeated or habitual event or state. For more information see my Syntax of the
Verb 78, 157.

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ted by Judah/Israel consists in the fact that people usually marry the
daughter of a foreign god.
Two peculiar phrases are found here. One is the sanctity of the Lord
(hwhyvdOq, 2:11c), that could indicate the Temple, Israel, or the sanctity of
God himself; the other is the daughter of a foreign god, that is used to
designate a non-Jewish woman (2:11d).57 In the light of what follows (see
the offspring of God, 2:15d), the meaning Israel, the sons of the one
Father (2:10), seems preferable.58 Indeed, Judah/Israel is the people whom
he loves.59 In this perspective, also the designation daughter of a foreign god becomes significant, i.e., a woman belonging to a people that
adores a god different from the Lord.
Although it is commonly translated with simple future, first-place
yiqtol trVky (2:12a), rightly vocalized as jussive, expresses purpose (see 1:4b
and 1:5c above); lit. in order that the Lord may cut off. Since this consequence is obviously not intended by those who marry non-Jewish women
but by God, the volitive form may indicate that the consequence is unavoidable, i.e., only to the effect of letting God cut off.
The order of the complements governed by trVky would be unusual in
prose but is understandable in poetry, where parallel pieces of information
are distributed in subsequent lines (see 1.2 above). The order is as follows: verb + subject + indirect complement in 2:12a; first direct complement (hnOowrEo) + indirect complement in 2:12b, second direct complement
(hDjnImvygAmw, parallel to the first) + indirect complement in 2:12c. Thus the
MT is in order and needs no corrections. However, the fact that in 2:12a
the indirect complement follows the direct one has caused misunderstanding among the interpreters.60
57. This problem is delineated in Ezra 9-10; see Rashi (Rosenberg, Mikraoth Gedoloth, 409).
58. Compare Rashi: For Judah has profanedhimself, who was the holy one of the Lord,

the first of His grain.[ quoting Jer. 2:3] (Rosenberg,Mikraoth Gedoloth, 409). See
further Hill, 230.
59. On the (unlikely) correction adopted by D.L Petersen, Haggai and Zechariah 1-8. A
Commentary, London 1984, 194ar(h) ahb He [i.e., Judah] loves Asherah, instead
of the MT bEhDa rRvSa, see a critique by Hill, 231. The latter scholar, though, takes rRvSa as a
conjunction, i.e., for Yehud [i.e., the name of the province of Palestine during the Persian
period] has profaned the holiness of Yahweh, because he loved and married the daughter of
a strange El. The expression rDkn lEa_tA;b (2:11d) designates a goddess according to M.A.
Shields, Syncretism and Divorce in Malachi 2,10-16, ZAW 111 (1999) 68-86 (pp. 72-73).
60. Direct object of Gods punishment is the descendant of the sinner rather than the sinner
himself. Thus Rabbi Kara: To the one who will do such a sin, God, blessed be He, will cut
off to him any son and answerer (hnwow Nb) from the tents of Jacob (Rosenberg, Mikraoth
Gedoloth, 409, Hebrew). Similarly Keil, 450-451; contrast Verhoef, 270-272, and Hill, 23324. Also see Barthlemy, Critique textuelle, 1029.

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The expression hnOowrEo (2:12b) consists of two participles, lit. one who
is awake and one who answers. While the exact meaning is obscure, the
basic idea should be that God will destroy any living offspring of the sinner,61 and any descendant who presents an offering to the Lord of hosts,
i.e., any one who might offer a sacrifice for him in expiation of his sin
(cf. Keil, 451). Because the expression presenting an offering (hDjnImyEvygAm)
in 3:3d refers to the priests, the two designations one who is awake and
one who answers (2:12b) and who presents an offering to the Lord of
hosts (2:12c) seem to suggest that the unit 2:10-16 is destined to the
people in general as well as to the priests in particular.
The expression wcSoA;ttynEvtazw (2:13a), a waw-x-yiqtol construction, emphasizes the x element placed before the verb, i.e., Further, this second
thing you shall do. This sentence continues 2:10c, also set in the future;62
however a new accusation, which one expects after the introduction 2:13a,
only occurs in 2:14b-d, included in the answer of the Lord to a question of
the addressees in 2:14a.63 The reason for this sequence is that before formulating a new accusationunfaithfulness toward ones wife (2:14b-d)the
prophet describes the consequences of this new unfaithfulness: people shall
61. Thus Radak, echoing older traditions: He will not have living offspring (Rosenberg,

Mikraoth Gedoloth, 409). The rendering of the Vulgate magistrum et discipulum reflects
the following Jewish interpretation: Redak and extant editions of the Talmud (Sanh. 82a)
read: an ingenious one among the sages and a student who knows the answer. rEoAn expression of an ingenious person [Rashi] (Rosenberg, Mikraoth Gedoloth, 409). Strangely
enough, the reverse identificationdisciple and master instead of master and disciple
occurs in Mezudath David: ro is a diligent disciple who arises to ask his master about his
doubts, hnwow is the sage who answers (ibid., Hebrew). See various emendations and interpretations in Keil, 449-450, Barthlemy, Critique textuelle, 1027-1029, and Hill, 234-235.
Petersen, on his part, proposes a rather bold new reading of the text in accordance with his
Asherah hypothesis (see no. 59 above). He reads r wenh instead of MT hnOowrEo and
translates 2:12a-b as follows: May Yahweh cut off anyone from the tents of Jacob / who
does such a thinginvolving nakedness and improper cohabitation (see his comment on
pp. 194-195).
62. On the contrary, the LXX and the Vulgate interpret the verb forms as referring to the
axis of the past (a case of the ambiguity illustrated above; see comment on 1:4): kai tauvta,
a emisoun, epoieite: ekalu/ptete dakrusin to\ qusiasth/rion kuriou and these things
that I hate [reading a verb anc to hate, instead of tynEv second, or for the second time]
you were doing: you were covering with tears the altar of the Lord; et hoc rursum fecistis:
operiebatis lacrimis altare Domini and this again you did: you were covering with tears
the altar of the Lord. In any case, the correct tense to translate indicative x-yiqtol in the
axis of the past would be the imperfect, as in both instances of the LXX and in the second
of the Vulgate, rather then the simple past as in the first instance of the Vulgate.
63. Note that the question in 2:14a only consists of the syntactic predicate hDm_lAo (see comment on 1:7b above and 2:17b and 3:8c below). The implied subject can be recovered from
the context, i.e., Because of what [does this happen]?

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weep and sigh because God does not accept their offerings and ask for the
reason (2:13b-14a). Thus, the order of the exposition is reversed in the two
parallel passages: first accusation, then consequence in 2:10-12, vice versa,
first consequence, then accusation in 2:13-16. In this section the people of
Israel in general are addressed, rather than the priests alone.
The new accusation in 2:14b-dBecause the Lord has been witness
between you and the wife of your youth, / to whom you have been faithless (;hD;b hD;tdgD;bhD;tAarRvSa), / while she is your companion and the wife of
your covenant,64 refers to a similar accusation, with the same verb dgb, in
2:10c: Why then shall we be faithless (dgVbn) to one another?
Another similarity between the two passages consists in the term tyrV;b
covenant: wnyEtObSa tyrV;b the covenant of our fathers in 2:10d and tRvEa
KRtyrV;b the wife of your covenant in 2:14d. Significantly, a close relationship links the verb dgb and the term tyrV;b. Being unfaithful to one another,
the Israelitesthe sons of the one Father Godprofane the covenant
of their fathers (2:10); likewise, being unfaithful to the wife of their
youth, they break their covenant with her, a covenant to which God himself was the witness (2:14).
Although the translation of 2:15a-d given above is rather unprecedented, I think it does make sense. Further it has the advantage of interpreting the four instances of dDjRa as referring to the same entity.65 I would
paraphrase as follows: The One God who made you all is witness between
you and your legitimate wife; what he seeks is divine seed, i.e., descendants for Israel, his chosen people.66
64. G.P. Hugenberger, Marriage as Covenant. A Study of Biblical Law and Ethics Governing Marriage Developed from the Perspective of Malachi, Leiden - New York - Kln 1994,
defends the traditional interpretation that marriage itself is a covenant between husband and
wife with God as witness against new interpretations that tend to deny this on the basis that,
first, marriage has not the structure of a covenant (see no. 49 above) and, second, that an
absolute exclusion of divorce in this passage would contradict the regulations of
Deuteronomy. See further no. 69 below.
65. Thus seems to interpret the Vulgate, though: Nonne unus fecit et residuum spiritus eius
est? Et quid unus quaerit nisi semen Dei? Hill is among the few modern interpreters who
adopt a similar solution (p. 246). On the position of the traditional Jewish interpreters, see
next footnote.
66. On the ancient versions of this difficult passage see Barthlemy, Critique textuelle,
1030. Among the disparate renderings attested, what the LXX has for 2:15c-d is noteworthy: kai eipate ti allo all h sperma zhtei oJ qeo/ And/but you said: What else does
God seek but a seed? In this case the Greek interpretation is close to what I propose, at
least as far as God is made the subject of the verb to seek while the object is the seed,
i.e., the offspring. Strangely enough, however, the LXX adds kai eipate, which has no
parallel in the MT, and thus puts these words in the mouth of the people. Traditional

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Syntactically, the expression wl Ajwr rDaVvw (2:15b) may be taken as coordinated to the previous sentence, as in the translation above, or as circumstantial to it: i.e., while the rest of the spirit belongs to him, and
therefore: to whom the rest of the spirit belongs. This expression has
been interpreted in different ways. In the light of the following instruction,
you shall take heed to your spirit (2:15e, 16e), i.e., beware of losing
your spirit (Keil, 453), the above phrase seems to mean that the rest of
ones spirit, i.e., the continuation of ones life, depends on God.
In 2:15e-f a tense shift occurs from weqatal to waw-x- lAa + yiqtol, i.e.,
from main line to off line. Weqatal resumes the main line of MR;trAmSaw in 2:14a
that introduces the peoples objection and the following answer from God
(2:14b-15d) and draws the conclusion, while dOgVby_lAaKyrwontRvEaVbw conveys
an off-line specification of the preceding weqatal. This is a syntactic way
of presenting the two ideas as strictly linked together, not simply as subsequent pieces of information. Above I have rendered this analysis as follows:
Therefore you shall take heed to your spirit, / indeed, to the wife of your
youth We also notice an abrupt change from the second-person-plural
pronounyou shall take heed your spirit your youth, to the third
person singular with a generic subject, or an impersonal verb formlet
none be faithless. This phenomenon is frequently corrected by interpreters but is not unparalleled in BH.67 In the translation above, however, I
adopted the third person in the phrase the wife of his youth in order to
have an expression acceptable in English.

Jewish interpreters take dDjRa as referring either to Adam and Eve who were created as one
being and from whom all living humans (the rest of the spirits) came, or to Abraham,
who did marry a foreign woman, Hagar, but had a different spirit, i.e., he did not seek
pleasure but only the seed of God (see Rosenberg, Mikraoth Gedoloth, 411). On his part,
Hugenberger, Marriage as Covenant, also sees in the term dDjRa a reference to the first couple
and a basis for intimating fidelity in marriage: Just as God made Adam and Eve to be one
in their marriage, the husband and wife of Malachis day must also recognize that God made
them to be one (p. 133). I would say that a reference to the original ideal established by
God for the human couple is justified even if dDjRa refers, as I think, to God himself (see no.
68 below).
67. As Keil, 453-454 aptly remarks: This interchange of thou (in wife of thy youth) and
he (in dOgVby) in the same clause appears very strange to our mode of thought and speech; but
it is not without analogy in Hebrew (e.g., in Isa. 1:29; cf. Ewald[s Hebrew grammar],
319, a), so that we have no right to alter dOgVby into dOgVbI;t, since the ancient versions and the
readings of certain codices do not furnish sufficient critical authority for such a change. The
subject in dOgVby is naturally thought of as indefinite: any one, men. Other opinions are listed
in Hill, 249.

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Thus, 2:15 reminds the unfaithful husbands that, on the one side, their
women enjoy equal dignity with them, and, on the other side, their own
life depends on a positive relationship with their legitimate wives.68
Two further motivations for the condemnation are givenone positive
and one negative. Positively, what God desires is the offspring of God
(2:15d), i.e., the persistence of the chosen people through lawful marriage;
negatively, he hates divorce (2:16a). Concerning 2:16a, anDc is a participle
functioning as the predicate and jA;lAv is an infinitive functioning as direct
object. The subject of the sentence is left unnamed but most probably God
is meant,69 and the implied subject is I because of the accompanying formula thus said the Lord the God of Israel.
While the pronominal suffix of wvwbVl_lAo in 2:16c clearly accords ad
sensum with the divorcing husband (jA;lAv, 16a), the subject of hD;sIkw is either

68. This reminds of Gen 6:3: Then the Lord said, My spirit shall not abide (Nwdy_al) in

man for ever, for he is but flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years. The
similarity with Malachi is based on the interpretation of Nwdy as will abide, remain, following the LXX (ouj mh\ katameinh) and the Vulgate (non permanebit). It is also based
on the fact that this divine decision concerning the span of human life is tied to some kind
of incorrect behavior concerning marriage; compare Gen 6:2 (although the exact meaning
of the phrase is rather obscure): The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair;
and they took to wife such of them as they chose (Gen 6:2). See my paper, Lo Spirito,
forza divina del creato, LA 50 (2000) 9-23 (pp. 15-16).
69. Other cases of God as the implicit subject are 2:13d-e. The Targum Jonathan gives a
different interpretation, which is followed by traditional Jewish commentators. With reference to a discussion in bGittin 90b, Rashi comments: Some of them [i.e., our Sages] say:
If you hate her [i.e., your wife], send her away with a bill of divorcement, so that she can
marry someone else (Rosenberg, Mikraoth Gedoloth, 412). Interestingly enough, a text
found at Qumran (4QXIIa) supports this interpretation. It reads as follows: jlC htnC Ma yk
but if you hate (her), send (her) away!: see R. Fuller, Text-Critical Problems in Malachi
2:10-16, JBL 110 (1991) 47-57 (pp. 50, 55). However, after comparing the different forms
of the Greek translation and the Vulgate, Fuller concludes that, despite its obscurity, the
MT is more original than the other forms of the text. On his part, Hugenberger, Marriage
as Covenant, after observing that the interpretation of 2:16 as contrary to divorce is not only
the traditional Christian approach but also one traditional Jewish approach (p. 62), explains this text as a relative, not absolute, prohibition of divorce. In his words, In summary, we may paraphrase Mal 2:16, If one hates and divorces [that is, if one divorces
merely on the ground of aversion] (p. 76). In my opinion, however, an interpretation of
the passage as an absolute prohibition of divorce is perfectly acceptable and the difficulties
listed by Hugenberger, Marriage as Covenant, 62-66, are not insurmountable. For instance,
the supposed incongruity of Mal 2:16 with Deut 24:1-4 disappears if one accepts the opinion of D. Volgger, Dtn 24,1-4 Ein Verbot von Wiederverheiratung?, BN 92 (1998) 8596. Indeed, this author makes it likely that Deut 24:1-4 concerns the engagement rather than
the actual marriage. His conclusion is as follows: Dtn 24,1-4 beinhaltet somit nich ein
Verbot von Wiederverheiratung vollgltig geschlossener und vollzogener Ehen, sondern ein
Verbot von Wiederaufnahme inchoativ geschlossener Ehen (p. 95).

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the husband himself, as in the translation above, or sDmDj, i.e., thus violence
shall cover his (i.e., the unfaithful husbands) garment.70 In fact the verb
hD;sI;k is attested with lAo + object and simple noun as an accusative of
means, i.e., to cover someone with something (cf. 2:13b; Ezek 24:7; Job
36:32); alternatively, the simple noun can function as the subject, i.e.,
something covers someone (cf. Num 16:33; compare Keil, 454).
2:16e-f repeats almost verbatim 2:15e-f. There are, however, two small
variations in 2:16f with respect to 2:15f: the negation is al instead of lAa
and the verb is in the second person plural instead of in the third generic.
According to normal use, wdOgVbIt alw is the negative counterpart of indicative weqatal, therefore: and you shall not be faithless, while dOgVby_lAa is the
negative counterpart of jussive yiqtol, therefore: let none be faithless.71
Looking back at this elusive unit, one discovers a remarkable compositional plan. It begins with a principle of faith: Have we not all one Father? / Has not one God created us? (2:10a-b), linked to an ethical
demand: Why then shall we be faithless (dgVbn) to one another, / to profane
the covenant of our fathers? (2:10c-d), both expressed with rhetorical
questions. It continues by denouncing Judahs unfaithfulness (hdgD;b) and
abomination (hDbEowt) consisting in profaning Gods people (the holiness of
the Lord) by marrying foreign wives (2:11). The unavoidable consequence
of this misbehavior is that God will wipe out the peoples descendants
(2:12). A second movement of thought (cf. this second thing you shall
do) begins with the announcement of a consequence, i.e., peoples lament
that God no longer accepts the offerings (2:13). Prepared by a question
from the people, a new divine denunciation follows concerning unfaithfulness (hD;tdgD;b) toward legitimate wives (2:14). The unit concludes with a restatement of the initial principle of faith: Yet has not the One (God) made
(you) / and the rest of the spirit is not his? / And what does the One (God)
seek? / The offspring of God! (2:15), meaning that not only God made
the people at the beginning but he also wants it to continue through correct

70. 4QXIIa has

wsky instead of hD;sIkw, a reading that, according to Fuller, Text-Critical Problems in Malachi 2:10-16, is unsupported by any other witnesses to the text [and] does
not make sense (p. 56).
71. Although the semantic difference may seem small to our understanding, it has to be respected because Biblical Hebrew is consistent in its use of the two constructions both in
their positive form (i.e., indicative weqatal and x-yiqtol, on one side, vs. jussive weyiqtol
and [x-] yiqtol, on the other) and in their negative counterpart (i.e., indicative al + longform yiqtol vs. jussive lAa + short-form yiqtol). See my Syntax of the Verb 57-65, and
my paper A Neglected Point of Hebrew Syntax: Yiqtol and Position in the Sentence, LA
37 (1987) 7-19.

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human generation. As in 2:10, the principle of faith is linked to an ethical


demand formulated as a warning that comprises a positive aspect: Therefore you shall take heed to your spirit (2:15e), parallel to Therefore you
shall take heed to your spirit (2:16e), and a negative aspect: and to the
wife of his youth let none be faithless (2:15f), parallel to and (you) shall
not be faithless (2:16f). In between these parallel phrases that frame the
sub-unit 2:15-16 as an inclusio, the reason for divine opposition is explicitly stated: For (I) hate divorce, / said the Lord the God of Israel (2:16ab), and the consequence of unfaithfulness is further spelled out by God:
thus he (i.e., the divorcing husband) shall cover his own garment with violence (2:16c-d).72

3.2.1. Mal 2:17-3:7b


A new section begins here with a sentence that is a new divine accusation
conveyed with the past verb form qatal like other cases in the first part (see
1:9b; 2:8a-c; 2:11a-c, 14c); its phrasing, however, resembles that of 3:13a.
Gods accusation reads as follows: You have wearied (MR;tVogwh) the Lord
with your words (2:17a).73 It seems that the addressees here are common
people who surrendered to discouragement, seeing the prosperity of the
impious.
The question in 2:17b consists of the syntactic predicate hD;mA;b and the
syntactic subject wnVogwh while the answer only consists of the syntactic
predicate MRkrDmTaR;b (as in 1:7c).74 What follows is governed by MRkrDmTaR;b and
constitutes the answer to a question that refers to the past: In what have
we wearied (wnVogwh) (him)? (2:17b); therefore, I have placed the passage in
the axis of the past although it contains three non-verbal sentences
(2:17c-e). From the point of view of interpretation, what wearied the Lord
72. Thus, the overall composition of the unit with its two parts (2:10-12 and 2:13-16) is

circular or chiastic: a) principle of faith and ethical demand, b) denunciation of unfaithfulness, c) consequence; c) consequence, b) denunciation, a) principle of faith and ethical
warning.
73. God seems to be the speaker here although he refers to himself in the third person (see
4.3 below). Similar cases of MR;tVogwh are found in Isa 43:23-24, especially the latter verse:
KyRtOnOwSoA;b ynA;tVogwh you (i.e., Israel) have wearied me with your iniquities. The full expression MRkyrVbdV;bhwhyMR;tVogwh is similar to Mal 3:13a: MRkyrVb;dyAlDowqzDj your words have been
harsh against me.
74. See no. 30 above. According to Polotskys analysis quoted there, the verb MR;tVogwh is the
new information and predicate in 2:17a while in 2:17b it becomes the known information
and the support or the subject of the new information.

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91

is the opinion that he positively accepts the evildoers, i.e., that he is amoral
or immoral, or, alternatively, that his judgment remains uncertain. In fact,
this should be the meaning of Where is the God of judgment?75
A participial non-verbal sentence headed by ynnIh in 3:1a introduces the
announcement of an impending divine intervention that will redress the
situation denounced until here. This kind of sentence is well attested for
this purpose, e.g., in the announcement of the plagues of Egypt (Exod 7:17,
27; 8:17; 9:3, 18; 10:4). The verb form used to continue this participial nonverbal sentence is weqatal, which actually appears in 3:1b and then seven
times in 3:3-5. As usual, weqatal constitutes the main line of communication in direct speech with reference to the future. The waw-x-yiqtol construction in 3:1c does not carry on the main line but rather expresses a
specification (secondary line); in this case, it emphasizes the adverb suddenly that precedes the verb. In other words, the fact that weqatal is
avoided in 3:1c serves the purpose of presenting the coming of God as
immediate, or sudden, rather than as simply sequential to the sending of
his messenger. Because weqatal is the leading verb form in the passage, the
participles of 3:2a-c are assigned to the axis of the future.76
The messenger that God will send, will prepare the way before the
Lord (3:1a-b, as in Is 40:3; 57:13 and 62:10). He will come unexpectedly
to his temple to be the Lord whom people have just been seeking (3:1cd; cf. 2:17e, Where is the God of Judgment? although hardly in good
faith).
Mal 3:1 poses a problem of identification concerning the messenger
and the Lord. In fact, God who speaks in the first person in 3:1a, shifts to
the third in 3:1d. This originates an ambiguity in 3:1d-e: Are the expressions the Lord whom you are seeking and the messenger of the covenant equivalent, or do they indicate two distinct persons? In grammatical
terms, is the messenger of the covenant a second subject of the verb will
come (3:1c), or is it part of the following sentence? As a consequence, are
we to translate with Keil, and the Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly
come to His temple, and the angel of the covenant, whom ye desire; be75. Similar questions implying doubt if not sheer negation of the question itself are, e.g.,

Judg 6:13; Jer 17:15; Joel 2:17; Mic 7:10; Psa 42:4, 11 and 79:10. Compare Rashis commentary: And so is the interpretation of the language of this verse: Every evildoer is good
in His sight; therefore, He causes them to prosper. Or, if this is not so, where is the God of
judgment, for He does not requite them (Rosenberg, Mikraoth Gedoloth, 413).
76. In fact, besides functioning as present tense when it belongs to the axis of the present,
the participle can also convey contemporary information in the axis of the future as well as
in that of the past; see, e.g., Joon-Muraoka 121j.

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hold he comes, and interpret the two as identical persons,77 or are we to


translate as I suggested above and interpret 3:1e as referring to the messenger as distinct from the Lord?
The latter alternative is preferable in my opinion because what follows
clearly characterizes the activity of the messenger (3:2c-3c) as distinct and
previous to that of the Lord (3:5-7). And since the identity between the
messenger and God cannot be understood as absolute but only as functional, there seems to be little justification for the first alternative.78
Thus, the two similar announcements AjElOv ynnIh (3:1a) and aDb_hnIh (3:1e)
both concern the messengerthe second resumes the first in order to
specify the mission of the messenger. Consequently, the order of the text is
as follows: a) announcement of the coming of the messenger (3:1a-b), b)
announcement of the coming of the Lord (3:1c-d), a) mission of the messenger (3:3:1e-4b), and b) judgment of the Lord (3:5-7). In the translation
above, I have rendered the resumption in 3:1e as: For his part, the messenger is about to come.
One problem remains in 3:1e: if the phrase the messenger of the covenant is not a second subject of the previous will come to his temple,
what is its function in the following sentence. Given the fact that the relative clause MyIxEpSj MR;tAa_rRvSa is an adjectival specification of the preceding
tyrV;bAh JKAaVlAmw and therefore together they represent one nominal element,
two possible analyses are feasible. First, the whole 3:1e constitutes a single
sentence with MyIxEpSj MR;tAa_rRvSa tyrV;bAh JKAaVlAmw as the subject, hnIh as the predicate, and aDb as a participle functioning as predicative complement of the
subject (see analysis of 3:2-3 below); second, MyIxEpSj MR;tAa_rRvSa tyrV;bAh JKAaVlAmw
does not belong the same sentence with aDb_hnIh but is put in front of it as
casus pendens (see 1:12b and 2:5b-c) while the subject of aDb_hnIh is implied,
lit., and as for the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, (he) is
about to come. Although both analyses are possible, the second one seems
preferable because it is attested in some clearer passages.79

77. According to Keil, though, this identity does not indeed exclude a distinction of person

(p. 458).
78. Differently, according to Hill, Both the context and the construction of Mal 3:1 indi-

cate that the two central characters of the verse, the angel of the covenant and the Lord, are
not to be identified with the forerunner messenger. Rather, the relationship of these two
characters (the angel/messenger of the covenant and The Lord) is the question (p. 265).
Also see Hillls long discussion on the passage. For the interpretations of some Jewish traditional commentators, see Rosenberg, Mikraoth Gedoloth, 413.
79. See Ezek 21:12: hDtyVhnwhDaDbhnIh Behold, (it, i.e., the already-mentioned report of an impending divine punishment) is about to come and will be fulfilled. The following passages

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93

In 3:2-3 three verbs of purifying appear in the following order: PrDxVm


(3:2c) - PrDxVm / rEhAfVmw (3:3a) - rAhIfw (3:3b) / q;qzw (3:3c). The participles
rEhAfVmwPrDxVm (3:3a) are used as substantives with adverbial force: as a refiner and purifier.80 In the translation of 3:3d I follow the original closely,
hqdVxI;bhDjnImyEvygAmhwhyAlwyDhw, they shall be for the Lord presenting an offering in justice, because the word order is peculiarhalf way between a
construction of possession (with hyh + lamed, to belong to somebody, and
the participle used as a noun, i.e., people who present) and the periphrastic construction (with hyh + participle).81
The messenger will prepare the way before the Lord who will come
to his temple (wlDkyEh_lRa). As a matter of fact, Gods voice is heard lDkyEhEm
while he is repaying his enemies (Is 66:6); he has come to judge all the
peoples wvdqlAkyEhEm (Mic 1:2); his day, wnRlyIkyyImw who shall be able to
endure it? (Joel 2:11); he will first destroy two thirds of his people and
will then refine them (i.e., the remaining third of his people) as one refines silver (PRsR;kAh_tRa POrVxI;k MyI;tVprVxw), and test them as gold is tested (Zech
13:8-9).
On the one side, the purification will affect the Levites and, as a consequence, they shall be for the Lord presenting an offering in justice (3:3d),
while earlier God accused them of presenting unsuitable offerings (2:8).82
On the other side, that purification will also have a beneficial repercussion
on the whole people: and (thus) the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will

are similar: Ezek 30:9; 37:11; Am 7:1, 4. The first analysis, i.e., subject + hnIh as predicate
+ participle as complement of the subject, is proposed by E. Knig, Syntax der hebrischen
Sprache, Leipzig 1897, 464, 349a, for Jer 10:22: hDaDb hnIh hDowmVv lwq The voice of a report, behold, is about to come, but others prefer to divide into two sentences, e.g., Hark,
a rumor! Behold, it comes! (RSV).
80. Cf. Gesenius-Kautzsch-Cowley 118r. In equivalent terms, the participles are used as
predicative complements of the subject; see Joon-Muraoka 126b. Differently, the Vulgate
takes the two participles as verbal predicative complements and thus interprets the phrase
not as a comparison but rather as a description: et sedebit conflans et emundans argentum. Similarly the LXX that, under the influence of 3:3c, inserts w as after the second
participle and also inserts a reference to gold: kai kaqieitai cwneu/wn kai kaqarizwn
w to\ argu/rion kai w to\ crusion and he will sit smelting and purifying as (it were)
silver and as (it were) gold. See discussion in Barthlemy, Critique textuelle, 1035.
81. The latter analysis is explicitly preferred by Keil, 459: that they may be offering to
Jehovah His sacrifice in righteousness. To this translation I would object, at least, that wyDhw,
being weqatal, that is an indicative verb form, expresses (non-volitive) consequence (and
thus they shall be) rather than (volitive) purpose (see no. 71 above).
82. Rabbi Kara aptly comments: Since he stated above (2:8): You corrupted the covenant
of the Levites, he states here that God will cure them, for He will purify the children of
Levi (Rosenberg, Mikraoth Gedoloth, 414).

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be pleasing to the Lord (3:4a), while earlier the people wept because God
would not accept their offerings (2:13).
In 3:5 God again speaks in the 1st person as in 3:1a. After the preparation done by his messenger (3:2-4), God intervenes personally: Then I will
draw near to you for judgment (fDpVvI;mAl) (3:5a), against those who previously asked: Where is the God of judgment (fDpVvI;mAh)? (2:17e), and in general against those who are addressed throughout the prophecy along with
the priests.
Gods judgment will concern well-known classes of sinners among the
people that are already condemned in the Law of Moses: sorcerers and adulterers, those who swear falsely and oppress the weak members of society
the widow, the orphan and the sojourner, and do not fear the Lord (3:5c-f).
The conjunction yI;k in 3:6a is linked to yI;tVbrqw (3:5a). God explains the
reason for coming to judge his people with two off-line sentences type xqatal (yItynDvalhwhyynSa, 3:6a) and waw-x-qatal (negative:albOqSoy_ynV;bMR;tAaw
MRtyIlVk, 3:6b) that underline a correlation between the two parts in the dispute:
God, for his part, did not change, i.e., remained faithful to his love for
Jacob (1:2) and his promise, and the people, for their part, did not perish,
according to divine promise, and still did not fulfill the condition of this
promise, i.e., to observe Gods commandments. According to the accusation,
this happened from the days of your fathers (3:7a), an expression that
seems equivalent to as in the days of old and as in former years (3:4b), i.e.,
from the very beginning of the people.83
Syntactically, 3:7a is a third off-line x-qatal sentence that specifies the
previous one (3:6b) by emphasizing the complement placed in front of the
verb (lit., it is from the days of your fathers that you have turned
aside), while the negative construction waw-al + qatal in 3:7b is coordinate to it being the negative counterpart of wayyiqtol.

3.2.2. Mal 3:7c-12


A new literary section starts here with an imperative followed by a
weyiqtol, a structure already found in 1:9a. Because the imperative and
83. It is not clear in the MT whether this reference to the fathers has a positive connota-

tion as in 3:24 (see comment below), or a negative one as in the LXX (which shows a partly
different text): () oujk apecesqe apo\ twn adikiwn twn paterwn uJmwn (but you, sons
of Jacob,) have not refrained from the iniquities of your fathers (3:6b-7a). On various interpretations of the expression from the days of your fathers see, e.g., Verhoef, 300-301,
and Hill, 298-299.

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95

weyiqtol are both volitive verb forms, the logical link between them is tight,
expressing purpose: Return to me, that I may return to you (3:7c).84
A second case of an idiomatic use of yiqtol for natural and habitual information (compare 1:6a) is found in 3:8a as part of a rhetorical question
that implies a negative answer: Will ever man be able to rob (oA;bVqySh) God,
or should ever man rob God? The folly of such an attempt is made clear
by Prov 22:22-23: Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, / or crush the
afflicted at the gate; / for the Lord will plead their cause / and despoil of
life those who despoil them (vRpnMRhyEoVbOq_tRaoAbqw).85
From the syntactic point of view, Gods questions in 3:8a are generic
and the particle _Sh renders the verb interrogative and forms a grammatical
unit with it without taking an extra place for itself in the sentence.86 Instead,
the peoples reported questions in 3:7e and 3:8c are specific and the interrogative pronoun hR;mA;b takes the first place of the sentence in both cases. The
interrogative pronoun represents the new information and is the predicate
because the sentence would be incomplete and tautological without it; in
other words, the resulting construction is an off-line x-qatal (see comment
on 1:6f-7c and 2:17b). In the answer to 3:8c, hDmwrV;tAhwrEcSoA;mAh (3:8d) are the
terms corresponding to hR;mA;b and as such they are also the predicate of the
sentence while the subject, i.e., the verb, is left out because it is the known
element.
The short answer of 3:8d is then explained in 3:9-12. In the two participial sentences in 3:9a-b, special emphasis falls on the two complements
placed at the beginning: with a curse, me The two sentences are semantically related as it appears from the explanation that follows: With a
curse you are being cursed because me you are robbing, i.e., the curse on
your harvest (see comment on 2:3a above) depends on the fact that you are
cheating me in the offerings. Grammatically, the phrase w;lU;k ywgAh (3:9b) is
an apposition to the subject that specifies the identity of the accused, i.e.,
the whole nation.
84. Zech 1:3 has the same text as Mal 3:7c-d: twaDbVxhwhyrAmDaMRkyElSabwvDawyAlEawbwv, the only

difference being that in Mal the volitive weyiqtol form is written with a paragogic he:

hDbwvDaw. Surprisingly enough, this exhortation comes together with a negative view of the
fathers of the people in Zechariah while in Malachi the fathers enjoy a positive consideration at least in certain passages (see comment on 3:24 below).
85. On various views on the root obq see Barthlemy, Critique textuelle, 1037-1038, and
Hill, 303-304.
86. This means that the sentence is not of type x-yiqtol but rather (interrogative) yiqtol-x.
However, since a sentence-initial yiqtol is jussive/volitive, an indicative yiqtol like the one
here could not occupy the first position without being governed by interrogative _Sh (or else
by negative al or lAa).

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A new imperative in 3:10a, parallel to that of 3:7c, carries on Gods


explanation. It is followed by two more volitive forms: a weyiqtol (3:10b)
and a waw + imperative (3:10c). The weyiqtol can be either coordinate to
the preceding imperative: Bring the full tithes and let there be food,
or subordinate to it: Bring the full tithes that there may be food
without significant difference.87 Gods argument continues after the formula
said the Lord of hosts of 3:10d (and also after that of 3:11d):88 and then
put me to the test herewith if I will not open, i.e., to see whether or
not, etc. (Keil, 464). The negative al + indicative yiqtol construction in
3:10e corresponds, in the positive, to weqatal; in fact these two constructions alternate in 3:10e-11c, and 12a.89 Semantically, the last weqatal announces as a conclusion the reaction of the peoples to Gods blessings:
Then (or, Thus) all nations will call you blessed. (3:12a). Gods promise concludes with a causal clause headed by yI;k that summarizes the argument. In its formulation the personal pronoun MR;tAa is inserted, in order to
emphasizes the subject although it is grammatically unnecessary: for you,
even you Finally, the epithet XRpEj XrRa land of delight (3:12b) attributed to the sons of Jacob (3:6b) contrasts the one attributed to Esau
hDoVvr lwbg territory of wickedness (1:4e), as Gods love for Jacob
contrasts his hatred for Esau (1:2).90

87. For this structure imperative (volitive) weyiqtol see 1.2 above and comment on 1:9a
and 3:7c. No syntactic criteria are available to distinguish the coordinate from the subordinate
function; one has to decide through interpretation: see my Syntax of the Verb 159.
88. The formula said the Lord of hosts, with its variants (see comment on 1:2a above),
mostly occurs in the course of an argument, never at the beginning, not even in its complete
form twaDbVxhwhyrAmDahO;k (only found in 1:4c), and three times at the end (1:8e; 3:12c; 3:21d).
Here is the complete list of the formula in all its variants as occurring in the various units
(the numbers in parentheses identify the ten units of the prophecy, subdivided into two parts
as indicated above, while the sign + connects the occurrences within the same unit): (1.1)
1:2a + 4c; (1.2) 1:6d + 8e; (1:3) 1:9d + 10d + 11f + 13c + 13g + 14d; (1.4) 2:2d + 4c + 8d;
(1.5) 2:16b + 16d; (2.1) 3:1f + 5g; (2.2) 3:7d + 10d + 11d + 12c; (2.3) 3:13b + 17a; (2.4)
3:19d + 21d. The last unit (2.5) has no such formula.
89. V.A. Hurowitz, lka in Malachi 3:11Caterpillar, JBL 121 (2000) 237-330, maintains,
on the basis of Akkadian, that the term lEkOa in 3:11a is not a general name for unspecified
pests or even locusts, but designates a specific stage in the metamorphosis of insects and in
particular a larva or a caterpillar (p. 330).
90. On other Biblical texts on Esau/Edom see, e.g., Verhoef, 202; Weyde, Prophecy and
Teaching, 77-80; and J.D. Nogalski, The Day(s) of YHWH in the Book of the Twelve,
in: Society of Biblical Literature 1999 Seminar Papers, Atlanta (GA) 1999, 617-642, (pp.
635-641). Little is known of the history of Edom in Persian times; see, e.g., J.R. Bartlett,
Edom (Place), Anchor Bible Dictionary II (1992) 287-295, esp. 293-294. Full bibliography is found in Meinhold, 19-21; also see his discussion in pp. 35-38.

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97

3.2.3. Mal 3:13-18


A new section begins with a fresh divine accusation (3:13a) that resembles
the one found at the beginning the second part of Malachi (2:17a). The
accusation itself is also similar as it concerns in both cases popular discouragement in the midst of a difficult situation. In fact, two opposite groups
of people are portrayed. On the one side, those who conversed among
themselves against God (KyRlDo wnrA;bdn_hAm); on the other side, those who
feared the Lord, or those who value his name, who also conversed with
one another (wrV;bdn, 3:16a). The first group complained of the fact that
there was no advantage in serving the Lord and were therefore proclaiming blessed the arrogant and the evildoers who prosper (3:13c-15).91 What
the second group actually said is not mentioned but obviously they expressed faith and hope in Gods promise.92
As in 2:17a, Gods accusation refers to the pastYour words have
been harsh (wqzDj, 3:13a)and is followed by an objection of the people
reported by God himself as future (with MR;trAmSaw, 3:13c). However, its contents comprises both past (x-qatal constructions in 3:13c, 14c, 15b-c; initial qatal in 3:14a) and present tenses (non-verbal sentences in 3:14a, 14b,
15a). The two x-qatal constructions in 3:15b-c are off-line verb forms emphasizing the two particles Mg that establish a correlation between the two
91. There is a certain discussion among the interpreters on whether actually two different

groups are speaking here or only one; the former opinion is preferable: see, e.g., Smith, 338,
and Verhoef, 319-320. It seems probable that the two groups reflect the socio-religious situation in Judah under Persian domination, with two distinct partiesthe returnees and the
non-exiled Judaeans, the first being the rebellious people outlined here and the second
those who feared the Lord. On the socio-religious situation at the times of Malachi, also
consult J. Kessler, The Book of Haggai. Prophecy and Society in Early Persian Yehud,
Leiden - Boston - Kln 2002, 262-263.
92. S.D. Snyman, A Structural Approach to Malachi 3:13-21, OTE 9 (1996) 486-494,
correctly recognizes that two groups of people are speaking in this passage (see previous
footnote). In his opinion, they alternate as speakers as follows: 3:13-14 righteous people;
3:15 evil people; 3:16 righteous people; 3:17 righteous people; 3:19 evil people;
and 3:20-21 righteous people (see structured text in pp. 487-488). However, there is no
indication in the text to justify a change of speakers in 3:15 with regard to 3:13-14; on the
contrary, hD;tAow in 3:15a introduces a conclusion drawn by the same speakers of 3:13-14. A
real change takes place in 3:16, where the group of those who feared the Lord is mentioned, while the group speaking in 3:13-15 is not explicitly qualified here. Both groups are
mentioned again later, and their opposite fate is announced, as those who fear the Lord
and those who value his name (3:16d), and as the arrogant and all the evildoers (3:19b),
respectively. Thus, the two groups epitomize the opposite pair qy;dAx - oDvr righteous wicked characteristic of Biblical wisdom tradition as well as the other pair MyIhlTadEbOo wdDbSoalrRvSa one who serves God - one who did not serve him (3:18).

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sentences. Above, I have rendered this correlation with not only but
also
The conversation of the second group is presented as a reaction to the
remarks of the first group as the introduction shows: wrV;bdnzDa Then (they)
conversed (3:16a).93 Coordinate to this by means of two continuation
wayyiqtol (bEvVqyw and bEtD;kyw, which continue wrV;bdnzDa of 3:16a), there follows
the reaction of God himself, who accords special attention to them and a
book of remembrance was written before him / concerning those [or, for
those] who fear the Lord and value his name (3:16b-d).94
Gods future action toward the pious is expressed with two weqatal
forms that make it a consequence of 3:16 (probably spoken by the prophet:
see 4.3 below): hD;lgVs yIl wyDhw thus they shall be for me as (my) special possession (3:17a-b), and MRhyElSoyI;tVlAmDjw I will have compassion on
them (3:17c) like a father (cf. 1:6a; 2:10a) will (always) be compassionate (lOmVjy) on his son (for this value of yiqtol compare 2:7a-b). Note that
hD;lgVs is linked to yIlwyDhw as predicative complement,95 while the phrase
hRcOoynSarRvSaMwyAl on the day when I am about to act is added as a temporal specification.96 As in 2:12a-c, the order of the complements is rather
unusual in prose but understandable in poetry.
The fate of the wicked is not mentioned but it is easily inferred from
the consequence that is drawn for everybody, again with weqatal: Then
you shall again distinguish (MRtyIarwMR;tVbAvw) between the righteous and the
wicked, / between one who serves God and one who did not serve him
(3:18). Note in this expression the hendiadys you shall return and you
shall distinguish with an adverbial use of the verb bwv meaning again
(see 1:4b above). This will become possible once the wicked are condemned (3:19) and the righteous vindicated (3:20-21).

93. The LXX has: tauvta katelalhsan oi fobou/menoi to\n ku/rion These words (i.e.,
3:14-15) spoke perversely those who feared the Lord. Thus the LXX eliminates any distinction in the people (see nos. 91 and 92 above) and makes it as a whole rebellious.
94. Such book of remembrance written before God reflects a custom of the Ancient Near
Eastern kings (cf. Est 6:1; Dan 7:10; Ezra 4:15; cf. Est 2:23). It is not clear whether the
meaning of the expression wmVvyEbVvOjVlwhwhyyEaryVl is concerning or for those who fear the
Lord. The first possibility would suggest a book with a list of names while the second a
book of instruction. See discussion in Nogalski, Redactional Processes in the Book of the
Twelve, 207-209, and critical remarks by Hill, 340.
95. Or complement of the predicate: Joon-Muraoka 125w.
96. For this analysis of the sentence and for the temporal value of lamed in MwyAl, see Keil,
467. Both the LXX and the Vulgate agree with this analysis.

POETIC SYNTAX AND INTERPRETATION OF MALACHI

99

Thus, one appreciates the role of the two temporal expressions on the
day when I am about to act (3:17b and 3:21c, with preposition lamed in
the first case, with beth in the second) that link the units 3:13-18 and 3:1921. One should further notice that 3:18 represents the divine reply to the
peoples objections above: Every one who does evil is good in the sight
of the Lord, / and in them he delights; / Or, Where is the God of judgment? (2:17c-e).

3.2.4. Mal 3:19-21 (Engl. 4:1-3)


On the one side, 3:19 is introduced by an explicative conjunction that links
it to the previous unit; on the other, the clause aD;b MwyAh hnIh_yI;k For behold,
the day is about to come (3:19a; cf. 3:19c) recalls announcements with
hnIh in 3:1a and in 3:23a. That is why 3:19 is taken to begin a new unit,
though tightly linked to previous context.
God announces here that his judgment of the impious as well as of the
pious is to take place in a specific day that is about to come, equivalent
to the prophetic day of the Lord (3:23b).97 As a consequence, all the
arrogant who were earlier declared blessed by the unfaithful (3:15a),
and all the evildoers who, according to the same people, have been
built up have put God to the test and escaped (3:15b-c), will be
stubble, / the day that is coming shall devour them (3:19b-c).
The expression it (i.e., that day) will leave them neither root nor
branch (PnDowvrOvMRhDlbOzSoy_al) (3:19e) is formulated with the technique of
merismus, which consists on naming the extremes to indicate totality, in a
way similar to Am 2:9: I destroyed his fruit above, and his roots beneath
(tAjD;tImwyDvrDvwlAoA;mImwyrIp).98 Compare Mal 2:12a-b: only to the effect of
letting God cut off, to the man who shall do this, / anyone who is awake
and answers (hnOowrEo). In the following lines, the opposite fate of those
who fear the name of God is further illustrated (3:20-21; see 3:16-17).
In this context we find peculiar or even unique expressions such as the
sun of righteousness (3:20a) and with a healer in its wings

97. On the subject consult Nogalski, The Day(s) of YHWH in the Book of the Twelve,

and R. Rendtorff, Der Tag Yhwhs im Zwlfprophetenbuch, in: E. Zenger (ed.), Wort
JHWHS, das geschah... (Hos 1,1). Studien zum Zwlfprophetenbuch, Freiburg etc. 2002,
1-12.
98. See, e.g., Keil, 468, and Hill, 348-349.

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(DhyRpnVkI;baEprAmw) (3:20b). For aEprAm, also spelled hEprAm, a healing, healer


coming from God, see Jer 8:15 (= 14:19) and 33:6.99
Another rare expression describing the irresistible force of the restored
people of God is taken from the animal kingdom: You shall go forth and
leap like calves of the stall, / and you shall tread down the wicked, / for
they will be ashes under the soles of your feet (Mal 3:20c-21b). A similar
image is attested in Mic 5:7-8 (Engl. 5:8-9): Then the remnant of Jacob
shall be among the nations, / in the midst of many peoples, / like a lion
(hyrAaV;k) among the beasts of the forest, / like a young lion (ryIpVkI;k) among
the flocks of sheep, / which, when it shall go through, shall tread down, /
and when it shall tear in pieces, there shall be none to deliver; / your hand
shall be lifted up over your adversaries, / and all your enemies shall be cut
off. Also compare Zech 10:3: and (the Lord) will make them (i.e., the
house of Judah) like his proud steed (wdwh swsV;k) in battle.100

3.2.5. Mal 3:22-24 (Engl. 4:4-6)


A new imperative, recalling the previous two in the second part of Malachi
(3:7c and 3:10a), introduces the concluding unit: Remember the law of my
servant Moses (3:22a).101 Indeed, the Law of Moses epitomizes all the obligations of the people of the covenant. From the point of view of composition, enough indications have been already provided by the text to show that
this unit is linked to the rest of the prophecy and constitutes an integral part
of it, not a later addition (see comment on 2:17a; 3:7a; 3:19).102

99. Various opinions on these rare expressions are listed in Hill, 349-352. The conception

of the sun with wings may well come from old-Egyptian mythology: see O. Keel, The Symbolism of the Biblical World: Ancient Near Eastern Iconography and the Book of Psalms,
New York 1978, 27-28.
100. See my essay, Un profeta tra oppressori e oppressi. Analisi esegetica del capitolo 2 di
Michea nel piano generale del libro, Jerusalem 1989, 49-51, 129-130.
101. Differently, in the LXX this verse comes at the end of the prophecy, i.e., the order is
as follows: TM 3:22 = LXX 3:24, TM 3:23-24 = LXX 3:22-23. The LXX order most likely
reflects an attempt to end the book on a less threatening note than in the MT (Verhoef,
169). The Vulgate follows the same order of the MT but begins chap. 4 with 3:19 of the
MT. In this it is followed by English translations.
102. However, Mal 3:22-24 [4:4-6] is usually considered secondary for a number of reasons: it supposedly lacks continuity with the preceding prophecy, dialogue characteristic of
Malachi is absent, and a dependence on Deuteronomy is assumed; see a presentation in
Verhoef, 163-164, and Hill, 26-33. More precisely, 3:22-24 [4:4-6] is regarded as an addition of a later redactor who intended to link Malachi to a larger Biblical corpus; see Verhoef,

POETIC SYNTAX AND INTERPRETATION OF MALACHI

101

Gods promise at the start of the second part is taken up again in the
conclusion. In fact, Elijah the prophet is in all probability the unnamed
messenger announced in 3:1.103 Indeed, a very similar phrase is used for
both: ayIbnAh hyIlEa tEa MRkDl AjElOv yIkOnDa hnIh (3:23a) versus yIkDaVlAmAjElOvynnIh
(3:1a).104 Further, the expression before the coming of (aw;bynVpIl) the great
and terrible day of the Lord105 / lest I will come (awbDa_NRp) and smite the
land with a curse (3:23b, 24c) echoes He will prepare the way before me
(ynDpVl), / and suddenly there will come (awby) to his temple / the Lord whom
you are seeking (3:1b-d).
The task of Elijah, which is described in 3:2-3 as the work of a refiner
of metals and of a fuller of cloths, is epitomized here as turning the hearts
of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers
(3:24a-b).106 The fathers are the Patriarchs who embody for their descendants an example of fidelity to the Lord; compare the reference to an ideal
past at the beginning of the nation in 3:4: and the offering of Judah and
337-338, and Hill, 363-366. Indeed, in recent years a good number of studies have been
devoted to the Book of the Twelve as a literary unit and to the import of Mal 3:22-24 in
the editorial process involved; see an overview in P.L. Redditt, Recent Research on the
Book of the Twelve as One Book, CR:BS 9 (2001) 47-80. Appropriate caution against
holistic approaches of this kind has been voiced by Floyd, Minor Prophets, 563, 579-580.
103. Various opinions on the identity of the messenger and Elijah are listed in Verhoef,
340-341, and the apocalyptic program of Malachi is outlined in Hill, 383-386.
104. Grammatically the two sentences are slightly different. In 3:1a hnIh is part of the sentenceit is the predicate while its pronominal suffix is the subject and the following participle is circumstantial to it; lit., Here I am while sending Instead, in 3:23a hnIh is not
part of the sentence grammatically because yIkOnDa is the subject and the following participle
is the predicate, and therefore the sentence is complete without hnIh. This particle, however,
plays a role in a pragmatic level as it makes the following sentence and its information particularly relevant for the moment of communication. Consult my Syntax of the Verb 6773.
105. Exactly the same phrase is found in Joel 3:4 [Engl. 2:31].
106. Mal 3:23-24 is rephrased in Sir 48:10 as follows: (Elijah,) you who are written down
as ready for the appointed time, / to calm the wrath before [the coming of the day of the
Lord?], / to turn the heart of the fathers to the sons (Mynb lo twba bl byvhl), / and to restore the tri[bes of Isra]el. The Greek translation of the last sentence is slightly different
with singular father and son instead of their plural forms: to turn the heart of the
father to the son (epistreyai kardian patro\ pro\ uion), / and to restore the tribes of
Jacob. In turn, the LXX of Mal 3:23 [3:24] is different from the MT and partly identical
with the Greek of Sir 48:10: o apokatasth/sei kardian patro\ pro\ uio\n kai
kardian anqrwpou pro\ to\n plhsion aujtouv who shall turn again the heart of the father to the son, and the heart of a man to his neighbor. Further, Mal 3:24 is quoted in Luke
1:17; see J. Lvque, Le portrait dlie dans lloge des Pres (Si 48,1-11), in: R.
Kuntzmann (ed.), Ce Dieu qui vient. Mlanges offerts en hommage Bernard Renaud,
Paris 1995, 215-229 (pp. 223-225).

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Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord / as in the days of old and as in


former years.107
In sum, the Lord will send Elijah the prophet with the task of bringing
the nation back to its origins and in full communion with its founders. On
this condition, the coming Lord will restore the nation, bring victory and
prosperity; otherwise, he would bring destruction to the land (3:24c).

4. Internal Coherence
4.1. The First Part1:2-2:16
The first part comprises five units: (1.1) 1:2-5, (1.2) 1:6-8, (1.3) 1:9-14,
(1.4) 2:1-9, (1.5) 2:10-16.108 It is characterized by a series of terms indicating family relationships (although some of them also occur in the second
part): verb bha to love (1:2, three times; 2:11); bDa father in the singular, said of human beings and of God (1:6, twice; 2:10), and twbDa in the
plural, said of the Patriarchs and of Levi (2:10; 3:7; 3:24, twice); NE;b son
107. See, e.g., Keil, 472, and Verhoef, 342-343.
108. Yet, there is broad agreement among the scholars that Malachi comprises six oracles:
1:2-5; 1:6-2:9; 2:10-16; 2:17-3:5; 3:6-12; 3:13-21 [4:3], besides a superscription (1:1) and
an appendix (3:22-24 [4:4-6]). According to Hugenberger, 23-25, the six oracles are six
disputations arranged in a concentric outline with 3:22-24 as closing exhortations that
summarize the main points of Malachi, while according to Th. Lescow, Dialogische
Strukturen in den Streitreden des Buches Maleachi, ZAW 102 (1990) 194-212, Malachi
originally comprised a series of prophetic teachings (Lehrgesprke, or Torot) which
were later transformed into disputation speeches (Streitreden). Without entering into details, I would note that, on the one side, the unit 1:6-2:9 is defensible because it starts with
a declaration of principle (1:6a: A son will honor his father) and is followed by two
parallel subunits each introduced by hD;tAow and now (1:9a and 2:1), a particle that serves to
draw consequences of the same principle; on the other side, however, the units 2:17-3:5 and
3:6-12 are less justified because 3:6a starts with a declaration introduced by the conjunction yI;k (for I the Lord did not change) that evidently makes it part of the previous unit
(note that the situation in 3:19a is different; see comment above). Besides, the above division in six oracles overlooks the linking function of a triple announcement introduced by
hnIh behold, i.e., 3:1a: Behold, I am about to send my messenger; 3:19a: For behold,
the day is about to come; and 3:23a: Behold, I am about to send you Elijah the prophet.
This announcement, on the one side, helps identify a second part in the oracle, different
from the first also for its characteristic calls to repentance (cf. 4.2 below); on the other
side, it casts doubts on the rather common assumption that 3:22-24 is a later addition. A
structure in two main parts1:6-2:16 and 2:17-3:24similar to the one I propose above
but with a different internal organization, is given by Floyd, Minor Prophets, 561-572.
Floyd also maintains that the material in 3:22-24 not only forms an integral part of the
final unit but also leads the thematic development of the book to its climax (p. 571).

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103

both toward God and a human father (1:6; 3:3, 6, 17; 3:24, twice); and jDa
brother (1:2; 2:10).
The first part is enveloped by two rhetorical questions that match one
another: bOqSoyVl wDcEo jDa_awlSh Was not Esau Jacobs brother? (1:2c) and
wnD;lUkVl dDjRa bDa awlSh Have we not all one Father? (2:10a). Thus the two
external units of the first part (1.1 and 1.5) parallel one another and constitute major starting points for the divine/prophetic argument together with
1:6a-c: A son will honor his father (bDa dE;bAkyNE;b), and a servant his master.
/ If then I am a father, where is my honor (ydwbVkhyAaynDabDa_MIaw)? / And if I
am a master, where is my fear?
The key idea that God intends to convey is his fatherly love, to which
his sons, both the priests and the people in general, have been ungrateful.
This love requests, on the one side, respect toward the divine Father (1:6)
and, on the other, respect toward the brothers, i.e., all the members of the
nation (2:10). The first request, for both priests and common people, consists in presenting the various offerings exactly as prescribed in the Law of
Moses (1:6-8; 1:9-14; 2:1-9); the second, again for both priests and common people, in behaving properly in family matters (2:10-16).

4.2. The Second Part2:17-3:24 (Engl. 2:17-4:6)


The second part also comprises five units as the first, i.e., (2.1) 2:17-3:7b,
(2.2) 3:7c-12, (2.3) 3:13-18, (2.4) 3:19-21 (Engl. 4:1-3), and (2.5) 3:22-24
(Engl. 4:4-6).
On the one side, 2:17 conveys a new divine accusation that continues
in the same style of the first part; on the other side, however, it opens the
second part (see 3.2.1 above). What follows is an announcement of the
sending of a messenger by God. Indeed, the second part begins and ends
with an announcement that sounds very similar: AjElOvynnIh (3:1a) and
AjElOvyIkOnDahnIh (3:23a). This compositional feature makes the second part
similar to the first, which, on its turn, is enveloped by two rhetorical questions (1:2c and 2:10a; see 4.1 above).
The fact that an announcement of judgment follows in 3:5 after a bright
promise in 3:3d-4 and parallel to it, suggests that promise and condemnation go together in the day of the Lord. Indeed, this is what we observe by
looking at the development of the prophecy until the end.
Thanks to the purification brought about by Gods messenger, the
priests shall again present offerings in justice (3:3d-4). Then God himself
will come and judge all kinds of sinners (3:5-7b). An imperative in 3:7c

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starts a new unit comprising a series of motifs: divine call to conversion


(3:7c-d), peoples objection and Gods reply (3:7e-9), second call to conversion literarily connected with the first (the argument is tithes and offerings in both 3:8d and 3:10a), and finally promise of blessing in case of
obedience to the divine call (3:10-12blessing instead of cursing, contrasting 1:14 and 2:2).
A new unit begins in 3:13 comprising a new series of motifs: divine
accusation (3:13a, with qatal like 2:17, recalling 1:14, i.e., cheating God in
the offerings), peoples objection (3:13c), Gods reply that contrasts a conversation among unbelieving people (3:14-15) and one among those who
feared the Lord (3:16). The unit closes with promises for the latter group:
they will again be Gods special possession (3:17a-b), God will have
compassion on them as a father on his obedient son (3:17c-d; compare God
as Father of the nation in 1:6 an 2:10), and the unbelievers will see again
the difference between the righteous and the wicked (3:18, contrasting
2:17).
A second announcement of the day of judgment is found in 3:19a (recalling that of 3:1) and its consequences are summarized: destruction for
those who are impious and victory over their enemies for those who fear
the Lord (3:19b-21).
A new divine call is heard in 3:22: Remember the Law of my servant
Moses, which is probably connected with the announcement in 3:23a as
follows: Remember the Law of Moses (For) behold (hnIh), I am about
to send Elijah; compare, explicitly in 3:19a: For behold (hnIh_yI;k), the
day is about to come). Together with similar instances in 3:7c (Return
to me!) and 3:10a (Bring the full tithes!), these calls to repentance
are characteristic of the second part in contrast with a much harsher language in the first part. Another characteristic of the second part is a distinction in the people between unbelievers, or those who have lost their
hope, and believers, who have remained strong in their faith despite the
turbulent situation they live. Instead, in the first part the people as a whole
are reprimanded for being corrupt, along with the priests.
A third announcement closely related to that of 3:1 concludes the prophecy (3:23). The short unit 3:22-24 makes it clear that the sending of a messenger, here identified as Elijah the prophet, happens before the coming
of the great and terrible day of the Lord (3:23) and that his task will consist
in implementing reunion and conversion in the people. The last sentence,
lest I come and smite the land with a curse (3:24c) looks back to the expression before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord (3:23b)
and thus epitomizes the development of these eschatological events.

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105

4.3. God the Speaker


The formula said the Lord, with its variants, occurring 25x in a prophecy of 55 verses leaves no doubts as to who is the main speaker in
Malachi.109 Most of the times God speaks in the first person; sometimes
also in the third. For instance, in 1:9a and 1:9c God is referred to in the
third person although the formula said the Lord of hosts in 1:9d explicitly makes him the speaker, and indeed from 1:10a onwards he speaks directly in the first person. Similar cases are 1:14b (third person) vs. 1:14c
and 1:14e (first person), and 2:17a (third person) vs. 3:1 (first person) vs.
3:3d-4 (again third person) vs. 3:5 ff. (again first person).
In two cases only, 2:10-15 and 3:16, the speaker is most likely the
prophet. As for the first case, the voice in 2:10-15 that speaks in the first
person plural is most probably that of the prophet, who acts as the spokesman of his people. In 2:16, however, God becomes the speaker as is shown
by the formula said the Lord the God of Israel, although no grammatical
signs are present to mark this change. Indeed, God continues the argument
of the prophet and thus reveals a perfect consonance with his voice. As for
the second case, from 3:5 until 3:15 God speaks in the first person; in 3:16
he is referred to in the third person in a way that makes it very likely that the
prophet is the speaker. Again, however, in 3:17 God resumes with the first
person and goes on in the same way until the end of the prophecy, except a
case of third person in 3:23b in the formula the day of the Lord.110

5. Verb forms in Malachi


I have classified all the verb forms and non-verbal constructions occurring
in the book of Malachi according to the three temporal axespresent, past
and future. This classification reflects my theory of BH and the conviction
that the verb system in poetry is not basically different from that of prose,
specifically from that of direct speech ( 1.2 above).
My interpretation of Malachi is based on the principle of the absolute
priority of the grammatical and syntactic structure of the text. Until the in-

109. On God as the subject of Malachis dialogues, see Verhoef, 180-181.


110. Because of this complex situation, I am rather reluctant to subscribe to Meinholds
clear-cut qualification as Gottesrede of the oracles at the beginning and end of the prophecy of Malachi (1:2-5; 1:6-2:9; and 3:6-12) and as Prophetenrede of those in the middle
(2:10-16; 2:17-3:5) (p. 33). In the meantime, we wait for his complete commentary.

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terpreter will not strive as much as he can to understand this structure, he


will run the risk of misinterpreting the text.
I will now summarize the functions of the verb forms and the non-verbal constructions occurring in Malachi on the basis of the syntactic commentary and interpretation given above.
The non-verbal constructions belonging to the axis of the present convey statements of general validity (1:6b-c; 1:10c, 11a-e, 14a-c, 14e; 2:10a,
14d, 15b), and also blasphemous quotes (2:17c-e), descriptions of behavior (1:12a-c; 2:9c-d; 2:15c-d, 16a) and of current events (2:1, 2h, 7c; 3:9ab; 3:15a).
In the axis of the past we find (sentence-initial) qatal and x-qatal
forms and also a few instances of their continuation form wayyiqtol (1:2d,
3b; 2:5b-c; 3:15c, 16b-c). Apart from the 25 cases of qatal in the formula
said the Lord with all its variants ( 4.3 above), the verb forms of the
past are used to recall earlier actions of God (1:2a, 2d-3b; 2:5a-b, 9a;
2:10b, 14b, 15a; 3:6a), of Levi (2:5c-6d) as well as a series of divine
accusations to the priests and the people (1:9b; 2:8a-c; 2:11a-c, 14c;
2:17a-b; 3:6b-7b; 3:13a, 13c; 3:14, 15b-16d). In contrast with (x-) qatal
and wayyiqtol forms that convey unique information, x-yiqtol and weqatal
occur in the axis of the past to provide habitual information, repetition,
custom, or description (1:8a-b; 2:11d). The non-verbal sentence is also
used in the axis of the past to communicate an event as contemporaneous
with the main event (1:8a-b).
In the axis of the future, indicative x-yiqtol and weqatal are used to
express future tense along with the volitive verb formsjussive yiqtol and
weyiqtol and imperative. The indicative verb forms expressing future tense
occur to announce an intervention of God (1:4d; 1:9c, 10e, 13f; 2:2e-f, 3b;
3:1c-d, 5a-b; 3:10e-11a; 3:17c; 3:24c), or of his messenger, and also to
communicate future objections of the addressees (introduced by MR;trAmSaw,
1:2b; 1:6f, 7b; 1:13a; 2:14a; 2:17b; 3:7e, 8c; 3:13c), reactions of different
subjects (1:4a, 4d-5b; 1:8d; 1:10b, 13b, 13d-e; 2:2a-b, 3d-4a; 2:10c, 13a,
15e, 16c, 16e-f; 3:3-4; 3:11b-c, 12a-b; 3:17-18; 3:19b-c, 20a-21b; 3:24a).
A special use of indicative x-yiqtol is to express a behavior that is natural
and expected (1:6a; 2:7a-b; 3:8a; 3:17d). The volitive forms communicate
intention or purpose of various subjects (1:4b, 5c; 1:8c; 1:10a; 2:12a), and
injunctions (2:15f; 3:7c, 10a-c; 3:22a). The non-verbal sentence with participle is used to express futurum instans (to be about to) and to introduce a series of sequential weqatal forms (2:3a; 3:1a; 3:19a; 3:23a).111 The
111. Cf. Gesenius-Kautzsch-Cowley 116p.

POETIC SYNTAX AND INTERPRETATION OF MALACHI

107

non-verbal sentence also occurs to indicate contemporaneity in the axis of


the future (2:13d-e; 3:2a-b; 3:21c).
The past activity of both the Lord and the Israelites outlined in 1:2-8
is the basis for a series of divine accusations against the people and the
priests throughout the prophecy. Every oracle is presented as delivered in
the past with the formula hwhyrAmDa said the Lord, as is always the case
in prophetic literature, although this qatal is usually taken as expressing
present tense.
The oracle switches from one temporal axis to the other according to
various situations and intention. The dynamics of the text and its meaning
result from the interplay of the various temporal axes.

Alviero Niccacci, ofm


Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Jerusalem

THE PRAYERS OF THE BOOKS OF MACCABEES


AND THE SHEMONE EZRE

F. Manns

According to 1 Macc 4,36-60, Judas, after his victory over Antiochus Epiphanes, went up with his brothers to Jerusalem where he purified the Temple and re-dedicated it with sacrifices on the 25th of Kislev. During eight
days of joy celebrations of the dedication continued, and it was decided that
every year a feast of eight days would commemorate the event. 2 Macc
10,1-8, which relates the same events, speaks of a Feast of Tents celebrated
on the 25th of Kislev. A comparison of both texts shows that their redactors
interpreted the memory of the events differently. The first book of Maccabees contains an apology of the holy war and is based upon the stability
of the Temple functions. A hereditary priesthood is established. The second Book of Maccabees starts with their clash with the prosperous priesthood and is more interested in the Law. Military victories are attributed to
Gods providence. Further, the permanence of the Temple is interpreted in
a different way. Outside of Judea, especially in Egypt, the rites of the feast
of Tents must affirm resistance to Hellenism.
Jewish tradition classified the books of Maccabees among the Apocrypha which were not integrated into the canon of Scriptures. Their historical
value remains nevertheless. Many prayers are included in these books; to
examine them is more than a simple historians curiosity. These prayers
have an advantage over more recent prayers; indeed, they have been dated.
In fact, they constitute the bridge between the biblical prayer of the Psalms
and the late prayer that crystallized in the siddurim. Besides, they are contemporary with the prayers of Qumran, although written in Greek. The research we undertake here consists of verifying first of all the vocabulary of
the prayers: does it correspond to that of the Psalms1 or not? Then we shall
examine whether the Sadducean and Pharisaic surroundings influenced the
prayer of Israel, in particular the prayer of the Shemone Ezre.

1. A. Minissale, Il lessico della Preghiera nel primo libro dei Salmi (1-41): compenetrazione dei diversi generi letterari, in R. Fabris (a cura di), Initium Sapientiae, Bologna 2000;
A. Enermalm-Ogawa, Prayers in Wartime: Thematic Tensions in 1 Maccabees, Studia
Theologica 49 (1995) 272-285.
LA 51 (2001) 109-132

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F. MANNS

The first Book of Maccabees, of Sadducean inspiration, uses the biblical theology of the holy war2. This reading of history specifies the role
of God, of his people and of the enemy. These three functions surface in
the collective laments. God who appeared in history is his peoples defender. The nations that assemble against Israel are Gods enemies. In
such a context the prayer of petition constitutes the dominant note of the
book3.
The horizon of the second Book of Maccabees, close to Pharisaism, is
slightly different4. The notion of holy history is no longer in evidence. The
author is witness of a drama in which the God of Israel brings victory. The
prayer of praise dominates. Gods mercy becomes the central theme to such
a point that the term eleos5 describes the meaning of salvation in 2
Macc 7,29.
However, prayers of the two books also present common points: the
request of Judas Maccabee before the confrontation with Nikanor is
identical in both of them6. A reminiscence of Salomons prayer is expressed in both books7, since the feast of the Dedication integrated this
memory. Finally allusions to the deliverance hymn of Exodus 15 are
common to both8. The paschal anamnesis present in the liturgy could
not be forgotten.

Methodology
Jewish prayer belongs to oral tradition. Its original form and its dating
remain the fundamental problems to be solved. R. Bloch proposed in
1955 a solid and relatively simple method consisting in comparing the

2. D.S. Williams, The Structure of 1 Maccabees (CBQ MS 31), Washington, D.C. 1999.
3. R. Salters, Searching for Pattern in Lamentations, Old Testament Essays 11 (1998) 93104.
4. J. Goldstein, Maccabees. II Maccabees. A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB 41A), New York 1983.
5. Eleos, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament abridged in one volume, Grand
Rapids 1985, 222; Elee, eleos, in C. Spicq, Notes de lexicographie notestamentaire.
Supplment, Gttingen 1982, 250-258. The term is frequent in the Psalms and translates the
concept of hesed. It is used in the prayer of the Gospel of Luke (Lk 1,50.54.72.78).
6. 1 Macc 3,38-45; 2Macc 8,8-15.
7. 1 Macc 4,54-56; 2Mac 10,6-7.
8. 1 Macc 4,9; 2Macc 15,22-24.

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themes present in the oral Jewish literature with the dated texts of
Qumran9, of the Ethiopian book of Enoch, of the book of Jubilees, the
texts of Flavius Josephus10 and Philo11. This comparison enables one to
fix the terminus a quo of the main themes present in the prayers whose
redaction is late.
It is permissible to compare the prayers of the books of Maccabees with
the Jewish prayer of the Shemone Ezre, because its content was fixed long
before the expressions were consolidated. A survey of the vocabulary and
style of the prayers of the books of Maccabees will allow us to undertake
this comparison.
It is true that 1 Macc is a book translated from Hebrew into Greek12,
while 2 Macc was written directly in Greek. It means that the first is conceived in a Palestinian perspective and the second is marked by the preoccupations of Jewish life in Diaspora. Greek texts of prayers, which can be
compared with other writings in Hebrew13, are well known. The passage of
a language to another includes minor changes. In fact, Hellenistic Judaism
had already shaped a language of prayer in the Septuagint14 and in other
Greek translations of Hebrew texts15.

9. R. Gmirkin, The War Scroll, the Hasidim and the Maccabean Conflict, in G. Marquis
- L. Schiffman - E. Tov - J.C. VanderKam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Fifty Years after Their
Discovery. Proceedings of the Jerusalem Congress, July 20-25, 1997, Jerusalem 2000, 486496; M. Avi-Yonah, The War of the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness and
Maccabean Warfare, IEJ 2 (1952) 1-5.
10. A. Enermalm-Ogawa, Josephuss Paraphrase of 1 Maccabees in Antiquities 12-13:
Prayer in a Narrative Context, in J.H. Charlesworth et alii (ed.), The Lords Prayer and
Other Prayer Texts from the Greco-Roman Era, Valley Forge 1994, 73-84.
11. R. Bloch, Note mthodologique pour ltude de la littrature rabbinique, RSR 43
(1955) 194-227; B. M. Bokser, Talmudic Form Criticism, JJS 31 (1980) 46-60; A.J.
Saldarini, Form Criticism of Rabbinic Literature, JBL 96 (1977) 237-274.
12. 1 Macc 8,1; 10,19; 11,44 uses the expression dunatoi ischui which translates the Hebrew gibbore hahayil. 2 Macc ignores it. 1 Macc 14,27 speaks of asaramel which is a transcription of the Hebrew haser am el.
13. P.W. van der Horst, Neglected Greek Evidence for Early Jewish Liturgical Prayer,
JSJ 29 (1998) 278-296.
14. S. Daniel, Recherches sur le vocabulaire du culte dans la Septante (tudes et
commentaires 61), Paris 1966; M. Cimosa, La preghiera nella Bibbia greca. Studi sul
vocabolario dei LXX (Collana Biblica), Roma 1992.
15. J.H.Charlesworth, Jewish Hymns, Odes, and Prayers (ca. 167 B.C.E. - 135 C.E.), in
R.A. Kraft et alii (ed.), Early Judaism and its Modern Interpreters (The Bible and Its Modern Interpreters SBL 2), Georgia - Pennsylvania 1986, 411-436.

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F. MANNS

The vocabulary of prayer is similar in both books of Maccabees16. Nevertheless only 1 Macc uses the verb krazein (9,46; 11,49) and humnein
(4,24; 13,47). 2 Macc prefers the terms euch (3,35; 15,26), euchesthai
(3,35; 9,13.20; 12,44; 15,27) and epikalein (3,31; 7,37; 8,2; 12,6.15.28.36;
13,10; 14,34.46; 15,21).
As far as the structure of the prayers is concerned one can notice that
the praise precedes and follows the demand. Another fixed element is the
alternation between the imperative of the second person and the imperative
of the third person, in consecutive relation. The biblical models such as the
penitential prayer of Dan 9, the prayer of Salomon of 1 Kings 8 and the
one of the Psalms must not be minimalized when one scrutinizes the structure of the prayers. As for the literary genre of these texts, we shall see that
they can vary.
We shall be reviewing the main prayers of the books of Maccabees. The
survey of the vocabulary, the structure and the thematic will enable us to
establish some ties with the prayer of the Shemone Ezre.

