Saturday, March 05, 2022

Response to Kappes "Part 2"

 Dr. Christiaan Kappes has graciously provided a multi-part response to my previous post (here).  His first post, which dealt with mostly irrelevant matters, has been addressed in a video (here).  "Part 2" was supposed to get to the substance of the matter.  I've done my best to separate the wheat from the chaff. 

CK: "Provided that we can find two or more words that Mary is said to have spoken (Luke 1:34) and we can find these two or more words from a source earlier than and other than Mary, then she may be plausibly suspected of quoting them."

First, why stop at two? It's possible to have a one word quotation.   Dr. Kappes is just stopping at two, because he's trying to argue for an extremely short "quotation" (see what I did there?), namely a two-word quotation.  An example of a one-word quotation in Scripture is when Jesus says, "Why do you call me 'good'?" (Matthew 19:17; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19)  In Luke 1:39, we don't have a two-word quotation, a one-word quotation, or any other kind of quotation except (as mentioned in my tl;dr post) a quotation of Mary by Luke.  Mary is not quoting anyone, she's just asking the angel a question.

Second, we are framing this issue in terms of quotation, rather than literary dependence, allusion, or the like, because Albrecht and Kappes (A&K) repeatedly framed the matter that way.  Literary dependence is typically a lower bar. For example, the synoptic gospels exhibit literary dependence with one another, and there are numerous places where they tell the same story in approximately the same words. That said, we would not typically say that one of the evangelists is quoting the other. Indeed, there is speculation that the synoptics derive their similarity by mutually obtaining material from a common source.  As a different example, if someone said, "Let them eat cake," they are almost certainly borrowing an expression that is traditionally attributed to Marie Antoinette.  There would, in that case, be literary dependency on the queen's words, but it may not be intended as quotation.  In fact, the person using this expression may not know the story of the phrase's origin.  Quotation is one form of literary dependency, but literary dependency is not necessarily quotation.  In Luke 1:34, Mary is not literarily dependent or quoting from anyone, she's just asking the angel a question.

Not every idiom is traceable back to an original source.  For example, “hit the books,” (as an idiom for studying) or “hit the hay,” (as an idiom for sleeping) may have come into English usage without leaving us with the clues necessary to track down the original author.  Using that idiom may reveal various information about the person who uses it, but it does not hint or suggest that the person is quoting any earlier user of the same idiom.

In the case of this particular idiomatic usage of “know” to euphemistically describe what husband and wife do, perhaps God inspired Moses to use it when writing Genesis.  Perhaps it was in use before Moses.  We simply do not know.  It’s easy to see that “not know” as a euphemism for abstaining from marital acts derives from the affirmative idiom, but beyond that we cannot say who first used it.  Likewise, the specifically female version of the negative idiom (“not know man”) has a literary history that, as far as we know, has been lost.  

Accordingly, just as with most idioms today, the idiom that Mary used does not, itself, imply a quotation of some earlier source who invented that idiom.

Third, simply finding the same two words in a previous source is not enough for us to "plausibly suspect" that there is a quotation.  I've already demonstrated this with the Hosea/Judges example in my previous post.  Even though the exact same three words are used in the same order and same form in Hosea as in Judges, it is absolutely absurd to suspect that Hosea is quoting Judges.  Such a suspicion would not be plausible, it would be absurd. 

Fourth, we should acknowledge that if we find the same 100 words in the same form and same order from an earlier source, we would not just "plausibly suspect" quotation, we would automatically assume there is some kind of literary dependency.  For example, the two could be quoting from the same still earlier source, or the latter quote be quoting from the earlier source.  The huge amount of verbal overlap among the synoptic gospels is an example of this issue.  

Fifth, we should acknowledge that there is not some bright line between 100 words and two words.  If we have ten words the same, it's looking like literary dependence, but of course it depends on other factors.  At some lower number of words, it increasingly looks like a coincidence.  That said, if the one word is, "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," or a similarly unique word, literary dependence may still be a reasonable conclusion even with just the one word matching. 

Sixth, indeed what we need to recognize is that while 100 words would be an unbelievable coincidence, and 1 word is usually just a coincidence, the determination about literary dependency more broadly, and quotation more specifically, is not simply based on the number of aligning words.  Two words the same doesn't automatically trigger a presumption of quotation, nor does the use of the two same words itself make suspicion of quotation plausible.

Seventh, my previous post dealt with the specific claims made by A&K that this quotation was "verbatim" and "the exact words." Those assertions as such are demonstrably false (they are not "verbatim" nor "the exact words").  Hypothetically the more general claim of quotation could still be true.  That's merely hypothetical, because in this case there is no quotation.  The reason for the hypothetical possibility is (1) that people sometimes provide quotations that are paraphrastic, abbreviated, or the like.  Yes, arguably those would be something other than a direct quotation, but they would still be a form of quotation.  Moreover, it appears that paraphrases and the like were an accepted way of quoting at the time.  Likewise, (2) because Greek does not heavily rely on word order to convey meaning (the way English does) the word order could be different and it could still be a quotation.  Furthermore, (3) the same words could appear in some different form. For example, "good" in Luke 18:18 is vocative, while "good" in Luke 18:19 is accusative. While this may be viewed as a specific subset of (1), it's worth mentioning it separately here.

