"DIA" - Is the Rendering "on account of" justified?

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"DIA" - Is the Rendering "on account of" justified?

Postby WStroupe » January 9th, 2013, 9:14 pm

At Matt. 24:22 the NWT reads:

"...but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short."

Why does the NWT translate "dia" as "on account of" at Matt. 24:22 but as "for the sake of", not once, but twice, at Mark 2:27?

I have been unable to find another translation that renders Matt. 24:22 in similar fashion.

Is there justification in the Greek grammar itself for this odd variance in translation of "dia"? Does not the rendering of the NWT at Matt. 24:22 weaken the personal nature of the action? Is this somehow justified at the low level of the Greek grammar, notwithstanding some higher-level theological justification that might exist?
William J. Stroupe

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Re: "DIA" - Is the Rendering "on account of" justified?

Postby timothy_p_mcmahon » January 9th, 2013, 10:03 pm

WStroupe wrote:Why does the NWT translate "dia" as "on account of" at Matt. 24:22 but as "for the sake of", not once, but twice, at Mark 2:27?

You'd have to ask them.

δια w/accusative carries a number of different senses. Among them are "on account of", "for the sake of", and "because of". It's at the translator's discretion to interpret the preposition in its context.
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Re: "DIA" - Is the Rendering "on account of" justified?

Postby Jonathan Robie » January 9th, 2013, 10:10 pm

We do not discuss translations on B-Greek, here's the text you are discussing:

Matthew 24:22 wrote:καὶ εἰ μὴ ἐκολοβώθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι ἐκεῖναι, οὐκ ἂν ἐσώθη πᾶσα σάρξ· διὰ δὲ τοὺς ἐκλεκτοὺς κολοβωθήσονται αἱ ἡμέραι ἐκεῖναι.


I do not know what distinction you are drawing between "on account of" and "for the sake of" in this passage. What are you asking about the meaning of διὰ in this context?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: "DIA" - Is the Rendering "on account of" justified?

Postby WStroupe » January 10th, 2013, 1:38 am

The rendering "on account of" permits some measure of indirection - the "flesh" to be saved, according to the verse, does not necessarily have to equate to "the chosen ones" in that same verse. "On account of" could open the possibility that when the tribulation is cut short on account of the fact that certain "chosen ones" were present on earth at the time, some other persons (another group) would get saved in the flesh in the process, merely as a secondary effect of the cutting short of the tribulation in behalf of the chosen ones. So, in this convoluted reasoning, the chosen ones and the flesh that will be saved [on earth] would not be the same group of persons.

However, if the rendering is "for the sake of", well then the "flesh" to be saved is absolutely equated with "the chosen ones". The action (getting saved) would be performed for those very ones. This would equate the chosen ones with the flesh that gets saved.

My purpose is not to debate theology here - I simply wanted to understand if anything in the Greek itself either dictated or even recommended the translation "on account of", which translation is significantly less personal and less direct than "for the sake of" with respect to the action performed (getting saved). After understanding the answer to that question, I can make my own theological assessment separate from this forum.

But theological assessments must be based upon something genuine from the Greek - one must have the full and unambiguous support of the Greek grammar in behalf of his/her theological conclusions.

If there exists nothing in the Greek grammar itself to drive us away from the more direct and personal "for the sake of" and toward the rendering "on account of", then I want to know and understand that fact.
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Re: "DIA" - Is the Rendering "on account of" justified?

Postby David Lim » January 10th, 2013, 2:39 am

WStroupe wrote:The rendering "on account of" permits some measure of indirection - the "flesh" to be saved, according to the verse, does not necessarily have to equate to "the chosen ones" in that same verse. "On account of" could open the possibility that when the tribulation is cut short on account of the fact that certain "chosen ones" were present on earth at the time, some other persons (another group) would get saved in the flesh in the process, merely as a secondary effect of the cutting short of the tribulation in behalf of the chosen ones. So, in this convoluted reasoning, the chosen ones and the flesh that will be saved [on earth] would not be the same group of persons.

However, if the rendering is "for the sake of", well then the "flesh" to be saved is absolutely equated with "the chosen ones". The action (getting saved) would be performed for those very ones. This would equate the chosen ones with the flesh that gets saved.

[...]

If there exists nothing in the Greek grammar itself to drive us away from the more direct and personal "for the sake of" and toward the rendering "on account of", then I want to know and understand that fact.

