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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 September 2014
Christian and Jewish sources of late antiquity employ ἡ ἐντολή as a term for almsgiving. The development of the locution passes through at least two stages before reaching semantic maturity around the fourth or fifth century. Tobit and Ben Sira record the early notion of charity as a paradigmatic precept, while the Didache attests to a more stabilised and syntactically developed, but still transitional, expression. The use of ἐντολή in 1 Tim 6.14 does not belong to the mature usage, and Test. Ash. 2.8 is a problematic reference point (pace Nathan Eubank). The Didache is more helpful in contextualising the NT evidence.
1 On the expansive sense of ἐλεημοσύνη, embracing גמילות חסדים, מצוה/צדקה, see Heiligenthal, R., ‘Werke der Barmherzigkeit oder Almosen? Zur Bedeutung von ἐλεημοσυνή’, NovT 25 (1983) 289–301.Google Scholar
2 See Rosenthal, F., ‘Ṣĕdāqâh, Charity’, HUCA 23 (1950–51) 411–30Google Scholar; and Zanella, F., ‘Between “Righteousness” and “Alms”: A Semantic Study of the Lexeme צדקה in the Dead Sea Scrolls’, Hebrew in the Second Temple Period: The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and of Other Contemporary Sources (ed. Fassberg, S., Bar-Asher, M. and Clements, R.; Leiden: Brill, 2013) 269–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Cf. Matt 6.1.
4 See Nöldeke, T., Neue Beiträge zur semitischen Sprachwissenschaft (Strassburg: Trübner, 1910)Google Scholar 36.
6 Lieberman, S., ‘Two Lexigraphical Notes’, JBL 64 (1946) 67–72Google Scholar. See also Jastrow, s.v. מצוה ii. Lieberman seems unaware of the work of Tabachovitz.
7 Lifshitz, B., Donateurs et fondateurs dans les synagogues juives (Cahiers de la Revue Biblique 7; Paris: Gabalda, 1967) 74–5Google Scholar, 78. Lieberman had already noted a pair of relevant inscriptions. In a footnote, Lifshitz tersely cites the work of Schwabe, Moshe (Bulletin des études historiques juives 1 (1946)Google Scholar 103), who evidently saw a relevant text in the New Testament. No details are given, and I have been unable to access this elusive journal.
8 See Drescher, J., ‘Graeco-Coptica’, Le Muséon 82 (1969) 85–6Google Scholar. Drescher (‘Graeco-Coptica’, Le Muséon 89 (1976) 311–12)Google Scholar subsequently registered the derivative meaning of words like ϕιλέντολος (‘devoted to charity’) which, though rare, appear in a few later sources, e.g. the Lausiac History (PG 34.1217b). Drescher's list of attestations makes his ignorance of Lieberman's article clear. Lieberman mentions a funerary inscription describing a (Jewish) woman as σπουδέα ϕιλέντολος (cf. y. Ter. 8.5, 45c). See also CIJ i.132, 509; and Noy, D., Jewish Inscriptions of Western Europe, vol. ii: The City of Rome (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995) 211–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar (§240). Cf. Tob 14.9 BA neol. (ϕιλελεήμων). See Sperber, D., ‘Rabbinic Notes to Graeco-Coptica’, AJS Review 4 (1979)CrossRefGoogle Scholar 205.
9 The Latin praeceptum may also bear this sense, cf. Tertullian, Against Marcion 4.35.12–13; 4.36.4–5. See Michaels, J. R., ‘Almsgiving and the Kingdom Within: Tertullian on Luke 17:21’, CBQ 60 (1998) 479–81.Google Scholar
10 Like similar rabbinic logia collections, it is difficult to date the stratified Apophthegmata Patrum. See Guy, J.-C., Recherches sur la tradition grecque des Apophthegmata Patrum (Subsidia hagiographica 36; Bruxelles: Société des Bollandistes, 1962) 23–35.Google Scholar
11 See ‘ἐντολή’, TDNT i.545–56. The meaning ‘alms’ is not recorded in Spicq, C., Lexique théologie du Nouveau Testament (Paris: Cerf, 1991)Google Scholar, BDAG, Moulton, J. H. and Milligan, G., The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Illustrated from the Papyri and other Non-literary Sources (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974)Google Scholar, or the New Documents Illustrating Christianity series.
