Saturday, July 04, 2015

Translating Matthew 10:6, 28, 39; 16:25-26 ("Lost"?)-Addressing Bowman Again

Robert M. Bowman has questioned the NWT handling of Mt 10:28 for the way it renders ἀπολέσαι ("to destroy") in that verse. His exact words are:

Louw-Nida agrees that there are "contexts in which YUXH refers to existence beyond death" (26.4), though in such contexts "it may be referring figuratively to the person" (citing Acts 2:27 as an example). Their identification of APOLLUMI THN YUXHN as an idiom meaning "to experience the loss of life, to die" (23.114) does not prejudge the question of what happens at death. (It does, though, support my claim that APOLLUMI in this context means something more like "cause to be lost" than something like "render nonexistent.")

πορεύεσθε δὲ μᾶλλον πρὸς τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου Ἰσραήλ (Mt 10:6 WH).

"Go instead to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (NET Bible).

The translation "lost" works in Mt 10:6 since the context and other parts of the NT indicate that Jesus' disciples are hunting for those who are spiritually "lost" rather than spiritually "destroyed." Yet the gathering of sheep is not under consideration in 10:28: the verse specifically mentions Gehenna along with the destruction of soul and body. Furthermore, Luke uses τὸ ἀποκτεῖναι and ἐμβαλεῖν εἰς τὴν γέενναν in the parallel account thereby indicating that the "loss" of body and soul is not the issue (Luke 12:5); the writer is concerned with divine "killing" and the possible annihilation of unfaithful ones. Being thrown into Gehenna figuratively depicts this everlasting destruction of body and soul, and not simply the death of the former or the latter.

In Mt 10:39 and 16:25-26, the rendering "lost" is appropriate in view of the contrasts set up by Matthew between "find" and "lose" or "win" and "lose." Mt 10:28 does not have this type of chiastic contrast.


Duncan said...

This is interesting.

Since the Hebrew אבד (see also & Greek ἀπόλλυμι.

Both seem primarily to be used for destruction by loss. In the Hebrew, that which is lost from sight in the wilderness is assumed dead.

So this which is lost is dead or destroyed unless the context indicates that it has been or can be found again.

LXX 1 sam 9:3,20

LXX Ezekiel 34:4 και το πλανωμενον ουκ απεστρεψατε και το απολωλος ουκ εζητησατε

Eze 34:16 το απολωλος ζητησω

NT equivalence Luk 15:4 τις ανθρωπος εξ υμων εχων εκατον προβατα και απολεσας εν εξ αυτων ου καταλειπει τα ενενηκοντα εννεα εν τη ερημω και πορευεται επι το απολωλος εως ευρη αυτο

Duncan said...

The Adjective אָבֵד (avéd) masculine singular indefinite seems to carry these definitions:-

perishable, irretrievable