Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Asiarches (Acts 19:31)

Countess continues his attack of the NWT's honesty and accuracy: "In Acts 19:31 the NWT renders the plural of [asiarches] `the commissioners of festivals and games.' The addition of the explanatory, and truly helpful, paraphrase `of festivals and games' is unjustifiable on the basis of NWT principles [?]. More preferable is a rendering like that of the Authorized Version, `the chief of Asia,' or, if desired, simply the transliteration, `Asiarchs.' NWT's `the commissioners of festivals and games' is not found in Arndt-Gingrich or Liddell-Scott." - pp. 76-78.

"The chief of Asia" is probably a mistranslation, and "Asiarchs" is basically meaningless to modern speakers of English. Obviously the NWT translators decided to make the term understandable. They could have used "Asiarchs" along with a footnote explaining the term, but apparently decided, instead, to include the meaning of the word in the translation itself. All literal Bibles do the same. For example, Luke 21:2 actually says that the poor widow donated to the temple "two lepta." Lepta were small copper coins of very little value. But not even the very literal NASB translates the name of those tiny, insignificant coins literally: "He saw a certain poor widow putting in two small copper coins." The unfamiliar term (lepta) is translated here by a description understandable to modern speakers of English ("small copper coins"). Exactly the same method has been used by the NWT for the unfamiliar "Asiarchs"!

"These `Asiarchs' were ten officers elected by cities in the province who celebrated at their own cost public games and festivals." - p. 327, vol. 3, Word Pictures in the New Testament, A. T. Robertson.

"[Asiarchs] acted, doubtless, as presidents in local festivals as well as in the provincial games" - p. 172, Vol. 1, Hastings, A Dictionary of the Bible.

"[Asiarchs] were not `high priests of Asia,' as some have thought, but delegates of individual cities to the provincial Council ... They were probably assembled at Ephesus, among other places, to preside over the public games and the religious rites at the festival" - p. 282, Vol. 1, The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Eerdmans, 1984 printing.

"[Asiarchs,] Officers chosen annually .... They had charge of the public games and religious theatrical spectacles" - p. 60, Smith's Bible Dictionary, Hendrickson Publ.

"[Asiarch, one selected] to preside over the games to be exhibited that year" - A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Thayer, p. 80 (#775), Baker Book House, 1977.

"An Asiarch was one of certain officers elected ... whose function consisted in celebrating, partly at their own expense, the public games and festivals" - p. 178, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W. E. Vine, Nelson Publishers, 1983 printing.

"[Asiarchs -] These officials were chosen on an annual basis to preside over games and theatrical displays." - p. 61, Today's Dictionary of the Bible, Bethany House Publishers, 1982.

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