-- What is Hidden in Translation to English
This site's mission is to reveal the humor, wordplay, and double meanings of Jesus's words that are lost in translation into English.
Luke 20:38 For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.
ΛΟΥΚΑΝ 20:38 θεὸς δὲ οὐκ ἔστιν νεκρῶν ἀλλὰ ζώντων, πάντες γὰρ αὐτῷ ζῶσιν.
A Divine, however, not is of dead ones but of living ones. Because all to him are alive.
The second clause of this verse is interesting. It doesn't exist in other Gospels. It could either refer to a timeless God even though the context is life after dead not access to the living before death. The two "for" words in this verse are completely different in the Greek.
The Greek word translated as "for" means "but", "however", and "on the other hand". Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.
The verb "he is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. It appears after the subject, "God", not before, and after the negative.
The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence to captures the same idea.
The word translated as "a God" means "God" and "deity." It is usually introduced with an article when used to refer to God so the "a God" is more correct even though Greek doesn't have an indefinite article such as our "a/an".
The word translated as "of the dead" means "corpse", "a dying man," and "inanimate, non-organic matter." Christ uses it in all three senses, referring to the actual dead, the spiritually dead, and inanimate matter. It is plural and in a possessive form but there is no article, however in English the article "the" is added to indicate that it is plural.
The Greek word translated as "but" denotes an exception or simple opposition. It is used to emphasize the contrast between things like we use "rather". It is the Greek word "other" like we use "otherwise". It is used as the conjunction
"but" to join words.
"Of the living" is a Greek verb that means "to live", "the living," and "to be alive." It is a metaphor for "to be full of life", "to be strong," and "to be fresh." The form is an adjective, "living"
for all live unto him.
θεὸς (noun sg masc nom) "A God" is theos, which means "God," the Deity." --
δὲ (conj/adv) "But" is de which means "but" and "on the other hand." It is the particle that joins sentences in an adversarial way but can also be a weak connective ("and") and explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if"). --
οὐκ (partic) "Not" is ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.
ἔστιν (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "He is" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," of circumstance and events "to happen", and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")
νεκρῶν (adj pl masc gen) "Of the dead" is nekros, which specifically means "a corpse" as well as a "dying person", "the dead as dwellers in the nether world", "the inanimate," and "the inorganic"
ἀλλὰ (adv) "But" is alla, which means "otherwise", "but", "still", "at least", "except", "yet," nevertheless", "rather", "moreover," and "nay." --
ζώντων, (part pl pres act masc gen ) "Of the living" is zao, which means "to live", "the living," and "to be alive." It is a metaphor for "to be full of life", "to be strong," and "to be fresh."
πάντες ( adj pl masc nom ) "All" is pas, which means "all", "the whole", "every", "anyone", "all kinds," and "anything." In the adverbial form, it means "every way", "on every side", "in every way," and "altogether." -- The word translated as "all" is the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "everything." As an adverb, it means "in every way", "on every side," and "altogether."
γὰρ (partic) "For" comes from gar which is the introduction of a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for", "since," and "as." In an abrupt question, it means "why" and "what." --The word translated as "for" introduces a reason or explanation so "because" and, in questions, "why." To prevent a run-on sentence, it can be translated as "this is why" or "this is because..." to start a new sentence. However, since this word always appears in the second position, it is more like an aside remark like, "consequently" or "as a cause".
αὐτῷ (adj sg masc dat) "Unto him" is autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord." In the adverbial form, it means "just here" or "exactly there." -- The word translated as "him" is the Greek word commonly translated as pronouns in English. The word means "the same" when used as an adjective. In the adverbial form, it means "just here" or "exactly there."
ζῶσιν. ( verb 3rd pl pres ind act ) "Live" is zao, which means "to live", "the living," and "to be alive." It is a metaphor for "to be full of life", "to be strong," and "to be fresh."
Matthew 22:32 I am the God of Abraham,
Mark 12:27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living...
You can see a fairly complete explanation of the Greek here: Matthew 5:26 ...Thou shalt by no means come out thence.
But to answer your question directly, we would say, “the last penny” today.
Most Bibles lose a lot of information in translation, for example, the Greek word translated as "word". See this article.
When I started I didn't know that Christ taught in Greek, however, my work indicates he did. The key points are summarized in this article.
Do you know that Jesus was really funny? Many of his verses are clearly meant to be entertaining. See this article for more.
Christ's words were spoken not written Greek. To understand the differences, see this article.
I started this project over a decade ago. The initial goal was to satisfy my own curiosity about how the original Greek of Jesus's words was translated into English comparing it to my work in translating ancient Chinese.
This site does not promote any religious point of view about Christianity. I purposely use nonreligious sources for Greek translation. My goal is simply to identify how Jesus used words. His use of Greek words somewhat unique since his words were spoken, not written.
The range of quality of the articles on this site reflects that it is a personal site, not a commercial one. No one proofreads my work. Some articles are over a decade old when I knew much less ancient Greek. Matthew articles are best since I have updated them all at least once. The ones in Mark are the oldest and poorest. Luke is not yet complete.
If you would like to help, please report typos by selecting problem text (not more than 20 characters) and pressing Ctrl + Enter. Would you to offer feedback on translation? Please contact at gagliardi.gary at gmail dot com.
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