“Truly I say to you,…” “Amen I say to you,”… Inferences from a Gospel manner of speech

by kepler 50 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • slimboyfat

    Hey Earnest!

    Stafford also claims that someone wrote a letter to the Vatican asking about the mark and that they wrote back saying the mark is faded brown in colour, rather than black, indicating that it dates from the fourth century rather than being a later addition.

    He also argues that Acts 20:26 is an interesting parallel where "today" is used to emphasize when a statement is being made.

  • Wonderment

    <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } A:link { so-language: zxx } -->

    Questions from Luke's account surrounding ch. 23:43:

    What is the meaning of “Paradise”?

    If the evildoer was a Jew, what understanding would he likely have of the word “Paradise”?

    What would this criminal believe about the “kingdom” (“kingly glory”) of Jesus? Or, “the kingdom of God,” to have such longing to be with Jesus, and to ask to be ‘remembered’ at such time?

    If Jesus was ‘dead’ for the part of three days, where then, was this criminal during that time?

    If we accept the traditional rendering of Luke 23:43, are we then to understand that Jesus did not really “die,” but was in circulation (in spirit) somewhere (in a mystical “paradise”) with this criminal in company awaiting to be resurrected on the third day?

    If Jesus and the criminal were ‘the very same day) taken to “Paradise,” how can we explain the “kingdom” of Jesus, “the kingdom of God”?

    Jesus' disciples asked him (Acts1:6; many days after the resurrection of Jesus), if he was restoring the kingdom of Israel at that time. Now, if the malefactor fulfilled his wish of entering “Paradise” on ‘the very same day’ of Jesus death, then, it would mean that this criminal preceded those “faithful” and “loyal” disciples of Jesus to the kingdom.

    Am I confused? Are these questions silly?


    I tend to agree with you that Stafford is correct in pointing out that the dozens of examples (of, “Truly, I say to you”) provided by some websites are irrelevant to Luke 23:43. They do not have the word “today” in their statements. Given that ancient manuscripts did not have punctuation, the footnote of Lamsa is truly correct: “Ancient texts were not punctuated. The comma could come before or after today.” So the underlined comment of The Analytical-Literal Translation of the NT ("There is really no reason to place the comma after ‘today’- unless someone is trying to uphold their pre-conceived theology." is a case of special pleading, and it would equally apply to him. (Underline added)

    Context, then, is the strongest force for the appropriate translation of Luke 23:43. Ludwig Reinhardt disagrees with the Alt translator by saying: “The punctuation presently used [by most translators] in this verse is undoubtedly false and contradictory to the entire way of thinking of Christ and the evildoer. . . . [Christ] certainly did not understand paradise to be a subdivision of the realm of the dead, but rather the restoration of a paradise on earth.” (Protestant)

    The Clear Word translator also disagrees: “I promise you today that when I set up My kingdom, you will be there.”

    The Spanish Nueva Reina-Valera 2000 takes on orthodoxy as well : “Te aseguro hoy, estarás conmigo en el paraíso”. [Translation: “I assure you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”] There are other versions as well going against tradition.

  • kepler

    Hello, Folks. At the very least, signing in to let you know I'm still reading/listening to the replies. It just gets more difficult to provide detailed or cogent replies as this topic goes on. But I'll try.


    I don't think your questions are silly. But rather, they are quite in order. Looking from the outside in, my take is that no one publicizes this difference in the NWT from others. On another recent topic about differences in the NWT, the verse did not even come up until I brought it up; and the means of analysis we are discussing now was courtesy of Bobcat. Though on a couple of questions such as why did the "good" thief identify with Christ, a lot is explained within the few verses of chapter 23 in which the incident is described. The other thief berated Jesus to the effect of something like don't just stand there: get us out this mess. The "good" thief seems to act as a peacemaker. But taking into account that the official WTS version of this story is one where paradise is promised but much delayed, and that's where nearly all this forum refugees are from, a sense of confusion sounds like as good a place to start as any in contemplating this story. Let us all know later what else you notice.


    I mean to contribute to you other topic about history. Mostly it's an arbitrary stack, but sometimes complementing these discussions. But for now, what can I say about your counter arguments?

    While "today" as a temporal qualifier was used only one time in the expressions, we did have a couple of others time related expressions. Matt 19:28. I'll probably be answerable to Greek students about this one, but based on the English, if the NWT were consistent about this it would place "this generation" in front of the comma too in Matt 24:34. The same with John 5:25 concerning the hour.

    But then there is the question of Luke's perspective. You say that he is very inclined to speak in Greek like a Hebrew writer of Deuteromy would. Now how can I argue about that one? It's a proposition I had never heard before one way or another. Well, we are led to understand that he was a friend and associate of Paul. And Paul, if anyone, certainly liked to quote Deuteronomy to explain why Christ had come to earth to wipe away a sin. But I have also heard one rabbi say that Luke sometimes was a loose cannon when it came to Paul's arguments. In his first chapter he describes Zechariah, the father of John, as such a good guy that he was "blameless". Now how did that happen?

