Tiberius Gracchus and the Book of Matthew

By Joseph Manning

One reader was asking about me doing a piece on Tiberius Gracchus and the land reform debates.  I was taking a look at Plutarch’s Life of Tiberius Gracchus and wikipediaing when I saw an interesting line that segues nicely with our current trip through the Book of Matthew.  I’ll come back to the Gracchi brothers sometime once we’re done with Matthew, but until then take a look at this line attributed to Tiberius Gracchus by Plutarch and my translation.

“τὰ μὲν θηρία τὰ τὴν Ἰταλίαν νεμόμενα καὶ φωλεὸν ἔχει καὶ κοιταῖόν ἐστιν αὐτῶν ἑκάστῳ καὶ καταδύσεις, τοῖς δὲ ὑπὲρ τῆς Ἰταλίας μαχομένοις καὶ ἀποθνῄσκουσιν ἀέρος καὶ φωτός, ἄλλου δὲ οὐδενὸς μέτεστιν”

(ta men theria ta ten Italian nemomena kai pholeon echei kai koitaion estin auton hekasto kai kataduseis, tois de huper tes Italias machomenois kai apothenskousin aeros kai photos, allou de oudenos metestin.)

“The beasts of Italy dwelling about each have a den or lying place to go into; but those who on behalf of Italy fight and die have air and light, but a share in nothing else.”

In Matthew chapter 8 we find a similar and well-known quotation attributed to Jesus my translation is below.

“Αἱ ἀλώπεκες φωλεοὺς ἔχουσιν καὶ τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ κατασκηνώσεις, ὁ δὲ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἔχει ποῦ τὴν κεφαλὴν κλίνῃ.”

(Ai alopekes pholeous echousin kai ta peteina tou ouranou kataskenoseis, ho de huios tou anthropou ouk echei pou ten kephalen kline.)

“The foxes have dens and the birds of the sky nests, but the Son of Man does not have [a place] where he may lay [his] head.”

Could be coincidence, or perhaps one piece of work influenced the other.  I’ll look into it later and see what has been written about this.

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Filed under New Testament - Matthew, Roman law

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