Maarten J.J. Menken, «Striking the Shepherd. Early Christian Versions and Interpretations of Zechariah 13,7», Vol. 92 (2011) 39-59
This paper traces the development of the textual form and the interpretation of Zech 13,7 in the earliest known Christian texts in which this OT passage is quoted or alluded to (Mark 14,27; Matt 26,31; John 16,32; Barn. 5,12; Justin, Dial. 53,5-6). It starts with some observations on the Hebrew text and on some of the ancient versions, notably the LXX, which offers a peculiar rendering. Next, the early Christian versions and interpretations are discussed, and their relations are detected. Obscure apocalyptic texts often generate multiple meanings. Zech 13,7 proves to be no exception.
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40 MAARTEN J.J. MENKEN
hand, relations of dependence can be established between the quo-
tations and allusions in the Gospels, Barnabas and Justin, and that
on the other hand there are conspicuous differences between them
regarding both textual form and interpretation. So it will be worth-
while to try to trace the development of the textual form and the
interpretation of Zech 13,7 in these early Christian texts. It may
give us some insight into the possibilities and varieties of early
Christian readings of the OT.
I shall start with some observations on the Hebrew text and on
some of the ancient versions, notably the LXX (which offers a
very peculiar rendering). The Hebrew text is the starting point of
the whole process of tradition and interpretation, and the ancient
versions show something of its problems and its potential. Next, I
shall discuss the early Christian versions and interpretations, and
try to detect their relations.
1. The Old Testament Text
Zech 13,7 MT reads as follows:
O sword, awake against my shepherd
y[rAl[ yrw[ brj
and against the man of my association,
says the Lord of hosts;
twabx hwhy Î¼an
strike the shepherd
and the sheep will be scattered,
and I will turn my hand against the little ones.
Î¼yr[xhAl[ ydy ytbÃ§hw
The two imperatives yrw[, â€œawakeâ€, and Ãˆh, â€œstrikeâ€, are evi-
dently parallel and both must be addressed to the sword. The
grammatical agreement is not perfect: Ãˆh is the masculine form of
the hiphil impv. sg., while brj, â€œswordâ€, is a feminine noun. How-
ever, such lack of concord is not uncommon in the Hebrew Bible
(see, e.g., Amos 4,1; Ru 1,8) 4. The meaning of the verse is not very
obvious, just as many things in Zechariah 9â€“14 are enigmatic. It
constitutes the beginning of the third of Deutero-Zechariahâ€™s shep-
herd passages (13,7-9; see further 10,1-3; 11,1-17). In the final re-
C. DOGNIEZ â€“ M. HARL, La Bible dâ€™Alexandrie, 23/10-11. Les douze prophÃ¨-
tes. AggÃ©e â€“ Zacharie (Paris 2007) 166-167, Zach 13,7 occurs relatively rarely
in the patristic lists of OT testimonies to Christ.
See GKC, Â§Â§110k and 144a, and cf. P. JOÃœON â€“ T. MURAOKA, A Gram-
mar of Biblical Hebrew (Subsidia Biblica 27; Rome 2006) Â§150k.