Monday, September 29, 2008

A Stone's Throw

We all have characteristic ways of speaking. Think about the closest members of your family and some of their distinctive ways of communication. My Dad ran a small town garage and gas station. If a tourist stopped to ask directions, they most often heard: "Well, you go down east about a 'stone's throw' and then turn . . ." In most cases, a stone's throw distance was hard to discern for most tourists. And rightfully so because it appeared to have a range for Dad of about 25 yards to 5 miles!

With this said, did Jesus have characteristic ways of speaking. Scholars tell us "yes." One of the distinctive marks of Jesus' speech is the use of the Hebrew "Amen." Now while the common usage of "amen" was to affirm the words of another, Jesus used it to introduce or strengthen his own words. Our translation often disguise this by translating the word as "truly". Joachim Jeremias in his New Testament Theology lists 59 occasions in the gospels where this word is on the lips of Jesus. In the Gospel of John, it appears in double form: "Amen, Amen, I say to you . . ." Which leads to another characteristic, when "Amen" is used by Jesus in the Gospels, it is followed by the phrase "I say to you." And this way of speaking is only associated with Jesus in the gospels.

Here are a five examples in Mark and John to look at: Mark 3:28; 8:12; 9:1 and John 1:51; 3:3.

We'll look at a couple of other characteristic ways Jesus spoke in some upcoming posts.

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