Luke 19:10 ζητῆσαι καὶ σῶσαι τὸ ἀπολωλός.

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Luke 19:10 ζητῆσαι καὶ σῶσαι τὸ ἀπολωλός.

Postby dwbaylor » January 21st, 2014, 7:28 pm

Most translations, with the exception of the NASB, translate τὸ ἀπολωλός as noun, "the lost." In contrast, the NASB translates τὸ ἀπολωλός as the participial phrase, "that which was lost."

Based on my research to date, ἀπολωλός parses out as verb/Perf/Active/Singular/Accus/Neuter/Substantive/Part. Yet, every English translation treats this as straight noun. Does anyone have any insight as to the reason?
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Re: Luke 19:10 ζητῆσαι καὶ σῶσαι τὸ ἀπολωλός.

Postby cwconrad » January 22nd, 2014, 6:20 am

dwbaylor wrote:Most translations, with the exception of the NASB, translate τὸ ἀπολωλός as noun, "the lost." In contrast, the NASB translates τὸ ἀπολωλός as the participial phrase, "that which was lost."

Based on my research to date, ἀπολωλός parses out as verb/Perf/Active/Singular/Accus/Neuter/Substantive/Part. Yet, every English translation treats this as straight noun. Does anyone have any insight as to the reason?

You have the word parsed correctly, although it's worth noting that this is a verb whose perfect "active" corresponds to the present and aorist middle (­ολλυμαι/ὠλόμην) with the sense, "go for naught, go to waste, get lost." Here the substantive participle, τὸ ἀπολωλός, means "the thing that has gotten lost" or "the thing which has been wasted." I don't really see any difference of meaning between the two English equivalents that you note -- both express the sense of the Greek. It would appear that you think a word in the Greek ought to be represented by a structural equivalent in English. I'd say the translator's task is to grasp the sense of the Greek and express that sense in the clearest idiomatic English usage that the translator can conceive." But even in the English substantive expression, "the lost," "lost" derives from the participle of the verb, "lose."
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: Luke 19:10 ζητῆσαι καὶ σῶσαι τὸ ἀπολωλός.

Postby dwbaylor » January 22nd, 2014, 6:12 pm

Carl:

Thanks so much for your input. I realize that substantively, both "the lost" and "that which was lost" in English may be considered equivalent. However, my concern is that the translation utilizing the participial phrase implies a broader scope. "The lost" seems to imply a singular, limited group.

I am also aware that sometimes participles can sometimes become so closely tied to the objects with which they are associated that they come be equated with the object directly. In your experience, have your run across this with τὸ ἀπολωλός or other participles?

Sincerely,
Dave Baylor
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Re: Luke 19:10 ζητῆσαι καὶ σῶσαι τὸ ἀπολωλός.

Postby Barry Hofstetter » January 23rd, 2014, 10:49 am

dwbaylor wrote:Carl:

Thanks so much for your input. I realize that substantively, both "the lost" and "that which was lost" in English may be considered equivalent. However, my concern is that the translation utilizing the participial phrase implies a broader scope. "The lost" seems to imply a singular, limited group.

I am also aware that sometimes participles can sometimes become so closely tied to the objects with which they are associated that they come be equated with the object directly. In your experience, have your run across this with τὸ ἀπολωλός or other participles?

Sincerely,
Dave Baylor


Dave, greetings, and welcome to the b-Greek forum (you might want to introduce yourself in the Introductions subforum). Buried in the Carl's excellent response is the fact that even in English "the lost" is not a noun -- it's an adjective or participle in English used substantively, which perfectly mirrors the Greek usage here. Notice the context, which is Zacchaeus and his rather rapid repentance upon actually meeting Jesus. The use of the neuter singular τὸ ἀπολωλός here indicates a general concept, "that which was lost," "the lost" (of which, implicitly, Zacchaeus is or was a representative). The term is semantically restricted -- it excludes what is not lost. I'm not sure exactly what you mean by your last question, but any such identification would again be determined by context...
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Re: Luke 19:10 ζητῆσαι καὶ σῶσαι τὸ ἀπολωλός.

Postby Stephen Hughes » January 23rd, 2014, 5:51 pm

Dave
Those two guys that already answered you are professionals, I'm an amateur, so weigh that up as you read what I've got to say.

First let me say, don't be disheartened by what you see in the Greek. This is one of the adjustments to the basis of faith that we all have to go through when we start to learn Greek. Remember that God's word has always said what it has said, and now, through study of Greek, we are trying to understand it better. There will be many temptation along the way. After you have learnt Greek, remember that others have not, and be gentle with them later, as you should be gentle with yourself and your understanding now. The more you know the more you will have to bear with the ignorance of others - that is the cost of knowledge. If you want to feel you are right and someone else is wrong, consider the person; they love Jesus, they come to church faithfully, they teach Sunday School and help in the Church working bee - those are really important things, simple things.

