Lk 12:21

James S. Murray jsmurray at
Fri Aug 3 00:14:47 EDT 2001

Rbsads at wrote:

> For a beginner, the verse is a difficult study of the use of nominative,
> dative, and prepositional forms. Earlier discussion about the 8 case
> functions certainly seems to pertain to translating this verse.
> The NRSV translates as follows:  "So it is with those who store up treasures
> for themselves but are not rich toward God."
> This rendering leaves me wondering what is meant by being "rich toward God."
> Is the passage saying that the rich man should have given more of his stores
> to the church, in other words he should have given something to God, perhaps
> to the poor?
> There seems to me to be more of a sense of abstract, spiritual nourishment
> intended.
> It seems plain that Jesus shifts focus between the first and second phrase.
> The man found security in storing material treasures.  But the true source of
> life is found in trusting God.
> Such a shift from material security to more intangible, more real, spiritual
> security can be read into the text because the verse is describing God, but
> does the language give support to such an interpretation of spiritual
> nourishment beyond the reader's own conceptual associations?
> The NRSV has "being rich toward God."  This translates EIS in accordance with
> the 8 case function system, but the translation leaves me confused about what
> is intended.
> The dative can be understood as the benificiary of the stored treasure and
> the participle phrase translated as "the one storing treasure for himself."
> Might the prepositional phrase be interpreted, rather as conveying direction
> to God, as conveying the means of enrichment? It would then be translated as
> "not becoming rich by God." This would imply that life from God and its
> sustenance is received from a relationship with God, in contrast to one who
> enriches himself.
> These considerations would translate verse 20 as follows:
> "Thus the one storing treasures for himself and not becoming rich by God
> (will lose his life)."
> My lexicon indicates that PLOUTEW has NT useages for spiritual enrichment.
> A final question concerns the use of the nominative participles. Is there an
> understood verb as I indicated in the parentheses above, with the two
> nominative participles to be understood as subject of that understood verb?
> Peace,
> Richard Smith
> Chattanooga, TN


I see that no one has responded to this yet, so I'll throw in my two cents worth
(though I'm a beginner as well).  I trust the more learned will correct me if I make
a mash of it.

It looks to me that context is going to be important in understanding this verse.
The Greek looks pretty straight forward.   I'd take the second participle (PLOUTWN)
as substantival, connected to the article hO, so that the " the one storing up for
himself" is the same one "not being rich".  It points to one who is A but not B.

While EIS can indicate means, I think in this case it is better to understanding it
as indicating reference.  By paralleling the dative hEAUTWi (which I would take as a
dative of reference), a contrast is set up between 'storing up with reference to
himself' and 'being rich with  reference to God'.   I suppose we could have a
contrast your way if we took hEAUTWi as instrumental ('by himself').  However, the
broader context seems to focus on being kingdom focussed vs. self focussed in our
motivation for living ('seek first the kingdom' and 'for where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also').

Hope this helps.

Jim Murray
Racine, WI

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