John Kilgallen, «Luke 20,13 and i1swj», Vol. 89 (2008) 263-264
Many translations understand the father of the vineyard (parable in Luke 20, 9-19) to think that he will send his beloved son to the vineyard workers because they possibly might accept him; this seems faulty reasoning on the part of the father. It seems better to re-read i1swj (v. 13) in accord with its basic sense, which in turn allows the father a proper logic: “they will give my son a treatment that is equal to his dignity as my beloved son”.
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264 John J. Kilgallen
Take my advice, O kingâ€¦ then your prosperity will be long (NAB)
(Dan 4, 24; LXX Dan [TH] 4,27).
Here the word i[sw" means to assure the king that there will be no â€œmaybeâ€ or
â€œperhapsâ€ about his prosperity being long (3).
3. â€œIsw" read in Luke 20,13
The argument developed above looks to two factors, 1. the meaning and
use of the Greek word i[sw" (i[so") and 2. suitable reasoning in regard to the
fatherâ€™s sending his son, his beloved son. Since there are examples in the LXX
(and elsewhere) which do use i[sw" in a more â€œcertainâ€ sense than â€œperhapsâ€,
it seems reasonable to understand the Greek adverb accordingly. The basic
sense of the source for this adverb is i[so", a term which makes us read Luke
20,13 along the lines of â€œequalâ€ or â€œsimilarâ€. We turn, then, to the fatherâ€™s
soliloquy. Understanding the fatherâ€™s proposal, it seems more correct to think
that the father thinks that the vinedressers will indeed treat this son according
to his status as beloved son, and not just â€œperhapsâ€: they will give him
treatment equal to what his sonship deserves. It is on this assessment that the
father depends when he sends his son into a proven hostile situation. The
verbal link between the status of the son and the respect the father expects to
be given his son is expressed in the Greek adverb i[sw". Here is a sense of
equal for equal, and the conclusion â€œThey will respect himâ€ becomes, for the
father, a moral surety and solid basis for his sonâ€™ success. The father does not
ask his son to undertake a task the success of which is only â€œperhapsâ€ assured.
Thus it seems linguistically reasonable and more reasonably probable to
conclude that Luke 20,13 should be understood to reflect confidence which
underlies the fatherâ€™s logic and action: my son will receive a reception equal to
(i[sw") his dignity as my son.
Pontificio Istituto Biblico John J. KILGALLEN
Via della Pilotta, 25
Many translations understand the father of the vineyard (parable in Luke 20, 9-19)
to think that he will send his beloved son to the vineyard workers because they
possibly might accept him; this seems faulty reasoning on the part of the father. It
seems better to re-read i[sw" (v. 13) in accord with its basic sense, which in turn
allows the father a proper logic: â€œthey will give my son a treatment that is equal to
his dignity as my beloved sonâ€.
(3) Not wishing to propose here a list of translations I might contest, let me choose
just one, that of Jer 26,(2)-3.
â€œThe Lordâ€™s command: â€˜Stand in the court of the LORDâ€™s house, and speakâ€¦ all the
words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a wordâ€™â€ (Jer 26,2). â€œIt may
be they will listenâ€¦â€ (Jer 26,3). â€œIt may beâ€ traditionally is the preferred understanding
here, but it seems reasonable to say that also legitimate is the understanding â€œsurelyâ€.
Thus, God is pictured as confident that those who come to His House will obey Him.