Eighth, just as "quotation" is broader than "direct quotation" and is broader than "verbatim" and "the exact words," so also "allusion" is even broader than quotation.  Allusion can be made in many ways, such as by the recitation of similar concepts.  As I think I noted before, though, allusion is sometimes in the eye of the beholder.  While it is fun to try to find allusions, it's easier to find them than to demonstrate that they were intended by the author.  In this case, I find the argument for an allusion underwhelming, but I would view A&K as being more reasonable if they would merely assert that there is an allusion.  Of course, that loses its rhetorical impact, but that's the price of integrity.

CK: "However, more arguments might be needed to solidify or prove such a conclusion of “quoting” depending on factors that might weaken the assertion that Luke’s Mary quoted Judges 11:39."

Yes, more arguments are definitely needed to go from "hey, they use the same two words," to "this is a quotation."

The factors that must be considered chiefly include the context.  By way of comparison, in the context of Jesus' statement, "Why do you call me, 'good,'" we see that (1) Jesus has just been called "good" and now is repeating the word and (2) Jesus introduces the word "good" with a phrase that indicates he's about to provide a quotation, "do you call me."  So, even though the word "good," is an extremely common word, in this particular context it's easy to see that it's a quotation even though agathos goes from vocative (ἀγαθέ) to accusative (ἀγαθόν).  

CK: "... word-for-word parallels, the same syntax between selected words in two phrases, and inclinations/conjugations are useless for this example because it is an idiom!"

It is indeed an idiom (as already pointed out in my tl;dr post here).

The fact that the phrase is an idiom is a factor to be considered, for sure. Remember when we mentioned above that a one-word similarity is most likely a coincidence? When you consider a group of words as an idiom, the same principle applies: a one-idiom similarity is most likely just a coincidence.

Moreover, this idiom did not originate with Judges 11. It was already used in Genesis 19:8 regarding Lot's daughter, as mentioned in my original post.  Moreover, that usage is just a variation on the euphemism introduced in Genesis 4:1.  It is a Hebrew idiom that appears in the Septuagint because, at least sometimes, the Septuagint provides literal translation.  It's not unique to Judges 11 and it's not original to Judges 11.  It may not be the most common idiom/euphemism, but its presence in Mary's mouth merely demonstrates that she is Jewish, much as if she had used the word "rabbi."

CK: "“The only difference is the object of knowledge.” Incorrect! The difference is that Judges 11:39 and Luke 1:34 are Hebrew sexual idioms (see above for definition) first found in Greek in the LXX, and Hosea 2:8/10 represents not an idiom but what an idiot does with the Bible who knows not idioms."

CK's response is replete with similar attempts to be clever, and this is (imho) his best attempt at wordplay in furtherance of his insults, which is why I've presented it for you.  

He is eager to find fault, but of course the statement he labels "incorrect," is actually correct.  It is the difference in the object of knowledge that leads us to understand that "know a man" or "know her" is a different sense of "know" from other examples of "know [object]."  His comment that one is a sexual idiom and the other is not, is perfectly true.

CK offered an example to prove the point he was trying to make:

(1.) That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (original idiom)

(2.) That which doesn’t kill somebody makes someone stronger (oblique quote of idiom)

(3.) You dummy! Protein isn’t that which kills you, it makes you stronger (literal statement, not an idiom)

For Albrecht and Co., the “quote” here -presuming #1 above to be prior to nos. 2-3, is from sentence #2. It is a quote, the words are the same or verbatim (adjusted for the author’s literary purposes), and the idiom in English is preserved. But what about #3? Sentence three is not a quote of either #1 or #2, but it does happen to have the same words even closer to #1 by chance but with a much different meaning that is literal not an idiomatic expression. 

I appreciate CK's seeming concession in his parenthetical that (2) is an "oblique" quote, rather than a "direct" or "verbatim" or "the exact words" quote.  Oddly enough, he seems to say in the following paragraph that the words "the same or verbatim" (some are, like "doesn't kill" and "stronger") but obviously some have been changed or as he says, "adjusted for the author's literary purposes."  I would point out that the original idiom should probably be, "what" not "that which," but it has no effect on CK's point.  If I were to read (3) in a book, the similarity to the idiom would probably make think it was allusion to the idiom (though not an allusion to some specific previous use of that idiom).  Obviously, Kappes is stipulating that it is just a chance coincidence that there are similarities between them.  One could certainly imagine something like that happening by chance.

There is a further nuance I should address, at the risk of seeming pedantic.  Except for Kappes' stipulation that it is a quotation, (2) would just look like a use or adaptation of the idiom, rather than a quotation of the idiom.

Although that may seem pedantic, it turns out to be relevant to the idiom under consideration.  Mary is definitely using the idiom that means "virgin." She is not quoting someone else's use of that idiom.  Luke is quoting Mary's use of the idiom. 

For the reader's benefit, I note that Albrecht and Co. seems to be Kappes' term for Albrecht and Shamoun.  Shamoun, while one of the debaters in the debate, was not involved in these false claims of quotation.

CK: "Luke (who, Dr. White explicitly claims, thought the LXX to be Scripture)"

Dr. White has made even stronger claims about the Septuagint translation of the canonical books of the Old Testament.  I don't always agree with Dr. White, but if all CK means is that Luke treated the Greek translation he had as a reliable translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, then this isn't the least bit objectionable.  I should point out here that in CK's mind, Dr. White is somehow involved in my dialog with Albrecht and/or Kappes.  I have no idea what makes him think that.

