Posted on December 26th, 2008
Well, not a deep mystery; more a puzzle, really: What text of Jeremiah was St. Matthew working with? In the Gospel for the Holy Innocents (Dec. 28), Matthew quotes Jeremiah 31.15. The first thing I noticed was that both the ESV and NKJ translate bane (“sons”) as “children,” despite the LXX having huiois (sons). For some reason Matthew has tekna (neuter “children”). Why? It was clearly only boys who were killed. Does the fact that it is neuter give it broader application to the whole Jewish people?
Then, there is the matter of “comfort.” Rachel refuses to be comforted. Jer. 31.15, Heb. has hinnachem, “comfort, relent.” LXX decides to go the “relent” route with pausasthai, “cease.” But Matthew, curiously, uses a term loaded with meaning: paraklethenai, which instantly makes me think of the upper room discourses and the Paraclete. I’m just not sure if it ought to (is that Matthew’s intention, despite the fact that it’s not even in his gospel?) – perhaps the associations don’t actually matter.
Were there competing versions of Greek translations floating around, is Matthew making his own translation, or just going from memory? How significant are these differences?