The Prayers of 1 Maccabees


1 Macc is close to Sadducean ideas17. The book was composed in Hebrew
toward the year 100 BC18. Its apologetic character is clear: as a whole the

16. C. Mohrmann, Les innovations smantiques dans le grec et le latin des chrtiens,
Humanitas 13-14 (1961-62) 322-335; A. Romeo, Il termine leiturgia nella grecit biblica,
in Festschrift L.C. Mohlberg, II, Rome 1948, 467-517; M. Harl, Y a-t-il une influence du
grec biblique sur la langue spirituelle des chrtiens?, in La Bible et les Pres, Strasbourg
1971, 243-263; A. Rose, Linfluence des Septante sur la tradition chrtienne. I. Le vocabulaire, II. Quelques passages psalmiques, Les questions liturgiques et paroissiales 46
(1965) 192-211, 284-301. Desis is used in 1 Macc 7,37; 11,49 and in 2 Macc 1,5; 10,27.
Proseuch is found in 1 Macc 3,46; 5,33; 7,37; 12,11 and in 2 Macc 1,23.24. Kraug is
present in 1 Macc 5,31 and in 2 Macc 12,37; 15,29. Ouranon is used frequently in both
books. Eleos is used in 1 Macc 2,57; 3,44; 4,24; 13,46; 16,3 and in 2 Macc 2,7; 4,37; 6,16;
7,23.29; 8,5.27. Hymnos is known in 1 Macc 4,33; 13,51 and in 2 Macc 1,30; 10,7.38;
12,37. The verb eulogein is used in 1 Macc 2,69; 4,24.25; 13,47; 2 Macc 3,30; 8,27; 10,38;
11,9; 12,41; 15,29.34. The verb szein is present in 1 Macc 2,44.59; 3,18; 4,9.11; 6,44;
9,9.21; 10,83; 11,48 and in 2 Macc 1,11; 2,17; 11,12.
17. The author has a clear idea about the Sabbath. Pious men prefer to be put to death rather
than violate the Sabbat (1 Macc 2,3-38). Matthatias and his men decide to fight if they are
attacked. Jonathan fights on the Sabbath (1 Macc 9,34.43-46). 1 Macc is in clear opposition
to the Pharisaic custom to observe the Sabbath even during fighting periods.
- He criticizes the pharisaic halaka of the cancellation of vows. Nazirs are not dispensed
from the vow they pledged (1 Macc 3,49-50).

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writing relates a military history19: the enemy is the stranger. The authors
partiality in favour of the Hasmoneans is a decisive factor; intention to
honour them is easy to detect. The utmost point of distress is the profanation of the Temple, the place of the peoples prayer, and the gathering of
the nations against Israel. The author inserts some prayers in contexts
where the readers, heirs of a common spiritual heritage, meet, be it about
the threatened Temple or the massive advance of the hostile army. The use
of the liturgical language implies the certainty that the present situation
echoes the past.
Composed in Hebrew20 1 Macc depends upon the historical books of
the Old Testament, in particular upon the books of Chronicles, which insert some prayers in the narration. Several modern authors have translated
the Greek text into Hebrew21. The Greek translator uses the expressions he
found in the already translated biblical books22. It is therefore legitimate to
bring the linguistic data of 1 Macc closer to the setting of the LXX, to
Judiths book, to the Psalms of Salomon and the texts of Qumran that are
contemporary.
The first two chapters of 1 Macc expose the political and religious reasons of the Maccabean insurrection and its programme. Having mentioned
the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes the author inserts in
- Priests are always presented in a favorable light. The adventures of Jason and Menelas,
the two bad priests, are ignored.
- For the purification of the Temple Judas chooses priests without defects and who observe
the Law (1 Macc 4,42). There is a criticism of other priests who are less serious.
- Priests are part of the government (1 Macc 12,6; 14,20). The covenant of the eternal priesthood (1 Macc 2,54) is underlined.
- Simon is called prince and high priest for ever till a prophet comes (1 Macc 14,41). The
final sentence is aimed at contenting the adversaries of the Sadducees.
- There is no sign of faith in resurrection where one could expect it (1 Macc 2,51 and 9,2022). The author knew the Book of Daniel as it appears from 1 Macc 2,59-60.
18. I.M. Gafni, On the Use of I Maccabees by Josephus Flavius, Zion 45 (1980) 81-95;
E.Z. Melamed, Josephus and Maccabees I: A Comparison, Eretz Israel 1 (1951) 122-130.
19. Enermalm-Ogawa, Prayers in Wartime.
20. Jerome witnesses in favor of a Hebrew original. J.A. Goldstein, I Maccabees, New
York 1976, 42. The example of 1 Macc 3,19 is interesting: Judas speaks (lalountos). Many
manuscripts read plrountos: Judas finished. The translator could have read the hebrew
memall instead of memmallel. Cf. P. Joon, Quelques hbrasmes de syntaxe dans le 1er
livre des Maccabes, Bib 3 (1922) 204-206.
21. C.F. Burney, An acrostic Poem in Praise of Judas Maccabeus, JTS 21 (1919) 319325 and G.O. Neuhaus, Studien zu den poetischen Stcken im 1 Makkaberbuch, Wrzburg
1974.
22. A. Kaminka, Quelques notes sur le premier livre des Maccabes, REJ 92 (1935) 181.

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F. MANNS

his narration a lament over the people in 1,25-28 and reads the episode in
the light of Israels history23. The expression of verse 25 kai egeneto translates the Hebrew wayehi. Exploiting the parallelism, these verses are characteristic of the Hebrew poetry. A literary inclusion shows the extension of
this lament: the name of Israel (v. 25) opens the literary unit and its synonym, Jacobs house (v. 28), finishes it. The mourning peoples terminology
correspond to that of Lam 5,11-13. The tribulation that follows the bridal
song is known in Jer 7,34 and Baruch 2,23. The situation that causes the
lament recalls that involving Nebuchadnezzar who destroyed the Temple
(Lam 1,10).
Another lament, also characterised by parallelisms24, grieves over the
state of the city after the construction of the citadel. It is inserted in 1,3640 and starts again with the expression kai egeneto25. Jerusalem and its
sanctuary are the object of the complaint. The contrast reaches its peak in
v. 40: To the equal of its glory increased its humiliation and its size
changed itself in mourning. The research of the paradox defines this passage. The expression a malevolent adversary (diabolon ponron) of v. 36
suggests that some Jewish collaborators played a role in the JudeoSeleucide conflict26. V. 37 mentions blood poured by the pagans who invaded the sanctuary. It is inspired by Ps 78(79),1-3. V. 39 describes the
desolated Temple (rmoth s ermos27), an expression that anticipates
the abomination of the desolation (bdelugma ermses28) of 1,54, taken
from Jer 41,22 and Dan 12,11. The profanation of the feasts and Sabbaths
is translated into facts by the edict of Antiochus in vv. 41-50.
Matthatias testament, inserted in 2,49-70, precedes Judas praise. The
literary genre of the testament is known elsewhere in the Bible: Gen 49 and
Josh 24 make the most of it. It is found also in the Targum of Gen 49 and
the testaments of the twelve Patriarchs29. Matthatias exhorts his sons to

23. The Narrative trend continues in v. 29.


24. Neuhaus, Studien, 32; R.A. Werline, Penitential prayer in Second Temple Judaism. The
development of a religious institution (SBL. Early Judaism and Its Literature 13), Atlanta,
GA 1998.
25. The expression is repeated twice in the same prayer.
26. 1 Macc 11,21 speaks in favor of this thesis.
27. The repetition of the root erem- stresses the motif of desolation.
28. It must be understood as a small altar (bmos) built upon the altar of the holocausts.
Cf. Josephus, AJ 12,5,4.
29. E. Corts, Los discursos de adis de Gn 49 a Jn 13-17. Pistas para la historia de un
gnero literario en la antigua literatura juda (Colectanea San Paciano 23), Barcelona 1976.

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observe the law with goodwill to divert Gods anger. The expression the
kingdom of arrogance of v. 49 is used also in the Blessing of the Minim.
Huperphania30 characterizes the adversaries of Israel in Sir 51,10 and in 3
Macc 2,2-20. It expresses a vice of the heart that appears in rough language
(Ps 17,10; Sir 23,8) and in acts (Deut 17,12). Insolent people despise their
neighbour and do not hesitate to harm him (Sir 11,30). Prov 3,34 had uttered the principle: God opposes the proud, but to the humble he gives his
favour.
The testament genre is familiar with the memorial of the Fathers: Remember the deeds operated by our Fathers. The zeal of Pinhas our father is praised in v. 54. He received the covenant of a holy priesthood for
he was filled with generosity for Gods cause. A long anamnesis, introduced by the imperative Remember yourselves in v. 51, celebrates the
history of Israel. The figures of Abraham, Joseph, Joshua, Caleb, David,
Elijah, Hananiah, Azariah, Misael and Daniel call to mind the merits of the
Fathers and their fidelity to the law. David in his mercy (en t eleei) got a
royal throne for ever (v. 57). The fourteenth blessing of the Shemone Ezre
uses this idea. The prayer is memorial of the history of salvation and finds
its inspiration in the Bible. God grants his protection to those who cling to
the covenant. The Hasmonean dynasty appears thus to be in continuity with
a long chain of righteous of whom it keeps the memory.
The exhortations uttered before the battle by those in charge31 are orchestrated in 3,18-22; 4,8-9; 9,10 and 9,44-45. They repeat the same message. It is God who gives victory to his people. Strength comes from him.
Opposition between the enemys insolence and Israel who combats for her
laws is remarkable. In 3,18 instead of the expression the God of heaven,
the best manuscripts do not have the word God. The heaven (Shamayim) is a Semitic expression to designate God32. In 4,10.24 and in 9,46
the formula to shout towards heaven appears in the same context. Two
exhortations come to an end with military engagements: the first does it
after a prayer associated to the speech, the second after an invitation to
pray. In 3,18 the author makes an allusion to 1 Sam 14,6 and in 4,8-9 the
experience of salvation of the Fathers delivered from Pharaohs army33 is
introduced by the imperative: Remind yourselves. The invitation to shout

30.
31.
32.
33.

Uperphania, in Spicq, Notes. Supplment, 644-649.


Many such exhortations are found in Qumran.
E. Urbach, The Sages, Jerusalem 1975, 69.
The theme is found in 1QM XI,9.

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reminds one of Josh 6,16. God will remember his covenant and will have
pity on his people. In 3,22 Judas expresses his conviction of Gods intervention: He Himself will crush. In 9,45 Jonathan reminds the warriors
that the battle is expecting them, the river Jordan is behind them and on
the left and right sides there are ponds. The same situation was found in
Ex 14 when God was fighting for his people. The purpose of these texts is
to recall that the Maccabees encouraged the people to pray and guided their
prayer.
The prayers preceding the battle pronounced by Judas (4,10-11; 4,3033; 7,41) and by Jonathan (9,46) include theological ideas. In 4,10-11 the
anamnesis of the covenant with the Fathers is introduced by the characteristic expression: He will remember34 known also in the first blessing of
the Shemone Ezre. The anamnesis of the covenant with the Fathers is
present in 2 Macc 1,2, in Ps 105(106),45 as well as in Ex 2,24. A similar
connection between the memory of this covenant and the act of salvation
is done frequently in Solomons Psalms35. The expression because he
wants us is of biblical origin: it goes back to Ps 17(18),19, 21(22),9, and
39(40),14. Tob 13,8 integrates it in the context of a hymn. Compassion is
associated with the demand to crush the hostile army, since every act of
salvation presupposes divine compassion36.
The prayer of 4,30-33 is the only one that opens up with a berakah:
You are blessed, Saviour of Israel. It enumerates Gods titles after the
formula of introduction and remembers the tenth blessing of the Shemone
Ezre. The praise includes two great victories won in the past by David and
Jonathan thanks to Gods comforting presence. The two verbs of the
laudatio: suntribein and paradidonai37 are the keywords of the Maccabees
conception of war. Paradidonai has a pejorative sense: the adversaries are
submitted to the judgement of Israel and are castigated. Israel is designated
as your people in 4,31 like in the fourteenth blessing of the Shemone
Ezre. The demand expressed in 4,31-33 is equivalent to the enemys defeat
and signifies a divine judgement. In 4,33 it becomes again praise on behalf
of those who know your name. This last expression takes us back to the
fourth blessing of the Shemone Ezre. The enemys defeat presented as humiliation is modelled on Ps 82(83),18. The demands are introduced in an

34.
35.
36.
37.

There is a variant in 7,37-38.


J. Schpphaus, Die Psalmen Salomos, Leiden 1977, 113.
The same link is found in the Psalms. See Ps 17(18),19; 21(22),9 and 69(70),2.
Paradidomi, in Spicq, Notes. Supplment, 504-515.

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asyndetic way, without a link with what precedes. The circular movement
of the prayer integrates the praise as an inclusion.
The prayer of 7,41-42 is a request of punishment for those who blaspheme. It opens with the memory of the past. The motive of the sacrileges
of 7,42 alludes to 2 Kings 19,6 where the servants of Sennacherib who
blasphemed God were punished by Gods angel. The Old Testament models clearly inspire the prayer. Verse 42c means that the defeat of the
Assyrians army is equivalent to Gods judgement for the blasphemy committed: Judge it according to its wickedness.
Chap. 7,41-42 sends back to 7,37-38 and is like a supplement required
by the discursive context. The prayer ends with an imperative: Judge it.
In the supplication one passes abruptly from the individual punishment of
Nikanor to the collective one38.
In 7,37 the supplication of the crying priests in the Temple, when
Nikanor utters his threats, goes back to the motive of the election of the
Temple: It is you who chose this house to put there your name. The Temple is a house of prayer and supplication for the people. Its function of communion between God and his people was already recognized in the great
prayer of Solomon of 1 Kings 8 and in Ps 131(132),13. In the sixteenth
blessing of the Shemone Ezre it appears again. The persistence of the expression confirms its liturgical use. The affirmation that God chose himself
(It is you) the Temple to be the place of his predilection has an emotional
dimension: bringing to mind the election contains a note of reproach. The
Greek personal pronoun su of the v. 52 insists on the accusation of the declaration. The demonstrative pronouns of vv. 37 and 38 underline the recourse to God that characterizes the prayer.
In chap. 7,38 the memorial expressed by the imperative: Remember
their blasphemies recalls Ps 136(137),7 and Lam 1,20-22. The verb to
remember translates the Hebrew zakar39 which means also to act upon.
The two imperatives of v. 38, one positive, the other negative, are connected by a kai.
The speech of mobilisation of 3,58-60 which belongs to the holy war
remembering Deut 20,5-9 and 1 QM XV,7 affirms that the success of the
war does not depend on human activities, but on Gods will: What heaven
wanted, it will accomplish. Again heaven designates God. This idea is
not foreign to the thirteenth blessing of the Shemone Ezre.

38. The same phenomenon is found in Psalm of Solomon 2.


39. Daniel, Recherches, 225-237.

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F. MANNS

Until now prayer had an aggressive dimension, even if it appealed to


Gods compassion. Three hymns are present nevertheless in the narration
of 1 Macc. In 4,24 the commentary of Judas victory indicates that the
Hallel song accompanied the return of the soldiers: He is good, his love is
eternal. Ps 118,1.29 and 136,1 are quoted here. The complement of
euloge is eis ouranon. Yahve is translated by heaven. The quote of the
Psalms brought the insertion of the word Lord in several manuscripts.
The theology of the song associated with the theme of the holy war is well
known in Judaism40.
In the context of the resumption of the sacrificial cult (4,55) the crowd
present in the Temple brings up praise of the one who had driven it towards
success: The whole people prostrated to worship, then he directed the
praise towards heaven (eulogsan eis ouranon) to the one who had driven
them to success. The prayer contains a bodily dimension. The dedication
of the altar is celebrated during eight days with sacrifices of thanksgiving
(thusian striou41) and of praises.
Finally in 13,47, Simon, after having purified the city of Gezer, entered
in it bringing up hymns of praises and blessings (hymnn kai eulogn). The
recourse to the participle is frequent to express praise.
Among the genuine prayers one must first of all mention the collective
lament of 3,50-53. While Judas and his brothers declared themselves ready
to coordinate the battle against the Seleucids, the community assembles to
get ready for the war and to pray. The meeting takes place in Mizpa where
the people gathered to pray previously according to the indications of Judg
20,18. The choice of the place of prayer is not indifferent. The Book of the
Law becomes the equivalent of the Ark of the Covenant. According to 2
Macc 8,23 the reading of the Law is followed by the order to fight. Fasting
and conventional gestures accompany the prayer. During the penitential
ceremony the priestly garments are brought. The nazirs are convened. 2
Kings 19,14 offers a similar example.
In 3,51 the expression to trample the holy courtyards comes from Is
63,18 as well as from Ps 78(79),1 and 73(74),7. The destruction and the
profanation of the Temple are associated. The verb katapatein becomes a
technical term for the profanation of the Temple and is inspired by Dan
8,13. The Psalm of Solomon 2,2 uses it to evoke the profanation of the
Temple and of the altar. In 3 Macc 2,18 the high priest prays turned toward
40. F. Manns, LIsral de Dieu, Jerusalem 1996, 131-149 (Une tradition juive dans les
commentaires du Cantique des Cantiques dOrigne).
41. Daniel, Recherches, 202-223.

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the Temple so that the pagans can not say: We trampled the house of holiness. The expression Beth qudshah is known in the Targum of the Pentateuch42. The orientation of the prayer toward Jerusalem or toward the
Temple is an old element known also in Qumran43.
The gathering of the peoples mentioned in 3,51 belongs to the biblical
theme of the Gentiles attack against Jerusalem. In the prophets this regrouping is followed by Gods direct intervention in the context of the holy
war. In the Psalms the gathering of the kings is an expression of praise to
God who saves his Messiah (Ps 2,2; 47[48],5).
The profusion of questions permits one to specify the literary genre of
the text. Different from other prayers of lament, this one doesnt contain
any confession of sins and it neglects to recognize God who is just. However it is God in fact who is the dominant actor. In v. 51 the Temple and its
priests experience a situation of distress. V. 52 affirms that God knows the
enemys intentions. He is the active protagonist, while the implorers are
static. The enemys role is to make them understand the importance of imploring. The sound of the trumpets and the screams evoke the capture of
Jericho, where God alone gave the victory. This motive is not foreign to
the tenth blessing of the Shemone Ezre.
Judas blessing, pronounced in 1 Macc 4,30 as he sees the dangerous
army of Lysias, starts with the biblical formula eulogtos ei44. The interest
of this berakah lies in its form: the second person is a development of the
biblical formula: baruk Yhwh of 1 Chron 19,10 and Ps 119,12. The prayer
of 4,30-33 starts and ends up in praise. The formula You are blessed Saviour of Israel, you that broke is less specific than that of Tob 3,11 and the
blessing of the three children. 2 Macc 1,17 and 15,34 are two berakot connected by experiences of delivery.
The term Saviour recalls the book of Judges where the verb szein45
has seven times Israel as its complement. 1 Macc 4,11, also influenced by
the holy war theology, associates Israel with the experience of salvation.
The remembrance of the giant whose strength was broken by David and of
the Philistines delivered into Jonathans hands locate this prayer in the context of the history of salvation. God is called Davids God in the fourteenth blessing of the Shemone Ezre.

42.
43.
44.
45.

Tj I Gen 11,1; TN Ex 29,6.


F. Manns, La prire dIsral lheure de Jsus, Jerusalem 1986, 69.
The formula appears 15 times in the Psalms.
Szein, in Spicq, Notes. Supplment, 629-637. The verb is frequent in the Psalms.

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F. MANNS

From the stylistic point of view one has to note that the imperatives of
the second person, which utter a petition, are expressed without connection. The imperatives of the third person are concerned either with the destiny of the adversaries, or with Gods universal recognition. The sequence
of direct and indirect imperatives is frequent. Although the Maccabees are
the peoples leaders who save them (like the Judges46), they do not leave
their personal mark on the content of their prayer.
In 4,30-33 Judas who guides the prayer is an integral member of the
people. The fact that the imperative syntripson47 in the petition preceding
the battle is followed by syntrib permits one to guess his mediators role.
The identity of Gods people expresses itself in the prayers: Israel is
known as his people laos sou48 and defines itself hoi eidotes / agapntes
se. His adversaries are the ethn designated by their verified strength in
battle.
In conclusion one notes that the literary genre of the berakah is not
exploited very much in 1 Macc. The blessing, on the one hand, doesnt yet
have the fixed forms it will get later; on the other, the theme of the memorial is more recurrent. The Temple motif, which appears frequently, is
known in the prayer of the Shemone Ezre. The figure of Abraham illustrated
in the first blessing of the Shemone Ezre belongs to the great figures of the
story of salvation, as also that of David.

The Prayers of the Second Book of Maccabees


The introduction of Greek culture in Palestine provoked a crisis of identity. The Jewish high priest Jason conceived the project of transforming
Jerusalem into a second Antiochia, which meant into a Greek polis. He prepared a list of the citizens ready to accept hellenisation49.
46. See 1 Macc 9,21.
47. The verb is found 21 times in the Psalms.
48. Laos, in C. Spicq, Notes de lexicographie notestamentaire, Gttingen 1978, 468471.
49. A stadium was built in Jerusalem. 2 Macc 4,9 mentions the foundation of a corporation
of Antiochians in Jerusalem. Jason buys the function of high priest and becomes a functionary dependant on Antiochus Epiphanes (2 Macc 4,8). Three years later Menelas, who
was not a sadoqite, becomes high priest paying 300 talents more than Jason (2 Macc 4,2324). In such a way the fight between Jason and Menelas was unavoidable. The latter obtained from the Syrians the reversal of Jason. He took many gold instruments from the
Temple to offer to the lieutenant of the king (2 Macc 4,32). Onias III, the old high priest

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The author of 2 Macc, close to the Pharisaic movement, opposes to the


Hasmonean dynasty. Although his book composed in Greek is not a homogeneous work50, it claims to be an abbreviation of the work of Jason and
shares an affinity with contemporary history51. Its author speculates on the
significance of history and on the reason for the calamities52. He finds the
solution to the problems he identifies in the idea of retribution, in the conviction that sins are atoned and in hope of the resurrection of the dead. The
importance granted to the Feast of the Dedication allows the Diaspora Jews
to share the national glory. The people53, more than the Maccabean heroes,
occupy the front of the stage.
The very brief prayers inserted in 2 Macc attest the value given to the
Jewish piety54. Two prayers are quoted extensively.

The Invocations of the letter 1,2-6


The Jews of Jerusalem in their letter sent to their brothers in Egypt make
allusion to their prayer of intercession for them55. After the greetings of an
excellent peace, they express their desires that God remember the covenant
ratified with the Fathers. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are mentioned. The
importance of the gift of a heart to adore God and to accomplish his will
recalls the famous texts of Jeremiah and Ezekiel on the new covenant. God
who had the courage to criticize him was put to death (2 Macc 4,34). Onias IV fled to Egypt
where he built a Temple. These internal fights allowed Antiochus Epiphanes to capture easily Jerusalem and its Temple (2 Macc 5,15-20). Pagan cult was introduced in Jerusalem and
the Temple was dedicated to Zeus. Circumcision was forbidden (2 Macc 6,10). Jewish reaction did not wait. The examples of Eleazar and of the seven brothers martyred for the
defence of faith are mentioned in 2 Macc 6 and 7. In this context the idea of the resurrection of the just was born. The apocalyptic movement underlines the importance of the kingdom of God which like a small stone shall destroy the four kingdoms of the earth.
50. Ch. Habicht, 2 Makkaberbuch, Gtersloh 1979, 171 suggested a semitic origin for
chap. 7.
51. F.-M. Abel, Les livres des Maccabes, Paris 1949 quotes often Polybus.
52. J. Willem van Henten, The Maccabean Martyrs as Saviours of the Jewish People. A
Study of 2 and 4 Maccabees, Leiden 1977.
53. 2 Macc 2,21 and 6,6.
54. J. Willem van Henten, The Ancestral Language of the Jews in 2 Maccabees, in W.
Horbury, Hebrew Study from Ezra to Ben-Yehuda, Edinburgh 1999, 53-68.
55. E. Bickermann, Ein jdischer Festbrief vom Jahre 124 v. Chr (2 Makk 1,1-9), 1933,
155 thinks that from the year 145 BC a civil war was going on in the country. See: Studies
in Jewish and Christian History, II, 159-191.

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F. MANNS

opens the heart. Morning prayer that precedes the blessing of the yoser in
a text found in the Genizah of Cairo knows these themes56. After the petition for an opening of the heart, the theme of peace is adjoined: May he
open your heart to his law and to his precepts and make peace. The letter
ends by an invitation to celebrate the feast of Tents in the month of Kislev,
that means in fact the feast of the Dedication. It is possible that the mentioned themes are dependent on this setting. The reading of Deuteronomy
that concluded the celebration according to Josephus57 and the Mishna58
influenced the expressed wishes. Prayer for their heart to be open acknowledges that this is the Lords work. The use of law and precepts recalls
the solemn reading of the Torah that concluded the feast. The motif of
peace present in v. 1 is used again in v. 4. The designation adelphoi supposes a community of faith that shares a worship experience. Prayer unites
those who send with those who receive. One has to remember that the first
blessing of the Shemone Ezre evokes the merit of the Fathers and that the
last is called the blessing of peace. The expression to make peace is used
there. The difference between this prayer of adoration and the hard-hitting
prayers of 1 Macc must be noted. Two biblical notes of prayer are evidenced in such a way. In v. 8 the Jews of Jerusalem alluding to the capture
of the Temple add: We prayed to the Lord and we have been heard, we
offered a sacrifice (thusian) and finest flower, we lit lamps (luchnous) and
we brought bread. Prayer is accompanied by sacrifice offerings, lighting
lamps and bringing bread.

The berakah of the second letter in 1,17


2 Macc 1,11-12 introduced the motif of thanksgiving for the punishment
of Antiochus. The song of thanks ends with the blessing: May our God be
blessed in all things, he who delivered to death the impious. The pronoun
our God must be underlined: it puts the accent upon the collective dimension of prayer. Praise could refer to the celebration that followed the
capture of the Akra. The blessing is followed by an anamnesis, as is frequent in most blessings.

56. J. Mann, Genizah fragments of the Palestinian Order of service, HUCA 2 (1925) 286.
57. AJ 4,210.
58 Sota 7,8.

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The prayer of the priests in 1,24-29


The etiological legend that underlines the role of fire59 in the cult vowed to
the purified Temple contains a prayer. To better underline the link between
the prayer and the sacrificial cult, the prayer is placed at the very moment
the sacrifice miraculously set afire is being consumed. It reflects the liturgical setting of the feast of Tents60 celebrated in the purified Temple.
The analysis of the prayers vocabulary must be undertaken. The opening formula consists in a triple repetition: Kyrie, kyrie, ho Theos. The vocative Kyrie is often associated to the nominative ho Theos in the LXX.
Usually a genitive complement is added: Kyrie ho Theos tn patern.
Sometimes however the expression is used without a personal pronoun as
in Sus 35a: Kyrie ho Theos ho ainios, or in Ps 67(68),19: Kyrie ho Theos
eulogtos. The title Kyrie ho Theos had a specific use in the synagogal
cult61.
The invocation is followed by praise that expands on vv. 24 and 25.
God is glorified. The adjectives evoke the divine virtues of power, justice,
mercy and goodness. The grouping is dominated by the formula: Awesome and strong, just and merciful and framed by temporal expressions:
Creator of all and eternal. The praise is at the same time a profession of
faith. Gods action in favour of Israel appeared in election and salvation.
God is defined as creator Ho pantn ktists. The same term is used in
7,23 and 13,14. The motif of the creation is developed. The nearest parallel are found in Judith 9,12; Sir 24,8; 4 Macc 5,25 and 11,5.
The set of the four epithets ischuros62, kai phoberos63, dikaios64, kai
elemn65 forms a compact group, as in Dan 9,4 and 9,32. These two texts
associate ischuros kai phoberos to the notion of covenant. In other cases
phoberos kai ischuros are more independent66. The first blessing of the
Shemone Ezre could be dependent on this context.
59. The association of fire with Moses, David, Jeremiah and Nehemiah is stressed in 2,1-5
to legitimize the feast of Tents.
60. The feast reminds of exodus (Lev 23,43). Ex 15,17 is quoted in v. 29.
61. H. Stegemann, Kyrios ho Theos und Kyrios Jesous, Bonn 1969, 348. The title is used
in 2 Macc 7,6 and 9,5.
62. The adjective is used in Ps 7,11 and 41(42),2.
63. 12 times the adjective is used in the Psalms.
64. 54 times the adjective is used in the Psalms.
65. 6 times the adjective is used in the Psalms.
66. Deut 10,17; Ps 46(47),3 and Sir 43,29.

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F. MANNS

The group dikaios kai elemn is found in Ps 114(115),5 and


111(112),4. The determining concept is the one of justice. Sometimes in 2
Macc 1,24 dikaios67 has the sense of being truthful to the covenant, what
signifies for elemn mercy as demonstration of Gods fidelity to his covenant. In Solomons Psalms 2,32 and 10,5 justice and mercy appear in a
context of judgement. But here no thought of judgment is found.
The expression ho monos basileus kai chrstos68 could be a protest
against the cult of the Monarchs69. Monos Basileus70 is used in Esther 1,16.
In 2 Macc 7,9 God is called the king of the world (ho tou kosmou
basileus71), while the Seleucid king is called villain. God is qualified as
King of Kings in 13,4.3 Macc 6,2 uses also the kings denomination to
invoke God. The title of King, a most traditional designation of the Bible,
is not frequently used.
Pantokratr often translates the Hebrew Yhwh Sabaoth72. The term is
found in three fields: the creation (3 Macc 6,2), the judgement (Baruch 3,1)
and liturgy (Sir 50,14.17; Judith 4,13; 15,10; 16,5.17).
A characteristic feature of this prayer is the resumption of the words
meaning goodness and mercy. Joel 2,13; Jonas 4,2; 9,17 and Ps
85(86),15 are witnesses of it. The object of mercy is the Temple and the
city of Jerusalem. The fourteenth blessing of the Shemone Ezre orchestrates
the same topics. A technique to underline the dimension of mercy is to signal its extension in time (Ps 102(103),17; 135(136). The adjective chrstos
often has an affirmed position like in Solomons Psalms 2,36 and 10,2.
Chorgos means that God provides to mans material needs. In Sir 1,10.25
God grants also wisdom. Elemn in Sir 48,20 and 50,19 expresses the
conviction that God listens to prayer.
God is presented as the one who saves Israel: ho diaszn73. The same
verb is used in 4 Macc 17,22 to express a theological interpretation of history. However the composed verb diaszein has a more restricted sense
than the verb szein. In 2 M it is accompanied by a complement: ek pantos

67. Dikaios, in Spicq, Notes. Supplment, 122-150.


68. Chrstos, in Spicq, Notes, 971-976.
69. M. Hengel, Judentum und hellenismus, Tbingen 1973, 522.
70. Basileus, in Spicq, Notes. Supplment, 88-104.
71. The expression translate the Hebrew melek ha olam which will become a fixed part of
the blessings.
72. The expression is sometimes translated by Kyrios tn dynamen.
73. S. Gadecki, La liberazione e la salvezza nel secondo Libro dei Maccabei, Roma 1982.

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kakou. The weakened historic dimension can be explained by the Hellenistic milieu.
The theme of the election and sanctification of the Fathers is expressed
in an original way by two aorist participles74: ho poisas tous pateras
eklektous kai hagiasas autous. Neh 9,7 defines Abraham as chosen by God.
The construction poiein eklektous is more than a simple circumlocution. It
is close to Is 43,1; 1 Sam 12,6 and to Mc 3,14. The verb poiein should
denote not a legal constitution, but a real creation. The Fathers are thus the
witnesses of the historical foundation of the faith of Israel.
The prayer of the priests in the Temple is presented as a sacrifice thusia.
Tob 12,12 confirms it. Israel is designated as Gods inheritance in the demand diaphulaxon tn merida. Synonyms of the expression are found in
Judith 13,5 and 3 Macc 6,3. In 2 Macc 14,15 laos is followed by meris.
The concept of inheritance concerns the praying people directly, because it
is included in an emergency demand.
In 2 Macc 1,26 as in 3 Macc 6,3 the notion of belonging actualises the
one of holiness75. The territorial dimension is not absent from the inheritance, since the supplication that follows concerns the gathering of the dispersed76.
This last theme constitutes the motif of the tenth blessing of the
Shemone Ezre and is present also in Psalm of Solomon 8,28 and in Sir
33(39),13. The eschatological gathering is not the only object of a supplication prayer. According to 1 Macc 14,7 it is realized already in Simons
exploits. 2 Macc 2,7 considers it for the future and the tenth blessing of the
Shemone Ezre makes a theological motif of it. Life in a pagan environment
was considered a danger (Baruch 3,8 and 1,8). The necessity of having an
ideological centre imposed itself rapidly, as it is evident from Psalm of
Solomon 8,28.
Gods people are presented as a plantation. The image goes back to Ex
15,17; 2 Sam 7,10; Amos 9,15 and Jer 24,6. The plantation takes place in
the holy place that is the Temple. The holy city and the Temple occupied a
major place in the mind of the diaspora. The addition of the sentence kaths
Muss eipe not only reminds one of the exodus texts, but evokes also the
synagogal setting.

74. It is a gnomic aorist.


75. Jubilees 22,29.
76. Sir 33(36),13-16.

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F. MANNS

Norden noted that the style of the thanksgiving prayers is characterized


by substantivated participles77. The exuberance of the divine attributes is a
sign of divine power. One finds here this characteristic as well as the
anaphoric use of the article that generates the clear and solid arrangement
of the text. The morpheme pas and the adjective monos are present three
times. The temporal hyperbole is represented by the adjective ainios. This
prayer uses three elements present in the Shemone Ezre.
In the narration of the intrusion of Heliodorus in the Temple of Jerusalem, the prayer of the prostrate priests vested with their ministerial dresses78
and the prayer of the crowd79 who qualifies God as all powerful
(dunastes) are introduced by the phrase epikaleisthai80 eis ouranon / ton
Kyrion. In chap. 3,24 God is called the Sovereign of the Spirits and of all
power (ho ton pneumaton kai pases exousias dunastes81). A hymnal sentence starting with eulogoun ton Kyrion is inserted in 3,30 as Heliodorus is
stricken with paralysis. In 3,31 God is defined by the adjective ton
hupsiston that translates the Hebrew elyon.
In chap. 7,37-39 a prayer, that could have had a Semitic original82, concludes the narration of the martyrdom of the seven brothers. It finishes with
the confession of faith of the youngest one: I offer like my brothers my
body and my life for the laws of our Fathers imploring (epikaloumenos)
God to be soon auspicious (hileos) towards his people and to bring you, by
torments and suffering, to confess (exomologsasthai) that He is the unique
(monos) God. May He avert from me and my brothers the wrath of the
Almighty (pantokratoros) poured against our race. The whole narration is
full of prayers. In 7,6 a biblical quote of Deut 32,36 recalls that God has
mercy on his servants. In 7,17 the Seleucid is warned of Gods great power
(megaleion kratos), which constitutes the theme of the second blessing of
the Shemone Ezre. In the prayer of v. 37 this experience ends with the profession of faith in the unique God, which is in fact the resumption of the
Shema Israel.
Chap. 7,22-23.28-29 teaches the resurrection of the dead as in the second blessing of the Shemone Ezre. The Pharisees affirm the resurrection in

77.
78.
79.
80.
81.
82.

E. Norden, Agnostos Theos, Stuttgart 1923, 223-227.


2 Macc 3,15.
2 Macc 3,22.
Epikale, in Spicq, Notes. Supplment, 286-290.
1 Henoch gives a similar title to God. A variant reads patern instead of pneumatn.
Habicht, 2 Makkaberbuch, 233.

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this prayer without any quotation of Scripture. They dont want to impose
quotations, which could be discussed, but wish to sustain the hope of the
people. Only those who live the word of God can accept the resurrection83.
In the prayer of the assembly pronounced in the beginning of the resistance of Judas Maccabee84 Gods compassion and mercy are implored.
The verb epikalounto introduces the prayer for the salvation of the Temple
and Jerusalem, themes used in the fourteenth blessing of the Shemone Ezre.
The prayer presents the programme of the Maccabees to awaken: it retraces
the situation from which the war started, thats to say the pathetic state of
the people, the Temple and the city. The driving force of this war comes
from Gods mercy. The verbs epidein, oikteirai, elesai, eisakousai,
mnsthnai and misoponrosai define the main elements of the prayer. God
sees, has mercy, listens, remembers and shows his hatred.
In the prayer of intercession for the slaves85 introduced by the verb ton
Kyrion xioun the supplication is underlined: the covenants established
with the Fathers and the fact that they received his honorable and majestic
Name (heneka ts epautous epiklses tou semnou kai megaloprepous
onomatos autou) warrant that God should intervene.
Before combat Judas gave orders to Esdras to read the holy book and
pronounced the motto: Help of God (theou boetheias). Thus God became
their associate.
When Judas was victorious over Nikanor the people celebrated the Sabbath86 singing the blessings and songs of praise87: eulogountes kai
exomologoumenoi t Kyri. God reserved for them the first drops of the
dew of his mercy.
Having restored the prayer in the Temple Judas implores God that the
pains undergone by the people are not repeated. The hymnal sentence of
10,7 expresses the last moment of the consecration of the Temple: Carrying thyrses, green branches and palms, they sang hymns to the glory of The
One who had led them benevolently (t euodsanti) to purify his Temple.
The dedication is celebrated in honour of the One who sees in the Temple

83. Sanh 90b presents two cases which teach the resurrection starting from the promise of
the land in Ex 6,4 and Deut 11,21. Paul speaks of this promise in Act 13,32 et 26,6. For the
Pharisees and for Jesus the land is a symbol of eternal life given after the resurrection.
84. 2 Macc 8,2-4.
85. 2 Macc 8,14-15.
86. This text must be compared with the tragedy of the Jews massacred on the sabbat day
in 5,25.
87. 2 Macc 8,27.

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F. MANNS

his particular house. It takes the features of the feast of Tents. The prayer
recalls that of Solomon and associates sin and the fact of being delivered
to the enemies. The Glory of God, found in the Qedoushah of Is 6,4 finds
an echo in Ez 3,12: Blessed be the Glory of the Lord from his place. The
Glory of God present in the Temple goes back to its transcendent origin,
towards the hidden God who manifests himself from his place. This concept is close to the one of the Shekinah, the indwelling presence of God.
In the context of the campaigns against the Jews88 two prayers and a
hymnal sentence are inserted: in v. 16 the expression poisamenoi
litaneian89 expresses the conviction that the prayer is a valid counter-action in front of the uprising of the enemy. It is followed by a participle
aorist axisantes ton Theon: they asked God. While Gorgias obtains reinforcement in men, the Jews ask only for Gods aid. God will be the enemy
of their enemies. In vv. 25-26 the supplication is accompanied by gestures
of penance ashes and sackcloth and is amply described: the distress and
the anguish of the implorers are brought to light. It is an implicit call for
Gods protection. After the prayer, Maccabee and his friends take to arms.
The hymnal sentence of v. 38 is the culminating point of the movement that
starts with the expression of despair in 10,25. To the humiliation now corresponds exaltation. It is God who gives victory: By hymns and songs of
praises they blessed (eulogoun t Kyri) the Lord who had made
(euergetounti) great things for Israel and who had given them the victory.
In chap. 11 the expedition of Lysias contains several sentences, which
make allusion to prayer. V. 4 remembers that Lysias didnt reckon with
Gods power. He must accept the fact that the Jews are invincible, since
the powerful God (dunamenou theou) fights with them (v. 13). The demand
of v. 6 is answered in an epiphany. The celestial rider is the good angel of
prayer who comes to save.
In chap. 12,6 after the death of the Jews of Joppe Judas invokes
(epikalesamenos90) God, the righteous judge (dikaion kritn) and avenges
his brothers. The title given to God justifies his vengeance. The theme is
known in the eleventh blessing of the Shemone Ezre.
Chap. 12,15 describes the siege of Kaspin. While the besieged insult
the Jews, the besiegers invoke (epikalesamenoi) the Sovereign of the world

88. 2 Macc 10.


89. 3 Macc 2,21 and 5,9 know this term. The verb litaneuein used in classic Greek (Od
7,145) signifies to pray and invoke.
90. The verb is used 31 times in the Psalms.

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(megan tou kosmou dunastn) who destroys the cities without machines of
war as he did in Jericho. In 12,28 the contrast between the enemys strength
and Gods power (epikalesamenoi ton dunastn) is underlined in a prayer
remembering that God crushes the adversarys strength. The theme of the
holy war inspired by Ex 15,3 is underlined again. The expression of the
power of God (dunastes), characteristic of the second Book of Maccabees91, translates the Hebrew Geburah, which gives his name to the second blessing of the Shemoneh Ezre.
In 12,41-42 a new element is introduced: prayer for the dead. After the
war those fallen in battle are buried. In the episode of the amulets a hymnal sentence remembers that God is the just Judge (dikaiokritou92) to whom
nothing is hidden. The verb that expresses the praise is the aorist eulogsantes. The notion of sin is the object of an instruction: a speech of warning is followed by a sacrifice for the sins of the dead, and by an
eschatological commentary on the resurrection of the dead.
In chap. 13,10-11 Judas enjoins the crowd to pray day and night because of the danger caused by the expedition of King Antiochus. The prayer
is introduced by the verb epikaleisthai ton Kyrion. In v. 12 the aorist participles poisantn and katazisantn indicate the intensity of the prayer93.
The themes of the Law and the Temple are repeated in the prayer.
When Nikanor approaches Jerusalem the prayer of the Jews (elitaneuon) accompanied by gestures of penance which becomes a national supplication (14,15) and repeats the idea that Israel is the inheritance (meridos)
of God established forever. This idea constitutes the object of the eighteenth blessing of the Shemone Ezre.
In 14,35-36 when Nikanor threatens the Temple the prayer (epekalounto) of the priests who stretch their hands towards heaven offers a beautiful example of supplication. The introduction of v. 34 defines God as The
One who always fought for his nation. In other words God is a warrior.
The prayer starts with the invocation Su, Kyrie. God is defined as the One
who needs nothing (tn holn aprosdes hyparkn). The mention of the
election evokes Solomons prayer in 1 Kings 8. The aorist participle udoksas introduces the theme. A holy people gets ready for battle by spiritual
action. The supplication to preserve the Temple from all profanation
91. It is used in 2 Macc 3,24; 9,25; 12,15.28; 14,3.4.5.23.29 and in 3 Macc 2,3; 5,51;
6,4.39.
92. See 12,6.
93. G. Grassi, Imperativo presente e aoristo nelle preghiere agli Dei, Studi Italiani di
Filologia classica 35 (1963) 186-198.

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F. MANNS

(amianton) finds its outcome in the hymnal sentence of 15,34. God is invoked as the holy one of all holiness (hagie pantos hagiasmou). This
Qedushah remembers the motif of the third blessing of the Shemone Ezre.
From v. 36 onwards the kai nun94 refocuses the passage from divine time
to human time. The holiness of the Temple is the main topic. There is in
God a disposition to make his holiness accessible. Ezek 3,12 expresses the
idea that God manifests himself from his place. It is a presence promised
forever. The chosen expressions indicate the nature of the presence: naos
and oikos remind one of the historically demonstrated presence. Sknsis
is a presence due to purposeful action, an anticipation of the Shekinah.
The scream of Razis, the martyr who commits suicide rather than surrender to the enemy, expresses the hope of the resurrection95: He prayed
(epikalesamenos) the master of life and the soul to return them to him one
day. The faith in the resurrection was accepted in the Pharisaic surroundings and is expressed in the second blessing of the Shemone Ezre.
As for the prayer of Judas Maccabee96 (epekalesato) accompanied by
bodily gestures, it describes God who works wonders (teratopoios) and is
inspired by Ex 15. It is again to this hymn as well as to other biblical texts
that the invocation of 15,22-24 makes allusion. The expression the
strength of his arm (megethei brachionos sou) is a resumption of Ex
15,16. The term brachin is used metaphorically to designate Gods power.
God is invoked in the second person: You, sovereign (su despota). The
relation between the two propositions (apesteilas kai aneilein) is consecutive. Kai nun introduces the petition. The title given to God is Sovereign
of the heaven (dunasta tn ourann). Israel is defined as a holy people
(hagion laon).
The final benediction in 15,34 praises (eulogsan) God for his intervention in favour of the Temple: Blessed be the One who kept (diatersas)
his home exempt from blemish. In the form of an inclusion it accentuates
the importance of the Temple in the whole book.
The specific vocabulary of the prayers evokes Gods sovereignty, his
power and his kindliness. 3,31 designates God as hupsistos97. This adjective appears among other equivalent terms concerning Gods majesty in 3

94. R. Laurentin, Weattah - Kai nun: Formule caractristique des textes juridiques
et liturgiques ( propos de Jean 17,5), Bib 45 (1964) 168-197, 413-432.
95. 2 Macc 14,46.
96. 2 Macc 15,21.
97. Zeus is called in the same way, Roberts 1936, 59.

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Macc 6,2 and 1 Esd 9,46. The term despots describes God in his punitive
action. It is a variant of Kyrie in 15,22 and 14,22-24. The title is repeated
in 3 Macc 2,2 and 6,5. Ten times Gods power is translated by the adjective dunasts (3,24; 9,25; 12,15.28; 14,3.4.5.23.29; 15,23). 3 Macc 2,3;
5,51 and 6,39 also have recourse to it. The adjective is used with a determinative in 2 Macc 15,23 tn ourann and in 12,15 with tou kosmou. Gods
power appears in the celestial apparitions: 2 Macc 15,12-16.23 and 3 Macc
5,51; 6,39. In antiquity the credibility of a divinity depended upon its
epiphanies. Thus 2 Macc uses the substantive epiphaneia in 14,15 and the
adjective epiphanes in 15,34. The significance of the adjective is specific
in 3 Macc 5,35: it is a term of propaganda. The Jews come out victorious
from the battle thanks to the unequalled power of God. He triumphs over
all intrusion of his Temple and avenges all blasphemy directed against his
Name. 2 Macc 10,38 uses the verb euergetein98 to define Gods action99.
Since the prayers are often associated with situations of danger, their
dramatic character is intensified. The intercession of 14,35-36 signals that
it is God himself who is attacked in his holiness when anyone slanders the
people of the covenant. Gods power triumphs over all overconfidence in
military strength.
Very often the verbs expressing the prayer are put in the aorist. It is
generally a complexive aorist that underlines the intensity of the prayer.
A last indication must be noted: 15,27 underlines that the warriors
prayed in their hearts while they fought with their arms. In 15,29 when the
death of Nikanor is announced, they bless the Sovereign Lord in the language of their Fathers (t patri phn). It means that Hebrew remained
the language of prayer.
The literary genre of the blessing as well as the title given to God King
of the universe are known already in the Books of Maccabees. Thanksgiving is much stronger in 2 Macc then in 1 Macc.

Conclusion
The Sadducees inspired 1 Macc, while the Pharisaic theology is present in
2 Macc. Both books contain prayers. Their vocabulary and their literary
genres are in common with the rest of the Bible. The vocabulary is identi-

98. Euergeteu, in Spicq, Notes, 307-313.


99. 3 Macc 6,29; 7,12 and 6,32 use the term euergets.

132

F. MANNS

cal to that of the LXX, especially in the book of Psalms. The literary form
of blessing doesnt have the fixed features it will get later. Eulogtos is not
followed by the expression King of the universe, although the theme of
Gods kingdom is well attested in the prayers. A comparison of the two
books has convinced us that 2 Macc had a greater influence on the Shemone
Ezre than 1 Macc. The Pharisaic origin of the book explains it. 1 Macc
develops the theology of holy war and presents prayer as a cry of war.
Broader studies on Jewish prayer show the importance of Qumrans
texts and of Sir 36 and 51 to decipher the religious and literary background
of the Shemone Ezre. Our survey on prayer in the books of Maccabees has
convinced us that it is necessary to include the examination of these texts
in order to specify the milieu of the Shemone Ezre. It means that Hellenistic Judaism also had an influence on the constitution of this prayer. Maybe
the separation between Hellenistic Judaism and Palestinian Judaism was
not so sharp as some pretend.
Frdric Manns, ofm
Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Jerusalem

KINDYNOS PERICOLO NELLA PRIMA CLEMENTIS

G. Bissoli

La I Lettera di Clemente ai Corinzi, redatta in epoca contemporanea agli


ultimi scritti neotestamentari, continua ad interessare gli studiosi. Negli
ultimi anni sono usciti quattro nuovi commentari: in ordine di tempo uno
in tedesco, uno in spagnolo, un altro in tedesco e recentemente uno in
italiano1. Giovandosi di questi sussidi, si pu seguire meglio largomentazione dello scritto, che insieme unisce termini dellantica filosofia
stoica ed elementi religiosi tratti abbondantemente dallAntico e dal Nuovo
Testamento, nonch da scritti apocrifi e tradizioni della cultura grecoromana. Sono ancora fondamentali, per una retta interpretazione del testo,
le monografie di G. Brunner, che ce ne d una motivata struttura in due
parti2, e di K. Beyschlag, che mostra come Clemente usa un linguaggio
convenzionale, offertogli dalla tradizione soprattutto martirologica, e con
questo linguaggio interpreta gli eventi accaduti senza affatto volerli descrivere3. Tuttavia restano ancora difficolt nellinterpretazione del testo. Le
espressioni usate da Clemente contengono una profonda riflessione e
talvolta un insospettato sviluppo nellambito stesso delle tradizioni che
utilizza. Ci possono servire di esempio due articoli recenti : uno tratta della
preghiera rivolta a Dio per salvare gli eletti4, laltro ricerca lorigine biblica
del termine laico (cf. 1Clem 40,5)5. Mi sembra che, tenendo conto di
questi due contributi, possiamo spiegare meglio luso che il nostro autore
fa del termine pericolo e la funzione che esso ha nellargomentazione
dellintera lettera.
1. J.J. Ayn Calvo, Clemente de Roma. Carta a los Corintios (Fuentes Patrsticas 4),
Madrid 1994; A. Lindemann, Die Apostolischen Vter. I: Die Clemensbriefe (HNT 17),
Tbingen 1992; H.E. Lona, Der erste Clemensbrief (KAV 2), Gttingen 1998; E. Peretto,
Clemente Romano. Lettera ai Corinzi. Introduzione, versione, commento (Scritti delle
origine cristiane 23), Bologna 1999.
2. G. Brunner, Die theologische Mitte des Ersten Klemensbriefs. Ein Beitrag zur
Hermeneutik frhchristlicher Texte (FThSt 11), Frankfurt am Main 1972, 46-58.
3. K. Beyschlag, Clemens Romanus und der Frhkatholizismus. Untersuchungen zu I
Clemens 1-7 (BHT 35), Tbingen 1966, 332.342.
4. H.E. Lona, Die Zahl der Auserwhlten. Ein Versuch ber 1 Clem 2,4, ZNW 85 (1994)
151-158.
5. A. Faivre, Prceptes lacs et commandements humains. Les fondaments scripturaires de
1Clment 40,5, RScR 75 (2001) 288-308.
LA 51(2001) 133-144

134

G. BISSOLI

Il caso di Corinto
Secondo lo stile del tempo la lettera inizia con lindirizzo e il saluto: la
chiesa di Dio che soggiorna a Roma invia il presente scritto alla chiesa di
Dio che soggiorna a Corinto. La comunit cristiana ospite e straniera
rispetto al luogo dove abita, in quanto sa di essere in cammino verso la patria
che il cielo. Nella vita terrena segue dei precetti che le sono dati da Dio.
Solo riguardo ai destinatari Clemente ricorda i titoli di eletti e santificati,
che esprimono lappartenenza al popolo di Dio grazie allopera compiuta
da Ges Cristo. Ai destinatari rivolge laugurio tipico della cultura greca
charein fatto cristiano con il sostantivo charis, grazia, e quello ebraico
shalm, pace, che abbraccia tutto il complesso dei beni messianici6.
Com il caso della Lettera ai Galati, dove Paolo tralascia labituale
ringraziamento e la benedizione per entrare immediatamente nel problema,
cos 1Clem scrive subito dopo lindirizzo:
A causa dei tristi eventi e delle inattese sventure che di seguito si sono
abbattute su di noi, crediamo, o fratelli, di aver prestato attenzione
piuttosto tardi ai fatti che sono in contestazione tra voi, o diletti, alla
nefanda ed empia rivolta, aberrante ed estranea agli eletti di Dio, che
poche persone sconsiderate e arroganti hanno fatto divampare a tale eccesso di follia che il vostro nome, venerato, ammirato e amato, fortemente screditato (1,1)7.

La frase secondaria iniziale, che scusa il ritardo dellinteressamento di


Roma per il caso dei corinti, sembra alludere non ad una persecuzione programmata contro i cristiani, a livello giuridico cosa ancora sconosciuta nellimpero romano, ma a disposizioni odiose che Domiziano, secondo il
giudizio pi probabile dei critici che datano la lettera alla fine del I secolo,
prese nei confronti non solo dei giudei, ma anche di quelli che vivevano
secondo il costume giudaico. Ce ne parla un testo di Svetonio:
NellUrbe la tassa sui giudei fu esigita con particolare rigore; vi
venivano obbligati coloro che, pur senza averlo dichiarato, vivevano da
giudei, sia le persone che, dissimulando la loro origine, serano sottratte
al tributo imposto alla nazione8.

6. I due termini ricorrono anche nei saluti delle lettere paoline, cf. Rm 1,7; 1Cor 1,3; 2Cor

1,2; Gal 1,3 ecc.


7. Nelle citazioni seguiamo il commento di E. Peretto.
8. Suetonio, Domit. 12,2.

KINDYNOS PERICOLO NELLA PRIMA CLEMENTIS

135

Nella lettera non troviamo nessun altro punto che ci informi sulla situazione della comunit di Roma. Pi grave il caso di Corinto. descritto in tale linguaggio cifrato che ci impedisce di conoscere concretamente
autori, causa e motivo dellaccaduto. Ci dice solo che i colpevoli sono poche persone sconsiderate e arroganti. Pi avanti descrive la situazione con
termini biblici che gli apocalittici usano per descrivere il massimo del disordine9: Insorsero gli insignificanti contro i notabili, gli oscuri contro gli
illustri, i dissennati contro i saggi, i giovani contro gli anziani (3,3). Facendo un confronto, che ha di mira lottenimento di un ovvio consenso,
dice ancora: preferibile scontrarsi con uomini stolti, insensati, orgogliosi e dalla parola spavalda che con Dio (21,5). In un altro punto lautore
elenca una serie di vizi e cita Rm 1,32: Coloro che commettono tali cose
sono odiosi a Dio, non solo quelli che le fanno, ma anche quelli che le
approvano (35,6). Tuttavia non perde di vista che la responsabilit maggiore ricade su coloro che sono stati gli istigatori della rivolta e della sedizione (51,1) e propone loro lesilio volontario, purch la comunit viva
in pace (54,2). Alla fine conclude: Voi che avete gettato le fondamenta
della sedizione, sottomettetevi ai presbiteri e lasciatevi correggere per la
vostra conversione (57,1).
Di fatto cosera avvenuto? Allinizio della seconda parte scrive: Voi
avete cacciato via alcuni, che si comportavano bene, dal ministero nel cui
esercizio erano irreprensibili e degni donore (44,6). Si indirizza alla comunit, in quanto tutti sono coinvolti. Pi avanti osserva: vergognoso,
carissimi, molto vergognoso e indegno della vostra condotta in Cristo
sentir dire che la solida e antica chiesa dei corinzi a causa di uno o due
persone, in rivolta contro i presbiteri (47,6). I verbi usati per questazione sono meta/gw (44,6), trasferire e ajpoba/llw (44,3.4; 45,3), cacciare
via. Dato che pi volte parla dellistituzione dei presbiteri fatta dagli apostoli e i loro successori10, dal contesto capiamo che alcuni presbiteri, nonostante fossero di condotta irreprensibile e degna di onore, furono
destituiti dallufficio. Questazione definita sin dallinizio della lettera
sta/si, insurrezione, sedizione, e poi indicata anche eri, contesa,
rissa e sci/sma, divisione, scissione11.
9. Cf. Is 3,5 e Giub 23,19, citati in A. Jaubert, Clment de Rome. ptre aux Corinthiens

(SC 167), Paris 1971, 104.


10. Il verbo usato kaqi/sthmi, stabilire (42,4; 43,1; 44,2.3; 54,2).
11. Sta/si ricorre 9 volte (1,1; 2,6; 3,2; 14,2; 46,9; 51,1; 54,2; 57,1; 63,1), eri pure 9 volte
(3,2; 5,5; 6,4; 9,1; 14,2; 35,5; 44,1; 46,5; 54,2) e sci/sma 5 volte (2,6; 46,5.9; 49,5; 54,2);

cf. Jaubert, ptre aux Corinthiens, 231-274, che presenta un indice dei termini.

136

G. BISSOLI

Luso di questi termini e soprattutto il primo, sta/si, trova vari paralleli nel libro degli Atti degli Apostoli12, dato che il messaggio cristiano veniva prima divulgato sistematicamente nellambiente giudaico, predicando
nelle sinagoghe. Nascevano animate discussioni, che arrivavano fino a trascendere in tumulto, disturbando la vita degli altri cittadini. Gli Atti degli
Apostoli ce ne offrono un esempio, narrando cosa avvenne a Corinto, quando Paolo vi fond la comunit cristiana13.
Riguardo alla discordia avvenuta nella comunit di Corinto, Clemente,
dopo aver ricordato come gi Paolo nella sua prima lettera alla stessa chiesa disapprovava i partiti originati dalle simpatie per uno o laltro dei personaggi rappresentativi, commenta lattuale situazione:
vergognoso, carissimi, molto vergognoso e indegno della vostra
condotta in Cristo sentir dire che la solida e antica chiesa dei corinzi a
causa di uno o due persone, in rivolta contro i presbiteri. Questa notizia
giunta non solo a noi, ma anche a coloro che sono a noi estranei, sicch
la vostra stoltezza porta biasimo al nome del Signore e mette voi stessi in
pericolo (47,6-7).

La fama dellaccaduto, diffusasi anche al di fuori dellambiente cristiano, comporta due effetti, uno che viene disonorato il nome di Cristo, laltro che i corinzi mettono in pericolo se stessi.
Quattro volte la lettera parla di pericolo che incombe sui corinzi14,
senza precisare di cosa si tratti. Forse partendo dal fatto che sono tirati in
campo coloro che sono a noi estranei (eJteroklineiv), vari studiosi tra
i quali anche Harnack e Cullmann15 hanno pensato che questo pericolo
consistesse in un possibile intervento della polizia allo scopo di mantenere lordine pubblico. Peretto commenta che una tale supposizione chiaramente insufficiente16; Ziegler precisa che il pericolo consiste nella
minaccia del giudizio di Dio17. Siccome Clemente non dice espressa-

12. At 15,2; 19,40; 23,7.10; 24,5.


13. At 18,1-17.
14. 14,2; 41,4; 47,7; 59,1.
15. Cf. la bibliografia citata in nota da Lona, Der erste Clemensbrief, 512, n. 2.
16. Lettera ai Corinzi, 57.
17. A.W. Ziegler, Enwicklungstendenzen der frhchristlichen Staatslehre, in: P. Granfield
J.A. Jungmann (ed.), Kyriakon. Festschrift Johannes Quasten, I-II, Mnster 1970; I, 4058, cit. p. 43. Inoltre lo stesso Ziegler con unaggiunta di G. Brunner, Die Frage nach einer
politischen Absicht des Ersten Klemensbriefes, ANRW II, Bd. 27,1, Berlin 1983, 55-76.

KINDYNOS PERICOLO NELLA PRIMA CLEMENTIS

137

mente in cosa consista questo pericolo, merita che ricordiamo tutti i passi
dove ricorre il termine.
Il contesto della prima ricorrenza. I capitoli 1318 invitano ad avere
sentimenti di umilt e dolcezza. Lesortazione fondata su citazioni della
Scrittura e sullinsegnamento di Ges. Quindi Clemente ne trae la conclusione, che nello stesso tempo introduce lo sviluppo dei capitoli 14 e 15.
giusto e santo, uomini fratelli, obbedire a Dio piuttosto che seguire
nellarroganza e nella sedizione i capi della detestabile gelosia. Noi ci
esporremo non a un danno leggero, ma a un grave pericolo, se da temerari
ci consegniamo ai capricci di uomini, che si lanciano nella contesa e nelle
sedizioni per allontanarci dal bene (14,1-2).

La prima frase18, introdotta con lespressione giusto e santo, esprime un principio valido a livello umano e religioso. La proposizione contiene dei termini correlativi, dove evidente lesclusione della seconda
possibilit. Il secondo verso con una frase ipotetica motiva perch non conviene mettersi al seguito (ejxakolouqeivn) di capi altezzosi e facinorosi: enfaticamente viene anticipata lapodosi, dove ancora con una opposizione
(ouj ga\r ma/llon de/) si sottolinea la gravit del pericolo, nel caso ci si
affidi ai capricci di tali persone. Anche se il seguito, dove si oppone il buon
esito dei buoni e la fine miseranda degli empi, implica il giudizio di Dio,
lautore non chiarisce quale sia il pericolo.
La seconda ricorrenza in 41,4.
Vedete, fratelli: quanto maggiore la scienza, della quale siamo stati
giudicati degni, tanto maggiore il pericolo al quale siamo esposti.

Con il cap. 40 inizia la seconda parte della lettera (capp. 4061,3), che
tratta in concreto della rimozione dei presbiteri dal loro ufficio. Il nostro
versetto, che inizia con lappellativo vedete, fratelli, contiene una riflessione. Ancora una comparazione: quanto maggiore la scienza, tanto pi
siamo esposti al pericolo. In 40,1 parla di scienza divina (qei/a gnw/si).

18. Purtroppo le traduzioni non sempre rendono il senso proprio delle particelle oun
consecutiva e ga/r causale. Per la loro frequenza in 1Clem cf. Brunner, Die theologische
Mitte, 105. Per la particella oun vale anche per 1Clem la conclusione di W. Nauck, Das
oun-parneticum, ZNW 49 (1958) 134-135, qui 135: Das oun-parneticum lt den

Charakter urchristlicher Etik erkenne: Sie ist weder eine autonome, noch eine finale,
sondern eine konsekutive Etik; eine Etik, die aus dem gndigen Handeln Gottes die
Folgerung im Vollzug der Lebensfhrung zieht. Christliche Etik ist Etik der Dankbarkeit.

138

G. BISSOLI

Subito dopo richiama aspetti del culto levitico con i vari tipi di offerte, i
tempi in cui vengono fatte, il luogo determinato a ci e il personale che vi
opera. Il capitolo si conclude con una frase enigmatica: Il laico tenuto ai
precetti del laico (40,5). Il contesto parla di realt anticotestamentarie.
Neppure a livello grammaticale appare qualche particella che opponga questa frase alle precedenti. Non dobbiamo pensare che lautore voglia presentare le differenti componenti del popolo di Israele.
Con un suo recente articolo il Fraine, basandosi soprattutto sulluso del
termine pro/stagma, comando in Ezechiele, ci riporta alla distinzione fra
il popolo docile ai precetti di Dio e il popolo incredulo e non osservante dei
comandamenti divini. Un detto di Isaia (LXX Is 29,13), citato anche dai
Sinottici per la questione della purit19, dice: Questo popolo si avvicina a
me solo a parole e mi onora con le labbra, mentre il suo cuore lontano da
me e il culto un imparaticcio di usi umani (ejnta/lmata ajnqrw/pwn kai\
didaskali/a). Per punire questo tipo di comportamento, nel libro di Ezechiele Dio arriva ad esprimersi in questo modo: Allora io diedi loro perfino
statuti non buoni e leggi per le quali non potranno vivere (prosta/gmata ouj
kala\ kai\ dikaiw/mata ejn oi ouj zh/sontai ejn aujtoiv) (Ez 20,25). Questo
comportamento, che non santifica il Nome di Dio, anzi lo profana, rende il
popolo impuro. La LXX usa laggettivo be/bhlo per rendere lidea di impuro, mentre altre antiche traduzioni, forse per usare un termine meno negativo, in alcuni passi preferiscono il termine laiko/20.
Clemente non polemizza sulle antiche prescrizioni o sul popolo giudaico, ma si ferma semplicemente al livello storico. Dopo aver parlato dei
precetti cultuali dellantica alleanza e della pena di morte per le infrazioni,
conclude con quella frase sibillina. Parafrasando, possiamo rendere cos il
suo pensiero: I precetti laici sono precetti che culturalmente vincolano
luomo di questo popolo21. A questo punto sinnesta il versetto che
parla di scienza maggiore. Si tratta dei cristiani che sono stati giudicati
degni di una conoscenza migliore. Per la trasgressione della volont divina da parte loro comporta un pericolo maggiore. Clemente non precisa
che sorta di pericolo sia.
La terza ricorrenza. Dopo aver precisato che i giusti hanno sofferto a
causa dei malvagi (cap. 45) e che bisogna seguire le orme dei santi (cap.
19. Mc 7,6-7; Mt 15,8-9. In 1Clem ricorre in 15,3.
20. Cf. le citazioni riportate in W. Bauer, Wrterbuch zum Neuen Testament, 6., vllig neu

bearbeitete Auflage von Kurt und Barbara Aland, Berlin - New York 1971, 941 ad voc.:
Sim. Teod. Ez 48,15; Sim. Ez 22,26.
21. Faivre, Prceptes lacs, 306.

KINDYNOS PERICOLO NELLA PRIMA CLEMENTIS

139

46), rammenta che un dissidio era gi avvenuto nella comunit di Corinto,


ai tempi del suo fondatore, Paolo. Clemente fa appello alla lettera che Paolo indirizz ai corinti. Essa testimonia che quella prima divisione avvenne
per aver parteggiato per apostoli [] e per un uomo da loro approvato.
Era una colpa leggera parteggiare per tali personalit, mentre ora:
vergognoso, carissimi, molto vergognoso e indegno della vostra
condotta in Cristo sentir dire che la solida e antica chiesa dei corinzi a
causa di uno o due persone, in rivolta contro i presbiteri. Questa notizia
giunta non solo a noi, ma anche a coloro che sono a noi estranei, sicch
la vostra stoltezza porta biasimo al nome del Signore e mette voi stessi in
pericolo (47,6-7).

La frase principale dellultimo verso parla della diffusione della notizia


anche al di fuori dellambiente cristiano. La frase secondaria dice che ne
provengono due conseguenze, la prima che il nome del Signore biasimato per il comportamento della comunit, la seconda che la comunit stessa
si mette in pericolo. La traduzione italiana pu far pensare che il pericolo
sia una mera possibilit, mentre in greco il verbo principale un tempo storico (ejxw/rhsen) e la particella, che regge la consecutiva allinfinito presente, esprime un fatto gi avvenuto e i cui effetti esistono ancora. Neppure
qui lautore precisa quale sia la minaccia che il pericolo comporta. Il verso
seguente (48,1) si collega con oun, dunque e contiene lesortazione a rimuovere questo male e a pregare e supplicare il Signore per ottenere di
essere riconciliati e rimessi nella pratica dellamore fraterno.
La quarta ed ultima ricorrenza sta in 59,1. Nei due capitoli precedenti,
che Peretto intitola invito alla penitenza22, si inizia con un imperativo:
Voi dunque che avete gettato le fondamenta della sedizione, sottomettetevi ai presbiteri, e continua offrendo il tema di quanto segue: lasciatevi
correggere per la vostra conversione (57,1). Quindi fa parlare la Sapienza
con una lunga citazione di Pr 1,23-33. Lesortazione contenuta in 58,1 invita allobbedienza, avvertendo di evitare di incorrere nelle minacce pronunciate contro i disobbedienti e di ottenere il beneficio di riposare
fiduciosi nel santissimo nome della sua maest (58,1). Naturalmente la
Sapienza una personificazione di Dio stesso. Per questo lautore conclude con una dossologia trinitara e lamen. Di per s questa la conclusione
della lettera. Segue poi la grande preghiera (59,361,3) e al termine di tutto uno sguardo retrospettivo (capp. 6265).

22. Lettera ai Corinzi, 267.

140

G. BISSOLI

Pure questultima volta, dove si dice: Se alcuni disobbediscono alle


parole da lui dette per mezzo nostro, sappiano che si espongono a una colpa e a un pericolo non trascurabile, non precisato quale sia questo pericolo. Possiamo chiarirci il concetto di pericolo con una definizione. Il dizionario lo descrive cos: Possibilit, per lo pi incombente e minacciosa,
che si verifichi qualcosa di negativo, dannoso, doloroso, rovinoso o comunque indesiderato, temuto, deprecato; situazione, condizione, circostanza,
atto, evento a cui inerisce tale possibilit23. Due volte Clemente cita Datan
e Abiron, che si sollevarono contro Mos ed Aronne al tempo della peregrinazione nel deserto24. Giuseppe Flavio, narrando lo stesso episodio, lo
descrive come una sommossa che li condusse tutti nel pericolo di una distruzione, dalla quale, per, li salv Mos25. Il pericolo fu scampato dal
popolo, ma non dai ribelli che perirono con tutti i loro familiari e i loro
averi. Lepisodio biblico serve come minaccia ai corinti che nella situazione della rivolta contro i presbiteri si trovano ad essere in opposizione alla
volont di Dio26. Per qualche critico la minaccia del giudizio finale sarebbe
il fondamento della parenesi di Clemente27. Dubito che una persona come
Clemente, capace di trovare il modo di stabilire un rapporto di pace con
chiunque, faccia forza sullargomento del giudizio per portare i corinzi alla
conversione.

La preghiera per gli eletti


Sembra uneccezione il fatto che in 32,4 Clemente parli di giustificazione
per la fede, dato che pi spesso insiste sulla salvezza che viene dallosservanza dei precetti. Basti citare il detto: mostriamoci giusti con le opere e
non con le parole (30,3). Per questo Clemente, oltre che legato allidea

23. S. Battaglia, Grande dizionario della lingua italiana, X, Torino 1986, 27.
24. Nm 16,30.33: la punizione consiste nellessere inghiottiti vivi in una voragine apertasi

nella terra. Clemente cita lepisodio in 4,12 e 51,3-4.


25. AJ IV,12: traduzione di L. Moraldi, Antichit giudaiche. I: Libri I-X, Torino 1998, 224;
il testo greco dice: sta/si oun uJfh apanta ajpole/sqai kinduneu/santa eswse
Mwushv (H.St.J. Thackeray, Josephus. IV: Jewish Antiquities, Books I-IV [LCL 242], Cam-

bridge Ma. - London 1967, 480).


26. H. Lohmann, Drohung und Verheissung. Exegetische Untersuchungen zur Eschatologie
bei den Apostolischen Vtern (BZNW 55), Berlin - New York 1989, 82-83.
27. T. Aono, Die Entwicklung des paulinischen Gerichtsgedankens bei den Apostolischen
Vtern (EHS.T 137), Bern - Frankfurt a.M. - Las Vegas 1979, 44.425.

KINDYNOS PERICOLO NELLA PRIMA CLEMENTIS

141

del giudizio, viene considerato anche sostenitore della retribuzione secondo le opere28. Non il caso di rifarsi al problema paolino della giustificazione per la fede o per le opere. Infatti lApostolo proclama necessaria alla
salvezza solo la fede in Cristo, contro i suoi avversari provenienti dal
giudaismo che ritenevano ancora vincolanti le opere della legge mosaica29.
La lettera di Clemente non risente di questa polemica. indirizzata ad una
comunit cristiana di antica data e di origine gentile. Gi da tempo avvenuto il passaggio dalle tenebre alla luce, dallignoranza alla conoscenza
della gloria del suo nome (59,2)30. Lautorit cui si richiama Clemente e
di cui si fa interprete la sacra Scrittura, ci che per noi lAntico Testamento31, accolto dalla comunit come rivelazione della volont di Dio
(45,2; 53,1; 62,3). Tuttavia la conoscenza immortale partecipata da Dio
attraverso Ges Cristo32. La sua comunit, che soggiorna in un determinato
luogo, ha ricevuto da lui le provvisioni per il pellegrinaggio terreno
(ejfo/dion: 2,2) e la prospettiva di beni tali che non si possono immaginare
(34,7-8; 35,1-3).
Come sono mirabili e stupendi i doni di Dio, o carissimi! Vita
nellimmortalit, splendore nella giustizia, verit nella franchezza, fede
nella confidenza, padronanza di s nella santificazione (35,1-2).

Ci che fa problema la corrispondenza umana. Per questo sono necessarie la correzione (paidei/a) e lammonizione (nouqe/thsi) per aderire alla
volont divina. Lintervento di Dio non necessario solo per ottenere il perdono delle colpe. Il suo aiuto indispensabile, perch il comportamento delluomo sia buono e gradito al suo cospetto33. Non basta neppure il rispetto
dellordinamento stabilito da Dio, ma ogni azione deve avere come origine
lamore: senza la carit (ajga/ph) nulla gradito a Dio (49,5).
28. Aono, Entwicklung, 43-44.78.92.98.108.408; Lohmann, Drohung, 62.74.
29. G. Barbaglio, Le Lettere di Paolo, II, Roma 1990, 2 ed., 23-26.182-183.
30. Per Bultmann la conoscenza di Dio comprende un aspetto etico-pratico ma anche uno

teorico-gnoseologico: una vera fede (il momento teorico) sempre e soltanto in funzione
della scelta e del comportamento pratico che su di essa si fondano (R. Bultmann, Gnosis,
in GLNT II, 509).
31. Les critures servent darguments, tandis que les crits de la tradition chrtienne
structurent de lintriur, et pour ainsi dire silencieusement, le dvelopment de la pense:
A. Faivre, Le Systme Normatif dans la Lettre de Clment de Rome aux Corinthiens,
RScR 54 (1980) 129-152, qui 152.
32. 1Clem 36,2; cf. 40,1 e 41,4.
33. 1Clem 21,1; 60,2; 61,2; cf. 7,3.