CK: "So far, we have seen that ... TF believe[s] that Mary among the Evangelists is flawed because: (1.) Albrëcht and co. (=A & co.) don’t resolve problems using a ... critical edition of Judges/LXX (2.) A & co., do not take into account ... pre-AD 70 translations of the Bible other than the LXX (3.) A & co., do not consider that Luke ... may have wanted to translate exactly as the LXX but by using the Hebrew and not the LXX (an unverifiable claim), and (4.) because A & co. don’t see that Hosea 2:8/Genesis 2:9, & 27:2 are actually equal or better candidates for Mary’s words in Luke 1:34, as if applying A & co.’s logic, since they can find many words that match between Luke 1:34 & Hosea 2:8/Genesis 2:9, & 27:2."

It's hard to understand how Kappes gets the point of the article so wrong.  Then again, Kappes thinks that Luke is quoting from Judges.  The point of the article, which was clearly stated is that one flaw of A&K's book and of Albrecht's debate arguments, is that neither Luke quotes from Judges nor does Mary quote from Judges.  Luke quotes from Mary, who being a Jewish girl uses a Jewish way of talking about her virginity.

As to (1), the original article pointed out that both Judges A and Judges B have the same phrase here, although they have other variants in the same verse.  Rahlfs is the most popular (by sales) critical Septuagint (I'm perfectly ok with Dr. Kappes' insistence on referring to Rahlfs as merely "semi-critical").  The reason for mentioning the problem of Judges is that "the Septuagint" as it pertains to Judges provides some ambiguity.  If A&K's book were a scholarly treatment of the topic, I would have expected at least a footnote about the issue.  Perhaps Dr. Kappes disagrees with that point, but it does not seem he has recognized it.

As to (2), that wasn't remotely a point of the article.  While various things have been hypothesized, there's nothing to "take into account" as far as other Greek translations (if they were even made) are concerned. 

As to (3), again, Kappes is way off.  First, it wasn't the contention of the post that Luke wanted to translate anything (other than Mary, if she spoke in Hebrew, i.e. Aramaic).  Second, what Luke provides is not "exactly" what the Septuagint says.  Third, there may be some reason to suppose that if Luke wanted to quote from the Old Testament, he would have preferred to originally translate from Hebrew.  That said, no - just no.  Now, Luke was quoting Mary, and Mary may have been speaking Hebrew (Aramaic), which Luke then translated into Greek.  

As to (4), once again, not even close.  Hosea was provided as an example of the absurdity of asserting quotation based on verbal similarity or even multi-word match.  It's hard to understand how someone of Dr. Kappes' caliber could misunderstand that so badly.  Dr. Kappes has, however, placed the cart before the horse and assumed that there is some OT quotation going on.  He's trying to decide which text is being quoted, rather than whether a text is being quoted at all.  In this particular verse, the only one being quoted is Mary.  It is true that Luke also quotes Gabriel in the same dialog, and that Gabriel seems to allude to the promise to David, "There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel," which can be found in a number of places in the Old Testament (inconveniently for A&K, not in Judges 11), most likely the version at Isaiah 9:7, which states: "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."  

Notice, dear reader, that I'm making a probable claim about an allusion, not a claim of direct quotation.

Likewise, the Genesis passage was not provided as a candidate source for Luke's text.  The Genesis passage was provided an example of the fundamental problem of A&K's methodology.

CK: "So, although I have been well aware of these verses per the TLG (largest Greek database in the world) since 2020, how did I come to the conclusion that the verses proposed rationally by ... TF, below, are not worthwhile competitors with LXX Judges 11:39 for Mary (according to Luke) to quote in Luke 1:34?"

Once again, that is not the question being asked.  The question is not "which is the correct candidate source text."  The question is why on earth anyone would assume there was a quotation taking place here.  Mere similarity of words, especially when it is a short phrase that is not distinctive of anything besides being a Hebraism, is not enough.  

I will add, though, that I'm glad to see Kappes acknowledging the existence of other matches to his database query.  That leads to the question of why Albrecht and he would represent the usage in Judges 11 as being the only hit, but we digress.

CK: "We saw that “woman not to know a man” is a Hebrew idiom. "

Yes, it's just a way of saying that a woman is a virgin, based on the Hebrew euphemism of "know" for what husbands and wives do in bed.

CK: "The first claim made by us that moves toward the criterion of exclusivity lies in the use of the TLG (Greek world’s most powerful search engine) for the lemmata (roots) “not + know + man.” As predicted (just as in 2020), the idiom first appears in the third century BC Jewish literature. These LXX examples above exhaust its use in Greek from approximately 500 BC until AD 70."

Of course, a very similar use of language is found in 1 Kings 1:4 ("... the king knew her not") and Matthew 1:25 ("And knew her not till .. .").  It's not the exact not + know + man query, but it's the same manner of speaking.  Both the King and Joseph were men, and indeed Joseph is in the same line as David.  I hesitate to point this out to someone with parallelomania, but in terms of looking for examples of royal men being around a virgin, the situation is not entirely unprecedented.  It's not the parallel that Roman Catholics are looking for, though there does seem the possibility that Abishag may have died a virgin, since Solomon refused to allow her to marry his older brother. 

