5.10.05

Why hast though forsaken reason?

I am in a foul mood over the Intelligent Design lawsuits taking place, so I thought I'd vent my spleen about Biblical literalists.

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What were Jesus' last words?

Matt.27:46,50: "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?" that is to say, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" ...Jesus, when he cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost."

Luke23:46: "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, "Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit:" and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."

John19:30: "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished:" and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."

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So which is it? Is he forsaken? Commending his spirit? Or just finished?

3 comments:

Jennifer said...

Well, I can't say for sure. Anyone who's played Telephone as a child (or passed along gossip as an adult) knows that information changes from person to person. It's unlikely that any of the writers of the canonical gospels were actually there, so it's at least second hand.

At any rate, the line in Matthew that's traditionally translated as "forsaken" would probably be more literally, and accurately, translated as "why have you left me" which led to endless and ultimately fruitless debate as to the true divinity of Christ. If God left him, was he still divine? Had he ever been divine? Did he have a get out of jail free card only until the crucifixion? Was he partly divine and partly human? All human? All divine? I think "forsaken" was chosen later to avoid these pesky questions.

My translation of the Luke is "commit my spirit" but that's quibbling. The Greek (paratithemi) in regards to food it is used to indicate "being placed beside" or "served up" (which you might like). Plato uses it as "to offer, provide"; Xenophon as "to lay before, explain"; Hesiod in a sentence meaning "to place upon" (like a sacrifice?). Other translations can be "to venture, stake, hazard" or "to employ as one's own." Biblical Greek is "commit."

Likewise, the John I have has a different translation. Giving up the ghost is not exactly biblical idiom. The Greek translates as giving up his spirit.

Anyhow, the same story will be told differently by several different people, even witnesses. It's hypocritical to be a biblical literalist, I agree.

Cameron said...

Damn do I love having a genuine scholar as a friend!

jennifer said...

Bow down and worship before me.

10 bucks says it translates quite differently into other languages. :-)