12 Tabachovitz, Études, 64.
13 Drescher, ‘Graeco-Coptica’ (1969), 85. Drescher mentions that ἀγάπη also came to bear the same meaning (‘alms’) – a fact also unknown to many NT exegetes. Cf. Ignatius, Rom. Preface.
14 The high estimation of almsgiving in the early Church has been the subject of growing attention. See e.g. Ramsey, B., ‘Almsgiving in the Latin Church: The Late Fourth and Early Fifth Centuries’, TS 43 (1982) 226–59Google Scholar; Garrison, R., Redemptive Almsgiving in Early Christianity (JSNTSup 77; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1993)Google Scholar; and Finn, R., Almsgiving in the Later Roman Empire: Christian Promotion and Practice, 313–450 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
15 See e.g. Satlow, M. L., ‘“Fruit and the Fruit of Fruit”: Charity and Piety among Jews in Late Antique Palestine’, JQR 100 (2010) 244–77Google Scholar; Gray, A., ‘Redemptive Almsgiving and the Rabbis of Late Antiquity’, JSQ 18 (2011) 144–84Google Scholar; and Anderson, G., Charity: The Place of the Poor in the Biblical Tradition (New Haven: Yale, 2013).Google Scholar
16 The loss of Tobit's property, along with his blindness, operates as a metaphor for the exilic punishment of Israel. See Bauckham, R., ‘Tobit as a Parable for the Exiles of Northern Israel’, Studies in the Book of Tobit (ed. Bredin, Mark; Library of Second Temple Studies 55; New York: T&T Clark, 2006) 147–9.Google Scholar
17 Both the Ahiqar narrative and the story of Antigone may have influenced Tobit at this point. See Nardi, C., ‘Tobia come Antigone: il pietoso ufficio della sepoltura implicita resistenza a un potere inumano’, Vivens Homo 17 (2006) 385–407.Google Scholar
18 Second Temple charitable practice was generally not extended to non-Jewish outsiders, cf. Tob 1.18, 2.2; Sir 12.4–5; cf. 12.7; Tacitus, Hist. 5.5.1; Julian, Ep. 84; 22.
19 The pairing of almsgiving and endogamy also appears in Testament of Job. A variation is Jubilees' interest in endogamy and fraternal love. See Livneh, A., ‘“Love Your Fellow as Yourself”: The Interpretation of Lev 19:17–18 in the Book of Jubilees’, Dead Sea Discoveries 18 (2011) 173–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
20 On the significance of boundary-marking in the text, see Levine, A.-J., ‘Diaspora as Metaphor: Bodies and Boundaries in the Book of Tobit’, Diaspora Jews and Judaism: Essays in Honor of, and in Dialogue with, A. Thomas Kraabel (Atlanta: Scholar's, 1992) 105–17.Google Scholar
21 See Macatangay, F., The Wisdom Instructions in the Book of Tobit (DCLS 12; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2012) 45–114.Google Scholar
22 While the idiom of ‘the commandment’ has not yet emerged, the narrative progressively aligns the ‘Wisdom Instructions’ ever more exclusively with the precept to give alms. Thus, while the need for Tobias to contract a proper marriage still configures the instruction in chapter 4, Raphael's instruction in chapter 13 and Tobit's own final testament in chapter 14 drop the topic of endogamy. I thank Gary Anderson for pointing out this feature of the text in private conversation.
23 For the citation, see Drescher, ‘Graeco-Coptica’ (1969), 85. Lieberman (‘Lexicographical Notes’, 70) gives another useful example (cf. Acts 3.3): ϰαὶ ἐζήτει αὐτοὺς ἐντολήν (‘He asked them for alms’).
24 Eubank, ‘Almsgiving’, 145.
26 Towner, Letters of Timothy and Titus, 414.
28 See Longenecker, B., Remember the Poor: Paul, Poverty, and the Greco-Roman World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010) 19–134Google Scholar. Longenecker (60–1) determines that ‘there is a relatively solid basis’ for the common view that ‘apart from Jewish traditions and practices, care for the poor was virtually absent in the ancient world prior to the rise of Christianity’.
29 The possible echo of Tob 4.7–9 in 1 Tim 6.17–19, for instance, suggests an esteem for generosity inherited from Second Temple sources. The allusion is difficult to secure, however. Towner (Letters of Timothy and Titus, 427) cautiously remarks that ‘the value of sharing, carried over from Judaism (cf. Tob 4.7–9)’ was ‘also apparent in Greek thought’ (cf. Aristotle, Eth. Nic. 1119b–23a). It would be dubious to insist upon a ‘pure’ (non-Jewish) Greek background for the letter. The issue is identifying the prevailing discourse in which τὴν ἐντολήν occurs.
