Let’s Think About This

I was reading an article from Church of God News. I was just browsing, to be sure; this is not a regular read. But it caught my attention with a very bad use of logic and its overall tone of dismissiveness with regard to established Christian exegesis. Not that the establishment can’t be wrong. But the argument presented better be a lot better than that suggested here, in my estimation.

The article hinges on a lack of the word “is” in the Greek in the last phrase of Colossians 2:16-17. He uses this to suggest that the proper translation is, “but the body of Christ,” and that it modifies the statement “Let no one judge you in these things…”. Pretty much, the presented idea is, “Don’t let anyone judge you except the body of Christ.”

In general, most translations do use “is” within this phrase, even if noting that it is not present in the Greek. But the question of presence relies on a word for word translation, and not on syntactical allowances in the source language. Looking at the phrase before, we find a relative pronoun (referring back to the feasts, holy days and Sabbaths) followed by estin (Greek for “is/are”) and concluded with a nominative predicate modified by a plural genitive (“a shadow of things coming”).

Interesting. So rather than no “is” being present, might it better be understood as being parallel with the previous expression, reusing the previous “is”? I think it might.

Beyond this I’m not sure of the use of δε to mean “except.” I won’t go any further down that path, because I don’t have the correct tools at the moment. But I am iffy on that usage.

Overall context leads me to think that this variant reading is not appropriate, as the whole passage is about Christ triumphing over the ordinances written against us. It certainly never continues with any thrust to suggest that these observances are expected within the body. And the ones causing such trouble at Colosse were no strangers to the body there, they were simply teaching falsely. What sense would it make to tell the Church, then, that they need not accept judgment, unless it came from within the body of Christ? Rather, no one ought to be judging anyone based on their outward observances and self-imposed practices.

Eating or not, drinking or not, considering one day holy and another not: these are all fine, as long as they do not become something that causes us to puff ourselves up or judge others.

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About George

I'm interested in theology, languages, translation and various sorts of fermentation.
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