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The Case of the Missing Object (Matt 5:25) - Mondays with Mounce 290

Categories Mondays with Mounce

I have been enjoying reading the CSB, the new version of the former HCSB. Tom Schreiner and his group of translators have done an excellent job at updating an already good translation.

I was reading in Matt 5 this morning and came across v 22. “Everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment (κρίσει). Whoever insults his brother or sister, will be subject to the court (συνεδρίῳ). Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to hellfire (τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός).”

The progression of the three punishments has always been a difficult exegetical decision. But as I was reading on, it actually became a little more difficult. In v 25 Jesus says, “Reach a settlement quickly with your adversary while you’re on the way with him to the court (ὅτου εἶ μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ), or your adversary will hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison.” Notice that ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ (“on the way”) has no object, and the CSB has added, “to the court.”

This is not a bad practice in and of itself since Greek is quite comfortable leaving out objects that English requires. If you simply say, “Reach a settlement quickly with your adversary while you’re on the way with him,” the problem is that “on the way” leaves a huge question in the reader’s mind. What “way”?

This is why most translations add in something. The NIV adds “who is taking you to court” to the preceding phrase: “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court” (see also the NLT). Most add “to court” (ESV, NRSV, NET) as does the CSB.

The problem of adding “to court” is that is creates a false concordance with “court” (συνέδριον) in v 22, and the untrained reader may use “court” in v 25 to define “court” in v 22.

I am not sure there is a solution to this conundrum since “Sanhedrin” (συνέδριον) can designate a governing board and not just the high council (see BDAG), and so you don’t want to use “Sanhedrin” in v 22.

Catch-22.

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