σαββατων

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Posts 11
Dr. Jeff Trostle | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Oct 20 2011 6:03 PM

I'm not sure who to contact at Logos, but I need some guidance.  I'm finishing my doctoral dissertation and currently focusing on Colossians 2.16.  The Greek word for sabbath in this verse is σαββατων, which is plural.  There are 9 occurrences of that form in the New Testament and all of them translate the plural Greek noun with a singular English noun sabbath, the sabbath, the sabbath day, or the first day of the week. 

What I've found so far is that since the other coordinating nouns, festival and new moon, are singular, σαββατων is also translated as singular.  Douglas Moo in his commentary in the Pillar series states that σαββατων is regularly
translated as singular reflecting the underlying Aramaic word 
שׂבתא

But that really doesn't explain it very well to those of us less initiated in the nuance of Greek and Aramaic/Hebrew.

Any insight?
Jeff Trostle

Posts 1874
Alan Macgregor | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Oct 20 2011 6:22 PM

Jeff

Does this extract from NIGTC on Colossians 2:16 help?

"Characteristically Jewish also is the practice of referring to the “sabbath” in the plural, τὰ σάββατα, as here (Lightfoot 192; BAGD s.v. σάββατον 1bβ). It is true that the most unusual practice of maintaining one day in seven as a day of rest proved attractive to sympathetic Gentiles (Philo, De vita Mosis 2:21; Josephus, Contra Apionem 2:282; Juvenal, Satirae 14:96), but a critical or judgmental attitude on the subject, as here, is much more likely to express a traditional Jewish attitude, defensive of identity and covenant distinctiveness.

But if sabbath is so clearly a distinctively Jewish festival, then the probability is that the “festival” and “new moon” also refer to the Jewish versions of these celebrations. The point is put beyond dispute when we note that the three terms together, “sabbaths, new moons, and feasts,” was in fact a regular Jewish way of speaking of the main festivals of Jewish religion (1 Chron. 23:31; 2 Chron. 2:3; 31:3; Neh. 10:33; Isa. 1:13–14; 1 Macc. 10:34; Ezek. 45:17, and Hos. 2:11 in reverse order, as here; see, e.g., Sappington 163; Aletti, Épître aux Colossiens 193 n. 112)." (Dunn, James D. G. The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon : A Commentary on the Greek Text. Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: William B. Eerdmans Publishing; Paternoster Press, 1996.)

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Posts 12
Ingo Sorke | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Oct 20 2011 6:26 PM

I recommend Ron du Preez'  Judging the Sabbath on this text and issue:

http://www.amazon.com/Judging-Sabbath-Discovering-Found-Colossians/dp/1883925622/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1319160303&sr=1-1

 

Posts 11
Dr. Jeff Trostle | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Oct 20 2011 7:28 PM

Yes.  Thank you.  I have looked at Lightfoot.  I also contacted William Mounce (Basics of Biblical Greek) and he said simply that both he and his father describe it as a Hebraism.  I suppose that makes more sense.  Thanks again.

Jeff

Posts 11
Dr. Jeff Trostle | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Oct 20 2011 7:28 PM

I'll take a look.  Thank you.

Jeff

Posts 4818
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Oct 20 2011 7:54 PM

As an observer of the Sabbaths, plural, including the one that began this evening (Friday night) at sundown, which is the seventh and last of the annual sabbaths--the Last Great Day, which is also known as the Eighth Day of the Feast--I am surprised that I can't ever recall anyone discussing σαββατων (the Greek word) in context with its Hebrew counterpart. The Greek word is an exact transliteration of  שַׁבָּתֹון which is Strong's 7677. It is used in Exo. 16:23, Exo. 31:15, Exo. 35:2, Lev. 16:31, Lev. 23:3, Lev. 23:24, Lev. 23:32, Lev. 23:39, & Lev. 25:4-5 (each verse). Attempting to give the Greek "version" of the word a meaning that is beyond what the Hebrew word means would be a severe mistake.

Interesting that you are tackling Col. 2:16 (and :17 as well, I must assume). This pair of verses is one of the greatest shames in the history of Biblical translation. I don't know of a single English version of this pericope that gives a reputable and legitimate translation of the Greek. If there was ever a passage that was beset by dogma, it is this one.

