Did Barnabas use a Christian Commentary?   Leave a comment

The term has started early this month and the Advanced Greek seminar at King’s College London is back. As we are still working on the Epistle of Barnabas, we noticed a quote from an unknown source which Barnabas identifies as “the prophet.” However, the same text was found in Clement of Alexandria. This is not surprising since Clement knew Barnabas and both belonged to Alexandria, but something more interesting could be found in the way both treated it. Let’s take a look at the texts (apologies if you had problems with viewing the Greek text):
So, the two texts read like this:
Bar. 11:9 “καὶ πάλιν ἕτερος προφήτης λέγει. Καὶ ἦν ἡ γῆ τοῦ Ἰακὼβ ἐπαινουμένη παρὰ πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν. τοῦτο λέγει· τὸ σκεῦος τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ δοξάζει.”
Stromata 3.12(86): ” καὶ ἦν ἡ γῆ τοῦ Ἰακὼβ  ἐπαινουμένη παρὰ  πᾶσαν τὴν  γῆν, φησὶν ὁ προφήτης, τὸ σκεῦος τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ δοξάζων.”
 The agreement between both texts is remarkable. It is not only a verbatim agreement in the prophetic text, but also the interpretation! further, both just mention the source as “the prophet”… Of course Clement knew Barnabas and respected it as a “catholic and apostolic” text. Whenever he mentions something from Barnabas he refers to him. This time he doesn’t which makes me wonder about Clement’s source. Did Clement receive this prophetic text and its interpretation from a single Christian commentary on Jewish texts that was used by Barnabas as well? If yes then this is an exciting thing to know because it means that there was some sort of a Christian commentary that preceded Barnabas (who wrote probably between 96-132) and was respected in Alexandria. The tradition of writing a Christian commentary was known to Alexandria, perhaps before the rest of Christendom, as early as Basilides (the huge Exegetica).
This is just a suggestion, open for further discussions and a careful study of possible similar cases in the text.
In some other news, Madison Pierce, a PhD candidate at Durham University and  Shawn J. Wilhite of California Baptist University have published a new Greek reader of the Didache and Barnabas. It is part of a series that could be used as a tool to help NT students to access the Apostolic Fathers easily during their research.
 Also, for academic correspondence I changed my email address and you can now use Mina.M.Gad@kcl.ac.uk

Posted October 21, 2016 by Mina Monier in Uncategorized

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