I overheard, recently, a Christian sister arguing that we should not judge others but love everyone, try to save everybody, and pray for everyone. This in response to a brother quoting John 17:9.
“I make request concerning them; I make request, not concerning the world, but concerning those you have given me; because they are yours.”
She was somewhat mistaken of course — pearls before swine and all that — and somewhat right — some fell on stony ground, some fell among thorns.
But is there a tendency among churches to deviate in the love-whoever-scares-you-most direction?
Look at this delicious beechnut in the Swedish State-made Bibel2000 — Daniel 2:18:
Och han uppmanade dem att bönfalla himlens Gud att visa barmhärtighet och låta dem veta hemligheten, så att inte han och hans kamrater och alla andra visa i Babylon skulle mista livet.
Translation from the Swedish above by me:
And he called upon them to suplicate the God of Heaven to show mercy and let them know the secret, so that he and his comrades and all the other wise in Babylon wouldn’t lose their lives.
Did Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah really pray for the sake of the other wise men in Babylon?
The Greek text of Daniel is usually given in Theodotion’s version but we have the Old Greek (LXX) too. Let’s look at the second part of the verse:
Old Greek version:
ὅπως μὴ ἐκδοθῶσι — so that they may not be given up,
Δανιὴλ καὶ οἱ μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ — Daniel and those with him,
εἰς ἀπώλειαν — in annihilaton
ἅμα τοῖς σοφισταῖς Βαβυλῶνος — at the same time as the savants of Babylon.
ὅπως ἄν μὴ ἀπόλωνται — so that may they not get killed,
Δανιὴλ καὶ οἱ φίλοι αὐτοῦ — Daniel and his friends,
μετὰ τῶν ἐπιλοίπων σοφῶν Βαβυλῶνος. — with the rest of the scholars of Babylon.
How about the Aramaic? It is not, as far as I know, preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls, so what we have is the Masoretic text:
די לא יהבדון — that [may] they not perish,
דניאל וחברוהי— Daniel and his companions,
עם־שאר חכימי בבל — with [the] rest of the wise [men] of Babel.
Brown-Driver-Briggs, list this עם as ‘with’ and ‘together with’, which is a common meaning for the word. CAL gives very similar definitions for Syriac. It looks like it cannot mean ‘and’ or ‘also’.
Syriac? This is from manuscript 7a1:
ܕܠܐ ܢܐܒܕܘܢ — that [may] they not perish,
ܕܢܝܐܝܠ ܘܚܒܪܘܗܝ — Daniail and his fellows,
ܥܡ ܫܪܟܐ ܕܚܟܝܡܐ ܕܒܒܠ — with the rest of the wise [men] of Babel.
Finally the Latin vulgate:
[…] & non perirent Daniel & focii ejus cum cæteris sapientibus Babylonis.
‘Cum’ usually means just ‘with’ or ‘along with’, no magic, but it can be translated ‘and’, so there we have, maybe, a farfetched support for the paraphrase in Bibel2000.
I wonder in who’s self-interest such readings arise.