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Bart Jongsma




Location: Groningen, The Netherlands
Joined: 03 Mar 2004

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Mon 08 Apr, 2013 7:59 am    Post subject: Peter's Sword         Reply with quote

This is a question that has been in the back of my mind for a while. As a student in Religious Studies, I have been wondering for a while what weapons would have been used by the Israelites during the various periods of the Bible. Particularly the episode in the New Testament where Peter is explicitly mentioned as wielding a sword interested me. I was wondering what would be the most plausible kind of sword wielded by an Israelite at this time. Would it be a copy of or variation on the gladius, or something entirely regional and different? The closest thing I could find was that apparently, there's a 'Sword of Saint Peter' that legend has it goes back to the first century A.D. but it looks more like a medieval falchion to me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sword_of_Saint_Peter .
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Bennison N




Location: Auckland, New Zealand
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PostPosted: Mon 08 Apr, 2013 3:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've heard Peter the Apostle's sword described specifically as Makhaira, which is a generic linguistic term at the time of Christ for knife or short sword (I think Greek, but can't check for you now, sorry...), but this word, written more often these days with a C instead of the K, is also a name that has become an accepted noun ( especially in more recent times) for a certain type of cutting sword. Google should give you something using "Machaira". It can be loosely grouped with other recurved swords, Kopis, Falcata, and eventually Kukri and Yataghan. These are powerful cutting swords, and could sever a Roman's ear with no difficulty. To be honest, that would be quite a skillful cut to take the ear without a chunk of the side of the head as well.

This word (Machaira) is also used to describe the "magical" weapon used by Greeks and Macedonians to kill lions, a ritual practice for one of their religious groups (Basileus (King) cult, I think... Don't quote that) somewhere around the time of Phillip and Alexander. These, in the pictures I have seen, appear to be very similar to the Greek Kopis.

That's all I can say on my phone off the top of my head...Hope it helps, mate!

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

अजयखड्गधारी
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

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PostPosted: Mon 08 Apr, 2013 4:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I suspect it was simply a gladius of some sort. The Romans had been THE major military influence in the region for a couple centuries, and at this time Judea was obviously Roman territory.

Machaira is best interpreted as "sword", with no special type implied. The kopis/falcata that we like to associate with that word were popular several hundred years before Christ, but I don't think there is much evidence for their continued use at the time of the Crucifixion.

Hate to say it, but that "Sword of Peter" is certainly not a first century weapon! Has to be medieval.

Valete,

Matthew
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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
Joined: 17 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Tue 09 Apr, 2013 12:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The text has the words (capital letters in Greek):
MAXAPIAN (machairan) Matt. 26:52
MAXAPIAN (machairan) Mark. 14:47
MAXAPIA (machaira) Luke 22:49
MAXAPIAN (machairan) John 18:10

The reference in Luke 22:36 (where Jesus says to the apostles to sell their cloak and buy a sword) also uses the word "machaira".

But nevertheless I agree with Matt, it was more likely a sword we now call "gladius" rather than the sword we now call "machaira". A common "problem" with old books is that the writers didn't use the same terminology as we do, nor that they were as specific about using the "correct" terminology.

A bit off-topic, but as a student in Religious Studies, this may also be of interest:
http://www.swordforum.com/forums/showthread.p...light=ehud
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,457

PostPosted: Fri 12 Apr, 2013 1:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

well, machaira nowadays is also the word for knife in greek, and usually refers to your common domestic knife, this has 2 parallels in history, the german messer, and the chinese dao, both mean knife in their respective languages and both are also used to denote a type of single edged sword.

When this topic was first posted someone suggested that it would be equally likely that these 'swords would have simply been machete like 'camp swords'

which makes even more sense when we remember that the navel cutless began life as a machete like implement as well.
evidence for this, not really any in terms of physical evidence but on the practical side it seems to add up.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

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PostPosted: Fri 12 Apr, 2013 9:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That doesn't sound logical to me, I'm afraid! Swords were not tools, and never had been. There is no point in saying that Peter used a sword, with a word commonly used for weapons, if he had actually used a kitchen cleaver or brush hook or other tool. In any case, there was no such thing as a "camp sword" in ancient times--there were swords, and there were tools used for camp tasks (axes, picks, shovels, bark strippers, etc.). Swords were not made for chopping wood or digging holes, and the soldiers knew it!