Moreover, the negatively worded idiom is not particularly special given that the positively worded form "know man" is also used  (for example, Numbers 31:17 and following) and similarly to know a woman especially one's wife is also used (for example, Genesis 4:1 and 17).

In short, it's not a particularly distinctive or special idiom, except that it is a Hebrew euphemism that (and here I'm trusting A&K's TLG search) was not known to the Greeks as such.

CK: "So, what is already exclusive about this phrase? It is exclusively found in the Hebrew Bible according to the LXX (nowhere else) until it is cited by a Greek-speaking (without incontrovertible evidence of knowing Hebrew) St. Luke."

Setting aside whether Luke knew Hebrew, this is not an especially surprising nugget of information.  It's nice to know, but it doesn't resolve the question of quotation in the least.

CK: "Even without looking at the greater context of Luke chapter 1 (viz., the other literary allusions/borrowings surrounding Luke 1:34), we can still come to the almost certain conclusion that the verbatim citation (of the verb: gignôskô, and of the noun: anêr, and the negative particle ou) require us to look to Judges 11:39."

Notice that Kappes just assumes there is a quotation here.  The question he's interested in investigating is which of the possible previous uses of this idiom is the best candidate for quotation..  Kappes seems to have missed the obvious: this is not a quotation.

Kappes goes on to point out that the only time this particular negative form of the idiom is used with regard to a singular female subject (she - not - know).  Kappes then characterizes the contexts of the uses of the idiom in a way that he thinks shows closer connection between Luke 1 and Judges 11 than the other two passages.  Finally, in what amounts to a variation on the first point, Kappes highlights the changes that are needed to go from the wording in the three OT passages to the wording in Luke.

If it were already a foregone conclusion that Luke must be quoting, Judges 11 may indeed be the best candidate for a quotation.  The problem is, this isn't a quotation.  The problem is not that Kappes found the wrong source, but that Kappes thinks this is a quotation in the first place.  It's not a quotation.

CK: "But why doesn’t St. Luke quote Judges 11:39 verb in the past, but changes it into the present tense?"

Once again, Kappes has already missed the fundamental question of whether Luke quoted the material.  Now he's speculating as to why Luke is changing a verb tense.  I will reserve my comments on this point, which have to do with his analysis of Luke's verb use, for a separate post, as it does not really relate to the question of quotation, as such.

CK: "But what about LXX Judges 11:39 versus Luke 1:34 word order? Answer: the first class that I ever had with Reggie Foster (greatest Latinist perhaps in modern history, whose rule applied to Greek too) was one in which we learned: “Word order doesn’t matter in Latin/Greek!”"

What an interesting claim, and perhaps quite useful to a first year Latin student.  It's true that, compared to English, Latin word order is relatively free.  English syntax requires a more rigid word order.  On the other hand, there is a reason that one often sees verbs at the ends of the sentences in Latin (sounding a bit like Yoda to English readers), even though it is not a rigid rule of the language.  Instead, word order ends up serving more a more pragmatic role.  As you can guess, pragmatics is not the domain of first-year Latin students.

While I don't claim to be an expert in Latin or Greek, Greek has similar flexibility to Latin.  While the word order often does not matter, there is a reason various patterns are familiar.  There is a reason why certain patterns are usually observed, and why violation of those familiar patterns can sometimes have significance. While, "consider Turretinfan's point you should," is understandable and easily translated literally into other languages, its violation of the ordinary verb position in the sentence is glaring to someone fluent in English.  I'm not making a direct comparison to Greek.  On the other hand, I would say that strictly following source word order could be one evidence of quotation, particularly in cases where the word order is flexible, and most particularly when the word order is significant.  I tend to agree with Kappes' point that, generally speaking, the word order in Greek is not particularly significant.  This does not seem to be an exception on its face.  So, the difference in word order is the minutest of points against quotation.

CK: "Sometimes word order does provide you with hints as to the source, sometimes it does not, based on many other variables."

No disagreement here.

CK: "In English, even to change the sentence as follows: “To have erred is human but to have forgiven is divine” is not enough to save a student from plagiarism. The meaning and the quotation are sufficiently literal, and the meaning is exactly conveyed in its essence. One is still guilty of plagiarism, when there is no attribution in these cases, as attribution is today due to the author."

I'm not sure that anti-plagiarism requires tracking down sources of adages.  I am being too persnickety here. If the adage were not an adage but were instead, an argument from one of the sources of one's research, then the change is not enough to remove the taint of plagiarism.

Plagiarism is a kind of literary dependency.  Plagiarism can even be found where a "thought for thought" substitution has been made, but the source has not been cited.  Plagiarism is about source use without credit.

To return to my previous example, if the angel Gabriel turned in a paper with his comment about the throne of David in it, and did not cite his source (perhaps Isaiah), he would risk an accusation of plagiarism.  By contrast, Luke quoting Gabriel and Luke quoting Mary, is immune to such a charge, not because he is not quoting, but because he is citing his source.

Of course, it's anachronistic to apply the standards of plagiarism to the first century.  I have been (jokingly) called "TurnitinFan," and one assumes that the synoptics would be tagged as plagiarists by such software.

Nevertheless, there is no reason to think that Mary is quoting anyone here, nor that Luke is somehow inserting a quotation of someone else into Mary's mouth.

