[B-Greek] TO DE SWMA TOU CRISTOU--can the traditionaltranslation be sustained?

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Sun Feb 28 00:29:59 EST 2010


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Elizabeth Kline" <kline_dekooning at earthlink.net>
To: "greek B-Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 27. februar 2010 22:52
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] TO DE SWMA TOU CRISTOU--can the traditionaltranslation be 
sustained?


>
> On Feb 27, 2010, at 7:05 AM, David Stuart wrote:
>
>> To help clarify some things, here is a copy of the article that I found 
>> through Google scholar, hosted on a pro-sabbatarian site. It is poor quality, 
>> and I can only hope they have permission to use it, but I understand that the 
>> original JBL article was first printed in a sabbatarian church's ministerial 
>> journal, so they may have permission.
>>
>> http://www.friendsofsabbath.org/Further_Research/Holy%20Days/Col%202_17_Journal%20of%20Biblical%20Literature.pdf
>>
>> His actual translation seems rather strained, so I didn't post so much in 
>> order to look at that, but just to see what folks thought of the use of the 
>> genitive, and to see whether it is indeed a problem for DE to connect the two 
>> disparate clauses.
>
>
> The text:
>
> Col. 2:16 Μὴ οὖν τις ὑμᾶς κρινέτω ἐν βρώσει καὶ ἐν πόσει ἢ ἐν μέρει ἑορτῆς ἢ 
> νεομηνίας ἢ σαββάτων·  17 ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων, τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ.
>
> Col. 2:16 MH OUN TIS hUMAS KRINETW EN BRWSEI KAI EN POSEI H EN MEREI hEORTHS H 
> NEOMHNIAS H SABBATWN·  17 hA ESTIN SKIA TWN MELLONTWN, TO DE SWMA TOU CRISTOU.
>
> What T.Martin considers a major weakness in the traditional exegesis of of 
> Col. 2:17 is actually a major strength. In the traditional exegesis meaning 
> (semantic structure) takes precedence over form (surface structure). The 
> enconding of meaning normally involves some level of skewing. The larger 
> context (textual) and the cognitive framework help to insure that less than 
> perfect encoding of the text accomplishes the goals of the author. This 
> observation is embedded in the traditional exegesis which looks to  Philo's 
> contrast between SKIA and SOMA [J.D.G. Dunn, Col. NIGTC].
>
> Elizabeth Kline

In my view, Troy Martin relies too much on questionable grammatical assumptions. 
I would not call DE a coordinating conjunction (even if BDF does), nor even a 
conjunction. It is better to see it as a discourse particle that can function on 
several grammatical levels. In this case, a contrast between SKIA and SWMA is 
the most obvious understanding.

Similarly, the relative clause starting with hA is the kind of relative clause 
that functions independently (a continuative relative clause). The relative 
serves as a link to all the things mentioned in the previous sentence, but also 
as a springboard to start a new sentence. English does not have this kind of 
relative clauses, and it is therefore quite in order that modern translations 
start with a demonstrative "these (things)" rather than a relative "which".

As far as SWMA is concerned, I also prefer the extended "substance, reality" 
sense. Actually, I think this sense is more common than normally recognized in 
English renderings. For instance, Rom 6:6 says:

ἵνα καταργηθῇ τὸ σῶμα τῆς ἁμαρτίας
hINA KATARGHQH TO SWMA THS hAMARTIAS

So that the substance/reality/power of sin was put out of operation.

This may be how it is understood by GNB: that the power of the sinful self might 
be destroyed.
However, I don't think the "-ful self" is needed.
Others like CEV keep the body sense and suggests:
so that our sinful bodies would no longer be the slaves of sin.
I don't think SWMA here refers to "body", but rather to the "reality, essence, 
full power". Other options are "the totality of sin" or "sin as a whole".

I don't see much problem with the genitive in SWMA TOU CRISTOU. In English we 
often have to supply "things" for what is implicit in the Greek text, so I 
understand it as: but the reality/essence are (the things) of Christ, that is, 
the new "things" as opposed to the old "things".
Or if you prefer another verb: but the reality/essence is what Christ brought.

Another exegetical challenge in this verse is, of course, TWN MELLONTWN. Have 
these "things to be" already come with Christ or are they still to come?
The present participle does not in itself have a time reference. It is only 
descriptive and the time setting is a matter of context. The context here 
suggests that these new things have come with Christ.

There is a somewhat similar construction in
Mat 11:14 αὐτός ἐστιν Ἠλίας ὁ μέλλων ἔρχεσθαι
AUTOS ESTIN HLIAS hO MELLWN ERCESQAI

He is Elijah, who was to come (NIV).
Jesus is speaking about John the Baptist, who has already come, but at the time 
of the prophecies it was still future.
To translate this into English as "Elijah who is to come" is misleading. Even 
NIV might be understood as if he was to come, but didn't come. NLT spells it out 
more clearly by adding implicit information: he is Elijah, the one the prophets 
said would come.

Iver Larsen

 




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