Monday, December 17, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #461 (December 16th, 2007)


Trying to come up with a nice short Sunday Edition, I thought I'd mention the only time I've faxed anyone on a Sunday in recent memory.

Hey Chet!

I'm doing my commentaries on Luke 14.

Can you check your translation of [Greek term] in 14:18 and 14:19? Mine has it as "begged off" in 14:18 and as "having been begged off' in 14:19 even though the spelling is the same as far as I can see.

Chet faxed back:

Hey Dave,

I checked my concordance and my interlinear New Testament. My concordance is based on the King James Bible – I checked my copy of the KJV to find out what I should be looking up:

Began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.

19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.

Not "begged off", but "excuse" and "excused" So I looked those up:

[copies of listings for the term for "excuse" and "excused" 3868] from 3844 and the mid.. voice of 154; to beg off, i.e. deprecate, decline, shun: -- avoid, (make) excuse, intreat, refuse, reject.

Here are 3844 and 154:

[all listings for the use of the two terms]

I also looked up "beg" and "begged", but I couldn't find 3868 there.

Last but not least here are verses 14:18 and 14:19 of Luke from my interlinear:

And they began with one (mind) to beg off all. The first said to him, A field I have bought, and I have need to go out and see it: I ask you, have me excused.

And another said, yoke of oxen I bought five, and I am going to try out them: I ask you, have me excused.

I hope that's legible on this fax. In case it's not, it reads [Greek Term] for (what in the King James Version is) "excuse" and [different Greek Term] for "excused".

If you have any follow up questions, don't hesitate to ask.

So I faxed back:

Hey Chet!

Thanks. That was interesting. I think I see one of the problems between the Interlinear version that I have and the Concordance that you're using. As you say, it's based on the King James Version, so basically what it's doing is telling you what the translators of the King James Bible decided a specific Greek word meant in context. You'll notice that your interlinear does the same thing. On line one of verse 18, it has the Greek word as "beg off" ("And they began with one to beg off")

[Let me interrupt myself here to point out that parenthetical insertions in translations really irritate me. In Chet's interlinear translation, the translators have inserted "mind" parenthetically: And they began with one (mind) to beg off. I think that's intellectually dishonest. If it isn't there, keep it to yourself. I'll make up my own [fill in the blank] as to what it says or doesn't say based on the context of the verse and the chapter. That's why I would always quote it as "And they began with one to beg off" as I've done here.]

-- which would seem to make sense because that's the first definition in the Greek dictionary: which is the basis that my interlinear seems to go on. This is what it means in Greek. This term in Greek means "to beg off" so what it would say, directly translated into English is "be having me begged off." It's a little awkward, but it's accurate. Now, in my interlinear when they translate that into English in the margin, they "pretty it up" and leave out ideas and concepts and change things – there it says, "Please have me excused" but in the body of the Interlinear translation, it hews to a more exact meaning.

That's why I find it troubling that in your Interlinear, on line one of verse 18, it has the word as meaning `beg off' but on line three of verse 18 it has the word as "excused" and again on line 2 of verse 19. Which makes sense in a different way: for English Christian gentlemen in 1610-11 to say, "Hmmm. `Begged off'. That doesn't sound like Jesus to me. What else have you got?" See, to me what they've done is to `pretty it up' because it's Jesus telling the story and they see the Son of God as being inherently polite. "have me excused". That sounds like the way the Son of God would put it. Yes. Put down `have me excused." Whereas I think the opposite is the case. I think while the meal was being prepared YHWH and the Synoptic Jesus were both listening to the Pharisees talking among themselves about their primary interests. "Yes, this afternoon, I'm going over to see that new field I bought." "Really? I'm thinking of buying five yoke of oxen and I'm going to look at those. Give them a good workout and see if they're worth the asking price." Complete materialists.

The parable he's telling them is about "supper great" – the "big supper in the sky" – and he has the invitees saying, "Oh, I bought a field that I'm going out to take a look at so put me down as `begged off'." Which is a very different sense from "have me excused" particularly when the YHWH through the Synoptic Jesus is compelling the inference that the would-be host is God and that the Synoptic Jesus is the slave who has been sent to tell all the invitees that everything is ready, come on up. The would-be host is actually YHWH so they're just as well off passing on the offer as far as I can see, but I'll bet it gave them a few bad nights wondering if this Synoptic Jesus fellow really was sent by God to invite them to the "supper great" in the sky and, because they chose their base materialism over that, God is now severely P.O.'ed at them.

You'll notice that most of the Greek definitions are pejorative in tone: "deprecate, decline, shun: avoid, refuse, reject." Even the closest definition to the KJV – (make) excuse" – conveys a very different sense from "asking to be excused". If make an excuse not to come to your dinner, that's very different from asking to be excused from your dinner.

When I eventually get back to doing my finished commentaries on Mark – which I'm hoping Secret Project #2, once it's up and running will allow me to do while staying current with all my payments to Gerhard and keeping all the trades in print – this exchange will form a core part of the introduction.


If you wish to contact Dave Sim, you can mail a letter (he does NOT receive emails) to:

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