Abraham or Sara?
alice-iver_larsen at wycliffe.org
Thu Dec 7 04:07:05 EST 2000
> > My question is: does anyone know why both the NIV (1984) and the NRSV
> > make Abraham the subject? The NIV blatantly supplies the so-far missing
> > Abraham, while NRSV understands the subject of ELABEN simply as "he." Is
> > there any reason not to understand Sara as the one described as faithful
> > (Genesis accounts notwithstanding ;o} )?
> Yes, one major semantic reason is that the Greek phrase KATABALHN SPERMATOS
> literally means "to thrown down sperm" and is much more likely to refer to
> the action of a man during procreation, although some commentaries feel it
> is possible that the Greek (perhaps actually Hebraic) idiom could have been
> semantically extended to include a woman's part in procreation. A couple of
> messages in the Bible translation message archives deal with this issues.
One comment about what this phrase "literally means". The noun KATABOLH occurs 11 times in
the NT, 10 of which are followed by KOSMOU. These ten refer to the
creation/foundation/beginning of the world. It is therefore reasonable to suggest that the
primary meaning of the noun is foundation/creation/beginning. It also seems more likely
that SPERMA refers to "seed/posterity" rather than "sperm", because all the times the word
sperm occurs in Leviticus, it is translated by the LXX as KOITH SPERMATOU, not simply as
SPERMA. It is worthwhile looking up KOITH in BAUER and also compare Rom 9:10 - cited by
BAUER here - which refers to Rebecca as the subject for "conceiving from one man" (EX
hENOS KOITHN ECOUSA). So, I think this phrase is more likely to refer to the
beginning/foundation/creation of a posterity/line of descendants.
However, the main reasons for interpreting the subject to be Abraham rather than Sarah are
contextual, including discourse considerations, and cultural, rather than lexical and
grammatical. And these reasons are in my opinion quite strong.
More information about the B-Greek