This article will help explain what I meant.What do you mean when you say
"originally written to and from an ANE audience"
See a little further down in Lu 17:22. [Also compare Lu 17:37a NET. The NET footnote after "the disciples" says, "Grk “they”; the referent (the disciples, v. 22) has been specified in the translation for clarity."]What [Jesus] said [in] Lu 17:37 was addressed to Pharisees Lu 17:20
Soma (body) is to ptoma (corpse), as "automobile" is to "chevy." Soma is the broader term (referring to bodies both live and dead). Ptoma is the more specific (referring only to dead bodies). (BDAG notes that ptoma especially refers to dead bodies that have perished violently.)Unlike in English the Greek words for body and corpse/carcass are not interchangeable
Soma (body) occurs in these verses of the NT referring to a dead body: Mt 14:12; 27:52, 58, 59; Lu 23:52, 55; 24:3, 23; Jn 19:31; Ac 9:40; Jude 9. Where Matthew refers to the dead body (soma) of Jesus being given to Joseph (Mt 27:58, 59), Mark uses ptoma to describe the same event (Mk 15:45). In fact, Mark uses soma and ptoma interchangeably in that same passage. (Compare Greek of Mk 15:43 with Mk 15:45.) (Ptoma occurs in the NT at: Mt 14:12; 24:28; Mk 6:29; 15:45; Rev 11:8, 9 - note the association of a violent death in each case.)
So yes, the two terms are interchangeable when soma is referring to a dead body. As BDAG (Bauer's 3rd Edition Greek-English Lexicon) points out, soma is a little more "elegant" of a term than ptoma in the same way that "dead body" in English is a bit more elegant than "carcass." When it comes to Luke 17:37 and Mt 24:28, one possible reason that Luke used soma may be that soma in Lu 17:37 just reflects Dr Luke's 'bed-side manner' in comparison with the tax collector Matthew. (Also compare the last paragraph in this post which might also be suggestive of why Luke uses a more refined term in place of Matthew's ptoma at Mt 24:28.)
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1. Discussion refuting the idea that Joseph of Arimathea thought Jesus was still alive when he requested Jesus' "body" (soma) in Mk 15:43: Here.
2. On the difference between a dead "body" (soma) and a "corpse" (ptoma) and the more common (i.e. comparatively crude) nature of ptoma, see the full paragraph in the reference here.
3. Brief discussion in a reference work regarding the NT words nekros ("the dead"; # 3498), soma ("body", live or dead or metaphorical; # 4983), ptoma ("corpse"; # 4430), and kolon ("carcass"; used only at Heb 3:17; Strong's # 2966): Here.
The references in notes 2 and 3 help illustrate why BDAG speaks of soma as being more "elegant" than ptoma when referring to a dead body. The nuance between the two words can be seen in Mk 15:43 where Joseph (a disciple of Jesus) asks for the soma ("body") of Jesus. But in Mk 15:45 Pilate (who has no relationship with Jesus) hands the ptoma ("corpse") of Jesus over after checking to make sure he is dead. When soma and ptoma are understood this way, Mark's account in Mk 15:43-45 can be seen as being written in a very finessed or refined style. (Ps 12:6) (Not necessarily related to this discussion, but here is another thread on Joseph of Arimathea.)
On kolon, used only at Heb 3:17, the Louw & Nida Lexicon points out that, "in earlier Greek κῶλον designated a 'limb,' but in the NT it occurs only in the plural and means corpses." L&N goes on to define κῶλον as, "the dead body of a person, especially one which is still unburied."
4. Commentary on Luke 17:37 from another reference: Here.