    Some introductory passages I have in my NJB ( which is not aware of our discussion) describe Matthew as the most concerned of the Gospel writers with the fulfilling of the promises of the OT for the people of Israel. And later it describes Luke writing in "sophisticated" Greek to Greeks and Gentiles about Christ's mercy and forgiveness. The OT element is in his origin and upbringing.... Luke and Acts were at one time pre-Bible a book ( directed to Theophilius)... But any of this does not really settle whether Christ meant that the thief would be in paradise today.

    But on the other hand, does the argument remain what Christ said and meant or what Luke had written and intended?

    This is problematic since neither Mark or Matthew mention this incident. When Jesus also says, "Father, into thy hands I commend myself," one might wonder if things in Luke are what ought to have appeared in the other accounts but they neglected to mention. Why? If Luke's Greek is beyond reproach to scholars, it would seem odd that he would speak it like an anonymous Deuteronomy scribe. Perhaps someone will be able to elaborate further on that, but I can't. But if this incident ends up in the Gospels as nearly an after thought, could it possibly be that Luke wanted to describe how the heavenly kingdom's naturalization and immigration service would really work: a sojourn in Hades with a VIP guide and then report to a footlocker to await the dawn of the next dispensationalist age? Or is the thief right away as in Luke 20:36, "the same as the angels"?

    I can easily enough tell the difference between which two interpretations were then considered glad tidings. Same with anybody nowadays showing up at my door.


    I can follow the Latin better than the Greek, owing to more formal training in the former. hodie me cum eris in paradiso - today me with you will be in paradise seems to appear frequently with Ambrose, Jerome and Augustine. That much I understand. And it would seem as though that would be a widespread belief in the western church - since it has any currency now at all. The Greek equivalent has been cited a number of times as well, but I would not want to jump to conclusions without understanding the sentences preceding, either more of the Bible text or church father commentaries. I just don't know that much Greek. Are any of the Greek patriarchs arguing for "I am telling you today,.."?


    The Sinaitic text I wasn't able to see at all. Visible somewhere else?

    No one has anything to say about Revelations?


  • Leolaia

    I listed in my OP references to the NWT-like parsing in Greek sources. Note that mostly these are references to how others parse the text and the comments are either critical of this parsing or presume the majority parsing as the default. The possible indication of parsing in the Codex Vaticanus is new to me. If it is a legitimate instance of punctuation, then possibly we might include B among the exemplars of the "Truly I say to you today" parsing. As mentioned before, D has a "Today you will be with me in paradise" parsing. I don't know anything about conventions of punctuation in uncial codices, so I would like to see some specialists weighing in on this, as it is unclear to me whether this mark is a blot or conforms to scribal practice. This discussion by Wieland Willker seems negative but inconclusive: http://www-user.uni-bremen.de/~wie/TCG/prob/Lk-23-43-B.pdf. A negative opinion is obtained here (possibly the same person?): http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2001-June/017146.html. As for as Greg Stafford's views, this appears to be a more recent paper on the subject: http://www.elihubooks.com/data/topical_index/000/000/315/EOP_3_Punctuation_in_early_Greek_NT_texts_Stafford.pdf.

    Here are the three Syriac texts:

    I marked in yellow the word yawmana "today", and in the Sinaitic and Peshitta it is preceded by a dolat (red arrow) which represents a prefix which has a meaning similar to "that" or "what", i.e. "Truly I tell you that today ...." The Curetonian text, on the other hand, has that dolat prefixed to the subsequent word `ami "with", i.e. "Truly I tell you today that with me ...."

    I don't really have anything to say about Revelation....it's not really relevant imo. There is some connection with synoptic logia, but it doesn't really attempt to represent the actual voice of Jesus of Nazareth; the author here is relating a visionary experience of the heavenly glorified Son of God, and thus draws considerably on apocalyptic stylistic motifs (with a heavy dependence on OT language).

  • Bobcat

    Kepler and Others:

    From what I see, the two camps in this argument follow, not entirely, but generally around:

    (A) "Truly I tell you today, ..." - because, in the wider context, Jesus and the evildoer were not ressurrected that day.

    (B) "Truly I tell you, today ..." - because the language and the immediate context (the evildoer's tentativeness) generally favors that.

    One of the problems I see in the arguments favoring (A) is the assumption that if one favors (B), then, one MUST believe that both Jesus and the evildoer were in some sort of paradise (hades, eden, etc) that day. Although many do believe just that, it is still a straw man argument. In other words, argument (A) stands on the assumption that argument (B) just cannot be possible. Therefore, argument (A) is the only other possibility. (Perhaps that could more properly be classified as a "dilemma.")