142

G. BISSOLI

Oltre ad aver parlato pi volte del pericolo da evitare, Clemente porta


vari esempi in cui loda il fatto di esporsi al pericolo. Sono esempio di fortezza due donne: Giuditta, esponendosi al pericolo, usc per amore della
patria e del popolo assediato; Ester, perfetta nella fede, non si espose a
minor pericolo per salvare le dodici trib di Israele (55,3-6). Sono figure
esemplari per coloro che sono cittadini di Dio (54,4) e lautore ne parla
invitando i ribelli ad andare anche in esilio volontario, se questo fosse necessario, perch il gregge di Cristo viva in pace con i presbiteri che sono
stati costituiti (54,1-4). unipotesi. Quello che necessariamente devessere fatto, lo dice poco dopo: Voi che avete gettato le fondamenta della
sedizione, sottomettetevi ai presbiteri (57,1). Non manca una riflessione:
preferibile per voi essere trovati piccoli nel gregge di Cristo piuttosto
che, onorati oltre ogni dire, essere esclusi dalla sua speranza (57,2).
proprio della parenesi di Clemente, di non fare ricorso ad un sistema
di norme come tali, anche se queste ricorrono e potrebbero costituirne un
corpo. Per persuadere, lautore utilizza le norme pi popolari, le pi comunemente ammesse, quelle la cui autorit appare meno costringente e pi
naturale34. Richiama i valori che costituiscono lidentit di quelli che sono
gli eletti di Dio35 e formano secondo unespressione propria di Clemente il gregge di Cristo36. Ad essi data una scienza immortale (36,2)
che comporta maggiore responsabilit (41,4) nella pratica dei comandamenti di Cristo nella carit (49,1). dono della misericordia di Dio essere
trovati irreprensibili allavvento del regno di Cristo, ma Clemente aggiunge: Siamo beati, o carissimi, se continuiamo ad osservare i comandamenti
di Dio nella concordia della carit, affinch per la carit ci siano rimessi i
peccati (49,2.5). Di qui linvito a riconoscere le proprie colpe e, se necessario per la conciliazione nella comunit, affrontare anche lesilio volontario (54,1-2). Clemente non impone, ma esorta: Accettiamo la correzione,
per la quale nessuno deve indispettirsi, fratelli. Lammonimento, che ci facciamo a vicenda, buono e molto utile: ci unisce saldamente alla volont
di Dio (56,2); Dio stesso che come Padre buono ci corregge [] per
avere misericordia di noi (56,16).
Clemente cita volentieri il profeta Ezechiele. Da lui prende lespressione: Per la mia vita, dice il Signore, non voglio la morte del peccatore,

34. Faivre, Le Systme Normatif, 151.


35. 1,1; 2,4; 46,4; 49,5; 58,2; 59,2.
36. Jaubert, ptre aux Corinthiens, 76; lespressione ricorre in 1Clem 44,3; 54,2; 57,2.

KINDYNOS PERICOLO NELLA PRIMA CLEMENTIS

143

bens il pentimento37. Il profeta aveva ricevuto da Dio lincarico di essere


sentinella per gli israeliti, avvertendo del pericolo il peccatore, sotto pena
di essere responsabile della sua morte38. La lettera, concepita come un ammonimento (nouqe/thsi) impartito dalla comunit di Roma a quella di
Corinto (56,2; cf. 62,1-3), assolve al compito della correzione. Ma Clemente si prospetta il caso che questa non ottenga leffetto. Se alcuni disobbediscono alle parole da lui (Dio) dette per mezzo nostro, sappiano che si
espongono a una colpa e a un pericolo non trascurabili, ma noi saremo innocenti di questo peccato (59,1-2). La funzione profetica di avvertire del
pericolo stata assolta. Ma per Clemente e per la comunit di Roma il compito non finito: Chiederemo, con suppliche e preghiere assidue, che il
Creatore delluniverso conservi intatto il numero dei suoi eletti, che si conta in tutto il mondo (59,2). una preghiera di intercessione, rivolta a Dio
in nome del Signore Ges. Non la prima volta che si evoca la preghiera
di intercessione per mantenere integro il numero degli eletti. Nel contesto
della laudatio della comunit di Corinto, si ricorda che nel tempo del loro
fervore fra le altre opere della vita cristiana innalzavano una preghiera incessante a favore del numero degli eletti.
Colmi di santo volere, con un ardore sincero e con una piet fiduciosa
tendevate le vostre mani a Dio onnipotente supplicandolo di essere misericordioso, se in qualche cosa involontariamente aveste mancato. Giorno
e notte gareggiavate per tutta la fraternit, affinch nella piet e nella concordia di sentimenti fosse salvo il numero degli eletti (2,3-4).

Il termine gareggiare (ajgw\n hn uJmivn), preso dal mondo sportivo, in


realt indica lardore della preghiera39. Con questo senso ricorre alcune
volte nel Nuovo Testamento (Rm 15,30; Col 2,1; 4,12) e di nuovo in 35,4:
Noi dunque lottiamo (ajgwnisw/meqa) per trovarci nel numero di coloro
che lo attendono per avere i doni promessi.
Lidea di un numero di eletti determinato da Dio ricorre nellapocalittica,
non per limitare il numero dei salvati, ma per spiegare come dopo grandi
calamit continui ancora la storia40. Dio aspetta che il numero degli eletti,

37. Ez 18,23; 33,11 citato in 1Clem 8,2.


38. Ez 33,1-9.
39. W.C. van Unnik, Le nombre des lus dans la premire ptre de Clement, RHPhR 42

(1962) 237-246; H.E. Lona, Die Zahl der Auserwhlten. Ein Versuch ber 1Clem 2,4,
ZNW 85 (1994) 151-158.
40. 4Esd 4,35-37; Ap 6,10-11.

144

G. BISSOLI

numero che lui solo conosce, sia completo. Clemente sa che il disegno di
salvezza, dovuto alliniziativa divina, per la mediazione di Ges si estende a
tutti i popoli (50,7; 59,3). Di fatto nella comunit cristiana sono compresi gli
eletti di Dio. Non predestinazione. La corrispondenza umana pu venir
meno. Il caso di Corinto lo dimostra. Clemente, usando ogni argomento disponibile, esorta e talvolta anche minaccia, ma non va oltre. Nel caso che
lesortazione non raggiunga leffetto, con una continua preghiera Clemente
affida allOnnipotente quegli erranti che continuano sempre ad essere membri della fraternit (2,4). Dio lunico che pu salvare (59,3).

Giovanni Bissoli, ofm


Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Jerusalem

ASPECTOS GRAMATICALES
EN EL EVANGELIO EN HEBREO

DE LA PIEDRA DE TOQUE DE IBN APRU

J.-V. Nicls M. Rauret

Para Carla, Marta y Raquel


El presente trabajo1 pretende sealar las peculiaridades lingsticas (morfolgicas y lxicas) del evangelio en hebreo2 que se halla insertado en el libro medieval de em ob Ibn apru (ca. 1386) La piedra de Toque (Eben
Boan)3, para contribuir a la documentacin de las fases de desarrollo de
la lengua4.
La presencia de una traduccin al hebreo del evangelio de Mateo ha
suscitado numerosas teoras sobre su origen, desde la ms espontnea que
la atribuira al autor del libro, em ob Ibn apru, hasta quien la conside-

1. J.V. Nicls ha reunido los elementos sintcticos y gramaticales. Marta Rauret Domnech

ha revisado todo el artculo y aportado numerosas sugerencias, tanto al texto hebreo como
al romance cataln. No ha podido, por desgracia, dar el ltimo repaso al artculo, por lo que
cualquier error debe atribuirse al co-autor de este trabajo.
2. Con vistas a una posible publicacin del mismo en la coleccin Corpus Biblicum Catalanicum dirigido por Armand Puig. Sobre la Biblia en Espaa, en general, Jos Manuel
Snchez Caro, La aventura de leer la Biblia en Espaa, Fac. Santo Toms de Aquino, Univ.
Pontificia Salamanca, Salamanca 2000.
3. Se trata de una obra de confrontacin o controversia anticristiana de XV o XVI secciones,
con una primera parte de defensa del credo hebraico (I-XI). Una seccin filosfica de
anlisis racional de la fe (I), discusin de promesas y profecas del Antiguo Testamento (IIX), aportaciones de la haggadh (XI). El Evangelio de Mateo ocupa la seccin XII de la
recensin ms antigua. Con este libro y los siguientes, se pasa a la ofensiva contra el dogma
cristiano: la resurreccin (XIII), el Mesas (XIV), las teoras del Maestro Alfonso (Abner de
Burgos) sobre la Biblia y la haggadh (XV). La obra tuvo un largo proceso de redaccin,
pues el primer proyecto de la obra estara terminado en 1380 (libros I-XII), tan slo un ao
despus de la disputa con el Cardenal D. Pedro de Luna en Pamplona. Fue completado en
1386 (libros XIII-XIV) y finalizado en 1405 (libro XV). Para todas estas cuestiones y la
edicin crtica de la parte filosfica, vase: J.V. Nicls, em ob ibn apru: La piedra de
toque (Eben Boan): una obra de controversia judeo-cristiana: introduccin, edicin crtica,
traduccin y notas al libro I, Madrid 1997.
4. Vase, E.Y. Kutscher, A History of the Hebrew Language, Jerusalem 1982; M.H. Segal,
A Grammar of Mishnaic Hebrew, Oxford 1927; M. Bar-Asher, Studies in Mishnaic Hebrew,
Jerusalem 1998. En castellano, M. Prez, La Lengua de los sabios, Estella 1992; A. Senz
Badillos, Historia de la lengua hebrea, Sabadell 1988.
LA 51 (2001) 145-182

146

J.-V. NICLS M. RAURET

ra incluso contempornea o anterior a la versin griega de Mateo. A nuestro parecer se trata de una traduccin medieval que no sali de las manos
de Ibn apru, quien emplea la palabra copiar al hablar de ella. Seguramente fue compuesto en un medio de habla catalana, no castellana, como
Tudela, patria de Ibn apru. Suponemos que el autor era cristiano5. Ibn
apru se limita a insertar a lo largo de los captulos de la traduccin sus
comentarios de confrontacin. El evangelio plantea cuestiones interesantes
para el estudio del hebreo. Los medios lingsticos con que fue escrito el
evangelio en hebreo, son, en cierto sentido, artificiales, debido al hecho de
que el mismo HM6 no era una lengua de uso corriente en la Edad Media
espaola. Se pueden percibir en l la influencia del romance hablado en
diversos errores de concordancia y de reccin. El hebreo de la traduccin
es, en cuanto a sintaxis y vocabulario, muy prximo al bblico, casi en un
90%. El resto del vocabulario es misnico. Y una mnima parte lo componen palabras en lengua no hebrea, creemos que en romance, y palabras
hebreas que tienen un sentido especial en la poca medieval. En general, el
uso preponderante de la lengua hebrea bblica de este evangelio se puede
interpretar como un intento de recrear y actualizar el trasfondo de la Biblia
hebrea para situaciones narrativas y culturales posteriores7. Sera un uso del
hebreo similar al que los primeros cristianos hacan del griego de la LXX:
temtico, literario, estilstico, analgico e incluso poltico8. Sobre este

5. Para todo ello, vase, J.V. Nicls, Lvangile en hbreu de em ob Ibn apru: Une
traduction dorigine judo-catalane due un converti, et replace dans son contexte / Sitz
im Leben, RB 106(1999) 358-370. Sobre la autora catalana, pp. 370ss.
6. HM = hebreo medieval; HB = Hebreo Bblico; HBT = Hebreo bblico tardo; HR =
Hebreo rabnico.
7. Vase, per a la LXX, M. Hari, Le nom de lArche de No dans la septainte. Les choix
lexicaux des traducteurs alexandrins, indices dinterprtations thologiques?, enAlexandrin.
Mlanges offerts Claude Mondsert: Hellnisme, judasme et christianisme Alexandrie,
S. J., Paris 1987, 15-43; M. Petit, Exploitations non bibliques des thmes de Tamar et de
Gense 38: Philon dAlexandrie; textes et tratitions juives jusquaux Talmudim, ibid., 77115 (p. 115: Un texte sacr pouvait tre repens, adapt, en fonction du milieu culturel et
politique ambian).
8. Vase, N. Fernndez Marcos, Introduccin a las versiones griegas de la Biblia (2 ed.
revisada y ampliada), Madrid 1998, 334. Otra analoga es la relectura bblica de los poetas
hebreos medievales espaoles, como emuel ha-Nagid. Vase Poemas: I desde el campo de
batalla. Granada 1038-1056, ed. texto hebreo, intr., trad. y notas por A. Senz Badillos y J.
Targarona Borrs, Crdoba 1988, 9. El rey de Almera y su visir son, para la taifa granadina,
como Haman en el libro de Ester (Est 7), que traman la destruccin de los judos pero son
desenmascarados por el docto varn Mardoqueo (emuel) y la liberacin es celebrada en la
fiesta de Purim. Vase tambin, A. Senz Badillos, Literatura Hebrea en la Espaa medieval, Madrid 1991, 82, 85.

ASPECTOS GRAMATICALES

147

nivel compositivo se da una segunda adaptacin del lenguaje del mismo


Mateo a situaciones histricas posteriores, como es la vida cristiana medieval explicada mediante glosas9 o tal vez a la misma situacin personal
del autor. En efecto, en Mateo griego se haba producido un alejamiento de
las instituciones judas (sus sinagogas: 10,17; 12,9). Nuestro autor lo
continua, y habla de vuestra ley (ktrwtb hvm hwx rvak [tu ofrenda],
como mand Moiss en vuestra Ley 8,4, / la ofrenda que orden Moiss
para testimonio a ellos Mt Gr).
Suponiendo que la lengua base a partir de la que se hizo la traduccin
fue muy posiblemente una lengua romance (creemos que la catalana)10,
podremos valorar la eleccin personal del traductor en la adopcin de palabras, giros, e incluso frases enteras del hebreo bblico de manera literal,
teniendo en cuenta que las traducciones de la poca medieval generalmente eran calcadas de su lengua base. A pesar de todo, quedan huellas de la
lengua hablada por el autor, romance, en la diferente concordancia de los
nombres respecto a la Biblia y en el orden de las palabras. Como veremos,
incluso se puede rastrear la curiosa formacin de palabras mixtas, con una
primera parte en lengua hebrea y la segunda en romance.
De este evangelio existe una edicin reciente, sin vocalizar, en la que
se pueden cotejar algunas de nuestras afirmaciones11. Es el texto evanglico completo ms antiguo en hebreo, posiblemente fuente de traducciones
posteriores12. El texto base era un evangelio con algunas glosas de otros
sinpticos incorporados al texto, que citamos con un asterisco. En los manuscritos originales aparecen con matres lectionis, en escritura plena, muchos vocablos que en la Biblia aparecen con la vocalizacin infrascrita de
los tiberienses. Este hecho lleva en ocasiones a tensiones a la hora de vo9. Como la del ciento por uno aplicada a los tres estados de santidad medievales, de virgi-

nidad, continencia y matrimonio: Mt 13,23; Cf. Nicls, Lvangile en hbreu, 393.


10. Cf. Nicls, Lvangile en hbreu, 358-407. Sobre el contexto histrico de la llegada

de este evangelio a manos de Ibn apru, del mismo autor: La disputa religiosa de D. Pedro
de Luna con el judo de tudela D. em ob Ibn apru en Pamplona (1379): El contexto en
la vida y la predicacin de san Vicente Ferrer, Rvue des Etudes Juives 160 (3-4) (2001)
409-433.
11. G. Howard, The Gospel of Matthew according to a Primitive Hebrew Text, Macon
(Georgia) 1987; existe una segunda edicin, en la que el autor suprime el adjetivo primitivo. Su edicin (o.c p. X) omite los manuscritos de las bibliotecas italianas, que consideramos los ms antiguos y de mayor calidad. Vase tambin su descripcin, en la que no
coincidimos: Matthew, Hebrew version of, en N. Freedman (ed.), The Anchor Bible Dictionary, IV, New York 1992, 642-643.
12. Las primeras ediciones de S. Mnster (1537) y de J. du Tillet (1555) afirman que han recibido el manuscrito de los judos. Vase, G. Howard, Matthew, Hebrew version of, 642.

148

J.-V. NICLS M. RAURET

calizar, no obstante lo cual siempre hemos respetado la escritura


semiconsonntica.
El resultado de este anlisis lingstico nos sita, como podr juzgar el
lector, ante un mosaico compuesto por teselas de distintas pocas.
Hemos distribuido en tres partes el estudio de las unidades gramaticales: la Morfologa: el grupo nominal, el verbo, las partculas; la Sintaxis;
el Lxico y los giros bblicos y especiales.

A. LA MORFOLOGA
I. El grupo nominal
La morfologa del grupo nominal en el texto del evangelio no es diferente
de la bblica, aunque contiene ciertas peculiaridades que iremos sealando.
1. Los pronombres personales. Estos pronombres recogen las formas bblicas breves y en alguna ocasin las alargadas del hebreo clsico para la
primera persona del singular. El pronombre de primera persona del plural
aparece en la forma breve y alargada casi por igual.
Ejemplos y frecuencia:
- La primera persona del singular es la que aparece en mayor nmero
de ocasiones (97x). En la mayora de los casos precede al verbo. Acompaa siempre a las frases participiales, como lo exige la gramtica:
kl rmwa yna g tambin yo os digo (21,24).
hcw[ yna jk hzyab con qu fuerza yo acto (21,27).
En algunas ocasiones acompaa a un verbo en imperfectiva, cuando el
verbo lleva ya en s la marca personal:
lw[l bx[ta al yna, no me arrepentir jams (26,33, Pedro).
Precedido de la partcula waw:
klw[ tacl kta rwz[a ynaw yla wawb, venid a m y yo os ayudar
a portar vuestro yugo (11,28; cf. 26,11).
kl wvy rwsma ynaw yl ynttAhm, qu me dars si os entrego a Jess
(26,15).
Precedido de la partcula gw:
twwjtvhl wyla aba yna gw13, tambin yo ir a adorarlo (2,8).
13. El grupo

Am 4,6.

yna gw aparece 18 veces en la Biblia, sobre todo en Ezequiel (8x), cf. Ez 5,11;

ASPECTOS GRAMATICALES

149

Slo en algunas ocasiones aparece el pronombre de primera persona


detrs del verbo. La posposicin del pronombre respecto al verbo tiene,
segn P. Joon una funcin contrastiva o pleonstica14 (cf. Coh 1,16; 2,1;
Ct 5,5):
dja rbd ynaAg km lava, os preguntar tambin yo una cosa
(21,24).
pgh yrpm lyaw akm yna htva al, no beber ms del fruto de la
via (26,29). Cf. rhftv yna hxwr, quiero que quedes limpio (8,3).
qydxh wtwa dgnk rbd rmat al yn[ wvbv mm yna hljm, te suplico
que de ninguna manera digas algo contra ese justo (27,19, en el sueo de
la mujer de Pilatos).
En una sola ocasin aparece la forma alargada antigua ykna15 seguramente por motivos estilsticos: kwtb ykna v, all estoy yo en medio de
ellos (18,20).
Del resto de pronombres personales, el de tercera persona del singular
sigue en nmero de apariciones (45x forma femenina, 92x forma
masculina).
Un uso particular es cuando va pospuesto al participio, para dar validez universal a una sentencia: awh bwtk est escrito (4,4)16. awh byj,
debe, merece (ser condenado) (5,21.22)17. O al final de la frase nominal: awh wnmm lwdg, mayor que el (Templo) es l (12,6).
En frases nominales explicativas: daAb awh [rwzh, el sembrador es
el Hijo del Hombre (13,19); lah rbd [mwvh awh bahAl[ lpn rvaw, lo
que cay sobre la piedra, es el que escucha (13,20).
Se encuentra en segundo lugar, tras el elemento remtico, lo mismo que
suceda con el pronombre de primera persona (vase supra, 8,3). En el caso
siguiente, creemos que puede tratarse de un calco de la sintaxis romance
catalana: awh llpthl vm hwbg rhAla kylwyw, los conduce a un monte
alto, para orar l (per a posar-se ell a pregar) (17,1, Transfiguracin).
El pronombre de tercera persona conserva en ciertos casos valor enftico: awh ymvbv yba wxr hcw[hAlk ymaw ytwyjaw yja, quien hace la voluntad de mi Padre del Cielo, se es mi hermano, mis hermanas y mi madre
(12,50). Con el artculo funciona, como es sabido, como demostrativo e indica la lejana espacial o temporal: awhh db[h axy, sali aquel siervo
14. Grammaire de lhbreu biblique, Roma 1923 (reimp. 1987), 450. El trmino pleonstico no tiene implicaciones semnticas en nuestro caso.
15. R. Meyer, Gramtica de la lengua hebrea, Barcelona 1989, 130 ( 130).
16. Vase, M. Prez, La Lengua de los Sabios, Estella 1992.
17. Cf. ExR 31,6. Talmud Jer. Yeb 5,1.

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(18,28); awhh dal ywa, ay, de aquel hombre (26,24); wvy axy awhh wyb,
Aquel da sali Jess (13,1).
Aparece en frases nominales tambin con pronombres de primera o
segunda persona, o incluso de tercera persona: awh ynav kb hnwma hyhy,
tened confianza, que soy yo (14,27; cf. Is 41,4; 43,10.13);
ymvb wab ybrv jyvmh awh yna rmal, muchos vendrn diciendo: yo soy
el Mesas (24,5). yhlahAb awh hta tmab, en verdad t eres el Hijo de
Dios (14,33, confesin de Pedro); ydwhyh lm awh htah, eres t el rey
de los judos? (27,11; aybnh hz trwbjm awh hta, t eres de la compaa de este profeta, 26,73). Y refuerza el pronombre demostrativo:
ypwg awh hz wlkaw wjq, tomad y comed, ste es mi cuerpo (26,26). En
interrogativas, hz awh ym, quin es ste (8,27). Su uso doble tiene un
valor especificativo: awh awh whqva rva vyah, El hombre que bese, es
aquel mismo (26,48). yhlahAb aWhv rma awhv, pues l dijo que es
el Hijo de Dios (27,43).
El pronombre de primera persona del plural es el bblico, wnjna y aparece en tres ocasiones (6,12; 17,19; 20,18). La forma breve (wna), preponderante en la Misn, de carcter ms coloquial en tiempos bblicos18, aparece
cuatro veces, y su eleccin podra obedecer a exigencias de ritmo:
hqdxAlk ylvhl ybyj wna kv, pues debemos cumplir con toda justicia (3,15).
rbdmb jl awxml ylwky wna yamw, dnde podemos conseguir pan en
el desierto? (15,33; cf. 27,63; 27,14).
En HR se usa indistintamente tanto h como h para el pronombre personal de 3 persona femenino. El empleo del pronombre masculino referido
a las mujeres que se encuentran con el Resucitado, podra tratarse de un
uso indistinto del hebreo ms que de un descuido del traductor o copista:
wyla wbrq hw, ellas se le acercaron (Mt 28,9).
En el resto de casos aparece el pronombre personal femenino, independiente o sufijado, por ejemplo hm, referido a un antecedente femenino
(rwpx, aves, femenino en hebreo) (10,29); hb, antecedente las ciudades
(yr[h) (11,20); hm, antecedente tambin femenino ax, ovejas (18,12);
hAhm, antecedente twxmh, los mandamientos (19,17.18); hynpl, antecedente las mujeres que corren al sepulcro (28,9.10.11).
2. Los pronombres relativos. Alternan los pronombres relativos rva, y
Av, junto con la partcula Ah y participio en funcin de relativo (vase, infra,
la sintaxis).
18. G.A. Rendsburg, Diglossia in Ancient Hebrew (AOS 72), New Haven 1990, 139-140.

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151

3. Los pronombres demostrativos. Como sujeto u objeto, hz ste


(13,54); en caso oblicuo junto a la preposicin, hzl, a ste (13,55); causal hzl, por esto (12,27; cf. 1Sa 21,12). Aparecen formas de HR como wz:
hlwdghw hnwvarh ayh wz, ste es el primero y el ms grande (mandamiento)
(22,38). Para el plural se utiliza la partcula de HR para la proximidad: wla,
estos (14,2). Para determinar una realidad ms alejada del que habla,
como en HR, Ata con sufijos: gd wtwaw, aquel pez (17,27), qydxh wtwa,
aquel justo (27,19).
Aparecen expresiones distintas a las bblicas. El pronombre demostrativo se antepone al sustantivo al que determina: wqmh hz este el lugar, reemplaza a hzh wqmh (14,15); hdyjh taz, en lugar de tazh hdyjh, este
enigma (15,15); tybh tazb (10,12); en esta casa (en aquesta casa), en
vez de tazh tybb o h[v htwab en aquella hora (4,20), en vez de h[vb
tazh, paradigma que podra haber sido expresado de forma bblica por un
adverbio, como hrhm (Coh 8,11) o [tp (Pr 29,1). Esta construccin ya la
vemos en HR, pero la eleccin pudo resultar de la presencia en el texto base
de una expresin como desde aquel instante (des daquell instant) (cf.
14,15).
4. Los pronombres indeterminados. hzya, hzAya: dah rmay rbd hzya,
cualquier palabra que diga el hombre (15,5), con partculas prefijadas,
hzyab: wnydt yd hzAyab, con el mismo juicio que juzguis (7,2). Otras formas indeterminadas, tlwz, tu prjimo (7,5). Un sustantivo genrico, precedido de negacin expresa lo mismo que el pronombre indeterminado negativo, da19: da wnrkc al, no nos contrat nadie (20,7). Se usa tambin la partcula del HR (wv), twa wv, ningn signo (13,58), aparece
tambin en composicin (wvb), mz wvb, en ningn tiempo (= jams,
26,74), yn[ wvb, por ningn motivo (27,19), wlk (1x), nada:
hwv wnyaw wlk, no sirve para nada (5,13).
5. Los pronomombres interrogativos. Vemos el clsico pronombre de lugar de HB hya: dlwnh ydwhyh lm hya, dnde est el rey de los judos, que
ha nacido (2,2). Tambin el interrogativo relativo hzAya: bwf hzAya, qu
obra buena? (19,16). Puede llevar sufijado el pronombre personal apocopado, masculino (HR): lq hzAya, qu es ms fcil (9,5) o femenino: (Iwz):
h[v wzAya (24,43), (a) qu hora h[r wzAya, qu mal (27,23). Con partculas prefijadas: hzyab: hcw[ yna jk hzAyab, con qu poder acto (21,24),
jyvmh dlwy wqm hzAyab, en qu lugar nacer el Mesas (2,4),
19. Cf. Prez, La Lengua de los Sabios, 80.

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hc[n yn[ hzAyal, con qu motivo se haca (26,14); hzAyam:


rbd hzyam mm [rtm awhw, y se enoja contra ti por cualquier causa
(5,23).
6. Pronombres recprocos. Para expresar reciprocidad aparecen formaciones nominales: wh[rAla vya wrmayw, dijeron entre s (21,38), o pronominales: wnybl wnyb, aparte / entre s (16,22)20.
7. Nombres
a. La morfologa, debido a la escritura plena, conlleva una grafa diferente de vocales que aparecen como breves en la Biblia: 12,1: ylwbv (Gn
41,5) ylbv; 12,25: twqwljm (1Cr 23,6) twql]jm.
b. Muchas de las particularidades del nombre pueden consultarse en el
apartado sobre el lxico. Aqu nos limitamos a subrayar algunas particularidades morfolgicas.
Es de notar la formacin de diversos sustantivos a partir de una misma
raz, documentada en hebreo bblico. Por ejemplo, de la raz (har ver)
aparece la forma hlyfq qetilah, para formar nombres de accin, hyyar (cf.
Coh 5,10, ketib): tyyar mz, el tiempo de la visin (2,7). La forma masculina, de pasiva interna ywar, es un adjetivo con sentido adverbial, es digno, merece, merezco, cuya forma femenina es hywar, digna: hyhtAaw
hywar ayhh tybh, si aquella casa fuere digna (10,13). Con la misma raz
encontramos el nombre femenino abstracto en it (HR), que no se da en la
Biblia, tyarm, apariencia (16,3, con la misma estructura, tylkt, el fin,
24,14; cf. Jb 11,7 26,10, 28,3; Sl 139,22). Estas son formaciones propias
del estadio del hebreo distinto al bblico.
La forma terminada en -ut, produce femeninos abstractos: fw[ym
(tnwma), pequeez / escasez (de fe) (13,58; 17,20), y alterna con el adjetivo constructo: lkchAyf[m, pequeos de espritu (16,8), para traducir la
misma actitud evanglica. Los adjetivos calificativos en an, rqv (27,63),
embustero, alternan con perfrasis, como la inspirada en el Cohelet:
lbhAb, necio (5,19).
c. Nombres con sufijos: el nombre viene sufijado en relacin de posesivo: hvya swyw, Jos, su marido (2,19); wtntwj, su suegra (5,14).

20. Vase, TB, Ver 6a; AZ 2b.

ASPECTOS GRAMATICALES

153

d. Algunos nombres bblicos pueden sufrir alteraciones morfolgicas,


fonticas y grficas debido a la lengua hablada en el medio social en que
se tradujo el evangelio, proceso que finaliza en un error de sentido.
Por ejemplo, Sidn (11,21) se trascribe en las lenguas europeas sin el
sonido enftico gutural de la x inicial bblica21, wdyx (Jos 11,8). Este
hecho ha podido llevar a que el nombre bblico Sidn (Sid, en cataln),
desde una Biblia en romance se transcribiera /dysi. A continuacin, a la
escasez de palabras hebreas que terminan en nun comparadas con las que
lo hacen en mem, dara lugar a la escritura final /ds], que se confunde ya
con la ciudad de Sodoma, ds (Gn 13,10). Esta confusin potencial vendra reforzada por el hecho de que el evangelio habla de ella en un contexto prximo (10,5; 11,23; 15,21). Otra razn adicional es el hecho de que la
ciudad de Sodoma es un smbolo bblico de castigo ejemplar. Por tanto,
wdyx > wdys > ds (= ds])22.
Otro fenmeno a destacar es la integracin de palabras hebreas y romances en unidades nuevas. Un caso es el nombre (15,39) aynwdsam (ms.
F)23 (o aynwdasm N)(15,39), que G. Howard (a.l.)24, en su edicin, traduce
como Macedonia, harto improbable por la lejana geogrfica. Nosotros nos
hemos decidido por vocalizar as: ay:n/dSia'me, Masidonia (ms. F). La explicacin parece ser, segn nuestra vocalizacin, la conjuncin de elementos hebreos con romances, influidos estos ltimos por la Vulgata. En concreto, los dos primeros elementos seran la preposicin Aym (me-) de, el
artculo hebreo Ah que no se pronuncia ya con sonido consonntico gutural
sino voclico que corresponde a una vocal abierta a, y finalmente, en la
segunda parte, la trascripcin hebrea de una palabra romance, Sidonia (cf.
Lc 4,26), que corresponde a la regin norte de la Galilea, donde se encontraba Cesarea de Filipo (Mt 16). Por lo tanto, segn la interpretacin de
Biblias medievales o de nuestro traductor, Jess habra desembarcado en el
norte del Lago de Tiberades y se habra dirigido hacia las fuentes del
Jordn, a la regin de la Sidonia (ay:n/dSia'me ral abw). Magadan (hapax
21. Este proceso comienza ya en la poca intertestamentria; vase las transcripciones de
los nombres bblicos en la LXX y otras versiones, Cf. Senz Badillos, Historia de la lengua
hebrea, 89-92.
22. Vase el aparato crtico en Howard, Matthew, Hebrew version of, donde slo un
manuscrito da la lectura wdx.
23. F = manuscrito de la Biblioteca Laurenziana-Medizea, N = de la Biblioteca Neofyti del
Vaticano. Vase J.V. Nicls, em ob ibn apru: La piedra de toque (Eben Bohan),
Madrid 1997.
24. En el aparato crtico se puede ver la confusin de fricativas enfticas y no enfticas
entre los copistas.

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del texto griego) no ha sido identificada, y algunos autores la sitan al este


del lago, en territorio de la actual Jordania. Por tanto: aynwdshm > aynwdsam.
Lo mismo sucede con el compuesto de hebreo-romance, yrablqArh (27,33),
monte Calvario (mont- Calvari).
e. La negacin privativa del nombre es ylb: lvm ylb, sin proverbios
(13,34), tambin puede ser alb que substituye a la anterior: 22,12: alb
yvwbl (hpwjh), sin vestidos, cf. Jb 24,10: vwbl ylb. La negacin de la frase nominal es ya: wlAya, no tiene (2,11), tgrwaw hwwf hnya, ella [la flor de
lirio] no hila ni cose (6,28).
f. Nombres en estado constructo. Para expresar la relacin de genitivo
se usa la anexin.
En ocasiones aparece la construccin sintctica correcta: y tpcAl[
lylgh, a la orilla del mar de Galilea (4,18), mientras otras se omite el artculo en el nomen rectum: hbwrq ymv(h) twklm, el reino de los Cielos
(4,17), omisin comn, para esta estructura, en la literatura midrsica25.
Alguna incorreccin puede deberse al calco de la sintaxis romance. Por
ejemplo, en las palabras iniciales (1,1), la palabra twdlwt lleva artculo
cuando parece que debera ir en anexin: wvy twdlwth hla, estas son las
generaciones de Jess.
Otras veces comprobamos diversas incorrecciones en la misma expresin. O se omite el estado constructo en el nomen regens: ydvh yzwja,
(4,24), o el artculo en el nomen rectum: ydv(h) yzwja, (unos) posedos
de demonios (8,16.28). Carece de h, jwr(h) ylpv, humildes de espritu
(5,3), mientras que, poco despus, en las mismas bienaventuranzas, blh ykz,
limpios de corazn (5,8) la posee 26.
Otra forma de expresar la relacin genitival se realiza con la partcula
Av, tan slo en dos expresiones: dahAblv, del hijo del hombre
(24,27.30.37.39 etc.) y gjlv, de la fiesta (26,17).
g. La concordancia nos revela cambios en el gnero de algunas palabras que podran deberse a la influencia del romance27.

25. Cf. GenR 9.3.


26. Cf. yyj yl[bh, en vez de yyj yl[b, los seres vivos. Vase, Nicls, em ob ibn
apru: La piedra de toque, 205-207.
27. Sobre los casos de incongruencias, en la Biblia, vase, J. Levi, Die Inkongruenz im
biblischen Hebrisch, Wiesbaden 1987, 26, 161-184. Algunos casos se atribuyen a la lengua
hablada o diglosia del hebreo de tiempos bblicos. Cf. Rendsburg, Diglossia in Ancient

ASPECTOS GRAMATICALES

155

En Mt 5,16 tenemos esta frase: twdbkmw twjbwvmh ybwfh kyc[m. Se


trata de un nombre masculino en hebreo (hc[m) pero femenino en romance, las obras (les vostres obres en cataln). Curiosamente concuerda con
el primer adjetivo segn el gnero hebreo, pero no as con los dos participios que van en femenino. Otro caso, en el mismo versculo, es rn, lmpara masculina en la Biblia. Aqu resulta femenina segn el verbo de la subordinada, y como masculino segn la partcula de acusativo que la retoma
(5,15) ryat alv wtwa ycl rn, (no se enciende) una lmpara, para ponerla
[donde] no ilumine. Este caso tambin puede explicarse por el hecho de
que el gnero de la palabra en la lengua hablada es femenino (lmpara,
llntia) pero en hebreo es masculino. En 13,26, tenemos otro sustantivo
hebreo masculino con un predicado femenino: bc[h hldg, creci la hierba. En las lenguas romances hierba es femenino. En 12,34: hph
trrw[tm, la boca est alerta, cuya concordancia considera la palabra
boca femenina, caso que no se da en hebreo pero s en lengua romance,
como el cataln (y el castellano). Otro caso ms complicado lo tenemos en
una frase con glosa en romance:

hjl wyh rva wnyp


( z[l) twmqb ravnh bt aw,
hnma ynfq ta kvAlk htwa vyblm lah rwntb htwa ymycmw hvby rjmw,
Si la hierba que hay en el campo (en romance feno), que hoy
est fresca pero maana seca y la arrojan al fuego, Dios la viste,
cuanto ms a vosotros, gente de poca fe (6,30).
La palabra hebrea bt es masculina y concuerda con el participio masculino (e incluso con la palabra romance feno): Los adjetivos del resto de
la frase la consideran femenina (hjl, hvby) lo mismo que la concordancia
del pronombre sufijado (htwa). Ello se explica si el autor tena en la mente
una palabra incluso ms comn que la que apareca en su versin de base
romance (paja, palla, en vez de heno, feno).
El caso inverso lo tenemos en palabras referidas al cuerpo, normalmente femeninas en hebreo, pero no as siempre en las lenguas romances, como
la palabra ojo (ull, masculino): ny[ tysyAaw, si te tienta tu ojo, en
Hebrew, 44-49; 69-79; 125-129. Segn Lula Charlap, Ibn Ezra efectu en la Edad Media
un acercamiento diacrnico al estudio del gnero y nmero. Ibn Ezra postulara, para el
gnero y nmero, una subestructura histrica ms amplia subyacente a la que aparece en la
Biblia. En nuestro caso las estructuras gramaticales subyacentes seran las de la lengua romance. Cf. Lula Charlap, Three views Regarding the Gender of Biblical Names in he
Writings of Medieval Hebrew Grammarians, in Proceedings of the 6th EAJS Congress,
Toledo 1998, Vol. I, Brill 1999, 17-25.

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vez de colocar el verbo en tercera persona femenino (ny[ tystAaw),


ydbk hyny[ , por twdbk (26,43), o reino (regne, masculino),
twklm rbtyw (y no rbttw), sea bendito tu Reino (6,10).
8. Adjetivos. Algunos adjetivos son bblicos: (3,8) hmylv, escritos en escritura plena (cf. Dt 25,15; Pr 11,1: hmlv). f[m sobre todo en constructos, lkchAyf[m
faltos de entendimiento (16,8); otros son de HR, ylfb, ociosos (20,3).
Se recogen algunos adjetivos de HR cuyo sentido ya parece haberse
especializado en la poca misnica para la argumentacin casustica. Tal es
el de la forma qatul28, tway, es conveniente (5,25), y ywar, comunes en HR
lo mismo que en la prosa hispana medieval29: kl ta ywarh, os dar lo
conveniente (20,4). El adjetivo tway aparece una sola vez, sin pronombre
personal: rhmtv tway, conviene que te apresures (5,25). El adjetivo del
tipo qaal byj, (ser) culpable o (estar) obligado a aparece en numerosas ocasiones: byj wnya lkyhb [bvnh, el que jura por el templo no est
obligado (23,16) sobre todo seguido de pronombre, awh byj; (5,21.22; cf.
en plural 3,15 y como participio, ybyjm [tyyh al], 12,7).
Tambin la construccin con el adjetivo seguido de partcula, l dyt[ (Jb
15,24) es comn en HR: lwbsl dyt[ yna, estoy dispuesto a padecer
(20,22), sobre todo para el contexto de un futuro escatolgico 30:
abl dyt[vAym awh, l es el que ha de venir (11,3); abl dyt[hAhyla awh, es
Elas, el que haba de venir 11,14). abl dyt[ , tiene que venir (24,6).
El superlativo se realiza con un giro rabnico en el segundo miembro
Abv 31, vdqmhAlkbv en vez de vdqmhAlkm. Obsrvese este caso donde falta el
artculo en la frase adjetiva32 y puede darse tal vez un influjo indirecto de la
lengua romance: vdqmhAlkbv hwbg rtwyh wqm(h)Al[, al lugar ms alto que
(haba) en el Templo (el lloc ms alt que (hi havia) en el Temple (4,5).

II. El Verbo
La conjugacin semtica est abundantemente documentada en las siguientes formas:
28. Vase, Meyer, Gramtica de la lengua hebrea, 177ss ( 48).
29. Senz Badillos, Historia de la lengua hebrea, 216.
30. Cf. Prez, La Lengua de los Sabios, 172.
31. Vase, Prez, La Lengua de los Sabios, 137.
32. Cf. casos bblicos de nombres sin artculos acompaados de adjetivo que lo posee,
Rendsburg, Diglossia in Ancient Hebrew, 106.

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157

1. La conjugacin preformativa, con el uso de waw versivo, especialmente en inicio de versculo. Muchas veces, con verbos coordinados de movimiento:
jqyw qyw, se levant y tom (2,21; cf. v. 23).
Se pueden detectar formas breves, como en la Biblia (aryw, vio 3,7;
[yw, respondi 4,4; bsyw, recorra 4,23; fyw, extendi 4,21; 8,3). Verbos denominativos: byw (22,25; cf. Gn 38,8). La forma femenina de tercera persona de plural sigue al HB: hnrmatw, y dijeron ellas (25,8; Sl 35,10;
Est 1,18), hnarqtw, y gritaban (25,11; Ex 1,10; Rt 1,20ss).
Aparecen muchas formas con sufijos:
- 3p.sg.f. +sf. 3p.pl.m.: [yvrtw, y los condenar (hif. 12,42).
- 3p.sg. + sf. 3p.sg.m.: wharyw, le mostr (hif. 4,8), whdym[yw, le puso
(hif. 4,5), whmycyw, le puso (hif. 18,2).
-3p.sg. + sf. 3p.sg.f. con nun epenttico: hndbay, la perder (pi. 10,39).
- 3p.sg. + sf. 3p.pl.: jlvyw, los envi (2,8), tyjvy, los ahog (24,39).
- 2p.pl + sf. 1p.sg. ynwvybltw, y me vestisteis (25,36).
-3p.pl. +sf. 3p.sg.: whwrytsy, lo enterraron (13,44).
-3p.pl + sf. 3pl.: w[mvy, les escucharn (6,7).
Alguna raz en hifil no aparece sino en HR, como dysph,
yrbyam dja dysptv l bwf, es mejor que pierdas un miembro (5,30),
vyblh, yvm ydgb wvyl wvyblyw, pusieron a Jess un vestido de seda (27,28).
La forma impersonal se puede expresar de varias maneras 3 pl.:
rn wqyldy al, no encienden una luz (= no se enciende, 5,15); en la
pasiva sirve muchas veces como recurso para sealar acciones divinas sin
nombrar a Dios (menos el caso del hofal): qal, rwsa, no est permitido
(18,18); y sobre todo nifal: kl wntny, os sern dados (6,33); jtpy, se
abre (7,8); rcy, ser quemado (7,19); jqlyw, ser tomado (9,15);
arqy lbhAb, ser llamado hijo de vanidad (5,19); con nun paraggica
walmy, se cumplirn (26,54), hofal: jlmwy, se sala y jlvwy, es arrojada, la sal (jlm) (5,13); abwh, se present (12,22); Wabwh, fueron presentados (19,13). Algn hitpolel: mwvt, ser destruida (12,25 = Ecl
7,16).
El sentido reflexivo se refuerza con partculas en alguna ocasin, en vez
de usar la forma de hitpael: wl lh, se march (16,4). Un posible uso
reflexivo, dam wyla [ryw, se irrit mucho contra s (2,16), si no es error
de copista por hyla > hyl[, contra ellos. El uso recproco tambin viene reforzado por partculas: hynyb wpxqty, se odiarn entre s (24,10).
Es curioso el uso de dos verbos de la misma raz en una frase, en distintas conjugaciones con matices diferentes, para calcar la lengua base,
nifal e hitpael: lw[l bx[ta al yna yl[ wbx[y lwkAa, aunque todos

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J.-V. NICLS M. RAURET

te entristezcan, yo jams me habr de entristecer (= arrepentir) (26,33; cf.


v. 38: twmAd[ tbx[tm yvpn, mi alma est triste hasta la muerte).
Entre los verbos modales en imperfectivo, con significado de presente, aparece lkwy en mltiples ocasiones, en frases afirmativas: yhla lkwy,
Dios puede (3,9), o negativas, vya lkwy al, no puede el hombre
(6,24).
La negacin es normalmente la, para formar el imperativo negativo,
excepto en alguna ocasin: Wnymat al, no lo creis (24,23), junto a
wnymatAla (24,26).
2. La conjugacin aformativa
Aparece algn verbo con sufijos, aunque no con tanta frecuencia como en
la conjugacin preformativa: piel con sufijos, wdml, os ensearon
(28,15).
En la forma nifal, aparecen temas verbales de solo dos apariciones en
la Biblia: t[bn, es atormentado, posedo (17,15) (raz t[b, 1Cr 21,30; Est
7,6; cf. Dn 8,17).
Hay alguna forma de nitpaal como pasiva-reflexiva, acompaada
de nifal, vbytn, vbytnw rcn, se quem y sec (13,5).
Encontramos en las formas pasivas abundancia de formas intensivas de
pual, como pasiva de piel: yaybnh wpdr kv, as fueron perseguidos
(5,12); wl rpwky se le perdona (15,6); jwrb wvy jqwl za, entonces fue
tomado Jess por el Espritu (4,1). Con el complemento agente precedido de la partcula b , como en ocasiones en HB, o d[b :
ynhkh ylwdg d[b wdr hyh wvy rvakw, mientras Jess era juzgado por los
Sumos Sacerdotes (27,12).
3. El imperativo
Aparece la segunda persona del singular, en rdenes impartidas por Jess
o por un ngel. En la forma qal, en las tentaciones: rwma, di (4,3).
Pueden ir dos imperativos o una serie de ellos unidos paratcticamente,
como en el estilo del Gnesis: l wq, levntate y anda (2,13; 9,5; cf.
Gn 27,43). Tambin aparece en splicas, como el imperativo enftico singular con Heh paraggica, hswj ten compasin (18,26). Con sufijos
pronominales: whntw y dalo (19,21). La segunda persona del plural, con
escritura plena y sufijos: wnnwj, compadcenos (wnnj;, Sl 123,3).
Bajo la forma hifil aparece una vez el imperativo masculino: jnh (de
jwn), permite, deja hacer (3,15), con sufijos, waybhw y traedlos (21,2).

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159

4. El participio
El participio viene empleado en muchas ocasiones, y con usos diferentes.
Algunos participios recuerdan el lenguaje del Pentateuco y Reyes, como
trvm, servidor, sirviente (23,11; Nm 11,28; Jos 1,1; 1Sa 2,11.18).
Un participio, como el de la expresin twa lklkm, los alimenta
(6,26) aparece como infinitivo, con el mismo sentido en la Biblia (1Re
17,4.7), pero posee sentido diverso al de la forma participial (Ml 3,2: soportar).
Otros participios no estn atestiguados en la Biblia, en la misma raz o
en la forma, como por ejemplo el pilpel: dah tklklm, mancha al hombre (15,20), o con el mismo esquema, como en la forma qal: kl rbwd yna,
yo os digo (11,11), ya raras en HR, yla rbwd yna (GenR 39,9.3).
Con la forma piel y sufijos: wjkvm, le hace olvidar (13,22). En la pasiva pual: trswym, instruida, aleccionada (14,8).
En forma hifil, un verbo de HR 5,23: [rtm awhw, l tiene quejas
de ti.
El participio qal, hmwd aparece sobre todo en la forma femenina,
en las parbolas, teniendo como sujeto el reino de los cielos:
ayh hmwd ymv twklm, el reino de los cielos se parece (13,44).
Los empleos principales del participio son los siguientes:
a. para sealar una relacin durativa o frecuentativa, acompaando a
un verbo en preformativa: tafj ydwtm zaw wyla waxy za, salan a su
encuentro y confesaban sus pecados (3,5-6); o aformativa: njwy ab
rbdmb vrwd lybfmh, apareci Juan Bautista que enseaba en el desierto
(3,1). Aparece tambin con sujeto diferente para el verbo y el participio:
hytwrwmkm ykylvm yja ynv aryw, Y vio a dos hermanos, mientras
arrojaban sus redes (4,17)33, caso en que se da la simultaneidad temporal.
La forma hitpael da a la accin repetida un matiz intensivo: yn[tm,
ayunamos (9,14).
b. Con valor final: wtwa ysnm, para tentarle (16,1).
c. Con valor de adjetivo predicativo: bkvwm, tumbado (9,2); [rwk,
arrodillado (17,14).
33. Vase, M. Prez Fernndez, La funcin circunstancial de la oracin nominal en la

Lengua de los Sabios. Ponencia leda en el Seminario Internacional Complutense La


Exgesis Rabnica: Lengua y Literatura, 25-27 Nov. de 1999.

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d. El participio puede funcionar como un nombre34: ygawdhm kb ym,


quin de vosotros, los que os preocupis? (= los atribulados, 6,27).
e. Con el verbo hyh como auxiliar sirve para formar la perifrstica, con
participio en la voz activa o pasiva de qal. Indica una costumbre o accin
durativa en el pasado: vwbl hyh njwy hnhw, Juan iba vestido (3,4); wyh
yxwr, queran, andaban buscando (26,59). O en el futuro35, pero pensamos que, en el caso siguiente, la eleccin de la pasiva puede ser un calco
de la sintaxis romance: ywc[ hyhy nwxr, (tu voluntad) sea hecha (la teva
voluntat sigui feta) (6,10, en vez de nwxr hc[y; en ocasiones con dos participios coordinados: ymdmw ybvwj wyh [h lkw, todo el pueblo pensaba
y meditaba (Lc 3,15); con piel qpsm hyh njwyw, Juan dudaba (3,14);
pual, vbwlm hyh, iba vestido (22,11). Tambin con el infinitivo de hyh,
como atributo: yarqn twyhl, ser llamados (23,8) o smrum twyhl, para ser
pisoteada (la sal, 5,13).
5. El infinitivo
El infinitivo aparece en mltiples ocasiones. Su forma, normalmente, responde a la morfologa bblica, aunque se introducen algunos trminos de
HR, como el infinitivo qal de pe-yod con la yod del radical: bvyl, sentarse (1,19; 15,35), o lyl, ir (14,16)36. Otros infinitivos aparecen en
Qumrn, testimonio de un valor semntico que recoge el HR del HBT: Mt
11,1, jykwhl juzgar, corregir (cf. wnjykwh, reprndelo, 18,16). En la Biblia aparecen otras formas de hifil preformativas o en participio jykwm: Jb
6,25; 13,10; Sl 94,10; Pr 3,12; 30,6; Is 11,3 (cf. 14,4).
Tambin vemos algn infinitivo piel de uso rabnico, como yyql, para
cumplir (2,23; 3,3) o twxrl, apaciguar (5,24), taprl, curar (8,2) construido de forma analgica a los verbos h |l37.
a. En estado constructo, precedido de la partcula l, o de otras partculas, con valor de subordinadas temporales: v wdmw[b, estando all
(15,29), wrbdb, mientras hablaba (9,18). Con valor incoativo, acompaa34. Vase, Prez, La Lengua de los Sabios, 106.
35. Cf. Prez, La Lengua de los Sabios, 211ss.
36. Cf. Prez, La Lengua de los Sabios, 223.
37. Cf. Prez, La Lengua de los Sabios, 224. Curar parece deba vocalizarse como piel.

Vase. M.S. Segal, A Grammar of Mishnaic Hebrew, 91 (BQ VIII,1). Un solo caso de este
verbo en Ben Shira, cf. Rendsburg, Diglossia in Ancient Hebrew , 91.

ASPECTOS GRAMATICALES

161

do de preposiciones y sufijos, llpthb htaw, t, cuando vaya a rezar


(6,6), kmwxb taw, vosotros, cuando ayunis (6,17). En conjugacin
perifrstica: cwpt wtwyhb, mientras estaba encarcelado (11,2).
b. Con sufijos y valor final: wndymvhlw wnr[xl, para atormentarnos y
destruirnos 8,29. Algunos infinitivos vienen coordinados: wtwqlhlw wtwkhl
wtwltlw, para que lo golpeasen, lo maltratasen y crucificasen (20,19).
c. Con valor de objeto: jwrAlkAl[ tlwky (les dio) poder sobre todo espritu (10,1); hm[ bvyl hxr alw, no quiso convivir con ella (1,19).
d. Tambin se usa el infinitivo absoluto, de forma adverbial bfyh, mejor, de forma ms clara (2,7.8).
e. La negacin del infinitivo es ytlbl + infinitivo: swdwrwhAla bwv ytlbl,
para que no volviese a Herdes (2,12); [bvh ytlbl, no jurar (5,34),
lv ytlbl, no pagar, no devolver (5,39). O al + l + infinitivo
htwlgl alw, y no descubrirla (2,19).
III. Las Partculas
a. La marca de acusativo, ta, Ata, est presente en determinadas ocasiones, como en 2,11: hytwjtmaAta, sus cofres (2,13.14.21), pero es frecuente su omisin ante un nombre: ylw[ wac, cargad mi yugo, 11,29;
dah (Ata) yklklmh, las que ensucian al hombre (15,20). Sobre todo
se omite cuando el objeto est precedido de lk: wlArvaAlk (Ata) rwkmy,
vende todo lo que tiene (13,46), lavtArvaAlk (Ata) hlAtyv, que le
dara todo lo que pidiese (14,7).
Caso diferente es cuando viene seguida de sufijos pronominales, circunstancia en la que siempre viene reflejada en el texto38: kta hc[aw, os
har (4,19). Algunas veces el pronombre personal independiente sustituye
a la forma oblicua: ta kvAlk, cf. [Dios las viste] cuanto ms a vosotros (kl kvAlk) (7,30).
38. Respecto a las lenguas semticas, cuanto ms oriental sea la lengua, menos importancia

tiene la marca de acusativo. En algunas lenguas, como el rabe clsico, slo se utiliza con
sufijos pronominales para remarcar el objeto pronominal. Cf. E. Lipinsky, Semitic Languages: Outline of a Comparative Grammar (Analecta Lovaniensia 80), Leuven 1997, 314
(36.31), 507 (52.10).

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J.-V. NICLS M. RAURET

b. Lugar y tiempo. Cabe notar la acumulacin de partculas para definir


del modo ms concreto una realidad: l, por fuera (23,25). La relacin de
movimiento hacia no siempre se expresa con la mejor partcula: dryhAta, en
lugar de dryhAla, hacia el Jordn (3,13), rmal hyla wxyw, les orden
(10,5); cf. rmal hyl[ wxyw, y les orden (2Cr 19,9).
De la narrativa del Pentateuco, especialmente el libro del Deuteronomio
(21,22; 38,1; Nm 22,4; Dt 1,9 etc.) se recoge el especificativo temporal en
aquel tiempo ayhh t[b, elemento que recoge tambin la liturgia cristiana
en su ciclo de lecturas dominicales. Dos veces alterna con la expresin de
HR, awhh mzb (7,13; 11,21).
La partcula rabnica dq reemplaza al bblico rf, 8,29: mzh dq, antes de tiempo (2,1), rbgh tayrq dq, antes de que cante el gallo (26,34).
La simultaneidad se expresa por medio de la partcula compuesta dw[b:
ylkwa wyhvAdw[bw, mientras coman (14,6), preferida al giro bblico: Aw
ylkwa h, o lkwab.
Otras partculas temporales son tazAyrja (8,18; cf. 2Cr 35,20; Esd 9,10;
Jb 42,16) o no reflejadas en HB, hzAyrja, despus de esto (5,1), Av dym:
ymhAm hl[v dym, nada ms salir del agua (3,16).
Las partculas temporales que rigen una subordinada temporal son
rvak, o Avk, alternando ambas por razones estilsticas, de rapidez o de lentitud solemne en la descripcin o los dilogos. Tambin un relativo anterior podra influenciar en la eleccin de otra forma breve en la misma frase: b[r hyhvk dwd hc[vAhm, lo que hizo David, cuando estaba hambriento (12,3), en vez de b[r hyh rvak dwd hc[ rva.
c. Modo y causa. Aparecen multitud de partculas compuestas, como
la deverbativa rts, rtsb (2,7), en secreto, d[b a propsito de , acerca de (2,8), hacia (15,17); dam d[, mucho (2,10; cf. Gn 27,33), rwb[b,
por causa de (23,14), tazl, por esto (13,52), tmab, en verdad (23,39)
sustituye, en el lenguaje proftico de Jess, a kl, por tanto o hk, as
de los profetas.
La partcula postbblica lybvb introduce un complemento referencia,
adems del final: ylybvb da ynb yrmwaAhm; Qu dicen los hombres a
causa ma (= de m)? (16,13) y con un matiz de utilidad, a favor de
kypdwr lybvb wllpttw, rezad por los que os persigan (5,44); yrmwaAhm
ylybvb, qu decs de m? (16,15).
d. Adversativas. Alternan: a yk: ymvbv yba aAyk lAhlg al dw rcb,
no te lo revel la carne y la sangre, sino mi Padre del Cielo (16,17);

ASPECTOS GRAMATICALES

163

ylwjh aAyk, [no necesitan de mdico] sino los enfermos (9,12; cf. 16,23;
17,8). lba: ymvbv yba wxr hcw[hAlk lba, sino todo el que hace la voluntad de mi Padre que est en los Cielos (7,21). Y la posbblica ala que aparece tras la negacin: whtvav ala, sino que lo he de beber (26,42).
e. Relativas. El autor parece escoger entre rva y -v, segn le conviene mtrica y estilsticamente39.
La partcula de relativo recoge la del HB clsico, (rva), como sujeto
de la oracin:
dja rmam rwb[y rvaw, El que (= quin) omita un mandamiento (5,19).
jxry rvaw, quien mate (5,21).
hfwv whwarqy rvaw, quien le llame necio (5,22).
kyla [mvyAal rvaw kyla lbqyAal rvaw, quien no os reciba y quien
no os escuche (10,14).
En esta funcin de sujeto el relativo puede sustituirse por la unin del
artculo y el participio: htwa jqwlhw, el que la toma (5,32). jbvmh
wnjbva daAynpb ytwa, a quien me honre, lo honrar (en vez de jbvml)
(10,32), ybAvjky rvaw, y a quien me niegue (en vez de rvalw, 10,33). Con
todo, si comparamos la frase con el original griego y las traducciones vemos que en hebreo se ha llegado a la tematizacin de ytwa jbvmh.
Como objeto directo: kl rmwa yna rva, lo que yo os digo (10,27);
tyar rva harmh, la visin que habis visto (17,9).
Como objeto indirecto: dbal wdyb tlwky rval, a quien tiene poder
para hacer perecer (10,28).
Puede ser determinado retrospectivamente por adverbios de lugar posteriores40: dlyh v rva wqmh [el lugar] en que estaba el nio (2,9).
Tambin se usa, y en ms ocasiones, la partcula ms reciente de HBT
Av, que da agilidad a la narracin y a los dilogos. Es muy frecuente el uso de
compuestas con Av: Av hm, (en lugar de rvaAta): yawr tavAhm, lo que
vosotros veis, (13,17); wb [rznv hmAlk, todo lo que fue sembrado en l
(13,19, en vez de rvaAlkAta), wlkayvAhm, lo que puedan comer (15,32,
reemplaza a wlkay rvaAta). twntk ytv wlAvyv ym, quien tenga dos tnicas
(Lc 3,11*, en vez de wlAvyArva lkw Gn 39,8). v d[, en vez de yk d[, o a d[
bblicos (1,25; 5,18; 10,11), waxtvAd[, hasta que salgis.
Una acumulacin de relativos expresados por la partcula Av: taw

tyv hbdn hzyabv wmalw wybal dah rmay rbd hzyav yrmwa
wl rpwkyv afj wtwaAd[b, vosotros decs que cualquier cosa que diga el
39. Cf. Senz Badillos, Historia de la lengua hebrea, 226.
40. Cf. Prez, La Lengua de los Sabios, 93.

164

J.-V. NICLS M. RAURET

hombre a su padre o a su madre, que por cualquier voto que ofrezca


por ese pecado, le queda perdonado (15,5-6). Obsrvese tambin la
siguiente 41 : yaybnh wpdr kv ymvb dam br krkcv wjmcw wcyc
kynplv, regocijaos y alegraos, pues vuestra recompensa en grande en
los Cielos, pues as fueron perseguidos los profetas que os precedieron
(5,12).
f. Completivas, causales y explicativas. La oracin completiva puede expresarse asindticamente: bz[l hxry wynp wqljw, le rogaban que
les dejase (tocar) (14,36). Como completiva, jqyv bwf al, no es bueno que tome (el hombre) (15,26) se prefiere a tjql bwf al. Se encuentra a menudo el estilo directo para deshacer ambigedades:
da wnrkc alv wl wn[yw, le respondieron: (que) no nos contrat nadie
(20,7); cf. lwdg twyhl hxwrhv kynyb hyhy kAal, no sea as entre vosotros, (que) quien quiera ser grande (20,26)42.
La partcula yk recibe un uso causal o explicativo, sin aparecer en demasiadas ocasiones43:

hdwhyb lwm snyqrh yk [mvyw r[nh tymhl yvqbmh wtmAyk


porque han muerto los que buscaban matar al nio y oy
que Hircanos reinaba en Jud (2,20).
Normalmente es reemplazada por Av ypl, o Av, como en 2,20.22:
wjykwm hyhv ypl njwyl cpt swdrhv ypl, pues Herdes haba encerrado a Juan, pues le haba reprendido (14,3.4; cf. 19,14); ayh vdqh jwrmv,
pues viene del Espritu Santo (1,20), en vez de jwrm yk.
ta yrwpxm ybwfv, pues vosotros tenis ms valor que los pjaros
(10,31); ynhkhv tarq al, no lesteis que los sacerdotes (12,5);
tbvh wda da bv, pues el Hijo del hombre es seor del sbado (12,8);
ytabv wbvjtAla, no pensis que vine (5,17), en vez de rva o yk.
wtwa wmrv swdwrwh har za, entonces vio Herodes que lo haban engaado
(2,16; cf. 2,22), en vez de usar wmr yk o wmr rva.
41. Se puede observar el fenmeno de la aliteracin, con alternancia de

c y v.
Se trata del Style direct li, en HB introducido por la partcula K, vase G.
Goldenberg, On direct Speech and the Hebrew Bible, in Studies in Semitic Linguistics,
Selected Writings, Jerusalem 1998, 81, n. 9, 83-85.
43. Sobre este uso explicativo en el hebreo bblico, vase: W.T. Claasen, Speaker-Oriented
Functions of K in Biblical Hebrew, Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages 11 (1983)
37, 40-43.
42.

ASPECTOS GRAMATICALES

165

Otras formas de expresar causa son: [y: akm taxl wnl vy [y, ya que
hemos de salir de aqu (8,31); d[b: kytwnqtAd[b, por causa de sus tradiciones (15,6); ynpm: twkwbmh ynpm, a causa de las confusiones (18,7).
Con matiz final y ligeramente adversativo que en hebreo se suele verter por Aw: ryat alv, para que no alumbre (5,15); dah ynb twa waryv,
para que los vean los hombres (6,5).
g. Formas arameas, como bytkd, propias de HR para introducir una
cita (2,5; 22,44)44.
Junto a ellas aparecen otros giros ms bblicos: aybnh ypAl[, Por boca
del profeta (1,22; 2,5,15).
h. Giros adverbiales comunes en el HR sirven para abrir y cerrar secciones narrativas: rbdlw vwrdl wvy lyjth lyaw akm, desde entonces comenz Jess a predicar y a ensear (4,17).
i. Exclamativas y ponderativas. La interjeccin exclamativa, ahe, he
ah (25,20), la presentativa, hnh, que no siempre se debe traducir, sola y
acompaada de la conjuncin, hnhw, y he aqu (26,47) o con sufijos, wnh
bwrq, ya est cerca (26,46), kvAlk, precedido de a, si (vosotros dais
regalos), cunto ms (vuestro Padre) (7,11); yd: wtrxb wyl wl yd, bastante tiene el da con sus trabajos (6,34).
B. ASPECTOS DE SINTAXIS: La sintaxis oracional
1. La oracin nominal. La oracin nominal simple aparece en el discurso
directo. El orden de las palabras enfatiza el objeto de la frase45, al colocarlo en primera posicin de una oracin trimembre:
44. Otras frmulas: 4,6: bytkw, como est escrito; 4,4: awh bwtk, est escrito; 2,17: rmav
rbdh lvn za, entonces se cumpli la palabra que dijo; 2,23: aybnh rmavAhm yyql,
para cumplir lo que dijo el profeta; 2,17: hy[vy ydyAl[ rmanvAhm yyql, para cumplir lo
que se dijo por el profeta Isaas; 4,14: aybnh why[vy rmavAhm yyql, para cumplir lo que
dijo el profeta Isaas; 8,17: why[vy ypAl[ rmanvAhm, lo que se dijo por medio de Isaas;
1.22: btknvAhm rwmgl, para cumplir lo que fue escrito; 5,21: ynwmdql rmanvAhm, lo que
fue dicho a los antiguos; 11,10: wd[b btknv hz, esto fue escrito sobre l.
45. Cf. A. Niccacci Sintassi del verbo ebraico nella prosa biblica classica, Jerusalem 1986,
82. Se puede consultar tambin, M. Eskhult, Studies in Verbal Aspect and Narrative Technique in Biblical Hebrew Prose, Uppsala 1990. Un breve panorama en: L. Vega, Sintaxis
del verbo hebreo bblico: nuevas tendencias, in Proceedings of the 6th EAJS Congress,
Toledo 1998, Jewish Studies at the Turn of the 20th Century. Vol. I: Biblical Rabbinical
and Medieval Studies, Brill 1999.

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lw[b ta jlm, la sal sois del mundo (5,13).


lw[b ta rwam, la luz sois del mundo (5,14).
Las frases nominales de participio de un solo miembro describen el
tiempo presente en el discurso, de forma paratctica: yawr yrw[h, los
ciegos ven (11,5).
La negacin de la oracin nominal es ya y al si el sujeto lleva artculo: wynwdam lwdg db[h alw wbrm lwdg dymlt ya, no es el discpulo mayor
que su maestro ni el siervo mayor que su seor (10,24).
2. Oracin verbal. Los elementos bblicos son claros en la sintaxis verbal.
El estilo es definitivamente bblico en las secciones narrativas de MtH que
sigue la misma tcnica de composicin, con el verbo al comienzo de la frase46. El sistema verbal es bblico en sus elementos fundamentales, (los marcos narrativos y macro narrativos), con algunas pequeas modificaciones
para precisar ms los aspectos verbales.
Los verbos, especialmente de movimiento, no siempre vienen acompaados de su reccin acostumbrada, que damos entre parntesis: rvakw
jl tyb (la)wab (2,9). En este otro ejemplo, se omite la marca de objeto
directo y de movimiento hacia: rhh (Ala) l[yw twrwbjh (Ata) aryw, vio
a la multitud y subi al monte (5,1).
3. Subordinadas temporales: las grandes secciones narrativas y el uso
de yhyw y de za(w)
La caracterstica principal de la narrativa de este evangelio tal vez sea
el uso de formas verbales o partculas que abren y cierran las grandes secciones narrativas, como se estila en el Pentateuco y, en especial, en el libro
del Gnesis.
1. La forma yhyw
- En algunos pasajes hallamos un uso del verbo hyh en tercera persona
del singular, como verbo copulativo47. En el griego de la LXX, kai egeneto
(cf. Gn 7,12).
46. El arameo, en cambio, tiene la marca de lenguas no semticas, como el acadio. El orden

de la frase no busca colocar el verbo al inicio de la frase, como en el hebreo bblico o en la


lengua rabe, sino en medio e incluso al final, como en las lenguas clsicas, griego y latn.
Cf. A.F. Johns, A Short Grammar of Biblical Aramaic, Michigan 19916, 33.
47. A. Niccacci defiende una terminologa sintctica ms prxima al rabe que a las lenguas
clsicas. Sobre su discusin en contra de la funcin copulativa de este verbo, defendida por
J. Levi (vase n. 28), y su anlisis gramatical como oracin verbal (proposizione verbale)
plena, en primer plano narrativo, vase, Sullo stato sintattico del verbo hy, LA 40 (1990)
13, 17.

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167

swdwrwh twmAd[ v yhyw, estuvo all hasta que muri Herdes (2,15).
yvna ypla tvmj ylkwah rpsm yhyw, el nmero de los comensales
fue de cinco mil hombres (14,21).
- Tambin puede describir una frase impersonal:
yb lwdg r[s yhyw, hubo una gran tempestad en el mar (8,25).
- Hay otro uso de las frases yhyw, especialmente en la narrativa del
Pentateuco de sobras conocido48. Es un elemento que no se recomienda traducir. Corresponde a kai egeneto en el griego de la LXX (cf. Gn 7,10). Su
importancia es enorme para sealar las grandes secciones narrativas desde
Gn 4,3. Sirve para establecer lazos de unin entre varios secciones que, de
otro modo, resultaran dispersas49.
Un uso similar podemos ver en MtH. La forma ms comn se refiere a
frases temporales, formadas por yhyw seguido: a) de partculas, como rvak
(cuando); b) un infinitivo constructo con preposicin (wrbdb, mientras
hablaba); c) una frase nominal; d) adverbios temporales (ayhh t[b, en
aquel tiempo).
a) Con la partcula rvak, se establece la transicin a las secciones narrativas despus de la lista de las genealogas (1,18). Va seguida de
aformativa, y el segundo miembro puede ser una oracin simple (1).
trbw[m taxmn htwa [dyv dwq swyl hsrwam wma htyh rvak yhyw, y
mientras estaba su madre prometida a Jos, antes de conocerla, se hall
encinta (1,18).
El segundo miembro, con el sujeto precedido de waw de apdosis y una
oracin nominal:
wyrja twbr twrwbjw rhhAm wvy dry rvak yhyw, cuando baj Jess del
monte, una gran multitud le segua (8,1).
O reforzado por una partcula hnhw de carcter presentativo, con relevancia para el momento actual de la comunicacin50:

yzwj hnhw lmh swdwrwh ymyb hdwhy jlAtybb wvy dlwn rvak yhyw
jrzmm yab ybkwkb, cuando naci Jess en Beln de Jud, en los das del
rey Herdes, unos magos vinieron de Oriente (2,1).

48. Vase, Niccacci, Sintassi del verbo ebraico, 32-38; P. Joon, Grammaire de lhbreu

biblique, Roma 1923 (reimp. 1987), 466-536; Meyer, Gramtica de la lengua hebrea, 342
( 100).
49. Se trata de una seal macro sintctica, Niccacci, Sintassi del verbo ebraico, 19-22.
50. Vase, Niccacci, Sintassi del verbo ebraico, 67-72. En estos casos yhyw, introduce
prtasis + apdosis. Para las varias formas de prtasis y apdosis, ibid. captulo 8.

