Love is a Limited Resource

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 鈥 pearls before swine and all that 鈥 and somewhat right 鈥 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 鈥 Daniel 2:18:

Och han uppmanade dem att b枚nfalla himlens Gud att visa barmh盲rtighet och l氓ta dem veta hemligheten, s氓 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:
峤呄蠅蟼 渭峤 峒愇何次课羔慷蟽喂 鈥 so that they may not be given up,
螖伪谓喂峤次 魏伪峤 慰峒 渭蔚蟿峋 伪峤愊勎酷喀 鈥 Daniel and those with him,
蔚峒跋 峒蟺蠋位蔚喂伪谓 鈥 in annihilaton
峒呂嘉 蟿慰峥栂 蟽慰蠁喂蟽蟿伪峥栂 螔伪尾蠀位峥段轿肯 鈥 at the same time as the savants of Babylon.

峤呄蠅蟼 峒勎 渭峤 峒蟺蠈位蠅谓蟿伪喂 鈥 so that may they not get killed,
螖伪谓喂峤次 魏伪峤 慰峒 蠁委位慰喂 伪峤愊勎酷喀 鈥 Daniel and his friends,
渭蔚蟿峤 蟿峥段 峒愊喂位慰委蟺蠅谓 蟽慰蠁峥段 螔伪尾蠀位峥段轿肯. 鈥 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:

讚讬 诇讗 讬讛讘讚讜谉 鈥 that [may] they not perish,
讚谞讬讗诇 讜讞讘专讜讛讬鈥 Daniel and his companions,
注诐志砖讗专 讞讻讬诪讬 讘讘诇 鈥 with [the] rest of the wise [men] of Babel.

Brown-Driver-Briggs, list this 注诐 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:

軙軤軔 堍軔軖軙軜堍 鈥 that [may] they not perish,
軙堍軡軔軡軤 軜軞軖塥軜軛軡 鈥 Daniail and his fellows,
堀堋 塬塥軣軔 軙軞軣軡堋軔 軙軖軖軤 鈥 with the rest of the wise [men] of Babel.

Finally the Latin vulgate:

[…] & non perirent Daniel & focii ejus cum c忙teris 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *