á¼œÎ½Î¿Ï‡Î¿Ï‚ (Mt 5, 21-22)
AND THE JURISPRUDENCE OF HEAVEN
J. DUNCAN M. DERRETT
Besides the normal meaning, á¼”Î½Î¿Ï‡Î¿Ï‚ has special dimension in the Sermon
on the Mount. Unaware of this commentators missed a great opportunity.
The modern story of á¼”Î½Î¿Ï‡Î¿Ï‚, at Mt 5,21-22 is astounding, with
widespreading implications. Its ambiguities have been costly and
embarrassing. The present writer is himself a delinquent: he too has
betrayed the (so-called) Antitheses1. á¼œÎ½Î¿Ï‡Î¿Ï‚ is thoroughly documented:
it means â€œliableâ€ both in criminal and civil cases. Its normal use figures at
Mk 14,64, while the use at Mk 3,29 is (in our present sense) ambiguous.
The word naturally has metaphorical uses also. á¼œÎ½Î¿Ï‡Î¿Ï‚ is the equivalent
of the Hebrew hÍºayyÄv, â€œliableâ€2. But there is an important speciality here.
á¼œÎ½Î¿Ï‡Î¿Ï‚ suggests human jurisdictions, remedies, legislation. ïƒžayyÄv
has another dimensiÃ³n also: it refers to the Jurisprudence of Heaven.
We note the dictum of Issi son of (?) á¼‰qÃ®ba (c. 150 AD), â€œBefore the
giving of the Torah we had been warned (Gen 9,6?) against shedding
blood. After the giving of the Torah (Ex 21,12-14, etc.) whereby laws were
made more strict, shall they be considered lighter?â€3 â€œIn truth,â€ they (the
Sages) said, â€œHe (a certain slayer) is free from judgement by a human
court, but his judgement is surrendered to Heaven (pÄï‚Å«r mÄ“dÃ®nÃª á¾½ÄdÄm
wedÃ®nÃ´ mÄsÃ»r leÅ¡ÄmÄyim)â€4. Heaven has various penalties at its disposal,
J.D.M. Derrett, The Sermon on the Mount. A Manual for Living (Northhampton
G. Dalman, Jesus-Jeschua (Leipzig 1922) 66-7 suggests mithÍºayyÄv unnecessarily.
Hermann Strack and G. Stemberger, Einleitung in Talmud und Midrasch (Munich
Mekilta de R. Ishmael, trans. J. Z. Lauterbach (Philadelphia 1976), Nezikin IV,
lines 64-7, vol. 3, 37. J. Winter and A. WÃ¼nsche, trans. Mechilta (Leipzig 1909) 257 & n.6.
Christianus Schoettgenius, Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae (Dresden & Leipzig 1755) 34.
H. Strack & P. Billerbeck (hereafter â€œSBâ€), Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud
und Midrasch (Munich 1922, 1961) I, 274, n.1. Sifre on Numbers 35, 20 (Â§ 160) at SB I, 274
is similarly phrased.
FilologÃa Neotestamentaria - Vol. XIX - 2006, pp. 89-97
Facultad de FilosofÃa y Letras - Universidad de CÃ³rdoba (EspaÃ±a)