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YLT 1Cor 10:25 Whatever in the meat-market is sold eat ye, not inquiring, because of the conscience,

By moving a comma or two, it reads:

Whatever in the meat-market is sold eat ye not, inquiring because of the conscience,

Is this a legitimate translation as far as grammatical rules are concerned, (prior to looking at context)?

Here is the Greek text:

[1Co 10:25 MGNT] πᾶν τὸ ἐν μακέλλῳ πωλούμενον ἐσθίετε μηδὲν ἀνακρίνοντες διὰ τὴν συνείδησιν

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  • I’m looking for the grammatical options before I consider the context so I need feedback from people who do understand Greek. Apr 29 '19 at 12:47
  • What are you getting at? That one should eat no meat? That one should not eat meat labeled halal for instance? Or that one should not eat pork and shrimp? Where are you driving this question? Apr 29 '19 at 14:21
  • No. What Paul is writing/saying, going back to 1 Cor 10:14, is that we should make sure we eat, drink, do everything for the glory of God. As for others inviting you to dinner, just eat what they serve you without raising questions on the grounds of conscience. Apr 29 '19 at 18:48
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    I heard a teacher say that it could be translated to effectively say, “Don’t eat meat from the market without first checking it is ok. I wanted to first check if this was even possible before looking at the context in a different light. Apr 29 '19 at 22:52
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First, the original Greek had no commas - NA28 and UBS5 have published their text without commas. So, a better way to state the question is to focus on the word, μηδὲν (meden), an adjective in the accusative neuter singular, that here means, "nothing" or "without".

The question can be restated as, Is (1) μηδὲν (meden) the object of the verb ἐσθίετε (esthiete) = eat; or is it (2) the object of the verb ἀνακρίνοντες (anakrinontes) = inquiring. Of these two possibilities, we would have the following translations:

  1. Everything in the meat market being sold, eat nothing; inquiring on account of conscience.
  2. Everything in the meat market being sold, eat; without inquiring on account of conscience.

While both are technically possible, it only takes a brief examination of the first option to realise it makes no sense for several reasons:

  • The first clause, "Everything in the meat market being sold, eat nothing" is almost meaningless as it amounts to a complete prohibition of anything sold in a general market.
  • The second clause, "inquiring on account of conscience" is also devoid of meaning as it instructs nothing, unless we make the farcical assertion that we are to eat nothing from the market but still making extensive inquiries for the sake of conscience. Why would one bother to ask if one is not permitted to eat anything anyway?

Therefore, the only way for 1 Cor 10:25 to make any rational sense is the second possibility listed above - we may eat anything sold in the market but do not inquire about whether it has been offered to idols so that your conscience will not be offended. The second option is that consistently adopted by every translation I could find and is the sense assumed by all commentaries I consulted.

Lastly, the second option is also consistent with the verses immediately before and after.

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  • I believe the question is specifically about the grammar. Could you add a few words about the syntax?
    – Ruminator
    Apr 29 '19 at 15:39
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    That is what I thought I had done by saying that syntactically, μηδὲν (meden) could be the the object of the verb ἐσθίετε (esthiete) = eat, or the object of the verb ἀνακρίνοντες (anakrinontes) = inquiring. That is, either is grammatically possible. Therefore, it must be decided on the basis of semantics.
    – user25930
    Apr 29 '19 at 21:26
  • I'm not sure that's true. Are you on B-Greek? You might want to run it by them. They have a "What does this text mean?" forum. Not super fast but pretty thorough.
    – Ruminator
    Apr 29 '19 at 21:30
  • Thank you for your analysis of the possible translations. That’s what I was looking for. I have some information with which to challenge now. As far as context is concerned, that is a whole new ballgame. Apr 29 '19 at 23:49
  • Your statement: “The first clause, "Everything in the meat market being sold, eat nothing" is almost meaningless as it amounts to a complete prohibition of anything sold in a general market.“ Surely this logic applies equally to your preferred version as eating everything is also almost meaningless. I understand both versions as needing to be sensibly qualified. May 1 '19 at 9:05

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