30 Downs, D. J., ‘The God Who Gives Life That Is Truly Life: Meritorious Almsgiving and the Divine Economy in 1 Timothy 6’, The Unrelenting God: Essays on God's Action in Scripture In Honor of Beverly Roberts Gaventa (ed. Downs, David and Skinner, Matthew; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013) 242–60Google Scholar. Downs builds upon Eubank's proposal, but does not question his evidence.
31 Downs, ‘Meritorious Almsgiving’, 251, 255–9.
32 See Malherbe, ‘Part ii’, 78–88.
35 See the overloaded apparatus and proposed emendations in Charles, R. H., The Greek Versions of The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs Edited from Nine MSS together with the Variants of the Armenian and Slavonic Versions and Some Hebrew Fragments (Oxford: Clarendon, 1908) 175–6Google Scholar. See also de Jonge, M., The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs: A Critical Edition of the Greek Text (PVTG 1/2; Leiden: Brill, 1978).Google Scholar
36 Eubank, ‘Almgiving’, 146; Lieberman, ‘Lexicographical Notes’, 69.
37 Charles proposed that ἐϰ ϰαϰίας (מרע) should read ברע (‘notwithstanding his wickedness’), and this is followed by Kee (Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 817). Neither Lieberman nor Eubank addresses the emendation.
38 Lieberman, ‘Lexicographical Notes’, 71 fn 41a, 42. On the Semitic character of the Greek of the Testaments, see Charles, Greek Versions, xl–xlii.
39 Lieberman supports his translation with the Armenian version, which reads the equivalent of ἔλεος (‘charity’) instead of ἐντολάς. The unmentioned difficulty is that in 2.6 the Armenian undermines this very sense of ἐντολή. Specifically, in 2.5–7 the case of ‘another’ (ἄλλος) duplicitous man is described. Three times this character is said to exercise charity towards the poor (ἐλεεῖ πτωχούς; τὸν πτωχὸν ἐλεεῖ; τὸν πένητα ἀναπαύει) – yet he is called two-faced, for he ‘rejects (?) the commandment (τὴν ἐντολήν)’. It may be possible to save the idiom, but the textual problems are imposing and require attention. See de Jonge, M., ‘The Greek Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and the Armenian Version’, Studies on the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs: Text and Interpretation (Leiden: Brill, 1975) 120–39.Google Scholar
40 A formal framing device separates the parallel cases of 2.5–7 from 2.8. Each unit begins with ἄλλος and ends ‘this one is two-faced, but wholly evil’.
41 The passage Lieberman cites in Lev. Rab. 34.14 uses the singular מצוה in all the MSS. Lieberman does suggest that Ap. Const. 8.43 uses the plural ἐντολαί in the sense of alms, but (embarrassingly) he is citing the paragraph heading which appears in Migne (PG 1.1148a). This title is late and appears neither in the text of Funk, F. X. (Didascalia et Constitutiones Apostolorum: Volumen 1 (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schoengh, 1905)Google Scholar 554) nor Metzger, M., Les Constitutiones Apostoliques (SC 336; Paris: Cerf, 1987)Google Scholar. The plural expression is occasionally attested (סגין מצווין עביד הוה) in isolated MSS (e.g. Lev. Rab. 37.2), but the singular was still preferred.
42 Part of Lieberman's argument is that vainly giving alms from ill-gotten goods appears in both Test. Ash. 2.8 and Midrash Rabbah. This suggestion is worth pursuing – in spite of the textual problems. Cf. CD 16.13–20; Matt 27.4–6.
44 Satlow (‘“Fruit and the Fruit of Fruit”’, 256–8) determines that the use of מצוה as ‘alms’ became common only around the fourth century ce; but he does not reckon with the Greek evidence. Though the DSS and Tannaitic literature do not seem familiar with the usage, Anderson, Gary (Sin: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009) 174)Google Scholar helpfully points in the direction of Tob 4.5–11, 12.8–10 and 14.8–11.
