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Steve Masticola





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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jul, 2007 5:50 am    Post subject: Swords of the Apostles         Reply with quote

Hi, all,

First post here. Tried a search but came up empty-handed.

There are multiple references in the Gospels that imply that some of the Apostles sometimes carried swords. My impression is that they were using them as itinerants of the time normally would have, purely for self-defense, except for one regrettable and quickly rebuked incident.

What kind would they likely have had?

Thanks,
- Steve.
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Greyson Brown




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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jul, 2007 6:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The New Testament occurs during the Roman occupation of Israel, so it is very likely that the sword Peter used was a gladius or something very similar. I am not away of a sword type specific to Israel at the time, but most swords in that period were relatively short. Also, from the very limited research I have done, it seems that Israelite swords of the Old Testament would have been short swords very similar to a gladius any way. Those who study that period more might be able to give a more detailed response.

You'll notice that there are only two occasions where the Apostles are mentioned as having swords; the incident with Peter and Malchus in the garden (which, of course, appears in three of the four Gospels), and the moment at the last supper when they state that they have two swords in the group. This was clearly not a militant group, and I would agree with your assumption that these swords were intended for self defence. This raises two questions for me (one of which is much more relevent than the other). Wouldn't you be awfully nervous knowing that Peter, a man characterized by rash behavior, was carrying a sword around with him? I'm amazed that he only whacked off one ear in the three years of Jesus' ministry. And, more importantly, were there Roman laws in the first century B.C. concerning the civilian usage and transportation of swords?

-Grey

"So long as I can keep the path of honor I am well content."
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The White Company
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Steve Masticola





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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jul, 2007 9:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Whatever swords the Apostles carried were likely to be short, light, and inexpensive, for fairly obvious reasons. So something like a gladius would fit, if civilians in occupied countries had access to them.

I wouldn't necessarily be nervous around an armed Peter. He acted to defend: (1) an innocent person (Jesus) against (2) an immediate danger of death or grave bodily harm. Those are two of the major qualifiers used today in a legal defense for a justified use of deadly force. (The remaining qualifier is "(3) otherwise unavoidable;" which I can't comment on and which may have applied as well.) His action wasn't necessary or what Jesus wanted, but quite possibly Peter took it without other error.

- Steve.
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Hugh Fuller




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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jul, 2007 11:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How about a sword in the hands of someone named "Iscariot" as Judas was named and, IIRC, one other of the DIsciples. "Iscariot" is the Aramaic form of the Latin "Sicarius" or "Dagger Man," the name by which the Romans knew some of the more extreme of the Jewish zealots. Given that Jesus was seen by many as the Messiah predicted in Hebrew Scriptures, an argument can be made that Judas was an overzealous nationalist merely trying to force Jesus' hand into acting in the expected Messiah role as the king who would free Israel from her oppressers. I am not saying that I buy this argument, only that I have seen it made and that it does have some reason to it..
Hugh
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Please see 1 John 1:5
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Steve Masticola





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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jul, 2007 4:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, a little further info on the original topic... Happy

After a little digging, I found out that the Greek word that was used in at least one crucial New Testament passage (Luke 22:38) was "makhaira" (μάχαιρα), which was a specific kind of curved short sword used throughout the region:



It's more likely that the Apostles had makhariae than gladii. (Please excuse any shakiness on the plurals here.)

- Steve.
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David McElrea




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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jul, 2007 4:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

HI Steve,

Actually the word "machaira" in koine Greek had come to be used as a term for swords in general. In earlier commentaries etc a great deal was made of the New Testament's useage of machaira vs. (on one occasion, iirc), romphaia, but the Greek term is far more flexible than earlier scholars had assumed. I don't think we can really know what Peter used... it could have been a gladius, or it could have been some other (likely small and unobtrusive) sword, but I don't think we will ever be able to say for sure.
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Greg Coffman




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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jul, 2007 6:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jesus wasn't in danger of bodily harm. The authorities had sent a large crowd to arrest him and take him into custody. What Peter would be doing might be considered resisting arrest, except that the crowd was not trying to arrest Peter.

Also of note, Jesus is quoted as saying to sell your cloak and buy a sword. While the instruction might not be literal, it does raise the question of the relative value of swords and cloaks.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
-Hebrews 4:12
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Steve Masticola





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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jul, 2007 7:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David,

You're probably right, but I'd still suspect that they'd own whatever was the commonest and cheapest.

Greg,

Jesus certainly was in danger of bodily harm, as witness the fact that he was dead within 24 hours. He was being confronted in the dead of night by what was, for all intents and purposes, an armed lynch mob. Peter didn't know that the Resurrection would happen later.

Hugh,

Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus with a kiss. He therefore shouldn't have been trusted with lips. I have no idea why he decided to betray Jesus, but the political intrigue thing doesn't sound quite right -- if you're trying to force someone to support your cause, why would you want to get him murdered?


- Steve.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 13 Jul, 2007 8:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Folks,
This is an arms and armour forum. Let's try to keep other debates out of it. Thanks!

Happy

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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Fri 13 Jul, 2007 10:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Machaira has been used to describe a member of the Kopis family of swords, but in ancient texts the word is much less specific, simply generiically referring to a bladed weapon (as previously noted).

I'd like to see the use of the word Machaira to describe a specific type of sword discontinued, as it does lead to some confusion. But there are probably plenty of academics and lettered folks who would disagree with that.

