Re: Mercy Seat

From: Jonathan Ryder (
Date: Thu Feb 17 2000 - 11:46:31 EST

Theodore H Mann wrote:
> When such prestigious translations as the NASB and NRSV translate
> hILASTHRIOV as "mercy seat" (Heb.9:5), I assume there is a reason beyond
> mere tradition, but I can't find it with my rather meager resources. Is
> there any particular reason for not using "place of propitiation," or
> some such? Thanks.
> Ted
Ted and others,

Some of you will know that this and the related term hILASMOS (here and in
Romans and 1 John) are much debated, both linguistically and theologically - the
propitiation/expiation debate is what one might call 'an old chestnut'. I have
to confess I can never remember which was which, and always found the
distinction hair-splitting due to lack of comprehension. However, for some the
distinction is credal (ie part of the foundation beliefs of their faith), and
therefore best avoided in this forum, out of the due sensitivity which we all
attempt to pursue.

For those of an academic bent, and others, you might be interested in the
recently completed Cambridge PhD thesis of a friend of mine, nine years in the
making, on the meaning of this very word hILASTHRION in Rom 3:24 - one of those
'9 years and 80,000+ words on one word in one verse' PhD's! His conclusion, I
believe, was that the word is best translated 'mercy-seat' with the idea of
propitiation in view.

If you want to hear more from him on this then I can e-mail him for you.

Jonathan Ryder

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