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Monday, July 04, 2005

Matthew 11:19b Wisdom's Children or Works of Wisdom?

In Matthew 11:16-19 Jesus compares the towns where he has been preaching to children playing in the marketplace: they won't respond to the dirge of the Baptist's asceticism or to the flute of Jesus' joyful announcement of the good news. In Filipino, one can even interject that "this generation" is sala sa init, sala sa malamig. Then Jesus concludes his comparison with a wisdom saying that has been rendered differently by different translations.

kai edikaiwqh h sofia apo twn teknwn authV

But Wisdom is justified by her children (New King James Version)
But Wisdom is justified of her children (American Version)
Yet Wisdom is justified by her deeds (NJB)
Yet Wisdom is vindicated by her works (NRSV)
Yet time will prove where Wisdom lies (NAB)
But Wisdom is shown to be right by what results from it (NLT)

Notice that the NKJV and the AV represent very literal renderings of the original with minor differences in the interpretation of apo. The NJB and NRSV however represent an effort to render the concept behind "Wisdom's children" where "children" are understood as those that are "effected" by Wisdom. In this sense, the New Living Translation is more explicit in its line of interpretation when it chooses a longer rendering "by what results from it (Wisdom)." Given this sampling of renderings, the NAB seems to represent a wholly different line of thought: where does it get the idea of time? Was the translator imagining a word like aharit ("generation after" which can also conceivably stand for "children") behind the Greek teknon?. The NAB translation however retains the enigmatic character of the saying. The line of interpretation followed by the NJB, NRSV and NLT however lends well to the larger context, if we would include the following prophetic oracles over the unrepentant towns within it. This latter ends with a prayer where Jesus mentions "children" as opposed to the "wise and the clever."

At that time Jesus said in reply, "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike. (Matt. 11:25)

This would make the "works of Wisdom" repentance and faith in Jesus' words. But given the literal translation of the NKJV and AV (also the Douay-Rheims and Vulgate), would it still be necessary to do so? Wisdom's children would be the community of faith itself.

Posted by bible student at 9:51 PM
Edited on: Monday, July 04, 2005 10:20 PM
Categories: New Testament