I have heard references to something called a "kitchen sword" which was simply a fairly large multi-purpose knife, probably similar to a medieval hauswehr (sp?) or something like that. These would probably have been inexpensive and easy to come by. The possession of such weapon/tools would not have raised much suspicion towards the disciples, who traveled the roads between Galilee and Jerusalem (probable popular haunts for bandits and highwaymen) and would have needed to use knives for common chores (for instance, cleaning fish).

Although I suppose it's possible, due to the backgrounds of some of the disciples, that it could have been a Sica....

David K. Wilson, Jr.
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David McElrea




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PostPosted: Fri 13 Jul, 2007 1:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Folks,
This is an arms and armour forum. Let's try to keep other debates out of it. Thanks!


To be fair, Chad (and I will bow to your moderation if you still disagree) the "other" debates are historical in nature, similar to those one might find on a thread about the battle of Hattin, for example. No one is arguing about the nature of the incarnation or the way in the human and divine are united in Jesus (which would be theological and, perhaps, off topic, though interesting).

Just a thought...
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 13 Jul, 2007 2:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David McElrea wrote:
To be fair, Chad (and I will bow to your moderation if you still disagree) the "other" debates are historical in nature, similar to those one might find on a thread about the battle of Hattin, for example. No one is arguing about the nature of the incarnation or the way in the human and divine are united in Jesus (which would be theological and, perhaps, off topic, though interesting).

Just a thought...[/i]


David,
If you disagree with or want to debate a moderator's actions, forum rules require you to contact them directly.

Since we're out in public with this discussion, though, not everything was off-topic, but some certainly was. Why Judas betrayed Jesus is off-topic, for example. Whether he was a zealot might be on-topic if it would dictate his choice in weapons in any way, but his motivations, etc. are certainly not.

There are likely forums where theological or philisophical (etc.) debates can occur. This isn't one of them. Happy

Now back to the original topic....

Happy

ChadA

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David McElrea




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PostPosted: Fri 13 Jul, 2007 2:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
If you disagree with or want to debate a moderator's actions, forum rules require you to contact them directly.


My apologies.
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Steve Masticola





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PostPosted: Sat 14 Jul, 2007 4:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

At the risk of punning, point taken. Happy

If the original text doesn't offer any real clues about what a machaira was in this specific case, then the only thing left is to play the odds and try to get a clue from archeology. Is there any way to tell from recovered artifacts what the common types of inexpensive short swords would have been in the region of Jerusalem at the time?

- Steve.
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Gene Green





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PostPosted: Sat 14 Jul, 2007 10:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hope this isn't off topic.

I recall reading somewhere that under Romans, the Judeans were prohibited from carrying arms; in the same book, the author pointed to the fact, that while almost all major political forces in Judea of that time were mentioned in the Gospels (the Judean high priests, the Romans, Herod) there was one major force that doesn't get mentioned much - the zealots (in modern terms, the Judean freedom fighters). This rather strange omission, combined with the fact that at least two of Jesus followers were carrying swords, and that his followers were from "right" background, led author to believe that at least some of the apostles were zealots. This would probably mean that their swords were, indeed, roman gladii, since local sword manufacturing would likely be prohibited as well..
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Ken Osolinski





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PostPosted: Sun 15 Jul, 2007 5:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steve Masticola wrote:
Well, a little further info on the original topic... Happy

After a little digging, I found out that the Greek word that was used in at least one crucial New Testament passage (Luke 22:38) was "makhaira" (μάχαιρα), which was a specific kind of curved short sword used throughout the region:



It's more likely that the Apostles had makhariae than gladii. (Please excuse any shakiness on the plurals here.)

- Steve.

Steve, did your biblical research turn up any information on the number of and status of the men that accompanied Judas to Gethsemane?
My N.I.V refers to a "crowd" armed with swords and clubs, but I recall reading somewhere that the Greek original uses a word equivalent to the Roman "cohort" , so that's something in the region of six hundred guys. If that's the case, then surely we have to conclude that the authorities expected to encounter armed resistance and not just from a couple of hotheads within the group.
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Hugh Fuller




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Jul, 2007 11:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The basic point of my post was that Jesus' own disciples contained at least two individuals identified with the iscarii, the rebels whom the Romans were busy crucifying when they caught them. It would not have been uncommon for such a group to have been armed with swords or to have knowledge of their whereabouts if needed.

And I would also note that both the Latin term gladius AND the kionee Greek term machaeira in any of its transliterations mean, simply, sword. They do not mean a specific type of sword but a sword in general, despite modern usages. So the authors of the Gospels, since they were writing in the koinee Greek, would have used machaeira to describe a sword. They would not have used a Latin term since they were not writing in Latin, nor would they likely have been all that concerned with specific types of swords. This leaves us with the probability that the disciples had whatever was available, which would most likely be one of the varous Roman types. The timing and the need to hide it would lead me to suggest that it would have been a Gladius Hispaniensis or that sword's Mainz variant.*

* Please see Roman Military Equipment From The Punic Wars To The Fall Of Rome by Michael Bishop & J.C.N. Coulston, Page 78 for this view of the Mainz sword as a type of the Gladius Hispaniensis.

Hugh
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Please see 1 John 1:5
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Zak N. Stansell




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Jul, 2007 12:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As I recall, Judas was the only Apostle traditionally identified with the zealots, though researchers and theologians have posited that many of the others were associated with the movement and most would have had sympathies with their goals. The gospels imply that the majority of the Apostles (and Jesus' followers in general) believed that He was going to take over the government via a popular (and probably armed) revolution, and would have armed themselves accordingly, as a kind of low-rent/low budget honor guard.
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