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Comma placement

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Comma placement

Postby Pietro » Mon Nov 03, 2003 2:54 pm

In Luke 23:43

He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

Could this also be interpreted as, "I say to you today, you will..."

In other words is it more likely that "today" describes when "you will be with me" or when "I say to you".

kai eipen auto, Amen soi lego semeron met emou ese en to paradeiso.
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Postby JauneFlammee » Mon Nov 03, 2003 3:17 pm

Yes, it could mean either one. There was a rather long discussion of this passage on the b-greek mailing list and you should be able to find it via google by typing in something like "b-greek Luke 23:43"
(b-greek is a mailing list devoted to biblical greek questions, an excellent resource)

If i recall correctly the general conclusion of the discussion was that it probably means "I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise".

"I say to you today" is a hebrew idiom used to express certainty. Also, although most early manuscripts have no punctuation, this is not always the case. They mention in the list that we have a very early manuscript of this passage, and the scribe places a comma after today.

I personally believe this is the correct translation, but it is far from certain and could go either way.

Definitely check it out via google to read all the pro's and cons.
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Postby Pietro » Mon Nov 03, 2003 5:50 pm

JauneFlammee wrote:Yes, it could mean either one.

Definitely check it out via google to read all the pro's and cons.


I sure will. Thank you. It has theological implications since 7th Day Adventists do not believe that a soul exists after one's death. Jesus could not have meant 'you will be with me in paradise today' since they believe there is no life after death until the resurrection.
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Postby klewlis » Mon Nov 03, 2003 6:49 pm

Pietro wrote:
JauneFlammee wrote:Yes, it could mean either one.

Definitely check it out via google to read all the pro's and cons.


I sure will. Thank you. It has theological implications since 7th Day Adventists do not believe that a soul exists after one's death. Jesus could not have meant 'you will be with me in paradise today' since they believe there is no life after death until the resurrection.


This may be a discussion for the academy, but two things:
1) if no soul exists, then what does? just the dead body?
2) I believe it's rather backwards (poor hermeneutics, anyway) to say "this is my theological belief, therefore this passage must mean thus" rather than "this is what the passage says, and so I must shape my beliefs accordingly." Of course I recognize that there is an interplay between the two under normal circumstances, but one must be *very* cautious against making scripture fit with our beliefs rather than the other way around.
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Postby JauneFlammee » Mon Nov 03, 2003 8:36 pm

I don't think seventh day adventists believe the soul does not exist after death. I believe that there belief is that the the person (including their soul) sleeps until the bodily resurrection. I mean sleep in the normal sense of the word - unconscious, not feeling pain, no feeling for the passage of time, etc.. (for both believers and unbelievers)

This particular passage does no harm to their theory.

I'm not an adventist, but I have read about some of their beliefs. If you look into there ideas you may find that there hermeneutics are more sound than you might expect considering they hold a considerably different view on what happens after death to an unbeliever than orthodox christianity.

Orthodox Christianity: Suffering in Hades, Resurrection, Eternal Hell
Adventist View: Sleep,Resurrection, Annihilation
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Re: Comma placement

Postby aemilius » Tue Nov 04, 2003 7:50 am

Pietro wrote:In Luke 23:43

In other words is it more likely that "today" describes when "you will be with me" or when "I say to you".


I think that when we have [face=SPIonic]le'gw soi[/face] or [face=SPIonic]soi le/gw[/face] the message begins after that. At least in NT
There is no sense to say "Truly I say today" But "Truly I say" ([face=SPIonic]a)mh/n le/gw[/face]) is very common Jesus phrase.
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Postby JauneFlammee » Tue Nov 04, 2003 3:41 pm

How do we determine what it meant to the those who heard the saying?

First, we can look at how similar phrases are used in both the septuagint and the nt. As i said before this is commom idiom to express certainty, especially in the septuagint. See Deu 30:18 for an example.

We have to use the septuagint for usage examples because in nearly every case in the nt 'legw soi' is followed by an 'oti' clause, thus the examples are not parrallel.