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Puede ir tambin seguido de una aformativa, de forma asindtica (2):


hlwdg hjmc wjmc bkwkhAta war rvak yhyw, cuando vieron la estrella,
sintieron una gran alegra (2,10; cf. 24,1; 25,10, en una parbola).
swyAla wljb harn yy almw swdwrwh tm rvak yhyw, cuando muri
Herdes un ngel del Seor se present a Jos (2,19; cf. 8,28; 9,9; tambin en parbolas 13,25).
Los componentes de (1) y (2) nos son familiares por la narrativa del
Pentateuco, especialmente del Gnesis pero, en la Biblia, esta construccin
(rvak yhyw) va seguida en el segundo miembro de waw + imperfectivo:
hl rmaw yba tybm yhla yta w[th rvak yhyw, cuando el Seor me
hizo abandonar la casa de mi padre, le dije (a mi esposa) (Gn 20,13).
wjtvyw hyrbdAta hrba db[ [mv rvak yhyw, cuando el criado de
Abrahn oy estas palabras, se inclin (Gn 24,52).
b) Seguido el yhyw de infinitivo constructo sufijado y precedido de preposicin, tenemos otra construccin temporal familiar al Pentateuco. Tambin esta vez con waw + imperfectivo en el segundo miembro (3):
twamh rc wyla abyw htmrh wjnArpkb wawbb yhyw, cuando lleg a
Cafarnan se le present un centurin (8,5; cf. 9,28; 21,10).
wykrbAl[ [rwk vya wynpl abyw twrwbjhAla wawbb yhyw, cuando lleg
adonde estaba la gente, se present ante l un hombre de rodillas (17,14).
dja rc brqyw hyla wrbdb yhyw, mientras les hablaba, se present un
jefe (9,18). Cf. 2Cr 25,16: wl rmayw wyla wrbdb yhyw, mientras el (profeta) deca estas cosas, l le interrumpi (cf. Gn 11,2; 38,28).
Con la partcula k:
vm rwb[yw wydymlt rc[ ynvl twxl wvy twlkk yhyw, cuando Jess
acab de dar instrucciones a sus doce discpulos se fue de all (11,1; cf.
19,22). Cf. Dt 31,24ss: ywlhAta hvm wxyw btkl hvm twlkk yhyw, cuando acab Moiss de escribir, orden a los levitas.
c) Con una frase nominal seguida de waw + imperfectivo se establece
la simultaneidad entre dos acciones paralelas:
njwym twrwbjhAla rbdl wvy ljyw yklwh hmh yhyw, mientras andaban
de camino, comenz Jess a hablar a la multitud acerca de Juan (11,6).
Cf. 2Re 2,11: hynv yb wdyrptw hnhw rbdw wlh yklh hmh yhyw, mientras ellos iban caminando y hablando, apart a los dos.
d) Con acumulacin de adverbios temporales se subraya el paso a una
seccin nueva. Es muy frecuente el imperfecto con waw versivo en el segundo miembro (3):

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169

njwy rsmn yk wvy [mvyw hh ymyb yhyw, en aquellos das, escuch Jess que Juan haba sido encarcelado (4,12; cf. 8,23).
twrwbjh aryw ayhh t[b hzAyrja yhyw, despus de esto, en aquel tiempo, vio a la multitud (5,1; cf. 8,18; 12,15). Cf. Ex 2,11: hh ymyb yhyw
hvm ldgyw en aquellos das, cuando creci Moiss.
Adems de abrir, cierra una seccin narrativa:
vm rb[ hlah yrbdh wvy hlk rvak taz yrja yhyw, despus de
esto, cuando Jess termin de decir estas palabras, march de all (13,53;
cf. 19,1; 26,1.6). Cf. Gn 24,15: taxy hqbr hnhw rbdl hlk rf awh yhyw,
antes de que l terminara de hablar, sali Rebeca (como modelo Bblico).
La frmula yhyw separa tambin secciones discursivas entre s:
wvy rwb[yw ymyh txql yhyw, al cabo de esos das, march Jess (12,9).
ry[l bvyw rqbAyhyw, al amanecer volvi a la ciudad (21,18).
hx[ wjql ynwmdqhw ynhkh ylwdgAlk rqbb yhyw, por la maana, todos
los Sumos Sacerdotes tomaron consejo (27,1).
2. Otra forma de ensamblar segmentos textuales, de dividir secciones narrativas es el uso de la partcula za o zaw, (griego tte) para unidades menores51:
ymswql swdwrwh lmh arq za, entonces llam el rey Herodes a los
Magos (2,7; cf. 2,16).
La forma zaw en ocasiones responde tambin a un (kai) tte en el griego, con matiz enftico, entonces, referido al pasado o al futuro:
njwy whlybfh zaw, entonces lo bautiz Juan (3,15; cf. 26,67; 27,3.26).
wl lhw hm drpn zaw, entonces se separ de ellos y se march (16,4;
cf. vv. 14.26.30).
kta yt[dy al lw[m hl rmwa zaw, entonces les dir: no os conozco de nada! (7,23).
Pero otras veces tiene un valor narrativo, que parece responder al estilo
del autor y sirve para cerrar un episodio. En griego corresponde a un participio presente o aoristo (y el participio correspondiente en el latn de la
Vulgata):
dryb ylbwfw tafj ydwtm zaw, entonces confesaban sus pecados y
se bautizaban en el Jordn (3,6).
ry[l bvyw wfwvyw hynab ab wvy zaw, entonces Jess entr en la barca,
se hicieron a la vela y regres a la ciudad (9,1).
51. Se trata de casos de za + perfecto o participio. Sobre el uso de za e imperfectivo en
Hebreo Bblico, vase: I. Rabinowitz, z followed by imperfect Verb-form in Preterite
Contexts: a Redactional device in Biblical Hebrew, VT 34 (1984) 53-62.

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wtymhl wyla wlknyw yvwrph wdswn zaw, entonces se reunieron los fariseos y conspiraron contra l, para matarlo (12,14).
Parece ser una forma de expresar posterioridad respecto a un punto del
pasado expresado por un tiempo descriptivo. Sera similar a la que se realiza en una lengua romance, como el castellano o cataln, con el indefinido
tras el imperfecto: Entonces Jess entr en la barca: llavors Jess puj a
la barca.
awh ynav kb hnwma hyhy hl rmayw wvy hl hn[ zaw, entonces les
contest Jess dicindoles: tened confianza, que soy yo (14,27). La expresin tened confianza puede ser un calco de la sintaxis catalana que
usa el subjuntivo (tingueu confiana; en el Codex del Palau, Aiats fiana
que yo son).
Parece que no se trata del mismo uso sintctico del HB a juzgar por las
cuatro veces que aparece el grupo zaw en la Biblia (Ex 12,48; Lv 26,41; Jos
1,8; Jer 32,3) en correspondencia a kai to/te en la LXX o tunc en la
Vulgata, y no a un participio, como en las expresiones examinadas.
La partcula za aparece de forma repetida en el captulo 4 de Mateo,
para expresar el cambio de perspectivas narrativas:
fch wtwa bz[ za wvy wl hn[ za wtwa jql za jqwl za, entonces fue tomado luego le tom, despus le contest Jess, al final lo
dej el diablo (4,1.5.10.11).
3. La oracin comparativa presenta el segundo miembro regido por la preposicin Am: o m:
ylgr wa ydy l twyhm jsp wa rw[ yyjb abl l bwf, mejor te sera
entrar en la vida ciego o cojo, que tener dos manos y dos pies (18,8-9).
ymkjhw yvwrphm rtwy ktqdx ldgt al a, si no es mayor vuestra
justicia que la de los fariseos y sabios (5,20).
ayhh ry[hAm wdsAla hyhy bwf rtwy, mejor ser para Sodoma,
que para aquella ciudad (10,15).
Aparecen tambin casos de comparacin absoluta expresada por el simple adjetivo: awhh vyal dlwn alv wl bwf, mejor que no hubiera nacido
ese hombre (26,24).
4. finales. La subordinada final puede expresarse con el simple infinitivo,
por ejemplo en: fchm twsnthl, para ser tentado por el diablo (4,1).
Tambin por medio de partculas, [y, [ml: kyba ynb wyht [ml, para
que seis hijos de vuestro Padre (5,45); walmyA[y, para que se cumplan
(26,56). La negacin es p: wav [b hyhyAp, que no haya un alboroto
(26,5); wrbvyAp, para que no revienten (9,17; cf. 13,29). O por medio de

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171

la construccin alv + preformativa, wytsb ktswnm hyht alv lal wllpth,


rezad para que no hayis de huir en otoo (24,20).
5. distributiva-partitiva con m: lahAtwklmm hl vrwd, enseaba acerca
del Reino de los Cielos (21,17). En este caso se aprecia la funcin partitiva
de la lengua romance (els predicava sobre / del Regne de Du). hmw
hmw, wbyakt hmw wlttw wgrht hmw, algunos matarn, otros atormentarn (23,34); 12,38: txqm, una parte de, 22,5: txqm, una parte de
ellos; tambin la forma rabnica llkb, llkb, entre ellas (27,56).
6. explicativa-consecutiva: ba wdwsyv ypl, pues su fundamento es piedra (7,25); vrwd hyh awhv ypl pues l enseaba (7,29). La negacin:
alvAd[, de modo que (nadie puede pasar) (8,28).
7. condicional. La estructura condicional sigue el HB en la sintaxis, la
prtasis con a: lwjmy wljmtAa, si perdonis, perdonar (vuestro Padre) (6,14; cf. 6,23; 7,10.11; 10.13); negativa, [mvy al hlaAlkb aw, si
con todo esto no escucha (18,17).
La condicional irreal se expresa en la apdosis mediante la imperfectiva
tras a, en el caso de la irreal de pasado tras la partcula de HR wla:
hbwvtb twrzwj wyh twtwah wc[n wdsw rwxbAav, si en Tiro y
Sodoma, sehubieran hecho los signos, habran hecho penitencia (11,21).
hzh wyhAd[ ravt ylwa twtwah wc[n wdsbAav, Si en Sodoma se
hubiesen hecho esos milagros, tal vez habran permanecido hasta hoy en da
(11,23).
ax ham vyal hyhyAa, si un hombre tiene cien ovejas (18,12).
hzh rhl wrmat hnwma kl hyhtAa, si tuvierais fe, dirais a esta
montaa (21,21).
whwdymvh whwrykh wlav, pues si lo hubieran conocido lo hubieran despedazado (26,23).
8. interrogativa: a, Ah, Ahm, ytm: hz ynah, A caso soy yo? (26,25); haryAhm
kl, qu os parece (18,12); hyhy ytm, cundo ser? (24,3).
C. LXICO Y ASPECTOS SEMNTICOS
I. El lxico
La manera de seleccionar el vocabulario del traductor de este evangelio es
semejante a la que se encuentra en otros autores de poesa hebrea medieval

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de Sefarad52. El autor parece querer actualizar un vocabulario sugerente, en


contextos diferentes. Tambin coexiste el deseo de echar mano de un vocabulario peculiar, aunque se documente una sola vez o pocas en HB. Trataremos de distribuir el vocabulario por campos semnticos, observando a la
vez las coincidencias y divergencias con el hebreo bblico53.
1. Campos semnticos
a. El mbito de la Ley. El trmino precepto aparece con uno de los
equivalentes del Antiguo Testamento, hwxm (22,36: entolh\). El trmino
rmam, palabra, mandato (pl. 23,23), aparece en HBT (Est 1,15; 2,20), con
el sentido de orden de Dios (rey celeste) o del monarca terreno. En MtHb
se refiere a una palabra autoritativa, un dicho que se ha de cumplir
(lahAyrmam / entolh\n touv qeouv, 15,3) o un orculo de Dios a travs de un
profeta del Antiguo Testamento (oJ rhqei, de Is 3,3; de Zac 27,9) o de la
poca de Jess como Juan Bautista (wrmamAl[ / uJp aujtou/, 3,6). O del mismo Jess que expulsa demonios wrmamb, con su palabra (lo/gw) (8,16). Los
dos trminos aparecen juntos en 5,19: wla twxmm dja rmam, un mandamiento de estos preceptos (cf. mian twn entolwn tou/twn twn
elacistwn). Se puede ver cmo rmam es una instruccin concreta (torah,
gua, enseanza) de un corpus ms grande de twxm.
El trmino fpvm aparece una vez en constructo. El sentido parece ser
idntico al de rmam, incluyendo las acciones permitidas, ordenadas y prohibidas. O puede tratarse de una metonimia, lo ms esencial de toda la Ley,
hrwth yfpvm (ta baru/tera touv no/mou, 23,23). En el resto de sus apariciones se refiere a un tribunal o a su sentencia fpvml (awh byj) (thv
krisei, 5,21-22; cf. 5,40; 12,41).
Por ltimo, yrma /rma es la palabra revelada que dirige la conducta
(lahAyrma, vase, en estilo potico, Nm 24,4.16; cf. Dt 32,1). Del HR aparece, como contraste, la palabra hnqt / twnqt en el sentido de normas legales fijadas por la tradicin (15,2: thn paradosin; 23,3).
b. Trminos profticos. Los trminos de denuncia proftica que aparecen en el evangelio de Mateo configuran en Hb un vocabulario similar al
de la Biblia hebrea.

52. Vase, Senz Badillos, Historia de la lengua hebrea, 228ss.


53. Se pueden consultar las versiones hebreas, de F. Delitsh, Salkinsohn, etc. , que evitamos

por no extender demasiado el trabajo.

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173

ynw[pxA[rz yvjn, ynw[px, vboras (23,33; cf. un grupo parecido en


Jr 8,17, referido metafricamente a personas injustas; en singular, ynw[px,
Is 14,29; Pr 23,32). Otras expresiones frecuentes en el texto, solo se dan
una vez en plural en la Biblia hebrea, en los profetas ypnj,hipcritas
(6,5; Is 33,14).
c. La Iglesia e instituciones. El trmino iglesia aparece en tres ocasiones en el evangelio de Mateo (16,18; 18,17 dos veces). En el primer caso
vemos un giro peculiar, mi iglesia ytlptAtyb (mou th\n ekklhsia; cf.
21,13; Is 56,7). La expresin aparece en contraste con la sinagoga juda
como institucin, en sus sinagogas hytwysnk ytbb (ei th\n sunagwgh\n
aujtwn, 12,9).
En el segundo caso, est claro que se trata de la iglesia como asamblea local de un pueblo o de una ciudad, lhqb (18,17, thv ekklhsia); cf.
Sl 22,3), que tiene poder de excomulgar un miembro (hdwnm). El trmino en
este caso se parece al que designa la capacidad de decisin de una asamblea jurdica como es en el sanedrn lhqhb54, (tw sunedriw, 5,22).
d. Oficios y funciones. Los discpulos, el grupo ms cercano a Jess,
aparecen designados con el nombre genrico de ydymlt traduccin calco
de la palabra griega (oi maqhtai) o de otras versiones (discpulo, deixeble)
(14,12). Joven (r[n, 18,2, passim) no parece tener la connotacin de discpulo de otras lenguas (Young, Jung). A los apstoles se les nombra con
el participio qal pasivo, paal (yjwlvh), traduccin directa de enviado en
vez de con la forma peal como en la Biblia (jylv, Esd 7,14). El nombre
del escriba cristiano es kj (13,52; 23,34), el mismo que designa la clase de los escribas (23,2). Mateo, el discpulo con el oficio de recaudador,
aparece caracterizado con un neologismo perifrstico, wsrpb tybrb hwlm
(oJ telwnh, 10,3; Delitsch, skwm aduanero).
Los nombres de oficio suelen estar sacados de la Biblia: ygyd, pescadores (4,19; cf. Is 19,8; Jr 16,16; Ez 47,10), bng, ladrn (24,43, pl.
6,19; cf. Sl 50,18; Pr 29,24; Jr 2,26). Sin estar testimoniados en la Biblia:
jpn, herrero (13,55; cf. Is 54,16) en lo que parece ser un calco de las
versiones catalanas (Gr: oJ touv tektono uio/; Vg: nonne hic est fabri filius;
CP: Donchs no es aquest fill del ferrer? Cf. Talmud Yerushalmi, Rosh haShana 13,1).

54. Puede tratarse tambin de un caso de determinacin innecesario por el artculo (lhqhb)
y la palabra sera idntica.

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Otros nombres de funcionarios despiertan resonancias bblicas arameas,


como el segolado hjp / twjp, jefes (10,18, 1x; Ne 5,14; Ml 1,8; pl. 1Re
20,24; Jr 51,23; Ez 23,6.12.23), intendente, gobernador (bxn) (20,8; cf.
1Re 22,48); probablemente tomado del acadio. yxq / ynyxq gobernante
(21,23, 1x; Is 3,6; constructo plural Jos 10,24; Is 1,10); tambin de origen
acadio, atestiguadas en hebreo y arameo, gs, ynhkhAyngs, los prncipes de
los sacerdotes (26,3; cf. Ez 23,6; Jr 51,23; Dn 3,2ss). Otros trminos provenientes del arameo, zwrk, heraldo, pregonero (6,2; cf. Dn 3,4); del HBT
tenemos la palabra rbzg, tesorero, administrador, referido a Poncio Pilato,
(27,2; cf. Esd 7,21).
e. Objetos y enseres culturales. Los cofres que presentan los Magos a Jess se describen con un trmino que recuerda las peripecias de Jos
y sus hermanos en la corte del Faran: hytwjtmaAta, sus sacos (2,11;
cf. wtjtma, su saco, Gn 42,27).
Hay alguna palabra que aparece slo en el singular en la Biblia, como
trmkm (Is 19,8), mientras el evangelio usa el plural con sufijos (4,18):
hytwrwmkm, sus redes.
Del mbito del urbanismo encontramos el trmino hlysm (7,13, 1x),
camino (real) (3x, Is 11,16; 19,23; 40,3); qwv (11,16, 20,3; pl. 16,2), plaza (Pr 7,8; Coh 12,4; Ct 3,2, con el sentido de calle); twrxjh y[wxqmb
en las esquinas de las plazas (6,5; cf. Ez 46,21: rxjh y[wxqm, en los ngulos del atrio).
De la vida familiar y de la casa, hr[q, plato, bandeja (26,23), en la Biblia siempre en constructo, sk tr[q, bandeja de plata. Con significado ligeramente diferente 22,3: hpwj, boda (HR), metonmico de hpj dosel (Is 4,5).
2. Tambin se puede clasificar el lxico segn su origen en fases posteriores del hebreo:
a. Del lxico rabnico: nwz cizaa (13,25), hnqt, tradicin (15,6; 17,20);
ldrj rygrg, grano de mostaza (13,31; grano rgrg aparece en plural en Is
17,6); rnd, denario (18,24); [bfm, moneda (22,19); wymd, comparacin (25,14); twvr, permiso (8,31); hn[m respuesta (10,19); lbt, mundo, con sentido negativo (18,7; cf. 1Sa 2,8). Otros nombres de la literatura rabnica se dan tambin en la Biblia pero con otro sentido (eternidad):
lw[, mundo (16,25); o son del HR, tomados del acadio, fg libelo (de
repudio, 5,31; 19,3).
Del mbito del cuerpo humano podemos considerar nombres con un gnero y sentido distinto en HB, como hpwg, cuerpo, cadver (1Cr 10,12,

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175

constructo), y HR wg, cuerpo, ser fsico: ypwg awh hz, este es mi cuerpo (26,26). Junto a l aparece en la Biblia el trmino que designa al cuerpo
muerto hywg (Sl 110,6): twywg, (10,28) (swma, en ambos casos en griego).
b. Del lxico medieval romance tenemos algn caso de calco
semntico. Se trata de la palabra hrwbj compaa (13,2). El trmino reemplaza el de muchedumbre (turba) (21,8). Los seguidores de Jess son
las compaas (companyes)55, con sentido tanto de acompaantes como
de estamento cuasi-social medieval. La palabra esponja (gwpsa, 27,48)
sigue tambin la grafa romance y no la hebrea (gwps). Tambin podemos
considerar como neologismo calcado del romance la palabra bwf rbd, bona
nova (4,23, eujaggelion).
Una de las peculiaridades del lxico es el uso de sinnimos para describir una misma realidad. Este hecho puede obedecer al inters por hacerse entender lo mejor posible, no cansar al lector (ensear deleitando) o
mostrar habilidad estilstica. Por ejemplo, los presentes que ofrecen los
Magos a Jess recin nacido son regalos importantes (2,2: twbwvj twntm;
2Cr 21,3; Sl 68,19), y tambin son ofrendas (2,11: hjnm). Este ltimo
trmino, que sustituye al trmino tambin bblico regalo (y al griego de
presente), coloca el episodio en un ambiente de ofrenda cultual al recin
nacido. Otros sinnimos son lyj, jk (21,23.24) y tlwky, poder (26,61;
28,18), lkyh, 23,17 y vdqm(h) tyb, 23,21, templo, rbg (26,34) y lwgnrt
(26,74), gallo. 6,25: lkam, alimento alterna con el femenino hlyka,
wtlyka yd, el suficiente alimento (10,10), aunque hlyka tiene tambin
otro sentido: jsph tlyka, la comida de Pascua (26,17).
Del mbito de la cosmologa, en referencia a los personajes de Oriente que adoran a Jess, el autor usa dos trminos bblicos ybkwkb yzwj (2,2;
cf. Is 47,13), y ymswq (2,7; cf. Dt 18,10.14). El primer trmino hace referencia a los astrlogos que observan las estrellas, el segundo alude a la
previsin del futuro, oficios de estos Magos condenados por la Biblia, pero
usados en el hebreo medieval sin connotaciones negativas. Aparecen participios sustantivados para expresar ideas gratas a la Edad Media: hcw[
(hycw[), Hacedor (oJ ktisa, 19,4; cf. yl[p), Jb 36,3), con su sinnimo,
arwb, Creador (oJ qeo\, 19,6; cf. Is 40,28; Qoh 12,1).
55. As el Cdex del Palau a 14,22: CP: entro que les companyes sen foren partides e

lexades les companyes. Sobre los procedimientos de la lengua calco, vase: D.S.
Blondheim, Les parlers judo-espagnols et la Vetus Latina, Paris 1925. Tambin, Essai
dun vocabulaire comparatif des parlers romans des Juifs au moyen ge, Romania 49
(1923) 1-47, 343-388, 526-569; H.V. Sephiha, Le judo-espagnol, Paris 1986.

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II. Giros bblicos y especiales


A un nivel de unidades mayores del estrictamente lxico, el autor del evangelio parece llegar a calcar expresiones hebreas de la Biblia con la intencin de llevar su contenido a un contexto diferente. Se trata del estilo mosaico, ya conocido de los poetas medievales de Sefarad56. En los odos de
los poetas medievales resonaban pasajes narrativos de la Biblia cuando escuchaban o vean los fenmenos naturales y el paisaje, o las batallas de AlAndalus de su tiempo. Lo mismo sucede con este Evangelio, donde la lengua de Mateo, pasada por la criba de un romance Medieval (creemos que
el cataln) recuerda al lector hechos narrativos y situaciones experimentadas por los Patriarcas en la Pentateuco; la fogosidad de la denuncia de los
profetas para los discursos, la sabidura de los sapienciales a la hora de establecer sentencias evanglicas o ambientar las parbolas, y el panorama
de la Apocalptica a la hora de dar ms profundidad al discurso escatolgico. Todo ello sobre el trasfondo del mundo medieval que busca ensear deleitando. An cuando el texto base no fuese el griego de Mateo sino
una lengua romance, ello no obstaculiza sino antes bien aumenta su libertad para recoger ecos del Pentateuco, o de los libros profticos o del vocabulario de los salmos. Se tratara de un fenmeno ya estudiado para la
Septuaginta y los orgenes del cristianismo, el del poder evocador de una
palabra o construccin bblica sobre el contexto de un relato narrativo, que
lleva automticamente al redactor a construirlo sobre el armazn lingstico y literario de esos pasajes del Antiguo Testamento57.
a. Entre los giros, algunos son sintagmas nominales
wm[ ylvwry ybvwyAlkw, (se sobresalt Herdes) y con l todos los habitantes de Jerusaln (2,3). Cf. wta ylvwry ybvwyAlkw, (el rey subi al Templo, con todos los habitantes de Jerusaln (2Re 23,2).
va trwdmb, (seris arrojados) en la pira de fuego (13,50). Cf. Is
30,33: va htrwdm byjrh, (ensanch) la pira de fuego.
y[rmA[rz, gente pecadora (16,4 = Is 14,20).
b. Tambin aparecen oraciones de objeto interno construido con la misma raz del verbo. La siguiente construccin encuentra un paralelo perfecto en una estructura bblica que contiene una raz distinta:
56. Vase, Senz Badillos, Historia de la lengua hebrea, 228ss.
57. Vase, N. Fernndez Marcos, Introduccin a las versiones griegas de la Biblia, 336
(bibliografa en la p. 337).

ASPECTOS GRAMATICALES

177

dam d[ hlwdg hjmc wjmc, se llenaron de una enorme alegra (2,10).


Cf. Ne 12,43: hlwdg hjmc jmc, estaban muy contentos; Gn 27,33: drjyw
d[ hlwdg hdrj qjxy dam, se estremeci Isaac enormemente.
La formacin de frases de objeto interno tambin se produce con elementos no bblicos, como nifal o participio qal seguido de nombre: lpnw
hlpm, cay con estrpito (7,27; cf. Is 17,1: hlpm y[m htyhw [ser] un
montn de ruinas); yvwblm yvbwl, se ponen vestidos (23,5).
c. Puede tratarse de una frase verbal completa:
wtnvmswyqyw, despert Jos de su sueo (1,24). Cf. Gn 28,16:
wtnvmbq[yqyw, cuando Jacob despert de su sueo (cf. Ju 16,20).
yyalmwtwahwxrvalkkc[yw, e hizo (Jos) segn le haba ordenado el
ngel del Seor (1,24). Cf. Gn 6,22: yhlawtahwxrvalkkjnc[yw, No
hizo todo conforme a lo que Dios haba mandado.
wljb wyla harn alm hnh, un ngel se le apareci en sueos (1,20).
Cf. Gn 31,11: wljb yhlah alm yla rmayw, y me dijo el ngel de Dios
en sueos; 1Re 3,5: wljb hmlvAla hwhy harn w[bgb, en Gaban se apareci en sueos el Seor a Salomn.
r[nh tymhl yvqbmh wtmAyk, pues murieron los que intentaban matar
al nio (2,20). Cf. Ex 4,19: vpnAta yvqbmh yvnahAlk wtmAyk, porque
han muerto todos los que procuraban tu muerte.
kbblb wrmatAlaw, no digis en vuestro interior (3,9). Cf. Za 7,10;
8,17: kbblb wbvjtAla, no pensis en vuestro corazn.
rcy vabw, ser consumido por el fuego (3,10 = Lv 7,17: se habr
de quemar).
d. Algunos sintagmas son idnticos, pero en contexto diferente: bkvwm
wtfm l[, (un paraltico) tumbado en su camilla (9,2 = 2Re 4,32: [Eliseo
encontr el nio muerto] tumbado en su lecho).
e. En otros casos la cita no es literal, sino en una parte de la frase:

ytld rwgsy bkvml ab, entra en tu habitacin y cierra la puerta


(6,6). Cf. Is 26,20: ytld rwgsw yrdjb ab, entra en tu aposento, cierra
tus puertas (mientras pasa la indignacin).
wdyAta wvy fyw, Jess extendi su mano (8,3). Cf. Ex 10,22: hvm fyw
wdyAta, Moiss extendi su mano.
hnhw twrwbjhAlk [ rbdm wndw[, todava hablaba con la multitud cuando (su madre) (12,46; cf. 17,5). Cf. 2Re 6,33: hnhw m[ rbdm wndw[, an
estaba hablando con ellos cuando (el mensajero).
yy vb abh wrb lw[h [yvwm anA[vwh, Hosanna, salvador del mun-

178

J.-V. NICLS M. RAURET

do, bendito el que viene en el nombre del Seor (21,9). Cf. Sl 118,25-26:
hwhy vb abh wrb an hjylxh hwhy ana an [yvwh hwhy an, Seor, danos
la victoria, Seor, danos prosperidad, bendito el que viene en el nombre del
Seor.
f. Otros giros bblicos con construccin similar pero no literal:

dal dygtAp lArmvh, cudate de no decirlo a nadie (8,4). Cf. Gn


31,24: bq[yA[ rbdtAp lArmvh, cudate de no hablarle a Jacob (cf.
24,26; 31,29).

yja l afjyAa, si tu hermano peca contra ti (18,15). Cf. 1Sa 2,25:


vyal vya afjyAa si un hombre peca contra otro.
wbl wnbdyv vya hzyal, a cierto hombre cuyo corazn estar dispuesto
(26,18). Cf. Ex 25,2: wbl wnbdy rva vya lk tam, a aquellos cuyo corazn est dispuesto.

wgrwhlw hmr[b wvyAta cwptl, coger a Jess con astucia y matarlo


(26,4). Cf. Ex 21,14: hmr[b wgrhl, matar a traicin.
g. Tambin verbos, que aparecen una sola vez en la narrativa bblica,
aqu ilustran la actividad o predicacin de Jess:
ry[z ylArtk, espera un momento (7,4; cf. Jb 36,2).
Hifil en preformativa lyvky (18,8), te tienta = (Dios) te har caer
(2Cr 25,8), ly[mh wnmm wfyvph, le quitaron el manto (27,31); cf. Ez 16,39:
ydgb twa wfyvph, te despojarn de tus ropas.
Aparecen participios con una o dos atestaciones en la Biblia,
sustantivados: l[wph, el obrero (10,10; el que obra, Sl 74,12; Ha 1,5),
kwm, preparado (22,4; aparejado, estrenado, el caballo: Pr 21,31).
h. Hay casos en que tan solo la estructura sintagmtica y el orden de las
palabras es recogido. As, estos imperativos precedidos de su predicado:
wawbtAla ynrmwvh yr[bw wkltAla ywgh twxrab, no andis por tierra
de gentiles ni entris en las ciudades de los samaritanos (10,5). Cf. Ez
20,18: wrmvtAla hyfpvmAtaw wkltAla kytwba yqwjb, no andis en los
estatutos de vuestras padres, ni guardis sus leyes.
i. Algunas citas implcitas no son tomadas del mismo lugar que las del
texto griego de Mt. (el que maldiga a su padre o a su madre Ex 21,17 =
15,4) se substituye aqu por Ex 21,15: tmwy twm wmaw wyba hkmw, el que
golpee a su padre o a su madre.
Otras frases retoman el estilo de un profeta presente de forma implcita
en el texto griego:

ASPECTOS GRAMATICALES

179

wb bxj bqyAgw wkwtb ldgm byw, construy en medio una torre y cav
un lagar (21,33 = Is 5,2).

wrwa hygy al jryhw vmvh vjy, se oscurecer el sol y la luna no dar


su luz, (24,29). Cf. Is 13,10: wrwa hygy al jryhw vmvh vj, el sol se
oscurecer, y la luna no dar su resplandor.
lwdg lwqb rpwvb, con una trompeta de gran potencia (24,31). Cf. Is
27,13: lwdg rpwvb, con una gran trompeta.
twjwr [bram, de los cuatro vientos (24,31 = Ez 37,9).
La cita de Mt 27,9, atribuida en el original griego a Jeremas, es aqu
referida, como corresponde, a Zacaras, y trasmitida en forma casi literal:
yrkc wlqvyw wldj alAaw yrkc wbh kyny[b bwfAa kl rmwaw
rxwyhAla whkylvh yla yy rmayw sk yvlv
Cf. Za 11,12-13:

yrkc wlqvyw wldj alAaw yrkc wbh kyny[b bwfAaw kyla rmaw
rxwyhAla whkylvh yla hwhy rmayw sk yvlv , yo les dije:- Si os
parece bien, dadme mi salario: treinta piezas de plata. El Seor me dijo: chalo al fundidor.
wmq rp[Atmda ynvym ybrw, muchos de los que dorman en el polvo de
la tierra se levantaron (27,52). Cf. Dn 12,2: wxyqy rp[Atmda ynvym ybrw,
se despertaron.
j. Algunas citas explcitas de la Biblia hebrea, que aparecen en el evangelio griego de Mateo segn la versin griega de los LXX, MtH trata de
acomodarlas al texto masortico (excepto Mt 1,23, citado en futuro, segn
la antigua versin griega).
k. De la lengua aramea se toman frases cortas; alw ryt yn alw ynw
ryt, duerme sin dormir, despierto sin despertar (17,3)58.
l. Giros rabnicos. hbwvtb wrzj, haced penitencia (4,17)59.
m. Otras expresiones provienen de la lengua romnica, de la cual, segn hemos defendido, se realiza esta traduccin. Son realizaciones
sintcticas que tienen su origen en la lengua hablada por el autor, cuya estructura se aparta de la sintaxis hebrea:
wblb rbdh hzb wbvjbw
(
), (mientras pensaba) en este asunto (en aquest
assumpte, o en aix) (1,20, en vez de en la cosa esta, hzh rbdb, Dt 3,26).
58. Pes 120b.
59. San 105.

180

J.-V. NICLS M. RAURET

n. Algunos giros parecen responder a un afn de estilo, la repeticin de


una consonante sibilante: twa wv v twc[l, Hacer all ningn prodigio
(13,58).
o. El Pentateuco es el libro de donde se extraen los giros ms expresivos
en la narrativa que afecta a los diversos sucesos expresados en el evangelio.
Al inicio del Sermn de la Montaa: rhh l[yw, y subi a la montaa (5,1).
Cf. Ex 24,15: rhhAla hvm l[yw, entonces Moiss subi al monte.
dym hyny[ hnjqptw, al instante se abrieron sus ojos (9,30). Cf. Gn
3,7: hynv yny[ hnjqptw, entonces se abrieron los ojos de ambos.
km rxby al rbdAlkw, nada se os resistir (17,20). Cf. Gn 11,6: ht[w
hm rxby al, ahora nada estar fuera de su alcance.
El estilo didctico de las parbolas contiene elementos comunes a los
usados en el Pentateuco para la exposicin de la Ley: hynpl cyw, les
propuso (Jess) (13,24; cf. Ex 19,7: para exponerles [Moiss a los ancianos]).
wvy hlk rvak taz yrja yhyw, despus de esto, cuando acab Jess (de
hablar) (13,53). Cf. Gn 27,30: qjxy hlk rvak yhyw, cuando Isaac acab
(de bendecir).
kjrwf aca ytmAd[w, hasta cuando habr de llevar vuestras cargas?
(17,17). Cf. Dt 1,12: kjrwf aca hkya, Cmo llevar yo solo vuestras
cargas?.
wynwda aArjyw, se encoleriz su Seor (18,34); yy aArjyw. Cf. Ex 4,14:
entonces el Seor se enoj (contra Moiss).
p. El lenguaje de los profetas enmarca los acontecimientos de la Pasin, donde Jess comparece:
ybr ym[m br lhq ynpb, delante de una asamblea de muchos pueblos (27,27). Cf. Ez 32,3: ybr ym[ lhqb, con la reunin de muchos
pueblos, como red contra el Faran.
rah hv[rw, tembl la tierra al expirar Jess (27,51 = Jr 49,21, por
la cada de Edom).
ynv qwrj, rechinar de dientes (13,42). Cf. Sl 35,16: wmynv yl[ qwrj,
crujieron contra m sus dientes.
En un mismo versculo pueden aparecer dos reminiscencias bblicas:
bkrAjlp, una rueda de molino (18,6 = 2Sa 11,21). y twlwxmb, en
lo profundo del mar; y twlxmb (Mi 7,19).
w[mvt wyla wb yxpjw, en l mis delicias, a l escucharis (3,17). Cf.
Sl 119,35 Dt 18,15: w[mvt wyla ytxpj wbAyk, en l me he complacido, a
l escucharis.

ASPECTOS GRAMATICALES

181

Otras expresiones: h[wr hlAya rva axk, como oveja sin pastor
(9,36 = Nm 27,17; 1Re 22,17).
lv bblb, con un corazn puro (= con sinceridad) (18,35 = 1Cr
12,39).
dgm hz, ste blasfema (9,3). Cf. Nm 15,30: dgm awh, ultraja (al
Seor).
[xbAhm, qu aprovecha (16,26 = Gn 37,26; Sl 30,10).
Los momentos de revelacin o de denuncia recogen especialmente la
fraseologa de los profetas o sapienciales:
wyp jtpyw, abri su boca (5,2). Cf. Jb 11,5: wytpc jtpyw, abriera (para
ti) sus labios; Ez 33,22: ypAta jtpyw, y abri mi boca.
hyl[ lwmjyw, se compadeci de ellos (9,36). Cf. Jr 15,5:
yl[ lwmjyAym yk, quin se compadecer de ti?.
drwt lwavAd[ hl[t ymvlAa, (Cafarnan), si subiste hasta el Cielo,
hasta el pas de los muertos descenders (11,23). Cf. Is 14,13.15:
drwt lwavAla a hl[a ymvh lbblb trma htaw, t pensabas: subir
hasta el cielo pero has bajado de hecho al pas de los muertos.
q. De la apocalptica, el profeta Daniel (12,11) aporta: m(w)v wqv, la
abominacin desoladora (24,15). O del profeta Jeremas:
ymyh tyrjab hyhy, suceder al final de los tiempos (13,49); cf. Jr
49,39: ymyh tyrjab hyhw, acontecer en los ltimos das.
En otros casos, tambin en contexto apocalptico, algunos verbos de
los profetas se retoman con un complemento de objeto diferente:
hbha gwpt, se debilitar el amor (24,12), hrwt gwpt, la ley se debilita (Hab 1,4).
r. Con la fraseologa de los Escritos se ilustra la actividad de Jess en
el lago y las reacciones de la gente:
ry[hAlk whtw se conmovi toda la ciudad (8,33 = Rt 1,19).
lal wllhyw, daban gracias a Dios (9,8). Cf. Ne 5,13: hwhyAta wllhyw,
entonces alabaron a Dios.
ynbAl[ hswjw, ten compasin de mi hijo (17,15). Cf. Ne 13,22:
dsj brk yl[ hswjw, ten compasin segn tu gran misericordia.
s. Tambin del libro de los Salmos se toman frases muy expresivas:

wa yl[wpAlk ynmm wrws, apartaos de m, todos los obradores de maldad (7,23 (= Sl 6,9).
dwdAb wnnwj wnnwj, ten misericordia de nosotros, hijo de David (9,27).
Cf. Sl 123,3: wnnwj hwhy wnnwj, ten misericordia de nosotros, Seor.

182

J.-V. NICLS M. RAURET

Conclusin
Podemos concluir que el evangelio en Hebreo recoge muchas expresiones
y sentencias de la Biblia hebrea. Por una parte, conserva la fidelidad del
pueblo hebreo hacia sus tradiciones y el amor con que las conserva, repite
y aprende. Por otra parte, comparte el apego de la Edad Media hacia la
autoridad, que es reverenciada como supremo valor en la trasmisin del
pensamiento. Si esta fuente es la Biblia, tanto mayor. A menudo se recogen
expresiones de HR, incluso en arameo. Ello tampoco debe extraarnos por
dos motivos: posiblemente el autor posee una formacin de tipo rabnico,
y conoce su manera de argumentar, que retoma para recrear el ambiente
del evangelio de Mateo el que mayor uso hace de la argumentacin
rabnica, por medio de parbolas y de la Escritura. Finalmente, forma parte
del mundo medieval europeo, en el que el hebreo no es la lengua de la calle. Ello explicara su fidelidad al hebreo bblico y a la vez su libertad frente a la tradicin, con errores de sintaxis debido a la lengua hablada en su
sociedad, con giros rabnicos que dan mayor viveza y agilidad a la frase en
estilo directo, con palabras de hebreo medieval o del arameo, signo de nivel de cultura elevado en su tiempo.
Jos-V. Nicls Albarracn Marta Rauret Domnech

GRAMMATICHE E DIZIONARI
DI EBRAICO-ARAMAICO IN ITALIANO
Catalogo ragionato Aggiornamento (dicembre 2001)

M. Pazzini

Queste pagine costituiscono il primo aggiornamento del nostro contributo


Grammatiche e dizionari di ebraico-aramaico in italiano. Catalogo ragionato apparso in Liber Annuus 42 (1992) 9-32.
In questo aggiornamento abbiamo inserito, insieme alle pubblicazioni
dellultimo decennio, alcune opere allora non incluse nella nostra ricerca.
Come nellarticolo del 1992 non elenchiamo nella lista opere classiche(anteriori alla stampa) ed edite recentemente con traduzione in lingua italiana come, ad es., G. Busi, Horayat ha-qore: una grammatica
ebraica del secolo XI, Frankfurt am Main 1984, oppure M. Zonta, Un dizionario filosofico ebraico del XIII secolo. Lintroduzione al Sefer Deot
ha-Filosofim di Shem Tob ibn Falaquera, Torino 1992. Riportiamo, invece, due manuali di conversazione che, a differenza di altre opere del genere, contengono sia elementi grammaticali che lessicali.
Differentemente dal precedente contributo i dati riportati vengono
elencati in ordine cronologico (dai pi antichi ai pi recenti). La numerazione delle singole opere continua quella del precedente articolo (partendo dal n. 58).
Ringrazio gli amici Marco Pucciarini (Istituto Teologico di Assisi) e
Donatella Roveri (OPAC) che, con squisita cortesia, mi hanno segnalato per
iscritto alcune delle opere prese in esame.

Grammatiche
XVII secolo
58. Schoppe K., Gasparis Scioppii ... Mercurius quadrilinguis. Id est:
linguarum, Hebraea, Graeca, Latina & Italica, nova & compendiaria
discendi ratio, ex officina Sangeorgiana, Basilea 1637, pp. 80.
Opera non consultata. Segnalata oralmente da G.B. Sarfatti.
LA 51 (2001) 183-190

184

M. PAZZINI

XIX secolo
59. Canonico G., Elementi di lingua santa scritti per uso de giovani
ch(i)erici dal sacerdote napolitano Giuseppe Canonico, Napoli, dalla
tipografia De Dominicis 1835, pp. 164.
Lopera divisa in dieci capitoli che trattano: delle lettere (ortografia), del nome, de pronomi, de verbi, de verbi imperfetti, de verbi
irregolari, delle particelle indeclinabili, della sintassi ebraica, della poesia ebraica, de numeri degli ebrei. Le ultime due pagine (163-164)
contengono correzioni di alcuni errori notabili. Il volume dedicato
allE.mo e R.mo signore Filippo Giudice Caracciolo, cardinale arcivescovo di Napoli.
60. Corsaro F., Elementi grammaticali della lingua santa esposti in tavole
sinottiche da apprendersi in ventidue lezioni anche senza precettore con
una breve appendice della mutazione dei punti masoretici e con un piccolo catalogo ebraico latino di tutte le voci radicali e derivate compilati dal Sacerdote Francesco Corsaro professore della lingua ebraica
nel seminario della citt di Catania. Ad uso di detto seminario, Napoli,
dai torchi di Raffaele Miranda (vicoletto Gradini S. Nicandro n. 25)
1839, pp. 79 + 4 tavole dei paradigmi verbali (non numerate) inserite
fra le pp. 36-37, + 1 tavola sui numerali inserita fra p. 52 e p. 53.
Lopera divisa in 22 brevi lezioni di fonologia, morfologia e sintassi
(pp. 9-55) a cui segue unappendice sulla vocalizzazione masoretica
(pp. 55-76), lindice (pp. 77-78) e lerrata corrige (p. 79). Scrive lautore: Epper io sonomi attenuto nel comporre questi miei grammaticali elementi ai sommi Grammatici Buxtorfio, Guarin, Bellarmino,
ed altri (cf. Introduzione, p. 7).
61. Bacchi F.R., Nozioni primordiali di grammatica ebraica e tavole di
nomenclatura, Torino, Stamperia di compositori-tipografi, 1862, pp. 30.
Opera non consultata. Segnalata da D. Roveri.
62. Anonimo, Nozioni di grammatica ebraica per un maestro elementare,
Torino 1863 (Stamperia di compositori-tipografi, Via del Teatro
dAngennes, 16), pp. 24.
Unavvertenza precisa: Questa Grammatichetta dettata ad uso di
quegli allievi che gi appresero le prime nozioni di Grammatica italiana e tende a fornir loro i principii per tradurre lEbraico in Italiano.

GRAMMATICHE E DIZIONARI DI EBRAICO-ARAMAICO

185

Lopera comprende le seguenti parti: nome, articolo, aggettivo (compresi i numerali), pronomi, verbo, preposizioni. Le ultime quattro pagine contengono due saggi di analisi grammaticale. Il volumetto
anonimo; un Avviso scritto sullultima di copertina ricorda che Questoperetta, come pure ldwmlhjra gi edita nella stessa Tipografia,
trovansi vendibili dal signor Giuseppe Raffael Segre di Moise presso
il Collegio israelitico Colonna e Finzi.

XX secolo
63. Valente F., Grammatica ebraica senza i segni massoretici, Societ Editrice Internazionale, Torino 1923.
Opera non consultata. Segnalata da M. Pucciarini.
64. Valente F., Grammatica ebraica, Societ Editrice Internazionale, Torino 1940, pp. 79.
Seconda edizione basata sulla terza edizione latina. Opera non consultata. Segnalata da M. Pucciarini.
65. Invrea R., Grammatica ebraica con esercizi, letture e glossario, Societ Editrice Internazionale, Torino 1954, pp. XVI + 252.
Lopera stata completata da G. Invrea. Alle pp. III-V vi la presentazione di G.R. Castellino. Si tratta della prima grammatica in italiano
con lebraico traslitterato. provvista di glossario, letture in traslitterazione ed esercizi, nonch di alcuni brani in caratteri ebraici stampati. Opera non consultata. Segnalata da M. Pucciarini.
66. Garbini G., Laramaico antico, in Atti della Accademia Nazionale dei
Lincei, Memorie, Classe di Scienze morali, storiche e filologiche, serie
VIII, vol. VII, fasc. 5, Roma 1956, 239-283.
Il termine aramaico antico viene inteso nella sua accezione pi ristretta: riguarda la lingua della Siria nei secoli X-VIII a. C. Laramaico
antico viene diviso in cinque dialetti (di Damasco, di Hama, di amal,
di Arpad, dAssiria) di ognuno dei quali viene presentato uno schizzo
grammaticale e ne vengono evidenziati i caratteri comuni e le divergenze. Viene anche proposta una classificazione diacronica dei dialetti
dellaramaico antico in tre gruppi: a) yaudico; b) aramaico di
Damasco, Hama e Assiria; c) aramaico di Arpad.

186

M. PAZZINI

67. Ciprotti P., Introduzione pratica allo studio dellebraico biblico, Editrice Pontificia Universit Gregoriana, Roma 1993, vol. I: testo, pp.
XIII-175; vol. II: materiale per esercizi, pp. 190 (non numerate);
paradigmi dei verbi, pp. 23.
Lautore, un innamorato della lingua ebraica, ha concepito lopera come
un sussidio (magari da usarsi insieme ad altre grammatiche) per rendere pi agevole e alla portata di tutti lo studio della lingua ebraica.
68. Tsereteli K., Grammatica generale dellaramaico (edizione italiana a
cura di S. Noja), Zamorani, Torino 1995 (ristampa 2000), pp. 112.
Lopera apparsa anche come articolo in Henoch 17 (1995) 3-102.
Loriginale in lingua georgiana, tradotto in russo e da qui in italiano.
una grammatica comparativa dei dialetti aramaici delle varie regioni
ed epoche. Non comprende esercizi. I dialetti aramaici vengono divisi
in due categorie: antico aramaico (dialetti morti) e neoaramaico
(dialetti viventi). Di ogni gruppo vengono presentati: (fonetica e) fonologia, morfologia, sintassi e lessico. La bibliografia divisa secondo le
diverse epoche dellaramaico; due tavole riportano tutti gli alfabeti nei
quali laramaico stato scritto.
69. Lancellotti A., Grammatica dellebraico biblico, Franciscan Printing
Press, Jerusalem 1996, pp. 200.
Si tratta di unedizione postuma, curata da A. Niccacci, basata su alcuni articoli e sugli appunti del docente rivisti e aggiornati da diversi collaboratori. Non contiene esercizi, tavole dei paradigmi e glossario.
destinata a coloro che gi possiedono una conoscenza elementare dellebraico biblico.
70. Nahmani Greppi G., Grammatica ebraica (Grammatica essenziale),
Vallardi, Milano 1997, pp. 160.
La grammatica, in formato tascabile, destinata ai principianti. Punto
di forza del libro, oltre alla trascrizione in caratteri latini che rispecchia
la pronuncia effettiva, la vocalizzazione completa del testo, fondamentale per capire a fondo diversi fenomeni grammaticali ma che di
norma non viene indicata. Un altro validissimo aiuto allo studio rappresentato dai modelli di coniugazione e dalle tavole dei verbi forti e
deboli con le rispettive categorie (cf. p. 6).

GRAMMATICHE E DIZIONARI DI EBRAICO-ARAMAICO

187

XXI secolo
71. Mittler D., Grammatica ebraica, Zanichelli, Bologna 2000, pp. XII +
339.
Sia le persone interessate allo studio dellebraico parlato e scritto oggi,
sia coloro che desiderano avvicinarsi allebraico biblico possono trovare in questa grammatica un sistema che le render gradualmente padrone della materia. Le spiegazioni grammaticali sono seguite da una serie
di esercizi, accompagnati dalla relativa chiave per lautocorrezione, che
costituisce un percorso autonomo di studio (cf. Premessa, p. XI). Si
tratta di un testo a livello universitario.

Dizionari e glossari

XX secolo
72. Artom M.I., Vocabolario ebraico-italiano, F. Gili, Torino 1939, pp.
455.
Litaliano dattiloscritto, lebraico scritto a mano. Il testo disposto su due colonne. Nella prefazione G.S. scrive: Lautore principale, Moise Italo Artom, si valse dellaiuto, in particolare di Akiva
Wittemberg e di tutti gli altri amici di Torino in generale, i quali si
curarono sopratutto della trascrizione nella parte tipografica, mentre
egli, terminata la compilazione, da Eretz Israel era ricco di incoraggiamenti e spinte.
73. Biasoli M., Dizionario ebraico: italiano-ebraico, ebraico-italiano,
Vallardi, Milano 1993, pp. XLIV + 256 (italiano-ebraico); XLIV + 258
(ebraico-italiano).
Il dizionario, in formato tascabile, si propone come strumento pratico e
indispensabile per chi studente, turista, operatore economico desidera accostarsi alla lingua di Israele. Lopera, che offre alla consultazione oltre 14.000 vocaboli, tutti accompagnati dalla trascrizione
fonetica, corredata da un breve ma utile compendio grammaticale in
apertura delle due sezioni linguistiche e da alcune pagine di fraseologia
utilizzabili nelle situazioni pi ricorrenti (cf. Prefazione, p. III).

188

M. PAZZINI

74. Reymond Ph., Dizionario di ebraico e aramaico biblici (edizione italiana a cura di J.A. Soggin (coordinatore), F. Bianchi, M. Cimosa, G.
Deiana, D. Garrone, A. Spreafico), Societ biblica britannica e forestiera, Roma 1995, pp. 497.
Il dizionario la traduzione delloriginale francese Dictionnaire
dhebreu et daramen bibliques, Paris 1991.
75. Contini S. - Mittler D., Dizionario per immagini. Ebraico, Vallardi,
Milano 1996, pp. X (introduzione e indice generale) + 244 (corpo del
dizionario) + 25 (indice italiano-ebraico) + 23 (indice ebraico-italiano).
Le pagine non sono numerate.
Il dizionario diviso in sette parti: natura e scienze; mezzi di trasporto
civili e militari; armi; tecnica ed energia; arti e mestieri; casa, citt e
tempo libero; sport. Lopera offre alla consultazione circa 7.000 vocaboli ebraici, non vocalizzati ma accompagnati dalla trascrizione fonetica. Le pagine di destra contengono le tavole illustrate (121 in tutto)
mentre quelle di sinistra riportano la nomenclatura relativa, circa 50
parole in italiano e in ebraico, accompagnate dal numero di riferimento
alle illustrazioni della tavola (cf. Prefazione). Gli autori Contini e
Mittler hanno curato il testo ebraico. Per i disegni hanno collaborato
altre otto persone.
76. Fohrer G. (a cura di), Dizionario di ebraico e aramaico dellAntico
Testamento, in collaborazione con H.W. Hoffmann, F. Huber, J.
Vollmer, G. Wanke; edizione italiana a cura di V. Cuffaro, Piemme,
Casale Monferrato 1996, pp. XII + 362.
Il dizionario la traduzione della seconda edizione dello Hebrisches
und aramisches Wrterbuch zum Alten Testament.

XXI secolo
77. Bianchi F., Dizionario dei nomi biblici, dei nomi di luogo e dei lemmi
di incerto significato, Societ biblica britannica e forestiera, Roma
2001, pp. 101.
Il volume stato concepito come un supplemento al dizionario di
Reymond pubblicato dallo stesso editore nel 1995. La traduzione italiana dei nomi segue la versione italiana della CEI. Lautore ha curato

189

GRAMMATICHE E DIZIONARI DI EBRAICO-ARAMAICO

unintroduzione bibliografica per ciascuna delle tre parti del supplemento, nomi propri, nomi geografici e nomi di incerto significato.

Manuali di conversazione
78. Mittler D. - Contini S., Parlo ebraico. Manuale di conversazione con
pronuncia figurata, Vallardi, Milano 1996, pp. 176.
Lopera concepita come manuale di conversazione (con una certa sensibilit verso la grammatica). Le parole ebraiche (non vocalizzate) vengono trascritte in caratteri latini. Le note grammaticali occupano le
pp. 156-170 e coprono, a grandi linee, lambito della morfologia elementare, dallarticolo alla declinazione e coniugazione del verbo regolare.
79. Vivaldi F. - Duenyas E., Ebraico. Dizionario e guida alla conversazione, LAirone, Roma 1998, pp. 208.
Il materiale del manuale di conversazione viene distribuito in 70 temi
disposti in ordine alfabetico da abbigliamento a vita notturna. La
grammatica occupa 12 pagine (40-51). Lultima parte del libretto
comprende: 1) una lista di circa 2.000 parole italiane tradotte in ebraico (con pronuncia); 2) un dizionario ebraico-italiano di circa 4.000 lemmi; 3) un vocabolarietto ebraico-italiano nel quale le parole ebraiche
sono ordinate secondo la pronuncia vera in caratteri latini (cf. Introduzione, p. 3).

Massimo Pazzini, ofm


Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Jerusalem

Indice alfabetico degli autori


Anonimo
Artom M.I.
Bacchi F.R.
Bianchi F.
Biasoli M.

n.
n.
n.
n.
n.

62
72
61
77
73

Canonico G.
Ciprotti P.
Contini S.-Mittler D.
Corsaro F.
Fohrer G.

n.
n.
n.
n.
n.

59
67
75
60
76

190
Garbini G.
Invrea R.
Lancellotti A.
Mittler D.
Mittler D.-Contini S.
Nahmani Greppi G.

M. PAZZINI

n.
n.
n.
n.
n.
n.

66
65
69
71
78
70

Reymond Ph.
Schoppe K.
Tsereteli K.
Valente F.
Vivaldi F.-Duenyas E.

n.
n.
n.
nn. 63 e
n.

74
58
68
64
79

SAINTE MLANIE
ET LES RELIQUES DES MARTYRS

P. Laurence

Au milieu du cinquime sicle de notre re, un certain Grontius rdige un


texte hagiographique connu sous le nom de Vie de sainte Mlanie1. Il avait
t le prtre des monastres fonds Jrusalem par cette femme, qui tait
un membre de la haute aristocratie romaine. Ne la fin du quatrime sicle, Mlanie se convertit au mode de vie des Pres du dsert (le sanctum
propositum saint propos), fait de prire et dascse. Pour raliser ce vu,
elle avait renonc au monde, vendu sa fortune, et entran sa mre (Albine)
et son mari (Pinien) en Terre Sainte, o elle allait passer le reste de son
existence (sa mort se situe en 439). Or, si lon en croit son hagiographe,
elle vouait aux martyrs et leurs reliques2 une dvotion qui se manifeste
plusieurs reprises: dans les dbuts de son mariage, lors dune preuve particulirement cruelle; mais aussi beaucoup plus tard, Jrusalem, o elle
fait successivement difier deux martyria (lun pour son monastre de femmes, puis lautre pour celui des hommes). Cest alors quentrent en scne
plusieurs reliques, qui seront consacres dans ces monastres, et dont certaines au moins joueront un rle important dans le dcours de lexistence
de la sainte. A partir des informations fournies par la Vie, je considrerai
dabord la question dun point de vue diachronique. En effet, deux grands
moments se dessinent, dont chacun correspond la construction dun difice qui va recevoir ces reliques, dans des circonstances bien prcises; cela
nous amnera du mme coup nous interroger sur lidentit des martyrs
concerns, ainsi que sur lorigine des reliques; il restera valuer les propos de Grontius sur cet aspect du culte chez Mlanie.

1. La Vie existe en latin et en grec. Elle fut dite Rome en 1905 par le cardinal Rampolla,

sous le titre de Santa Melania Giuniore, Senatrice romana; pour la Vie grecque, voir aussi
Grontius, Vie grecque de sainte Mlanie, d. et trad. D. Gorce (SC 90), Paris 1962;
Grontius, The Life of Melania the Younger, d. et trad. E. Clark, New York 1984. Se trouve
actuellement sous presse (Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Franciscan Printing Press, Jrusalem) une nouvelle dition de la Vie latine, tablie par mes soins: Grontius, la Vie de
sainte Mlanie, dition, traduction et commentaire. Dans ltude qui suit, je mappuierai le
plus souvent sur ldition de Gorce: le texte grec est plus concis et plus clair que le latin et,
comme je le montrerai dans mon ouvrage, il est beaucoup plus fidle au texte originel. Les
renvois au texte latin sont faits partir de ldition de Rampolla.
LA 51(2001) 191-212

192

P. LAURENCE

Saint Laurent et loratoire des moniales


Daprs Grontius, Rome dj, Mlanie avait eu au moins une fois le
dsir de se rendre dans un martyrium, celui de saint Laurent, le jour de sa
commmoration. Voici le texte3:
Quand ensuite les prires de la sainte obtinrent leur effet et quarriva
pour elle le moment de mettre au monde son second enfant, survint la commmoration de saint Laurent. Sans prendre aucun repos, mais ayant pass
toute la nuit veiller et faire des gnuflexions dans son oratoire, elle part
le lendemain matin de bonne heure avec sa mre et, allant au martyrium,
elle implora Dieu avec beaucoup de larmes afin que, dlivre du monde,
elle pt passer dans la solitude le temps qui lui restait vivre, comme elle
lavait dsir depuis le dbut. Et, revenue du martyrium, elle eut un accouchement extrmement difficile, et elle met au monde lenfant avant terme.
Or, ctait un garon et, une fois baptis, il sen alla vers le Seigneur.

Le martyrium en question tait situ sur la via Tiburtina: la dpouille


du saint avait t dpose dans une crypte du cimetire du mme nom,
crypte auprs de laquelle lempereur Constantin avait fait difier une basilique4. Quant la commmoration, elle avait lieu le dix aot, jour anniversaire du martyre du saint5. En effet, ce diacre (ou archidiacre) du pape Sixte
II avait t victime de la perscution de Valrien, survenue en 257-258, et
qui visait les responsables ecclsiastiques (le pape lui-mme fut dcapit).
Le texte ne dit rien dun attachement particulier de Mlanie ce martyr,
mais on notera quAmbroise chante les louanges de Laurent deux reprises dans le De officiis6. Or, il entretenait des relations privilgies avec les
2. Pour une bibliographie gnrale sur le sujet, cf. A. Amore, Culto e canonizzazione dei

santi nellantichit cristiana, Ant 52 (1974) pp. 38-80; P.R.L. Brown, The Cult of the Saints.
Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity, Chicago 1981; H. Delehaye, Les origines du
culte des martyrs, Bruxelles 1912; Y. Duval, Loca sanctorum, Paris 1982; N. HermannMascard, Les reliques des saints. Formation coutumire dun droit, Paris 1975; V. Saxer,
Morts, martyrs, reliques en afrique chrtienne aux Iers s., Paris 1980.
3. Vie grecque, 5: d. Gorce, Mlanie, pp. 134-136.
4. Cf. C. Carletti, Le antiche chiese dei martiri romani, in: Le chiese di Roma illustrate,
Rome 1972, p. 75 sq.; Rampolla, Santa Melania Giuniore, n. XLIII, pp. 266-268: Pietri,
Roma Christiana, Rome 1976, pp. 37-40 et 524-525. A la fin du sixime sicle, le pape
Plage II allait faire construire une autre basilique au-dessus du spulcre.
5. Cf. DACL 8, c. 1917-1961; P. Franchi de cavalieri, San Lorenzo e il supplizio della
agricola, Rmische Quartalschrift fr christliche Altertumskunde und fr Kirchengeschichte 14 (1900), pp. 159-176.
6. Ambroise, De officiis, I, 41 et II, 28: M. Testard, CUF, 1984, t. 1, pp. 196-197 et t. 2,

SAINTE MLANIE ET LES RELIQUES DES MARTYRS

193

Anicii, mais aussi avec la famille de Mlanie la Jeune (les Antonii), qui tait
allie la prcdente, comme le montre notamment leur appartenance au
mme clan lors de la querelle origniste7.
Aprs cette mention de saint Laurent, qui se situe au dbut de la Vie, il
faut attendre le chapitre 48 pour trouver les noms dautres martyrs. Il sagit
cette fois du monastre que Mlanie fit difier Jrusalem pour ses religieuses, et de loratoire dans lequel furent dposes des reliques. Grontius
crit ce propos8:
Aussi sempressa-t-elle de construire un oratoire dans le monastre et
dy dresser un autel afin quelles eussent lhonneur de participer continuellement aux saints mystres. (...) Elle y dposa aussi des reliques de saints
martyrs, cest--dire du prophte Zacharie, du saint protomartyr Etienne,
des Quarante Saints martyrs de Sbaste, ainsi que dautres dont Dieu connat les noms.

Disons dabord quelques mots de lemplacement9: les recherches archologiques de Vincent et Abel ont eu lieu sur le mont des Oliviers, lest
et au sud du sanctuaire de lElona. Il y ont trouv un fragment de mosaque qui a pu appartenir lun des oratoires de Mlanie10, ainsi quune citerne pouvant correspondre celle appartenant au monastre des femmes,
et qui est voque au chapitre 41 de la Vie.

pp. 72-73; cf. aussi Damase, Eloge des saints et des papes enterrs Calliste, in: J.L. Charlet et J. Guyon (trad.), Damase et les martyrs romains, Vatican 1986, pp. 19-23; Prudence,
Hymne en lhonneur du bienheureux martyr Laurent, in: M. Lavarenne (trad.), Le livre des
couronnes, Paris 1963.
7. Sur les relations entre Ambroise et Sextus Anicius Petronius Probus, cf. Paulin de Milan, Vita sancti Ambrosii, 5 et 8: PL 14 (1845), c. 28 C et 29 D. Son pouse, Proba, entretenait une correspondance avec Rufin, ladversaire de Jrme dans la querelle origniste
(Gennadius, De scriptoribus ecclesiasticis, 17: PL 58, c. 1070), et par ailleurs lami intime
de Mlanie lAncienne, qui est la grand-mre de notre sainte et lun des membres de la gens
Antonia (la mre de Mlanie la Jeune, Albine, appartient la gens Caeionia), mais aussi
lun des personnages les plus acharns du clan de Rufin: elle est revenue Rome vers 399400 pour le soutenir (Jrme, Apologie contre Rufin: d. et trad. P. Lardet [SC 303], Paris
1983, intr. p. XVII et 50-56).
8. Vie grecque, 48, p. 218.
9. Cf. Clark, Grontius, The Life of Melania, pp. 115-119 pour lensemble des constructions de Mlanie sur le mont des Oliviers.
10. H. Vincent et F.-M. Abel, Jrusalem. Recherches de topographie, darchologie et
dhistoire. Vol. 2: Jrusalem nouvelle, fasc. 1-2, Paris 1926, p. 389). Le monastre des femmes existait encore en 614: P.S. Vailh, Rpertoire alphabtique des monastres de Palestine, ROChr (1900) pp. 31-32.

194

P. LAURENCE

Par ailleurs, si le terme oratoire (eujkth/rion/oratorium11) est employ


pour dsigner ldifice religieux en question, celui-ci devient dans les faits
un martyrium une fois les reliques dposes. En fait, les deux mots
eujkth/rion et marturion (en latin oratorium et martyrium) semblent interchangeables: quand il sagit de ldifice construit plus tard pour le monastre des hommes, ils varient selon les textes latin et grec12. La date de la
construction du premier oratoire semble par ailleurs contemporaine de celle
du monastre des femmes13, qui eut lieu en 431 ou 43214, peu de temps
aprs la mort dAlbine15. La dposition dut avoir lieu sinon immdiatement,
du moins dans un dlai trs bref, Pinien tant peut-tre encore vivant ce
moment16.
Si nous prenons dans lordre les reliques qui furent dposes dans loratoire, nous trouvons dabord le prophte Zacharie. Selon Sozomne, son
corps aurait t dcouvert en bon tat de conservation proximit
dEleuthropolis, Kaphar Zacharia, par un fonctionnaire auquel Zacharie
en personne aurait rvl sa prsence. Cette dcouverte du corps se situe
lpoque de Thodose II17. Lpouse de ce dernier, limpratrice Eudocie,
contribua rpandre le culte de ce personnage en rdigeant un pome chantant ses louanges (ainsi que celles de Daniel)18 cest cette mme Eudocie
que nous allons bientt rencontrer aux cts de Mlanie Jrusalem, en
11. Le terme appartient la Vie latine, 48 (d. Rampolla, p. 27; la capitulation est la mme

que celle du texte grec).


12. Vie grecque, 57 (p. 240: marturion et eujkth/rion); 58 (p. 244: marturion); Vie latine,

57 (p. 32, deux fois), 58 (p. 33) et 66 (p. 38): martyrium.


13. Cest ce que laisse penser le verbe employ par la Vie grecque, 48: espou/dasen.
14. Mlanie est arive en Afrique en 417; aprs quoi elle consacre quatorze ans la clture
alternative, jusqu la mort dAlbine (Vie latine, 41, p. 23 / Vie grecque, 40, p. 204; cf.
Rampolla, Santa Melania Giuniore, n. I, p. 105 et p. 281)
15. Vie grecque, 41, p. 204.
16. La mort de Mlanie se situe le 31 dcembre 439: elle survient en effet un dimanche, et
le sixime jour de la maladie (Vie grecque, 66, p. 262. Le grec dit le cinquime jour; mais,
comme lexplique Gorce, Mlanie, 262, n. 4, il faut dans ce cas compter des dures de 24
heures partir du mardi matin o Mlanie sest allite Vie grecque, 64, p. 260), qui a
commenc le 26 dcembre (Vies grecque et latine, 63-64). Or, en lanne 439, le 31 dcembre est prcisment un dimanche, alors que ce nest le cas ni pour 438 ni pour 437: il
faut ensuite attendre 444 pour retrouver un 31 dcembre qui concide avec un dimanche (A.
Blanc, Les calendriers, Paris 1986, 38-40). Par ailleurs, la mort de Pinien est explicitement
situe huit ans avant celle de Mlanie (Vie grecque, 49, p. 220), ce qui nous mne en 381.
Mais sagit-il de huit annes prcises?
17. Sozomne, Histoire Ecclsiastique, IX, 7: d. J. Bidez-Hansen (GCS 50), Berlin 1960,
407-408; cf. Gorce, Mlanie, 218, n. 2.
18. Metaphrasis metrica in Photius, Bibliotheca, 183-184: PG 103, c. 537-540.

SAINTE MLANIE ET LES RELIQUES DES MARTYRS

195

439, mais que notre sainte devait voir auparavant Constantinople (fin
436), lorsque Thodose maria sa fille Eudoxie au futur Valentinien III, fils
de Placidia et de Constance III (le 29 octobre 43719). Cependant, cette rencontre, plus tardive que la dposition des reliques dans loratoire difi par
Mlanie, nexplique pas lorigine de ces dernires origine dont la Vie ne
dit rien.
Grontius voque ensuite le protomartyr Etienne. Nous aurons reparler de ce saint et du rle jou par ses reliques quelques annes plus tard.
Prcisons pour linstant que cette prsence de reliques Jrusalem en ces
annes 431-432 navait rien dtonnant: en dcembre 415, lvque Jean
de Jrusalem avait reu la visite du desservant de Caphar Gamala, Lucien,
qui stait vu rvler le lieu de ces reliques, et qui les lui apporta bientt
pour leur transfert (le 26 dcembre) dans lglise Sainte-Sion de Jrusalem20. Est-ce que ce fut lvque Jean qui fit cadeau de certaines de ces
reliques Mlanie, lui qui, aprs avoir t origniste, sapprtait en dcembre 415 se rendre au concile de Diospolis pour y soutenir Plage, ce
mme Plage qui tait protg par la famille de Mlanie?21 Ne fut-ce pas
plutt Augustin, chez qui Mlanie, Albine et Pinien se trouvaient en 41122
et qui contribua grandement dvelopper le culte de saint Etienne en Afrique, ce dont tmoignent entre autres plusieurs sermons prononcs entre 425
et 430?23 On aimerait avoir des informations ce sujet.
Grontius mentionne aussi les reliques des Quarante martyrs de
Sbaste: ces quarante soldats de la lgion fulminante, qui taient alors
en garnison dans cette localit dArmnie, sous le commandement de Licinius, connurent le martyre en 320. En effet, ayant refus de renier leur foi,
19. Marcellinus, Chronicon, an. 437: MGH AA, t. 11, p. 79: Lempereur Valentinien, parti
de Rome pour sunir par le mariage Eudoxie, la fille de lempereur Thodose, laquelle il
tait dj fianc, arriva Constantinople et, aprs lavoir pouse, passa lhiver Thessalonique, sur le chemin du retour vers lItalie.
20. Cf. Revelatio Sancti Stephani, d. S. Vanderlinden, REB 4 (1946) pp. 178-217; P. Devos, Le pangyrique de Saint Etienne par Hsychius de Jrusalem, AB 86 (1968) pp. 151172; Ch. Mercier, LInvention des reliques de saint Etienne. Edition et traduction de la
recension armnienne indite, ROChr 30 (1946) pp. 341-369; Saxer, Morts, pp. 245-278.
21. Cf. P.R.L. Brown, Pelagius and his supporters: Aims and Environment, JThS 19
(1968) pp. 93-114; idem, The Patrons of Pelagius. The Roman Aristocracy between East
and West, JThS 21 (1970) pp. 56-72.
22. Cf. les Ep. 125 et 126 dAugustin, crites par ce dernier au printemps 411, et qui permettent de placer ce moment le fameux incident au cours duquel le peuple dHippone tenta
de contraindre Pinien recevoir la prtrise: Augustin, Ep. 125-126: CSEL 58, pp. 33-35.
(Rampolla, Santa Melania Giuniore, n. XXIV, pp. 203-210).
23. Voir ce sujet Saxer, Morts, pp. 254-258.

196

P. LAURENCE

ils furent exposs nus sur un tang glac sous ordre du gouverneur Agricola. Leur culte se rpandit rapidement en Orient, et on leur construisit une
basilique Csare24. Cette fois encore, la famille impriale est concerne,
puisque Pulchrie, la sur ane de Thodose II, est dite avoir dcouvert
les reliques de ces saints et les avoir fait transporter Constantinople25.
Dailleurs, la fte des quarante tait dj clbre dans la capitale lorsque
Nestorius en tait lvque (de 428 431)26 cest--dire quelques annes
avant la dposition des reliques dans loratoire de Mlanie: serait-ce la
source dapprovisionnement de notre sainte?
Quant la simple allusion de Grontius dautres (reliques de martyrs) dont Dieu connat les noms, nous sommes rduits quia.

Saint Lonce, sainte Euphmie, saint Phocas et le martyrium des


hommes
La construction du monastre des hommes se situe aprs que Mlanie soit
reste recluse durant les quatre ans qui suivirent la mort de son mari
Pinien27, et avant le voyage Constantinople, qui eut lieu fin 436. Il faut
donc sans doute retenir la date de 435-436.
Mais ce nest que plus tard, comme nous le verrons, que Mlanie fit
construire le martyrium attenant ce monastre: elle partit dabord pour
Constantinople, o lappelait son oncle Volusianus. Lors du voyage daller,
qui se fit travers les provinces de Cappadoce, de Galatie et de Bithynie28,
elle et ses compagnons de route (dont Grontius) firent une tape Tripoli.

24. Cf. Delehaye, Les origines, pp. 205-208; idem, The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, American
Catholic Quartely Review 24 (1899) pp. 161-171. La Passio des Quarante martyrs de Sbaste
se trouve dans les Acta Martyrum selecta: d. O. von Gebhardt, Berlin 1902, pp. 166-181.
25. Marcellinus, Chronicon, an. 451, MGH AA, t. 11, pp. 83-84; Sozomne, Histoire Ecclsiastique, IX, 2: GCS 50, pp. 392-394.
26. Jean Rufus, Plerophoria. Plrophories. Tmoignages et rvlations contre le Concile
de Chalcdoine. Version syriaque et traduction franaise, d. et trad. F. Nau, PO 8, 1912,
pp. 11-12.
27. Vie grecque, 49, p. 220.
28. Tel est litinraire habituel quand on se rend de Jrusalem Constantinople: ce fut celui
quemprunta Egrie (cf. n. 29), ainsi que le Plerin de Bordeaux (Itinerarium Burdigalense,
pp. 571-579, trad. P. Maraval, Rcits des premiers plerins chrtiens au Proche-Orient
[IVe-Ve sicle], Paris 1996, pp. 23-30). Quand Mlanie prend le chemin du retour, elle repasse effectivement par la Galatie et la Cappadoce: ch. 56, p. 238; cf. la carte propose par
Gorce, Mlanie, p. 273.