CK then proceeds to provide what he calls, "Contextual Analysis #4 for Criterion of Exclusivity." CK provides five points of alleged parallel between Judges 11 and Luke 1.

Before analyzing these points, I pause to point out that it is not hard to draw parallels between arbitrarily selected passages.  For example, we could draw parallels between the Sodom/Lot account and Luke 1.

It ought to go without saying, but this set of parallels is not intended in the least to suggest that Luke actually intended such parallels, that Luke is quoting from Genesis, or anything of the like.  It is merely illustrative of the fact that the primary limit on drawing parallels is one's creativity.

Returning to CK's parallels.  

CK's First Parallel

Judges: And the spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthae […] And Jephthae vowed a vow to the Lord

Luke: The Holy Spirit will come upon you

In English both reference the Spirit and both talk about it coming upon someone.  The differences are almost too many to count.  In Judges, this formula is used to declare that the judge in question was divinely inspired to go to fight (cf. Judges 3:10, Judges 6:34, Judges 11:29, Judges 14:6, Judges 14:19, and Judges 15:14).  I appreciate Kappes acknowledging his omission of the war material, but that is the material to which the Lord's inspiration relates.  The Greek way of describing this inspiration is different in Luke than in the recension of Judges that I had handy, and even if it were the same, it wouldn't be particularly significant.  The inspiration provided to Mary is presumably to conceive Jesus.  That has nothing to do either with warfare (as per the text) nor with a vow (there is no mention of a vow in Luke 1, unless the implied vows of marriage).

My First Comparison Parallel  (remember, these are just for the sake of demonstrating that A&K’s parallels are arbitrary)

Genesis 19:1 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

Luke 1:26: And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

Angels arrive to Lot, an angel arrives to Mary.

CK's Second Parallel

Judges: Do to me accordingly as the word went out of thy mouth

Luke: Let it be to me according to your word

CK characterizes this as a "clear allusion."  It's clearly a similar statement in English (and in meaning), though the underlying Greek is different.  Both are statements of accepting what has been told them.  Of course, what they are accepting is radically different (the curse of death, and the blessing of a baby).

My Second Comparison Parallel

Genesis 19:21-22 And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

Luke 1:38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. 

A statement of acceptance of what was said is expressed immediately before Lot and the angel part ways, and a statement of acceptance of what was said is expressed immediately before Mary and the angel part ways.

CK's Third Parallel

Judges: let me alone for two months, and I will go up and down on the mountains, and I will bewail my virginity, I and my companions. And he said, Go: and he sent her away for two months; and she went, and her companions, and she bewailed her virginity on the mountains. And it came to pass at the end of the two months that she returned to her father 

Luke: Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah [..] And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her house.

CK notes that " Both go to hills and both return on or around the third month."  Of course, two months is not three, but even more notably going to a city is not going into the wilderness. 

My Third Comparison Parallel

Genesis 19:17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.

Genesis 19:22 Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

Luke 1:39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;

Lot and Mary each head in the direction of the mountains, they go in haste, and they wind up in a city.

CK's Fourth Parallel

Judges: he performed upon her his vow which he vowed; and she knew no man

Luke: Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

Once again, Kappes needlessly mentions a vow for which the closest parallel in Luke would be Mary's betrothal.  Moreover, Jephthah's vow was not about virginity but about a burnt offering.  Maybe indeed he merely sacrificed her fertility in place of a burnt offering.  If so, however, this conclusion of no fertility is exactly the opposite of the conclusion of the story with Mary, which is fertility.

My Fourth Comparison Parallel

Genesis 19:8-9 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.

Luke 1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

Lot's two daughter are virgins like Mary, and like Mary they remain virgins during the course of this particular story (though like Mary they are both later identified as having children).  

CK's Fifth Parallel

Judges: [t]he daughters of Israel went from year to year to bewail the daughter of Jephthae

Luke: And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!

CK admits that these are opposite. I mention this because it demonstrates how fluid the standard of allusion can be.  Kappes assumes they both die virgins, but of course Scripture reveals that Mary went on to live with Joseph and had an identifiable family with him.

My Fifth Comparison Parallel

Genesis 19:14 And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.

Luke 1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

Like Mary, Lot's virgin daughters were betrothed.

My Sixth Comparison Parallel (just to demonstrate greater faux-parallelism)

Genesis 19:19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

Luke 1:38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Lot describes himself as a servant, and Mary describes herself as a handmaid.

My Seventh Comparison Parallel (just to demonstrate yet greater faux-parallelism)

Genesis 19:19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

Luke 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

Lot found grace and Mary found favor.

My Eighth Comparison Parallel (because why not?)

Genesis 19:24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;

Luke 1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

The Lord was literally with Lot and the Lord was literally with Mary.

Finally, in favor of this absurd parallelism to Genesis, is the fact that Sodom is explicitly mentioned twice more (ha!) in Luke (Luke 10:12, 17:29).  By contrast, Jephthah is only mentioned once in the NT (Hebrews 11:32), and never by Luke. No reference is made to Jepthah's daughter ever again in Scripture.  By contrast, Luke mentions Lot himself in Luke 17:28-29 and Lot's wife, who is part of that story, is mentioned as well (Luke 17:32).

Lot's daughters go on to give birth in a highly unusual way (Genesis 19:31-36).  Moreover, like Mary, one of Lot's daughters ends up being a female ancestor of Christ (Genesis 19:37, Ruth 1:4, Matthew 1:5).  Jepthah's daughter definitely doesn't (Judges 11:39) nor does Jephthah himself (Judges 11:34).

