Colossians 2:16 ἐν μέρει ἑορτῆς

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Bill Ross
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Colossians 2:16 ἐν μέρει ἑορτῆς

Post by Bill Ross » March 3rd, 2020, 1:52 am

In an online conversation with a preacher who preaches that anyone who doesn't observe the sabbaths and holy feast days is condemned I responded with Colossians 2:16:
[Col 2:16 NLT] (16) So don't let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths.

[Col 2:16 MGNT] (16) μὴ οὖν τις ὑμᾶς κρινέτω ἐν βρώσει καὶ ἐν πόσει ἢ ἐν μέρει ἑορτῆς ἢ νεομηνίας ἢ σαββάτων
He responded with:
The word "respect" in the KJV is the Greek word "meros" and is frequently translated as "part." So, we could read it this way: "let no man judge you (for your) part in a holy day.
I see that BDAG shows μέρει with the preposition ἐν to have the meaning of "in the matter of, with regard to":
—ἐν μέρει in the matter of, with regard to (Antig. Car. 24; Diod S 20, 58, 5; Plut., Mor. 102e; Horapollo 1, 57 ἐν τροφῆς μέρει=‘as food’; GDI 5185, 30 [Crete] ἐν χάριτος μέρει; Philo, Det. Pot. Ins. 5 ἐν μέρει λόγου al.) ἐν μέρει ἑορτῆς with regard to a festival Col 2:16 (cp. ApcrEzk [Epiph. 70, 14] ἐν τῷ μέρει τῆς ἀδυναμίας ‘in connection with my disability’. See bθ above).


Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 12:28 AM March 3, 2020.
He then refers to this section:
μέρος, ους, τό (Pind., Hdt.+).
...
ⓑ specialized uses
...
θ. matter, affair (Menand., Epitr. 234 S. [58 Kö.], Per. 297 S. [107 Kö.]; Diod S 2, 27, 1; Περὶ ὕψους 12, 5 [μέρη=objects]; Jos., Ant. 15, 61 τούτῳ τῷ μέρει; PRyl 127, 12 [29 A.D.] ἀναζητῆσαι ὑπὲρ τοῦ μέρους=‘begin an investigation concerning the matter’) ἐν τούτῳ τῷ μέρει in this case, in this matter (cp. Polyb. 18, 18, 2 τ. πίστιν ἐν τούτῳ τῷ μέρει διαφυλάττειν) 2 Cor 3:10; 9:3 (s. also ἐν μέρει in c below). Cp. 1 Pt 4:16 v.l....

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 12:32 AM March 3, 2020.
Since this is listed under "specialized uses" I thought I should run it by the pros to make sure that this is not in any way controversial before I respond. Is it at all ambiguous?

Thanks.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Colossians 2:16 ἐν μέρει ἑορτῆς

Post by Barry Hofstetter » March 3rd, 2020, 9:04 am

Not, it's not controversial. You are right, and he is wrong. What he's done is cherry picked the meaning he wants to support his theology, and completely ignored the context. As a parallel in English, no one confuses:

a) She can run a race,

with:

b) She can run a corporation.

In the above, the direct object triggers the correct meaning of "run" for an English speaker. Arguing that it's really the second usage that applies in the first would be similar to what the pastor is arguing. Not totally impossible in the English examples, but would require more context. It's not something that any English speaker would think. In Col 2:16, using ἐν μέρει + a noun in the genitive triggers the meaning "with respect to" and I doubt seriously that any "Koine speaker" would see it differently.

Also ask what "your part in" really means in English. It can only mean "your participation/involvement in." I suspect if Paul had wanted to say that, he would have used a different expression altogether, perhaps something like πρὸς μετάλημψιν.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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