SAINTE MLANIE ET LES RELIQUES DES MARTYRS

197

Une fois dans la ville, ils se rendirent au martyrium de saint Lonce29, qui
fut lorigine dun miracle sur lequel nous reviendrons plus tard. Puis, arrivs peu de distance de Constantinople, dans la ville de Chalcdoine, ils
entrrent dans le martyrium de sainte Euphmie30, comme lavait dj fait
Egrie la fin du quatrime sicle31. En 399, ce martyrium avait t le thtre de lentrevue entre lempereur Arcadius et Gainas le Goth, et en 451
devait sy tenir le concile de Chalcdoine. Selon Evagre le Scholastique32,
il possdait une basilique33, un atrium, ainsi quune rotonde abritant la
chsse de la martyre. Est-ce que Mlanie se plongea dans la contemplation
des peintures du supplice de la sainte, qui ornaient lun des portiques du
sanctuaires et qui furent voques par Astrius dAmase?34 Toujours est-il
que, selon son biographe, elle ressortit rconforte35.
Nous passerons ici sur le sjour Constantinople, qui ne concerne
pas notre propos. Ds son retour Jrusalem, pour Pques 43736, Mlanie
dcida de construire un petit martyrium pour le monastre des hommes, ct de lglise de lAscension37. De fait, selon le tmoignage de
29. Vie grecque, 52, p. 227: Arrivs en cette ville, nous demeurmes dans le martyrium de

saint Lonce, martyrium o saccomplissent de nombreux miracles. Jean Rufus parle aussi
des reliques de saint Lonce, que vit Pierre lIbre: Jean Rufus, Vie de Pierre lIbre, d. et
trad. R. Raabe, Vita Petri Hiberii. Petrus der Iberer. Ein Charakterbild zur Kirchen und
Sittengeschichte des Fnften Jahrunderts, Leipzig 1895, pp. 103-104 (texte syriaque) et
110-111 (traduction). Sur ce martyr, cf. Thodoret de Cyr, Thrapeutique des maladies hellniques, d. et trad. P. Canivet (SC 57), Paris 1958, p. 335; G. Garitte, Textes hagiographiques relatifs saint Lonce de Tripoli, Museon 78 (1965) pp. 313-348; 79 (1966)
pp. 335-386; 81 (1968) pp. 415-440.
30. Vie grecque, 53, p. 229: Nous arrivmes au martyrium de sainte Euphmie Chalcdoine, o celle qui remporta le prix rconforta beaucoup la sainte, la remplissant dencouragements et de consolation. Sur sainte Euphmie, cf. F. Halkin, Euphmie de Chalcdoine.
Lgendes byzantines (SubHag 41), Bruxelles 1965.
31. Itinerarium Egeriae, 23; 7, d. et trad. P. Maraval (SC 296), Paris 1982, p. 231: Le
lendemain, gravissant le mont Taurus et suivant un itinraire dj connu travers chacune
des provinces que javais traverses laller, savoir la Cappadoce, la Galacie et la Bithynie, je suis arrive Chalcdoine o, cause du trs illustre martyrium de sainte Euphmie,
que je connaissais dj depuis longtemps et qui sy trouve, jai fait tape.
32. Evagre le Scholastique, Ecclesiastica Historia, II, 3, in: J. Bidez et L. Parmentier (d.),
The Ecclesiastical History of Evagrius with the Scholia, Londres 1898, pp. 39-42.
33. Sur la basilique, cf. Halkin, Euphmie de Chalcdoine, pp. 9-33.
34. Asterius dAmase, Homlie XI, d. Datema, pp. 153-155; cf. W. Speyer, Die
Euphemia-Rede des Asterius von Amaseia. Ein Missionschrift fr gebildete heiden,
Jahrbuch fr Antike und Christentum 14 (1971) pp. 39-47.
35. Cf. texte de la n. 30.
36. Vie grecque, 57, p. 240.
37. Ibid.: Ayant vu la perfection avec laquelle les moines trs chers Dieu sacquittaient

198

P. LAURENCE

Jean Rufus38, les deux monastres (hommes et femmes) de Mlanie se


trouvaient prs de cette glise. Il faut donc leur ajouter loratoire du
monastre des femmes, lapostolium, ainsi que le martyrium du monastre des hommes39. Lors de leurs fouilles de lglise de lAscension, Vincent et Abel ont cru reconnatre un mur de ce petit martyrium40, mais rien
nest moins certain41.
De plus, qui fut vritablement lauteur la construction de cet difice?
De fait, Jean Rufus lattribue Eudocie42: une inscription atteste le fait,
nous dit-il43. La chose na rien dtonnant quand on sait que Jean Rufus
voulait faire de limpratrice la championne du monophysisme44, et quil
sattacha ds lors mettre en valeur tout ce qui tait susceptible de rehausser son prestige. Mais faut-il pour autant rejeter dfinitivement son affirmation? Faut-il plutt avancer que limpratrice aurait donn des fonds
Mlanie pour cette construction, dureant le sjour de la sainte Constantinople? Aucun texte ne mentionne un fait de ce genre. Ainsi donc, si nous
sommes tents de croire Grontius la lumire de ce que nous savons du
reste de luvre de Mlanie, il serait bien imprudent de parler dune certitude absolue.
En tout tat de cause, selon Grontius louvrage fut excut en peu de
jours. Ayant runi dautres hommes saints, Mlanie les y logea45. Elle apprit ensuite que limpratrice Eudocie tait en route pour Jrusalem. De fait,

de la psalmodie dans lglise, voici quun autre dsir divin lenvahit, et elle songe construire un petit martyrium; cf. Vie latine 57, p. 32: Aprs avoir constat que loffice de la
sainte glise tait bien accompli par les moines, et comme son me brlait de ferveur et
grandissait dans lamour de Dieu, elle conut de construire un petit martyrium dans cet endroit, disant: Voici le lieu o se sont tenus les pieds du Seigneur. Je construirai donc un
petit martyrium pour quaprs ma mort loffrande soit clbre pour mon me et pour celle
de mon seigneur.
38. Jean Rufus, Vie de Pierre lIbrien, p. 28.
39. Cf. Rampolla, Santa Melania Giuniore, p. 281; Clark, Grontius, The Life of Melania,
pp. 118-119.
40. T. Milik, Notes dpigraphie et de topographie palestiniennes, RB 67 (1960) pp. 558-559.
41. Voir en particulier les doutes mis par V. Corbo, Scavo archeologico a ridosso della
basilica dellAscensione, LA 10 (1959-1960) p. 110, n. 1.
42. Jean Rufus, Vie de Pierre lIbrien, p. 33; cf. E. Clark, Claims, pp. 153-156.
43. Sur ce conflit dautorit (au moins aux yeux des biographes) entre Eudocie et Mlanie,
cf. Clark, Claims.
44. Eudocie, qui tait galement monophysite, ne revint lorthodoxie quen 456:
Rampolla, Santa Melania Giuniore, pp. LXXV-LXXVI.
45. Vie grecque, ch. 57, p. 240.

SAINTE MLANIE ET LES RELIQUES DES MARTYRS

199

aprs la perte dune fille du nom de Flacilla en 431, celle-ci avait fait le
vu de visiter les Lieux saints si se ralisait le mariage de sa fille Eudoxie46. Ce voyage se situe en 438 ou 43947. A cette nouvelle, aprs avoir
quelque peu hsit, Mlanie dcida de se porter au devant delle, et cest
Sidon quelle la rejoignit. Une fois sur place, elle se logea dans le martyrium de saint Phocas48.
Ce saint tait lobjet dun culte rpandu sur les pourtours de la Mditerrane49. Son martyre date sans doute de lpoque de Trajan. Daprs son
pangyriste Astrius dAmase50, ce personnage, qui tait jardinier
Sinope, aurait reu ses bourreaux et les aurait aids prparer sa propre
excution. Or, Constantinople, au dbut du cinquime sicle, Jean
Chrysostome avait prononc une homlie51 loccasion de larrive des
reliques de saint Phocas dans cette ville. Ces reliques, nous dit-il, furent
dposes dans un tafo, peut-tre sur la rive ouest du Bosphore, l o
devait ds cette poque se situer un monastre consacr ce saint52. Qui
plus est, selon Jean Chrysostome lui-mme, les empereurs navaient pas
refus la vnration des reliques de saint Phocas53. Eudocie devait donc
bien connatre ce martyr, et ce fut sans doute lune des raisons de son tape
de Sidon. Peut-tre la prsence du sanctuaire dans cette ville est-il mettre
en relation avec la dcouverte des reliques dun saint Phocas dans la r-

46. Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica, 7, 47, d. R. Hussey, Oxford 1893, p. 329: Elle-mme
(Eudocie) avait dcid dexcuter ce vu (se rendre Jrusalem) si elle assistait au mariage de sa fille; cf. Jean de Nikiou, Chronique, p. 470.
47. Le dpart ne dut avoir lieu quaprs que limpratrice eut assist, le jeudi 27 janvier
438, au retour de la dpouille de Jean Chrysostome: cf. Socrate, Historia Ecclesiastica, 7,
45, pp. 833-834; Clark, Grontius, The Life of Melania, p. 138; P. Devos, Lanne de la
ddicace de Saint-Etienne, AB 105 (1987) pp. 270-271. Dautre part, elle tait Jrusalem
au milieu de mai 439: Jean Rufus, Vie de Pierre lIbrien, pp. 32-33.
48. Vie grecque, 58, p. 243: Elle alla donc sa rencontre Sidon, lui rendant ses actions
de grces pour laffection extrme quelle lui avait tmoigne Constantinople. Elle sjourna dans le martyrium de saint Phocas o, dit-on, aurait habit la Chananenne fidle
qui dit au Seigneur dans lEvangile: Cest vrai, Seigneur, mais les petits chiens mangent
des miettes qui tombent de la table de leur matre.
49. Informations concernant ce martyr: C. Van de Vorst et P. Peeters, Saint Phocas, AB
30 (1911) pp. 252-295 (dition du texte grec de la Passion, issue du Codex Barberianus III.
37, fol. 33v-39 du Vatican).
50. Astrius dAmase, PG 40, c. 300-313.
51. Jean Chrysostome, PG 50, c. 699-706.
52. Cf. Van de Vorst et Peeters, Saint Phocas, pp. 256-257.
53. Cf. n. 48.

200

P. LAURENCE

gion en question. Cette invention est relate dans la vie syriaque de Pierre
lIbre54.
Quant Eudocie, une fois Jrusalem, elle dsira se rendre dans le
monastre des hommes55. Comme approchait la dposition de saintes reliques dans le martyrium que Mlanie venait de construire, (...) limpratrice
demanda que la crmonie et lieu en sa prsence, crit Grontius56. Or,
ce texte pose bien des problmes.
Pour commencer, quelle est la date de la dposition? Il faut citer ici un
texte fondamental, constitu par un extrait de la Vie de Pierre lIbrien57:
L donc, o ils habitrent en quitude et furent des modles de vertu
asctique, dans ce monastre des hommes, comme jai dit prcdemment,
o Grontios tait suprieur, l aussi ils dposrent les ossements vnrs
de ces saints martyrs (persans), leurs guides et leur escorte, avec les ossements des quarante illustres martyrs de Sbaste, lorsque le saint et probe
archevque dAlexandrie Cyrille clbra leur dposition (...) Lorsquil
(Cyrille) fut venu avec nombre dvques de toute lEgypte et eut procd
solennellement la dposition des ossements saints du protomartyr (saint
Etienne), le 15 du mois de mai, aussitt aprs, le 16 du mme mois, pri
de le faire par sainte Mlanie, il procda aussi la dposition des saints
martyrs persans et des Quarante martyrs avec eux, sur le mont des Oliviers, dans le petit temple qui fut aussi magnifiquement construit par la
mme reine Eudocie, comme le mentionne une inscription grave l sur
le mur.

Si la date de la dposition est donc bien atteste (le 16 mai), lanne


nest pas prcise: sagit-il de 438 ou de 439? les dates-buttoirs du voyage
dEudocie en Terre Sainte ne suffisent pas fixer des limites aussi prcises58. Heureusement, Pierre Devos a montr59 quil ne pouvait sagir de
438, le 15 mai de la premire dposition concidant cette anne-l avec le
dimanche de Pentecte: en ce jour, la liturgie de Jrusalem tait incompatible avec une crmonie de ce genre. Il faut donc garder 439.
54. Jean Rufus, Vie de Pierre lIbrien, pp. 106-109; trad. J.B. Chabot, Pierre lIbrien vque monophysite de Mayouma la fin du Ve sicle, ROL (1895) pp. 384-385. Traces archo-

logiques de saint Phocas en Afrique: cf. Duval, Loca sanctorum, pp. 231-237 et 666-667.
55. Vie grecque, 58, p. 244.
56. Ibid.
57. Jean Rufus, Vie de Pierre lIbrien, pp. 32-33; trad. P. Devos, Quand Pierre lIbre
vint-il Jrusalem, AB 86 (1968) p. 346.
58. Cf. supra, n. 47.
59. Cf. Devos, Quand Pierre lIbre, pp. 336-350.

SAINTE MLANIE ET LES RELIQUES DES MARTYRS

201

Dautre part, alors que Grontius ne donne aucune prcision, Jean


Rufus parle de la dposition des reliques appartenant diffrents martyrs.
Commenons, en respectant lordre propos par le texte, par celles des
martyrs persans. En fait, selon Devos, il ne sagit que dun seul personnage60, qui avait t mis mort en 356, durant la perscution de Sapor61.
Un peu plus haut dans son rcit, Jean Rufus dclarait que ctait Pierre
lIbre qui avait rapport ces reliques de Constantinople.
Or, Grontius ne nous dit rien de ce personnage, notamment en ce qui
concerne son assistance la dposition du 16 mai. Selon son biographe
Jean Rufus, Pierre lIbre avait connu Mlanie Constantinople la fin de
lanne 436, et la sainte lavait converti62; puis il avait fui la capitale avec
son compagnon Jean lEunuque63 en emportant des reliques des (du?)
martyr(s) persan(s), prcisment celles qui, le 16 mai 439, allaient tre dposes dans le martyrium du monastre de Mlanie qui toujours selon
Jean Rufus lavait accueilli Jrusalem. Mais il tait lun des chefs du
parti monophysite. Grontius, qui lui-mme navait renonc que sur le tard
cette doctrine compromettante64, prfra donc sans doute passer sous silence un personnage aussi embarrassant et pour lui, et pour sa sainte, quil
fallait prsenter comme pure de toute dviance religieuse.
Quant aux reliques des martyrs de Sbaste, Jean Rufus ne dit pas
expressment que Pierre lIbre les avait apportes, mais simplement
quelles aussi furent dposes. Do provenaient-elles? Egalement de

60. Devos, Quand Pierre lIbre, n. 4, pp. 345-346. Il sagirait dune erreur de traduction.
61. Cf. F. Decret, Les consquences sur le christianisme en Perse de laffrontement des
Empires romain et sassanide de Shpr Ier Yazdgard Ier, RechAug 14 (1979) pp. 91-152;

G. Wiessner, Zur Mrtyrerberlieferung aus der Christenverfolgung Shpur II, AKW (Gttingen, Phil. hist. KL., Folge 67), Gttingen 1967.
62. Vie de Pierre lIbre, 27, trad. Devos, Quand Pierre lIbre, pp. 339-340: Elle (Mlanie) se souvenait quune fois quelle tait alle la ville impriale de Constantin, elle y avait
vu le bienheureux Pierre lorsque, jeune enfant encore, il y tait royalement duqu. Elle
lavait fort aim, voyant que la grce du Christ tait sur lui depuis son enfance; il tait en
effet, comme je lai dit, aim de Dieu depuis sa prime jeunesse (...). Lorsque (...) elle eut
excit davantage le dsir de Pierre limiter, elle revint la Ville sainte, reprenant sa conduite antrieure et son ascse (...). Cest donc cette Mlanie la Jeune, femme de Pinien et
fille dAlbine, qui accueillit ces saints avec joie comme des fils chris.; sur ce personnage,
cf. Devos, Quand Pierre lIbre.
63. De sang royal, Pierre fut envoy douze ans comme otage la Cour de Constantinople;
son dpart de la capitale fut donc une fuite.
64. Monophysisme de Grontius: Rampolla, Santa Melania Giuniore, LXXIV-LXXV; E.
Clark, Piety, Propaganda and Politics in the Life of Melania the Younger, Studia
Patristica 182 (1985) pp. 169 et 179.

202

P. LAURENCE

Pierre lIbre ou bien Mlanie en ayant dj pourvu le martyrium du


monastre des femmes65 de reliques dune tout autre provenance? Rien
ne permet de trancher.
On aura aussi remarqu la mention de la prsence de Cyrille
dAlexandrie, qui prsida la dposition des reliques le 16 mai (selon les
propos de lauteur en ce mme passage, Thodose II lui avait demand
daccompagner son pouse66). Lui non plus nest pas nomm par
Grontius, alors que ce serait Mlanie qui lui aurait expressment demand de le faire: le silence de lhagiographe peut-il sexpliquer par le
fait que Cyrille joua un rle important au concile de Chalcdoine dans la
lutte contre les monophysites, un thme si embarrasant pour notre auteur?
Faut-il penser plutt une invention de Jean Rufus, qui aurait cherch
rcuprer Cyrille au profit des monophysites? A quoi on rtorquera que
lvque nest cependant pas absent de la Vie de sainte Mlanie, puisque
Grontius le mentionne avec respect lors de la visite qui lui est faite en
41767. De fait, Cyrille entretenait dexcellentes relations avec Mlanie68,
qui il ddia le De recta fide69. Il est donc probable quil tait effectivement prsent la dposition des reliques, et quil prsida la crmonie;
mais, en bon hagiographe, Grontius se soucie de souligner les mrites et
le prestige de la seule sainte et, de ce fait, la prsence de Cyrille devient
secondaire.
Venons-en enfin la mention des reliques de saint Etienne: effectivement, le 15 mai70, Eudocie prsidait une premire dposition de reliques
de saint Etienne71 dans le beau temple qu(elle) avait bti en dehors des
portes septentrionales de la Ville sainte72 (selon Marcellinus, elle en rap65. Cf. p. 5.
66. Ordre de mission de Cyrille: Jean de Nikiou, Chronique, in: Zotenberg, Notices et Ex-

traits des Manuscrits de la Bibliothque Nationale, t. XXIV, Paris 1883, p. 470; cf.
Rampolla, Santa Melania Giuniore, n. XXVII, pp. 212-214.
67. VG 34, p. 190.
68. F.-M. Abel, Saint Cyrille dAlexandrie dans ses rapports avec la Palestine, in:
Kyrilliana. Spicilegia edita Sancti Cyrilli Alexandrini XV recurrente saeculo 444-1944, Le
Caire 1947, p. 223.
69. PG 76, c. 1208 et 1338.
70. Cf. Devos, Lanne de la ddicace de Saint-Etienne.
71. Jean Rufus, Vie de Pierre lIbrien, 33. Il sagissait de ce qui avait t dcouvert
Caphargamala et conserv dans le diaconicon, une des dpendances de la basilique de Sion
depuis 415: Vincent et Abel, Jrusalem, pp. 748 et 751; Corbo, Scavo archeologico, p.
248; Rampolla, Santa Melania Giuniore, n. XLV, p. 271.
72. Ibid.

SAINTE MLANIE ET LES RELIQUES DES MARTYRS

203

porta Constantinople73). Il sagit de la basilique construite sur le lieu prsum de la lapidation74, sous la direction de Juvnal75. On aura remarqu
que ce dernier personnage76, qui fut lvque de Jrusalem de 422 458,
nest pas non plus mentionn par Grontius, pas plus dailleurs quil nest
appel par son nom lorque celui-ci parle de la visite de lvque (qui semble bien tre Juvnal) au chevet de Mlanie mourante77; mais le biographe
a une bonne raison (toujours la mme) de taire sa prsence: aprs que Juvnal eut t lalli de Cyrille et le champion des anti-nestoriens au concile dEphse en 449, sa volte-face au concile de Chalcdoine en 451 en fit
lennemi des monophysites78.
Dernier problme: selon Jean Rufus, seul le sanctuaire du nord de Jrusalem reoit des reliques de saint Etienne. Or, vers la fin de la Vie de
sainte Mlanie, aux dires de Grontius, lorsque la sainte se sent mourir, elle
demande quon la conduiseau martyrium du monastre des hommes pour
prier, car l aussi, dit-elle, reposent des reliques de saint Etienne79. Lexpression l aussi (kai\ ekei) rappelle la prsence des autres reliques d-

73. Marcellinus, Chronicon, MGH AA, t. 11, an. 439, t. 11, p. 80: Eudocie, lpouse de
lempereur Thodose, revint de Jrusalem la ville impriale; elle apportait avec elle les
reliques du bienheureux protomartyr Etienne, qui sont dposes et vnres dans la basilique de saint Laurent.
74. Cette dposition se fit soit dans un martyrium qui plus tard serait intgr dans la basilique Saint Etienne (M.J. Lagrange, Le lieu du martyre de Saint Etienne, RB 1 [1904], pp.
468-471; S. Vailh, Les monastres et les glises S. Etienne Jrusalem? Lintroduction
de la fte de Nol Jrusalem, Echos dOrient 8 [1905] p. 85, conteste en faisant valoir
quil est pour le moins tonnant quil ait fallu attendre ensuite deux dcades pour la construction de la basilique), soit dans une petite glise: Vincent et Abel, Jrusalem, fasc. 4, pp.
468-471. Rsum de la querelle chez Clark, Claims, p. 154: cf. aussi M.J. Lagrange, Le
sanctuaire de la lapidation de saint Etienne, ROC 12 (1907) pp. 414-428 et 13 (1908) pp.
1-49; idem, Saint Etienne et son sanctuaire Jrusalem, Paris 1894; H. Leclercq, Etienne
(martyre et spulture de saint), DACL 51, pp. 648-653; S. Vailh, Les glises SaintEtienne Jrusalem, ROC 12 (1907) pp. 70-89.
75. Basile de Sleucie, PG 85, c. 469.
76. Cf. E. Honigmann, Juvenal of Jerusalem, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 5 (1950) en part.
p. 226.
77. Vie grecque 67, p. 264.
78. Jean Rufus tmoigne de la haine (partage) de Grontius pour Juvnal partir du moment o ce dernier, aprs avoir t un chaud partisan de Cyrille dAlexandrie, notamment
lors du Concile dEphse en 449, revint sur ses opinions au Concile de Chalcdoine, en 451:
Jean Rufus, Vie de Pierre lIbre, pp. 32 et 36; Evagre, Ecclesiastica Historia, II, 18, p. 91;
Clark, Grontius, The Life of Melania, 19; idem, Claims, 153; Honigmann, Juvenal of
Jerusalem, pp. 228 et 242.
79. Vie grecque 64, pp. 256-258.

204

P. LAURENCE

poses quelques annes plus tt dans loratoire du monastre des femmes80.


Mlanie fit-elle passer certaines dentre elles dun martyrium lautre? En
reut-elle de nouvelles plus tard, pour la dposition du 16 mai 439? Dans
ce cas, qui les apporta et do venaient-elles? Autant de questions auxquelles, dans ltat actuel de nos connaissances, il est impossible de rpondre.
En tout tat de cause, les faits qui viennent dtre relats suffiraient
dmontrer limportance accorde aux reliques dans la Vie de sainte
Mlanie. Les raisons en sont aussi videntes que les manifestations.

Mlanie et le culte des martyrs


Ne voyons aucun hasard dans le fait que, dans le prologue, Grontius prsente Mlanie comme associe aux martyrs81: dans lesprit de lhagiographe, il sagit dune pierre supplmentaire apporte ldifice rig la
gloire de sa sainte. Il y tait invit dabord par lextraordinaire dveloppement du culte des martyrs lpoque de Mlanie82: sa sainte ne pouvait pas
ne pas manifester cette forme de dvotion si chre au christianisme contemporain. Aussi, outre les anecdotes mettant en scme martyrs et reliques,
la Vie est-elle encadre par leur prsence et par des expressions affirmant
la ferveur de Mlanie. En effet, outre le prologue, les derniers chapitres
sont significatifs cet gard: lors de ses derniers moments, la sainte adresse
une prire au Christ en le qualifiant de Dieu des saints martyrs83, et elle
se prsente elle-mme comme celle qui a toujours vnr (leurs) saintes
reliques84. Qui plus est, la seconde partie de sa prire sadresse exclusivement eux85.
Mais, dans le dernier chapitre, Grontius emploie une expression qui
nous lance sur une autre piste: Les saints martyrs dont elle avait glorifi
80. Cf. p. 193.
81. Vie latine prol. p. 4, l. 4: martyribus sociata. Je ne traiterai pas ici la question, trop complexe, de savoir pourquoi le texte grec ne contient pas lexpression quivalente, et si la Vie
primitive le faisait: il faudra pour cela attendre mon dition (prochaine) de la Vie latine de
sainte Mlanie.
82. Cf. la bibliographie propose n. 2.
83. Vie grecque 64, p. 258. Bien que mentionnant les martyrs, le texte latin ne reproduit
pas ce discours, et na donc pas dquivalent pour la formule ce qui est donc le cas aussi
pour les deux suivantes.
84. Ibid., p. 260.
85. Cette prire (Vie grecque 64, p. 258 et 260) ne se trouve pas non plus dans le texte
latin.

SAINTE MLANIE ET LES RELIQUES DES MARTYRS

205

la mmoire et support volontairement les combats86. En effet, la


deuxime partie de lnonc nous renvoie un commentaire de la mre de
Mlanie, Albine, devant la rigueur du mode de vie que simposait sa fille:
Mon supplice est plus cruel, moi qui, sachant comment je tai leve, te
vois te mortifier de cette manire, ma fille, naccorder aucun rpit ton
corps et endurer un terrible martyre87. Lallusion est claire, et on la trouve
chez beaucoup de Pres de lpoque, surtout les porte-parole de lidal
monastique88, qui est aussi celui de la virginit chrtienne: lre des perscutions tant passe, ce sont les moines, les moniales et leur ascse qui reprsentent les nouveaux martyrs89.
Il nen reste pas moins que, si lon en croit Grontius, la foi de
Mlanie ne sarrte pas aux pratiques asctiques: nous avons dj pu le
constater plusieurs reprises, et en tmoignent ses multiples prires adresses aux martyrs: Rome, elle participe la vigile clbre loccasion
de la commmoration de saint Laurent90; puis, le lendemain, elle se rend
dans son martyrium pour quil la dlivre du monde91; lors de son voyage
vers Constantinople, entre Tripoli, elle se rend dans le martyrium de
saint Lonce pour quil laide poursuivre sa route92; avant son arrive
la capitale, elle prie sainte Euphmie pour la dlivrer de ses angoisses93;
plus tard, lorsquEudocie lui rend visite, Mlanie sadresse saint Etienne
pour quil gurisse limpratrice qui venait de se blesser94; et cest encore

86. Vie grecque 71, p. 270.


87. Vie latine, XXXIII, pp. 18, 20-22: Ego autem amplius crucior, uidens te, filiam meam,

quam noui quomodo nutrierim, sic affligi et nullam requiem dari corpori tuo magnumque
sustinere martyrium. Le texte grec ne comporte pas de passage parallle.
88. Ce nest pas seulement leffusion de sang qui compte dans la confession, mais le service sans tache de lme fidle est aussi un quotidien martyre, crit Jrme Eustochium
propos de la mre de celle-ci, Paula lAncienne, devenue la suprieure dun monastre
Bethlem: Ep. 108, 31, d. et trad. Labourt, Correspondance de Jrme, CUF, t. 5, p. 200;
autre ex.: Sulpice-Svre, Vita sancti Martini, 10, 2, 6-14, d. trad. et comm. J. Fontaine
(SC 133), Paris 1967, pp. 328-332.
89. Cf. D. Devoti, Alle origini del monachesimo femminile: tra follia e santita, in: U.
Mattioli (a cura di), La donna nel pensiero cristiano antico, Genova 1992, pp. 183-222.
90. Vie grecque, ch. 5, p. 134. Pour la commmoration, le texte grec emploie le terme
mnh/mh, et le texte latin le terme commemoratio (p. 6, l. 1). Sur les vigiles et les commmorations, cf. Delehaye, Les origines, 24-29 et Saxer, Morts, pp. 197-210.
91. Ibid., pp. 134-136.
92. Ibid., ch. 52, p. 227.
93. Ibid., ch. 53, p. 228.
94. Ibid., ch. 60, p. 248.

206

P. LAURENCE

aux martyrs que la sainte adresse une prire quand elle voit approcher la
mort95: la chose a lieu le jour de la dormition de saint Etienne (le 26 dcembre 439), et il est prcis que Mlanie lit lextrait des Actes qui relate
cette dormition96.
Quant lorigine de la ferveur de Mlanie, dont il nest videmment
pas interdit de penser quelle fut relle, elle peut avoir bien des raisons:
outre le fait dj signal que son poque sy prte, nous avons vu plus
prcisment que ses jeunes annes ont baign dans le culte des martyrs cher
Rome97. Linfluence de Constantinople nest pas non plus ddaigner:
de Constance Thodose II, la capitale a transfr et dpos nombre de
reliques98, et les relations entre Mlanie, Thodose et son pouse nont pas
pu ne pas laisser de trace dans son me, non plus dailleurs que son amiti
avec Pierre lIbre. Il nest pas impossible par ailleurs de songer une autre
de ses relations, Augustin, qui, au cours de sa vie, devint en la matire un
proslyte de plus en plus ardent99. Il faut enfin tenir compte de linfluence
de lOrient, plus enthousiaste que lOccident dans le culte des martyrs et
de leurs reliques100.
A propos de cet enthousiasme, on remarquera mme sil sagit dune
vidence dans le cas dune hagiographie , quon ne trouve dans celle-ci
nulle trace des protestations qui slevrent lpoque de Mlanie contre
les excs lis au culte des martyrs. En effet, la Vie latine (et elle seule) fait
bien mention des prcautions prises par Mlanie pour que ses religieuses
ne puissent rencontrer des hommes en sortant du monastre (Lausus, un
chambellan de lEmpire, aurait donn de largent pour construire des bains
dans lenceinte du monastre, et ainsi viter les sorties lies cette ncessit101). Cependant, la diffrence de ce quon peut trouvez chez dautres
auteurs102, rien nest dit dun quelconque danger de ce type soit Rome,
95. Ibid., ch. 64, p. 258 et 260; cf. supra, n. 83-85.
96. Ibid., pp. 254-256. Il sagit des Actes des aptres, 6-7. Sur ces lectures, cf. Saxer, Morts,
pp. 197-199; sur la date de la dormition dEtienne, ibid., pp. 171-172 (trad. du sermon 314,1
dAugustin ce propos).
97. Cf. supra, pp. 3-4 ( propos de saint Laurent).
98. Cf. Delehaye, Les origines, pp. 66-69.
99. Cf. Saxer, Morts, pp. 295-296.
100. Cf. notamment Dictionnaire Encyclopdique du Christianisme Ancien, t. 2, p. 1574.
101. Vie latine, ch. 41, p. 24.
102. Par ex. Jrme: en 384, il crit la vierge Eustochium: Les martyrs, va les chercher
dans ta chambre (Ep. 22,17, d. Labourt, t. 1, p. 126). Il est vrai que, en 406, face Vigilance qui attaque le culte des martyrs et de leurs reliques, Jrme les dfendra de toutes ses
forces dans son Contra Vigilantium.

SAINTE MLANIE ET LES RELIQUES DES MARTYRS

207

soit Jrusalem concernant les glises des martyrs. Dautre part, vers
305-306 dj, Carthage, les pratiques dune noble dame du nom de
Lucilla avaient fait grand bruit103. Il est vrai que cette femme noble tait
une partisane acharne des donatistes, chez qui le culte des martyrs atteignit des sommets104. Ce culte est plus fervent que jamais au dbut du cinquime sicle, au moins en Afrique: rappelons ce propos quen 401, le
concile de Carthage rglemente lrection des autels et chapelles en lhonneur des martyrs105.
Or, Mlanie sest prcisment rendue en Afrique dans la deuxime dcade du cinquime sicle106, et il est probable que lun des domaines dont
il est fait mention, et dans lequel elle sjourna ce moment, se soit trouv
sous la direction sprituelle dvques donatistes107. Mais quelles quaient
t ses relations avec ces prlats, Grontius se devait dtre le dfenseur de
lorthodoxie inconditionnelle de sa sainte raison pour laquelle il ne dit
mot des liens de Mlanie avec les orignistes, pas plus dailleurs quavec
les plagiens, liens avrs dans les deux cas108. Qui plus est, une anecdote109
(significative cet gard) met en scne Grontius, dont il est dit dans le
texte latin quil avait lhabitude de lire les noms des martyrs (le grec dit
simplement des saints dj dcds110) au moment de lanaphore111:
Mlanie aurait refus de communier parce que, parmi eux, il aurait nomm
une dame hrtique. Rien ne permet de dire de quelle hrsie il sagit, mais
on peut lire le commentaire suivant dans la Vie grecque: tant elle con-

103. Optat de Milve, De Schismate Donatistarum, I, 16: CSEL 26, pp. 17-20: Avant de
recevoir la nourriture et la boisson spirituelles, elle baisait, dit-on, un os de je ne sais quel
martyr et faisait passer avant le calice du salut los de je ne sais quel mort, car sil tait
martyr, il ntait pas encore officiellement reconnu comme tel.
104. Cf. Saxer, Morts, pp. 233-238.
105. Texte: ibid., p. 194.
106. Ch. 20-22.
107. Vie latine, ch. 21, p. 14 (rien de tel dans la Vie grecque): Par ailleurs, elle fit galement don dun domaine qui fournissait un gros revenu. Ce domaine tait plus tendu que la
ville elle-mme; il comprenait des bains, beaucoup dartisans qui travaillaient lor, largent
et le bronze, et deux vques, lun de notre foi, lautre de celle des hrtiques.
108. A propos de lorignisme (1) et (2) du plagisme de Mlanie, cf. (1) Clark, Piety,
177-178; (2) Rampolla, Santa Melania Giuniore, n. XXIV, pp. 203-205.
109. Vies grecque et latine, ch. 28.
110. Vie grecque, ch. 28, p. 182.
111. Vie latine, ch. 28, p. 16: car javais pour habitude de lire les noms des saints martyrs
ce merveilleux moment afin quils priassent Dieu pour moi, ainsi que ceux des pcheurs
qui avaient obtenu misricorde, pour queux aussi intervinssent en ma faveur.

208

P. LAURENCE

sidrait que ctait transgresser la foi orthodoxe que de nommer des hrtiques la sainte anaphore112. Dans toute hagiographie digne de ce nom, une
championne de lasctisme et de la chastet se doit dtre aussi une
championne de lorthodoxie.
Il nest pas non plus dhagiographie sans miracle. Un passage de la
113
Vie est donc consacr ce topos, mais lloge de la sainte nomet pas un
autre lieu commun, savoir le thme de lhumilit, vertu sur laquelle laccent est mis de faon trs nette dans ces quelques chapitres. De fait, dans
la premire phrase, Grontius ne se fait pas faute de rappeler que Mlanie
nest quune intermdiaire, une opratrice, lorigine de tout miracle tant
Dieu114, ainsi que les saints, comme le fait humblement remarquer Mlanie
aprs avoir guri une femme qui portait en son sein un enfant mort: ce sont
les prires des saints qui oprent les miracles115: Ils intercdent pour
nous116, est-il dit plus haut.
Dans le cas qui vient dtre cit, cest la ceinture ayant appartenu, semble-t-il, un pre du dsert, qui opre la gurison117. Mais il va de soi que
les reliques des martyrs ont les mmes vertus. Cest dailleurs lune des
principales raisons de leur possession, et lon fera remarquer ce propos
que la geste de Mlanie se droule au dbut du cinquime sicle, cest-dire durant les annes o, comme lcrit Victor Saxer118, dornavant, la
relique est la panace universelle qui gurit les maladies et en prserve,
dlivre les possds, chasse les dmons, incline la foi, apaise la nature,
en corrige le cours.
Les miracles voqus dans la Vie de sainte Mlanie confirment ce pouvoir des martyrs et de leurs reliques: au chapitre 5, les prires adresses
112. Vie grecque, ibid.
113. Vie, ch. 60-61.
114. Vie grecque, 60, p. 247: Entre les nombreux prodiges que le Seigneur fit par elle (di
aujthv); Vie latine, ch. 60, p. 34: Conlata est ei gratia curationum (lide est donc la

mme). Qui plus est, la relation des miracles est suivie par un chapitre sur le rejet de la
vaine gloire.
115. Vie grecque, 61, p. 251: Mais elle de dire en shumiliant: Cest la ceinture dun saint,
ses prires ont guri celle qui tait en danger. Ainsi attribuait-elle toujours aux saints ses
propres succs.
116. Ibid., 28, p. 182.
117. Cette ceinture fait partie des pices de vtement avec lesquelles Mlanie est inhume:
Vie grecque, 69, p. 268 (elle nest pas mentionne par la Vie latine).
118. Saxer, Morts, p. 244; cf. p. 262 sur les gurisons, qui sont les miracles les plus frquents; voir aussi Delehaye, Les origines, pp. 146-147 (sur les gurisons), et 142-143 (dlivrance de la possession par le dmon).

SAINTE MLANIE ET LES RELIQUES DES MARTYRS

209

saint Laurent lors dune nuit passe dans son martyrium119 sont suivies deffet, si lon considre que la mort de son enfant reprsente pour Mlanie la
premire tape de laccs au saint propos et son mode de vie120. Au
chapitre 52, cest aprs avoir pri saint Lonce qulle obtient de Messala
lautorisation de poursuivre le voyage; de fait, ce dernier dit avoir pris sa
dcision aprs t tourment par le saint 121. On ajoutera que la gurison
opre par Mlanie sur la jeune fille qui ne pouvait plus ouvrir la bouche122
est obtenue en la faisant transporter dans le martyrium sans doute celui
du monastre des femmes123 , de la manire suivante: Quand ils furent
arrivs, la sainte invoqua avec instance le Matre de toutes choses, prit de
lhuile sanctifie par les reliques des saints martyrs et, ayant par trois fois
touch la bouche de la malade, dit dune voix claire: Au nom de notre Seigneur Jsus-Christ, ouvre ta bouche124.
Il faut ici laisser une place particulire un pisode lie notre propos.
De fait, lorsque limratrice Eudocie vint rendre visite Mlanie lors de
son voyage en Terre Sainte, et quelle assista la dposition des reliques
dans le martyrium des hommes que la sainte venait de construire125, elle
fut victime dune entorse que Grontius prsente comme luvre du dmon. Mlanie laccompagna alors jusqu la sainte Anastasis, puis alla prier
devant les reliques des saints martyrs126, obtenant ainsi sa gurison.
Or, la fin du sicle dernier, G. Doublet publiait un article portant sur
une inscription venue de lglise d Agio Stefano, dans la ville de

119. Cf. supra, n. 90-91.


120. Cf. Vie grecque, ch. 6, p. 137: prenant prtexte de la mort de son enfant, elle quitta
tous ses habits de soie.
121. Ibid., ch. 52, p. 229: Tout la nuit, moi-mme et ta servante, mon pouse, avons t
fort prouvs par le saint martyr Lonce. Cette fois encore (cf. n. 114), lanecdote est introduite par lexpression le miracle que fit le Seigneur par elle (ibid., p. 227).
122. Il sagit en fait dun cas de possession par le dmon, comme le prcise la suite du chapitre.
123. Ibid., ch. 60, p. 249: Mlanie dclare: Pcheresse que je suis, je suis incapable, moi,
de faire cela, mais portons-la auprs des saints martyrs et, par leur crdit, le Dieu qui aime
les hommes la gurira. Nous retrouvons ici le thme de lhumilit, ainsi que lintercession
des martyrs auprs de Dieu.
124. Ibid.
125. Cf. supra, pp. 197-198.
126. Vie grecque, ch. 59, p. 244. Ni le texte grec ni le texte latin ne permettent de savoir si
le lieu o se trouvent ces reliques est le martyrium du monastre des hommes, ou bien la
basilique de saint Etienne, au nord de Jrusalem.

210

P. LAURENCE

Thodoroupolis en Paphlagonie. Le contenu127, ainsi que deux majuscules


finales, pouvaient faire penser quelle avait t rdige par Eudocie128, qui
aurait ainsi remerci saint Etienne pour la gurison de son genou gauche
et de son pied. Cette mention rappelle lpisode cont par Grontius, et
permettrait de mettre en rapport linscription avec un pisode du retour de
limpratrice Constantinople, en 439. Cependant, se voit ainsi contredite
la version de Grontius, qui parle dune gurison complte; de plus, lidentit de la ddicataire est loin dtre certaine129, ainsi dailleurs que sa date130.
En tout tat de cause, aprs avoir escort limptarice jusqu Csare,
Mlanie retrouve ses monastres; en dcembre 439, elle sent venir la mort,
et lannonce son entourage131, Si lon en croit Grontius, les derniers
moments de la sainte sont marqus par la prsence des martyrs: le 25 au
soir, veille de la date anniversaire de la dormition de saint Etienne, elle se
rend, semble-t-il132, dans la basilique consacre au saint depuis peu (dans
le nord de la ville), puis retourne dans le martyrium du monastre des moniales, qui contenait des reliques de ce saint; elle participe la lecture des
Actes133. Le lendemain, cest dans le martyrium du monastre des hommes
quelle se rend pour prier, en soulignant le fait que l aussi se trouvent des
reliques de saint Etienne134. Parmi les prires que lon trouve dans la Vie
127. G. Doublet,Inscriptions de Paphlagonie, Bulletin de Correspondance Hellnique 13

(1889) p. 294: O Saint-Etienne! toi qui visiblement mas sauve des cruelles douleurs dont
je souffrais, moi, ta misrable amie, dans le genou gauche et le pied, je fais don de ce temple divin la glorieuse ville de Thodore, lillustre guerrier. Et ton pied que javais reu
moi-mme en cadeau, je le donne cette glise, afin quil y reste et que lon sen souvienne
jamais.
128. BS EUD = Basilissa EUDokia; cf. Rampolla, Santa Melania Giuniore, p. 240.
129. Cf. Kl. Belke, Paphlagonien und Honorias; sterreichische Akademie der
Wissenschaften, Philos. histor. Kl. Denkschriften, p. 249; Tabula Imperii Byzantini, 9,
Vienne 1996, p. 268, s.v. Sofranbolu. Linterprtation de Rampolla (EUD = Eudocie,
lpouse de Thodose II) est loin doffrir toutes les garanties souhaites.
130. Linscription porte la mention suivante: FIE QARG, que Rampolla lit Ferei IE /
QARGhliwno, cest--dire (en tenant compte du titre et du nom qui prcdent: Limpratrice Eudocie offre le 15 du mois de Thargelin. Dans le calendrier athnien, ce mois tait
situ cheval entre nos mois de mai et de juin. Mais si le F est interprt comme un chiffre
(ce que fait G. Doublet), nous obtenons 515, et non 15. Dailleurs, le texte est une copie
moderne. Rien ne prouve non plus que le mois de Thargelin tait en usage en Paphlagonie
(et cette poque), ni que le dbut de lanne du calendrier de cette rgion permet dobtenir la date qui vient dtre propose.
131. Vie grecque, ch. 63, pp. 252-254.
132. Le chapitre 64 nest pas trs clair en ce qui concerne la localisation des difices.
133. Cf. supra, n. 96.
134. Cf. supra, n. 79.

SAINTE MLANIE ET LES RELIQUES DES MARTYRS

211

grecque se trouve une adresse aux martyrs, qui Mlanie demande dintervenir auprs de Dieu135 pour quIl laccueille auprs de Lui et quIl veille
sur les monastres136. Elle exprime ensuite le dsir dtre transporte dans
loratoire des femmes, auprs des martyrs137. Cest sans doute l quelle fut
ensevelie, selon une coutume chre aux chrtiens de lpoque138. Enfin,
aprs sa mort, parmi ceux qui laccueillent se trouvent les martyrs: la formulation employe par Grontius139 vise rappeler la fois la dvotion de
Mlanie leur gard et le fait que ses pratiques asctiques ont fait delle
leur hritire. Cette allgation se trouve dans les dernires lignes de la Vie,
et ce nest videmment pas fortuit: rtrospectivement, le culte des martyrs
devient un lment fondamental de la saintet de Mlanie.
La Vie de sainte Mlanie est donc riche denseignements quant au
culte des martyrs et de leurs reliques. En effet, sy voit confirme la
ferveur de la premire moiti du cinquime sicle en la matire: notre
texte complte la documentation dj existante sur les dcouvertes de
reliques et sur les cultes qui se rpandent en Orient ainsi quen Occident.
On remarquera cet gard le rle prpondrant de saint Etienne, ainsi
que la participation active des impratrices dans toutes les tapes de ce
mouvemant religieux.
Quant la geste de Mlanie, elle tmoigne de sa propre ferveur envers les martyrs: les constructions des martyria suffisent en tmoigner.
Mais on sent galement dans cette hagiographie le dsir, chez Grontius,
de doter sa sainte dune forme de foi particulirement apprcie de son
poque, tout en reliant les vertus ainsi voques celles que procure le
saint propos: la Vie de sainte Mlanie est centre sur le thme de la conversion au mode de vie des Pres du dsert, et son auteur ne nous permet
pas de loublier, ft-ce un instant; pas plus quil ne prend le risque
dentcher la sainte du moindre souon dhrsie: Mlanie se devait
135. Sur cette ide selon laquelle les martyrs sont nos avocats auprs de Dieu, cf. Augustin,
Sermo 285, 5.
136. Vie grecque, ch. 64, pp. 259 et 261: Athltes du Christ, qui rpandez votre sang prcieux pour le confesser, laissez-vous toucher de compassion pour votre humble servante,
pour moi qui ai toujours vnr vos saintes reliques; et de mme que vous mavez toujours
coute, ainsi maintenant encore, vous qui pouvez tout dire, soyez mes ambassadeurs auprs
de Dieu qui aime les hommes, pour quil accueille mon me en paix et garde les monastres jusquau bout dans sa crainte.
137. Ibid., ch. 65, p. 262. Dans le texte latin, cette mention se trouve au ch. 66.
138. Cf. Delehaye, Les origines, pp. 158-164.
139. Vie grecque, ch. 70, p. 271: Les saints martyrs, dont elle avait glorifi la mmoire et
support volontairement les combats, vinrent sa rencontre avec allgresse.

212

P. LAURENCE

dchapper certaines manifestations fcheuses du culte des martyrs et


de ses excs; le ne quid nimis est aussi une vertu des saints, et sans doute
davantage encore lorsquil est mis en pratique par une femme ft-elle
une sainte dont lhumilitas rejoint si bien le pudor exig delle par la
socit antique.
Patrick Laurence
Universit Franois Rabelais de Tours

DOCUMENTO DELLA PONTIFICIA COMMISSIONE BIBLICA


SUL POPOLO EBRAICO E LE SUE SACRE SCRITTURE
NELLA BIBBIA CRISTIANA*

G. Ghiberti

La gestazione del documento


Il quinquennio 1996-2000 fu impiegato dalla Pontificia Commissione Biblica (= PCB) per studiare il tema del rapporto tra il popolo ebraico e le sue
sacre Scritture e la Bibbia cristiana1. Il primo anno dopo la nomina dei nuovi
membri e il rinnovo dei membri di secondo biennio serv per le consultazioni e un primo accostamento, in privato, del tema. Esso fu scelto fra una
piccola rosa con un sistema di votazione maggioritario, con la conferma da
parte del Cardinale Presidente. Tra i temi suffragati da pi voti vi fu anche
quello riguardante la Bibbia e la morale, sul quale iniziato il lavoro del
quinquennio successivo, lattuale. Nel corso dei lavori vi furono precisazioni di vario genere, sia sul titolo sia sul contenuto e la sua organizzazione.
Il risultato finale davanti agli occhi: un testo molto diffuso (credo tra
i pi lunghi nella storia della PCB, con le sue 200 pagine), con una articolata prefazione del Cardinale Presidente, Joseph Ratzinger, seguita da una
breve introduzione, e poi con tre grandi parti, tra di loro un po disuguali,
per finire con una doppia conclusione. La parte mediana (Temi fondamentali della Scritture del popolo ebraico e loro accoglienza nella fede in
Cristo), la pi lunga (oltre 100 pagine), stata da qualcuno giudicata la
meno originale, per la sua estesa rassegna di temi biblici, che la fa rassomigliare ad una piccola teologia biblica. Per i nostri interessi si dovr
esprimere un giudizio pi positivo. Anche la prima parte (Le sacre Scritture del popolo ebraico parte fondamentale della Bibbia cristiana) parrebbe
non meritevole di molta attenzione, trattando un argomento scontato, se
non fosse per lintroduzione di alcuni temi non soliti nei documenti ufficiali di origine cristiana, come il confronto tra le concezioni di tradizione
*. Testo presentato al convegno Il popolo ebraico e le sue sacre Scritture nella Bibbia Cri-

stiana, tenuto a Gerusalemme l8 aprile 2002.


1. Nel titolo definitivo si inser laggettivo sante (saintes, nel francese, che vale come lin-

gua di partenza; in italiano stata data la preferenza a sacre invece che a sante) per segnalare che, in linea diretta, linteresse si portava solo sui libri canonici della Bibbia ebraica.
LA 51 (2001) 213-232

214

G. GHIBERTI

orale, i metodi esegetici e lestensione del canone in ambiente giudaico e


in ambiente cristiano. La terza parte (Gli ebrei nel Nuovo Testamento)
indubbiamente di grande richiamo, perch affronta continuamente il problema dellantisemitismo nei singoli documenti neotestamentari. Ciononostante pu darsi che teologicamente non si trovi qui il punto di
maggior dibattito nel documento.

I miei limiti
Mi si permetta di dichiarare in partenza la mia situazione concreta con i
suoi limiti nei confronti di questo argomento. Partivo da una certa esperienza in campo ecumenico, dove milito da una quarantina danni e da cui
nacque uno specifico interesse per le problematiche del rapporto cristianoebraico (nella mia citt sono stato uno dei fondatori dellAmicizia Ebraico-Cristiana). Contemporaneamente porto anche con me una certa preoccupazione di coerenza di principi, che rende un po guardingo (ma forse
termine troppo negativo) il cammino in questo campo: un esempio pu essere la reazione istintivamente non favorevole alla terminologia di Primo
Testamento invece di Antico Testamento (= AT). Pi volte ho avuto occasione di confrontarmi con persone favorevoli a questa dicitura, sia dentro
la PCB sia soprattutto fuori, con colleghi e no, e furono sempre momenti
sofferti: mi sembra che, anche se non illegittimo, luso che si vuole introdurre non migliora nulla, si presta a equivoco e fondamentalmente una
mancanza di coerenza verso una tradizione e la verit espressa da essa2. Analoga esperienza fu quella della dicitura avanti Cristo e dopo Cristo, che
si vuole sostituire con avanti era volgare o dellera volgare, o simili: di
fatto i nostri anni partono da Cristo3. Ho avuto stimoli per la riflessione da
parte di amici, come Paolo De Benedetti e Mauro Pesce. E qui finisce la mia
2. Il documento della PCB affronta due volte la questione di questa nomenclatura: al n. 2,

ricordando la storia dellespressione (da S. Paolo in 2Cor 3,14-15, per indicare gli scritti
attribuiti a Mos, alluso del II sec., applicato a tutte le Scritture del popolo ebraico, in
ebraico, aramaico e greco) contrapposta a Nuovo Testamento (un insieme di scritti che
esprimono la fede della Chiesa nella sua novit) e al n. 19, nota 33, ricordando la proposta
odierna di sostituire Antico con Primo. Ma Antico Testamento unespressione
biblica e tradizionale che non ha in s alcuna connotazione negativa: la Chiesa riconosce
pienamente il valore dellAntico Testamento.
3. Per la consapevolezza cristiana ometterne la formulazione non mi sembra coerente. Si
potrebbe preferire il nome di Ges a quello di Cristo, ma luso quello che . In particolare
laggettivo volgare suona proprio volgare (almeno in qualche parte dItalia), nonostante i
pretesi richiami eruditi.

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confessione: di uno che ha lavorato con molto interesse, con non molta competenza, con la consapevolezza di quelle precomprensioni che in parte sono
giuste e in parte devono essere verificate e superate.

Il lavoro della PCB4


Un documento vale per quello che , ma indubbiamente la conoscenza del
suo divenire serve a comprenderne prospettive e sfumature. Un documento
testimonianza nel suo momento sintetico anche del sentire o della sensibilit di un ambiente e di un tempo. Non ho vissuto la vicenda del divenire
di questo documento da cronista registratore e quindi conservo solo pi impressioni e non invece protocolli o diari. Forse interessa sapere se eravamo
sempre tutti daccordo: se rispondessi s, sarebbe un guaio, perch vorrebbe
dire che ho paura della pluralit di pareri e che il documento a meno di
essere ispirato nato senza alcuna vivacit e in clima di tirannia. Eravamo
un piccolo gruppo di esegeti: venti in partenza, ma decimati da tre morti
(Lech Stachowiak, sostituito poi da Ryszard Rubinkiewicz; Raimond E.
Brown, che non fu sostituito; Vittorio Fusco, che solo nellultima tornata fu
sostituito da Ugo Vanni). Nessuno si stupisce se anche in un gruppo relativamente piccolo si registrassero orientamenti diversi: non contrapposti, ma
bisognosi di amalgama. Pi volte per singoli punti si demand a piccoli gruppi5 di approfondire leventuale contenzioso e di proporre formulazioni soppesate (e necessariamente un po di compromesso).
Mi si permetta di ricordare qui il nome di Albert Vanhoye s.j., segretario della PCB anche nel passato quinquennio e anima di tutto questo lavoro, nonch redattore diligentissimo di un testo che solo per suo merito ha
raggiunto una organicit di tutto rispetto.

4. La Pontificia Commissione Biblica veniva istituita con la lettera apostolica Vigilantiae


studiique (30 ottobre 1902: cf. Enchiridion Biblicum [= EB] 137-148). Una sintesi del cammino percorso nei suoi primi sessantanni offerta da J.A. Fitzmyer (1982, nellappendice), 97-103. Lorganismo avr diverse vicende nella sua storia: dopo una partenza piena di
slancio (cos Padre Lagrange: cf. M.-J. Lagrange, 1969), nel giro di pochi anni la rotazione
dei suoi membri le far cambiare fisionomia. Un aggiornamento sulla commissione biblica
vecchia (1902-1971) e la nuova (frutto del riordinamento operato con il Motu Proprio Sedula cura del 27 giugno 1971 cf. EB 722-739 e che tiene la prima sessione nel
1974), offerto da A. Vanhoye (1993).
5. Il Motu proprio Sedula cura prevede la costituzione di speciali sottocommissioni in
occasione di problemi insorgenti di volta in volta (cf. EB 731). La cosa avvenne per sempre in modo del tutto informale.

216

G. GHIBERTI

Natura e collocazione del documento


Il documento della PCB porta il frutto del lavoro di cinque anni dei membri di una commissione pontificia, che compie questanno il secolo di et,
vissuto con alterne vicende. Dopo la riforma di Paolo VI, una trentina di
anni fa, essa composta di soli esegeti e non pi di cardinali (fatta eccezione del Cardinale Presidente, che il Prefetto della Congregazione della
Dottrina della Fede). Siccome composta di soli cultori di scienze
bibliche, i suoi pareri non hanno pi valore cos disciplinarmente vincolante come nella formula precedente6. Uno strumento vale secondo la destinazione che gli si prefigge e Paolo VI chiede alla sua commissione
biblica di dare pareri su punti riguardanti lo studio e luso del testo biblico
nella Chiesa7; le decisioni per le risposte autorevoli sono prese in altra sede.
Ciononostante, quando si decide di pubblicare uno di questi studi, una certa autorevolezza esso la porta in s e con essa, forse, un minimo di ufficialit e anche una qualche parentela con il Magistero.
Il carattere del documento dichiaratamente cattolico e nel periodo della sua gestazione non ricorre a collaborazioni o a dialogo con lesterno della
Commissione. La cosa comprensibile, anche se porta in s linconveniente
di un limite che pu risultare pesante. A dire il vero, fu fatta la proposta di
sentire il parere di esperti esterni, sia in campo cristiano sia in campo ebraico8, ma prevalse il suggerimento di non procedere, perch il parere che ci
veniva richiesto era quello della Commissione: chi lo aveva richiesto, se
voleva, poteva allargare il campo dellindagine; e daltra parte, se si raccoglievano altri pareri, si doveva poi fare lo sforzo di aggiungerli alla lista e di
armonizzare anche quelli. Si sa, non si riesce mai ad accontentare tutti.
Anche se cattolico e proprio esclusivo della Commissione, il testo
avrebbe potuto nascere in consapevole collegamento con precedenti documenti che, almeno allinterno della Chiesa cattolica o addirittura del suo
Magistero (nelle varie forme), hanno trattato argomenti analoghi. Forse
potremmo dire non solo: avrebbe potuto, ma anche: avrebbe dovuto.
Su questo punto mi pare che siamo stati un po mancanti. Il Cardinal
Ratzinger nella sua prefazione collega questo documento del 2001 a quello
della stessa Commissione pubblicato nel 1993 (e preparato da un discorso
6. Per cui cf. EB 271.
7. La PCB ha mandato di promuovere rettamente gli studi biblici e a offrire il suo valido

contributo al magistero della Chiesa nellinterpretazione della Sacra Scrittura (EB 725).
8. Previsti di per s da Paolo VI, per un eventuale parere alle sottocommissioni. Cf. EB 731;

pi genericamente n. 736.

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del Papa, precedente di alcuni mesi alla comparsa editoriale del documento: questa sottolineatura dellintervento papale mancata nel 2001, forse
per le maggiori difficolt del Papa, forse perch il Papa aveva gi pi volte, specialmente nel 2000, parlato del dialogo ebraico-cristiano, forse semplicemente perch non il caso che tutte le volte il Papa si pronunci esplicitamente), ma senza affrontare a fondo la questione di una continuit
tematica. Un esplicito collegamento con gli interventi precedenti, specialmente se con intenzione di individuare le variazioni di pensiero e di prendere posizione per far procedere il pensiero, avrebbe conferito una pi
esplicita consapevolezza storica alla trattazione dei problemi. Non intendo
per dire che nel documento non si respiri laria della problematica evidenziata recentemente, perch vedremo che in realt esso si muove con molta
attenzione fra i suoi scogli e cerca di dare almeno validi spunti di orientamento. Ma anche qui: nulla perfetto a questo mondo. Sia lecito solo richiamare un documento significativo della Pontificia Commissione biblica,
Bibbia e cristologia, del 1984, che anticipa non pochi degli argomenti, soprattutto della seconda e terza parte, del nostro documento8a.

Il cammino precedente lattuale documento


Nonostante il silenzio della Commissione su questo dato, mi permetto di
offrirne qualche notizia per contestualizzare meglio il nostro problema. Mi
servo di uno schizzo offerto da Mauro Pesce, quando il nostro documento
era ancora in gestazione, e in contesto diverso9.
Occorre a buon conto precisare: una trattazione nellesatta prospettiva
del nostro intervento forse non cera ancora, soprattutto per quanto riguarda il popolo ebraico nella Bibbia cristiana. Questo argomento costituisce
loggetto della terza parte, che la pi nuova (anche se gi un po preceduta dai Sussidi di cui parler fra breve), per probabilmente non la pi
attuale dal punto di vista scientifico. Invece sul rapporto fra le sante Scritture ebraiche e la Bibbia cristiana serano gi udite parecchie voci.
Indirettamente avevano avviato la riflessione prese di posizione presenti
nellenciclica Divino afflante Spiritu del 1943 (cf. EB 538-569) e nellistruzione della PCB su La Verit storica dei Vangeli del 1964 (cf. EB 644-659).
8a. PCB 1987. Loriginale francese, Bible et Cristologie, fu pubblicato nel 1985 (Citt del

Vaticano: edizione bilingue, essendo loriginale ancora latino). Esso consta del documento
e di alcuni annessi, di membri della Commissione stessa.
9. M. Pesce (2001).

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G. GHIBERTI

La prima afferma che una corretta interpretazione dellAT deve essere storica e il secondo insegna che il processo di formazione dei vangeli percorre tre
tappe (la predicazione di Ges, la predicazione apostolica-orale, la redazione dei vangeli) e che nel passaggio dalluna allaltra di esse si verifica una
rielaborazione del dato originale e trasmesso. La prima affermazione va nella direzione del riconoscimento di una autonomia di senso al testo dellAT,
anche se ammette linterpretazione tipologica e allegorica. Ma notorio
che lapertura al senso tipologico (e un po anche al senso pieno) era limitata
ai casi in cui il Nuovo Testamento (= NT) ne desse esplicito suggerimento.
La seconda affermazione poteva avere conseguenze non tanto nei riguardi
dellAT quanto dellinterpretazione dei fatti della vita di Ges come riferiti
dai vangeli (in particolare nei riguardi del comportamento degli ebrei verso
Ges al termine della sua vita): poteva dunque essere ripresa in qualche punto della terza parte del nostro documento, anche se in realt mi pare che non
accada, perch la derminazione delle responsabilit della morte di Ges non
vista come vero problema dal documento, quando si occupa della presentazione che il NT fa degli ebrei.
Ad essa si rifanno invece i Sussidi per una corretta presentazione degli
ebrei e dellebraismo nella catechesi e nella presentazione della Chiesa
cattolica del 198510. Il problema in quale misura la redazione neotestamentaria abbia alterato il dato originario per un adattamento di comodo,
spostando le responsabilit della rovina di Ges dallautorit romana (che
le comunit protocristiane volevano mantenere favorevole) a quella ebraica (con la quale la rottura diveniva ogni giorno pi radicale).
Ma il problema cruciale non tanto quello della causa della morte di
Ges (sapere chi il pi grave responsabile non muta il corso dei fatti e
non condiziona la loro interpretazione) quanto quello dellimpossibilit per
gli ebrei e i cristiani di interpretare allo stesso modo la Bibbia ebraica. I
cristiani oltre alla Bibbia ebraica hanno anche il NT; essi sono convinti che
ambedue gli scritti sono parola di Dio, che costituiscono una unit organica in successione inscindibile, per cui non si d lAT senza il Nuovo e non
possibile interpretare il NT senza lAntico. Non si pu eliminare lAntico
dalla Bibbia, non si pu non tenere conto del Nuovo quando si legge lAT.
Quale conseguenza deriva da ci per una concezione cristiana della lettura ebraica della Bibbia (quella ebraica, cio lAT o Primo Testamento)? Il
fatto che gli ebrei abbiano in comune con i cristiani lAT permette di ritenere
che siano possibili contemporaneamente due letture diverse o autonome dello stesso testo? Certo i principi ermeneutici ultimi sono diversi, ma
10. Esposto analiticamente in un libro di M. Pesce (1994).

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questo fa s che le interpretazioni siano necessariamente contrapposte? Il


documento del 1985 ricorre alla lettura tipologica per spiegare e giustificare
le variazioni dellinterpretazione cristiana, insistendo sul fatto che tale lettura non rivela rottura bens continuit tra AT e NT. Tutto ha senso nella lettura
escatologica delle cose: anche ci che non definitivo autentico; e ci che
definitivo non si trova nella sua perfezione neppure nellinterpretazione
cristiana bens nella rivelazione escatologica. E comunque il patrimonio comune delle due interpretazioni (lamore per il prossimo, la comune speranza
del regno di Dio, la grande eredit dei profeti) cos grande da fondare
lintesa reciproca e un comune impegno per lumanit.
La prospettiva del documento della PCB del 1984/87 ha frequenti contatti con i nostri temi, ma la prospettiva diversa. Tuttavia interessante il
n. 1.2.5: Unaccurata indagine del Giudaismo estremamente importante
per comprendere in modo corretto la persona di Ges. Le tensioni tra
Ges e la corente pietistica dei farisei devono essere mantenute in una prospettiva ridotta. Ma la vitalit del movimento nato da Lui mostra chiaramente che il dissenso fondamentale tra Lui e loro aveva una radice pi
profonda, anche se si ammette che le narrazioni evangeliche hanno accentuato su questo punto la situazione iniziale10a.
Nel 1993 esce Linterpretazione cristiana della Bibbia della PCB11. Vi
si parla a lungo dei metodi e approcci per la ricerca del senso biblico e della
necessit di una interpretazione teologica della Bibbia. Questa interpretazione porta a riconoscere la presenza di un dinamismo nellAT. Qualche
commentatore (come il Fitzmyer, 1994) ha criticato questa concezione, perch si deve riconoscere che il senso ebraico della Bibbia quello voluto
da Dio per il nutrimento spirituale del popolo ebraico e quindi non pu non
essere riconosciuto positivo anche oggi. Certo, leggendola nella prospettiva del NT, la Bibbia ha pure un senso cristologico, ma aggiunto dal NT e
non esistente in origine.
Sei anni fa, nel 1997, lepiscopato francese tornava sullargomento con
un testo: Lire lAncien Testament. Contribution une lecture catholique de
lAncien Testament, pour permettre le dialogue entre juifs et chrtiens. Ci
si sforzer di comprendere meglio ci che nellAT mantiene un valore proprio e perpetuo, che non obliterato dallinterpretazione ulteriore del NT,
aggiunta che gli d il suo significato pieno (sa signification plnire). La
specificazione del senso pieno a qualcuno fa difficolt. Occorre per una
chiarificazione su di esso. I vescovi francesi si interrogano sul senso del
10a. Ediz. italiana, pp. 53.55.
11. Cf. G. Ghiberti-F. Mosetto (1998).

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G. GHIBERTI

compimento delle Scritture, che significa la loro realizzazione, lubbidienza ad esse, mantenendole nella loro autonomia. Lalleanza sinaitica non
stata cancellata, la nuova alleanza non sostituisce lantica: per i pagani
nuova, per gli ebrei costituisce continuit (come mostrano i racconti dellistituzione eucaristica: in Marco e Matteo si vede la continuit, per molti; in Paolo e Luca la novit, per voi).
Qualcuno come Mauro Pesce (prima presentazione della conferenza
nel 1998) pensa di potere migliorare le proposte fin qui udite suggerendo
di sostituire allo schema di interpretazione storica, che afferma la superiorit di ci che storicamente posteriore (ma gi i cristiani non lo accettano nel confronto con i musulmani e con le loro pretese di interpretare
Ges), con lo schema dinterpretazione sistemica12, che applica di volta
in volta adeguandovisi gli elementi propri del sistema di ogni religione. Ma penso che il rimedio non sia migliore del male, perch relativizza
tutto al sistema, senza domandarsi se esso poggi su fondamenti che lo legittimano e considerando i sistemi come isole incomunicanti, ognuna fornita di una legittimit che non ha bisogno di fondazione.
Negli anni in cui nasceva il nostro documento venivano composti anche i testi raccolti nel libro gi citato di G. Bottoni e L. Nason (2002), i cui
contributi toccano pi di uno degli argomenti trattati nel nostro documento. In particolare hanno interesse un dialogo tra intellettuali ebrei americani (Dabru emet) e la risposta data loro dalla Conferenza Episcopale USA
(Il potere delle parole)13, del 2001. bello constatare che molte affermazioni del documento cattolico di cui ci interessiamo sono contenute nella
dichiarazione degli ebrei di Baltimora: dal Tanak o Antico Testamento ebrei
e cristiani traggono insegnamenti fondamentali uguali, anche se di molti
punti si danno poi interpretazioni diverse; molti cristiani accettano la visione religiosa degli ebrei circa lo stato dIsraele; la composizione della
differenza umanamente irreconciliabile tra ebrei e cristiani giunger nel
giorno in cui Dio vorr redimere il mondo intero.
Concludendo, avvertiamo che il cammino compiuto s mosso nella
consapevolezza di una eredit storica pesante come un macigno e nellincerta rincorsa di principi ermeneutici che permettessero di conciliare esigenze tra loro lontane. Alcune discontinuit, pur nella costante di una tendenza desiderosa di ridare alla tradizione ebraica il suo giusto collocamento
nel piano di Dio, sono indicative del molto lavoro che resta da compiere.