We can also go back to sources closer in time to when the NT was written and see how those people interpreted the passage. Below I have quoted a portion of the b-greek discussion on this issue. It shows that putting the comma after today is a valid historical interpretation.

Early Greek manuscripts had no punctuation, but occasionally it is found in some MSS, and this is the case here, where B (the Vatican 1209) has a lower point ((hypostigme) after semeron. Regarding the punctuation used by this MS, it was noted that in general "B has the higher point as a period, the lower point for a shorter pause." (A. T. Robertson, "A Grammar of the Greek New Testament," Nashville, 1934, p. 242) The ink of the uncial letters in codex B was at one time a faded brown color, and in a later century a scribe traced over many of the letters and punctuation marks. However, in Luke 23:43 the ink of the lower point is the same as the letters of the text, and thus it can be traced back to the fourth century C.E.The Vatican 1209 uses punctuation marks also in other places. Thus, at Romans 9:5, ABCL and 26 cursives have a point after sarka. Does anybody know any MS that displays some kind of punctuation in Luke 23:43, beside the Vatican 1209?

The Curetonian Syriac (fifth century C.E.) renders Luke 23:43: "Amen, I say to thee to-day that with me thou shalt be in the Garden of Eden.'"--F. C. Burkitt, "The Curetonian Version of the Four Gospels," Vol. I, Cambridge, 1904.
Below I am quoting from several Greek sources, in transliteration and
providing an English translation. I would appreciate if improvements would be offered for the English renderings.

Tines men houtos anaginoskousin* _Amen lego soi semeron*_ kai hypostizousin* eita epipherousin, hotiet' emou ese e to paradeiso._ ("Some indeed read this way: 'Truly I tell you today,' and put a comma; then they add: 'You will be with me in Paradise.'"--Hesychius of Jerusalem, an ecclessiastical writer who died about 434 C.E. Greek text found in Patrologia Graeca, Vol. 93, columns 432, 1433.

Alloi de ekbiazontai to rhema, stizontes eis to <<Semeron,>> hin' e to
legomenon toiouton* <<Amen ego soi semeron*>> eita to, <<met' emou ese en to paradeiso,>> epipherontes. ("But others press upon the saying, putting a punctuation mark after 'today,' so that it would be said this way: 'Truly Itell you today'; and then they add the expression: 'You will be with me in Paradise.'")--Theophylact, an ecclesiastical writer who died about 1112 C.E. Edition: Patrologia Graeca, Vol. 123, column 1104.

alloi -- to rheton ekbiazontai* legousin gar dein hypostizontas 254:hypostizantas) anaginoskein* amen lego soi semeron*>> eith' houtos epipherein to* met' emou ese etc. ("Others press upon what is spoken; for they say it must read by putting a comma thus: 'Truly I tell you today,' and then adding the expression this way: 'You will be with me' etc.")--Scholia 237, 239, 254. Text found in Novum Testamentum Graece, editio octava critica maior, by C. Tischendorf, Vol. I, Leipzig, 1869,under Luke 23:43.

kai eutys eipen moi hoti amen amen semeron lego soi, met' emou ese en to parad[eiso]. ("And immediately he said to me: 'Most truly today I tell you, You will be with me in Paradise.'")--Descent into Hades, an apocryphal writing of the fourth century C.E. Text found in Novum Testamentum Graece, editio octava critica maior, by C. Tischendorf, Vol. I, Leipzig,869, under Luke 23:43.
ho de eipen auto* semeron lego soi aletheian hina se ekho eis ton
parad[eison] met' emou. ("And he said to him: 'Today I tell you the truth,
that I should have you in Paradise with me.'")--Gospel of Nicodemus (=Acts of Pilate)b287, an apocryphal writing of the fourth or fifth century C.E. Text found in Novum Testamentum Graece, editio octava critica maior, by C. Tischendorf, Vol. I, Leipzig, 1869, under Luke 23:43.