Naval cutlasses were simply derived from perfectly common swords made for land warfare! There is nothing machete-like about them, that I've ever seen.

Matthew
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Bennison N




Location: Auckland, New Zealand
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Apr, 2013 2:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter was originally a fisherman.

So perhaps his machaira was a fishing knife.

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Apr, 2013 2:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, he might well have had a big knife for cutting of heads of bigger fish... It might be more interesting to debate what Jesus meant when he said: "He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one."" I don't mean we should debate theology here, but if these were the words really spoken then, if he meant a military sword, or some universal, more tool like blade...
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Joel Chesser




Location: Oklahoma
Joined: 23 Oct 2003

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PostPosted: Sun 14 Apr, 2013 2:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My understanding from some study of the passage is that it is a military sword. The general interpretation of this passage is that Christ is telling them to be prepared to defend themselves. He tells them in the past when I sent you out I told you to go with out taking any provisions, extra clothes, sandals etc. But now I'm telling you to take provisions, take the things you will need as you go out doing my work. This verse is a warning that things are going to be different when he is gone, they need to be prepared to defend themselves. this isn't a contradiction of "who lives by the sword dies by it. there is a difference between defending yourselves and others and living your life in such a way that you are defined by a war like nature, living by the sword. At least that's what I have the general consensus seems to be among commentators.
..." The person who dosen't have a sword should sell his coat and buy one."

- Luke 22:36
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 15 Apr, 2013 6:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bennison N wrote:
Peter was originally a fisherman.

So perhaps his machaira was a fishing knife.


Except that's when Jesus gives the famous line of "He who lives by the sword will die by the sword"--weird thing to say if he meant "fishing knife".

It's a sword.

Matthew
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Daniel Wallace




Location: Pennsylvania USA
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PostPosted: Mon 15 Apr, 2013 9:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"He who lives by the sword will die by the sword" this i've always seen as poetic. in the meaning of sword in this passage is meant to me, he who lives by violence will die by violence.

things to consider, at the time, Judea was the hot bed of revolution during Christ's time. so you have to wounder, would the common people be allowed to carry a 'sword' or what we could consider a 'gladius' Peter is described later as having Roman citizenship so are the rules a little different for him? would he be allowed to carry a 'sword.' what kind of law allow or may not allow a citizen to arm them-self.

also a lot of Christs public ministry is just that public, is a guy going to be allowed to walk around town with 12 body guards equip with swords? especially a man who is a possible threat to roman rule?
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Apr, 2013 8:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Wallace wrote:
"He who lives by the sword will die by the sword" this i've always seen as poetic. in the meaning of sword in this passage is meant to me, he who lives by violence will die by violence.


Well, yeah, okay, but why can't it just be a sword? If it has 4 legs, a mane, and a tail, and says "neigh", why assume "zebra"?

Quote:
things to consider, at the time, Judea was the hot bed of revolution during Christ's time. so you have to wounder, would the common people be allowed to carry a 'sword' or what we could consider a 'gladius' Peter is described later as having Roman citizenship so are the rules a little different for him? would he be allowed to carry a 'sword.' what kind of law allow or may not allow a citizen to arm them-self.


We don't know for certain what sorts of laws were in place, or were enforced. We DO know that Roman arms and armor were made by local craftsmen, specifically in Judea, since Jewish armorers deliberately made sub-standard weapons while preparing for the revolt of 66 AD. The Romans rejected the stuff, and the Jews simply stashed it rather than fixing or recycling it. It also seems clear that Jesus had contacts in some of the shadier parts of society. So it should have been no problem to pick up a black-market sword. Kinda like buying drugs or illegal guns today--no problem if you know where to look! There were also local forces such as the Temple Guards who were *not* part of the Roman army. But even Roman soldiers had the ability to obtain weapons privately rather than from the army directly, so there had to be sources.

Quote:
also a lot of Christs public ministry is just that public, is a guy going to be allowed to walk around town with 12 body guards equip with swords? especially a man who is a possible threat to roman rule?


Just because one disciple has a sword (or fish knife!) doesn't mean they all do. Or Jesus wouldn't have to advise them to buy swords and supplies.

Matthew
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