One of our readers asks the following:
I looked for a way to post a question, but could not find a link. Please forgive me for posting my question here.
My question relates to the NWT rendering of Matt. 24:15 - "When you catch sight of the....."
"catch sight" - I really like this rendering, and I think it very well captures the sense of Jesus' words, because this phrase has the sense of 'capturing' a fast-moving event that is not of long duration. In 66 CE the Roman troops briefly and suddenly breached the wall and stood in the temple area. But then they just as suddenly withdrew. So from the perspective of a Christian in the city, he could "catch sight" of the brief event. This is different than Luke 21:20, where the NWT uses "see" with respect to the Roman armies surrounding the city in 66 CE. This was not quite so sudden an event, and it lasted a while - so the rendering "see" makes very good sense.
I think this is yet another example of the superiority of the NWT. I would like to be able to defend the Matt. 24:15 rendering based upon the Greek grammar itself. Could you examine this and help me to know how to make a defense?
Thanks so much, Edgar.
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"When, therefore, you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)-World English Bible
'Whenever, therefore, ye may see the abomination of the desolation, that was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever is reading let him observe)-Young's Literal Translation
Both of these translations and many others use the verb "see" in Mt 24:15. The Greek ἴδητε is the aorist subjunctive active (second person plural) of ὁράω ("I see, look upon, experience"). Since the verb's mood is subjunctive and second person plural, YLT renders it "ye may see." It can also be translated "you will/shall see." But I also like the NWT handling of the grammar "you catch sight . . . "
Regarding the English expression "catch sight of," dictionary.com says: "to get a glimpse of; espy: We caught sight of the lake below."
I believe that the NWT chose this rendering because of the aorist tense that occurs in this verse. At one time, the aorist was commonly viewed as the "once-for-all" tense. But after the famous article by Frank Stagg, we now consider the aorist to be the default tense or it's a verb form which expresses undefined action. See "The Abused Aorist," Journal of Biblical Literature Vol. 91, No. 2 (Jun. 1972): 222-231. Cf. http://fosterheologicalreflections.blogspot.com/2012/06/more-on-greek-tense-aorist.html
While the aorist by itself may not communicate a "once-for-all" time action, the context of a verse may lead us to belive that the action being portrayed by a writer occurs in a punctiliar fashion. That seems to be the case for Mt 24:15. Maybe others can provide some helpful input.