Just so you know, there are a number of different reasons why the word is used in the plural rather than the singular...not the least being that there is more than just one Sabbath, by which I mean more than one KIND of Sabbath. To establish this for yourself, read Lev. 23, the whole chapter. Each of the מִקְרָא־קֹדֶשׁ (holy convocations) upon which work is forbidden is a Sabbath, one of seven yearly Sabbaths. To read a bit more about this, you can check out my page on the moh'adiym (appointed times -- i.e. "seasons") at http://www.gospelinthestars.com/the-seasons/. "Greek-speak" aside, it is wholly appropriate to speak of Sabbaths in the plural, and I feel quite sure Paul meant the plural concept in Col. 2:16.

EDIT: Ah, I see you added the comment by Mounce while I was typing my reply...and yes, "Hebraism" is an appropriate way to describe the word.

Posts 95
Rick Brannan | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Oct 20 2011 8:05 PM

Hi Jeff.

I'm guessing you've already looked in BDAG if you've got it, that might be one place to start. Also the article in TDNT is lengthy and a good historical survey that might provide more insight to your issue.

If you have a resource with the text of the Apostolic Fathers, the Epistle to Diognetus 4.1 and 4.3 use plural Sabbath similarly. The first instance is accusative (second is genitive), but both instances have stuff like fasting, new moons, and references to food in the immediate context.

Hope it helps.

Rick Brannan | Twitter: @RickBrannan
my books in print

Posts 9947
George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Oct 20 2011 9:02 PM

Jeff Trostle:

I'm not sure who to contact at Logos, but I need some guidance.  I'm finishing my doctoral dissertation and currently focusing on Colossians 2.16.  The Greek word for sabbath in this verse is σαββατων, which is plural.  There are 9 occurrences of that form in the New Testament and all of them translate the plural Greek noun with a singular English noun sabbath, the sabbath, the sabbath day, or the first day of the week. 

What I've found so far is that since the other coordinating nouns, festival and new moon, are singular, σαββατων is also translated as singular.  Douglas Moo in his commentary in the Pillar series states that σαββατων is regularly
translated as singular reflecting the underlying Aramaic word 
שׂבתא

But that really doesn't explain it very well to those of us less initiated in the nuance of Greek and Aramaic/Hebrew.

Any insight?
Jeff Trostle

I would agree with Rick that you should CAREFULLY and EXHAUSTIVELY review the BDAG entry.  I will, however, make an observation.  Σάββατον (sg) generally indicates the sabbath.  In the plural (σαββάτων) it may either mean more than one sabbath as in σαββάτων τρία (three sabbaths) or it may mean "week."

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

Posts 112
Tim Finlay | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Oct 20 2011 10:47 PM

Jeff, if you have not already done so, you should look at Troy Martin's work on Colossians. It was a monograph in the supplement series to JSNT if memory serves.  He has a considerably different take from most people on Colossians 2:16-17. He also regards the "heresy" being addressed in Colossians as related to the Cynics rather than some form of incipient gnosticism. Whether you agree with him or not, it is an important work on the verses in question and probably relevant to your dissertation.

Posts 11
Dr. Jeff Trostle | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Oct 21 2011 2:53 AM

Thank you for your response.  I read the article on your page.  All very interesting.  I've found this to be a complex issue and so far Mounce's opinion seems to be the most satisfactory one.  The issues lying behind the usage are all fascinating.  Thanks for your insight.

Jeff

Posts 11
Dr. Jeff Trostle | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Oct 21 2011 2:55 AM

Ok.  Thanks.

Posts 1918
Donnie Hale | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Oct 21 2011 6:02 AM

David Paul:
Interesting that you are tackling Col. 2:16 (and :17 as well, I must assume). This pair of verses is one of the greatest shames in the history of Biblical translation. I don't know of a single English version of this pericope that gives a reputable and legitimate translation of the Greek. If there was ever a passage that was beset by dogma, it is this one.

Out of curiosity, could you reply with how you'd translate the verses? And perhaps a comment on why you think the standard English translations are such a shame and filled with dogma?

