Friday, May 17, 2013

1 Corinthians 8:13; Never Ever Forever!

13 For this very reason, if food causes my brother (or sister) to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother (or sister) to stumble. My Translation

Paul has been talking to the Corinthians about how their “knowledge” that idols are nothing in this world, so it is fine to eat food sacrificed to idols in the Pagan temples will cause weak conscience fellow Christians to sin.  As a result, the “knowledgable” Corinthians sin against Christ (εἰς Χριστὸν ἁμαρτάνετε, verse 12).  He follows that up with a statement about himself that can be translated in many ways.  Here are a few examples:

“Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.”
(1 Corinthians 8:13 NIV11)

“For this reason, if food causes my brother or sister to sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I may not cause one of them to sin.”
(1 Corinthians 8:13 NET)

“Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”
(1 Corinthians 8:13 ESV)

“Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”
(1 Corinthians 8:13 KJV)

First of all, let’s discuss the two main verbs in the verse: σκανδαλίζω (skandalizō).  The base meaning of this word is “to cause to stumble”.  Morally, it became “to cause someone to sin”.  In other ways, it means “to offend someone”.  It’s cognate noun is σκάνδαλον (skandalon), which can mean “a stumbling block”, “a trap”, “an enticement” or “an offense”.  We get our modern term “scandal” from this word.

Probably the most interesting aspect of this verse is Paul’s emphatic response.  Let me try to demonstrate this.  First of all, Paul uses οὐ μὴ (not not) when he says “I will never eat meat”.  This use alone causes the statement to be emphatic.  Almost all translators will translate this as I have; “never”.  But for Paul, οὐ μὴ is not enough.  At the end of this phrase, he adds εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα which means “into the age”.  This is the normal Greek idiom for “forever”.  Since “I will never eat meat forever” is awkward English, most translators either translate it out of the verse (See blog on John 4:14 which features the same expression) or translate this prepositional phrase as “again”.

So, for you purists (I’m being funny) who think that the Bible must be translated literally, here goes:

“I shall/will not not eat meat into the age”

If we are to maintain the Greek word order, then:

“not not I shall/will eat into the age”.

Monday, May 6, 2013

1 Corinthians 5:6-8; In the light of the Sun

1 Corinthians 5:6-8:

6 Your boasting is not good.  Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?  7 Clean out the old yeast, so that you may be a new batch of dough, as you are unleavened bread.  For Christ, our passover lamb, has been sacrificed.  8 Therefore, let us not feast/keep the F/festival with old yeast, neither the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. My Translation

Leading up to this passage, Paul has been reprimanding the Corinthians for taking pride (being puffed up) over a man who is carrying on a sexual relationship with his father’s wife (not his mother).  The Corinthians’ theological flaws are being revealed by Paul.

A couple of things about this passage that may not be so obvious should be pointed out.  First of all, in verse 7 we have καὶ γὰρ τὸ πάσχα ἡμῶν ἐτύθη Χριστός which literally means: “And/even for the passover of us has been sacrificed Christ”.  To put it into proper English, it should read: “For Christ, that is/even our passover, has been sacrificed”.  Of course, in order to understand what Paul means here is to understand what the sacrifice of the Passover was, it was a lamb!  Therefore, most modern translations add in “lamb” to the translation as that in undoubtably what Paul means.  This could mean that "festival" should be "The Festival" of Unleavened bread, or as we know it, "The Passover Festival".

The last area of interest appears at the end of this passage: ἀλλ᾿ ἐν ἀζύμοις εἰλικρινείας καὶ ἀληθείας (but in/with unleavened bread of sincerity and truth).  I want to focus on “sincerity”.  One of the things that appeals to me about the Greek text is how the ancients put together words in order to gather a meaning.  In this case, εἰλικρίνεια, which means “a quality or state of being free of dissimulation” or “sincerity” (BDAG), is one of these words.  This word is made up of two Greek words: ἥλιος (sun) and κρίνω (to judge, to decide).  Therefore, the word literally means “to decide/judge by the light of the sun” or “tested by the light of the sun” (TDNT).  Morally, it would mean that whatever is decided or judged is in the light of the sun where all can see it.  Therefore, nothing is hidden from view.  So, if one is sincere, then that are in full view, in the light of the sun for all to see.  Nothing should be hidden from view in a true Christian.