Wednesday, July 12, 2006

70 vs 72 disciples

While reading through the Syriac Acts of Mar Mari the Apostle I noticed that it tends to fluctuate between the number 70 and 72 for the disciples of Jesus. The obvious explanation would be that this reflected varying textual traditions available to the author or editor. However, is it quite certain that a group of 72 would never, by abbreviation, be referred to as 'the 70'?


  1. I've thought about this too. I seems plausible to me that schools and otherwise officially established groups could have been commonly comprised of multiples of twelve, and that 72, being one of these multiples could be called 70 in sort of a shorthand. In fact, isn't this exactly what happens every time we find the word 'Septuagint' and the abbreviation LXX?

    This is like calling 2^10 bytes (i.e. 1024 bytes) a kilobyte, and so on.

  2. Or referring to a race being won by so many thousanths of a second.