Re: Houtos in Matt 5:19
On Sat, 7 May 1994 19:48:42 +1000 you said:
>The NASB includes the connotation that *by* breaking
>a command, this *teaches* others to do the same.
>In other words, if someone sees me breaking a command,
>they think to themselves `He calls himself a Christian,
>and he is doing that - it must be OK' and then they
>go and follow my example.
>The NIV's translation simply does not include this
>connotation. It talks about breaking a command
>*and* teaching others to break it - two separate things.
>Which is right?
All right, I am headed out to the end of a limb whence there may be no
rescue, but I shall venture thither anyway and see what happens.
I have always, wrongly or rightly, understood Mt 5:19's "lusEi ... kai
didaxEi houtws tous anthrwpous ..." not to mean "violates ... and teaches
people thus [i.e. to violate ...]" but rather to mean "does away with [i.e.
invalidates its requirement] ... and teaches people thus [i.e. that it is
no longer valid] ..." Furthermore I have long thought that this verse was
an expression, from a Jewish Christian viewpoint, of an objection to the
Pauline doctrine that "Christ is the end of the Law," or an objection, if not
to that doctrine itself, to the kind of understanding of that doctrine against
which the letter of James also enters powerful objections.
In this view, the sense of 5:19 is that the stipulations of the Mosaic Law are
to endure until the Parousia and it is wrong to void any of those stipulations
or to promote a doctrine that the Mosaic Law is no longer binding on Chris-
tians. If that is so, there is also the question of what it means to be "least
in the Kingdom of Heaven." It evidently does not mean that upholders and pro-
moters of such doctrine are excommunicated from the church but rather that
their status and prestige is at the lowest possible level. I should add that
the way I read Mt 18 and the harvest parables in Matthew points to a co-exis-
tence of "good grain" and "weeds" within the church until the Parousia, at
which time the judgment of which is which will be left to the Son of Man.Mt 18
seems to provide a mechanism for excommunication but to hedge it around so
carefully as to warn against employing it for fear of doing so wrongfully.
I had no idea when we started on Mt 5:19 that we were headed for discussion
of the "meat" of that verse, but it does seem to me that the meaning of
"lusEi ... kai didaxEi houtws" goes straight to the larger question of how
we understand the doctrine of the Law in the gospel of Matthew.
How far out on that fragile limb have I gone? Am I wrong in thinking that
interpretation of this verse is bound up with the larger question? At any
rate, here seems to be well illustrated the point that interpretation of the
Greek is inextricably bound up with theological questions.
CARL W. CONRAD, C25001CC@WUVMD.BITNET OR C25001CC@WUVMD.WUSTL.EDU
Classics, Washington University, One Brookings Dr., St. Louis, MO 63130
Phone: (314) 935-4018