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Why You Should Study Languages

An addendum to my citation of Calvin on 1 Cor. 5:7 the other day:

There was a sentence in that selection that liked me not, as Bill S. might say. That sentence is the following:

“Now there is no reconciliation without a sacrifice; and, besides, the Apostle now expressly confirms it, for he makes use of the word θύεσθαι, which is applicable to sacrifices, and in other respects, too, the context would not correspond.”

I puzzled over the bolded part of the sentence in order to unravel how I was to interpret it. No dice.

So I went and had a look at the original, and, sure enough, the bolded words had been mistranslated.

Non est autem reconciliatio absque sacrificio. Deinde id palam nunc apostolus confirmat: nam verbo θύεσθαι utitur, quod sacrificiis aptum est: nec aliter staret eius contextus.

One might translate instead:

There is, however, no reconciliation apart from sacrifice. Next, the Apostle now openly confirms it: for he uses the word θύεσθαι, which is [a term] employed in reference to sacrifices; its connection [with the paschal lamb] would not hold good in a different way [from its normal usage].1

You may not have had time to learn Latin; you may have frittered away the time you did have. But don’t despair–you can fix it!

  1. I.e., the term is a term of sacrifice; it would not be used of sacrifice as its regular frame of reference everywhere else, but used in an entirely different way in this passage.

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.

3 replies on “Why You Should Study Languages”

The older English translations are sometimes better than the more recent. I don’t know if that is the case here, but for comparison, Thomas Tymme’s translation of the same passage from 1573: “And there is no reconciliation without sacrifice. Furthermore the apostle confirmeth the same: for he useth the Greek word (Thuesthai) the which is proper to sacrifices: otherwise the text could not stand.”

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