Koine and Biblical and Medieval Greek • Re: Luke 12:20. Who are “they”?

Examples of true impersonals:

Eng: It's raining, Ger: es regnet, Gr: ὕει.
Eng: It has to, Ger: es muss, Gr: δεῖ

λέγουσιν in Luke 20:41 is an "occasional impersonal". It means "people say" or "they say". Luther translates "sagen sie", but he could have said "man sagt". Unlike true impersonals, the subject of an occasional impersonal is amorphous and unspecified, but not impossible.

Luther very correctly translated Textus Receptus Luke 12:20: "diese Nacht wird man deine Seele von dir fordern". In English, "wird man fordern" means "one will demand" or "they will demand." This keeps the statement just as odd in the German as it is in the Greek. The only difficulty with his translation is that he is translating the Textus Receptus αἰτεῖν instead of ἀπαιτεῖν.

Douay-Rheims in 1582 also correctly translated "they require", Tyndale, even better, "they fetche awaye thy soule agayne". His Textus Receptus Greek would have had αἰτεῖν, so his (correct) "agayne" must come from Jerome's (correct) "repetunt".

It is the King James tradition, and everything following as near as I can tell, NASB, ESV, NIV, and so on, that get this wrong. (With the interesting exception of the Jehovah's Witnesses GNT, though that is marred by αἰτεῖν again, without the excuse of Textus Receptus.) The KJV tradition here stomps all over the the occasional impersonal and improperly turns the construction into a passive. KJV: "thy soul shall be required". It makes the statement plain and simple and hides the central oddity of the Greek.

Out of all these, the only proper English translation, matching the occasional impersonal and the ἀπαιτεῖν is Tyndale's.

[Yet, the question of the the thread remains, who are "they"? What is the mental conception about death that lies behind this statement? Who would "take a soul back"? And it seems very close to Seikilos, also 1st century.]

Statistics: Posted by jeidsath — Fri Oct 06, 2023 2:49 pm

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