Thanks,

Donnie

 

Posts 4818
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Oct 22 2011 7:58 PM

Okay, briefly...notice the Greek below, specifically two things: 1) "shadow of things to come/about to be" & 2) "the body of the Christ".

17     ἐστιν   σκιὰ   τῶν   μελλόντων ,   τὸ   δὲ  
ὅς  εἰμί  σκιά    μέλλω      δέ 
which is shadow of the things about to be   the but
ORRNPN  V3SPAI  NFSN  ANPG  VPAPNPG  SN ANSN  CCV 
σῶμα   τοῦ   Χριστοῦ .
σῶμα    Χριστός   
body of the Christ  
NNSN  AMSG  NMSG  SJ

Aland, B., Aland, K., Black, M., Martini, C. M., Metzger, B. M., & Wikgren, A. (1993, c1979). The Greek New Testament (4th ed.) (527). Federal Republic of Germany: United Bible Societies.

Now look at how the NASB translates it:

17     things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the 1substance 2belongs to Christ.

1 Lit body   2 Lit of Christ New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Col 2:17). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Now look at the NKJV:

17 vwhich are a shadow of things to come, but the 2substance is of Christ.

2 Lit. body The New King James Version. 1982 (Col 2:17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Now the NIV:

17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Col 2:17). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Now look at the NET:

17 these are only33 the shadow of the things to come, but the reality34 is Christ!35

33 33 tn The word “only,” though not in the Greek text, is supplied in the English translation to bring out the force of the Greek phrase. 34 34 tn Grk “but the body of Christ.” The term body here, when used in contrast to shadow (σκιά, skia) indicates the opposite meaning, i.e., the reality or substance itself. 35 35 tn The genitive τοῦ Χριστοῦ (tou Christou) is appositional and translated as such: “the reality is Christ. The NET Bible (Col 2:17). (2006). Biblical Studies Press.

Now the NCV, a real stinkbomb:

17 These things were like a shadow of what was to come. But what is true and real has come and is found in Christ.

The Everyday Bible : New Century Version. 2005 (Col 2:17). Nashville, TN.: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Tally?? 0/5. The actual meaning of the verse? Just what the Greek says: "which are a shadow of the things to come, but the body of the Messiah." The whole sentence, minus the superfluous prepositional phrases and subordinate clause, is "Let no one judge you...but the body of the Messiah." The point is that members of His body, which Paul elsewhere says are responsible for judging matters within the body, should only concern themselves with the voice of the members of the body, not those voices which are from outside the body. The point is NOT that we shouldn't care what others think under any and all circumstances...it's just "whatever we think in our own heads and hearts" is cool with Him.

The other thing is that the verse doesn't say, "these things aren't important"... it is saying exactly the OPPOSITE: "let none of your Gentile friends and neighbors condemn you for KEEPING the Tohraah's commands regarding kosher and the moh'adhiym" (see my previous post).

Again, the context is that you shouldn't let people NOT IN THE BODY (who wouldn't have a problem with people NOT keeping Tohraah) judge you for doing things they don't understand or may think to be strange or oddball. Only concern yourself with what you in the Body know to be true and in accordance with the word and practice of Yeishuu`a.

Now, a brief look at the twisting of Scripture that has plagued this verse in virtually all English translations. In every case the translators insert their own dogma into the text, specifically the concept that the things commanded are replaced by Jesus. Some translations even brazenly change the timing so that "things to come" becomes "things that were/was to come" (i.e. switching future for past tense), since this makes their doctrine "clearer" for their sheep to understand.

 

Posts 4818
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Oct 22 2011 8:12 PM

And just to keep things "kosher" Stick out tongue, the use of sohma as "body" is confirmed only two verses later (Col. 2:19), which indicates clearly the context of v. 17.

Posts 9947
George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Oct 22 2011 8:51 PM

David Paul:
Tally?? 0/5. The actual meaning of the verse? Just what the Greek says: "which are a shadow of the things to come, but the body of the Messiah." The whole sentence, minus the superfluous prepositional phrases and subordinate clause, is "Let no one judge you...but the body of the Messiah." The point is that members of His body, which Paul elsewhere says are responsible for judging matters within the body, should only concern themselves with the voice of the members of the body, not those voices which are from outside the body. The point is NOT that we shouldn't care what others think under any and all circumstances...it's just "whatever we think in our own heads and hearts" is cool with Him.

