Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Matt. 6:17 - "grease [aleipho] your head"

A book which examines most twentieth century English versions of the Bible: So Many Versions? (SMV), by trinitarian Bible scholars Dr. S. Kubo and Dr. W. Albrecht provides a page and a half of what it calls "peculiar translations" (pp. 108-109) by the NWT. Many of these "peculiar translations" are comparable to translations found in more popular Bibles of Christendom. But these comparable renderings are not criticized at all in SMV's critique of them.

One of these "peculiar translations" is of Matt. 6:17:

Of all the minor criticisms of the "peculiar" translations of the NWT that are found on pp.108-109 of So Many Versions?, one of the most interesting to me is that Matt. 6:17 reads "grease [aleipho] your head" in the NWT whereas the most-respected RSV has "anoint your head." As minor as this is, it does show the great efforts taken by the NWT translators to translate accurately.

Since "anoint" in traditional Bible English has strong connotations of "consecration to a holy or sacred use" - Today's Dictionary of the Bible, p. 40, Bethany House Publ. - and "to signify holiness, or separation unto God" - New Bible Dictionary, 2nd ed., p. 50, Tyndale House Publ., it should come as no surprise that the accuracy-seeking NWT translators used "grease" for all 8 instances of the word aleipho found in the NT to distinguish it from the word which is more properly rendered "anoint" (chrio in NT Greek).

"In contrast with the more important word `chrio,' it [aleipho] refers consistently to the physical action of anointing, performed exclusively on people: for care of the body (Matt. 6:17); as a mark of honor to a guest (Lk. 7:38, 46; Jn 11:2; 12:3); to honor the dead (Mk. 16:1); and to heal the sick (Mk. 6:13; James 5:14)." - The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 1, p. 120.

That same source also tells us that

"aleipho ... denotes the process by which soft fat [grease]... or oil ... is smeared upon ... a person." - p. 119.

And Thayer tells us that aleipho is "allied with lip-os grease." - p. 25.

On the other hand, W. E. Vine tells us

"`Chrio' is more limited in its use than [aleipho]; it is confined to sacred and symbolical anointings .... in the Scriptures it is not found in connection with secular matters." - pp. 50, 51.

The RSV has been revised. Significantly, the revisers have changed SMV's model for the "correct" rendering of "anoint your head" to "put oil on your head." - NRSV, 1989.

So the NWT, instead of being criticized, should be praised for properly showing the clear distinction between the actual meanings of these two NT Greek words. The same thing can be said for most, if not all, of the criticisms of the NWT made by So Many Versions?.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.