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My question concerns the translation of Luke 14:15 in the King James Version (KJV) and the Bible in Basic English (BBE).

King James Version:

15 And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said to him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. KJV, ©1769

Bible in Basic English:

15 And, hearing these words, one of those who were at table with him said to him, Happy is the man who will be a guest in the kingdom of God. BBE, ©1941

Which translation is more accurate when the Greek NT is examined: “eat bread” or “be a guest”?

  • Der's answer is a good one. Remember that Jesus said the bread was a symbol of his body, given for us. So a paraphrase should be more emphatic than simply a cultural reference to being a guest eating bread. It implies one for whom Christ died. – Bob Jones Jan 14 at 5:08
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The Greek text according to the 1550 Textus Receptus states,

Ἀκούσας δέ τις τῶν συνανακειμένων ταῦτα εἶπεν αὐτῷ Μακάριος ὃς φάγεται ἄρτον ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ

The words in question are bold-faced. The accurate translation of the phrase «φάγεται ἄρτον» is “[subject] shall eat bread.”

φάγεται is conjugated from the verb ἐσθίω, “to eat.”1

LSJ, ἐσθίω, p. 696

ἄρτον is declined from the noun ἄρτος, “bread.”2

LSJ, ἄρτος, p. 250

As you may know, translators who produce bible versions use different translation philosophies. Some are more literal; others more liberal.3

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The King James Version is known to be one of the more literal bible translations. On the other hand, the Bible in Basic English was translated with a very specific purpose in mind:4

Frequently, the narrow limits of the word-list make it hard to keep the Basic completely parallel with the Hebrew and the Greek; but great trouble has been taken with every verse and every line to make certain that there are no errors of sense and no loose wording. It is only natural that, from time to time, some of the more delicate shades of sense have not been covered; on the other hand, it is well to keep in mind that in the Authorised Version the power and music of the language sometimes take so much of the reader's attention that these more delicate shades are overlooked.

“To Eat Bread”

While the literal and most accurate translation of «φάγεται ἄρτον» is “shall eat bread,” it conveys more than just eating a piece of bread. Rather, it means eating a meal (dining) in the company of companions. ἄρτος (ἄρτον) is used as a synecdoche for an entire meal because ἄρτος (“bread”) was the most common food item.

William Rosen wrote,5

Bread has been a synecdoche for food for millennia, and not just as the stuff the breadwinners win; the word “lord” is derived from the Old English hlaford, meaning “keeper of the bread,” and “lady” from hlaefdigge: “kneader of the dough.”


Footnotes

1 LSJ, p. 696
2 id., p. 250
3 Image URL: https://www.sarmy.org.au/Global/SArmy/Resources/Articles/631_table.jpg
4 Website URL: https://www.biblestudytools.com/bbe/
5 Rosen, p. 104; also, see REV Bible commentary on John 6:48:

The word “bread” is...ἄρτος..., and it is used primarily of bread, but because bread was the most important food, it was also used of food in general (a synecdoche of the part for the whole).

References

Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; et al. A Greek-English Lexicon. 9th ed. with revised supplement. Oxford: Clarendon, 1996.

Rosen, William. The Third Horseman: Climate Change and the Great Famine of the 14th Century. New York: Penguin Group, 2014.

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  • Great answer. Hope to see other answers too – Faith Mendel Oct 16 '19 at 9:57

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