In short, if this were a contest of parallels, my proffered parallel to Lot's daughter would win.   I have identified more parallels and stronger parallels, and Lot is a more significant Scriptural figure than Jephthah.


I would be remiss if I did not end by pointing out that Kappes essentially concedes the main point:

CK: "There may be a small concession due to TF in the debate on 9 February, in spite of the nugatory nature of the majority of 10 February ... TF study overall: When Albrëcht is quoted as saying that Mary gives a “direct quote” from Judges 11:39, in one cited instance by TF, not otherwise mentioned in Mary among the Evangelists, nor in other shows nor other debates, this may not be the best way to represent the nature of the citation. It is a quote, it is verbatim from Judges, and it is oblique, in my view, since some grammatical changes had to be made in order to adjust the LXX Judges 11:39 citation to St. Luke’s historical narrative, constrained by his document source, moving him to use the first-person singular with Mary speaking of a future (not of a past) action. However, regarding Albrëcht’s lapsus glossae, I too have historically put in print errors and usually misspeak at least once every time I do a show. But, in fairness, I would want us to avoid the term “direct citation” only until I know better the English semantic range of direct quoting, but I think that the hundreds of other mentions in which we have consistently referenced the Luke 1:34 and Judges 11:39 citation are entirely accurate and I stand by my name as a coauthor of Mary among the Evangelists and I hope that Dr. Sebastian Brock will find, if ever asked, that this present answer to A & Ω is for him satisfactory to continue his enthusiastic endorsement of our ecumenical and pro-Marian work to bring the message of the Gospel to Christians about the biblical Mary mother of Jesus the Lord."

First, I appreciate this concession.  Notwithstanding his other comments, I appreciate his willingness to acknowledge that at least one of the representations was not correct.  Although it might seem easy admitting that someone else made a mistake, Albrecht is his co-author.

Second, I documented two places in the debate with wording that Kappes identifies: "directly quoting" (18:25) and "quotes directly" (1:14:40).

Third, even if Kappes wants to insist that Luke is quoting Judges (which is itself an error), there is simply no defense to the claim that these words are the words "in Jephthah's daughter's mouth" (56:52) or that Mary is "quoting the words of a virgin, a perpetual virgin." (1:05:06)

Fourth, I think it is reasonable to get the error of saying "directly quoting" or "quotes directly" from the phrase "quotes verbatim," which appears twice in Mary among the Evangelists (pp. 84 and 87).  Likewise, "the exact words" or "line up exactly" (21:00, 56:52, 1:04:34) is also a mischaracterization of the text.

Fifth, and most importantly, the only thing Kappes has offered to support his quotation theory is a tenuous (and easily imitated and surpassed) set of parallels between the Judges 11 account and the Luke 1 account.  As everyone should realize, the existence of parallels between the stories does not itself prove allusion, much less quotation.  The Luke 1 story was not alluding to the destruction of Sodom, and it was not alluding to Jephthah's daughter.

Sixth, there is an issue that I have left to the side in my response until now.  That is the issue of Dr. Kappes attempt to enlist the dictionary to justify some of the characterizations that A&K have made.

CK writes: “So, let’s get our terms straight. I’ll take as the standard use of terms (I do not deny that the Oxford [complete] English Dictionary may provide more meanings). Let’s be clear: (1.) “Verbatim: […] word for word”; “Quote: […] to repeat words from.””

Here’s a screen shot of the actual definition of verbatim:

Definition of Verbatim from

Notice the choice by Dr. Kappes to ignore the first definition of the word, in favor of the second definition of the word. Verbatim, however, does mean “exactly the same words,” and “word for word” itself normally means the same thing as “exactly the same words.”

One presumes that Dr. Kappes realizes that if you change the tense of the verb (from aorist to present), and the person of the verb (from third to first), you’re no longer in the land of quoting verbatim. 

Even if this is somehow a quotation, it is certainly not a verbatim quotation.  Changes have been made to the alleged source of the quotation.  It’s been adapted.

Seventh, while Dr. Kappes seems to acknowledge that “directly quotes” is the wrong way to describe the situation, Dr. Kappes seems to acknowledge this at some places, but fails to follow through with the implications.

Post Script: What Triggers a Search for a Quotation Source?

In scholarly writing these days, there are conventions for indicating a quotation.  Normally a short quotation is identified by the use of quotation marks, and a longer quotation is provided as a block of text with different formatting.  This was not always the case.  If you read books in English from previous centuries, you will sometimes see longer quotations set off by a quotation mark at the beginning of every line of text, or by the quoted words being set in italic type. Sometimes single or double chevrons are used to indicate quoted text.  At least at some points of his response, Dr. Kappes used color to identify quoted text.  For printed publications, the color approach has been usually disfavored.  One could imagine many different conventions that could be used, including using different font types or sizes to distinguish the author’s own words from quoted material.

These days, in scholarly writing, if you reuse someone’s words without identifying those words as a quotation, it is usually considered plagiarism.  The most blatant form of plagiarism is simply copying the original words and reusing them without changing them.  There have been some scandals lately due to pastors copying another pastor’s sermon and copying the original words - even to the point of relating stories from the source author’s life as though it were from the plagiarist’s life! Although a sermon is not an academic work and does not have to follow the rules of academic writing, it seemed a bit deceptive, and certainly misleading.