This is not correct.  "The body of Christ" is an appositive of "a shadow of things to come" το … σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ <—> σκία τῶν μελλόντων.  The connective δέ does not here serve to contrast the two.  Note Runge A Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament <logosres:discgrmrgrknt;ref=Page.p_28;off=-7>.

EDIT:  Sorry about the unedited post — I pasted the wrong link in.  It is now corrected.

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

Posts 4818
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Oct 22 2011 9:21 PM

George Somsel:

This is not correct.  "The body of Christ" is an appositive of "a shadow of things to come" το … σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ <—> σκία τῶν μελλόντων.  The connective δέ does not here serve to contrast the two.  Note Runge A Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament <logosres:discgrmrgrknt;ref=Page.p_28;off=-7>.

 

"The connective δέ does not here serve to contrast the two."  Hmmm, how odd...because for you and Runge to be right, it would HAVE to contrast the two.

I reassert my statement and add that either you or Runge or both of you are wrong. The context supports my understanding. Plus, if you and Runge are right, that makes Paul's statement both wrong and heretical.

Posts 9947
George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Oct 22 2011 9:27 PM

David Paul:
I reassert my statement and add that either you or Runge or both of you are wrong. The context supports my understanding. Plus, if you and Runge are right, that makes Paul's statement both wrong and heretical.

Now we're reading the text according to our own perceived theological interpretation?

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

Posts 9947
George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Oct 22 2011 9:31 PM

George Somsel:

David Paul:
I reassert my statement and add that either you or Runge or both of you are wrong. The context supports my understanding. Plus, if you and Runge are right, that makes Paul's statement both wrong and heretical.

Now we're reading the text according to our own perceived theological interpretation?

Consider 

Ὁ νικῶν ποιήσω αὐτὸν στῦλον ἐν τῷ ναῷ τοῦ θεοῦ μου καὶ ἔξω οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃ ἔτι καὶ γράψω ἐπʼ αὐτὸν τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ μου καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τῆς πόλεως τοῦ θεοῦ μου, τῆς καινῆς Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἡ καταβαίνουσα ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ μου, καὶ τὸ ὄνομά μου τὸ καινόν.” (Revelation 3:12, NA27)

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

Posts 4818
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Oct 22 2011 9:38 PM

George Somsel:

Now we're reading the text according to our own perceived theological interpretation?

Well, I don't think immediate (2 verses away) and broad (the whole epistle) context equates to "interpretation"...besides, both within the letter and within the NT, sohma virtually ALWAYS means "body". Mainly, because that's what it means. The only place it is translated "substance" etc. is in this verse. That isn't proof in itself, but it is extremely strong indication of "fiddling" with the text.

I'm signing off for the night, but we can continue later. Smile

Posts 9947
George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Oct 22 2011 10:06 PM

David Paul:
both within the letter and within the NT, sohma virtually ALWAYS means "body".

But not the physical body of Christ

 “Τὸ ποτήριον τῆς εὐλογίας ὃ εὐλογοῦμεν, οὐχὶ κοινωνία ἐστὶν τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ; τὸν ἄρτον ὃν κλῶμεν, οὐχὶ κοινωνία τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐστιν; ὅτι εἷς ἄρτος, ἓν σῶμα οἱ πολλοί ἐσμεν, οἱ γὰρ πάντες ἐκ τοῦ ἑνὸς ἄρτου μετέχομεν.” (1 Corinthians 10:16–17, NA27)

 “Ὑμεῖς δέ ἐστε σῶμα Χριστοῦ καὶ μέλη ἐκ μέρους.” (1 Corinthians 12:27, NA27) 

πρὸς τὸν καταρτισμὸν τῶν ἁγίων εἰς ἔργον διακονίας, εἰς οἰκοδομὴν τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ,” (Ephesians 4:12, NA27)

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

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