45 Eubank, ‘Almsgiving’, 147.
47 The absence of the article cannot be insisted upon in the prepositional phrases (BDF §255; Zerwick, M., Biblical Greek (Rome: Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1994)Google Scholar §183). Among other things, the use of the plural also troubles Downs' suggestion (‘Meritorious Almsgiving’, 246 n. 16) that 2 Clem. 17.1 (cf. 16.4) knows the usage.
48 See Skehan, P. and DiLella, A., The Wisdom of Ben Sira (AB 39; New York: Doubleday, 1987) 75–92.Google Scholar
49 E.g. the fourth commandment ranks first in particular rhetorical contexts, where it is lauded in terms similar to almsgiving (3.3–4, 14, 31; cf. ἐντολὴν μεγίστην, Letter of Aristeas 228; Eph 6.2).
50 See Gregory, Everlasting Signet Ring, 186–7; and e.g. B. Zapff, Jesus Sirach 25–51 (EB 39; Würzburg: Echter, 2010) 180.
51 Note also the use with τηϱέω in Ecclus 29.1.
52 Eubank (‘Almsgiving’, 147 n. 15) notes the ‘possible use’ at Did. 1.5 (not 13.5 or 13.7), but offers no discussion.
53 Niederwimmer, Kurt (The Didache: A Commentary (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998) 78)Google Scholar assigns 1.5a to the previous section, noting that 1.5a is ‘obviously a doublet’ of the final line of 1.4 – ‘If someone takes away from you what is yours, do not demand it back (μὴ ἀπαίτει) – since you cannot do so anyway.’ The repeated phrase is clear, but Niederwimmer misses the signs introducing a new theme. (1) All four lines in 1.4 are formally parallel, beginning with ἐάν. This does not appear in 1.5a. (2) The subject of the protasis throughout 1.4 is an oppressive τις, whereas in 1.5 there is no such figure or any violence to renounce. (3) The παντί of 1.5a and πασί of 1.5b stand in direct parallel. (4) The connective γάϱ binds 1.5a logically to 1.5b.
55 Niederwimmer (Didache, 82) observes that Hermas has no macarism, nor a parallel to the phrase ϰατὰ τὴν ἐντολήν. The formula ϕύλασσε τὴν ἐντολὴν ταύτην (27.7) is not tightly connected to the present context, appearing (with variations) regularly in Hermas, cf. M.1 26.2; M.3 28.2; M.5 34.8; M.8 38.12; S.5 55.2, 7, 56.3, etc.
56 Osiek, C., Shepherd of Hermas: A Commentary (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999)Google Scholar 26.
57 Osiek, Hermas, 27. Although they share a Two Ways framework, no other suggestion of literary dependence connects Hermas and the Didache.
58 See Niederwimmer, Didache, 68–72, 82; also Glover, R., ‘The Didache's Quotations and the Synoptic Gospels’, NTS 5 (1958–9)CrossRefGoogle Scholar 15; Koester, H., Synoptische Überlieferung bei den apostolischen Vätern (TU 65; Berlin: Akademie, 1957) 230–1Google Scholar; Audet, J.-P., La Didachè: Instructions des Apôtres (Paris: Gabalda, 1958) 163–6.Google Scholar
60 On the question of dating, see Niederwimmer, Didache, 52–4; van de Sandt, H. and Flusser, D., The Didache: Its Jewish Sources and its Place in Early Judaism and Christianity (Assen: Royal Van Gorcam/Fortress, 2002) 48–52Google Scholar; and Osiek, Hermas, 18–20. Layton considers 1.3b–2:1 to be a later, archaising interpolation. Most commentators, however, accept this sectio evangelica as original to the Didachist's composition, if derived from a special source. See Niederwimmer's excursus (Didache, 68–72).
61 The structure of Hermas is problematic (see Osiek, Hermas, 12–16), and the antiquity of the internal divisions (Ἐντολή, etc.) is uncertain. The heading παϱαβολή does appear in the Michigan Codex 129 (M), dated around 250 ce. See Bonner, C., ed., A Papyrus Codex of the Shepherd of Hermas Similitudes 2–9) with a Fragment of the Mandates (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1934).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
62 See n. 55 above. Neither of the parallels (Herm. 27.4 // Did. 1.5bα; Herm. 27.6 // Did. 1.5bβ) is a commandment which might be the direct reference of ἐντολή.
63 So Niederwimmer, Didache, 82.
64 See Glover, ‘The Didache's Quotations’, 15. Glover's summary of the relevant material determines that ‘no sound case for the Didachist's knowing Luke, as distinct from Q, can ... be made’.
