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While translating Matthew 16 today, I ran across what the NET Bible calls a "highly elliptical expression" in verse 22:

καὶ προσλαβόμενος αὐτὸν ὁ Πέτρος ἤρξατο ἐπιτιμᾶν αὐτῷ λέγων·

Ἵλεώς σοι, κύριε· οὐ μὴ ἔσται σοι τοῦτο.

...which they render as:

So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him:

"God forbid, Lord! This must not happen to you!"

This is "elliptical" because ἵλεως is usually glossed as "merciful" or "propitious", which means we must stretch to mean "God be gracious...in averting some calamity" as Louw & Nida have it.

Since this struck me as quite a stretch, I checked my (3rd edition) Nestle-Aland and found no critical notes at all for this verse. So I figured I'd cross-check some of the uncials, and started with B, the Codex Vaticanus (lower left corner). This does not match either the Nestle-Aland or SBLGNT as above, but instead reads somethings like this (pardon me if I don't try to reproduce hand-written diacritics or uncial glyphs perfectly):

ΚΑΙΠΡΟϹΛΑΒΟΜΕ

ΝΟϹΑΥΤΟΝΟΠΕΤΡΟϹ

ΛΕΓΕΙΑΥΤωΕΠΙΤΕΙΜω

ΕΙΛΕωϹϹΟΙΚΕΟΥΜΗE

ϹΤΑΙϹΟΙΤΟΥΤΟ·

...which I kinda-sorta can break up as:

ΚΑΙ ΠΡΟϹΛΑΒΟΜΕΝΟϹ ΑΥΤΟΝ Ο ΠΕΤΡΟϹ ΛΕΓΕΙ ΑΥΤω ΕΠΙΤΕΙΜω

ΕΙΛΕωϹ ϹΟΙ ΚΕ ΟΥ ΜΗ EϹΤΑΙ ϹΟΙ ΤΟΥΤΟ·

Interestingly, εἰλέω is a form of εἴλω which means "hinder" or "confine", or "bar", which seems to directly fit the sense and even the translation better than the elliptical ἵλεως....which would render it:

and when Peter took him aside, he says to him [something]

"Barred to you, [Lord]! This must not happen to you!"

Alternately, is εἴλω simply too old of a word, and we should consider the initial epsilon of ειλεωϲ to be an itacism?

What the remaining "ΕΠΙΤΕΙΜω" might mean is still uncertain to me, especially since a) the manuscript looks like it has been retraced at some point, and b) possibly edited right at this point, because there's a strange ligature after the "Τ" over the "Ε". Given the NA and SBL, it might be some form of ἐπιτιμᾶν or ἐπίτιμος, or something completely other like τέμνω if Peter is "cutting him short".

So I have lots of questions, but I'll try to summarize (feel free to answer any of them):

  1. Is some form of "εἰλέω" possible here or reasonable? If not, what's that initial epsilon doing there? If so, what to do with the trailing uncial sigma?
  2. Regardless, why is such a major difference in such an important uncial not mentioned in Nestle-Aland's textual apparatus?
  3. What might the "ΕΠΙΤΕΙΜω" bit be trying to say? Or is there some better spelling? It doesn't seem to be reasonable grammar after "legei autw" no matter what it means or whether we stick with ἵλεως or not.
  • And I just noticed in the Siniaticus that ειλεωϲ is clearly the spelling there codexsinaiticus.org/en/… – fumanchu Aug 12 '15 at 5:59
  • ειλεωϲ is in the Vaticanus. Let me know if you want me to post it. – Gigi Sanchez Feb 21 '17 at 16:39
0

Matthew's usage is idiomatic so there is no benefit in translating via etymology. According to LSJ, though the words sound pious, the actual usage is deprecating (critical):

...in deprecation, ἵλεώς σοι, κύριε (sc. ὁ θεός), i.e. be it far from thee, Ev.Matt.16.22; ἵ. ἡμῖν Πλάτων καὶ ἐνταῦθα OGI721.10 (Egypt, iv A.D.)...

http://logeion.uchicago.edu/%E1%BC%B5%CE%BB%CE%B1%CE%BF%CF%82

However, the usage is poorly attested (he lists only one other and it is from the 4th century, significantly later than Matthew so you are right to question it).

However, Matthew refers to Peter's address as a "rebuke" so it seems it must be "deprecating".

