Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Role of the Hapax in the Gospel of Luke

Since the days of Henry J. Cadbury, scholars have noted that Luke has used a hapax legomenon as part of their review of a particular periscope. Hapax legomenon is from the Greek ἅπαξ λεγόμενον “[something] said only once.”

In fact, Luke used hundreds of rare words which appears only once in Luke-Acts and nowhere else in the New Testament. I believe Cadbury identified more than 800 Greek words that appear only in Luke-Acts and nowhere else in the New Testament. Luke is certainly a prolific writer and a brilliant wordsmith. However, no one has offered an explanation of why Luke might use so many rare words. Cadbury did not consider the question because he defined hapax as a word appearing once in Luke-Acts and nowhere else in Greek literature.

Luke does so for a simple reason. As noted by Monica Gale, the use of a rare word can be an allusive marker pointing to the use of the same word in another writing. For instance, Luke has used the Greek word

παραδείσῳ in this statement made by Jesus on the cross: ““Today you will be with me in παραδείσῳ. The translators of the Septuagint called the Garden of Eden planted by God himself, with a river running through it,

παραδείσῳ. This word is not a Lucan hapax because it also appears in 2 Cor 12:4 and Revelation 2:7 but its usage does illustrate the point that Luke is alluding to the idea that paradise is like a Garden of Eden in heaven.

Note that in Luke 16:6-7, the owed amounts are 100 baths of oil and 100 cors of wheat. In Ezra 7:22, we read “up to a hundred talents of silver, a hundred cors of wheat, a hundred baths of wine, a hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.” The Greek words for “a hundred cors of wheat” and “a hundred baths of oil” appearing in the Ezra 7:22 (LXX) matches the Greek words appearing in Luke 16:6-7 for these two phrases. Luke is able to use the Greek word batouV as an allusive marker because it is a double hapax legomenon. This means this Greek word appears once in the New Testament in Luke 16:6 but more importantly appears in the Septuagint only in the Book of Ezra (2 Edras).

Gale has indicated that ““The reader is particularly likely to detect allusion where the language is in some way ‘marked’ . . . for example through the use of hapax legomena or other uncharacteristic vocabulary.”” This finding is further confirmed by Jeffrey Leonard’s third principle: ““Shared language that is rare or distinctive suggests a stronger connection than does language that is widely used.”” In this instance, we have two shared phrases. Leonard’s fourth principle states: ““Shared phrases suggest a stronger connection than do individual shared terms.””

My recently published book, Who are Johanna and Theophilus:? The Irony of the Intended Audience of the Gospel of Luke, has a number of examples demonstrating that Luke intended to use rare words as allusive markers. There are of course many more examples which have not yet been identified.

© by Richard H. Anderson, 2011.



Anonymous Laws of attractions said...

Thanks for taking this opportunity to discuss this, I feel fervently about this and I like learning about this subject. Thanks for sharing this valuable post.

Prophecy news watch

3:11 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home