Though "for the sake of" may emphasize the beneficiaries or purpose more than "on account of", neither English expression implies "absolute" equating of "the flesh to be saved" with "the chosen ones". So neither implies that others are excluded from experiencing whatever comes about "for their sake". Similarly, "δια + acc." in Greek does not mean "μονον δια + acc." (see Rom 13:5). The context may sometimes imply that it is an exclusive relationship, but things usually aren't so simple as that.
δαυιδ λιμ
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Re: "DIA" - Is the Rendering "on account of" justified?

Postby WStroupe » January 10th, 2013, 3:18 am

Hi David,

Granted that neither "on account of" nor "for the sake of" provide absolutes, yet I think you will agree that "for the sake of" is significantly more direct and personal.

But the real issue for me is whether anything in the Greek itself demands, or even nudges us toward, the less direct "on account of"? It appears that the Greek itself is neutral on this issue. Translators are thus left with having to decide based more on context than on Greek grammar, it appears. Timothy McMahon indicated this in his post here.

Unless someone can provide a justification in the Greek grammar itself for going one way or the other - ?
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Re: "DIA" - Is the Rendering "on account of" justified?

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 10th, 2013, 3:39 am

I'm a little mystified by the question in this thread. In the introductory Greek textbooks I taught with, "on account of" (or "because of") is the standard gloss for διά + accusative. I realize that most translations go with "for the sake of" but the way that the question is posed seems to think that "on account of" is some bizarre rendering. It is not. If anything, it might be too mechanical.

At any rate, I would like to underscore with Jonathan said. This forum is about understanding the Greek, not exegeting English translations. So far, we've recently had two questions about the English rendering in the NWT, which is the standard abbreviation for the New World Translation, published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in 1961. In my experience of nearly twenty years on B-Greek in its variety of forms is that these kinds of the questions about NWT are nearly all rooted in some polemical or apologetical debates with Jehovah's Witnesses. There are plenty of forums on the Internet for debating for or against Jehovah's Witnesses but B-Greek isn't one of them. This forum is about understanding the Greek text of the Bible.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
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Re: "DIA" - Is the Rendering "on account of" justified?

Postby WStroupe » January 10th, 2013, 11:25 am

I have no interest in debating theology - especially the theology of Jehovah's Witnesses, with which I am very familiar. I am also very familiar with the NWT. My interest is in understanding what the Greek actually says, no matter whether that understanding may confirm or undermine any of my own theology. I am after the truth, and the Greek is vital to that goal.

In this particular thread, I've posed a question that I believe was entirely valid for a beginner - what is the real meaning of "dia" and does the Greek itself dictate or recommend any particular rendering into English. I speak English, not Greek. I must relate the Greek to English in some way in order to try to understand the meaning of the Greek text. That's all I was doing here. The theological implications are not something I want to post here or debate here - I only posted basic ideas (implications) in order to try to illustrate what I thought to be the significance of the difference between the two English renderings of the Greek "dia".

I see that the real meaning of "dia" in this context can be either "for the sake of" or "on account of". That was my real question. Neither one is favored over the other based on the Greek itself.
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Re: "DIA" - Is the Rendering "on account of" justified?

Postby Paul-Nitz » January 11th, 2013, 11:15 am

William. I get your point about needing to understand this Greek in terms you know, English.

What has really helped my fledgling understanding of prepositions is getting a better feel for the basic meaning of the cases. It helps me get away from that unfortunate and messy practice of taking 3-5 English gloss definitions, squishing them together in my mind and trying to convince myself that "this is what it means." οφελον that I had Runge's discourse grammar in college. I was subjected to that cruel practice of having students memorize that και means "and-but-also" which are, as an English speaker would agree, not mixable words. What Runge did for me regarding και μεν δε and other friends, Robertson did for me with the prepositions.

Take the literal meaning of the preposition, join it with the basic meaning of the case, and let the context lead you the rest of the way to an understanding of the thought.

Nunn's Short Syntax of the NT (online in scanned pdf) has a nice explanation of ask it. Robertson's tome (also online) first opened my eyes to this.
Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi
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Re: "DIA" - Is the Rendering "on account of" justified?

Postby WStroupe » January 11th, 2013, 1:41 pm

Thanks, Paul! I really think this is what I've been looking for - some direction to get myself to the next level. I know I'm presently too tied to the English. I need to try to think in Greek on some level.

Thanks again, very much - I'll get the references you recommended.
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