For a similar situation we can look at Job's wife. In the English translations we read that she says "Curse God and die". The actual word used for "curse" however is BARUCH, which normally means "bless". But she says "bless" euphemistically, again, where the words are positive but the actual usage is negative:

KJV Job 2:9 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

https://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/job/2/9/p0/t_conc_438009

If you disagree that Peter's address is euphemistic then a literal translation will get the point across (though it will not be clear that it is a rebuke). Replacing the euphemism with a negative statement then would make it more clear that it is a rebuke.

0

The Greek word ἵλεως occurs quite often in the LXX—approximately 25 occurrences in 24 verses.1 Hence, it is well attested. It is used to translate the Hebrew verb סָלַח (salach) in binyan Paʿal,2 כָּפַר (kafar) in binyan Piʿel,3 and the word חָלִילָה (chalila).4

With respect to the verbs סָלַח and כָּפַר, they convey the notion of forgiving/pardoning people/sin, which would not apply in the case of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, the remaining sense is that found in חָלִילָה. This word is an “exclamation of abhorrence.”5 In Matt. 16:22, «Ἵλεώς σοι» would be best understood as, “Far be it for you [to die]!” This Peter says after the Lord Jesus Christ showed his disciples how he was to “suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”6


Footnotes

1 excluding its occurrences in 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, and 4 Maccabees (9x in 9 verses)
2 Num. 14:20; 1 Kings 8:30, 8:34, 8:36, 8:39; 2 Chr. 6:21, 6:27, 6:39; Amos 7:2; Jer. 5:1, 5:7, 27:20, 38:34, 43:3
3 Deu. 21:8
4 2 Sam. 20:20 (2x), 23:17; 1 Chr. 11:19
5 Gesenius, p. 280, חָלִיל (chalil), 2.
6 Matt. 16:21

References

Gesenius, Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm. Gesenius’s Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures. Trans. Tregelles, Samuel Prideaux. London: Bagster, 1860.

-1

'ileos is not "merciful". Eleos is merciful. Hileos is a matter of composure in its two usages in the Greek scripture. Peter is, I understand, saying to Jesus, "Compose thyself !" "Restrain thyself !" Peter actually took hold of Jesus and Jesus turned his face away and looked, rather, at the disciples. It was quite an event. Later Jesus takes Peter . . . . up a mountain, where a significant event reveals just whom he is and what is his ultimate purpose and destiny.

This has bearing on the so-called "mercy seat" - the Hilasterion. A matter, I believe, of composure, not mercy.

  • ἔλεος (eleos) is the noun mercy. ἵλεως (hileōs) is the adjective meaning merciful. – user33515 Feb 24 '18 at 12:43
  • Have you a source for that ? Peter says 'Ιλεως σοι κυριε' (Matthew 16:22). 'Merciful' does not fit with that. – Nigel J Feb 24 '18 at 14:28
  • I think you will find it in most lexicons (e.g. here). It only appears twice in the NT, but 35 times in the LXX. Ἵλεώς σοι is semi-idiomatic and literally means "gracious/merciful to you" (σοι is 2nd person dative), with "God" (ὁ Θεός) understood (i.e. [may God be] merciful to you). The usage is described in Bauer's Lexicon entry for Ἵλεώς. The Orthodox New Testament tries to stay close to the literal meaning (May God be gracious to Thee). Only a couple modern English Bibles translate it this way, though. – user33515 Feb 24 '18 at 16:52
  • 'Peter took him and began to rebuke him' and then Peter spoke. It does not seem reasonable to me that Peter then said 'God be merciful to thee'. It just does not seem logical. It makes more sense for Peter to say 'compose thyself !'. It was a rebuke. And if ileos is merciful then the hilasterion is a 'merciful seat'. ? ?. And there is no connection to the Hebrew word kapporeth in that case, which is not acceptable. The words need to agree in Hebrew and Greek. – Nigel J Feb 24 '18 at 16:56
  • @user33515 ελεεμον eleemon is the adjective 'merciful' from the verb ελεεο eleeo to have mercy and ελεος eleos the noun, mercy itself. 'ιλεος ileos is a noun (let's call it 'cheer' for now) then 'ιλαρος hilaros is the adjective 'cheerful' and 'ιλαροτες hilarotes is the noun 'cheerfulness'. – Nigel J Nov 2 '18 at 15:14

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