12. M. Pesce (2001), 99-100.


13. G. Bottoni-L. Nason (2002), 323-327 e 331-333.

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Il documento della PCB del 2001


Siamo finalmente approdati al testo pi recente, il nostro, della PCB, al
quale dedichiamo unattenzione diffusa, per lasciare ad altri la preoccupazione di misurarsi con singoli punti.
1. Abbiamo gi visto il titolo, che fa pensare: a) al giudizio che la Bibbia cristiana d del popolo ebraico: il momento in cui viene spontaneo
pensare alla varie forme di polemica contro lebraismo presenti nel NT; b)
al rapporto che il NT stabilisce con lAT: se lo ritenga davvero parola di
Dio, riconoscendogli piena autorevolezza, e come recepisca e riproponga
le grandi tematiche presenti in essa. Per esigenze logiche nello svolgimento della trattazione il nostro documento d la precedenza alla seconda parte
(esaminata nei capp. 1 e 2), mentre la prima trattata al termine (cap. 3).
2. La lucida Prefazione del Cardinal Ratzinger accenna a parecchi
dei temi che abbiamo visto affiorare nei precedenti cinquantanni. Che
AT e NT per lesegeta cristiano siano inseparabili pu sembrarci pacifico, ma non lo fu sempre nella storia (dalle posizioni di Marcione e dei
manichei a quelle pi sfumate o pi rigide di Lutero, Harnack e
Bultmann): vicino a noi laffermazione di questa inseparabilit sembrava aver perso ogni attendibilit con lapplicazione del metodo storicocritico, che non sembrava poter confermare che gli autori anticotestamentari intendessero alludere anticipatamente a Cristo e alla fede del
NT (p. 10). Il Cardinale Presidente ritiene che la PCB abbia incominciato a dare un inizio di risposta nel 1993, approfondendo la pluridimensionalit del discorso umano, che non legato a un unico punto storico, ma si protende verso il futuro (pp. 10-11). Egli ritiene che lanalisi compiuta ora dalla PCB abbia permesso di affermare che ermeneutica
del giudaismo ed ermeneutica cristiana sono s diverse, ma che tuttavia
la seconda corrisponde ad una potenzialit di senso effettivamente presente nei testi (p. 11). A questa problematica dice Ratzinger aggiunge un peso particolare la tragedia che ha colpito il popolo ebraico
negli anni 30 e 40 del secolo XX e da ci nasceva la necessit di estendere lindagine al modo con cui il NT tratta gli ebrei. Dal complesso
lavoro della PCB consegue un rinnovato rispetto per linterpretazione
giudaica dellAT e la consapevolezza che i rimproveri che il NT rivolge agli ebrei non sono rari nello stesso AT, appartengono al linguaggio
profetico e sono per loro natura temporanei.
3. La prima parte del documento (nn. 2-18) costata che la Bibbia ebraica parte fondamentale, e dunque irrinunciabile, della Bibbia cristiana e
che per comprendere il NT necessario il ricorso allAntico, come ne-

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G. GHIBERTI

cessario tener presente, pur nella differenza delle prospettive, la tradizione


esegetica giudaica. Nellestensione del canone (superiore quello cristiano
cattolico ed ortodosso a quello ebraico) la tradizione cattolica convinta di
proporre luso che era in atto nelle origini cristiane.
4. La seconda, lunga parte (nn. 19-65) fa una verifica sul campo di come
il contenuto tematico dellAT sia stato assunto nel Nuovo. la verifica del
primo esempio, paradigmatico, di interpretazione cristiana dellAT. Lanalisi preceduta da un lungo paragrafo, dedicato allautocomprensione con cui
il cristiano accosta lAT al Nuovo: egli convinto che i due Testamenti si
illuminano a vicenda e sono necessari luno allaltro; alla luce di Cristo si
verifica una rilettura (fra le molte presenti nello stesso AT, di approfondimento di testi precedenti: noto il caso della manna), che non abolisce il
senso originale. Lapplicazione metodologica della rilettura effettuata per
secoli tramite lallegoria, ma in seguito si finisce per tornare al senso letterale. Convinzione fondamentale quella del compimento in Cristo del senso
dellAT: a un significato immediato per i contemporanei si aggiunge un
senso nuovo. Ma ci che gi compiuto in Cristo deve ancora compiersi in
noi e nel mondo (n. 21). Cristiani ed ebrei vivono nellattesa! Il cristiano,
alla luce di Cristo e dello Spirito, scopre nel testo un di pi di senso che vi
era nascosto (p. 54). Ognuna delle due letture prodotto ed espressione della
visione di fede in cui sorge, ma ambedue i metodi di lettura e le forme di
ricerca possono offrirsi un aiuto vicendevole.
I temi comuni sono contenuti in nove punti, a volte di amplissimo contenuto. Si noter che la chiara distinzione fra il dato anticotestamentario e
quello neotestamentario del tema serve a riconoscere autonomia allinterpretazione ebraica del tema stesso. Qui ne parlo in modo disuguale, orientandomi agli aspetti che riguardano maggiormente la prospettiva privilegiata fin qui. Non mi fermo per lo pi alla trattazione del momento
anticotestamentario dei temi, che pure sono presentati in una sintesi assai
efficace. Non demerito del nostro testo il fatto che qui venga offerta una
piccola teologia biblica. La sua originalit da vedere nella cura di evidenziare il passaggio e la continuit tra i due Testamenti.
1) La rivelazione di Dio (nn. 23-26). Il NT conosce il rivelatore per
eccellenza, Ges. Lunicit di Dio affermata con determinazione dal NT,
anche quando presenta Ges come il Figlio, una cosa sola col Padre (fr. 59).
Il Dio creatore dellAT nel NT visto allopera con la mediazione di Cristo, Figlio, Verbo (Quarto vangelo, Apocalisse, Paolo).
2) Grandezza e miseria delluomo (nn. 27-30). Lantropologia del NT
si fonda su quella dellAntico. La grandezza evidenziata per il fatto che
Cristo per primo, in modo perfetto, immagine di Dio e luomo chia-

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mato a diventare simile allimmagine di suo Figlio; la sua miseria


evidenziata dal fatto che Cristo morto per tutti: dunque il peccato universale.
3) Dio liberatore e salvatore (nn. 31-32). Nel NT il titolo salvatore
attribuito a Ges (anche se con molta discrezione), in modo particolare al
risorto.
4) Lelezione dIsraele (nn. 33-36). NellAT lelezione dIsraele, che ha
fondamento nelliniziativa divina, comporta responsabilit per il popolo,
non implica rifiuto per le altre nazioni. Il NT condivide la convinzione che
Israele sia il popolo eletto da Dio, ma registra pure un mutamento di prospettiva, quando sar mutata la testata dangolo, Ges. Lelezione di Israele non un privilegio chiuso in se stesso: la stirpe eletta si trova anche
fra i pagani. Lindurimento del cuore verso Ges fa recidere alcuni rami,
ma quei giudei che sono nemici quanto al vangelo restano amati, quanto allelezione, a causa dei Padri (n. 36). Non si dice mai che Israele
stato ripudiato. Certo, per essere figli della promessa, il che implica adesione a Cristo, non basta appartenere fisicamente a Israele.
5) Lalleanza (nn. 37-42). NellAT si mette in evidenza laspetto del
dono dellalleanza e quello dellesigenza che ne scaturisce di una scelta e
decisione dIsraele. Vengono ripresi i vari momenti di berit o impegno:
verso No, Abramo, al Sinai (per essi Dio attende la risposta dellobbedienza, del fare quanto il Signore ha ordinato, per essere immessi nello status
speciale di propriet personale, regno di sacerdoti, nazione santa), verso
Davide (promessa incondizionata, che non sar ritirata). Geremia, che vive
la caduta di Gerusalemme per lincapacit dIsraele ad essere fedele allalleanza del Sinai, riporta la promessa di una nuova alleanza (Ger 31,31-34)
ed Ez 36 quella del dono di un cuore e spirito nuovo. Il NT convinto che
continua la relazione di alleanza, su un fondamento nuovo, che la persona e lopera di Ges. La continuit presente gi nelle parole di Ges sul
sangue dellalleanza, in riferimento al Sinai, ma nuova, in relazione al
dono che egli fa di s sulla croce. Nella Gerusalemme nuova dellApocalisse gli uomini che vi dimoreranno saranno suo popolo ed egli sar il
Dio-con-loro (21,3). Per Paolo le alleanze sono privilegi degli israeliti:
non pu essere annullata lalleanza promessa di Dio, tutta di misericordia. insufficiente lalleanza legale del Sinai, mentre pienamente valida lalleanza-promessa. Per Ebrei sono insufficienti le istituzioni cultuali
della prima alleanza; il progetto prefigurato nel NT trova il compimento
nellalleanza fondata su nuova base, lofferta personale di Cristo.
Da tutte queste testimonianze emerge nel NT la convinzione che in Israele presente sempre la definitiva e mai abolita promessa di Dio, e dunque

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la relazione di alleanza con lui, e che i cristiani hanno coscienza di vivere


una nuova tappa di questo disegno.
6) La legge (torah, istruzione: insegnamento e direttiva) (nn. 43-45).
NellAT storicamente le leggi bibliche sono il risultato di una lunga storia
di tradizioni religiose, morali, giuridiche... Teologicamente hanno la loro
fonte nel Dio dIsraele, che le ha rivelate o direttamente o per mezzo di
Mos. La legge adattata a un popolo storico particolare, ma anche un
bene escatologico promesso a tutte le nazioni. La sua osservanza compresa come forma perfetta del servizio di Dio. Si forma cos una spiritualit della Torah, rinvenibile ad es. nei Salmi (1; 19; 119).
Nel NT Ges d compimento alla legge (Matteo), uninterpretazione
o pi esigente o pi flessibile. La ricca riflessione di Paolo non perfettamente unificata: con Cristo la fede in lui che giustifica e fa vivere; la
positivit della legge non misconosciuta (106), ma la legge per sua condizione di lettera uccide, anche se indirettamente. La legge dello Spirito
della vita in Cristo Ges ha rimediato allimpotenza della legge di Mos
(Rm 8,14: 108). Per Ebrei, il mutamento del sacerdozio comporta un mutamento di legge (7,2: 109), perch solo la mediazione di Cristo efficace. Giacomo non affronta questa problematica, ma individua la legge
regale (2,8), quella del Regno (2,5) nel precetto di Lev 19,18 dellamore
del prossimo. Ed questa la concezione normativa del NT che, leggendo
lAntico alla luce di Cristo, ha confermato il precetto dellamore e gli ha
dato la nuova dimensione dellesempio di Cristo: come io vi ho amati (Gv
13,34; 15,12).
7) La preghiera e il culto, Gerusalemme e il Tempio (nn. 46-51). NellAT preghiera e culto sono in funzione della relazione personale e collettiva degli israeliti con Dio. Scopo del culto la santificazione del popolo; i
profeti propugnano una purificazione del culto; i salmi organizzano la preghiera attorno agli assi della liberazione, dellammirazione, dellistruzione
e delle feste popolari. Per la preghiera esistono luoghi e tempi privilegiati;
il tempio di Gerusalemme simultaneamente spazio funzionale e simbolico, anche se il luogo santo non giunger mai a contenere la presenza divina. Ezechiele prevede un tempio restaurato, ma, prima ancora, che Dio
stesso sar per gli esiliati un santuario (11,16). Anche Gerusalemme scelta e santa; ciononostante verr distrutta e, restaurata, diventa simbolo della
salvezza escatologica. Nel NT si vede Ges pregare e si tramanda il suo
insegnamento sulla preghiera. I primi cristiani pregano; e si conservano
tratti della primitiva liturgia cristiana. Lettera agli Ebrei esalta lefficacia
del sacrificio di Cristo. Il nuovo tempio il corpo di Ges risuscitato (Giovanni) e i cristiani, membra di questo corpo, sono santuari di Dio (Paolo:

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1Cor 3,16-17). Per Apocalisse nella Gerusalemme celeste non c santuario ma solo Dio onnipotente e lagnello. Gerusalemme il simbolo del
compimento escatologico.
8) Rimproveri divini e condanne (nn. 52-53). La grande minaccia
dellAT per il popolo infedele che Dio lo rigetti. Ma il Signore offre sempre la grazia della conversione. Anche Ges predica lurgenza della conversione. Paolo rivolge rimproveri sia ai pagani sia agli ebrei sia ai cristiani
e cos pure lApocalisse. Tutti sono bisognosi di conversione.
9) Le promesse. a) Discendenza di Abramo (nn. 54-55). Il NT non mette mai in discussione la validit della promessa ad Abramo, ma chiarisce il
concetto di discendenza di Abramo: egli sar padre di una moltitudine di
popoli per ladesione a Cristo di molti credenti di origine pagana. Si distingue tra figli della carne e figli della promessa.
b) La Terra promessa (nn. 56-57). Il NT non sviluppa il tema della
terra concreta che Dio ha promessa a Israele; insiste invece nellindirizzare
verso una terra diversa, la patria celeste (Ebrei).
c) La perennit e la salvezza finale dIsraele (nn. 58-59). La concezione del resto dIsraele, al quale garantita la perennit e la salvezza di
Dio, si trasmette al NT e fonda per Paolo la speranza della piena restaurazione dIsraele, per il quale i doni e la chiamata di Dio sono irrevocabili.
d) Il Regno di Dio (nn. 60-61). Il NT si inserisce sulla caratterizzazione escatologica che il tema ha raggiunto nellapocalittica, presentando una
concezione che mette nel tempo presente una tensione escatologica.
e) Il figlio e successore di David (nn. 62-63). Il NT riconosce chiaramente in Ges il Messia promesso e atteso, realizzatore delle promesse di
Dio. Ges insegna che questa funzione si realizza attraverso la sofferenza
e la morte. Il figlio di Davide secondo Natan (2Sam 7,14; Sal 2,7)
figlio di Dio e il NT spiega che Ges una cosa sola col Padre. In lui si
realizza linsieme delle promesse di salvezza legate alla venuta del Messia.
A conclusione di questa rassegna si constata che tutti i grandi temi
dellAT sono presenti nel Nuovo in prospettiva universale. Le rotture
interpretative rinunciano s, talora, ad elementi di grande importanza (forme di culto, pratiche religiose e rituali, leggi imperfette...), ma in linea con
revisioni gi avvenute nellAT. La progressione nella trattazione neotestamentaria dei temi sempre effetto dellirradiazione della luce cristologica. Cos per la nuova consapevolezza circa Dio, per la liberazione
mediata alluomo da Cristo, per la realt dellelezione del popolo dellalleanza, che non si sostituisce a Israele ma resta solidale con esso.
5. La terza parte (nn. 66-83) affronta un problema che circostanze storiche recenti e dolorose hanno reso assai pi attuale di quanto poteva esse-

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re allinizio dei rapporti ebraico-cristiani, pur nella tensione di una polemica gi accesa fin dai primissimi tempi. La crisi acutizzata dei rapporti israeliano-palestinesi, con il suo carico di violenze e di morti14, potrebbe
portare unalterazione nella sensibilit per la lettura di un documento: occorrer ricordare che i giudizi sul passato non possono essere condizionati
dalle contingenze dei periodi successivi, anche se non possono essere
disattesi gli stimoli che provengono da questi.
Un primo paragrafo illustra la pluralit di manifestazioni del giudaismo
postesilico, con le divisioni causate dalle diverse interpretazioni della legge prima e dopo il 70: Samaritani, Sadducei, Esseni (Qumraniani), Farisei.
Probabilmente Ges non appartenuto a nessun partito o categoria (come
rabbi carismatici di Galilea, predicatori cinici itineranti o perfino zeloti
rivoluzionari: n. 5715). Tra la morte di Ges e quella di Pietro e Paolo e la
distruzione di Gerusalemme il movimento sorto tra i discepoli di Ges in
contatto con tutti gli altri movimenti e deve aver avuto con essi numerosi
rapporti, registrandone le prime difficolt; queste crebbero dopo la caduta
di Gerusalemme e causarono completa rottura, proprio nel periodo in cui si
formava la parte pi rilevante della letteratura neotestamentaria, che registra ricordi antichi e altri pi recenti.
Vengono poi analizzati i vari blocchi della letteratura neotestamentaria.
Vangeli e Atti registrano giudizi severi sugli ebrei e polemiche nei contatti
con loro. Ciononostante, i loro racconti non sono ostili agli ebrei. Matteo
celebra la continuit fra lAT e leconomia instaurata in e da Ges, ma registra pure violenti polemiche che ricordano rimproveri uditi nellAT con
esito finale positivo, in una nazione che si apre a una visione universalistica. Marco ha una visione precisa dei fattori che hanno portato a morte Ges: i capi del popolo, la folla manovrata da essi, i romani. Non intende
per nulla coinvolgere tutto il popolo ebraico; questo anzi spesso favorevole a Ges. Luca e Atti sono positivi nei confronti di Israele. Leredit che
il terzo vangelo trasmette agli Atti sostanzialmente favorevole al popolo

14. Nei giorni in cui veniva portata a termine la redazione del nostro documento per essere

consegnato al Cardinale Presidente, allinizio dellautunno 2000, aveva inizio la seconda


intifada. F. Rossi de Gasperis, in G. Bottoni-L. Nason (2002), 349, nota 14, riferisce sulle
tesi dei teologi dellintifada, tese ad annullare le interpretazioni storiche ed esclusive
dellelezione e delle promesse esclusive a Israele.
15. Secondo i suggerimenti di qualche autore alla moda nella Third Quest, la terza ricerca
del Ges storico. Una limitata informazione sullenorme problema del Ges storico offerta da F.G. Brambilla et alii (2002), dove G. Segalla tratta della terza ricerca
(pp. 57-87).

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ebraico. Gli Atti riferiscono liniziale successo della predicazione apostolica tra gli ebrei, della madrepatria e del mondo intero, e i contrasti che sorgono presto nei confronti delle autorit ebraiche. Nel libro lucano Paolo,
singolare protagonista, pronuncia un severo giudizio alla conclusione di
tutto il racconto di Atti, senza per che si possa parlare di ostililt, al contrario. Il problema non di natura psicologica, ma se mai teologica.
Giovanni, che anticipa il processo di Ges, conferma sostanzialmente i protagonisti noti negli altri evangelisti; il vangelo conserva inoltre leco di
polemiche e processi di separazione ormai consumati. Il Paolo sicuramente autentico registra lopposizione ai discepoli di Cristo da parte dei giudei
che contestano la fede cristiana: a un livello pi profondo di questa relazione di opposizione esiste fin dora una relazione di amore, e questa
definitiva, mentre laltra solo provvisoria (p. 194). Nelle altre lettere
notevole la posizione irenica di Efesini. Ebrei attribuisce la causa della
passione di Ges solo allopposizione da parte di peccatori (12,3).
6. Come pu concludere un documento come il nostro? Una conclusione generale ribadisce i risultati raggiunti dalle tre parti: lautorit dellAT
per il Nuovo, che si appoggia su quelle Scritture e ne constata/afferma il
compimento nella vita di Ges e che rende necessaria la conoscenza del
giudaismo di quellepoca per unadeguata interpretazione del NT; la continuit della tematica dallAT al NT, quando si vedono realizzate le iniziative divine in Ges e nelleconomia da lui instaurata; la volont espressa nel
NT di non interrompere il rapporto con il popolo della promessa.
Una conclusione di indole pastorale (che deve molto al rimpianto
Mons. Fusco) dichiara la finalit del presente documento, nato dagli studi
biblici, i pi adatti a favorire un fraterno dialogo, una mutua conoscenza e
stima fra ebrei e cristiani. Per un progresso in questo cammino necessario evitare qualsiasi lettura unilaterale dei testi biblici e sforzarsi di corrispondere al dinamismo dinsieme che li anima: gli israeliti restano amati
da Dio e devono esserlo, da parte di tutti quelli che vogliono essere uniti a
Dio. Quanto ai rimproveri rivolti a certe categorie di ebrei, essi sono estranei nellintenzione e nella realt a un vero antigiudaismo, che non esiste
in alcun testo del NT ed incompatibile con esso: il disaccordo con la
Sinagoga a livello di credenza e non implica ostilit reciproca, come
mostra Rm 911. Di qui la possibilit di un dialogo, che permetta di sfruttare il patrimonio comune e rafforzare i reciproci legami. Partendo dallinsegnamento di Paolo, il credente cristiano deve essere convinto che un
atteggiamento di rispetto, di stima e di amore per il popolo ebraico il solo
atteggiamento veramente cristiano in questa situazione che fa misteriosamente parte del disegno, totalmente positivo, di Dio (n. 87).

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A partire dal documento


a) La recezione
La recezione del documento mi pare essere stata in genere favorevole, sia
sul versante cristiano sia sul versante ebraico (ma la mia conoscenza di
questultimo si limita a quanto leggo su Sefer e nei Bollettini dellAmicizia Ebraico-Cristiana, oltre a pochi contatti personali), senza per suscitare in partenza particolari reazioni16.
Il fatto che le sante Scritture del popolo ebraico non siano state chiamate, nel titolo, Antico o Primo Testamento stato visto talora come
un fatto positivo, quale scelta per entrare nella prospettiva ebraica, talora
anche come un segno dellincertezza di fondo che ancora regna nel documento (P. Stefani). Si tratta per di incertezza che presente nelle cose stesse prima che nel documento.
Il molto di scontato nelle nostre pagine non diminuisce il carattere di
novit di parecchie sue parti e la sensazione gradevole della pacifica
acquisizione di una consapevolezza che nella Chiesa non sempre e ovunque riceve piena accoglienza. Si pensi allabbandono della categoria della
sostituzione di Israele da parte della Chiesa17, a partire dalla presa di coscienza che lelezione di Israele permanente e irrevocabile.
Il punto dimpegno sar ora diffondere sistematicamente queste convinzioni e continuare la ricerca: onesta, paziente, dialogante.

b) Continuit, discontinuit, sviluppo


Qual il punto di vista adatto per un giudizio su questo documento? Nato
da biblisti, esso dovrebbe essere giudicato dal punto di vista del biblista,
16. Sono a conoscenza di questi interventi: Piero Stefani (2002); Johannes Beutler (2002);
Franco Manzi (2002); Qualche voce si sta facendo sentire attraverso Internet: cfr. Cunningham
(2002). Su un altro tema del documento si possono confrontare le posizioni di Gianantonio
Borgonovo (2002), che riporta una relazione tenuta per il gruppo milanese di Teshuv, sulla
scia di una consulenza alla Commissione Teologica Internazionale; ora il contributo apparso
in G. Bottoni-L. Nason (2002). Questopera nasce da iniziative precedenti alla pubblicazione
del documento romano, anche se la pubblicazione gli successiva di quasi un anno. Perci
essa offre interessanti punti di confronto con i contenuti di quello. Uno dei curatori, G. Bottoni, nellintroduzione si richiama a pi riprese allinsegnamento del documento romano.
17. La Chiesa si compone degli [francese: des; edizione italiana, imperfetta: di] Israeliti
che hanno accettato questa nuova alleanza e di altri credenti che si sono uniti a loro Ben
lontana dal sostituirsi a Israele, la Chiesa resta solidale con esso (n. 65).

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che per tenga conto del momento sintetico (e non analitico: sarebbe impensabile dare una giustificazione documentaria di tutte le affermazioni
o anche solo delle principali contenute in questo testo), che per si
metta in dialogo con quella Chiesa nel cui seno nasce il testo e nello stesso tempo prenda coscienza delle conoscenze, esigenze e sensibilit del
mondo doggi per farsene carico. Dovrebbe anche essere esercitato o almeno pensato il dialogo con quel fratello ebreo di cui continuamente si
parla.
Nel nostro lavoro abbiamo gi cercato di porci in questo atteggiamento, privilegiando una linea del cammino preparatorio: quella del rapporto
fra la lettura ebraica e quella cristiana della Bibbia ebraica. Non evidentemente lunico, come dimostrerebbe un quadro degli argomenti che possono interessare una teologia cristiana dellAT.
Le categorie pi frequenti incontrate lungo tutta lesposizione e in particolare nello svolgimento delle tematiche sono quelle della continuit e
della discontinuit: questultima vista in chiave di uno sviluppo (coerente!)
dallAT al NT. Lo sviluppo stato espresso sovente come novit (legata
allintervento di Ges), frutto di un dinamismo (che non stato tematizzato ma emerge da tutto il discorso) potenziale nellAT ma scopribile solo
attraverso la rivelazione neotestamentaria. Queste categorie ci riportano alla
discussione che segnalavamo prima di entrare nel contenuto del nostro testo e sono tutte oggetto di contenzioso.
Il discorso della continuit il pi pacifico, ma non cos ovvio da essere superfluo, non essendo del tutto eliminate oggi tendenze allinsofferenza verso lAT. Continuit esclude estraneit e contrapposizione, come pure
intolleranza tra i due, e dice che, se progresso c stato, non stato secondo la modalit della rottura e di per s, globalmente parlando neppure
della correzione o della rettifica, anche se crescita e miglioramento devono
esere accettati.
Si deve allora dire progresso o novit organica. Notiamo che il documento, pur parlando di dimensioni o proiezioni escatologiche, non ricorre solitamente alla qualifica di senso ultimo nella conoscenza mediata dal NT, cos
come non fa uso della terminologia di senso tipologico. Esso si muove
chiaramente e semplicemente sul piano della lettura storica dei testi ed consapevole del fatto che la categoria di ultimo (dunque di perfezione insuperabile) applicabile solo a Cristo, al suo intervento rivelativo e salvifico,
non invece alla nostra comprensione di esso e nemmeno a rigore dellespressione del suo mistero nel testo della nuova rivelazione (Cristo lultimo; il
NT solo in rapporto a lui!). Grazie a quel testo siamo un po pi vicini a Dio,
ma non usciamo dalleconomia dello specchio e dellenigma.

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c) Compiutezza incompiuta
Nonostante lespressione prenda sempre lavvio dal dato anticotestamentario, la prospettiva ermeneutica parte per dal NT: questo che legge in
quello del nuovo: dunque solo guardando indietro. Ma nuovo che significa? Nuovo qualcosa che non cera prima. Ma prima cera qualcosa,
non il vuoto: ebbene, quel che cera prima, ora non c pi? Se c ancora,
(a) esiste dentro il nuovo eone come rinnovato, oppure (b) accanto al nuovo con una sua autonomia: ed autonomia di perfezione o di imperfezione, compiutezza o incompiutezza? Il nostro documento tende chiaramente
all(a).
Il problema fondamentale che si poneva in partenza allo studio non era
evidentemente se lAT fosse accettato nel NT come parola di Dio, ma se
quella parola di Dio (AT) potesse aprirsi a un senso diverso, nuovo, e se
affermato questo senso fosse ancora lecito o meno fermarsi al primo, e
se ancora chi avesse accettato il nuovo potesse trovare utilit anche nel
vecchio. Proprio perch il nuovo coerente (cos come lo giudica il pensiero neotestamentario), non pu essere detto estraneo; se non estraneo,
non facile giustificare leventuale rinuncia a esso o un suo rifiuto. Certo,
questo ragionamento vale non per chi guarda dal vecchio al nuovo, bens
per chi nella prospettiva opposta di guardare indietro: il che fa concludere che per il cristiano certamente utile assumere il senso storico primitivo
del testo anticotestamentario, ma non si vede come possa essere lecito arrestarsi ad esso.
Le attuali conoscenze del linguaggio e del testo ci portano a dire che il
suo dinamismo qualifica non solo dellAT ma di qualsiasi testo. Certo,
per lAT nella visione cristiana si aggiunge la convinzione dellispirazione
del testo biblico, dellunico autore delle due rivelazioni, dellorganicit del
disegno globale della rivelazione, che risulta cos unificata e unica: cose
tutte che qualificano ulteriormente la consapevolezza della dinamicit. Per
tutti questi motivi sar difficile accettare che il senso cristologico sia un
plusvalore aggiunto dal NT allAntico, mentre nel testo ebraico non cera.
In che senso non cera? vero per anche che il lettore ebraico portato a
domandare: e in che senso cera?18
Per il NT la situazione non diversa, perch valgono gli stessi principi, che suggeriscono di parlare anche per esso di una compiutezza incompiuta, avvertibile nella proiezione escatologica di AT e NT insieme. Non
18. il momento nel quale la prospettiva della lettura sistemica sembra affermare maggior-

mente la sua necessit. Restano ciononostante da valutare le radici dei singoli sistemi.

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vorrei nascondermi dietro il proverbiale dito, o giocare con le parole: diverso certamente il modo con cui le due realt sono rispettivamente compiute e incompiute, ma in questa diversa modalit le due qualifiche si
addicono ad ambedue. LAT compiuto in s, perch stato storicamente rivelazione di salvezza per chi lo accettava; anche oggi il suo messaggio, pur nel limite antico, ha un orientamento alla salvezza: si potr solo
discutere se questa efficacia la possieda in s o quando incontri un atteggiamento almeno di implicita potenziale disponibilit a tutto quanto possa
essere inteso dalla rivelazione divina a partire da quel punto. Il NT incompiuto, perch tende ad esaurirsi in una economia di perfezione in cui
la comprensione non sia pi mediata dal limitato strumento linguistico e
fiorisca nel contatto immediato dei due interlocutori e nella piena manifestazione del partner divino. Fino ad allora non dissolta lincompiutezza.
prevedibile comunque che il nostro documento contribuir a vivacizzare la discussione, a renderla pi consapevole e motivata, senza per riuscire ad arrestarla: non solo perch non mai possible accontentare tutti19
e perch il limite qualit endemica dei prodotti umani, ma soprattutto
perch una discussione che continua ha la possibilit di individuare nuove
piste di riflessione e ricerca.
Il mio intervento si arresta qui, mentre le verifiche potrebbero essere
portate sulle singole affermazioni20 e in particolare sui grandi temi, come
quello dellelezione del popolo o dellalleanza o della legge.
Giuseppe Ghiberti
Membro della Pontificia Commissione Biblica

19. Si pensi anche solo alla distinzione presente nellaffermazione di significato immedia-

to per i contemporanei, prima di acquistare un significato pi pieno per gli ascoltatori futuri (n. 21).
20. Grande problema (non affrontato qui) continua ad essere quello dellantisemitismo o
antigiudaismo dei documenti neotestamentari, per i quali la ricerca non facilmente esaurita. Ma forse, nonostante lattualit e lenorme dimensione storica di questo problema, pi
fondamentali ancora sono quelli di natura squisitamente teologica, quali lelezione del popolo dIsraele e il suo rapporto con la realt della Chiesa.

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Riferimenti bibliografici
J. Beutler, Das Jdische Volk und seine Heilige Schrift in der christlichen Bibel. Zu einem
neuen Dokument der Ppstlichen Bibelkommission, Bibel und Kirche 57 (2002)
158-165.
G. Boccaccini-P. De Benedetti-M. Pesce-L. Sestieri-P. Stefani, Ebrei e cristiani alle origini
delle divisioni (Quaderni dellAmicizia Ebraico-Cristiana, 4), Torino 2001
G. Borgonovo, Chiesa, popolo di Dio? Alcune precisazioni bibliche, in G. Bottoni-L.
Nason, Secondo le Scritture. Chiese cristiane e popolo di Dio (Ecumenismo), Bologna
2002, 111-129.
F. G. Brambilla-M. Epis-G. Ghiberti-R. Lavatori-S. Petrosino-P. Pezzoli-G. Segalla, Indagine su Ges. Bilancio storico e prospettive fenomenologiche (Quaderni di studi e memorie, 15), Milano 2002.
P. A. Cunningham, The Pontifical Biblical Commission's Study The Jewish People and
Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible: Selected Important Quotations with
Comments, sul sito www.bc.edu/bc_org/research/cjl il 24 aprile 2002.
J.A. Fitzmyer, nellappendice al suo A Christological Catechism. New Testament Answers,
New York 1982, 97-103.
J. A. Fitzmyer, The Biblical Commission's Document The Interpretation of the Bible in
the Church. Text and Commentary (Subsidia Biblica, 18), P.I.B., Roma 1994.
G. Ghiberti-F. Mosetto (a cura), Pontificia Commissione Biblica, Linterpretazione della
Bibbia nella Chiesa. Commento (Percorsi e traguardi biblici), Leumann To 1998.
M.-J. Lagrange, Il Padre Lagrange al servizio della Bibbia. Ricordi personali (prefazione
di P. Benoit), Brescia 1969.
F. Manzi, Hic veri templi adumbratur mysterium. Ladempimento neotestamentario del
Tempio alla luce di un recente documento della Pontificia Commissione Biblica,
Ephemerides Liturgicae 116 (2002) 129-174.
M. Pesce, Il cristianesimo e la sua radice ebraica, Bologna 1994.
M. Pesce, Pu la teologia cristiana rispettare la natura ebraica della Bibbia?, in G.
Boccaccini-P. De Benedetti-M. Pesce-L. Sestieri-P. Stefani, Ebrei e cristiani alle origini delle divisioni (Quaderni dellAmicizia Ebraico-Cristiana, 4), Torino 2001, 85-111.
P. Stefani, Le Scritture ebraiche e la Bibbia cristiana, Il Regno-attualit (2002/2) 13-15.
A. Vanhoye, Pass et Prsent de la Commission Biblique, Gregorianum 74 (1993)
261-275.

LANCIEN TESTAMENT DANS LGLISE :


PERSPECTIVES DU RCENT DOCUMENT
DE LA COMMISSION BIBLIQUE PONTIFICALE

J. Loza Vera

Le plus rcent document de la Commission Biblique Pontificale, paru le


19 octobre dernier1, a t labor par les membres de la Commission entre
1996 et 2000, mais le vote final na t pris quau dbut de 2001.
Le titre manifeste une certaine dualit. Il considre, tout dabord, les
relations entre les deux parties de notre Bible chrtienne, entre lAncien et
le Nouveau Testament. Mais le problme se dplace dune manire sensible partir du moment o lAncien Testament est considr, et dune manire trs explicite, comme le titre le manifeste dj, comme les Saintes
critures du peuple juif. Il y sera donc aussi question de la diffrente tradition interprtative pour lAncien Testament et mme des points de vue
chrtiens, plus prcisment ceux des crits du Nouveau Testament,
lgard du peuple juif. Pourquoi cela ? La Commission, qui avait reu plusieurs propositions pour son travail, avait choisi dtudier les relations entre lAncien Testament et le Nouveau, mais, lorsque le travail sur le sujet
commenait, notre prsident, le card. Ratzinger, nous a demand dlargir
cette problmatique et de traiter, dans une perspective biblique, des relations entre le peuple juif et lglise chrtienne.
Voir de prs quelles sont les relations entre les deux parties de notre
Bible chrtienne, lAncien et le Nouveau Testament, tudier comment le
Nouveau Testament reprend et donne une interprtation prcise, mais qui
nest pas uniforme et toujours la mme, de lAncien Testament tait en
quelque sorte la manire de poursuivre le travail dont tait issu le document prcdant, celui de 1993, sur Linterprtation de la Bible dans
lglise2. Mais quil y ait une diffrence entre les deux documents, quelle

* Ce text a t lu Jrusalem au colloque Il popolo ebraico e le sue sacre Scritture nella

Bibbia Cristiana, le 8 avril 2002.


1. Pontificia Commissio Biblica, Le peuple juif et ses Saintes critures dans la Bible

chtienne, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001.


2. Jai offert un commentaire de la partie sur les mthodes de lexgse biblique et des principales lectures de la Bible dans La interpretacin de la Biblia en la Iglesia, dans
Anmnesis, IV/2, 1994, 77-117.
LA 51 (2001) 233-250

234

J. LOZA VERA

soit mme sensible et, je le croirais, aisment perceptible, cest quelque


chose que le lecteur peut vrifier aisment : le document de 1993 soccupait avant tout des apports interprtatifs issus de lexgse moderne, surtout rcente ou actuelle. Le document en faisait le bilan, si provisoire quil
soit, et signalait les apports positifs, mais aussi les limites, des diffrentes
mthodes dinterprtation et des lectures de la Bible qui ont t le plus frquemment proposes au cours des dernires dcennies. Le nouveau document, au contraire, tente de donner un aperu de lunit de la Bible comme
criture du peuple de Dieu et de relire le sens de son articulation fondamentale, puisquil y a, pour nous, deux parties bien distinctes, lAncien et
le Nouveau Testament, mais qui gardent entre elles des relations multiples.
grands traits, si lon exprime les choses dune manire genrique,
deux aspects sont particulirement importants pour percevoir quelle est la
relation entre lAncient et le Nouveau Testament. Dune part, le christianisme naissant reoit comme critures un ensemble de livres, ceux-l
mme qui taient ainsi considrs par le Judasme de lpoque du Nouveau
Testament. Notre Ancien Testament est peu prs lensemble des livres
form par la Loi, les Prophtes et les [autres] crits (Tanak)3. Certes, il
y a une diffrence entre le judasme et le christianisme au sujet de lAncien Testament, de la Bible juive, mais elle est le rsultat de la polmique
opposant chrtiens et juifs au cours des premiers sicles de lre chrtienne
plutt quune position de principe. Par ailleurs, si au point de dpart les
critures du christianisme sont celles du judasme de lpoque, le christianisme introduit un principe dinterprtation, une clef de lecture nouvelle :
Jsus prtend que les Ecritures parlaient de lui et les auteurs des livres du
Nouveau Testament interprtent lAncien Testament en voyant son accomplissement en Jsus. Il en rsulte une perspective trs prcise propos des
relations entre les deux Testaments : lAncien Testament est lannonce et
la prparation de ce que la venue de Jsus devait raliser dfinitivement ;
le Nouveau Testament est la fois laccomplissement et la ralisation plnire de la promesse-annonce qutait lAncien Testament.

1. Les critures chrtiennes incluent les critures du peuple juif


La Commission Biblique Pontificale a donc considr les relations entre
lAncien et le Nouveau Testament. La manire de le faire inclut, cependant,
3. On sait que la division apparat dj dans le prologue du traducteur grec du Siracide,

situer probablement autour de 120 avant le Christ.

LANCIEN TESTAMENT DANS LGLISE

235

une considration explicite du peuple juif. Le titre, Le peuple juif et ses


Saintes critures dans la Bible chrtienne, le dit dj. Cela vient du fait
que la Bible chrtienne tablit des rapports multiples et trs troits avec
le peuple juif, en particulier avec ses critures, car la Bible chrtienne se
compose, en majeure partie, des Saintes critures (Rm 1,2) du peuple
juif 4, celles que nous appellons Ancien Testament, mais elle ajoute peu
peu une srie dcrits nouveaux, ceux du Nouveau Testament.
1. Le sous-titre de la premire partie (ou premier chapitre) du document, Les saints critures du peuple juif partie fondamentale de la Bible
chrtienne , dit demble quelle est la perspective : le christianisme est
n au sein du judasme de lpoque et reoit de lui, par consquent, ses
propres critures. Une manifestation toujours actuelle de ce lien dorigine consiste dans lacceptation, par les chrtiens, des Saintes critures du
peuple juif comme Parole de Dieu Lglise, en effet, a accueilli comme
inspirs par Dieu tous les crits contenus dans la Bible hbraque ainsi que
dans la Bible grecque (n 2). Lexpression ici ne me semble pas parfaite :
on ne peut pas dire que lglise ait accept tous les crits de la Bible
grecque sans faire une rserve pour quelques uns. Ce qui est vrai cest que
notre Ancien Testament est un peu plus tendu que la Bible hbaque et
que, par consquent, nous recevons aussi certains livres qui nous parviennent seulement travers la Bible grecque, travers la version dite des Septante (LXX). Le nom que nous lui donnons, celui d Ancien Testament
vient, on le sait, de Paul (2Co 3,14), ce qui est en rapport avec le fait que
nous avons un autre Testament, les crits vangliques et apostoliques, le
Nouveau Testament. Le nom de lensemble ne correspond pas celui de la
tradition juive ; pour elle le nom est complexe et il lest parce quil en numre les parties de lensemble.
Le Nouveau Testament ne se situe donc jamais au point de vue des
critures comme un commencement absolu. Au contraire, il se montre solidement enracin dans une tradition antrieure, celle des critures du peuple juif (n 3). Entre lAncien et le Nouveau Testament il y a, tout dabord,
une communaut de langage, si bien que le grec du Nouveau Testament
serait incomprhensible sans celui de la LXX, notamment dans le cas du
vocabulaire thologique. Mais lutilisation de mots pour ainsi dire isols
nexplique pas lensemble des relations entre les deux parties de notre Bible. Il y a aussi des expressions formes par plusieurs mots et souvent cela
va jusqu ce quon appelle les citations implicites , car nous avons le
4. N 1. Je citerai dornavant le document de la PCB selon la division en numros de

ledition du Vatican.

236

J. LOZA VERA

phnomne de phrases entires qui sont reprises par les auteurs du Nouveau Testament sans que lon prenne le soin de noter le caractre demprunt lcriture, de citation prcise de tel ou tel passage. Le cas pour ainsi
dire extrme est celui de lApocalypse, un vrai tissu de rminiscences et
dallusions diverses o une seule fois dans tout le livre nous trouvons une
citation directe et prcise. Mais, si cest un cas limite, les vangiles et les
autres crits du Nouveau Testament manifestent le mme phnomne un
degr moindre, avec la diffrence que, malgr des accents propres chaque crit, les citations explicites de textes de lcriture sont normalement
plus nombreuses.
Le recours lautorit de lcriture est souvent explicite (n 4-5). Un
simple dit (legei) suffit pour faire appel lautorit de lcriture comme
rvlation divine. Qui dit, ou parle, dans les textes ? Si, parfois, le sujet est
sous-entendu, on pourra le suppler daprs le contexte : cest lcriture,
ou bien Dieu/le Seigneur. Dans dautres cas le sujet est bien exprim et ce
sera plus prcisment lcriture ou lEsprit Saint, mais aussi tel ou tel personne (Mose, David, Isae,). Dans ce cas normalment lon prcisera que
celui qui a parl la fait en tant quinspir par Dieu, par son Esprit, ou bien
que les auteurs humains ont pu faire laffirmation cite en tant que prophtes. Or, une prophtie ne saurait tre lobjet dinterprtation personnelle,
puisque les prophtes ont parl de la part de Dieu en tant quinspirs par
son Esprit (cf 1Pe 1,20-21). Il peut y avoir aussi des expressions plus complexes, par exemple celles de Mt 1,22 et 2,15 ; elles insistent la fois sur
le locuteur divin et le porte-parole humain. Il y a donc mditation humaine
pour la transmission de la parole de Dieu par crit. La mdiation pourra,
ailleurs, tre exprime par un dia. Mais, si lon cite de la sorte les textes
de lAncien Testament, cela veut dire quon leur attribue une valeur qui ne
se limite pas au moment o telle parole a t proclame ou crite. Le document souligne que lemploi du verbe dire au prsent a pour effet de
prsenter les citations de la Bible juive comme des paroles vivantes, dont
lautorit est toujours actuelle (n 4).
Le verbe utilis pour introduire les citations est aussi assez frquemment
crire : on utilise en effet gegraptai, il a t crit et donc cest crit.
Dans ce cas (Mt 4,4.7.10 ; Lc 4,4) le contexte manifeste quil sagit plus
explicitement dun argument que lauteur du livre tire de lcriture, ventuellement en lattribuant Jsus (par exemple en Mt 4,10 avec gar) ou tel
autre personne dans le cas des vangiles et des Actes. Dans ces cas, une
nuance, assez clairement perceptible, semble voulue : si la valeur de ce qui
avait t dit ou crit navait pas une valeur dfinitive, on utilisera laoriste
grec (Mt 10,5 et Lc 20,28). Que ce soit pour argumenter que le Nouveau

LANCIEN TESTAMENT DANS LGLISE

237

Testament cite lAncien est particulirement clair lorsque une citation prcise est introduite par Car il est dit (Rom 9,15,17), mais surtout par Car
il est crit Mt 2,5 ; 4,10 ; etc.). Cest pourquoi ce type dexpressions est
particulirement frquent dans les argumentations doctrinales, par exemple
celles de Paul (surtout en Romains). On peut donc affirmer, comme le fait le
document, que la valeur des critures est incontestable et permanente :
Pour lui (Paul), les critures juives ont galement une valeur toujours actuelle pour guider la vie spiritualle des chrtiens . Cette affirmation est faite
notamment en relation avec le passage de Ro 15,4 (n 5).
Que le Nouveau Testament accorde largumentation sur la base des
critures une valeur dcisive est lvidence mme. Cela vient du fait que
cest la parole de Dieu et que, par consquent, elle ne peut pas tre abolie
(Jn 10,35). Cette valeur est particulirement souligne par les textes qui
parlent dune inspiration divine de lensemble des critures ou des paroles
des prophtes (2Tm 3,16-17 ; 2Pi 1,20,21). Le texte du document commente : Ces deux textes ne se contentent pas daffirmer lautorit des
critures du peuple juif ; ils indiquent dans linspiration divine le fondement de cette autorit (n 5). Oui, il y a parole de Dieu parce quil y a
une intervention divine spcifique pour parler ou pour livrer en son nom
une parole dont les virtualits ne spuisent pas au moment o la Parole a
t prononce ou livre en permanence par les auteurs inspirs.
2. Un deuxime paragraphe soccupe de montrer quelle est la dynamique de la relation entre lAncien et le Nouveau Testament. Une double
conviction se manifeste en dautres textes : dune part, ce qui est crit dans
les critures du peuple juif doit ncessairement saccomplir, car cela rvle le dessein de Dieu, et dautre part, la vie, la mort et la rsurrection du
Christ correspondent ce qui tait dit dans ces critures (n 6, dbut). Il
y a donc deux aspects dans cette relation. Le premier dentre eux revient
exprimer la ncessit de laccomplissement des critures ; elle est exprime dune manire particulirement frappante en Lc 24,44 (voir aussi Mt
26,54 ; Lc 22,37 ; Mc 14,49). Cela revient dire que ce qui arrive, que ce
soit les vnements de lvangile de lenfance, chez Matthieu, ou bien ceux
de la vie publique de Jsus (surtout chez Jean), notamment sa Passion, correspondent au plan de Dieu tel quil avait bien voulu le faire connatre
davance son peuple par le moyen des critures. Oui, dune certaine manire les vnements seraient sans signification, sils ne correspondaient
ce quelles disent. Il ne sagirait pas, en ce cas, de la ralisation du dessein de Dieu (n 6). Cest parce que lui-mme nous la manifest, que
nous savons bien que Dieu a un dessein de salut pour nous et quil y a des
tapes dans son dessein de salut des hommes.

238

J. LOZA VERA

On comprend ds lors laffirmation de la conformit aux critures, affirmation pour laquelle 1Co 15,3-5 est un texte fondamental. La foi chrtienne nest donc pas base seulement sur des vnements, mais sur la
conformit de ces vnements la rvlation contenue dans les critures
du peuple juif (n 7). Cest sur la base de cette affirmation de principe
que lon comprend que Jsus, daprs les vangiles, sachemine vers sa
Passion avec une conscience trs claire : cela correspond aux critures et
donc au dessein mme de Dieu (Mc 14,21 ; Mt 26,24). Dune manire semblable, aprs sa rsurrection, il dvoile aux disciples le sens providentiel
des vnements passs, mais son explication manifeste que sa personne est
son uvre sont au centre du dessein de Dieu. En effet, le moment est venu
o il explique ce qui, dans les critures, le concernait (Lc 24,27)5.
La premire section (ou chapitre) expose encore dautres aspects, mais
ne pouvons pas les commenter ici. Trois paragraphes soccupent successivement des thmes criture et tradition orale dans le judasme et dans le
christianisme (n 9-11), les mthodes dexgse juives employes dans le
Nouveau Testatament (n 12-15) et le problme de lextension du canon des
critures (n 16-18). Pourtant, une remarque assez brve sur le dernier
point semble simposer. Nous savons quil y a une diffrence entre le canon juif et le canon chrtien, surtout catholique et orthodoxe ; elle se manifeste lorsque nous parlons de livres deutro-canoniques , dun certain
nombre dcrits qui ne se trouve pas dans la Bible hbraque, mais qui fait
nanmoins partie de notre Ancien Testament. On a pu parler, pour le judasme du 1er sicle, dun canon palestinien, qui se serait finalement impos, et dun canon hellnistique (ou alexandrin), qui aurait t plus large,
et dont le christianisme ancien serait lhritier, mais cela ne semble pas tout
fait justifi. Plus vrai semble daffirmer que, lpoque du NT, la troisime partie des livres de lcriture, celle des crits, tait encore un peu
floue ; ses limites ntaient pas clairement tablies. De fait, un canon parfaitement clos, une liste prcise et limitative, na exerc dinfluence sur la
manire chrtienne de voir les choses que quelques sicles plus tard.
grands traits on peut donc dire plutt, dune part, que le judasme
navait pas encore donn une solution prcise au problme du canon des
critures et, dautre part, que le point de vue du judasme rabbinique sest
prcis au cours des premiers sicles de notre re en fonction de la polmique contre le christianisme, du moins en partie. Le christianisme naissant
5. Nous pouvons laisser de ct deux aspects particuliers ou drivs, lun et lautre dve-

lopps par le n 7 du document, les aspects propres Mt, Lc-Act et Jn et llment de conformit avec des diffrences.

LANCIEN TESTAMENT DANS LGLISE

239

ne fait pas bande part, na pas ce sujet un position de principe qui soit
diffrente. Si celui-ci fait de la LXX sa Bible et si, par consquent, il admet finalement non sans des doutes et des discussions prolonges des
livres crits directement en grec ou conservs seulement dans leur traduction en grec, le judasme excluera officiellement ce surplus , comme il
laisse pour compte la LXX et recourt, en milieu hellnistique, des versions, en principe plus littrales, destines carter la possibilit mme des
interprtations chrtiennes, qui se servaient souvent de cette premire version grecque. On sait que la version des LXX a t la Bible du christianisme naissant en milieu hellnistique, et que, en raison de ce fait et dune
volution significative dans la comprhension de tel texte biblique (par
exemple Is 7,14), on a pu mme soutenir son inspiration.

2. Linterprtation chrtienne de lAncien Testament


La deuxime section (ou le deuxime chapitre) du document a pour titre
Thmes fondamentaux des critures du peuple juif et leur rception dans
la foi au Christ (n 19-65). Ici il est particulirement vident quun commentaire un peu suivi est impossible dans les limites dun expos comme
celui qui ma t demand. Je me limite donc, dabord, une prsentation
du premier paragraphe propos de la comprhension chrtienne des rapports entre Ancien et Nouveau Testament (n 19-22) et je tente, par la suite,
une illustration des thmes communs fondamentaux en considrant ce que
le document dit du messianisme.
1. lAncien Testament, aux critures du peuple juif, nous ajoutons
dautres livres, ceux du Nouveau Testament. Les relations entre les deux
Testaments sont complexes ; elle a mme pu varier, au moins partiellement,
selon les poques. Le nom dAncien Testament, qui nous est propre, ne dit
pas dabord que ce soit une ralit totalement prime ou simplement dpasse : lglise a rejet la position de Marcion et a plutt affirm quil y a
une relation insparable entre les deux Testaments, car cest la lumire
de lAncien Testament que le Nouveau comprend la vie, la mort et la glorification de Jsus (n 19). Mais on doit sempresser dajouter que le rapport des deux Testaments est rciproque. On ne peut pas affirmer que la
communication aille exclusivement dans un sens donn.
Le Nouveau Testament relit lAncien. Sil y a une relecture chrtienne,
elle nest pas un phnomne compltement indit, car elle se sert de diverses mthodes ; elles ont t prises la culture du monde ambiant (n 19
; voir 12-15). Quil sagisse de typologie ou de lecture la lumire de lEs-

240

J. LOZA VERA

prit (2Co 3,14-17), la manire dont la lecture est faite suggre que la signification et la porte des textes permet daffirmer un double niveau : celui
que le texte a exprim ds son origine et celui que lon peroit seulement
un moment ultrieur et qui ne se rvle au croyant qu la lumire du
Christ, de son mystre.
Le phnomne nest pas indit pour autant que lAncien Testament
avait ouvert la voie dans certains cas. Cest ainsi que le Deutronome
(8,2-3) pouvait faire de la manne le symbole de la Parole de Dieu, celle
par laquelle Dieu nourrit continuellement son peuple. On ne nie pas le
fait lorigine du symbolisme, la tradition selon laquelle Dieu avait
nourri son peuple par la manne dans le dsert, pratiquement depuis la
sortie dgypte (Ex 16) jusqu la premire Pque sur le Terre promise
(Jos 5,11-12), mais la nourriture terrestre sert suggrer la nourriture
spirituelle, car lhomme ne vit pas seulement de pain (Dt 8,3, cit
dans le rcit des tentations de Jsus par Mt 4,4 et Lc 4,4). Que, dune
manire plus gnrale, il y ait des lectures successives dvnements
passs le document laffirme aussi en citant comme exemple la faon
dont Chroniques reprend des lments de la Gense et des livres de
Samuel et des Rois. On ne saurait en faire en cas dexception, car le
phnomne est trs considrable. Or, cela nest pas vrai seulement dans
la perspective dune manire prcise de lire les textes en termes diachroniques avec, comme consquence, que tel rcit biblique serait le
rsultat dun accroissement o interviennent plusieurs sources et rdactions successives. Quil suffisse de penser aux allusions des Psaumes et
de livres sapientiaux tardifs (Sagesse, Ecclsiastique) aux vnements
des origines du peuple, par exemple lexode dgypte et la marche au
dsert, pour sen convaincre. Si dans un cas prcis, comme celui de
2Cor 3,14, Paul accuse les Juifs daveuglement dans leur lecture de lAncien Testament, il ne sagit pas dune incapacit radicale ; leur faute se
trouve seulement dans le fait de ne pas lire les critures la lumire du
Christ.
Mais la perspective de lecture de lAncien Testament change avec le
temps et cela est particulirement vrai lorsque, sous linfluence du milieu
hellnistique, la lecture se fera en des termes allgoriques. Lallgorie
tait, dabord, la mthode pour lire les auteurs classiques, les potes,
comme Homre. La raison en tait que lon vivait une poque plus
illustre. Si les dieux semblent agir mens par le caprice ou la vengeance,
sils incarnent peu prs tous les dfauts possibles de lhomme, on dira
que, sous couvert des dieux, les auteurs ont voulu dcrire les conflicts
psychologiques des hommes, les passions auxquelles ils succombent, etc.

LANCIEN TESTAMENT DANS LGLISE

241

Or, si lvangile doit tre annonc aux Grecs, il tait assez normal dinterprter les critures selon une mthode qui leur tait connue. Avant
eux, le judasme avait parfois interprt lAncien Testament selon la mthode allgorique. Cest ainsi que lavait fait Philon dAlexandrie, au
moins pour linterprtation de certaines lois, celles qui pourraient sembler
dnues de sens si elles taient prises la lettre.
Dans le Nouveau Testament il ny a que Ga 4,24 qui mentionne lallgorie, mais le passage est comprendre plutt en termes de typologie, si
les personnages dont parle Paul sont considrs comme la figure des ralits futures et dfinitives. Ainsi, malgr tel dtail allgorique de Paul (par
exemple en 2Co 9,9), lallgorie nest pas rige en systme : elle nest pas
la mthode qui commande la perspective densemble. Il en va autrement
aprs la priode apostolique, chez les Pres de lglise et les auteurs mdivaux. Le document (n 20) cite des exemples dinterprtation allgorique dOrigne. Si, par cette mthode, on parvenait tirer parti de tel dtail
du texte pour un enseignement propos du Christ et des ralits chrtiennes, on vidait pratiquement le texte de son sens immdiat et linterprtation devenait arbitraire. Le texte du document est trs explicite en ce sens :
On exploitait tous les dtails susceptibles de fournir un point de contact
entre lpisode vtrotestamentaire et les ralits chrtiennes. On trouvait
ainsi, dans chaque page de lAncien Testament, des allusions directes et
spcifiques au Christ et la vie chrtienne, mais on courait le risque de
dtacher chaque dtail de son contexte et de rduire rien les rapports entre le texte biblique et la ralit concrte de lhistoire du salut. Linterprtation devenait arbitraire (n 20).
Il a donc fallu revenir au sens littral. Thomas dAquin a clairement
peru o tait le problme de linterprtation allgorique : pour dcouvrir
un sens dtermin dans un texte il avait fallu le trouver comme sens immdiat, littral, dans un autre texte de lcriture. Do sa conclusion selon
laquelle on ne peut tirer argument que du sens littral de chaque texte (surtout I, q. 1, a. 10 ad 1). Mais, bien que commenc ds le 13e sicle, ce retour au sens littral a t long simposer et il na t dcisif que lorsque
la mthode historico-critique sest impose dans lexgse biblique. Un
processus inverse a t ainsi mis en mouvement : le rapport entre lAncien
Testament et les rlits chrtiennes a t restreint un nombre limit de
textes. Aujourdhui, le risque est de tomber par l dans lexcs inverse, qui
consiste renier globalement, en mme temps que les excs de la mthode
allgorique, toute lexgse patristique et lide mme dune lecture chrtienne et christologique de lAncien Testament (n 20). Certes, des efforts
ont t amorcs pour donner linterprtation chrtienne de lAncien Tes-

242

J. LOZA VERA

tament des bases nouvelles, mais les diffrentes tentatives sont loin daboutir un consensus.
Quel serait le prsuppos ou le fondement thologique partir duquel
on pourrait laborer cette nouvelle interprtation chrtienne de lAncien
Testament ? On doit certainement le placer en ceci : le dessein salvifique
de Dieu, qui culmine dans le Christ (cf Ep 1,3-14), est unitaire, mais sest
ralis progressivement travers le temps (n 21). Laspect unitaire et
laspect graduel doivent tre maintenus ensemble. Or, si le caractre progressif est affirm, il faut ajouter que cela implique un lment de continuit sur certains points et de discontinuit sur dautres. Si lagir de Dieu
ds le dbut est comme tendu vers la plnitude finale, dfinitive, certains
aspects, qui resteront constants, se manifesteront peu peu. Cest ainsi que,
si la vie du peuple avec commenc par lexode, par la libration de la servitude en gypte, cette libration du pass sert illustrer le retour de la
captivit Babylone : cest comme un nouvel exode ; le thme de lexode
permet mme dexprimer lattente du salut eschatologique. Linterprtation chrtienne se situe dans cette ligne, mais avec la diffrence quelle
voit laccomplissement dj ralis substantiellement dans le mystre du
Christ (n 21).
De la sorte, le principe mme dun accomplissement est fondamental,
mais le document constate que cest l une notion extrmement complexe 6. Elle peut tre fausse si lon insiste trop unilatralement sur la
continuit ou sur la discontinuit, mais le principe de base se trouve l : la
foi chrtienne voit dans le Christ laccomplissement des critures et des
attentes du peuple de lancienne alliance. Or, cet accomplissement nest pas
la simple ralisation. Une telle lecture serait rductrice : elle ne pourrait
tre vrifi que trs rarement. Laccomplissement se vrifie mme dune
manire qui pourrait sembler parfaitement imprvisible, surtout parce que,
normalement parlant, il comporte un dpassement. Autrement, Jsus aurait
jou un rle parfaitement prvisible. Par exemple, il aurait assum le rle
de Messie, tel que le judasme de son temps, sur la base de lcriture, le
comprenait et sy serait accomod en tout jusqu' la fin. Mais ce nest certainement ce que Jsus a fait ; au contraire, il confre aux notions de
Messie et de salut une plnitude quon ne pouvait pas imaginer lavance
; il les remplit dune ralite nouvelle . Cest que les prophties de lAncien Testament ne sont pas comme des sortes de photographies anticipes

6. Dailleurs, comme le dclare la rfrence de la note 38, le texte du document y reviendra

par deux fois.

LANCIEN TESTAMENT DANS LGLISE

243

dvnements futurs. Tous les textes, y compris ceux qui, par la suite, ont
t lus comme des prophties messianiques, ont eu une valeur et une signification immdiates pour les contemporains, avant davoir une signification
plus pleine pour les auditeurs futurs. Le messianisme de Jsus a un sens
nouveau et indit (n 21)7.
Par ailleurs, laccomplissement des critures dans le Christ ne peut et
ne doit pour ainsi dire tre affirm aux dpens de leur lecture historique
, situe dans le temps. Lire lAncien Testament en chrtiens ne signifie
donc pas y trouver partout des rfrences directes Jsus et aux ralits
chrtiennes. Certes, pour les chrtiens, tout lconomie vtrotestamentaire
est en mouvement vers le Christ ; si donc on lit lAncien Testament la
lumire du Christ, on peut, rtrospectivement, percevoir quelque chose de
ce mouvement. Mais, comme il sagit dun mouvement, chaque vnement
et chaque texte se situent un point particulier du chemin, et une distance plus ou moins grande de son aboutissment. Les relire rtrospectivement, avec des yeux de chrtien, signifie percevoir la fois le mouvement
vers le Christ et la distance par rapport au Christ, la prfiguration et la dissemblance. Inversment, le Nouveau Testament ne peut tre pleinement
compris qu la lumire de lAncien Testament (n 21).
Cela a des consquences concrtes trs prcises. La lecture chrtienne
des textes de lAncien Testament est diffrencie : elle ne saurait tre la
mme toujous et partout. Elle est distincte et ne sobtient pas en confondant les phases successives de lhistoire du salut, la Loi et de lvangile.
Et, pour tre diffrencie, elle doit donner toute sa consistance historique
aux tapes pralables laccomplissement dans le Christ. Cest pour cela
que le rle dune exgse historique-critique est considr comme fondamental. Les termes du dynamisme, finalement, ne sont pas interchangeables, comme si lon pouvait partir indiffremment dun extrme ou de
lautre pour aboutir au mme rsultat. Non, la lecture chrtienne se fait par
dfinition partir du Christ et du Nouveau Testament, cest une perception
rtrospective ; le point de dpart ne se trouve pas dans les textes de lAncien Testament comme tels, mais dans les vnements proclams par la
prdication apostolique. On ne pourra donc pas dire que le Juif ne voit
pas ce qui tait annonc dans les textes, mais que le chrtien, la lumire

7. Je ne parle pas de la partie finale de ce numro (21), mais cela ne veut pas dire quil soit

sans intrt. On y parle notamment de la perspective du prophte (de lauteur du texte


biblique) en rapport avec la situation propre et du danger, pour nous, dune spiritualisation
unilatrale.

244

J. LOZA VERA

du Christ et dans lEsprit, dcouvre dans les textes un surplus de sens qui y
tait chach (n 21).
Si cela implique que lAncien Testament dans sa totalit doit tre lu
par et pour lui-mme, cela ne revient pas dire que nous, les chrtiens,
nous devons lire lAncien Testament exactement comme le lit le judasme.
La raison en est, selon le document que lire la Bible comme le judasme la lit implique ncessairement lacceptation de tous les prsupposs de celui-ci, cest--dire lacceptation intgrale de ce qui fait le
judasme, notamment lautorit des crits et traditions rabbiniques, qui
excluent la foi en Jsus comme Messie et Fils de Dieu (n 22). Certes,
nous, les chrtiens, nous devons admettre que la lecture juive est une
lecture possible, analogue celle qui sest dveloppe en parallle parmi
nous. La lecture juive aussi bien que la lecture chrtienne, chacune pour
sa part, sont solidaires de la vision de foi respective ; elles en sont la
fois le produit et lexpression. Cela veut donc dire que, prises dans leur
totalit, sont strictement irrductibles. Autre chose est, cependant, le problme de savoir si et comment les lecteurs chrtiens de la Bible peuvent,
pour linterprtation concrte des textes, tirer profit dune exgse juive
deux fois millnaire.
2. Cette prsentation des perspectives densemble est suivie dun inventaire de quelques thmes communs fondamentaux (n 23-65). L se
vrifie en quelque sorte ce qui a t dit dune manire gnrale. Mais,
une prsentation de tous ces thmes est impossible ici. Je vous propose
(cest un choix parmi dautres) de voir seulement ce qui touche la foi au
Messie et le problme du messianisme. Il suffit de parcourir le document
pour percevoir que ce nest mme pas lun des thmes communs fondamentaux dvelopps par le document, mais seulement une partie, la dernire, de lun dentre eux, celui de la promesse (n 62-62). Certes, on ne
peut pas procder de manire isoler ce petit ensemble du reste du document. Nous avons dj, par exemple, soulign une affirmation, capitale
pour notre propos, celle du caractre exclusif, autant de la foi chrtienne
que de la foi juive, sil est vrai que notre foi chrtienne est bien la foi en
Jsus, Messie et Fils de Dieu, ce qui est exclu par la foi juive (voir n
22). La diffrence fondamentale entre une lecture juive et une lecture
chrtienne de lAncien Testament est l : alors que, pour nous, une relation densemble avec la mission et luvre du Christ est ncessaire, une
telle lecture nentre pas dans les perspectives du judasme, pas mme
dans le cas des textes messianiques . On peut ajouter que, outre la
raison fondamentale de linterprtation de lAncien Testament en fonction du Christ, le document contient des indications parses. Cest ainsi

LANCIEN TESTAMENT DANS LGLISE

245

que, pour ne donner que cet exemple, il est question de lalliance du


Seigneur avec David. Or, il y a l un aspect des croyances dont David et
ses descendants sur le trne de Jrusalem sont au centre, puisque cette
alliance apparat comme une initiative inconditionnelle de Dieu (voir n
38 dans sa partie finale). Cest dire que nous sommes dans un terrain
assez proche de celui de la promesse, dont parle le dveloppement le
plus explicite.
On ne saurait nier limportance du thme du Messie et du messianisme. Pour notre foi chrtienne, Jsus est le Messie promis par Dieu.
Cest ce que dclare le titre de Xristos traduction de jyvm ; Jsus est le
roi promis et que le Seigneur tablit sur son peuple en lui confrant
lonction royale. Autre chose serait de savoir si le rle central que nous
attribuons ce titre est proportionne celle quil avait dans les textes de
lAncien Testament.
Quoi quil en soit, le document situe ce thme exactement comme
expression de lesprance dun monde meilleur. Parce que la mdiation
humaine en vue dune meilleure situation pour le peuple de Dieu, pour sa
restauration si ncessaire, est garantie par Dieu lui-mme, il y a dans ce
thme une promesse divine caractristique. On pourra discuter le fait de
savoir si lon devait commencer avec la citation du Ps 72 et donc en
parlant dabord du roi idal qui libre de loppression et instaure une
justice parfaite (n 62). Pour ma part, je croirais que, si lon doit commencer par ce qui serait un terrain plus ferme, historiquemente parlant,
on doit commencer par le point dattache incontournable quest le prophte Isae au moment de la crise des conqutes assyriennes (environ
740-701).
Isae est bel et bien celui par qui nous savons que lidologie royale
de Juda avait dj acquis des caractristiques propres ; elles sont exprimes surtout dans ses deux interventions auprs dAchaz (Is 7,1-17), ce
qui nous situe dans le contexte de la guerre syro-phramite (autour
de 732)8, mais je parlerai ici surtout de la premire partie de ce texte.
Devant la menace des Assyriens, les rois de Damas et dIsral voulaient
former une coallition pour sopposer lAssyrie. En raison de la rsistance dAchaz, ils se tournent contre lui pour lobliger de force en se
proposant de mettre le sige Jrusalem. Que la peur soit la raction
devant la nouvelle de linvasion (v. 2), nest que normal. Le prophte

8. Je rsume rapidement mon article El mesianismo del orculo del Emmanuel en su

contexto (Is 7,1-17), en Anmnesis, I/1, 1991, 41-66.

246

J. LOZA VERA

Isae intervient alors pour assurer Achaz que ce nest pas le moment
davoir peur et moins encore devant ces deux bouts de tisons fumants
(v. 4). La garantie du Seigneur est formelle : Cela ne tiendra pas, cela
ne sera pas (v. 7). Mais, quest-ce que cela ? Ce sont les projets des
deux rois ennemis, des projets humains qui sopposent au dessein de
Dieu. Si nous prcisons les choses, le dessein bien arrt des rois de
Damas et dIsral tait dy tablir comme roi le fils de Tabeel, quelquun qui seconderait leurs plans (v. 6), peut-tre mme qui nappartenait pas la dynastie de David9. Le Seigneur refuse le plan des hommes
en tant quil soppose son propre dessein. La raison est exprime en
8a et 9a : Damas et Isral ont des capitales qui, leur tour, ont des
chefs mis en place par les hommes ou qui sont les hritiers dautres
hommes, mais il nen va pas ainsi pour Jrusalem. Lexpression omet en
quelque sorte le terme de lopposition, savoir La tte de Juda est
Jrusalem et la tte de Jrusalem est le fils de David 10. On pourrait
mme songer proposer Yahv et non pas le fils de David , mais
mme ainsi on ne saurait se tromper : cela revient dire que le trne de
Jrusalem est occup par quelquun qui est roi de par la volont de
Dieu. Or, cela vient dune promesse de Dieu lui-mme. Si le prophte
ne le dit pas explicitement, nous pouvons supposer que cette promesse
est, pour Juda, un fait traditionnel et le fondement mme de lexistence
du royaume.
On le voit, je dois partiellement corriger mon affirmation : Isae nest
pas le dbut absolu de lidologie royale de Juda. Ce passage suppose
autre chose, sans doute loracle de Nathan, mais nous y reviendrons. Pour
le moment je complte les rapides observations propos dIs 7,1-9. Ce
texte exprime donc clairement lide selon laquelle Dieu a promis que le
trne de Jrusalem serait occup par un descendant de David. Il y a l
une promesse inconditionnelle et cest le Seigneur, et lui seul, qui garantit laccomplissement de la promesse. Certes, il exige quelque chose, surtout la rponse adquate de la part de celui en qui actuellement se ralise
la promesse divine. Do la menace (v. 9b) contre celui qui ne donne pas

9. On a pu prtendre que le Tabeel du texte serait exactement le roi Tubail de Tyr, ce qui

montrerait bien que les coalliss pensaient quelquun qui ntait pas issu de la dynastie
davidique. Voir A. Vanel, Tabeel en Is 7,6 et le roi Tubail de Tyr, dans Studies on
Prophecy (VTS XXVI), Leiden, 1974, 17-24.
10. Cest la proposition dO. Procksch. Voir H. Wildberger, Jesaja, I (BK X/1), Neukirchen,
19802, 273.

LANCIEN TESTAMENT DANS LGLISE

247

cette rponse, qui semble ne pas croire dans la promesse et qui, par consquent, semble douter que le Seigneur soit celui qui est l pour raliser
sa promesse. Que le Seigneur soit l, cest ce qui dira la deuxime intervention dIsae au moyen du nom symbolique : parce que Dieu donne un
successeur la maison de David, on peut tre parfaitement sr de sa
prsence et de sa protection sans faille. Oui, dans la naissance dun descendant de David on doit voir le signe quil est vraiment Immanuel,
Dieu-avec-nous (v. 14).
Si Isae est une sorte de point fixe historique pour la promesse de
Yahv concernant la dynastie de David, il dpend dune tradition antrieure. Or, celle-ci est trouver dans loracle de Nathan (2S 7,8-17) et
ses relectures (surtout 1Chr 17,7-15 et Ps 89). Mais ces textes, ou mme
seulement 2S 7 posent beaucoup de problmes quil est impossible de
traiter ici. Je dirais seulement que, si le texte sous sa forme dfinitive,
actuelle, est probablement assez tardif, lensemble na pas t pour ainsi
dire invent ; les diffrents chos sexpliquent au mieux dans lhypothse
dune origine relativement ancienne (antrieure Isae) du noyau de loracle. Or, si David voulait btir une maison pour Yahv, pour larche (v. 2)
et si Nathan lencourage dans son projet (v. 3), ce que Dieu lui fait savoir
est que cest plutt lui, Yahv, qui btira une maison David (v. 11b).
Cela implique essentiellement quil y aura toujours quelquun issu de lui
qui occupera le trne de Jrusalem (v. 12). Pour cela, il y aura une relation spciale du descendant de David avec Yahv : Je serai pour lui un
pre et il sera pour moi un fils (v. 14a). Cette promesse est inconditionnelle (v. 15) et, le texte ajoute, se maintiendra indfiniment, pour toujours (v. 16). Cest pourquoi on attribue David la parole selon laquelle
ce serait une alliance ternelle , propos de laquelle il ajoute quelle
est bien assre (2S 23,5).
Cest cette promesse qui est la base des psaumes royaux et des textes
messianiques, surtout des prophtes. Or, si le roi davidique est fils un
titre spcial, les psaumes royaux pourront se tenir peu prs aux donnes
de loracle de Nathan (ainsi Ps 89,27-28), mais on pourra touta aussi bien
lexprimer presque en des termes mythiques (surtout Ps 2 et 110) et telle
expression, par exemple celle du Ps 2,7, permettra un jour dexprimer une
ralit plus profonde : celle de notre foi en Jsus, vrai Fils de Dieu, glorifi
auprs du Pre aprs sa rsurrection dentre les morts. Ce v. 7 est explicitement cit par Act 13,33 et Hb 1,5 comme promesse divine qui devait saccomplir en Jsus.
Mais, avant dy arriver, il semble opportun de signaler rapidement le
dveloppement du messianisme dans lAncien Testament. Cest indniable-

248

J. LOZA VERA

ment une simplification qui ne signale que les quelques grandes tapes,
mais je proposerais ceci :
1 un moment que nous ne saurions pas prciser avant Isae lon
attribue la promesse dynastique un oracle que Yahv fait savoir David
travers Nathan : Dieu promet quil y aura toujours un descendant de
David qui le succdera sur le trne de Jrusalem. Une assurance donne
dans un moment de crise par tel autre prophte, comme Isae (7,1-17),
contribue donner une grande force la promesse. Le roi de Jrusalem,
descendant de David, est en relation spciale avec Yahv : il est fils .
Que la promesse dynastique soit en rapport avec lide de la prsence
immdiate de Yahv dans le temple de Jrusalem et que de l dcoule
lide de linviolabilit de Jrusalem est une chose sur laquelle je nai
pas insister.
2 Loracle de Nathan a t relu maintes fois avant lexil babylonien.
Is 7,1-17 est l pour nous dire que cela a pu se faire surtout aux moments
de crise. Que de telles priodes (crise assyrienne, puis crise babylonienne)
aient pu avoir une signification spciale est la base pour situer autour du
rgne de Josias les grands oracles non isaens du livre dIsae, notamment
9,1-6 et 11,1-9.
3 Historiquement parlant, la dynastie davidique disparat avec la
conqute babylonienne et ne sera, historiquement parlant, jamais rtablie. Est-ce que le Seigneur a t infidle sa promesse, peut on sen
plaindre (voir Ps 89,39ss) ? Mais une autre explication voit dans linfidlit humaine la raison du dsastre. Si dsastre terrible il y a, ce que
Dieu a une fois promis il doit certainement le raliser un jour. Il ne
retire jamais ses promesses. On comprend ds lors la rflexion qui se
fait pendant et aprs lexil babylonien : le Seigneur restaurera Jrusalem
; il ne pourra, en particulier, que raliser les faveurs promises David
(Is 55,3). Si cela est vrai, on comprend que les prophtes du retour de
lexil, Agge et Zacharie (1-8), puissent annoncer la prochaine restauration de la dynastie. Que ce moment ait eu aussi une grande importance
pour rassembler et mme amplifier les oracles messianiques est fort comprhensible.
4 Mais la restauration ne viendra pas. Cest alors, au cours des sicles entre 500 et le sicle 1er de notre re, que saffermit la foi dans la
restauration future : la restauration du peuple peut passer par la mdiation humaine de loint de Yahv, du Messie descendant de David. Le
Messie sera le roi idal (Ps 72), celui par qui la paix et la justice seront
fermement tablies au sein du peuple de Dieu. Mais, que la foi du judasme contemporain ntait pas ce quen ont fait Jsus et les commu-

LANCIEN TESTAMENT DANS LGLISE

249

nauts chrtiennes primitives est lvidence mme. Un indice de cela est


la rticence de Jsus utiliser le titre de Messie pour dcrire sa mission.
Certes, il est le Messie, le Fils du Dieu vivant , comme Pierre le
confesse Csare de Philippe (Mt 16,16 ; voir Mc 8,29 ; Lc 9,20) ;
cela tant vrai, il ne peut venir que dune rvlation du Pre (Mt 16,17),
mais la pleine comprhension des implications de ce fait passe par la
passion et la mort (cf. Mt 16,21ss) et cela est incomprhensible pour la
foi du judasme.
Deux passages de lvangile de Jean le soulignent : aprs la multiplication des pains, Jsus se cache sachant quils voulaient le faire roi (Jn
6,15). Ce quil fait est fort comprhensible daprs la foi du judasme : le
reconnatre comme roi signifiait lui donner une mission politique devant
lodieux occupant qutait Rome. Plus tard, dans linterrogatoire devant
Pilate, Jsus prcisera les choses. Tout commence par une question, et
elle est trs directe, pose par Pilate : Tu est le roi des Juifs ? (Jn
19,33). Pilate a pos cette question sur la base dune accusation de la part
des notables juifs (v. 34), mais il est important surtout de souligner la
rponse de Jsus. Or, Jsus donne en fait une double rponse. En effet, il
affirme dune part, que son royaume nest pas un parmi dautres, nest
pas un royaume dici-bas (vv. 36) ; si ctait le cas, les siens auraient t
obligs prendre les armes et se battre pour leur roi. Pilate alors de
retorquer Donc, tu es roi ? Oui, Tu le dis : Je suis roi (v. 37),
rpond alors Jsus. Mais ce quil ajoute, quil est venu pour rendre
tmoignage la vrit , est certainement quelque chose que Pilate ne
pouvait pas comprendre. Or, ce que Pilate na pas pu comprendre est ce
que nous tenons dans la foi : que Jsus, vrai homme, est aussi vrai Fils
de Dieu venu dans le monde pour manifester que Dieu reste fidle et
quil manifeste sa fidlit en lenvoyant dans le monde pour instaurer
parmi nous le royaume mme de Dieu. Voil pourquoi lobjet de la prdication chrtienne consiste annoncer que Jsus est le Messie (cf Act
18,28).
On le voit jai introduit ici un aperu assez gnral du messianisme
au lieu de commenter directement le passage du document (n 62-63). Ce
faisant, je nai pas cit tous les textes, de lAncien et du Nouveau Testament, que cite le document. Mais cest pour souligner autrement la conclusion du document ce propos : Au regard du Nouveau Testament,
Jsus relise donc en sa personne, tout spcialement par son mystre pascal, lensemble des promesses de salut lies la venue du Messie. Il est
Fils de David, mais aussi Serviteur souffrant, Fils de lhomme, et mme
Fils ternel de Dieu. En lui le salut revt une dimension nouvelle. Lac-

250

J. LOZA VERA

cent se dplace dun salut surtout terrestre vers un salut transcendant, qui
dpasse les conditions dexistence temporelle. Il sadresse ainsi toute
personne, lhumanit entire (n 63). En tout cas, la richesse du document, ici comme ailleurs, est dcouvrir par la lecture et la mditation
personnelles. Jespre que les indications, trs limites, que jai pu donner, seront une invitation le faire.
Jos Loza Vera, op
cole Biblique et Archologique Franaise, Jrusalem

LA BIBLE AU RISQUE
DE LA LECTURE ET DE LA RELECTURE*

J.-M. Poffet

Deux points dhermneutique scripturaire ont plus particulirement retenu


mon attention. Le premier concerne la perspective fondamentale de la lecture chrtienne de lAncien Testament, le second part dune question de
traduction pour rejoindre l encore un enjeu plus global de la relation des
chrtiens au peuple juif dans le contexte des crits du Nouveau Testament.
Le document de la Commission biblique pontificale comporte 3 parties
dingale longueur. La premire prsente les saintes critures du peuple juif
comme tant une partie fondamentale de la bible chrtienne. Dans ldition franaise que jai sous les yeux, cela reprsente un peu moins quune
cinquantaine de pages (nn. 1-18). Il faut y ajouter la prface, mes yeux,
trs importante, du card. Ratzinger qui souligne les enjeux de la relecture
chrtienne de lAncien Testament: autrement dit la ncessit de revisiter la
lecture patristique et typologique pratique par lglise ancienne, quitte
le faire nouveaux frais, et sans pour autant rejeter lapport indispensable
de lexgse moderne. La question est celle de larticulation. Jy joindrais
encore les nn. 19-22 de la seconde partie prcisant les enjeux et les travers
de la mthode allgorique, et surtout de la typologie de la lecture de lAncien Testament oriente vers les ralits du Nouveau Testament.
La seconde partie est la plus longue: une centaine de pages (numros 1965) consacre lenracinement des thmes no-testamentaires dans les textes
vtro-testamentaires. Une partie qui parat plus statique et aurait pu souligner
davantage encore le rle du lecteur dans la construction du sens.
La troisime partie, plus brve nouveau (nn. 66-83), prsente les Juifs dans
le Nouveau Testament. Cest ce propos que nous interviendrons quant la traduction dun texte paulinien. Le document se termine sur une brve conclusion.

