The Passion The Poetry of God

by J. Clontz (Author), T.E. Clontz (Editor) Kindle edition only. These are the editors of The Comprehensive New Testament

Well this is a slightly different post. Somehow, I fell over this book, The Passion The Poetry of God, and bought it. It is only available in a Kindle edition.

There is little to no introduction, essentially no explanation. The book just goes straight in pointing out fascinating puns and poetic patterns in the Hebrew translation of Matthew’s Gospel. These patterns are presented without the vowel pointing.

I think the author, J. Clontz, must be suggesting that Matthew’s Gospel, as we now have it, is a Greek translation of a Hebrew poetic masterpiece. The whole of the Gospel is worked through presenting the puns and poetic patterns that are present if you were to have this Gospel in Hebrew. And that’s the book.

There appears no mention of the claim by Papias of Hierapolis (c. 125–150 CE). We do not have his text, but he is quoted by Irenaeus, Eusebius, and others. Eusebius cites Papias:

Therefore, Matthew set in order the logia (“divine oracles”) in a Hebrew dialect, and each interpreted them, as he was able

See more information here and on that site. Many/Most scholars think that “Hebrew dialect” refers to Aramaic.

The book is obviously not something to just read, but the author appears to have translated the Greek text of Matthew into Hebrew and then gone looking for patterns. This book is the result. I cannot judge the validity of the result. Perhaps reader(s) here can. The book is very inexpensive, so buy it and have a look if you have some agility in Hebrew. Perhaps there is an Aramaic text underlying the Greek Matthew’s Gospel we now have. I have studied Hebrew, but have no Aramaic competence, and so cannot judge if the Hebrew patterns are possibly echoes of an Aramaic foundation. And, I also stress, my agility in Hebrew is not strong enough to ascertain whether these patterns are coincidental in that language and would occur if we were translating any text of this length.

Here are a couple of examples:

Jesus creates a Hebrew poem about perfection in the sermon of the mount using rhymes for:

“Repay” (שלם)
“Perfect” (שלם)

“Love” (אהבו)
“Enemies” (אויביכם)

Matthew 5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist {“Repay” (שלם)} an evil person. But if someone strikes you on [your] right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to him who asks you, and do not refuse him who wants to borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say to you, love {“Love” (אהבו)} your enemies {“Enemies” (אויביכם)} and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You, therefore, must be perfect {“Perfect” (שלם)}, as your heavenly Father is perfect {“Perfect” (שלם)}.

Here’s another:

Did you know that John the Baptist spoke in rhymes? Below are several of the Hebrew rhymes (puns) that appear in the dialogue of John the Baptist:

John 1:26 “John answered them, “I baptize with water; there has stood {“Stood” (עמד)} One among you whom you do not know {“Know” (יודע)}.””

Matthew 3:7-8 “But when he saw many of the Pharisees {“Pharisees” (הפרושים)} and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit {“Bear Fruit” (פרי עשו)} worthy of repentance.”

Matthew 3:9 “And do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God {“God” (אלקים)} is able from these stones {“Stones” (אבן)} to raise {“Raise Up” (להקים)} children {“Sons” (בן)} for Abraham.”

All of these puns will reappear in later portions of the Gospel of Matthew.

You can also “look inside” the first few pages of the book.

Here is the author doing similar things, but in Luke (after 4 minutes he explains that Mary is speaking Hebrew because she is in the house of a priest).

What do you think?

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