Ancient writers had different conventions in their days and ages.  For example, the synoptic gospels share a lot of material, but it would not be precise to say that they plagiarize each other. Likewise, it would not be accurate to say that they quote from each other.  The most accurate way to describe the situation would be to say that they exhibit literary dependence (sometimes also called literary dependency).  It’s a tangent, but we see the same literary dependency in the Book of Mormon: one of the many reasons to understand that it is what the copyright indicated and not what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints says about it.

Returning to ancient writers, there is an important difference between an allusion and a quotation.  As an example of the former, we have this interesting verse in Hebrews:

Hebrews 11:37  They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

The “they were stoned” appears to be an allusion to the death of Zechariah, recorded for us in 2 Chronicles 24.

2 Chronicles 24:20-22  

And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD. Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The LORD look upon it, and require it.

This is probably the same Zechariah that Jesus refers to in Luke 11:51, “From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.” There’s an interesting question about why Zacharias is called “son of Barachias” in Matthew’s account in Matthew 23:35, but that’s for another day.

Notice the difference between Jesus citing a specific case, as opposed to the author of Hebrews alluding to what is apparently the same case.  In Jesus’ example, the referenced case is pretty specific: we have a name and a place.  In the Hebrews example, we only have the mode of killing.

In 2 Chronicles 24:20-22, the Septuagint has “καὶ ἐλιθοβόλησαν αὐτὸν” (and they stoned him).  Hebrews 11:37 has  “ἐλιθάσθησαν” (they were stoned).  This is not a direct, verbatim, word-for-word or exact quotation.  In fact, it’s not a quotation at all.  Even if Hebrews had said something like, “Zecharias had faith and they stoned him,” using the exact same Greek words for “and they stoned him” as the Septuagint, this would still not be a quotation.

The reason is, of course, that in such a case Hebrew would still just be reporting the facts of what happened, and the verbal alignment is just coincidental to the reporting purpose.

Quotation in Scripture can be signaled in a variety of ways. For example, “And the Lord said unto Moses,” signals that a quotation follows.  The writing of Moses did not (as far as we know) contain any marks equivalent to quotation marks.  Nevertheless, just as we can tell in spoken English that “he said” introduces a quotation, the same works in ancient languages.  In English today we have the concept of paraphrase, in which we report an idea in different words than were originally used. One signal in spoken English for paraphrase is, “He said that ….”  The “that” tells the listener that the words that follow are not necessarily the exact words that were spoken.  To make matters more complicated, sometimes the “that” is just left unstated, and other grammatical clues indicate that paraphrase is used.

Example Paraphrase, Quotation, and Meta-Quotation(?)

Matthew 2:4-6

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

In this example, Matthew first describes that Herod asks the chief priests and scribes a question. However, Matthew does not characterize this as a quotation.  We cannot assume that Herod used these words at all, but the point being paraphrased is provided to us: there was a demand and the demand was about the birthplace of the Messiah.

Next, Matthew quotes the chief priests and scribes.  We know this is a quotation because Matthew introduces it, “And they said unto him.”  Now, I think we would be amiss to assume that first century standards demanded that quotations always be verbatim quotations, in which the exact words are used.  Nevertheless, our default assumption is that when we see a signal like “they said …” then the following would be their words.

After that comes what is possibly a meta-quotation (not a real technical term, to my knowledge), namely a quotation within a quotation.  In this case, there is also a citation, “the prophet.” In this case, “the prophet” is shorthand for the third section of the Hebrew Scriptures, “The Prophets.”  The verse being quoted is Micah 5:2.  Nevertheless, notice that there are some differences between Matthew and Micah, whether we go with a translation from the Hebrew or from the Septuagint:

Matthew: And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Micah (Hebrew): But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; …

Micah (Greek) And you, O Bethleem, house of Ephratha, are very few in number to be among the thousands of Ioudas; one from you shall come forth for me to become a ruler in Israel, …. (NET Septuagint)

There are multiple possibilities, of course.  One possibility is the existence of a Greek translation of Micah that was known to Matthew or to the chief priests and scribes, but is not known to us today.  Another possibility is that the proto-Masoretic text of Micah differs from the Masoretic text at a few points, and that Matthew was translating from that text to Greek.  Nevertheless, another possibility is just that Matthew (or the scribes and Pharisees) is slightly paraphrasing and compressing the text of Micah.  For example, the detail about Ephrata is probably intentionally omitted by Matthew and the “not” is a way of conveying the same sense as in the English translation of the Hebrew above.  Moreover, the substitution of “princes” for “thousands” may similarly be intended to convey the sense that “thousands” was originally meant to be “rulers over thousands” (cf. Exodus 18:21).

The bottom line is that although Matthew is quoting or meta-quoting from Micah 5, it is not an “exact” quotation, it is not a “verbatim” quotation, and it is not “word for word.”  It is, however, a quotation.  It’s not just a paraphrase, even though Matthew may be abbreviating or even partially rewording or rephrasing.

It’s also not just an allusion. We know it’s not just an allusion, because there is a citation.