Enjeux hermneutiques dune lecture chrtienne de lAncien Testament


La notion daccomplissement est fondamentale pour exprimer les rapports
de lAncien et du Nouveau Testament. Quelle est alors la place et la porte
* Ce text a t lu Jrusalem au colloque Il popolo ebraico e le sue sacre Scritture nella

Bibbia Cristiana, le 8 avril 2002.


LA 51 (2001) 251-257

252

J.-M. POFFET

de lAncien Testament? Les chrtiens ont souvent donn le sentiment que


toute lecture en dehors de cet accomplissement devenait illgitime. Le document a le mrite de prciser ce point en deux directions: dune part, le Christ
est bien le foyer lumineux dinterprtation des critures. Cest de lui que
lon part, qutant ce qui, dune manire ou dune autre, lannonce dans les
critures (cf. Lc 24): une relecture christologique, que la tradition aimera
dailleurs dployer aussi en cl sapientielle ou eschatologique. Il sagit
dune perception rtrospective, dont le point de dpart ne se situe pas dans
les textes comme tels, mais dans les vnements du Nouveau Testament (n.
21). Cest mme une diffrence fondamentale par rapport au midrash juif: le
point de dpart ici nest plus lcriture, mais lvnement christologique qui
invite relire et mettre en rapport les textes de lcriture.
Mais dautre part, la lecture juive de ces mmes textes reste une lecture
possible, valide et mme fructueuse. Les crits du Nouveau Testament reconnaissent que les critures du peuple juif ont une valeur permanente de
rvlation divine (n. 8). Comment alors expliquer le texte en apparence si
svre de S. Paul en 2Co 3,14? En possession dune telle assurance, nous
nous comportons avec beaucoup dassurance, et non comme Mose, qui
mettait un voile sur son visage pour empcher les fils dIsral de voir la fin
de ce qui est passager Mais leur entendement sest obscurci. Jusqu ce
jour en effet, lorsquon lit lAncien Testament, ce mme voile demeure. Il
nest point retir; car cest le Christ qui le fait disparatre. Oui, jusqu ce
jour, toutes les fois quon lit Mose, un voile est pos sur leur cur. Cest
quand on se convertit au Seigneur que le voile est enlev (2Co 3,12-16). Le
document aborde de front la questionen soulignant que linterprtation nouvelle nabolit pas le sens originaire (n. 19). Lorsquil parle dun aveuglement des Juifs concernant la lecture de lAncien Testament (2Co 3,14), ce
nest pas dune complte incapacit de lecture quil veut parler, mais dune
incapacit de re-lecture la lumire du Christ (ibid.). Il faut cependant
reconnatre que la reprsentation de la synagogue en femme aux yeux voils
au portique de nos cathdrales a donn aux chrtiens le sentiment dun peuple juif compltement aveugl. Il convient de rappeler la splendide formule
de S. Jrme: typus partem indicat1: lvnement vtro-testamentaire que
le juif dcouvre et commente dans ses critures est porteur de sens, sa lecture est valide, riche de sens et fructueuse, mais (pour le chrtien qui relit le
mme texte partir du Christ), cest une lecture qui ne va pas jusqu labou1. In Osee III,11,1.2: CCL 76,122,87 (cit par P. Jay, S. Jrme et Lun et lautre Testa-

ment, in: P. Bovati - R. Meynet [sous la dir. de], Ouvrir les Ecritures. Mlanges offerts
Paul Beauchamp loccasion de ses soixante-dix ans [LD 162], Paris 1995, 375).

LA BIBLE AU RISQUE DE LA LECTURE ET DE LA RELECTURE

253

tissement. Nous appelons dficience, crit le P. Beauchamp, ce qui, dans la


figure, dsigne son non-accomplissement2.
Cela entrane encore une autre consquence: si cest le texte lu et surtout relu la lumire du mystre pascal qui souvre de nouvelles dimensions, il ny a donc pas lieu daccuser celui qui ne partage pas cette lecture
dinintelligence, pire: de mauvaise volont. Il y a donc lieu de renoncer
linstance excessive, caractristique dune certaine apologtique sur la valeur de preuve attribue laccomplissement des prophties (n. 21).
Le document aborde aussi la question de lallgorie et de la typologie.
Alors que lallgorie dgnre souvent en jeux verbaux, dcouvrant le mystre du Christ dans les moindres dtails du texte vtro-testamentaire, la
typologie a une autre porte. Il sagit de dcouvrir au creux des textes, plus
encore des vnements, comme en creux lannonce dun accomplissement.
Toujours en se souvenant que cette perception est grce, et fruit de la lecture
dans le Christ et sous sa conduite. Le document, fidle en cela lexgse
moderne trs soucieuse de fonder sa lecture sur le sens littral, dnonce les
excs de lallgorie, mme si elle a donn lieu de fructueuses lectures dans
la priode patristique. Il souligne aussi le fait que le sens nouveau nabolit
pas le sens originaire. Il sappuie notamment sur la ncessit de prendre en
compte le sens littral si lon veut pouvoir argumenter.
Jaimerais ici faire deux remarques: la premire pour noter, avec le Document, que le Docteur Anglique rejette de fait une allgorie purement verbale
qui rendrait toute pratique thologique prcise impossible, si chaque mot peut
signifier une autre ralit de manire arbitraire (cf. le document au n. 20 qui
renvoie la Somme Thologique Ia , qu. 1, a. 10, ad 1um et au Quodl. VII).
Mais la position de Thomas dAquin est en fait beaucoup plus nuance
si lon prend en compte lensemble du passage3. Dans le corps de larticle
il prcise la spcificit du langage thologique portant sur les ralits salvifiques: Alors que dans toutes les sciences ce sont les mots qui ont valeur
significative, celle-ci (lcriture) a en propre que les choses mmes signifies par les mots employs signifient leur tour quelque chose. La premire signification, celle par laquelle les mots signifient certaines choses,
correspond au premier sens, qui est le sens historique ou littral. La signification par laquelle les choses signifies par les mots signifient encore
dautres choses, cest ce quon appelle le sens spirituel, qui est fond sur le
2. Lun et lautre Testament. T. 2: Accomplir les critures, Paris 1990, 234.
3. Cf. M. Aillet, Lire la Bible avec S. Thomas. Le passage de la littera la res dans la

Somme thologique (Studia Friburgensia N.S. 80), Fribourg Suisse 1993, et notre rsum
de la position de S. Thomas dans notre ouvrage: Les chrtiens et la Bible, Paris 1998, 7989 (Thomas dAquin et les sens de lcriture).

254

J.-M. POFFET

sens littral et le suppose. Et voil qu la fin du passage, il finit par accepter, la suite de S. Augustin, la pluralit des sens de lcriture! mme
si cest dans un sens bien prcis: Comme dautre part le sens littral est
celui que lauteur entend signifier, et comme lauteur de lcriture sainte
est Dieu, qui comprend simultanment toutes choses dans la simple saisie
de son intelligence, il ny a pas dobstacle dire, la suite de S. Augustin
(Conf., XII,31) que selon le sens littral, mme dans une seule lettre de
lcriture, il y a plusieurs sens. (Ia, q.1,a.10, resp.). Sil rejette lquivocit verbale, il peut accepter une pluralit du sens littral mais fonde
sur la richesse de sens des vnements eux-mmes, orients mystrieusement par Dieu vers le Christ, vers la conversion des curs, vers la vie ternelle (do la triple lecture christologique et en dpendance delle, tropologique et anagogique, pratique par les Pres). Avec S. Grgoire, cit dans
le sed contra et dont le texte est lgrement modifi, S. Thomas peut inviter dcouvrir ce que fait lcriture: partir dun FAIT, elle rvle un
MYSTRE (dum narrat gestum, prodit mysterium).
Le document prcise bien que le sens chrtien ne supprime pas le sens
originaire (n. 48). Il ne prcise pas, en revanche, quel est ce sens originaire.
Cest le mrite du cardinal Ratzinger de poser clairement la question dans
la Prface au document. Sagit-il purement et simplement du sens historique privilgi par lexgse moderne? Ou ne faut-il pas dire plutt que le
renouveau de lhermneutique, des sciences du langage et des sciences historiques elles-mmes invitent nuancer et prciser ce que lon entend par
sens historique. Expliquer un texte par son environnement, son arrirefond, les circonstances historiques est une part de la tche, et une part indispensable lapproche dun texte du pass. Linterprtation est cependant
plus exigeante, surtout quand il sagit dun texte religieux, qui plus est, inscrit dans un Canon dcritures et une longue histoire. Lvnement pascal
et les textes du Nouveau Testament qui le rapportent et linterprtent jettent une nouvelle lumire sur les vnements et les textes de lAncien Testament. Sil faut respecter le sens originaire, il ne faut pas non plus cantonner lexgse dans les premires tapes du parcours, dans la premire apprhension des vnements. Il y a donc pour ainsi dire un excs de sens
disponible et cach dans les plis de lvnement historique et que le lecteur postrieur pourra rvler: soit parce que dautres vnements auront
modifi la position du lecteur (pensons la nouvelle situation hermneutique des traducteurs de la Septante qui interprtent plus encore quils traduisent, donnant souvent un srieux coup de pouce aux textes, en direction
de lattente messianique, par exemple), soit parce quil est parvenu aux
frontires de laccomplissement. La lecture chrtienne correspond donc

LA BIBLE AU RISQUE DE LA LECTURE ET DE LA RELECTURE

255

une potentialit de sens cache au cur des textes et des vnements. Le


document le reconnat (n. 64) mais je tenais prciser la position de Thomas dAquin, dautant plus quelle va dans le sens de la requte profonde
de largumentation. Elle invite aussi une lecture dynamique de lEcriture
Sainte, oriente vers le dvoilement des mystres dans le Christ.

Une traduction inexacte


Nous en venons ici la troisime partie du document, celle qui aborde la
prsentation des Juifs dans les diffrents corpus et crits du Nouveau Testament. Et plus particulirement au fameux texte de la premire ptre de
Paul aux Thessaloniciens (2,14-15)particulirement rude, tel point que
beaucoup dexgtes le considrent comme une insertion tardive, le jugeant
incompatible avec la perspective si positive de Rm 911. Quoi quil en soit
de lhistoire du texte, on peut au moins noter que lvolution de Paul va de
cette premire raction de souffrance et de colre un expos plein
damour pour son peuple expos plus serein et la porte thologique
beaucoup plus grande. Lvolution va dans ce sens et non dans lautre.
Mais venons-en la traduction du passage: Paul dit aux chrtiens de
Thessalonique quils ont subir de leurs compatriotes les mmes traitements quils ont soufferts de la part des Juifs. Nous tenons ici la traduction
mot mot: (Juifs) ayant mis mort le Seigneur Jsus et les prophtes, et
nous ayant perscuts, et ne plaisant pas Dieu et tant opposs tous les
hommes, nous empchant de prcher aux paens afin quils soient sauvs. On aura not la construction de cette longue phrase participiale.
Les participes sont relis par un ET jusquau dernier reproche: opposs
tous les hommes qui est lui-mme immdiatement suivi dun participe
nous empchant de prcher aux paens, ce qui quivaut ici une proposition temporelle (lorsquils nous empchent de prcher aux paens).
Cest bien ainsi que lavait compris et traduit la Vulgate: et omnibus
hominibus adversantur prohibentes nos gentibus loqui ut salvae fiant. De
mme la Bible de Jrusalem: Ils sont ennemis de tous les hommes quand
ils nous empchent de prcher aux paens pour leur salut, et la traduction
anglaise (RSV 1952): and displease God and oppose all men by hindering
us from speaking to the Gentiles that they may be saved, ou (Standard
Version): and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: forbidding
us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved. La plupart des traductions espagnoles sont exactes : no agradan a Dios sino que son contrarios a todos los hombres (ou se oponen a todos los hombres), impidin-

256

J.-M. POFFET

donos hablar a los gentiles para que se salven (B.J., La Biblia, La Casa de
la Biblia, La Bibbia de las Americas etc.).
En revanche, le reproche devient absolu dans beaucoup dautres traductions rcentes.
TOB: Ils ne plaisent pas Dieu et sont ennemis de tous les hommes,
ils nous empchent de prcher aux paens pour les sauver. Le fait de
navoir pas respect la subordination dune proposition lautre rend le
reproche absolu: les Juifs sont ennemis de tous les hommes!
Einheitsbersetzung: Sie missfallen Gott und sind Feinde aller Menschen;
sie hindern uns daran, den Heiden das Evangelium zu verknden .
Venons-en aux traductions italiennes: essi non piacciono a Dio e sono
nemici a tutti gli uomini; e ci impediscono di predicare alle genti affinch
si salvino (trad. ital. edit. paoline 1995). La traduction de la CEI (Confr.
piscopale italienne) en usage pour la catchse et la liturgie avait un texte
correct dans ldition de 1971: sono nemici di tutti gli uomini, impedendo a noi di predicare . La seconde dition de 1997 a modifi et est
retombe dans la traduction malheureuse prcite: e sono nemici di
tutti gli uomini. Essi impediscono a noi di predicare .
Cest dautant plus regrettable dans ce document puisque le commentaire
est juste, qui prcise bien que le reproche fait aux Juifs nest pas absolu mais
bien cadr. Une note prcise que opposs tous les hommes et ne plaisent
pas Dieu renvoient lanimosit qui slevait contre les Juifs (332 au num.
80) (cf. Est 3,13e LXX et le fameux dit de Tacite (Histoire 5,5) prtant aux Juifs
une haine dennemis contre tous les hommes. Et la note de conclure: le
point de vue de Paul est trs diffrent. Les formules de Paul ont lapparence
dtre globalisantes et dattribuer la culpabilit de la mort de Jsus tous les
Juifs sans distinction; lantijudasme les prend en ce sens. Mais replaces dans
leur contexte, elles ne visent que les Juifs qui sopposent la prdication aux
paens et donc au salut de ces derniers. Lorsque cesse cette opposition, cesse
aussi laccusation. (ibid., n. 80). Je suis totalement daccord, mais cela apparatrait beaucoup mieux avec une traduction plus exacte. Que lon me permette
de souhaiter que cette traduction fautive soit rvise dans la TOB et les diffrentes traductions des bibles et lectionnaires. Ce qui parat un dtail nen est
pas un, puisque prcisment Paul ne rpercute pas purement et simplement le
slogan anti-juif de lantiquit.
Jean-Michel Poffet, op
cole Biblique et Archologique Franaise, Jrusalem

THE CRUSADER CHURCH


OF ST. MARY IN EL-BIRA

Y. Magen

I. Introduction
To the east of the Jerusalem-Shechem road, some 15 km to the north of
Jerusalem, in the center of the Arab village of el-Bira, is a Crusader church
(map ref. 1705/1583) that was constructed in the village of Birra, or Magna Mahomeria (the great Mohammedan shrine), a reference to the Muslim religious structure located there. Close to the church are a large
caravanserai and a hospital, that apparently were also erected in the Crusader period.1 Written sources relate that next to the church stood a stone
cross built on seven steps, from which the Crusaders could see the Tower
of David that dominated the Jerusalem skyline. To the south of the church
is a mosque.
Some scholars sought to identify el-Bira, and especially Ras el-Tahune,
the site to the west of the Jerusalem-Shechem road, with the biblical
Beeroth, one of the four Gibeonite cities (Joshua 9:17).2
1. See: V. Gurin, Description gographique, historique et archologique de la Palestine,
Jude, III, Paris 1869, 7-13; Idem, Description gographique, historique et archologique
de la Palestine, Samarie, I, Paris 1874-1875, 205; Idem, La Terre Sainte. Jrusalem et le
nord de la Jude, Paris 1897, 322-323; M. Benvenisti, The Cities and Sites of the Land of
Israel in the Crusader Period, Kardom 35-36 (1984) 150-151 (Hebrew); M. de Vogu, Les
glises de la Terre Sainte, Paris 1860, 38-39; C.R. Conder and H.H. Kitchener, The Survey
of Western Palestine. III: Judaea, London 1883, 88-89; C. Enlart, Les monuments des
croiss dans le Royaume de Jrusalem, Architecture religieuse et civile. II: Texte, Paris
1928, 274-277; F.-M. Abel, Topographie des campagnes machabennes, RB 33 (1924)
383, Fig. 4; Idem, Les deux Mahomerie. El-Bireh, El-Qubeibeh, RB 35 (1926) 272-275;
D. Pringle, The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom: A Corpus, I, Cambridge 1993, 161165; archives of the Mandatory Department of Antiquities, El-Bira; I am grateful to the
Israel Antiquities Authority for the use of the archival material and photographs published
in this article.
2. See: Y. Magen and I. Finkelstein (eds.), Archaeological Survey of the Hill Country of
Benjamin, Jerusalem 1993, Ras es-Tahune, pp. 77-77 (site no. 73); el-Bira, church, p.
163 (site no. 178) (Hebrew, English abstracts); Z. Kallai-Kleinmann, An Attempt to Determine the Location of Beeroth, EI 3 (1954) 111-115 (Hebrew); M. Avi-Yonah,
Beeroth, Enziklopedyah Mikrait (Encyclopaedia Biblica), 2, Jerusalem 1954, cols. 8-9
(Hebrew); E. Grant, Ramallah - Signs of the Early Occupation of This and Other Sites,
PEF 59 (1926) 186-195.
LA 51 (2001) 257-266; Pls. 1-6

258

Y. MAGEN

Fig. 1. Remains of the Crusader church in el-Bira, ca. 1880 (from: C.W. Wilson,
Picturesque Palestine [London 1882]).

In the nineteenth century the church was still standing almost in its
entirety, including part of the roof (Fig. 1), as is attested by travelers of
the period.3 A portion of the church apparently was dismantled during the
First World War, in order to build a bridge for the road to Ramallah.
Photographs from the archives of the Mandatory Antiquities Department
show that a few of the churchs walls still stood in 1937 (Photos 1-2).
The disintegration of the church did not cease afterwards, and today only
its lower courses remain.
The excavations of the church were conducted under the direction of
the author intermittently during the years 1987-1991.4

3. See n. 1, above.
4. The excavations were conducted on behalf of the Archaeology Staff Officer in the Civil

Administration of Judea and Samaria, with the participation of the workers from the
Ramallah antiquities office: Nicola Anter, Abdal Rahim Awad, Salah Udla, and Wahid
Zeidan. Surveying and reconstruction: Yevgeny Merman; photographs: Shlomi Amami.

THE CRUSADER CHURCH OF ST. MARY IN EL-BIRA

259

Fig. 2. Plan of the church. Longitudinal west-east section of the building. Transverse north-south section of the apses.

260

Y. MAGEN

II. Description of the church


The church is a longitudinal structure, with an external length of 37.80 m
and width of 22.20 m; its internal length is 26.60 m, and its width 16.80 m.
The width of the nave is 4.80 m and that of the aisle is 3.80 m. The flanking apses are 3.80 m in diameter, and that of the middle apse 4.20 m (Figs.
2-3; Photo 3). The church has a single entrance in its western side, from
which three steps descend to the church pavement. The ground where the
church was to be built was leveled before construction began.
The unusually thick (2.70 m) church walls are built of two rows of
medium-sized soft limestone blocks that are finely smoothed on their interior face, while the outer side is more coarsely dressed. Between the blocks
is a fill of small stones and whitish cement. The walls are preserved to a
height of only 5-6 courses, in marked contrast to the nearly complete structure that stood here in the early twentieth century. It is noteworthy that the
building stones in the western part are larger than those in the eastern section of the structure. Masons marks appear on some of the stones.5
In some places the excavations uncovered rock-cut foundation trenches
in which the walls were set. The level of the nave is lower than that of the
chancel and the apses.
Based on the lowest even course of the walls and the level of the steps,
it may be assumed that the pavement of the church, which has not been
preserved, was made of paving stones. Also possible, however, is that the
pavement was of plaster, that was applied directly to the bedrock without a
layer of fill.
The churchs three apses are a feature which is quite common among
contemporaneous Crusader churches. Their outer side is also round. The
middle apse is large, while the other two are smaller (Photos 4-6). The floor
of the apse is some 40 cm higher than that of the chancel at its foot. Each
apse had an upper window and two rectangular alcoves 75 cm high, 45 cm
wide, and 55 cm deep surrounded by a ed frame, in which the wood frame
of the door apparently was set. The alcoves are preserved in the southern
apse; the alcoves in the middle and northern apses are visible in the photographs taken before the ruin of the church.6
5. See: C. Clermont-Ganneau, Archaeological Researches in Palestine During the Years

1873-1874, I, London 1896, 26.


6. See: D. Bahat and G. Solar, Une glise croise rcemment dcouverte Jrusalem, RB

85 (1978) 72-80 ; D. Bahat and G. Solar, A Newly-Found Crusader Church in Jerusalem,


in: Z. Kedar and Z. Baras (eds.), Jerusalem in the Middle Ages. Selected Papers, Jerusalem
1979, 347-356 (Hebrew). Rectangular cells similar to those uncovered at el-Bira, of undetermined purpose, were discovered in this church; see: op cit., n. 10.

THE CRUSADER CHURCH OF ST. MARY IN EL-BIRA

261

Fig. 3. Reconstruction of the church.

The side apses were roofed with semi-domes of well-dressed stone


blocks that extended from a simply tooled running cornice. The central
apse ended at two piers consisting of half-columns with pilaster drums in
the wall that stood on a raised base (Photo 7). The middle apse was almost
twice as high as the ones on the sides. Over the lower piers additional ones
were built, above which in turn is a running cornice. The shafts were
topped by Crusader leaf and volute capitals, a sort of degenerate Corinthian
capital. At the foot of the apses was a 7 m wide chancel that extended the
width of the church and ended at a screen or wall that separated it from the
nave. There most probably were two stairs on the northern side that ascended from the nave to the chancel.
Two rows of three-column groups divided the interior of the church into
a nave and two aisles. The first two groups stood on the chancel, and therefore some 40 cm above the nave floor. Each group of columns was an integrated unit with a square or cruciform base, 2.10 m to a side. Each unit
was composed of four pilasters that stood on a finely-dressed 40 cm-high
ashlar base with open ends (Photo 8). Each of the four corners had four
semi-bases meshing with one another to compose a cruciform shape. Round
semi-columns constructed of drums topped by pseudo-Corinthian capitals
rested on the bases. Above these columns were arches and an additional

262

Y. MAGEN

row of columns and capitals that supported the roof. The two column
groups closest to the church entrance were different from the rest: the bases
of the semi-columns rested directly on the bedrock (Photos 11). The reason for this difference has not been determined: it may have been the result of aesthetic considerations, and not due to height differentials.
The pilasters flanking the middle apse and those alongside the chancel
are fashioned similarly to those that separated the nave from the aisles, but
only one fourth the size. The semi-bases rest on a sort of plinth, and above
them are semicircular pillars composed of drums (Photos 9). They were
topped by the capitals, above which was a protruding cornice that bore
pointed arches. The protruding pilasters formed four bays in the walls of
the aisle. Above each bay was a pointed arch, and in its center a window.
The three pilasters in the northern and southern walls closer to the entrance
differed from those adjoining the apse. These were flat pillars that rest on a
column-less 1.35 m wide base, and that resembled the piers in the western
wall. In their upper part these were pilaster elbow capitals that included
quasi-consoles that were incorporated in the pier wall (Photo 1) under
pseudo-Corinthian capitals (Photo 10). This is an economical method of
construction, because only the upper part of the column and the capital had
to be tooled. This construction method for elbow capitals is characteristic
of Crusader construction in Israel.
Tristram relates that the capitals of the church differ from one another,
and that there is not even a single pair of capitals that resemble each other.7
There was a single, 2 m wide entrance to the church in the middle of
the western wall, from which steps descended to the church floor (Photo
11) which was paved, most likely, with paving stones or with plaster. The
western part of the southern wall was built of large undressed stones. The
interior of the walls was thickly coated with several layers of plaster, the
bottommost of which contained a semicircular pattern of slits for the application of the second layer. The walls were decorated with stucco ornamentation and blue and red frescoes.
The vestibule contained a stone bench that apparently went around
the chamber. In the middle of the southern wall was a semicircular alcove, 1.35 m in width, above which was a round arch and a sort of raised
bench. A triangular window (Photo 12) was positioned in the upper part
of the alcove.

7. See: H.B. Tristram, The Land of Israel. A Journal of Travels in Palestine, Undertaken

With Special Reference to Its Physical Character, London 1866, 170.

THE CRUSADER CHURCH OF ST. MARY IN EL-BIRA

263

A monolithic cruciform baptismal font, 1.20 m to a side, was discovered close to the middle pier of the nave (Photo 13). Four round niches are
carved in the font, in the center of which is a square depression that encompasses a round hole, probably for the collection of the refuse from the
font. The font is made of hard limestone, unlike the soft limestone blocks
of the church walls.

III. A history of the building


The first phase of the structure belongs to the Crusader period, from which
only a few shards were found. It would appear that the church was looted
immediately following the Muslim conquest, albeit not destroyed, thus accounting for the extremely meager finds from this period.
The church fell into disuse after the Crusaders left the country and
the village was destroyed. In the Mamluke period the structure was used
as a stable and barn, and possibly also to house Muslims who settled in
the Crusader village of Birra. It should be stressed that many of el-Biras
houses were built over the remains of the Crusader village, with secondary usage of its stones. In the late Mamluke period the roof over the
middle of the church collapsed, leaving only a few vaults and the outer
walls. A number of coins and a few pottery vessels from the Mamluke
period were discovered.
In the Ottoman period the building was apparently used as a stable. The
destruction of the structure began during the First World War, on the orders of a German engineer. Nevertheless, photographs from 1937 kept in
the archives of the Antiquities Department of the Mandatory government
prove that the outer walls still stood at that time. Sometime before 1967
the apse and the outer wall were totally destroyed, and their stones were
taken for secondary usage in construction.

IV. A history of the church in Crusader times


The reign of Christianity in the land ceased with its conquest by the Arabs,
and Islam became the religion of the masses. In the early eleventh century
Christian enclaves still remained in the vicinity of Christian holy places,
along with a surprising presence of a few Christian communities in rural
regions beyond the holy cities.

264

Y. MAGEN

The Crusader conquest was followed by an intensification of settlement


in the central cities and in fortresses.8 Vigorous efforts were also undertaken
to establish Christian rural settlements, the occupants of which engaged in
agriculture and crafts, and that were generally located along the main roads
and in proximity to the major cities and fortresses. The area between
Bethlehem and Ramallah was densely settled with many such villages.
Despite the dearth of springs and irrigation works, the harvests were plentiful, and Crusader agriculture in the Holy Land aroused the wonder of pilgrims. The military orders, churches, and monasteries competed with each
other in the purchase of lands for raising various crops, such as grapes, olives, wheat, and barley.
The settlers in the Crusader villages were very few in number, and a
small nucleus of families held title to much fertile land. At times a village
would be inhabited by only twenty families.
The Frankish burghers were the source of manpower for populating the
Muslim villages that had been abandoned in the wake of the Crusader conquest. These individuals were neither nobles and knights nor slaves, and
belonged to a lowly soldier class. They were free men who had arrived
during the Crusades either of their own free choice or under compulsion,
settled in the villages, and engaged in the occupations they had practiced
in their land of origin.
The area under discussion contained two fortresses, one in Ramallah,
and the other in Birra, that guarded local Church property and Crusader
villages.
One of the large Crusader villages that were established at the time
along the main road between Jerusalem and Shechem was Birra, with the
large Church of St. Mary in its center. Late Christian tradition dates its establishment to the early Byzantine period by St. Helen, the mother of
Constantine. According to this tradition, the church was built at the place
where the parents of Jesus sensed His absence as they were on their way
back to Nazareth from Jerusalem, where they had celebrated the Passover
(Luke 2:43-46). The excavations conducted at the site do not support this
tradition, for no remains were found of a church predating the Crusader
period, nor were any other finds dating from the Byzantine period discovered there.
The Crusader settlement of Birra is first mentioned in the list of 21 estates awarded to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre by Godfrey of Bouil8. See: J. Prawer, A History of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 1963, I: 216,
446; II: 187, 246 (Hebrew); see also n. 1, above.

THE CRUSADER CHURCH OF ST. MARY IN EL-BIRA

265

lon, the commander of the French and German forces in the First Crusade,
an allocation that was confirmed by Baldwin I in 1114. The village was
established in the first half of the twelfth century by the heads of the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and was settled mainly by French burgesses.
In 1156 it was inhabited by only 22 families, which later increased to 90
families, finally numbering about 500 souls. The population of Birra was
of diverse origin: from different cities in France, and from the local Christian population in Jerusalem, Shechem, and other locations. In 1129 the
prior of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre planted a vineyard to the north
of the village. The Knights Hospitallers also owned lands in the area.
The residents earned their livelihood primarily from agriculture, and
especially from viniculture and the production of wine. Holy Land wine
was in great demand in Europe, resulting in the quite accelerated development of this branch of agriculture.
The villagers also engaged in various crafts, some of which were related to agriculture. The lands belonged to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, who received a portion of the tenants income. Although they dwelled
on church land, they were not subject to the jurisdiction of the Church of
the Holy Sepulchre, but rather to that of the court of the burgesses. These
local inhabitants, who took an oath professing loyalty to the estate owner
and accepting his authority, were loyal to the monastery of the Church of
the Holy Sepulchre. In fact, they were subordinate to the monastery to such
a degree that they could not sell their vineyards without the approval of the
abbot, who would receive half of the proceeds. They were similarly forbidden to sell to the Knights Templars, to institutions affiliated with hospitals, to other churches, or to the army. The vines were planted on lands of
the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and its clerics dedicated themselves and
their possessions to the community.
The Frankish villagers took part in the battles waged by the Crusaders
against the Muslims, in addition to the guard duty imposed upon them for
the security of their settlements.
In 1170 most of the 65 soldiers from the village of Birra who participated in a fierce battle fell during the fighting. In 1124, at the siege of Tyre
during the reign of Baldwin II, the Muslim army of Ascalon advanced on
Jerusalem twice, and in its second campaign succeeded in almost completely razing the Christian settlement in Birra, with the few survivors fleeing to the local tower. This episode graphically illustrates the severe
problems faced by the rural Crusader settlement. The villagers, who were
few in numbers and unprotected, were not capable of defending themselves
and their property. When superior armies marched through the area, the

266

Y. MAGEN

villagers were forced to flee to the forts or the fortified cities. If they did
not manage to flee, they could expect to be slaughtered at the hands of the
Muslims, as happened at Birra.
According to the sources that mention the Crusader church in 1128, this
structure was one of the first structures erected in Birra. A fortress, a hostel
for pilgrims, and a hospital would later be built in the village. The Crusaders were noted for their ardor to build public structures, mainly those of a
religious-ecclesiastical nature. In Crusader society there was a great demand for public prayer by the fundamentally religious population. The
military orders also built churches in their fortresses for use by the knights
and their attendants. These churches were modest in comparison with their
counterparts in Europe.
In 1187 Saladin conquered Birra and turned the church into a mosque.
The traveler Samuel ben Samson related in 1210 in his Masa de-Palestina
that Beeroth is Birra, which was in ruins at the time. In 1229, in the time
of Frederick II, el-Bira was under Muslim control.
Yitzhak Magen
Civil Administration of Judah and Samaria
Authority of Antiquities Israel

THE CHURCH OF SAINT SERGIUS AT NITL


A Centre of the Christian Arabs
in the Steppe at the Gates of Madaba

M. Piccirillo

The modern excavations at Umm al-Rasas and Umm al-Walid are bringing
forward new important contributions to the history of the occupation of
Madabas Eastern Steppe in the Roman-Byzantine and Arab epoch.1 Three
milestones from the Tetrarchic period recently found at Umm al-Rasas give
fresh evidence to the via militaris, assumed to have been in existence by
the scholars, which connected the different localities of the steppe.2
The ruins at Nitl, today a rapidly expanding village of the Banu Sakhr
tribe who occupies the territory east of Madaba, are located on a raised spot
to the east of the small wadis bed where the road, which joins the village
with the more important ruins of Dulaylah to the southwest, runs (Fig. 1;
Photo 1-2). Heber-Percy wrote the first description of the ruins in 1895.3
Later on, the ruins have been visited by the Brnnow-Domaszewskis expedition4, by Alois Musil5 and Nelson Glueck, who noted Iron Age shards.6
The prominent ancient edifices among the ruins, were a vaulted room and
a square tower with its stone door still in situ, both built of squared-up
stones with protruding ashlar work, typical of Roman buildings found in
the region (Photo 4). The tower lies to the west of the ecclesiastical complex we have excavated.
Our interest on the site started in the early 1980s, when we could identify and draw up a provisional plan of an ecclesiastical complex, as well as
photograph the architectural elements from previous epochs that had been
reused in the houses built in the late Ottoman period, and in the first dec-

1. M. Piccirillo - E. Alliata, Umm al-Rasas - Mayfaah. I: Gli scavi del complesso di Santo

Stefano, Jerusalem 1993.


2. D.F. Graf, The Via Militaris in Arabia, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 51 (1997) 271-281.
3. A. Heber-Percy, Travels in Moab, Ammon and Gilead, London 1896, 43-44: We found
numerous crosses, inside circles, carved on the lintels of the doors.
4. R.E. Brnnow - A. Domaszewski, Die Provincia Arabia, II, Strassburg 1909, 335.
5. A. Musil, Arabia Petraea, I, Moab, Wien 1907, 174: und stiegen um 8 Uhr bei . Nitl
ab, wo ich eine Kfische Inschrift abklatschte.
6. N. Glueck, Explorations in Eastern Palestine. I, AASOR 14 (1933-34) 31-32.
LA 51 (2001) 267-284; Pls. 7-20

268

M. PICCIRILLO

Fig. 1. The Village of Nitl in the Region of Madaba - Jordan (Courtesy Max Von
Berchen Expedition).

ades of the XXth century. In agreement with the Department of Antiquities, we proceeded with the excavation of the ecclesiastical complex in
1984.7 After a weeks work, we were forced to interrupt our research (Photo
5; Fig. 3). However, the short probe was enough to understand that the apse
formed part of a complex built and paved with mosaics in the 6th century,
which remained in use until the VIIIth-IXth century. It was subsequently
used, as a civilian building, during the Mameluke-Ottoman epochs. In the
30s of the XIXth century a small shop was built on the fall of the church.
With these premises, we resumed the excavations in 1996 and continued them annually up to the summer of 1999, thus exposing the whole ecclesiastical complex8 (Photo 6).

7. Excavations at en-Nitl-Madaba, LA 34 (1984) 445; see also, en-Nitl, in M. Piccirillo,


Chiese e mosaici di Madaba, Jerusalem 1989, 263-265.
8. Short preliminary notes have been published in LA 46 (1996) 407-409; 47 (1997) 478483; 48 (1998) 539-542; 49 (1999) 489-494.The team was composed by B. Hamarneh, V.
Michel, S. De Luca, E. Alliata, S. Manacorda, M. Varvesi, M. Mandel as photographer.

THE CHURCH OF ST. SERGIUS AT NITL

269

Fig. 2. Nitl. The Ecclesiastical Complex in the Center of the Ottoman Village (C.
Dolfi, C. Di Marco, P. Pizzi).

270

M. PICCIRILLO

The ecclesiastical Complex of Saint Sergius


The vast complex is made up of two large parallel single-nave churches
covered by arches and stone slabs (General plans I-II). The two churches
(South Church - A; North Church - B) communicate through a door open
on the inner common wall. Each church is related to its own service rooms
(diakonikon) built externally on the south and north walls of the complex.

Fig. 3. Nitl. Plan and North-South Section of the South Church (E. Alliata, 1984).

THE CHURCH OF ST. SERGIUS AT NITL

271

Fig. 4. Nitl. Plan and Sections of the Water Cistern in the Church Courtyard (S.
De Luca, S. Deruvo).

272

M. PICCIRILLO

A narthex on the facade enabled access from both churches to the apsed
chapel added on the south wall of the complex (Photo 6).
In all probability the entrance to the ecclesiastical complex was through
the monumental door the threshold of which was brought to light on the
south side of the paved western courtyard. It is also probable that a large
staircase, at the centre of the east side, enabled access from the courtyard
to the narthex on the churches facade.
The excavations have also clarified the existence of a deep cistern, at the
same level of the churches, set in the atriums northeastern corner (Fig. 4).

The Walls
The entire complex was built of stone from the perimeter walls to the
slabbed roof. Reused rectangular squared off blocks of stone coming from
Roman monuments present in the area were partially reused in the construction of the external walls.
Material stripped from the tower, built in Roman times, partly still existing to the west of the complex could also have been reused (Figs. 5-7).
In the same manner material from other edifices built with the same technical characteristics, found in the nearby localities of Umm al-Walid and
Dulaylah might also have been used. The moulded springers and carved
cornices, used in the churches, could be from the monuments at Umm alWalid where similar elements still survive. The same could also be true for
some capitals amongst which one decorated with a motif of flowers and
ovules recovered during the excavations of the South Church (Fig. 5).

The North Church


The North Church is a single-nave building, roofed with stone slabs sustained by 9 arches (Photo 7). Originally the church had two doors on the
facade. The north entrance had been blocked leaving a single open door.
The modern house, built on the churchs collapse, has kept us from completing the excavation of the presbyterium. We therefore do not know
whether the form and size of its presbyterium. The church certainly lacks
the two service rooms on either side of the apse, being obstructed by the
north service room of the South Church and by the Diakonikon to its north.
During the last phase of use, benches were fitted within the intercolumnar
spaces on both walls.

THE CHURCH OF ST. SERGIUS AT NITL

273

Fig. 5. Nitl. Architectonic Elements from the Complex of St. Sergius (M. Forgia,
S. Deruvo).

274

M. PICCIRILLO

Fig. 6. Nitl. Architectonic Elements from the Complex of St. Sergius (M. Forgia,
S. Deruvo).

THE CHURCH OF ST. SERGIUS AT NITL

275

Fig. 7. Nitl. Architectonic Elements from the Complex of St. Sergius (M. Forgia,
S. Deruvo).

276

M. PICCIRILLO

The church floor had been mosaiced (Photo 9-12). Having been severely damaged by the fall of the roof slabs, the floor was later restored
with patches of mosaic made of larger sized white tesserae and later with a
level of lime plaster.
On the exterior, a new large wall (1.60 m width) was added later just to
support the north wall of the church.

The North Diakonikon


The North Diakonikon was built as a continuation of the complexs east
wall. It is a rectangular, vault-roofed hall that juts out beyond the north wall
of the church (Photo 8). The entrance opened inside the church in the narrow passage between the north wall and the bema. It is not clear whether
this singular room had any direct relationship with the presbyterium
through its south wall. The floor was mosaiced with a simple geometric
decorative programme. The vaulted roof was supported on both east west
sides by a continuous line of carved cornices.

The South Church


As the North Church, the South Church too is a single-nave building, roofed
with stone slabs sustained by 9 arches (Photo 13; Color Plate I). Two small
service rooms were set alongside the apse on either side of it. In 1984 they were
both still well preserved including the roof, sustained by an arch covered with
stone slabs and showing traces of a mosaiced upper floor (Photo 4; Fig. 3).
Originally, the church had three entrances on the facade. In its final
phase the north entrance alone was in use. It had a round rolling stone as
its door (Photo 13). A marble slab, carrying an incised cross, was fixed in
the vicinity of the south jamb. The other two doors had been blocked. A
door set between the second and third pilasters on the north wall, close to
the presbyterium, gave access to the North Church. Two openings on the
south wall gave access one to the diakonikon (on the eastern side) and one
to the apsed chapel (on the western side). Benches for the assembly had
been obtained through the addition of a stone slab inserted between the pilasters of the south wall.
A masonry element was inserted on the north wall between the third
and fourth pilaster, close to the presbyterium (Photo 17). This element was
set upon the walls plaster with its embrasures jutting internally into the

THE CHURCH OF ST. SERGIUS AT NITL

277

church. As an hypothesis, we identified it with a seat (throne) for the main


benefactor of the church located, as it is, just outside the presbyterium.
The presbyterium extended to the level of the second series of pilasters
and was closed off to the west by two stone slabs, initially used for the roof
(Photo 14). A structural characteristic is represented by the step that closes
off the nave and extended to the sides of the church so as to form a platform upon which the bema was built. Two housings set in the presbyterium
floor are to be placed in relation to an offering table set against the northwest slab. On the splay of the apse, there remained two steps of the
synthronon. Two housings for the columnettes that supported the altar, set
at the level of the apse chord, were found still inserted in the laying bed
prepared for the mosaic.
The main figure of the church is a stone trap door with iron hooks, found
in the central nave at the level of the second row of pilasters slightly shifted
to the south, which gave access to the underlying double hypogean tomb.9

The South Diakonikon


A door set between the second and third eastern pilaster of the south wall
led into a quadrangular room, rendered irregular by the east wall, out of
axis by a few degrees towards the northeast, an anomaly that the floor
mosaicist tried to disguise with his right-angled composition. The roof
rested on four arches set in a north-south direction, as were the arches of
the church (Photo 22).
The mosaic floor, that shows no iconophobic damage, was restored
with stone slabs when the room was re-occupied to form part of a
Mameluk-Ottoman dwelling place built inside the church (Photo 23-24).

The Narthex
The two parallel and sided churches were unified by the front narthex that
extends to the south reaching the apsed chapel. Originally, the narthex was
closed off to the west by a balustrade sustained by columns on the sides of
a probable central staircase that rose from the paved courtyard that devel9. A similar stone trap door with an iron hook was found in the southern room of the church

at ed-Dayr Main (M. Piccirillo, Al-Deir Main Madaba, in Studia Hierosolymitana in


onore di P. Bellarmino Bagatti, I, Jerusalem 1975, 140.

278

M. PICCIRILLO

oped to the west at a level approximately 1 m lower. The narthex had a


mosaic floor with a simple geometric design, which shows traces of restoration carried out using larger sized white tesserae. In a second phase, a
small quadrangular room was obtained on the north head of the narthex.
The south wall with the entrance was laid on the mosaic floor.
The apsed Chapel
The chapel was apsed in a second phase to coincide with the restructuring of
its west sector communicating with the narthex and with the church (Photo 3,
25). It seems that originally a long rectangular room had occupied the area
communicating with the south diakonikon. Later on, the apse was added on
the east, and a new wall was erected against the plastered wall on the west.
The main feature of the renovated chapel, was a reliquary set into a
raised plastered platform, obtained in the enlarged and doubled west wall.
Two small cavities at the bottom of the platform were at the entrance
(Photo 27). It seems therefore that a small chancel blocked the access to
the platform. After the 1996 campaign, the chapel was looted by the
gravediggers (Photo 28). These discovered, in the centre of the plastered
platform, a small concave basin-reliquary well plastered on the inside and
covered with a reused stone base sealed with the white plaster. Witnesses
have assured us that the small basin was empty when it was opened.
In the floor mosaic, which survived the work of the gravediggers, together with minor traces of iconophobic damage or simply restoration, the
figures are intact. During the Mameluk-Ottoman era, the spaces between the
pilasters had been filled in and brought up to the level of the arch piers, upon
which rested a stone vault that covered a dwelling room fitted in the chapel.
The Hypogean Tomb
The element that characterises the South Church is the hypogean tomb that
the mosaicist Ammonis had to take into consideration when planning out
the decorative programme of the floor mosaic (Photo 16). The stone trap
door, which was sealed on discovery, still had the two iron hooks, held with
lead, inserted. The small descent shaft must have been closed by stone slabs
at a depth of about 1 m (Photo 19). The central slab was slightly shaped at
the centre and had holes from side to side, probably to enable the insertion
of a rope for its removal at the time of burial. This slab had fallen to the
bottom of the shaft at the time of the excavation (Fig. 8).

THE CHURCH OF ST. SERGIUS AT NITL

279

Fig. 8. Nitl. The Hypogean Tomb in the South Church of St. Sergius (E. Alliata, S.
Deruvo).

280

M. PICCIRILLO

The tomb ran in a north-south direction on either side of a small central corridor that divided the two sepulchral rooms with two embrasures.
The walls of the rooms, which had been irregularly hewn out of the natural
rock, had been straightened out using stonework that was then plastered.
Two bowls, used as incence burner, were found one on top of the other lying on the corridors floor close to the east wall (Photo 20-21; Fig. 9). Both
the sepulchral rooms were full of disarticulated bones.

Fig. 9. Nitl. The Byzantine and Umayyad Bowls found in the Hypogean Tomb (S.
De Luca).

The mosaic floor of the South Church


The floor decoration of the South Church was carried out by the mosaicist
Ammonis, the name that can be read in an inscription written in one of the
vine scrolls that decorate the east panel of the main carpet (Color Plate II,
3). In the area of the presbyterium, two lambs facing each other across a
shrub were depicted behind the altar. Both have been disfigured during the
iconophobic crisis. In the rectangular area in front of the altar, there remain
parts of the multicoloured perimeter swastika motif.

The Nave
The long rectangular nave, surrounded by a continuous band of acanthus
scrolls animated with daily life scenes, well known in the mosaics of
Madaba, was divided into two panels by a derivative of the same band that

THE CHURCH OF ST. SERGIUS AT NITL

281

crossed the nave (Photo 15). In the eastern panel, superimposed vine scrolls
generated from four canthari placed in the corners, rotate around the stone
trap of the hypogean tomb, as well as around the medallion set close to the
west side of the panel (Photo 18). The west panel is decorated with a grid
of flowers filled with floral motifs, with the superimposition of a round
medallion checkered with polychromed triangles (Photo 16).

The Greek Inscriptions


Historically of great significance are the Greek inscriptions which accompany the decorative programme in the South Church: seven in the east
panel, one in the north intercolumnar space. The inscriptions have preserved for us:
1. The name of the martyr Saint Sergius to whom the church was dedicated and the name of the mosaicist responsible for the mosaic decoration
of the floor (Color Plate II, 3).
O Q(eo\) touv agiou Sergiou
boh/qi Ammwni kai ta tekna
aujtouv yefoqeth\ oti ekamon
ei to\n to/pon

Oh God of Saint Sergius


help Ammonis and his sons, the
mosaicist who has laboured for
the (holy) place.

2. The name of the priest Saola who took care of the works (Color Plate II, 1).
Epi touv qeob(estatou)
Sawla pres(buterou) ektisqh
kai ethliwqh to\ agio(n) to/pon

At the time of the most pious


priest Saola the holy place was
built and finished.

282

M. PICCIRILLO

3. The name of John the Adiutor, high ranking official of the imperial
administration (Color Plate III, 4).
Agie Sergi pro/sdexai th\n
prosforan Petrou Dwrou kai
Iwannou adiou/tw(r)o

Saint Sergius accept the offering of Peter (son) of Dorius


and of John the adiutor.

4. The name of the phylarch Thaalaba (Color Plate II, 2).

Uper swthria touv lampr(otatou) Qaal(aba) (a)l


Aud(hlou) fu/larco

For the salvation of the most


illustrious Thaalaba the phylarchos (son) of Audelas (?).

5. The acclamation to Areta son of al-Areta (Color Plate IV, 1-2).

W Ereqa uio\ Al Areqou

Oh Areta son of Al-Areta.

THE CHURCH OF ST. SERGIUS AT NITL

283

Conclusion
These inscriptions enable us to draw up a first hypothesis as regards both
the nature of the monument and the personages buried in the hypogean
tomb, whose remains we have been able to see on opening the stone trap
door. Both Thaalaba and Aretas are dynastic names that recur in the family
of the phylarchs and kings of the Banu Ghassan, the emergent Arab tribe
of the 6th century, ally with the Byzantine Empire entrusted by the emperor
with the patrolling of the steppe10. This historical aspect will be dealt by
Prof. Irfan Shahid, who has devoted his life to the subject, and to whom
we owe these conclusions (see I. Shahids article in this volume).
The inscriptions of Nitl clarify the nature of the Christian community
we have met in the churches at Umm al-Rasas Kastron Mefaa with a
decidedly Arab character in the onomasticon,11 and the iconography of the
Christian camel-driver soldier depicted in the upper mosaic in the Church
of Kayanos in the Uyun Musa valley on Mount Nebo.12 In this context,
the inscription referring to the soterias of the phylarch Thaalaba, becomes
a sepulchral epitaph for the phylarch and members of his family buried in
the hypogean tomb of the church.
The ecclesiastical complex at Nitl is a monument, which for its importance, can only be compared, in the Madaba region, with the great ecclesiastical complexes of the Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo13 and the
Saint Stephen Complex at Umm al-Rasas. It is to be considered as a sepulchral church for the high ranking members of the Banu Ghassan family living in the region of Madaba.
Unfortunately the name of the bishop and an absolute date are missing
from the inscriptions. A first chronological reference for the construction
of the South Church is given by the invocation to Aretas son of al-Aretas
found in the north intercolumnar space. With the reference, even if indirect, to the dynastys more famous Aretas, al-Mundirs father, the invocation takes us back to the first half of the 6th century.
The mosaics of the church are to be dated to the same period. This
would be their allocation when examined stylistically within the context of
10. I. Shahid, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, Vol. I, Part I and 2, Dumbar-

ton Oaks 1995. Part I: Political and Military History; Part II: Ecclesiastical History.
11. Piccirillo - Alliata, Umm al-Rasas - Mayfaah, I, 267-268.
12. Piccirillo, Chiese e mosaici di Madaba, 207; M. Piccirillo - E. Alliata, Mount Nebo. New

Archaeological Excavations (1967-1997), Jerusalem 1998, 356-358.


13. Piccirillo - Alliata, Mount Nebo, 150-191.

284

M. PICCIRILLO

the mosaics of Madaba, even if the work by Ammonis and his team is
somewhat singular among the known mosaics so far. The mosaics are characterized by a certain stifness in the rendering of the figures and background colouring and composition. Stylistically with the preponderance of
yellow tesserae, they are more related to the mosaic floors of the first half
of the same century, dated to the time of Bishops Cyrus and Fidus.14
An examination of the walls can also help to hypothesize a chronology
for the construction of the complex. The South Church turns out to be most
complete in all its parts, with its two service rooms on either side of the
apse both having an upper room at least. This is what the North Church
lacks, judging from the clear-cut separation between the two structures visible externally on the east wall. In the North Church, there remains only
space for the bema, the width of which is known from the west step visible
beneath the fall. To the north, the north room that reaches the vicinity of
the bema absorbs the available space. Based on this, one can therefore think
of a higher priority given to the South Church during the construction
phase. Notwithstanding, the complex must be considered to have been built
as a whole unit since the arches of the two churches, set against the walls
at the lower level, were built to provide reciprocal support.
The complex turns out to be really spectacular and unique in the religious architecture of the Madaba region. With its two churches and chapel
built in stone, it has a unified appearance that made it look like a fortified
citadel, isolated high upon the slope of Nitl. This military character was
highlighted on the external face of the walls by the re-used stones, with
protruding ashlar work, removed from the pre-existing guard towers and
temples of the region, as at Umm al-Walid and Dulaylah.

Michele Piccirillo, ofm


Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Jerusalem

14. We refer ourselves to the mosaics of the lower chapels found on Mount Nebo: The

Priest John and the Church of Kayanos (Piccirillo - Alliata, Mount Nebo, 310-319) and in
Madaba Cathedral Church (Piccirillo, Chiese e mosaici di Madaba, 32-33). Color plates
in M. Piccirillo, The Mosaics of Jordan, Amman 1993, 119.176-177.189-190.

THE SIXTH-CENTURY CHURCH COMPLEX


AT NITL, JORDAN. THE GHASSANID DIMENSION

I. Shahd

The excavation of the Ghassanid Church Complex at Nitl1 in the Madaba


region of Jordan is truly a landmark in the history of Arab Federate art
and architecture in this Late Antique period. It is the first indubitably
Ghassanid Arab monument to be discovered in the south of Oriens, (Bild
al-Shm), while others, such as Qasal have been only inferentially declared Ghassanid, since they are anepigraphic, unlike this one, the inscriptions of which have survived and they establish its Ghassanid identity
beyond doubt. It is also the first Ghassanid church to be discovered. Other
Ghassanid monuments have been identified: a tower, at umayr, a monastery, at Qar al-ayr al-Gharb2 and a praetorium, at Sergiopolis. With
the discovery of this church, the line of Arab Ghassanid structures can be
seen to extend from Sergiopolis in the north, near the Euphrates to Nitl in
the South in Jordan; the fact that this recently excavated monument is a
church has enriched the typology of Ghassanid buildings, which comprise
inter alia castles, palaces, and monasteries. In the few minutes allocated
each speaker at this Congress, I can only touch briefly on the various dimensions of the significance of this church complex in the form of an
enumeration: a prolegomenon to the Monograph, which Fr. Piccirillo is
preparing on this monument.
1. Historiography: the Greek sources are silent on the Ghassanids for
the last four decades of their history after A. D. 593-594, as allies of
Byzantium. This church, which may be dated to the first half of the VIth
century, is therefore very welcome. It documents the strong Ghassanid
presence ecclesiastically, just as a seal, which has just been published,
documents their presence in secular history, the seal that evidences the
1. Sometimes vocalized in the maps as Nitil. The uncommon root, N-T-L, is Arabic and

has many significations: pull to the front, or go forward. Its best-known nomen agentis
is a proper name, that of the commander of the Jund of Urdun (Jordan), one of the Junds
(military circumscriptions) of Bild al-Shm in the Umayyad period, namely, Ntil alJumi, who belonged to the group, Jum, which lived not far from the site of Nitl, in
southern Jordan.
2. umayr lies to the northeast of Damascus and Qar al-ayr al-Gharb to the southwest
of Palmyra.
LA 51 (2001) 285-292

286

I. SHAHD

patriciate of the last Ghassanid king and phylarch, Gabala,3 who participated in the fateful battle of Yarmuk in A.D. 636. The two inscriptions
in the church and the seal also confirm the essential reliability of the
Arabic sources4 for this period, which reflect in detail the role of the
Ghassanids in the last days of Byzantium in Oriens, Bild al-Shm, a
dark and obscure period, to which finis was written at the battle of
Yarmuk.
2.- Within the strictly Ghassanid historical context, the two Greek inscriptions at Nitl are a precious addition to the Ghassanid royal onomasticon. It provides the names of no less than three of them. Arethas, his
father al-rith, and a third, Thalaba. In his classic on the Ghassanids, the
distinguished German scholar, Nldeke, picked up from the Arabic sources
a poetic pre-Islamic fragment, which strings together the names of some
five Ghassanid personages exactly in this period and declared them authentic.5 The inscriptions, especially the acclamation, confirms that son and father carried the same name al-rith, with the attraction that the Greek
form of the father retained the Arabic definite article, a most unusual fidelity to the Arabic original, normally translated without it, as Arethas.6 The
inscription confirms Nldeke and enables the confrontation of the Greek
and the Arabic sources to take place, as recommended by him for the sound
reconstruction of pre-Islamic Ghassanid history. In this particular case, the
successful confrontation confirms his implicit conclusion that when the
source for Ghassanid history is authentic, deriving from contemporary preIslamic poetry, confirmation from the Greek source is welcome but unnecessary, unlike the case of prose sources, written in later Islamic times about
the distant pre-Islamic.
The acclamation which documents that the two riths were father and
son makes intelligible a curious Ghassanid toponym, a fortress called alrithn, the two riths, in the dual.7 The Ghassanids gave their names
to toponyms, especially in Gaulanitis, such as Mons Arethas and Gabalas

3. For this seal, see the present writer in Sigillography in the Service of History: New

Light, Paul Speck Festschrift, Novum Millenium, (Ashgate, 2001), edd. Claudia Sode and
Sarota Takcs, pp. 369-377.
4. Especially contemporary Arabic pre-Islamic poetry.
5. See Th. Nldeke, Die Ghassnischen Frsten aus dem Hause Gafnas, (Berlin, 1887), pp.
33-35.
6. The acclamation reads: O rith, son of al-rith!
7. For al-rithan, see the present writer in Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century,
(Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC, 2001), Vol. II, 1, p. 81, henceforward cited as BASIC, II, 1.

THE GHASSANID CHURCH COMPLEX AT NITL

287

Pool;8 this one, al-rithan, can now be comfortably added to this toponymic list. That there was in the Ghassanid onomasticon a segment, representing father and son by the same name is the most natural explanation
for this curious toponym in the dual and named after these two particular
Ghassanid dynasts, related as father and son.
The third Ghassanid name, Thalaba,9 is also a welcome addition as a
contribution to the Ghassanid onomasticon. When around the year 500, the
Ghassanids had their first encounter with Byzantium, as stated by Theophanes, they were then called the House of Thalaba.10 This eponymous
term was attested in the Arabic, Syriac, and Greek sources, but they were
all literary, and two were late sources. The attestation of the name epigraphically as a Ghassanid name and a dynastic one around A.D. 600 gives
much fortification to the Ghassanid identity of the one mentioned in the
literary sources in which that identity is not crystal clear.
3. The monument at Nitl, you will recall, is a church, indeed a church
complex. The Ghassanid involvement in Christianity was such that in 1995
an entire volume of some 300 pages could be written exclusively on their
ecclesiastical history, reflecting their zeal for Christianity in its Monophysite
version, which found expression in the strong support they gave to the construction of churches and monasteries.11 Where on earth, literally on earth,
these churches were located is not indicated in the literary sources that have
survived.12 This church at Nitl in the Madaba region is the only surviving
Ghassanid church which can be nailed geographically to the intersection of
two co-ordinates. The only other Ghassanid ecclesiastical structure that has
survived is its counterpart in the north, Qar al-ayr al-Gharb, but that was
a monastery, which besides, was overwhelmed and dwarfed by the Umayyad
superstructure.13 Our church complex at Nitl, because it is a church and one
that has survived, although in ruins as a Ghassanid structure, tells us much
about the Ghassanids, propos of their religious life and their role in this
region, which may be presented as follows.
8. Ibid., pp. 80, 82.
9. The name of the Ghassanid phylarch buried in the southern church of the complex.
10. For the reference to Theophanes and the haplography involved in the reference, see the
present writer in Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, (Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC, 1995), I, 1, pp. 3-12.
11. See BASIC, I, 1, pp. 824-838 and BASIC, II, 1, pp. 143-219.
12. The astounding number of 137 ecclesiastical structures that are mentioned with their locations in the precious contemporary Syriac document of A.D. 569 are all monasteries, not
churches. See BASIC, I, 2, pp. 824-838.
13. See BASIC, II, 1, pp. 206-211.

Fig. 1. Nitl. The nave of the North Church of St. Sergius


(M. Forgia - S. Deruvo).
Fig. 2. Nitl. The nave of the South Church of St. Sergius
(M. Forgia - S. Deruvo).

290

I. SHAHD

a) The dedication of the church to St. Sergius- a military saint, is perfectly understandable and is reflective of their principal function as warriors, Byzantine foederati, whose patron saint was St. Sergius.
b) The abundance of relics of martyrs in the sixth century, recently martyred at Najran,14 made possible the erection of Ghassanid churches over
such relics; hence the small martyrium in this Nitl Complex, possibly contained relics of their relatives, martyred at Najran in South Arabia.
c) As Father Piccirillo has already suggested, the church was most
probably a patronal church, a view supported by the reference in it to three
Ghassanid phylarchs, especially the acclamation to Arethas. This implies a
strong Ghassanid presence in the region, fully consonant with the fact that
the provincia Arabia where Madaba lays, was the principal province of the
Ghassanid foederati and their headquarters. Such a patronal church could
easily imply a palace or praetorium not far from it, whence the Ghassanid
king could come to his church for worship. Furthermore, unlike a monastery, a church implies a parish and such must have existed in the region of
Madaba, a region of the provincia with strong Arab ethnic complexion
since the days on Ban-Amr of the Book of Maccabees.15
d) Remarkable is the fact that the inscriptions are not in Arabic but in
Greek, in spite of the strong Arab sense of identity, that the Ghassanid possessed, and of the fact that their courts at Jbiya and elsewhere were the
venues for the recitation of panegyrics on them, which are still in the front
rank of Arabic poetry.16 But this is consonant with the prestige of Greek as
the language of cultural dominance in the Christian Roman Empire, and it
was good publicity for the image of the Ghassanids when the church would
be visited by worshipers who were innocent of Arabic, in much the same
way that the acclamation in the Ghassanid praetorium outside the walls of
Sergiopolis was in Greek: NIKA H <T>UCH ALAMOUNDA<R>OU.17
4. In one of the two churches of this Complex, the southern, was the
tomb of one of the Ghassanid phylarchs, Thalaba, and his burial in a
church is significant. In addition to the fact that it gives further confirmation to their attachment to Christianity, it reflects the fact that they were

14. See the present writer in Byzantium in South Arabia, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 33

(1979), pp. 33-94.


15. Cf. J. T. Milik, La tribu des Bani Amrat en Jordanie de lepoque grecque et romaine,
ADAJ 24 (1980) 41-54.
16. This will be discussed in great detail in the next volume of this series, BASIC, II. ii.
17. For this Greek inscription, see the present writer in BASIC, I, 1, pp. 501-505.

THE GHASSANID CHURCH COMPLEX AT NITL

291

taking after their overlords, the Byzantine autokrators, whose tombs often
lay in churches. Within the strictly Ghassanid context, this tomb of
Thalaba in this church which may be termed a sepulchral church, provides
an opportunity for discussing Ghassanid tombs, referred to in panegyrics
on them and in such a way as to suggest that the Ghassanids paid special
attention to the manner of their burial. In the few extant poems, there are
references to at least three of their tombs in four different places: Jalliq,
ayd, Tubn and Jsim.18 A touching exphrasis of a royal Ghassanid funeral in one of them could move even the dour German scholar, Nldeke.19
But all these tombs are still either unidentified or unexcavated. This one,
at Nitl, is the only one that has been, and it is attested clearly with an inscription and a precise geographical location and both features call for the
following comments:
a) The inscription is an epitaph of some sort, short but informative, and
calls to mind the most famous Arab federate epitaph in this late antique
period, namely, the celebrated Namara inscription of the king, Imru alQays, a veritable Monumentum Ancyranum for the reign of Constantine and
the Arab-Byzantine relationship, in view of the wealth of data that it provides on both.20 The Ghassanids continue the tradition of inscribing epitaphs on the tombs of their deceased kings, and this whets the appetite of
the student of this period to discover the epitaph of the principal Ghassanid
king, the famous Arethas of the reign of Justinian. From the manner in
which it is described by the panegyrist,21 it may be safely inferred that it
was an elaborately constructed tomb, possibly a mausoleum. The poet assigns it to one of the two capitals of the Ghassanids, namely Jalliq, a
strange name with no derivation in Arabic. I have recently identified it with
Gallica, the legion stationed in this very region, the site of which the Ghassanids took over after its demise, as they also took its name.22
Unlike the other ecclesiastical Ghassanid structures, such as the monastery-tower of Qar al-ayr al-Gharb, this church has retained traces of
18. Ghassanid tombs will be discussed intensively in the next volume of this series, BASIC,

II. ii. For the time being, see Nldeke, op. cit., pp. 23, 40, 47.
19. Ibid., pp. 38-39.
20. For the most recent treatment of this inscription, see the present writer in Byzantium

and the Arabs in the Reign of Constantine: the Namra Inscription, an Arabic Monumentum
Ancyranum, A.D. 328, Byzantinische Forschungen, Band xxvi, 2000, pp. 73-124.
21. In a verse by their poet laureate, assn, which will be discussed in BASIC, II. ii.
The verse refers to the Ghassanid king as the son of Maria, and was noted by Nldeke,
op. cit., p. 47, lines 6-7.
22. For this, see the present writer in BASIC, II. 1, pp. 105-106.

292

I. SHAHD

the decorative art in its mosaics. Not much, but enough to suggest that the
Ghassanid churches were decorated in the Byzantine style of the period.
The Madaba region and most of Trans-Jordan belonged territorially to the
Byzantine provincia Arabia, the principal province of the Ghassanids,
where they had a strong military and ecclesiastical presence. Excavation of
Christian sites in this region has revealed the names of the mosaicists who
decorated the excavated churches, and some have distinctly Arab names.23
Patronage has always been important in the promotion of art, Christian and
other. The excavation of a Church in this region with a clear Ghassanid
Arab patronage could raise the question whether the zealous Ghassanid
kings of the region participated, perhaps in a small way, with the Chalcedonian Church of Byzantium in the artistic renaissance in this region, uncovered by the dedicated, indefatigable Franciscan friar whose paper has
preceded mine at this session, and who is salvaging an entire civilization
or an artistic tradition that flourished in the last century of Byzantine rule
in this region, so rich in Biblical associations.
Irfan Shahd
Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC

23. Such as Suhayl, Ubayd and Zayd, the father of the mosaicist, Staurichios. On these Arab
mosaicists, see M. Piccirillo, The Mosaics of Jordan, Amman 1993, 47.

KASTRON MEFAA, THE EQUITES PROMOTI INDIGENAE


AND THE CREATION OF A LATE ROMAN FRONTIER

A. Lewin

The importance of Umm al Rasas (Mephaa) as a military site is shown by


some sources of late antiquity: Eusebius (Onomasticon 128-129), in the last
decade of the 3rd century or in the 4th century before the christianization
of the East, wrote that Mephaat was a phrourion of soldiers near the desert1.
The Notitia Dignitatum Or. XXXVII 19 attests that a unity of equites
promoti indigenae was quartered at Mefa. It is now sure that the composition of the eastern section of this document dates to around 400 A.D.2
Palladius (Dialogus de vita S. Joannis Chrysostomi 20) writes that
bishop Elusius, a follower of John Chrysostom, was exiled in the
phrourion of Mespha, near the Saracens. This happened between 405 and
407. As it has been recently proven, Mespha is Mephaa3.
The Notitia Dignitatum attests that in the Near East most of the border
military apparatus was deployed symmetrically on the territory: in each
province two legions were stationed except in Palaestina, where there
was only one. Furthermore there were cavalry-selected units of equites
illyriciani and of equites indigenae that, like the cohortes, the alae, and the
legions themselves were under the command of each provincial dux.
It is important to point out that in the Notitia we can easily detect great
part of the Diocletianic military organisation in the area between the
Euphrates and the Red Sea. This sector, unlike what had happened along
elsewhere, didnt suffer repeated dramatic events and didnt go through any
particular change in the course of the 4th century4.

1. The identification of Umm al Rasas with Mephaa is definitely proven by M. Piccirillo,

in M. Piccirillo - E. Alliata, Umm al-Rasas Mayfaah. 1: Gli scavi del complesso di Santo
Stefano, Jerusalem 1994, 37-54. On the date of the composition of the Onomasticon, see
below n. 42.
2. C. Zuckerman, Comtes et ducs en Egypte autour de lanne 400 et la date de la Notitia
Dignitatum Orientis, AnTard 6 (1998) 137-147.
3. P.L. Gatier, Romains et Saracnes: deux forteresses de lAntiquit tardive dans les documents mconnus, Topoi 9 (1999) 215-218.
4. A.H.M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire, Oxford 1964, 56-57. But see my works mentioned at n. 6.
LA 51 (2001) 293-304; Pls.21-22

294

A. LEWIN

Among the equites indigenae, there were generally two units of equites
promoti under the command of each dux. In Phoenicia, at Auatha (ND. Or.
XXXII 22) and at Nazala (ND. Or. XXXII 23); in Syria, at Adada (ND.
Or. XXXIII 19) and at Resafa (ND.Or. XXXIII 27); in Palaestina, at Sabaia
(ND. Or. XXXIV 23) and at Zodocatha (ND. Or. XXXIV 24); in Arabia, at
Speluncae (ND. Or. XXXVII 18) and at Mefa (ND. Or. XXXVII 19). There
were five more units of equites sagittarii indigenae in Palaestina (ND. Or.
XXXIV 25-29), one in Arabia (ND. Or. XXXVII 20), three in Syria (ND.
Or. XXXIII 20-22), and four in Phoenicia (ND. Or. XXXII 24-27). In
Phoenicia units of Saraceni indigenae (ND. Or. XXXII 27) and of Saraceni
(XXXII 28) are also attested.
As regards the equites illyriciani, it is important to remark that this kind
of unit had different origin than the equites indigenae. The equites illyriciani were danubian units that at an unknown period were deployed in the
Near East. Observing the symmetric disposition of these units in the Near
East as it is described in the Notitia, Ritterling ascribed their deployment
on the territory to Aurelianus, who had organised the defences of the Near
East after the war with Zenobia5.
However, a rich documentation reveals the strong impact of the policy
of Diocletian and his colleagues. In the tetrarchic age the imperial body
was strengthened, and great care was given to the restoration of the military apparatus. The military structures on the fringe of the desert were
renewed, and even built anew, as we shall see later. Diocletian and his
colleagues might have been the authors of the reorganisation of the army,
unlike Aurelianus, whose reign lasted shortly after the rebellion of
Palmyra. It cannot be excluded that Diocletian himself deployed the
Illyrian units in the Near East.
We must draw our attention on an important element: the Illyrian units
were not quartered on the extreme fringes of the territory that was being
occupied by the Romans. Consequently, there are two possibilities: 1)
Aurelianus didnt occupy the most marginal areas of the steppe, and deployed the Illyrian units near the cultivated areas; 2) Diocletian, in the context of a global reorganisation of the sector, deployed the Illyrian units in

5. E. Ritterling, Zum rmischen Heerwesen des ausgehenden dritten Jahrhunderts, in:

Festschrift zu Otto Hirschfeld sechzigstens Geburstage, Berlin 1903, 345-349. On the mobile army of the third century, see in general P. Southern - K.R. Dixon, The Late Roman
Army, London 1996, 11-14; J.M. Carri, in J.M. Carri - A. Rousselle, Lempire romain en
mutation, Paris 1999, 135-137.

THE EQUITES PROMOTI INDIGENAE

295

the inner parts of the provinces, leaving the control on the areas close to
the desert to other units6.
The Panopolis papyri are a decisive evidence of the process of fragmentation of a legion on the territory7. In the second papyrus, dated to the year
300, where the payments for some military units are listed, the legio II
Traiana is described as divided in two vexillationes, in one unit of
lancearii, and in one unit of equites promoti. The papyrus mentions as well
the payments for a vexillatio and for some lancearii of the legio III
Diocletiana.
We dont know whether the equites promoti had been created as a
specialised unit of the legions before Diocletian. We must be cautious in
attributing to this emperor the creation of every specialised unit attested in
the documents of late antiquity. The lanciarii were thought to be a
diocletianic creation until some inscriptions found at Apamea proved that
they were part of the legions at least from the Severian Age8.
According to a well-established tradition of studies, the equites promoti
were a late development of the legionary cavalry9. It has also been asserted
that the equites promoti indigenae were the cavalry units of the legions
quartered in the provinces. Eventually they became independent from their
mother legion10. If we accept this last assessment, we would inevitably
come to the conclusion that the units of equites promoti indigenae were the

6. A. Lewin, Diocletian, Politics & Limits in the Near East, in: Z. Fiema - P. Freeman

(ed.), Acts of the XVIII Limeskongress, forthcoming; Idem, Limitanei and Comitatenses in
the Near East from Diocletian to Valens, in: Larme romaine de Diocltien Valentinien
Ier, forthcoming.
7. T.C. Skeat, Papyri from Panopolis in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin 1964.
8. J.C. Balty - W. Van Rengen, Apamea in Syria. The Winter Quartiers of Legio II Parthica,
Bruxelles 1993, 24-26 nn. 3-5. It has to be observed that in an epitaph from Anazarbus a
noumero laggiariwn is mentioned. The inscription is now lost. IGK Anazarbus, 72 relying on the first discoverer of the 19th century has dated the text in the 2nd-3rd century. But
since the lancearii appear here to be an independent unit and not a specialized body of a
legion, it must be posited that the text is of late antiquity. For the lancearii in the auxiliary
units in the first century see R.S. Tomlin, The missing lances or making the machine
work, in: A. Goldsworthy - I. Haynes (eds.), The Roman Army as Community, Portsmouth
1999, 127-138.
9. R. Grosse, Rmische Militrgeschichte von Gallienus bis zur Beginn der byzantinischen
Themenvefassung, Berlin 1920, 17-18; Jones, The Later Roman Empire, 53; D. Hoffmann,
Die Sptrmische Bewegungsheer, Dsseldorf 1968, 246; M. Nicasie, Twilight of Empire.
The Roman Army from the Reign of Diocletian until the Battle of Adrianople, Amsterdam
1998, 61-62; R.S.O. Tomlin, The legions in late Empire, in: R.J. Brewer (ed.), Roman
Fortresses and their Legion, London 2000, 166-167.
10. Jones, The Later Roman Empire, 57-58.

