[B-Greek] Matt 5:13 Can GH be the passive subject ofhALISQHSETAI?
iver_larsen at sil.org
Thu Jul 26 14:50:55 EDT 2007
----- Original Message -----
From: "Carl W. Conrad" <cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu>
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Matt 5:13 Can GH be the passive subject
> On Jul 25, 2007, at 9:47 PM, Paul Zellmer wrote:
> Matt 5:13 hUMEIS ESTE TO hALAS THS GHS; EAN DE TO hALAS MWRANQHi,
> EN TINI hALISQHSETAI? EIS OUDEN ISCUEI ETI EI MH BLHQEN EXW KATAPATEISQAI
> hUPO TWN ANQRWPWN.
Although I agree that the grammatical subject for the passive hALISQHSETAI
"will/can be salted" is hALAS, I have some comments on the meaning of this
verb and also the meaning of MWRAINW.
When this last verb in the passive form is used of people, it means "become
foolish". Of course, salt cannot become foolish, but it can become useless,
and when we are dealing with metaphors, the words tend to refer to both the
illustration of salt and the topic of the disciples. The English tradition
is to say "has lost its savour/flavour/taste", but this assumes that the
function of salt is to give flavour to food.
In my view that is a misunderstanding of the context. In Jewish tradition,
it was required that a sacrifice was first purified with salt before it
could be presented to God as a sacrifice. The metaphorical sense of
"salting" in the Bible is in most instances "purifying".
It seems to me that Jesus is saying to the disciples: You are the purifying
agents in the world. Your work is to make people fit to be presented to God
as a "living sacrifice". Now, if you lose that power of purification, how
can you get the power back? (Cf Hebr 6:4-8). If you have lost the power,
then you are good-for-nothing or as the text says EIS OUDEN ISCUEI. Salt can
hardly be salted, but the question is whether bad/contaminated salt can be
purified and have its power or purity restored.
As a translator I would prefer to use words that can be used of both the
disciples and salt, e.g. But if the salt has lost its power (to do what it
is supposed to do), how can it then be purified? It is of no use except to
be thrown outside and stepped on by people.
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