Matthew 5.3: Why is the article not translated in τῷ πνεύματι?

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Matthew 5.3: Why is the article not translated in τῷ πνεύματι?

Post by steve11235 » October 1st, 2019, 5:14 pm

I checked the various Greek texts, and they all have the article. My impression is that "the spirit" should, by default, translated as the Spirit, yet I don't see that in English translations going back to Wycliffe; in fact, I don't see "the" at all. Any thoughts?
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Matthew 5.3: Why is the article not translated in τῷ πνεύματι?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » October 2nd, 2019, 8:42 am

First of all, please contact a moderator so we can change your screen name to match your real name, per B-Greek policy. Feel free also to introduce your self in the "Introductions" subforum.

Whenever I notice something like this, I ask the question "What does everybody else know that I don't?" :lol:

There is no such thing as a "default" usage, only usage properly understood from context. Context here in fact is key -- notice how the phrase τῷ πνεύματι parallels the adjectives and participles used throughout the beatitudes, and especially 5:8, μακάριοι οἱ καθαροὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ. Do we want to translate τῇ καρδίᾳ "the heart?" The article in both cases is used to generalize the concept, "the generic article," a fairly standard usage. The dative here is practically an adverb, = "spiritually." A nice parallel usage is John 21:8, οἱ δὲ ἄλλοι μαθηταὶ τῷ πλοιαρίῳ ἦλθον, "the other disciples came by boat," not "the boat."

Note: the article in Greek does not map to all the usages of the definite article in English.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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