65 See n. 53 above.
66 See Koester, Synoptische Überlieferung, 230–7.
67 For a discussion, see Koester, H., Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development (Philadelphia: Trinity International, 1990) 16–17.Google Scholar
68 Almsgiving is explicitly grounded in the Gospel: ‘As for your prayers and acts of charity (τὰς ἐλεημοσύνας) and all your actions, do them as you have it in the Gospel of our Lord’ (15.4; cf. 15.3). Perhaps here ‘the commandment’ is not mentioned, since almsgiving is lumped together with other things.
69 P. Drews, ‘Untersuchungen zur Didache’, ZNW 5 (1904) 63–7.
70 Drews, ‘Untersuchungen’, 63.
71 ‘Es läßt sich nämlich an keiner der drei Stellen ein uns bekanntes Gebot aufzeigen, das der Verfasser im Auge haben und worauf er seine Leser verweisen könnte’ (Drews, ‘Untersuchungen’, 63).
73 See Milavec, Didache, 505–6, 783–808. But see Audet, La Didachè, 62–7 on Did. 10.6.
74 See Sanders, E. P., Jewish Law from Jesus to the Mishnah (Philadelphia: Trinity International, 1990) 298–300.Google Scholar
75 See Anderson, Charity, 15–34; and Gregory, Everlasting Signet Ring, 222–53.
76 See Garrison, Redemptive Almgiving, 141–52.
77 Niederwimmer (Didache, 192 n. 9) speculates that the term ἀϱχιεϱεῖς is an error on the part of the Didache, since ‘no specific regulations exist for the income of the high priest’. Milavec (Didache, 513) helpfully points to Philo, who uses the language of ‘first fruits’ (ἀπάϱχομαι) in connection with ‘priests of the superior rank’, in distinction from ‘the second rank’ of levites (De spec. leg. 1.156–7).
78 Gregory, Everlasting Signet Ring, 222–53.
79 Anderson, Charity, 28. See also Gregory, Everlasting Signet Ring, 245. Cf. Deut 14.22–7 and 15.1–8; Sir 7.29–36; 35.6–26.
80 Milavec, Didache, 498.
81 Milavec, Didache, 518. The practice of offering ‘first fruits’ (primitiae) was not uniquely Jewish. Cf. Homer, Il. 9.529; Ovid, Met. 8.273; 10.431; Pliny, Natural History 4.26.
82 ‘The laws order that tithes (δεϰάτας) from flour, and wine, and oil, and from their domestic flocks and wools, be offered as first fruits (ἀπάϱχεσθαι) to the priests’ (De virt. 95). See Baumgarten, J., ‘On the Non-Literal Use of MA'ASER/DEKATE’, JBL 103 (1984) 245–61.Google Scholar
83 See Metzger, Constitutions Apostoliques, 13–62.
84 It is interesting that mention of ‘the commandment’ has fallen out here – as in Ap. Const. 7.5 (parallel to Did. 1.5). Without speculating on the explanation, this fact makes it virtually certain that Lieberman is wrong to appeal to the title in 8.43 as evidence that the Constitutions employs this idiom.
85 The uncertain availability of the ‘priests’ – no longer equated with ‘prophets’ – is not a concern for the Apostolic Constitutions.
86 Milavec, Didache, 507; cf. 498, 500, 507.
87 Schöllgen (‘Didache’, 141), in the same line, sees in the first fruits ‘der Pflicht zum Unterhalt der Propheten’.
89 Note the link to 1 Timothy 5 in the shared concern about needy persons swindling the system, and the interest to be ‘blameless’ (ἀνεπίλημπτον, 1 Tim 5.7) or ‘innocent’ (ἀθῷος, Did. 1.5).
90 See the argument mounted by Bridge, ‘To Give or Not to Give’, 555–68.
91 See Anderson, Charity, 15–34.
92 This locution must be distinguished from the formally identical and perfectly common expression ‘to give a command’. The people, dispatching Demades to Alexander, for instance, gave him instructions (δοὺς ἐντολήν) about what he should ask (Diodorus Siculus 17.15.4). Cf. IG ix.1.2 583.23; Fouilles de Delphes iii.3 239.10, etc. See Burton, G. P., ‘The Issuing of Mandata to Proconsuls and a New Inscription from Cos’, ZPE 21 (1976) 63–8.Google Scholar
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