Therefore, at least from the fourth century C.E. until well into the twelfth
century C.E. there were readers who understood the text at Luke 23:43 as "Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise." On that very day,when Jesus died, he was in Sheol or Hades, and not in Paradise. (Psalms 16:8-11; Acts 2:22-32) He was dead and in the tomb until the third day and was then resurrected as "the firstfruits" of the resurrection. (Acts 10:40;1 Corinthians 15:20; Colossians 1:18 ) Thus, the word "today" at Luke 23:43 does not give the time of the evildoer's being with Jesus in Paradise.
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Postby Bert » Wed Nov 05, 2003 12:28 am

I do not believe that Jesus went to Sheol the day he died so that argument does not hold water with me.
The argument that the expression; 'I tell you today' is an common idiom to express certainty, is a convincing argument.
Without that, putting the comma behind today would not make sense unless Jesus was contrasting something that was said in the past with what he is saying now.
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Postby aemilius » Wed Nov 05, 2003 11:42 am

JauneFlammee wrote:First, we can look at how similar phrases are used in both the septuagint and the nt. As i said before this is commom idiom to express certainty, especially in the septuagint. See Deu 30:18 for an example.

How do you know from the septuagint that this is a common idiom? The phrase in Deu 30:18 is:
[face=SPIonic]a)nagge/lw soi sh/meron o(/ti[/face] where the message begins after [face=SPIonic]o(/ti[/face]. (I declare to you today that)
The other phrase in septuagint (actually in Deuteronomy only) is:
[face=SPIonic]o(/sa e)gw\ e)nte/llomai soi sh/meron[/face] (which I am commanding you today). And it is always connected with the commandments given. Take for an example Deu 8:11.
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Postby JauneFlammee » Wed Nov 05, 2003 3:50 pm

Let me make one correction; I think the idiom is better expressed: stating that something will happen this day is an expression of certainty in hebrew idiom, not necessarily of the fact that it will literally happen on that particular day.
Note that Adam did not physically die on the day he ate the apple.

Deu 30:18 is perhaps not the best example because of the 'oti' clause afterwards. Here are a few others from Deuteronomy 6:6,7:11,8:1,10:13,11:8 .

I'm no expert on the septuagint or hebrew idioms so I could be wrong. But it seems the primary objection to placing the comma after today is because the saying doesn't sound natural to english ears. Why would he say today, obviously he was speaking today? I think the example from Deuteronomy are parrallel and can be used to show that this argument is not solid, it is a valid hebraistic way of expressing something. (I'm open for correction on this if I'm wrong)
How exactly does the fact that these sayings in deuteronomy are related to the commandments effect this interpretation?
Does not Jesus gives the thief a commandment in a sense after the expression?
expression of certainty - "Truly I say to you today,"
commandment - "you will be with me in paradise"

Some NT examples where 'semeron' goes with the preceeding verb:
Luke 2:11,22:34 ; Acts 20:26, 26:29

All I'm saying is that placing the common after today is a valid understanding of the text; I'm not saying that it is the only possible understanding of this text, or that is absolutely without a doubt the correct understanding. (obviously huge theological issues are present here)

( A literal grave is valid interpretation of both Hades and Sheol , although not the only meaning of each word. Jesus, at least his body, was in fact in a literal grave that day since the ressurection had not occurred.)

Bert, Have you noticed your efforts to read Homer helping in your ability to read the NT?
I ask because I'm on the same endeavor (koine greek background and starting to learn homer), I definitely seem to be able to read Paul's epistles and long sentences better now, although I'm not exactly sure why.
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Postby Bert » Thu Nov 06, 2003 3:24 am

JauneFlammee wrote: Bert, Have you noticed your efforts to read Homer helping in your ability to read the NT?
I ask because I'm on the same endeavor (koine greek background and starting to learn homer), I definitely seem to be able to read Paul's epistles and long sentences better now, although I'm not exactly sure why.

I can't say that I can notice a huge difference yet, but I think it will help.
If I try to translate something from Homer I have nothing to go on but the Greek text. Sometimes it takes me a long time to figure out a few lines. If I were reading the NT, very often after translating three quaters of the verse I kind of remember the rest from being familiar with the English translation. This was hindering learning the Greek language.
I find it exciting to translate something I have never read before in English, AND GET IT RIGHT! (One of my biggest difficulties is vocabulary.)
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