Returning back to the main question, what triggers a quotation search.  Generally speaking, what triggers a quotation search is some contextual clue that quotation is being made.  There are obvious and explicit signals, like “it is written” or “he said,” but there may also be less obvious clues.  For example, because of the structure and beauty of the Carmen Christi, some New Testament scholars speculate that Philippians 2:6-11 is a quotation of an early Christian hymn.  

Another clue of quotation would be if we detect literary dependency.  For example, today when we hear people say, “To be or not to be, that is the question,” we usually assume that the person is quoting from Shakespeare, even if they have no  idea the original meaning, context, or perhaps even that it was Shakespeare who wrote it.

Plagiarism detection similarly begins with detecting literary dependency.  These days there are computer algorithms, but the basic idea of plagiarism is that source material is being used, either directly or with alteration, without credit.  Because it is without credit, there are not typically going to be explicit signals of plagiarism.  Instead, one may find enough similarity of wording, topics, etc. and conclude that one author plagiarized another.

Why this long tangent?  The reason for this long tangent is, of course, that instead of simply acknowledging that he and Albrecht should never have said “quoted” to describe the relationship between Luke and Judges, he insists on trying to defend that characterization.

However, there is nothing that leads us to conclude that Luke (or Mary) is quoting any other source. Mary simply uses a Hebrew idiom.  Using the same idiom as a previous author does not mean or imply that the previous author is being quoted.

Furthermore, what would be the purpose of quoting the anonymous author of Judges?  In Dr. Kappes’ wishful exegesis, it is in order to somehow signal Mary’s perpetual virginity.  However, in reality, Mary’s use of the idiom is simply to indicate Mary’s current virginity.  If Mary wanted to indicate her perpetual virginity, she could say, “I shall never know man” or the like.  It is bizarre and convoluted for Mary to refer to her present condition of Virginity as some kind of cryptic clue that she plans to stay a virgin, despite being betrothed to her husband Joseph.

While it is true that if Mary were quoting from Judges, she could make minor changes to the wording (as per the Micah example above), nevertheless for this context the most natural change to reveal Mary’s plans for the future would be for Mary to speak about the future.  Indeed, Luke - writing later - could simply as the narrator provide the exact same phrase: “and she never knew man,” if that’s what Luke wanted to convey.

Why then the need for secrecy?  There is no adequate explanation.

I should remind you, dear reader, that we’re already several branches down a hypothetical fork.  There is no quotation here, except Luke quoting Mary.  Mary is not quoting anyone.  Her language contains no explicit or implicit signals of quotation, and she is simply using a contextually-appropriate and historically expected idiom to describe her virgin state.  She is not quoting anyone, neither on her own terms, nor on the terms of Luke, the narrator.

The idea that she’s quoting is just made up by Dr. Kappes and Mr. Albrecht.  Instead of continuing to try to defend this position, they should just withdraw it.  We will see what they do.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Ambrose and Justification by Faith

One Ambrose quotation that comes up in discussions of Justification by Faith is this one:

Ambrose (c. 339-97): Thus I do not have the wherewithal to enable me to glory in my own works, I do not have the wherewithal to boast of myself, and so I will glory in Christ. I will not glory because I have been redeemed. I will not glory because I am free of sins, but because sins have been forgiven me. I will not glory because I am profitable or because anyone is profitable to me, but because Christ is an advocate in my behalf with the Father, because the blood of Christ has been poured out in my behalf. Fathers of the Church, Vol. 65, Saint Ambrose, Seven Exegetical Works, Jacob and the Happy Life, Book 1, §6.21 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1972), p. 133.

This seems, at least on its face, to be at odds with the approach to justification described by Trent and expressed in canons XII, XXIV, and XXXII on Justification.  The reason it seems that way is because it downplays individual merit in favor of forgiveness on the basis of what appears to be an imputation model of the atonement.  An even more problematic passage for the Tridentine view is when Ambrose states:

Ambrose (c. 339-97):  And Isaac 'smelled the fragrance of his garments.' [Gen. 27.27] And perhaps that means that we are not justified by works but by faith, because the weakness of the flesh is a hindrance to works but the brightness of faith puts the error that is in man's deeds in the shadow and merits for him the forgiveness of his sins.  Fathers of the Church, Vol. 65, Saint Ambrose, Seven Exegetical Works, Jacob and the Happy Life, Book 2, §2.9 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1972), p. 151.  

This is particularly notable because Ambrose recognizes that these clothes are not Jacob's own:

Ambrose (c. 339-97):  Accordingly, Jacob received his brother's clothing, because he excelled the elder in wisdom. Thus the younger brother took the clothing of the elder because he was conspicuous in the merit of his faith. Rebecca presented this clothing as a symbol of the Church; she gave to the younger son the clothing of the Old Testament, the prophetic and priestly clothing, the royal Davidic clothing, the clothing of the kings Solomon and Ezechias and Josias, and she gave it too to the Christian people, who would know how to use the garment they had received, since the Jewish people kept it without using it and did not know its proper adornments. This clothing was lying in shadow, cast off and forgotten; it was not tarnished by a dark haze of impiety and could not be unfolded farther in their confined hearts. The Christian people put it on, and it shone brightly. They made it bright with the splendor of their faith and the light of their holy works.  Fathers of the Church, Vol. 65, Saint Ambrose, Seven Exegetical Works, Jacob and the Happy Life, Book 2, §2.9 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1972), pp. 150-51.

Thanks to Pastor David King for bringing this to my attention and for providing this and other material on Ambrose.