You are correct in your assumption about the Jehovah's Witness translation.
I just checked one here in the library at Baylor, and it reads "Truly I say
unto you today, you shall be with me in paradise." Curious, huh? I also
agree that this reading is most likely improper. Certainly Jesus was
speaking to the fellow "today"! At any rate, it seems to me that the best
place for the comma is before the "today".
Date: 5-OCT-94 9:29a
RE: RE: Luke 23:43
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Date: Wed, 05 Oct 1994 10:24:23 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Luke 23:43
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Subj: re: Luke 23:43
email@example.com (C.P. Arnold) commented on Lu. 23:43:
>George Lamsa's translation of the Peshitta footnotes this vs with the
>remark that ancient texts were not punctuated, and that the comma could
>therefore come either before or after the word today. I have not seen
>such notation elsewhere. His translation does follow NA26 as does every
>translation I'm familiar with. SEmeron is an adverb of time and as far as
>I know provides no additional grammatical guidance with regard to where
>the comma should be placed. Exegetically there is probably an argument
>for where it is generally used.
The exegetical point that I recall seeing somewhere on this passage is
that a placing of SHMERON before the comma would be pleonastic. I.e., would
anyone say "today I say to you..." when it is more than obvious that, if one
is present when the words are spoken, the speaker has spoken them "today"?
The most natural way of understanding the Greek here is to take "today" with
what follows, as practically all translations render it.
One may find the comma placed after "today" by people who hold to the
doctrine of "soul sleep" (i.e. that one is unconscious of anything after
death and sleeps in time until the resurrection). I believe the Jehovah's
Witnesses have translated it this way in their New World Translation -
although I can't say for sure, since I don't have a copy of it handy.
David L. Moore