Friday, December 17, 2010
Colossians 2:16 Continued
In my first post on this text (August 31) I mentioned that the use of the Greek sabbatos is inconsistent in the New Testament, sometime being singular and sometimes plural, though referring to the Sabbath. An examination of sabbatos in the Greek of the Old and New Testaments reveals the following. In the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy), the Septuagint regularly uses the plural of sabbatos to translate the singular Hebrew word shabbat. In the historical books (2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, and Nehemiah), the Septuagint uses the singular of sabbatos to translate the singular shabbat, and the plural of sabbatos to translate the plural of shabbat. The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea and Amos follow the practice found in the Pentateuch. Ezekiel follows the pattern of the historical books. In the New Testament, Matthew and Mark are the least consistent. Matthew uses the plural 6 times* and the singular 4 times. Mark uses the plural 6 times and the singular 6 times. Luke primarily uses the singular (only 5 plurals out of 20 occurrences). John uses the singular 11 times, and the plural twice. But the plural occurrences both mean "week" rather than "Sabbath." Acts is somewhat mixed, using the plural four times (once it means "week," and once it is modified by the number three, so would reasonably be plural) and the singular 6 times. The word sabbatos is used only twice in the epistles. In 1 Cor 16:1 it is singular, and means "week." In Col 2:16 it is plural. So the question is, does it mean "Sabbath" or "Sabbaths"? That will be the topic of the next post.
*The English versions regularly translate sabbatos as "Sabbath" whether it is singular or plural, except when it means "week."