The ESV translation of Matthew 5:13 says
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty?[a] It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
The footnote that corresponds with [a] says, "Or how can the earth be salted?"
The first translation option would imply a focus on the salt (or Jesus' audience). The second translation option would imply a focus on the earth.
The two options for understanding this part of the verse are basically:
- How can the earth be salted if you lose your saltiness?
- How can you be made salty again if you lose your saltiness?
It seems that at least a few ancient witnesses are operating with the "or how can the earth be salted?" based on the commentaries from Cantena https://catenabible.com/mt/5
But if the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? i.e., If you, by means of whom the nations in a measure are to be preserved [from corruption], through the dread of temporal persecutions shall lose the kingdom of heaven, where will be the men through whom error may be removed from you, since God has chosen you, in order that through you He might remove the error of others?
And so Jesus says, “But if the salt loses its flavor, with what will it be seasoned?”
I suppose there are two options:
- Slightly conflicting/differing early manuscripts
- Different ways of translating the same sentence
I'm not knowledgeable in Greek or in the manuscripts available and can't find much more than what I have already found. Any insight as to the best option (for how to read this passage) would be great!