    If one were to view Jesus' words as encouragement, by speaking from what Jesus knew would be the evildoer's future point of reference, then, both arguments are collapsed into one.

    The evildoer was going to die before sundown ("today"). He knew that. And Jesus knew that. That was Jewish law that the Romans were going along with. (Deut 21:22, 23) Once the evildoer was dead, he would have no recollection of time until he came back to life. From his standpoint, he would pass out struggling for air, and then suddenly, as if he had just been suffocating a moment ago, wake up in the ressurrection. For him, at least for the moment, it would still be "today." This would be his experience regardless of how many centuries would pass before he came back to life.

    This argument takes into account all the factors in both (A) and (B).

    And as I mentioned earlier, it is ironic to me that JWs use this very line of reasoning when trying to comfort those who are terminally ill, but they don'y apply such reasoning to Luke 23:43.

  • Wonderment


    That is an interesting comment!

    Perhaps in line with your observation, you may find the following comment taken from the footnote of a prestigious Catholic Bible printed in Spain thought-provoking:

    (Translation), "TODAY: more than a strict chronological indication (‘in these twenty-four hours’), although that meaning is not excluded, is the time of salvation, inaugurated by Jesus: ‘You don't have to wait. You're there, from now on.’” (Sagrada Biblia, by Santiago-Iglesias)

    And a further comment from Dr. George M. Lamsa:

    "According to the Aramaic manner of speech, the emphasis in this text is on the word ‘today' and should read, ‘Truly I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.' . . . This is a characteristic of Oriental speech implying that the promise was made on a certain day and would surely be kept." (Gospel Light from Aramaic on the Teachings of Jesus)

  • kepler


    Much of what you say on the two camps seems to rest on where the audience seemed to think the dead would go. True, there was at least one orthodoxy on that, but according to Josephus it was not unanimous. Pharisees and Saduccees were not in agreement. But nonetheless, with regard to preparation for death, there was the law.

    Another point. The narratives go on to show that Jesus returned. We never hear from thief again. And no one asks. But yet a kingdom has been claimed to have been founded.


    You are certainly not obliged to come up with an answer to the riddle about Revelation. You've done more than enough or that I can even assimilate already. But I will continue to claim a more general topic definition than simply the issue of Luke 23:43. Finger-printing would not be worth study if it was a method that was destined to be used only once.

  • Bobcat


    In reference to the gospel accounts use of "truly I say to you", and Revelation's lack of such a phrase -

    I'm not sure if I'm fully understanding your point. What I think you are saying is that it seems strange that the gospel writers have Jesus using this phrase regularly and Revelation not using it at all, even though it is supposedly referring to the same person.

    I would like to offer a possible solution to that apparent discrepency:

    In the gospel accounts, "Truly I tell you ..." represents an affirmation of whatever is being spoken of at the moment, somewhat like an oath. It was authoritative in the sense that this otherwise ordinary and unlettered Gallilean had the audacity to base his affirmation on "I" (as in 'I am assuring you of this'). This sort of self affirmation of the truthfulness of his sayings, for a man of his low station, was noteworthy. (Matt 7:28)

    Nevertheless, it was all Jesus could do verbally. His miracles added to the authoritativeness of his sayings. (Heb 2:3, 4)

    After Jesus' faithful life course, ressurrection, and glorification, things changed. Paul said, "For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory." (2Cor 1:20 ESV)

    From that standpoint, it is interesting how Jesus addresses his followers in Revelation. Rather than give his previous verbal affirmation ("truly I say to you"), now he points to his already attained glorified status and authority as reasons why his audience can be sure of what he says.

    This can be seen by noting how he describes himself in Revelation 1:17, 18. Then, when addressing the 7 congregations, he uses various parts of this description as the basis for assurring his disciples of the truthfulness of the counsel he gives. (Compare Rev 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14) He uses this same style in the closing part of Revelation where he speaks again. (Rev 22:12-16)

    I would argue that if the Jesus of Revelation continued to use, "truly I say to you," it would be evidence that the Jesus of Revelation might be a fraud because of not truly appreciating the authority and power he claims to have.

    As I said, that may or may not address your point of question. At least it provides a point of view for consideration. And I offer it only as that. I did think it was quite interesting that your analysis of the saying ("truly I say to you") revealed that change from the gospels to Revelation. It certainly stamps your analytical method as a viable way of identifying such things.

    Take care

  • Bobcat


    Interesting points. The point from the Sagrada Biblia seems to follow along the same lines as Jehovah's statement to Adam that 'in the day he ate from the tree, he would surely die.' (Even though death took 930 actual years.)

    Thanks for your comments.

    Take care

  • slimboyfat

    Leolaia, yeah it seems the punctuation of Codex Vaticanus supports Watchtower positions in Luke 23:43 and Roman 9:5. It's almost as if JWs punctuated the manuscript themselves.

Share this