Learning Greek restricts our understanding of the English - that is to say that it makes sure that we understand the correct sense of the English. Greek is a language like any other, and langauges are ambiguous - we can not really be sure what they mean - there are going to be misunderstandings. We are discussing the English word "Lost" here, so let's look at it for a moment.

The English phrase "the lost" could mean a number of things to different people;
  • "Lost" could mean that someomne was driving / walking and their memory / map / GPS failed them, and they ended up in a place that they didn't know or couldn't recognise. "The Robinson family and Dr. Smith were lost in space"
  • "Lost" could also mean that you had something in your hand / handbag before, but now it is not there. "He's lost the keys to the car again."
  • "Lost" could also mean fallen in battle or an accident. "New Zealand lost 7.6% of her men of military age during the great war."
  • "Lost " could mean that someone no longer enjoys the use of something. "Many people lost their sight during the era of prohibition from drinking moonshine".
  • "The lost" Those who need to hear the Gospel. "Our church is doing its best to seek and save the lost".

People for want of the knowledge of Greek have made a lot out of "Seek and save the lost" and equated "the lost" with those waiting for our preaching in the Great Commission. It starts off in the singular as you have noted, then "the lost" has become plural, because that is the natural way to take it in English. These things were all done with the best of intentions and usually with excellent results. But now, welcome to a scholarly study of the NT in the original language.

τὸ ἀπολωλός is not a group, it is both neuter and singular! After the initial shock!! and horror!! in cases like this we are often left wondering, well if it doesn't mean what I assumed it meant in English, so what does it mean?? Is it Zaccheus or his family or what??

Let's look at Ezekial 34:15, 16 in Greek (called LXX - you can use a search engine to look into that)
ἐγὼ βοσκήσω τὰ πρόβατά μου καὶ ἐγὼ ἀναπαύσω αὐτά καὶ γνώσονται ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι κύριος τάδε λέγει κύριος κύριος, τὸ ἀπολωλὸς ζητήσω καὶ τὸ πλανώμενον ἐπιστρέψω καὶ τὸ συντετριμμένον καταδήσω καὶ τὸ ἐκλεῖπον ἐνισχύσω καὶ τὸ ἰσχυρὸν φυλάξω καὶ βοσκήσω αὐτὰ μετὰ κρίματος
"I myself will graze my sheep, and I will give them rest, and they will know that I am the Lord. Thus says the lord, the Lord. I will seek the one that is lost, I will return the one who has wanderd away (back to the sheep fold), and I will bind up the crushed, and I will strengthen the abandoned and guard the strong and tend them (all types together in one flock) discerning the individual needs of each"
Jesus is saying that he is here now with Zaccheus in fulfillment of that prophesy of Ezekiel. It is neuter not because Zaccheus or his family are neuter, but because the prophesy is neuter (referring to the sheep in Ezekiel). [The word for sheep is πρόβατον.] Zaccheus is identified as one of the types of sheeps that needs a certain type of pastoral care from the church and her oversight.

The parsing that you have done is a good start, but let's do something else too. Since the English word "lost" has so many meanings it is probably that there is a different Greek word for each of those meanings. To find that easily (and in a not too scholarly way) is to look through an English concordance and find the Strong's numbers for all the times that "lost" occurs in English. That is like a fast-track to understanding synonyms - words which have similar meanings. We could work through that together if you would like to.

Another similar situation that you could consider is, "Study to shew thyself approved." (2 Timothy 2:15). I used to get told that when I was a boy with the meaning, "Go and do your homework" or "Aim to undertake further study", but that is not the meaning of the verse in Greek. You can look for yourself in the dictionary what the meaning of σπουδάζω is, but it is certainly not "doing one's homework".

How about "Don't stand in the way of sinners." (Psalm 1:2) 95% of people reading that in English understand "stand in someone's way" to mean obstruct them (when they are committing a sin), and the other 5% are not interested and want to watch the cricket (or baseball) ;) . But that is not the meaning in the Psalm where "stand" is one step in the acclimatisation process - you walk, then stand, and eventually sit as you get more used to being a sinner. The opposite of "stand" is "walk on by", "don't stand" = "don't linger about" on the way that sinners take or pretty soon you'll be walking down it too.

Welcome to dealing with the Bible in the original languages.
Stephen Hughes
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."
(Attributed to Albert Einstein)
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