Re: Matthew 5:39

On Tue, 1 Nov 1994, MADAVIDS.US.ORACLE.COM wrote:
> If you can tear yourselves away from Q for a minute...I do not have a Greek NT 
> with me at present and a question has arisen on Matthew 5:39: 
> 	But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you 
> on the right cheek, 	turn to him the left also. (NIV) 
> I have always had a problem with this verse. One pastor I know interpreted it 
> as 'if someone strikes you, turn your head that he may not hit you again.' 
> This does not seem to be supported by the remaining verses. 
> My question is: 
> 	Does the original Greek really say 'turn to him the left also,' or 
> could it be 	interpreted as turning away? 
> 	Should this entire passage be interpreted as allowing yourself to 
> become a repeated 	victim, or merely to refrain from taking revenge for 
> personal wrongs?  

The translation you cite is pretty close:the Greek says, "strepson autwi 
kai thn allhn"--which I take to mean, "Turn the other one toward him also."
> 	On a related topic, I have heard it said that lex talionis (eye for 
> eye, tooth for 	tooth) actually represented an advance in justice, 
> since it meant 'no more thn eye for 	eye, no more than tooth for tooth,' 
> rather than exacting retribution above and beyond 	the initial injury. 
> Comments? 
This, of course, is not New Testament, but ... I've heard the same thing: 
that it represents a sense that the punishment should fit the crime 
rather than that every crime should be dealt with equally harshly. 
Whether this is accurate, I can't say. This is a question perhaps better 
to be directed to B-Hebrew. 

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA
(314) 935-4018
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu  OR cwc@oui.com