296

A. LEWIN

very last result of what is a process that appears to be in progress in the


Panopolis papyri. On the other hand other sources lead to believe that the
units of equites promoti called indigenae that are attested in the Near East
in the Notitia Dignitatum, didnt have a legionary origin11.
Let us examine a recently published inscription from Bkhara, in Syria.
This inscription, that is not completely legible, is a dedication to the
tetrarchs made by a praepositus of the equites promoti indigenae, who was
also at the head of another unit of indigenae troops, whose name is illegible. The missing word in the text was probably sagittarii. The inscription
probably records the construction of the fort where the equites promoti
indigenae had to be quartered or alternatively, it records only their installation in the structure. It is important to remark that Bkhara must be identified with Auatha that, according to ND. Or. XXXII 22 was the base of the
equites promoti indigenae12.
This supports the idea that most of the military organisation mentioned
in the Notitia Dignitatum dates back to the period of Diocletian.
The architectural features of the Bkhara fort seem diocletianic: the
structure has fan-shaped and u-shaped towers. Compared to late antique
standards, the Bkhara fort is quite large: a rectangle of 97 x 154 m13.
Bkhara, one of the military sites along the Strata Diocletiana, is quite
close to Palmyra. This could lead to think that the equites promoti indigenae
of Bkhara came from the legion based in Palmyra, the I Illyricorum, whose
camp had been built in the tetrarchic age14. If it were so, an important stage
of the military organisation in Phoenicia in the tetrarchic age would be at-

11. B. Isaac, The army in the late roman East: the Persian wars and the defence of the Byzantine provinces, in: A. Cameron (ed.), The Byzantine and early Islamic Near East. III:
States, Resources, Army, Princeton 1995, 145 = B. Isaac, The Near East under Roman Rule,
Amsterdam 1998, 458 has rightly pointed out that the units called indigenae were clearly
units without a name or number, unlike the legions and auxiliary units. Other units of
equites with standard names are still qualified to the extent that no duplication occurs within
a given duchy The men (sc. Equites indigenae) were recruited locally. Already
Hoffmann, Die sptrmische Bewegungsheer, 248 considered indigenae units recruited locally. See also J. Bujard, La fortification de Kastron Mayfaa / Umm ar-Rasas, in: G.
Bisheh (ed.), Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan, V, Amman 1995, 247-248.
12. T. Bauzou, Epigraphie et toponymie: le cas de la Palmyrne du sud-ovest, Syria 69
(1993) 46-48.
13. Bauzou, Epigraphie et toponymie, 46. In general about the great attention we must
employ before attributing all the military structures who look diocletianic to Diocletian see
M. Redd, Diocltien et les fortifications militaires de lantiquit tardive. Quelques
considrations de mthode, AnTard 3 (1995) 91-124.
14. CIL III 133 = 6661.

THE EQUITES PROMOTI INDIGENAE

297

tested, with the instalment of a new legion at Palmyra and the parting from it
of the specialised unit of the equites promoti.
But, as already hinted, in order to establish the origin of the equites
promoti indigenae we must take a different direction. In Pap. Columb VII
188, dated 320, a one Valerius Aion calls himself eJkatontarco oujixillatiwno ippewn promwtwn legiwno b' Traianh. In this papyrus, as in
the Pap. Panop. 2 (300) and in P. Grenf II 34 (302), the equites promoti are
ascribed specifically to a particular legion. There is no mention of the fact
that they could be called indigenae. So, even when the legionary equites
promoti were detached from their mother unit, they continued to specify the
legion they belonged to.
On the other hand, the Bkhara inscription shows that the word indigenae
was already used in the tetrarchic age. In it there is no mention of the fact
that the equites promoti indigenae belonged to a particular legion. Consequently, it seems that the name indigenae had been given to a different kind
of equites promoti. We may assume that the Bkhara equites promoti
indigenae, as well as the other units of equites promoti indigenae of the Near
East, didnt come from the legions stationed in those provinces, but were
units recruited locally15.
We may now assume the existence of four different kinds of units of
equites promoti, the legionary, the illyrian, the indigenae, and the equites
promoti who were a special unit of the mobile army16.
A new important discovery sheds light upon the Roman military presence in the areas on the fringe of the desert, near the fort of Qasr el
Thuraiya: a stretch of a Roman paved road running from Qasr el Thuraiya
in the direction of Umm al Rasas three kilometres long was detected. Along
this road, a presumed anepigraphic milestone was noted.
Besides, from Qasr el Thuraiya a road reached the point where the
slope towards wadi Sueida, a tributary of wadi Mujib, started. Ruins of

15. Then it is essential to stress that, even though the equites promoti indigenae were
quartered at Auatha in the same years when the fort of the legio I Illyricorum was built
at Palmyra, they were not a detachment of the legion. This doesnt imply that the legio
I Illyricorum didnt have any detachment settled in smaller military installations along
the border. On the legionary detachments along the border between Sura and Palmyra,
see M. Conrad, Research on the roman and the early Byzantine frontier in north Syria,
JRA 12 (1999) 392-410, esp. 404; Eadem, Der Sptrmische Limes in Syrien. Resafa, V,
Mainz 2001.
16. It is to be remarked that the units called equites promoti, who were part of the mobile
army, are thought to have originated from the cavalry of the praetorians. See M.P. Speidel,
Riding for Caesar, London 1994, 73.

298

A. LEWIN

the road are visible, and one if its sides, well built and well preserved, can
be seen from the highest point before the slope in the wadi starts. At first
sight it can be taken for a dam17.
We can easily argue that this route crossed the wadi and reached Qasr
el Al and the military area south of the wadi, the hinge of which was the
legionary fortress of el Lejjun, basis of the legio IV Martia. The role
played by Qasr el Thuraiya both as an important connection point on a
north-south axis, and as a garrison watching over the tributary of the
wadi, is now evident. It is now proven the existence of at least part of
that alternative road to the via nova Traiana, conjectured by F. Koucky
following Brnnow and von Domaszewski. The segment between
Thuraiya and Qasr el-Al skirted the wadi Mujib, and it became a most
important route in winter, when traffic along the flooded via nova Traiana
in the wadi Mujib was not possible18.
The date of the installation of IV Martia at Bethoro, identified with the
site of el Lejun, has been recently set thanks to the excavations lead by T.
Parker. A coin dated back to 304/5 was found in the foundations of the primary legionary barracks. Consequently, we can presume that the fort had
been built right at the end of the First Tetrarchy or some years later19. The
military structures that formed a consistent system around Lejun seem contemporary, and a well-known inscription proves that Qasr Bshir was
founded in the tetrarchic age20. It is important to remark that in this whole

17. D. Ben-Gad Hacohen, r[ tbcyw hpwsb bhw (Waheb be Suphah and the settled country
of Ar.) Cathedra 95 (2000) 15-21 (in Hebrew with abstract in English); Idem, swqybr[
sml hyw (Via Limes Arabicus), Cathedra 98 (2001) 159 (in Hebrew); C. Ben David-A.
Kloner, barmb tymwr dq hlwls rd wnrab twlysm (Mesilot bearnon. Derech slula
kedem romit bemoab), forthcoming (in Hebrew). I want to thank C. Ben David for being
such a good guide for D. Graf, I. Roll, and myself in the area of the new discoveries, in
September 2000, and for supplying to me the publications mentioned in this note.
18. F. Koucky, Survey of the Limes Zone, in: S.T. Parker (ed.), The Roman Frontier in
Central Jordan. Interim Report on the Central Limes Arabicus Project, Oxford 1987, 7475 who conjectured also that the route from Lejjun reached Qasr Bshir and Thuraiya in order to avoid the muddy area near Qatranah. It is important to point out that at our times in
this region the wadi Sueida is dry (personal communication by C. Ben David). D.F. Graf,
The via militaris in Arabia, DOP 51 (1997) 276-277 cast doubts about the existence of a
continuous line of communication between Lejjun and Qasr el Thuraiya.
19. J.W. Betlyion, Coins, commerce and politics: coins from the Limes Arabicus project
1975-1986, in: S.T. Parker (ed.), The Roman Frontier in Central Jordan: Interim Report
on the Limes Arabicus Project 1980-1985, Oxford 1987, 657, coin n. 8.
20. S.T. Parker, Romans and Saracens, Winona Lake 1986, 58-85; CIL III 14149.
21. Parker, Romans and Saracens, 48-86; Idem (ed.), The Roman Frontier in Central Jordan.

THE EQUITES PROMOTI INDIGENAE

299

area there is no trace of a relevant Roman military presence before late


antiquity21.
It appears relevant that also at Qasr el Thuraiya the few surface sherds
found can be dated back from the end of the 3rd century to the mid 5th22.
It cannot be excluded that the Umm al Rasas military structure was
built before the tetrarchic age, in the 3rd century. A typological resemblance
of the Umm al Rasas fort with the Qaryat el-Hadid fort in Jordan northern
steppe, has been pointed out23. It is possible that the fort of Qaryat el-Hadid
was founded in the age of Gallienus24. On the other hand a study on the
ceramic material seemingly points out that Umm al Rasas wasnt founded
before the 3rd century, and that its construction may be dated back at the
very end of the 3rd century or in the early 4th25.
An inscription, unfortunately fragmentary that can be dated to 306/307
through the mention of the consular year was brought to light during the
excavations. Only few words are legible, among which: dedicatum...
consolatu domini nostri Fl. Severi Augusti ...secundum sententiam26.
A Latin inscription in such marginal areas must belong to the military
world. A working hypothesis sufficiently founded is that this inscription
records the construction, or an important reconstruction of the fort. Especially the mention of a sententia, surely of the emperors, has to be regarded
as a significant clue. It can be compared with the iudicium of the principes,
that prescribed the construction of military structures in 37127.
Therefore, we could presume this to be the age of the deployment of
the equites promoti indigenae at Umm al Rasas. This would allow us to
make an interesting comparison with the Bkhara text, from which it seems
22. Parker, Romans and Saracens, 50-51.
23. Bujard, La fortification de Kastron Mayfaa/Umm ar-Rasas, 241-248, with a study of

the ceramic material by M.Joguin, ibidem, 248-249. See also D. Kennedy - D. Riley,
Romes Desert Frontier from the Air, London 1990, 189-193.
24. It is generally thought that an inscription of 253/259 found at a Qalat Zerqa, few
kilometres away from Qaryat el-Hadid, recording the construction of a fort and the moving
of troops from Palestine to Arabia, actually comes from Qaryat el-Hadid. But see the reservations by D. Kennedy, The Roman Army in Jordan, London 2000, 98-99. See also Idem,
"Qaryat al-Hadid: a 'Lost' Roman Military Site in Northern Jordan", Levant 34 (2002) 99-110.
25. Bujard, La fortification.
26. D. Scarpati, Uniscrizione latina da Umm al Rasas, LA 41 (1991) 363-364.
27. CIL III 3653. Cf. PAES 233 = CIL III 88 = ILS 773. One of the most recurrent meanings of sententia, as well as of iudicium, is to deliberate on a problem, judgement, deliberation. See H. Heumann - E. Seckel, Handlexicon zu den Quellen der romischen Recht,
tenth edition, Graz 1958, 294-297; 534. See also C. Th. XVI,2,18; VIII, 1,11; VII,20,2,62. I
thank Prof. G. Crif for making this point clear to me.

300

A. LEWIN

to emerge also that the equites promoti indigenae were deployed there in
the age of the first tetrarchy.
One last point needs to be emphasised: the Umm al Rasas fort is quite
large (158 x 139 m), if compared to the standards of late antiquity. It
could be supposed that it was built around the middle of the 3rd century,
and that the equites promoti indigenae took the place of a more important
unit28.
Nevertheless, the hypothesis that the equites promoti indigenae were
small units could be well grounded if we could assess that they came from
the legionary cavalry. The information we gather from the papyri of
Panopolis on the effectives of the equites promoti of the Egyptian legions
lead to small figures. According to a scholar this military unit had less than
a hundred and fifty men, but more recently it was argued that it had only
half of it, seventy-seven men29.
But, as we have already seen, the equites promoti indigenae were
forces locally recruited; it is therefore clear that any comparison with the
legionary equites promoti in terms of dimensions of the units becomes
arbitrary.
On the other hand, it is interesting to remark that we have proofs of
other forts of equites promoti indigenae that were quite large. The Bkhara
fort is 97 x 154 m30. At Sadaqa (Zodocatha in the ND. Or. XXXIV 24) a
building of 120 x 80 m has been located, with projecting rectangular towers at the corners, and intervals along the walls31.
As to the fort of the equites promoti indigenae attested in the Notitia
Dignitatum (Or. XXXVII 18) at Speluncae, it must be reminded that it is
traditionally identified with Deir el Kahf, because Kahf means caves in
28. Scarpati, Uniscrizione latina.
29. More precisely, they were a hundred and forty-nine for Jones, The Later Roman Empire, 187-188. On the other hand, according to his calculations on the number of rations, R.
Duncan-Jones, Pay and numbers in Diocletians army, Chiron 8 (1978) 541-560 = Idem,
Structure and Scale in the Roman Economy, Cambridge 1990, 105-117, gets to a total
amount of 77 and 3/4. See also Tomlin, The legions in late empire, 170-172, who points
out that the numbers in the papyri are actually shares and not recipients: the officers and
the NCOs received higher donatives than the soldiers.
30. Bauzou, Epigraphie et toponymie, 46.
31. D.F. Graf, The via nova traiana in Arabia Petraea, in: The Roman and Byzantine Near
East, Ann Arbor 1995, 250; S. Gregory, Roman Military Architecture on the Eastern Frontier, Amsterdam 1995-1997, 395-397.
32. R. Brnnow, Die kastelle des arabischen Limes, in: Florilegium Melchior de Vog,
Paris 1909, 70.
33. PAES 228 = CIL III 14380.

THE EQUITES PROMOTI INDIGENAE

301

Arabic32. At Deir al Kahf an inscription attesting the construction, or the


reconstruction of the fort in 306 was found33. But this fort is much smaller
than those at Umm al Rasas, Bkhara, and Sadaqa. It is nearly squared, its
sides are 60 m long. It seems it had two floors, and this might lead to posit
a garrison of 400-500 men34.
Some doubts have been raised on the identification of Speluncae with
Deir el Kahf, because Kahf appears to be too common a place-name in that
area35.
In conclusion, the units of the equites promoti indigenae of the Near
East were, at least in origin, large enough.
This documentation is of a certain interest, and it supports what has
been recently assessed: not all the 4th century units were necessarily extremely small36.

Conclusions
The existence of a route that from Umm al Rasas lead to south of wadi
Sueida, being a link to different military structures, seems to support the
classical theory of Brnnow and Von Domaszewki. According the two

34. D. Kennedy - D. Riley, Romes Desert Frontier from the Air, London 1990, 179.
35. D. Kennedy - S. Gregory, Sir Aurel Steins Limes Report, Oxford 1985, 413; H.I.
MacAdam, Epigraphy and the Notitia Dignitatum, in: D.H. French - C.S. Lightfoot (ed.),
The Eastern Frontier of the Roman Empire, Oxford 1989, 302-303.
36. See the important study by N. Hodgson, The late-Roman Plan at South Shields and the
Size and Status of the Late-Roman Army, in: N. Gudea (ed.), Roman Frontier Studies
XVII, Zalau 1999, 547-554 remarking at p. 550 that the persuasive idea that the fourth century frontier units were generally of extremely small size can thus be shown to be a myth.
Just as in the Principate, forts came in all sizes. On the size of the forts of the cavalry of
non legionary origin on the Danubian border, i.e. the equites promoti and the equites
Dalmatae, see Z. Visy, Der pannonische Limes in Ungarn, Stuttgart 1988. In particular, on
the fort of the equites promoti at Matrica (Szazhalombatta), that measured 180 x 180 m, see
P. Kovacs, Excavations in the roman fort at Szazhalombatta (Matrica), 1993-1995, in: W.
Groenmann-van Waateringe - B.L. van Beek - W.J.K. Willems - S.L. Wynia (ed.), Roman
Frontier Studies XVI, Oxford 1997, 425-427. In general, see T. Coello, Unit sizes in the
Late Roman Army, Oxford 1996 who, on p. 41 rightly insists on the need to be cautious, as
Duncan-Jones before him (see above n. 28), before assigning the whole empire the small
figures extracted from the Papyri of Panopolis. In particular, the papyri could reflect a particular situation, a weakening of the cadres due to the losses suffered in the two Egyptian
campaigns of Galerius and Diocletian.
37. R. Brnnow - A. von Domaszewski, Die provincia Arabia, Strassburg 1904-1909.

302

A. LEWIN

scholars, there was a military route on the fringe of the desert running parallel to the via nova Traiana37.
However it is not sure whether there was a continuous road parallel to
the via nova Traiana between Ziza and Udruh. In the area near the wadi
Hasa, consistent sections of this route have not been found. Doubts have
been raised about the existence of a continuous road connecting Ziza and
Umm al Rasas; furthermore, the connection among the forts of Jurf-ed
Darawish, Dajaniya, and Udruh, is seen as problematic38.
An accurate inquiry in the area of central Jordan has shown that the
elaborate military system centred on the legionary fort of Lejjun was
founded at the end of the tetrarchy and in the following years39. We are
now confident enough to affirm that also the area that lies between Umm
al Rasas and Thuraiya and stretches itself to the southern part of the wadi
Sueida, was object of the imperial attention in the same period.
In the Onomasticon, not only it is affirmed that Umm al Rasas was a
phourion with a garrison of soldiers, but also that a treacherous place with
ravines, called Arnona, was garrisoned by soldiers. The terrifying nature
of the place required a continuous guard40. Arnona was the ancient name
given to the wadi Mujib as a whole, included tributaries. Consequently the
wadi Sueida too was called Arnona41. Qasr Thuraiya, next to the wadi
Sueida, probably was part of the system described by Eusebius. If we accept the years around 295 as a date for the composition of the
Onomasticon, we could infer the existence of a military presence at Umm
al Rasas and in the installations near the Mujib already before the tetrarchy.
But unfortunately it is not possible to date exactly the Onomasticon. It
could have even been written later, at the time of Licinius42.

38. G.W. Bowersock, Limes Arabicus, HSCPh 80 (1976) 219-229; Graf, The via

militaris in Arabia.
39. See n. 22.
40. Eusebius, Onomasticon 10-11.
41. Ben-Gad Hacohen, Waheb in Suphah, 18-19.
42. T.D. Barnes, The Composition of Eusebius Onomasticon, JThS 26 (1975) 412-415
dates the Onomasticon around 295, pointing out that in the last entry of Petra in the
Onomasticon the city is not mentioned anymore as part of Arabia, but of Palaestina. This
could mean that the city had underwent an administrative change while Eusebius was
writing the Onomasticon. The methodology used by Barnes was questioned by P.
Mayerson, Palaestina vs Arabia in the Byzantine sources, ZPE 56 (1984) 223-230
= Idem, Monks, Martyrs, Soldiers and Saracens, 224-231. Taking everything into account, we must assert that the Onomasticon cannot be dated after the time of Licinius. As
a matter of fact, this work never mentions Christianity as the official religion.

THE EQUITES PROMOTI INDIGENAE

303

In late antiquity great attention was given to the strengthening of all


the military apparatus, from Umm al Rasas to Lejjun. This was part of
the policy of Diocletian in the Near East: in order to stress the restoration
of the Roman authority, he strove to have the control on the most marginal areas43. The outer road alternative to the via nova Traiana had to be
provided with military structures. Umm al Rasas, Qasr el Thuraiya, and
Qasr el Al were part of this organisation. The road run in areas Eusebius
describes as inaccessible and close to the desert. It is clear that in such
secluded areas the nomad banditry was particularly feared44.
Besides, the strengthening of the Roman military presence in the
Near East most marginal areas, between the Euphrates and the Red Sea,
was due also to the necessity of preventing raids from the Arabian
tribes allied with the Persians, or in any case united in confederations.
Since the time of Diocletian, and even few decades before, the Arabian tribes had emerged as a troubling element in the scenario of the
Near East. It is important to note that since then these tribes had a
wide range of action, they could strike areas away from the ones they
lived in45.

43. Lewin, Diocletian. The general idea on the late antique period had already been
briefly expressed by B. Isaac, The eastern frontier, in: A. Cameron - P. Garnsey (ed.),
Cambridge ancient History, Cambridge 1998, 455: Army moved into the marginal areas
on an unprecedented scale. See F. Millar, The Roman Near East, 31 BC - 337 AD, Cambridge Mass. 1993, 186-189.
44. On banditry in general, see B. Isaac, Bandits in Judaea and Arabia, HSCPh 88 (1984)
171-203 = Idem, The Near East under Roman Rule, 122-158 (with a postscript); Idem, The
Limits of the Roman Empire, Oxford 1990, 213-218.
45. The importance of this new factor is pointed out by Isaac, The eastern frontier, 444447; 459. See also Millar, The Roman near East, 428-436. In their turn, the Romans
employed some Arabian tribes against the Persians. It has to be stressed the extreme
mobility of the Arabian tribes who were in the pay both of the Romans and of the Persians as allies fighting a common enemy. In a famous inscription dated 328, the Arabian
chief Imru al-Qays tells he had fought in areas of the Arabian peninsula that were at a
great distance one from the other. See I. Shahid, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fourth
Century, Washington, D.C. 1984, 53 . On the creation of new Arabian confederations, see
G.W. Bowersock, Roman Arabia, Cambridge Mass. 1983, 132-142; see also the general
concept clearly expressed by D. Kennedy - D. Riley, Roms Desert Frontier from the Air,
London 1990, 38. Parker, Romans and Saracens, 8-9; Idem, Peasants, pastoralist and
Pax Romana. A different view, BASOR 265 (1987) 35-51 thinks that the Roman military
presence in the steppe was meant to monitor the seasonal movements and the raids of
tribes along the frontier.

304

A. LEWIN

ADDENDA
Before the publication of the present paper I was able to receive a copy of an
important paper by its author: P. Brennan, Divide and Fall: the separation of
legionary cavalry and the fragmentation of the Roman Empire, in T.W.
Hillard et alii (Edd.), Ancient History in a Modern University, 2, Grand Rapids 1998, 238-244. Professor Brennan gives a proof of the fact that the legionary promoti could have had the denomination of indigenae. In ND Or.
XXXI,30; 31 (ed. O. Seeck) two different units are listed: equites promoti
indigenae at XXXI, 30 and legio tertia Diocletiana, Ombos. at XXXI, 31.
Brennan noted that the best manuscript tradition reads Equites Promoti
Indigenae Legionis Tertiae Diocletiano Ambos. Though Seecks edition converted this entry into two units, one of unsited Promoti and another a detachment of III Diocletiana sited at Ombos, such a change adds a gratuitous
problem to the text there are now nineteen units in the chapter listing, but
only eighteen units noted in the insignia at the beginning of the chapter.
Brennans acute observations might establish, contrary to what has been argued in the pages of the present paper, that all the units called equites promoti
indigenae had their origin from the legionary cavalry.

Ariel Lewin
Universit della Basilicata, Potenza - Matera

A CATALOGUE OF COIN HOARDS


AND THE SHELF LIFE OF COINS IN PALESTINE HOARDS
DURING THE ROMAN AND BYZANTINE PERIODS

M. Waner Z. Safrai

Introduction
This study presents a corpus of the coin hoards found in Israel, dating to
the Roman and Byzantine periods1. In this study we investigated data relating to the shelf life of coins in these hoards. The term shelf life is used
here to denote the circulation time of coins in hoards, as can be ascertained
from the findings, and indicates the number of years spanning from the
earliest to the latest coins in a hoard.
The following aspects were investigated in this study: What was the
average circulation time of a specific type of coin? Does the finding of a
coin from a specific period necessarily prove that it was in use during that
year, or are we to presume a much greater circulation time?
It is commonly accepted that coins were in circulation for more than a
few years, but we do not yet have the quantitative data that can clear this
matter. This question is relevant in relation to two main fields. The first is
socio-economic: How soon did the monetary changes made by a certain
ruler affect the system, and what was the market effect of the official minting? The second is more technical: When an ancient coin is uncovered,
does it prove activity at that site in that particular year2?

1. This paper is based on a catalogue of coin hoards found mostly within todays bound-

aries of Israel, that were deposited between the time of Augustus Ceasar and the end of the
Byzantine period. The attached catalogue is a shortened version of the original one. See M.
Waner, Roman and Byzantine Coin Hoards From the Land of Israel - catalogue and analysis, M.A. thesis, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel 1998. The catalogue includes 152
hoards. Their coins were not examined for the purpose of this study, and examination was
based upon the available information, publication and materials. These are often lacking and
do not always include all the coins. Although such factors are important and relevant, the
number of hoards examined overrides the inaccuracies, and our averages are based upon
sufficient quantitative data. We thank Mr. Donald Ariel for his kindly help and support of
this article.
2. For example, does a coin found near the dyke of the siege at Khirbet Hammam, necessarily represent military activity during that year, or should we see it as evidence of the siege
that took place at the site 20 years later. Or, could the coin have been lost at the end of the
Bar Kokhba revolt, some 70 years later?
LA 51 (2001) 305-336

306

M. WANER Z. SAFRAI

Literary research provides various estimates, expressing the intuition


of several learned and experienced researchers in the field. The present
study presents novel, quantitative data.
It is important to note that the examination of shelf life of coins is possible only from hoards, since the information gathered is neither directly
available from the archaeological findings nor from any other historical
source. Howgego suggested a method, which examined the Roman Imperial countermarks. He assumed that a certain countermark was made on all
coins in circulation in a particular year. Therefore, the average time span
between the original and the countermark expresses the time during which
the coins were in circulation3.
We can assume that in savings hoards such as hoards originating
from commerce, where coins were collected over a protracted period of
time the span between the earliest and latest coin in a hoard will be
greater than in hoards of a different nature. We would certainly expect
emergency or currency hoards to have a much shorter span, since their
coins were collected in haste, during a period of stress or hardship. Yet, we
also find occasionally that certain coins were suddenly, intentionally and
dramatically withdrawn from circulation, without any connection to the
weight or type of metal. In such cases we find the shelf life of the hoarded
coins to be relatively short. A good example are coins from the first and
second Jewish Revolt against Rome, which included nationalistic coins,
deposited during the revolt but rendered useless thereafter.
The Research
Our examination was divided into two categories, with the following aims:
Firstly, to determine the time span of coins in hoards during the selected
period (i.e. Roman-Byzantine). This was done in order to attain a formal,
scientific or de jure data regarding the length of time coins remained in
circulation. Secondly, we examined the numbers and percentage of late
coins in hoards. Our aim here was to determine a more accurate or de facto
answer relating to the circulation time of coins in hoards.
In order to examine the shelf life of coins in hoards, our sample was
divided into three sub-groups, and time spans were ascertained respectively.
3. See C. Howgego, Greek Imperial Countermark: Studies in the Provincial Coinage of the

Roman Empire, London 1985. Christiansen reached important conclusions from the examination of coins mentioned in Egyptian papyri. See E. Christainsen, On Denarii and Other
Coin-Terms in the Papyri, ZPE 54 (1984) 271-299; J.G. Milne, Roman Coinage in Egypt
in Relation to the Native Economy, Aegyptus 32 (1952) 143-151.

A CATALOGUE OF COIN HOARDS

307

We examined the accepted assumptions relating to the circulation time of


coins relative to their metal type. Our basic assumption was that the shelf
life of coins minted from bronze would be shorter than that of silver coins,
and that of silver coins would be shorter than coins minted from gold. In
other words, metals of greater value would be expected to remain in circulation longer than coins of lesser value.
Up until this study, it was assumed that the maximum time span between coins in hoards is as follows: Bronze coins c. 70 years, silver coins
c. 100 years, and gold coins c. 130 years. These assumptions were
based only upon estimates, and were therefore intuitive and tentative4.
As will be shown, the extension of the shelf life serves also as an indication of monetary and economic change, which are of great importance
since the findings present us with quantitative data that help us evaluate
the economic situation.
I. Time Span
An analysis of all the hoards in our sample showed the maximum number
of years between the earliest and latest coin in a hoard to be 632 (hoard no.
142). The second longest time span was in hoard no. 49, with 533 years.
The minimum time span of coins in the hoards was 2 years (hoards no.s
22, 45 and 124).
It is worth noting that there were 21 hoards with a 3-4 year span, and
some 40 with a less than 20 year span.
After excluding hoards that lacked the information required for our
study, we were left with 128 hoards, among which the mean was 71.6, and
the median - 50 years.
Hoards were categorized as follows: Revolt Hoards (i.e. Hoards from
the 1st and 2nd Jewish Revolts Against Rome); Synagogue Hoards (i.e.
those found among the ruins of synagogues) and The Rest (i.e. hoards not
included in either of the above categories).
Each of these groups was further examined, for an analysis that was
hoped to yield special characteristics. This was carried out by dividing the
results of the 3 groups into ranges of 0-30 years, 31-120 years, and more
than 121 years.
4. In his description of the Migdal Hoard, for example, Y. Meshorer mentions the almost

unlimited period during which coins were in circulation. See Atiqot 11 (1976) 54-71. Other
numismatists such as A. Kindler, speak of lengthy periods of time, which often reached
hundreds of years (information gathered from discussions).

308

M. WANER Z. SAFRAI

Results
A summary of the time spans of the hoards (including all hoards before
their sub-division) is presented in Table 1.
I. Revolt Hoards: Examination of time span showed that among the 57
hoards included in our sample, the minimum span was 3 and the maximum
span was 221 years. The average was 44.7, and the median 34 years. We
also found that 47.4% of these hoards had a span of 0-30 years, 45.6% had
a 31-120 year span, and only 7% had a span greater than 121 years. The
latter was considered an exception to the rule.
II. Synagogue Hoards: Examination of time span showed that among
the 16 hoards included in the sample, the minimum range was 31 years and
the maximum was 632. The average was 141.3, and the median 94 years.
We also found that there were no hoards with a range of 0-30 years. A range
of 31-121 years was found in 62.5% of the hoards of this category, and
37.5% of them had a time span greater than 121 years.
III. The Rest: Among the 58 hoards in this group, the minimum span
was 2 and the maximum was 533 years. The average was 78.9 and the
median 59 years. We also found that 31% of hoards in this category have a
0-30 year range, 46.5% have a 31-120 year range, and 22.4% have a range
greater than 121 years.
It appears that hoards in this group are relatively well scattered. Most
of them are in the middle range of 31-120 years, but had we extended the
period by two more years (i.e. 122 years) 65.8% of the hoards would have
fallen into this range, thus enhancing our result. In any case, there were no
extreme values at either ends of the scale.

Table 1: Time spans of the Hoards


Category

No. of Min.
Hoards Years

Max.
Years

Mean

Std.
Median
Deviation

All Hoards

128

632

71.6

88.3

50

Revolt Hoards

57

221

44.7

51.1

34

Synagogue Hoards 16

31

632

141.3

147.2

94

The Rest

533

78.9

83.1

59

58

A CATALOGUE OF COIN HOARDS

309

Distribution According to Time Span:


Figure 1 illustrates, in the form of a scatter graph, the distribution of hoards
according to category and span of years.

Fig. 1: Scatter graph


(hoards according to
type and span of
years).

Figure 2 illustrates the distribution of the hoards according to their respective span. Results demonstrate a high concentration of hoards with a
span of 2-3 years. It shows a very moderate ascent, with few gaps, from a
span of 2 to 225 years. In most of the hoards the span does not exceed 100150 years. Close examination revealed that there are no hoards with a span
of 82-90 years, 123-140, 158-168, 211-220, 220-255 and especially not
257-532 and 534-631 years. This data is not crucial to us, since up to the
225 year-span they do not enlighten us of anything significant. On the other
hand, the fact that there are only two hoards with a span of several hundred years certainly enhances our assumption that they are exceptions to
the rule. We further noted that in 98% of the hoards, the span is distributed
between 2 and 225 years.

310

M. WANER Z. SAFRAI

Fig. 2: Distribution of hoards according to span of years.

Removing the outliers


Thus far, it would appear that our results did not allow us to derive any
meaningful conclusions, since the data shows protracted time spans, and
the distribution of data does not yield a workable tool for an analysis of
the findings. It is possible that an ordinary coin circulated longer than a
hundred years perhaps even two hundred and if so, this would render
coins unusable as an accurate dating tool.
Our findings indicate that occasionally ancient coins did continue to
circulate, or that people sometimes tended to keep old coins. In other
words, even if coins did not officially go out of circulation, this does not
prove that they actually continued to circulate on a daily basis.
Based upon this assumption, we examined the market situation, as
represented by the majority of the findings, while removing the two
hoards with a span that was demonstrated to be exceptional and therefore outlying5.

5. As can be seen in the graphs and illustrations provided.

311

A CATALOGUE OF COIN HOARDS

Table 1a summarizes the results, following the removal of the outliers


(hoards no. 49 and 142, with a respective span of 533 and 632 years, belonging to the category of The Rest and Synagogue Hoards).
Table 1a: Span of years among coins in hoards after removing the
outliers.6
Category

No. of Min.
Hoards Years

Max.
Years

Mean

Std.
Median
Deviation

All Hoards

126

256

63.5

60.0

47

Synagogue Hoards 15

31

256

108.6

69.7

92

The Rest

204

71.0

57.1

58

57

After the removal of the two outliers, the maximum span diminished to
256 years (instead of 632). The minimum span did not change in any of
the categories. The mean dropped from 71.6 to 63.5 years, and the median
dropped from 50 to 47 years.
The Synagogue Hoards now totaled 15 (instead of 16), with a maximum span of 256 years, a mean that accordingly dropped from 141.3 to
108.6, and a median that dropped by two years, from 94 to 92.
Of the 57 hoards in The Rest category, the maximum span dropped
from 533 to 204, the mean dropped accordingly from 78.9 to 71, and the
median - from 59 to 58.
This data was statistically analyzed by the Mann-Whitney non-parametric test7, and results were as follows:
Comparison of hoards for all the categories before and after the removal of the outliers did not reveal any statistically significant differences.
That is, for Synagogue Hoards (after removal of hoard no. 142) P = 0.7818;
The Rest hoards (after removal of hoard no. 49) P = 0.8755; and for All
Hoards P = 0.3929.
Hence, despite the drastic decline (i.e. of hundreds of years) in the
maximum span of years, due to the large number of hoards used in our

6. Revolt Hoards were not included in this table, since no outliers were found among them.
7. This analysis tests for significant differences between two groups with an abnormal dis-

tribution.

312

M. WANER Z. SAFRAI

sample (152), removal of the two hoards with the outliers, did not have a
significant bearing on our results. We thus note that removal of the outliers
was justified and did not effect our statistical results.
A graph representing the percentage distribution of the time span in
years (fig. 3) clearly indicates that more than 23% of the hoards in our
sample have a span of 10 years or less, and in a further 8.5% of the sample
hoards the span is less than 20 years. By looking at the year of deposition,
it becomes apparent that most of these hoards were deposited during times
of war or revolts. A relatively high percentage of hoards (10.5%) have a
31-40 year span, and some 8% have a span of 61-70 years, i.e. in 50% of
the hoards the span is no greater than 70 years.

Fig. 3: Percentage distribution of hoards according to span of years.

A Comparison between the Categories


A comparison of the distribution of Revolt Hoards with that of Synagogue
Hoards according to their span of years shows significant differences. Results thus confirmed our basic assumption, that Currency/Emergency Hoards
(such as revolt hoards) have a shorter span than Savings and Community
Hoards (such as synagogue hoards). The average span of years in Synagogue Hoards (141.3 years) is significantly larger than the average span of
years in Revolt Hoards (44.7 years). The median of Synagogue Hoards (94
years) is almost three times greater than that of the Revolt Hoards (34 years),
and is also much larger than that of The Rest (59 years).

A CATALOGUE OF COIN HOARDS

313

Figure 4 includes three graphs and illustrates our findings. In conclusion: the examination of time span of coins in hoards confirmed our expectations that the longest span between the earliest and latest coins is
found among synagogue hoards; the shortest span is found among revolt
hoards, and in between are all the rest (i.e. the non-classified). This is also
true of the mean and median of the three above-mentioned categories.
Statistical analysis comparing the time span of coins in Revolt Hoards,
Synagogue Hoards and The Rest was carried out using the Kruskal-Wallis
non-parametric test8. This test was selected due to the highly significant
differences of variations between the groups (P<0.0001). A comparison of
the span medians of the three groups showed highly significant differences.
Furthermore, to test the specific differences between the medians of the
groups, we used the Dunn non-parametric multi-comparison test9. Results
showed significant differences between the groups. The most significant
difference was the one between the time range of revolt hoards and that of
synagogue hoards (P<0.001). The difference between revolt hoards and The
Rest was also significant, with a probability factor of P<0.01, but no significant difference was found between synagogue hoards and The Rest
(P>0.05).

Fig. 4a: Time range of coins in hoards in the first category.

8. This test examines the differences between a no. of populations with an abnormal distri-

bution. Results show the existence or non-existence of differences between the groups.
9. This test compares the populations of several groups with an abnormal distribution, one

against the other. Results show the specific differences between the groups.

314

M. WANER Z. SAFRAI

Fig. 4b: Time range of coins in hoards in the second and third categories.

II. Quantitative Analysis of Coins in Hoards


The number of coins in all the hoards included in our sample was 49,371.
There are 6 more hoards for which we lack information regarding the number of coins constituting them, but we can safely assume that the total number of coins under discussion is at least 50,000.
Among the hoards there are at least 21,285 bronze coins, 23,582 silver
coins, and 482 gold coins10. We lack data regarding the type of metal for
413 coins.
10. It is reasonable to expect the gold hoards to be smaller in quantity.

315

A CATALOGUE OF COIN HOARDS

Analysis according to Metal


The examination of shelf life of coins in hoards according to the type of
metal was carried out in the light of the following data:
The hoards consisted of coins that were divided into the following
groups: Bronze (AE), Silver (AR), Gold (AV) mixed Bronze & Silver
(AE+AR), and mixed Bronze, Silver & Gold (AE+AR+AV). We found that
66 of the hoards consisted of AE, 47 were AR, and 15 were AV. There were
20 mixed hoards, of which 10 consisted of AE+AR and one that consisted
of AE+AR+AV coins11.
Most of the hoards are single-metal. Only some 3,609 coins were found
in mixed hoards: 3,359 in hoards that included bronze and silver coins
and 250 in a hoard that included all three types of metals (see Table 2).
Table 2: Analysis of coin hoards according to type of metal
Type of Metal

Hoards

Coins

Quantity Percentage

Quantity

Percentage

AE

66

43.1

21,285

43.1

AR

47

30.7

23,582

47.8

AV

15

9.3

482

1.0

AR+AE

19

12.4

3,359

6.8

AV+AR+AE

0.7

250

0.5

Unknown

3.3

413

0.8

Maximum span of years in coin hoards according to metal type


In the bronze (AE) hoards we found a maximum span of 632 years (hoard
no. 142)12, or 256 years (hoard no. 108), after excluding the outliers. In the
silver (AR) hoards we found a maximum span of 200 years (hoard no. 24).
11. Four hoards lacked the necessary data and were therefore excluded from our calculations.
12. This hoard was already mentioned as an outlier due to the large span of years between

its earliest and latest coins. It was thus excluded from our calculations and conclusions.

316

M. WANER Z. SAFRAI

In the gold (AV) hoards, the maximum span was 157 years (hoard no. 41),
and in the mixed hoards (AE+AR) the maximum span was 210 years
(hoard no. 29).
Results thus show a general span of about 150-250 years in single metal
hoards.

Average Span of Years


In AE hoards - 94.7, in AR hoards - 45.1, in AV hoards - 75.2, and in the
mixed hoards (AE+AR) - 43.7 years.
Thus, we have a reversal of the expected results: The highest span was
found not in the gold hoards, but rather in the bronze. A further unexpected
finding was that the lowest span of years was found in the mixed hoards.13
Table 2a: Time Span of coins in hoards according to metal type
Type of Metal

Span of years

Mean

Std. dev.

Median

Minimum

Maximum

AE

*632
**(256)

*94.7
*110.5
**(77.8) **(62.6)

*69
**(65)

AR

200

45.1

52.3

19

AV

157

75.2

49.9

65

AR+AE

210

43.7

64.5

15

* Before excluding the outliers


** Numbers in brackets represent the results after excluding the outliers.

A statistical non-parametric test (Kruskal-Wallis) which was carried out


in order to examine the data, showed significant differences between the
medians of the groups. A further test (Mann-Whitney) which was carried out
in order to check if there were any significant differences in the medians,
showed them to be present between the AE and the AR hoards (P = 0.0014),
and between the AR and AV hoards (P = 0.0199). However, no significant
differences were found between the AE and AV hoards (P = 0.9736).
13. See note 3.

A CATALOGUE OF COIN HOARDS

317

It is important to note that following the exclusion of the hoards with a


span greater than 500 years, that constituted AE coins, the average span in
this category dropped to 77.8 years. This mean is very close to that of the
AV hoards. The distribution of the AE hoards was found to be normal,
which allowed us to use the parametric Students t-test for comparing the
means. An ANOVA test carried out at this point, showed significant differences (P=0.0289) between the groups. It is interesting to note that the median of the AE hoards now equals that of the AV hoards. In our discussion
we shall attempt an explanation of the difference in shelf life of the AE and
AR coins.

III. Late Coins in Hoards


The aim. If hoards represent a cross-section of the coins in circulation, it is
reasonable to assume that due to the element of wear, the earlier (older)
the coins the fewer their relative number in the hoard. We thus focused
on finding the relative number of late coins in our sample. The term, late
coins is used here to denote the last 25 years (i.e. a generation) preceding the deposition of the hoard14. Our interest in this field stemmed from
the question of how long did coins actually remain in circulation, not withstanding the formal information relating the shelf life of coins.
Basic Assumptions. Our examination of late coins in hoards rested upon
two basic assumptions: (a) that the latest coin in a hoard indicates the time of
concealment15. If this is true, then we can look for a correlation between the
time of concealment and the quantity of late coins in each hoard, and try to
draw conclusions accordingly; and (b) that it is probable that late coins are
more frequent in currency/emergency hoards16. Thus, if results show that
most of the hoards have a high percentage of late coins, we may conclude
that we are dealing with a high percentage of emergency hoards.
The sample for analysis. For the purpose of our examination we chose,
as a representative sample, a group of hoards from the catalogue, which
included all the hoards for which we had the necessary data. The criteria
were:
14. Based on the date marked on the latest coin in each hoard.
15. Bearing in mind that the time of concealment is often related to the historical events of

the time.
16. See R.P. Duncan-Jones, Money and Government in the Roman Empire, Cambridge Uni-

versity Press, 1994, 115.

318

M. WANER Z. SAFRAI

1. We only chose hoards that included at least 3 known minting authorities. This, in order to distinguish between the earliest and latest coins in a
hoard, and enable their assessment in percentages.
2. All the Revolt Hoards were excluded. This, due to their tendency to
have a rather short span of years too short for our examination, and also
because they are disqualified by our first criterion. This, in spite of the
fact that in such cases it is almost certain that we are dealing with currency/
emergency hoards17. However, it is important to mention that our examination did include hoards no. 89, 94 and 126, even though their date of concealment seems to coincide with the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt. These
hoards were included in our calculations because they consisted of coins
minted by at least 6 authorities, and as such, fitted our criteria.
3. Hoards that included city coins were excluded, due to their tendency
to lack exact dates.
4. Several hoards did not include data regarding the minting authorities,
and thus were also excluded from our sample. Also excluded were hoards of
which only few coins were described (such as hoard no. 40, where only 7 of
its 36 coins are described; hoard no. 108, with 7 out of 81; and hoard no. 118,
with less than half of its 675 coins described in the literature).
5. On the other hand, hoards that included a relatively small (1-4) number
of unidentified coins were included. This was based on the assumption that
their numbers are statistically irrelevant, while the option of excluding the rest
of these coins could have an ill effect on our results (see for example hoard
no. 63, which consisted of 99 coins, only one of which was unidentified).
6. A 25 year range (generation) was chosen for this purpose as a
minimal period, that seemed a reasonable number of years for the circulation of a coin. Therefore, all coins dating to the last 25 years prior to concealment were considered late coins in our hoards.

Results
Examination of the percentage of late coins in hoards yielded the following results:
Following the criteria listed above, we were able to collect 38 hoards18
(i.e. hoards nos 18,20,24,29-31,33,37,38,42-44,50,51,54-61,63-65,74,77,
17. Hence, our examination would fail to produce novel or valuable results.
18. The low number is indicative of the poor publications of hoards, and serves as proof of
inadequacy of the archaeological research in Israel today.

A CATALOGUE OF COIN HOARDS

319

78,80,84,89,94,115,119, 126,136,137 and 140), which we suggest are a representative sample of all the hoards found in Israel to date. On the basis of
the available data, a graph (Fig. 5) was prepared, showing the percentage
of late coins in hoards.

%
Fig. 5: Percentage of late coins in hoards.

Calculations determined that the average is 62.331.88%, and the median is 72%. It is worth noting that 7 hoards (i.e. 18.4%) consisted of 100%
late coins, and 8 others had over 80% late coins. These together constitute
some 40% of the total number of hoards in our sample, with percentages
ranging from 25-100%.
We concluded that most of the coins on the market and hence in the
hoards, were from the last generation i.e., the period during which the
concealment took place. In view of the findings, we suggest that they
should be considered as representative of the total coin market situation.

Variations in the quantities of late coins in the two periods


The hoards were then divided into the two periods under observation the
Roman and the Byzantine periods, respectively. The dividing time was
taken from the beginning of the Byzantine coin minting, i.e., the beginning
of Anastasius Is reign (491 A.D.). An analysis of the data was carried out
using the 2-tailed Students t-test for comparing the means of the two peri-

320

M. WANER Z. SAFRAI

ods. Results showed significant differences (P = 0.0013) between them, as


represented in Table 3 below.
Table 3: The average number of late coins in hoards, according to periods
No. of
hoards

Average of
late coins (%)

Std.
Deviation

Median
(%)

Roman

24

74.7

24.0

77.5

Byzantine

14

44.0

34.4

42.0

PERIOD

Results show that during the Roman period there is a much higher percentage of late coins in hoards.

Differences in Hoard content between the Roman and the Byzantine Periods
The most important difference between the Roman and the Byzantine periods is the abundance of gold coins in the latter period. Almost all of the
gold hoards in our corpus are from the Byzantine period (only two, hoards
no. 21 & 54 are Roman), and the percentage of gold coins in the later
hoards is a lot greater than in the Roman period.
In general it can be assumed that gold coins slowly replaced the silver
in circulation, even though we still find hoards containing simple bronze
coins. The number of Byzantine hoards is not great. Six of them are community hoards which were found in synagogues, eight more were concealed during the Persian conquest of Palestine, and ten were concealed at
the end of the period, during the Moslem conquest.
The abundance of gold in Byzantine hoards is not unique to Palestine.
Jairus prepared a corpus of all the Byzantine hoards and pointed out this
phenomenon19, especially in relation to the previous period. He claims that
the difference is not only a result of monetary changes but rather of an economic change that occurred in the East. The middle class diminished, and
a more extreme social strata was formed, when many members of the
middle class were impoverished, while some became richer and were now
the owners of large estates. Gold was then in popular use. Jairus bases his
19. B. Jairus, Rural Communities in the Late Empire, 300-700 A.D., Monetary and Eco-

nomic Aspects, Oxford University Dissertation, Oxford 1992, 54-116.

A CATALOGUE OF COIN HOARDS

321

assumptions mainly on the agricultural situation in Egypt, and emphasizes


the evidence of large estates. This is a well-known phenomenon, but the
novelty lies in the claim that there was a drastic growth in these estates,
together with an increase in the lower class of tenant farmers20. Further
support is attained from literary evidence indicating a similar phenomenon
in Syria during that time, although we do not have as much quantitative
dada from this province as we have from Egypt. From the scarce shreds of
evidence it seems to us premature to draw conclusions regarding the economic process.
Elsewhere, agriculture in the province of Palestine was examined, and
it appears that here too there was a significant agrarian-economic change.
Until the end of the Roman period, the agricultural market was based upon
owners of small estates who formed a broad lower-middle class. Although
there were some rich people, this was a rather limited phenomenon. During the Byzantine period a change occurred in the economic structure, and
the market was now based on large estates21. This claim is based upon the
abundance of evidence regarding tenants and estate owners during this period. Further evidence comes from the relative increase in the number of
estates discovered and surveyed in Palestine22, and the increased number
of large agricultural installations such as wine and oil presses23.
The coin hoard findings add to the body of assumptions. Each item of
evidence presented thus far does not suffice on its own. Each phenomenon
may have alternative explanations or might be dubious. Yet placed together
they help in proving that during this period there was indeed an essential
change in the agrarian-economic structure.
The change was not acute. It was probably a slow process, and only in
the 5th century it became pronounced enough to change the economic nature of the empire24.
20. B. Jairus, Agrarian History and the Labour Organisation of Byzantine Large Estates,

in: A.K. Bowman and E. Rugan (eds.), Agriculture in Egypt from Pharaonic to Modern
Times, Oxford 1999, 193-216.
21. Z. Safrai, The Missing Century, Leuven 1988, 37-49.
22. The Village in Roman Palestine, Cathedra 89, Z. Safrai, The Early Field Structures, pp.
7-40 (in Hebrew).
23. Oil presses serve a community and hence, large ones may represent economic development and not necessarily estate ownership. On the other hand, a winepress is a private installation, and a very large one thus represents a prosperous landlord. It is possible though
unlikely that a huge wine press served an organization of small estate owners.
24. If indeed the 5th century was a period of demographic and economic crisis, as claimed
by Safrai (see above, The Missing Century), then it was this crisis which brought about the
structural change.

322

M. WANER Z. SAFRAI

As we have shown, the shelf life of Byzantine hoards tends to be somewhat lower on the average, even though bronze coins in general were found
to have the longest shelf life. But the relatively shorter shelf life of the gold
hoards is apparently not related to their value. A shorter shelf life was found
also in Byzantine hoards containing bronze coins. In the gold hoards the average shelf life is 74.9 years, and 89.6 years in the bronze hoards, while the
shelf life of the Roman bronze hoards is 94.7. This difference is relatively
small and is considered to be statistically insignificant, yet it is apparent.
It thus seems that we are confronted with two phenomena a) the abundance of gold coins, and b) a slightly shorter shelf life that might be related
and may stem from the same reason. Gold hoards from the Byzantine period
represent the rich or neuvo-rich, in a society that has a large percentage of
rich people. In such a society there is lively commerce, and coins change
hands at a high frequency. We should expect such a society to use coins
minted in the last generation, since a lively trade brings about the limited
usage of old coins. Not all hoards belong to wealthy owners, but the Byzantine economy was livelier due to the increase in the number of rich people,
and it stands to reason that the content of the hoards represents this change.
We may now have an answer to the question raised earlier, namely, how
come the cheaper (AE) coins have a longer shelf life? A shorter shelf life
represents a livelier commerce and a more frequent changing of hands in
coins. Gold coins have a short shelf life since most of them are from the
Byzantine period, when trade was more active, especially among the affluent class. It seems that silver coins were also more abundant in the elite
stratum that managed a lively commercial life. It therefore seems possible
for us to speculate that most of the commerce took place in silver coins,
while bronze coins served for secondary trade, with a slower change of
hands, and at a slower pace.
On the other hand, it appears that in the Byzantine hoards there is a
smaller average (44.0%) of late coins compared to the Roman period
(77.5%). It might have been expected that with a shorter shelf life, the last
generation coins would account for much more, but this was not found to
be the case, and requires further study.

Summary
Regarding the circulation of coins in the Palestine hoards, this work raises
certain facts that were hitherto unknown. For the first time we have spans
in years, evaluated in a scientific and organized fashion, using a relatively

A CATALOGUE OF COIN HOARDS

323

large representative sample. The sample included most of the hoards uncovered within the boundaries of Israel and thus enabled us to seriously
consider the results and reach conclusions relating to all hoards in this region dating to this period.
1. The categories selected for the examination of shelf life of the various types of coin hoards (both according to their groups and the type of
metal), showed significant differences regarding the time of circulation.
2. A particularly interesting result was found regarding the types of
metal in coin hoards of Palestine. The longest shelf life was found among
the bronze hoards (the least durable and cheapest metal), next were the
mixed hoards, followed by the silver, and finally the gold hoards, with
the shortest circulation time. This, despite the suggestions raised earlier,
according to which we would have expected circulation times for coins of
the various metals to be quite the reverse.
It is important to mention that although the means of the various groups
of metals show a slight change after the removal of the outliers, the bronze
hoards remain firmly at the top of the ladder (with an average circulation of
95 years). The order is not altogether reversed, since the gold hoards follow
the bronze hoards (with a mean of 75 years), followed by the silver hoards
(with a mean of 45 years). The average circulation time of coins in the mixed
hoards is the lowest. We also noted that the medians show a similar picture,
so that the order bronze-gold-silver and finally silver-bronze remains.

Conclusions
1. Numismatic, Economic and Historical Conclusions
As was statistically demonstrated, the preliminary division of our sample
to the various categories was correct. There were significant differences
between the various types of hoards. Those deposited during times of stress
such as wars, revolts etc. are fundamentally different from those deposited,
for instance, in a synagogue.
The tendency of the mixed order which was discovered during our
examination of the shelf life of the metals of coins in hoards, is not only
interesting in itself, but also raises some questions regarding our expectations, which were obviously based upon misconceptions. For example, it is
logical to expect that coins minted from a more durable metal should circulate for a longer period than those minted from a softer, cheaper metal.
These expectations were proved to be false. In order to explain this, it

324

M. WANER Z. SAFRAI

would be necessary to perform a comprehensive analysis of all the coins of


all the hoards in our sample (including many which have not yet been published). This is obviously beyond the scope of the present study.
At this stage we can merely suggest, that the abundance of bronze hoards,
as well as the long-term usage of relatively low quality metal coins, may shed
light on the condition of the local population during this period. It indicates
lack of excess and an absence of economic prosperity. This could be explained by the heavy taxation that prevented the citizens from having and
thus depositing their spare coins. It appears that bronze coins were a major
part of the monetary reserve of the period, which in turn reflects a low standard of living of most of the citizens and communities of the country.

2. Conclusions regarding the late coins in hoards


a) Numismatic/Economic Conclusions
Results of the analysis of the late coins in hoards showed that a great percentage of the coins were in fact added to the collection a short time before the deposition of the hoards or indeed, during the actual deposition25.
It was proven that most of the hoards in our sample contained a relatively
large amount of late coins. We can therefore argue that, from the hoards
examined it appears that people seemed to use coins that were minted during the last generation. Hence, it can be said that even though the maximum time span of coins in hoards is around 250 years (and as we have
shown, sometimes much greater), and although the average median is about
50 years (39 in revolt hoards, 94 in synagogue hoards and 59 in the rest),
it nevertheless appears that most of the coins in hoards are, in fact, from
the last 25 years prior to concealment.

b) Historical Conclusions
Two interesting phenomena stem from the results and examination of the field:
1. From the Roman period in Palestine there appears to be a relatively
high percentage of hoards with coins dating to the last generation. This,
25. This, over and above the large number of hoards that we initially identified as Emergency or Revolt hoards, where we would obviously have expected a very high percentage of late coins.

A CATALOGUE OF COIN HOARDS

325

while in hoards dating to the Byzantine period, the phenomenon is less


apparent. This suggests that the Byzantine period is characterized in long
term use of late coins, or in other words, that the market procrastinated or
hesitated about accepting new coins. This is so at least in comparison with
the Roman period.
We also found that most of the hoards containing 100% late coins (i.e.
that all their coins were in circulation during the last 25 years or less prior
to deposition), are from the Late Roman period (e.g. hoards nos 33,37,38
from the years 350, 363 and 395 A.D., respectively)26.
2. The phenomenon of the abundance of late coins in hoards appears
even in hoards that could have been considered as Savings Hoards (this,
if we look at the large time span between their earliest and latest coins,
which typically helps us identify the type of hoard). Since we found a large
time span in these hoards, it would appear that an extended period had gone
by from the beginning of the collection until the time of deposition. Yet,
results now show a need for a change: We have to change either our way
of thinking, or our definitions.
The division of coins into the various types of metals thus indicates a
fundamental change in the economy of the province of Palestine. During
the Byzantine period there was an increase in the number of wealthy land
owners, and at the same time there was an increase in the number of people
who did not own any land. This brought about the emergence of an affluent class and a rise in coin usage.

26. The Late Roman period refers to our earlier time scale. Its end was set before the days

of Anastasius.

326

M. WANER Z. SAFRAI

Catalogue of Coin Hoards (shortened version)


Hoard First
No.
coin

Last
coin

Metal

No. of
coins

Site

References

66

69

AR

100

Jericho

Kadman, 1963 (no. 23)

66

69

AR

300

Jerusalem I

Noe, 1937 (no. 514)

66

69

AR

Bir Zeit I

Kadman, 1963 (no. 24)

Jerusalem II

Guy & Lambert, 1926

66

69

AR

-40

68

AR

214

Lions Gate (Jlem)

11

68

AR

54

Bir Zeit II

Sukenik, 1942

-12

68

AR

16

Silwan (Jlem)

Reifenberg, 1944

67

69

AE

72

Qumran I

de Vaux, 1954

52

70

AR

16

Mt. Olives I (Jlem)

10

66

70

AR

19

Masada I

Meshorer, 1989

11

37

70

AE

18

Ein Feshkha

de Vaux, 1961

12

132

135

AE+AR

346

Dura-Battir

Noe, 1937 (no.154)

13

132

135

AE+AR 18 + ?

Unknown I

Noe, 1937 (no. 786)

14

132

135

AE+AR 32 + ?

Unknown II

Noe, 1937 (no. 787)

15

69

135

AE+AR

10

Qumran II

de Vaux, 1954

16

132

135

AE

88

Unknown IV

Colbert, 1963

17

132

135

AE+AR

254

Unknown V

Kadman, 1963 (no. 39)

18

20

132

AR

213

Murabbaat

Milik & Seyrig, 1958

19

492

530

AE

En Gedi (Syn.)

Barag, Porat & Netzer, 1981

20

59

119

AR

257

Eleotheropolis/
BGuvrin

Bellinger, 1962

21

150

214

AV

Gadara
(Um Keis)

Kadman, 1963 (no. 43)

22

211

218

AR

93

Neapolis

Newell, 1938

23

217

218

AR

22

Majdal (Gaza)

Spaer, 1985

24

54

253 AR(Bill.)

75

Jerusalem III

Hamburger, 1954

25

54

249

AE+AR

237

Gush Halav

Hamburger, 1954b

26

50

253

AE

94

Silat ah-Dir

Spijkerman & Starky, 1958

27

225

253

AE

43

BShean/
Scythopolis

Bland, 1981

28

222

235

AE

19

Kalansawa

Meshorer, 1963

29

61

270

30

253

270

AE+AR 1545
AE

50

Hill, 1938

Spijkerman, 1961

Capernaum (Syn.) Spijkerman, 1959


Sebastia

Kadman, 1963 (no. 52)

327

A CATALOGUE OF COIN HOARDS

Hoard First
No.
coin

Last
coin

Metal

No. of
coins

31

260

284

AE

32

215

295

33

300

350

34

307

35
36

Site

References

99

Mt. Olives II
(Jlem)

Sweeney & Visona, 1991

AE

159

Jafiah (Galilee) Noe, 1937 (no. 490)

AE

440

Northern Israel

Lambert, 1932

352

AE

3700

Caesarea (Syn.)

Sukenik, 1949

286

350

AE

400

Chorazin (Syn.)

Yeivin, 1973

307

352

AE

1200

Beth Shearim
(Syn.)

Mazar, 1956

37

337

363

AE

341

El Yamun (Jenin) Baramki, 1934

38

337

395

AV

17

Kh. Abu-Sweize Guy & Lambert, 1926

39

364

459

AE

414

Beth Shean
(Syn.)

40

337

527

AE

36

Beth Alpha (Syn.)Sukenik, 1942

41

450

606

AV

42

71

220

AR

10321

43

42

59

AE

44

491

612

45

133

46

132

47

54

Tzuri, 1967 (Hebrew)

Deir Dassawi I

Rachmani, 1964

Mamshit
(Mempsis)

Negev, 1965

139

En Gedi

Meshorer, 1973

AE

99

Deir Dassawi II

Rachmani, 1964

134

AR

120

Unknown VII

Alon 2;3(1968):58*

135

AR

40

Unknown XI

Alon 2;3(1968):55*

96

AE

76

Mt. Hebron

Alon 2;4(1968):66*

48

54

87

AE

79

Unknown XII

Alon 3;2(1968):55*

49

-162

370

AE

88

Ptolemais

Colbert, 1963

50

364

518

AV

12

Kh. Rimmon
(Syn.)

Kloner & Mindel, 1981

51

364

518

AV

35

Kh. Rimmon II
(Syn)

Kloner & Mindel, 1981

52

351

352

AE

1200

Unknown VIII

Alon 2;3(1968):55*

53

-27

117

AE

450

Unknown IX

Alon 2;3(1968):55*

54

117

AV

39

Caesarea
Maritima I

Ostreicher, 1962

55

630

695

AV

27

Rehov I (Syn.)

Paltiel 1968 (Hebrew)

56

582

636

AV

10

Beth Shean II

Fitzgerald, 1939

57

491

612

AE

325

Kh. Dubel

Lambert, 1932

58

500

612

AE

69

Sabastia
Baramki, 1939
(Fandaquamiye)

328

M. WANER Z. SAFRAI

Hoard First
No.
coin

Last
coin

Metal

No. of
coins

Site

References

59

500

538

AE

500

Gaza

Spear, 1985

60

500

610

AE

48

Deir Dassawi III Rachmani, 1964a

61

558

630

AE

138

Jerusalem IV

Noe, 1937 (no. 514)

62

610

636

AE

200

Zemach

Kadman, 1963 (no. 70)

63

269

305

AE+AR

99

Tiberias I

Rachmani, 1964b

64

59

120

AR

218

Tiberias II

Hamburger, 1964

65

218

253

AR

124

Trans-Jordan I

Bland, 1990

66

98

129

AR

17

Wadi ed-Daliyeh Damati & Erlich, 1981

67

50

Maoz Chaim
(Syn.)

Tzaferis, 1981

68

-37

AE

51

Judean Desert

INJ II (1-2), 1964*

69

132

134

AE+AR

130

Kh. Akkad

Damati, 1980

70

-4

86

AE

15

Kh. Nitleh
(Jericho)

Kelso & Baramki, 1955

71

-9

66

AE

30

Tel Afek I

Kochavi, 1973

72

-9

67

AE

30

Tel Afek II

Kochavi, 1973

73

AE

80

Avdat

Negev, 1991

74

602

685

AV

29

Awartha
(Neapolis)

Dajani, 1951

75

307

423

AE

193

En Nashut I
(Syn.)

Ariel, 1987

76

450

AE

51

En Nashut II
(Syn.)

Ariel, 1987

77

544

608

AE

82

Qazrin II (Syn.)

Ariel, 1996

78

69

135

AE+AR

36

Hebron region I

Meshorer, 1985a

79

79

234

AE

50

Hebron region II Rachel Barkayi 1995


(Hebrew)

80

344

395

AV

99

Caesarea
Maritima III

Bull & Storvich, 1993

81

-80

60

AE

775

Kh. Zeita

Teper & Kloner, 1989


(Hebrew)

82

120

128

AE+AR

150

Idna I

Mildenberg, 1984 (no. 12)

83

132

134

AE

822

Herodium

Spijkerman, 1972

84

58

95

AE+AR

79

Idna II

Mildenberg, 1984 (no. 14)

85

132

134

AE+AR

En Arub

Tsafrir, 1975

86

135

AR

Idna III

Mildenberg, 1984 (no. 16)

329

A CATALOGUE OF COIN HOARDS

Hoard First
No.
coin

Last
coin

Metal

No. of
coins

87

135

AR

190

88

135

AR

45

Idna V

Mildenberg, 1984 (no. 18)

89

135

AE+AR
+AV

250

Beir Mirsim

Mildenberg, 1984 (no. 19)

90

132

134

AE

173

Unknown X

Mildenberg, 1984 (no. 20)

91

-9

67

AE

20

Tel Afek III

Kochavi, 1973

92

98

134

AE+AR

100

Beth Ommar

Mildenberg, 1984 (no. 21)

93

135

AR

1200

Daharriya

Mildenberg, 1984 (no. 22)

94

56

134

AE+AR

54

Hebron district

CH 3, 1977 (no. 90)*

95

135

AE+AR

Latrun

Mildenberg, 1984 (no. 25)

96

135

AR

2600

El Fawar

Mildenberg, 1984 (no. 26)

97

132

134

AR

100

Uniev Zair

CH 8, 1985 (no. 554)

98

132

134

AE+AR

74

Hebron

Mildenberg, 1984 (no. 28)

99

98

134

AE+AR

55

Yatta

CH 8, 1987:65 (no. 555)*

100

-152

68

AE

690

Trans-Jordan II

INB 3-4, 1962:106*

101

-152

68

AE

365

Qumran III

RB 63, 1956:565*

102

222

235

AE

Tel Hefer

Bijovsky (in press)

103

56

68

AR

30

Bethlehem

Meshorer, 1985b

104

AE

1856

Beth Shean III

Berman, 1992 (Hebrew)

105

530

610

AE

132

Beth Shean IV

Berman, 1992 (Hebrew)

106

AE

18

Judea

Noe, 1937 no. (786)

107

AE

70

from commerce II Noe, 1937 no. (787)

108

330

585

AE

81

Maon Nirim
(Syn.)

Avi-Yona, 1934

109

52

67

AR

14

Dominus Flevit
(Jlem)

Spijkerman, 1961

110

52

68

AR

30

from commerce I Meshorer, 1985d

Site

References

Idna IV

Mildenberg, 1984 (no. 17)

111

AE

300

Kfar Karnayim

INJ II:1-2, 1964:45*

112

66

69

AR

37

Masada II

Yadin, 1966

113

66

68

AR

12

Masada III

Yadin, 1966

114

60

107

AR

13

Masada IV

Meshorer, 1989

115

602

665

AV

50

. Qav

Syon, 2002

116

74

222

AE

188

Migdal

Meshorer, 1976

117

640

670

AE

24

Rehov II (Syn.)

Paltiel, 1977 (Hebrew)

118

193

253 AR (Bill.) 675

Rafah I

CH 4, 1978 (no. 23)*

330

M. WANER Z. SAFRAI

Hoard First
No.
coin

Last
coin

Metal

No. of
coins

119

512

574

AE

120

211

220

AE

121

81

135

Tel Shalem

HA 1976, 57-58*

122

66

70

AR

27

Shahariyem

CH 8, 1987:28 (no. 553)*

123

98

249

AE

850

Sheik Zweid

Meshorer, 1975

124

132

135

AE

24

From com
/ Hebron

CH8, 1987:65 (no. 554)*

125

40

41

AR

100

Haifa

CH 8, 1987:65 (no. 551)*

126

65

135

AR

60

Kh. Zalit I

Unpublished

127

340

380

29

Kh. Zichrin

Fisher, 1985 (Hebrew)

128

350

255

Sepphoris I/
Deocaesarea

Unpublished

129

350

48

Sepphoris II/
Deocaesarea

Unpublished

130

117

AE+AR

Jaffa

Kaplan, 1981

131

306

337

AE

1123

from commerce
(Nazralla)

Unpublished

132

-26

54

AR

6000

Ussafiya

Kadman, 1962

133

602

610

AV

Jerusalem
(Citadel)

Ariel, 1982

134

613

635

AV

Ginnegar

Oshri & Najjar, 1997

135

601

610

AV

91

Bat Galim

Bendall, 1975

136

255

346

AE

25

Qazrin I (Syn.)

Ariel, 1996

137

335

455

AE

53

Beth Shean IV

Unpublished

138

282

392

AE

20

Qazrin III

Ariel, 1996

139

455

565

AE

Caesarea
Maritima II

Unpublished

140

69

244

AR

94

Kefar Barra

Unpublished

141

132

135

AE

22

Kh. Zalit II

Alon, 1986 (Hebrew)

142

-80

551

AE

418

Gush Halav
(Syn.)

Bijovsky, 1998

143

222

235

AE

Tel Hefer I

Bijovsky (in press)

144

-125

64

AR

36

Gamla

Syon, 1993

145

70

AR

47

North Jerusalem CH 7, 1985 (no. 151)*

146

70

AR

13

Jewish Quarter
(Jlem)

Site

References

338

Rafah II

Spaer, 1978

16

Upper Galilee

Burnett, 1985

CH 3, 1977 (no. 88)*

331

A CATALOGUE OF COIN HOARDS

Hoard First
No.
coin

Last
coin

Metal

No. of
coins

Site

References

147

73

AR

Unknown II

Leonard, 1997**

148

73

AR

Unknown XIV

Leonard, 1997**

149

73

AR

Unknown XIII

Leonard, 1997**

150

73

AR

Unknown VI

Leonard, 1997**

151

624

655

AV

298

El Hama

Phillips & Goodwin, 1997

152

31

Hamat Tiberias
(Syn.)

Dotan, 1983

* No name of author
** From R.D. Leonards lecture at the 12th International Numismatic Congress, Berlin
1997.

Bibliographic list for the Hoards (in order of their appearance in the catalogue)
1. Kadman, L. 1963, The Monetary Development in Palestine According to Coin Hoards,
INCP, Jerusalem, pp. 311-324 (no. 23).
2. Noe, S.P. 1937, Catalogue of Greek Coin Hoards, New York (no. 514).
3. Kadman, L. 1963, The Monetary Development in Palestine According to Coin Hoards,
INCP, Jerusalem, pp. 311-324 (no. 24).
4. Guy & Lambert 1926, Notes of the Recovery of 17 Byzantine Gold Coins from Khirbert
Abu Zeize, BPM 2, pp. 13-18.
5. Hill, G.F. 1938, he Shekels of The First Revolt of the Jews, QDAP 6, pp. 78-83.
6. Sukenik, E.L. 1932, The Ancient Synagogue of Beth Alfa, Jerusalem, pp. 11-16.
7. Reifenberg, A. 1944-5, A Hoard of Tyrian Jewish Shekels, QDAP 11, pp. 83-85.
8. De Vaux, R. 1954, Fouilles Au Khirbet Qumran - Les Monnaies et les Dates
d'Occupation, RB 61, pp. 206-236.
9. Spijkerman, A. 1961, Tresor des Sicles Juifs Trouve au Mont de Oliviers a Jerusalem,
Schweizer Munzblatter 2, pp. 25-32.
10. Meshorer, Y. 1989, The Coins of Masada, 1963-1965, in: Y. Yadin, Masada, I,
Jerusalem, pp. 71-132.
11. De Vaux, R. 1959, Follies de Feshkha, RB 66, pp. 225-255.
12. Noe, S.P. 1937, Catalogue of Greek Coin Hoards, New York (no. 154).
13. Noe, S.P. 1937, Catalogue of Greek Coin Hoards, New York (no. 786).
14. Noe, S.P. 1937, Catalogue of Greek Coin Hoards, New York (no. 787).
15. De Vaux, R. 1956, Fouilles Au Khirbet Qumran, RB 63, pp. 565-569.
16. Colbert, Ch. 1963-4, A Hoard of Medium Bronze Coins of Bar Kokhbar War 132-135
CE, INJ 1:4, pp. 75-79.
17. Kadman, L. 1963, The Monetary Development in Palestine According to Coin
Hoards, INCP, Jerusalem, pp. 311-324 (no. 39).

332

M. WANER Z. SAFRAI

18. Milik & Seyrig 1958, Tresor Monetaire de Murabbaat, RN 6, pp. 11-26.
19. Barag, D., Porat, V, Netzer, E. 1981, The Synagogue at En Gedi, in: L.I. Levine (ed.),
Ancient Synagogues Revealed, Jerusalem, pp. 116-119.
20. Bellinger, A.R. 1962, The Boston College Hoard, ANSMN 10, pp. 43-50.
21. Kadman, L. 1963, he Monetary Development in Palestine According to Coin Hoards,
INCP, Jerusalem, pp. 311-324 (no. 43).
22. Newell, E.T. 1938, Miscellanea Numismatic, NM 82, pp. 37-47.
23. Spaer, A. 1985, The Majdal (Gaza) Hoard, CH 7 (no. 337), p. 174.
24. Hamburger, H. 1954a, Recent Studies and Discoveries, Jerusalem.
25. Hamburger, H. 1954b, A Hoard of Syrian Tetradrachms and Tyrian Bronze Coins from
Gush Halav, INJ 1, pp. 65-90.
26. Spijkerman, A. & Starky, J. 1958, Un Nouveau lot de Monnaies Palestiniennes, RB
65, pp. 568-574.
27. Bland, R. 1981, Two Late Roman Hoards from Beth Shean, INJ 5:3-4, pp. 52-56.
28. Meshorer, Y. 1963, A Find of Coins of Alexander Severus Struck in Caesarea Maritima, INB 5, pp. 20-21.
29. Spijkerman, A. 1958-9, A Hoard of Syrian Tetradrachms and Eastern Antoniniani from
Capernaum, LA 9, pp. 283-324.
30. Kadman, L. 1963, The Monetary Development in Palestine According to Coin
Hoards, INCP, Jerusalem, pp. 311-324 (no. 43).
31. Sweeney, W.B. & Visona, P. 1991, A Hoards of Antoniniani from the Mount of Olives, RN 1991, 6th Series, 33, pp. 263-268.
32. Noe, S.P. 1937, Catalogue of Greek Coin Hoards, New York (no. 490).
33. Lambert, C. 1932, A Hoard of Byzantine Coins, QDAP 1, pp. 55-68.
34. Sukenik, E.L. 1949, The Ancient Synagogue of Caesarea, Rabinowitz Bulletin 1, pp.
17-23.
35. Yeivin, Z. 1973, The Beth Shearim Synagogue Hoard, EI 11, pp. 144-157.
36. Mazar, B. 1956, Excavations of the Beth She'arim Synagogue, IEJ 6, pp. 261-262.
37. Baramki, J.C. 1939, A Hoard of Byzantine Coins, QDAP 8, pp. 81-85.
38. Guy & Lambert 1926, Notes of the Recovery of 17 Byzantine Gold Coins from
Khirbert Abu Zueize, BPM 2, pp. 13-18.
39. Tzuri, N. 1967, The Ancient Synagogue of Beth Shean, AI 8, pp. 149-167 (in
Heberew).
40. Sukenik, E.L. 1932, The Ancient Synagogue of Beth Alfa, Jerusalem, pp. 11-16.
41. Rachmani, L.I. 1964, Two Hoards of Byzantine Coins and a Rom