Jesus' Corpse

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Wed Mar 6 15:18:58 EST 2002


At 10:53 AM -0700 3/6/02, Wes Williams wrote:
>Does anyone have insight into why Jesus' PTWMA is not translated as
>"corpse"? A PTWMA is not exactly the same thought as English "body." What is
>the best translation of PTWMA?
>
>NAB Matthew 14:12 His disciples came and took away the corpse [PTWMA] and
>buried him; and they went and told Jesus.
>
>NAB Matthew 24:28 "Wherever the corpse [PTWMA] is, there the vultures will
>gather.
>
>NAB Mark 15:45 And when he learned of it from the centurion, he gave the
>body [PTWMA] to Joseph.

I think this is really more of a translation question than a question about
the Greek. My sense is that PTWMA and SWMA, while not completely
synonymous, do overlap; PTWMA is only used of a dead body; SWMA may be (the
main square of Alexandria, where Alexander's sarcophagus was publicly
entombed (like Lenin's centuries later on Red Square in Moscow) was termed
SWMA for that very reason. Pythagoreans and Plantonists were fond of citing
the symbolic formula SWMA SHMA: "the body is a tomb," pointing to the
paradox of the living body as an essentially dead vessel containing the
living spirit. Yet of course SWMA is also used of a living body or
self/selfhood (Rom 12:1ff; cf. Pericles' Funeral Speech 2.41.1  ... TON
AUTON ANDRA PAR' hHMWN EPI PLEIST' AN EIDH KAI META CARITWN MALIST' AN
EUTRAPELWS TO SWMA AUTARKES PARECESQAI)

Louw & Nida:
8.7 PTWMA, TOS n: a dead body, whether of an animal or a human being -
'dead body, corpse.' HRAN TO PTWMA AUTOU KAI EQHKAN AUTO EN MNHMEIWi– 'they
took his dead body and buried it' Mk 6:29; hOPOU EAN Hi TO PTWMA, EKEI
SUNACQHSONTAI hOI AETOI÷ 'wherever there is a corpse, the vultures will
gather' Mt 24:28. In the parallel passage of Lk 17:37, the term SWMA (8.1)
occurs. Since in some languages one must distinguish varying degrees of
decomposition of a corpse, it may be important in certain contexts to
indicate whether the body is of a person or an animal which has recently
died or one which has undergone considerable decomposition.

It seems to me that the only objection to translation of PTWMA in Mk 15:45
as "corpse" would depend upon some doctrinal presupposition about the
reality of the physical death of Jesus.
-- 

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months:: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad at ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/



More information about the B-Greek mailing list