Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sunday Knox: Genesis 12:1-4a

"Meanwhile, the Lord said to Abram, Leave thy country behind thee, thy kinsfolk, and thy father’s home, and come away into a land I will shew thee. Then I will make a great people of thee; I will bless thee, and make thy name renowned, a name of benediction; those who bless thee, I will bless, those who curse thee, I will curse, and in thee all the races of the world shall find a blessing.[1] So Abram went out, as the Lord bade him."

Knox Note:
[1] ‘Shall find a blessing’; some commentators would interpret this, ‘shall bless themselves in thy name’, that is, use it as a proverbial instance of prosperity.

"The LORD said to Abram: 'Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. 'I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.  *All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.'  Abram went as the LORD directed him."

* v. 3: "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the families of the earth will find blessing in you."

* [12:3Will find blessing in you: the Hebrew conjugation of the verb here and in18:18 and 28:14 can be either reflexive (“shall bless themselves by you” = people will invoke Abraham as an example of someone blessed by God) or passive (“by you all the families of earth will be blessed” = the religious privileges of Abraham and his descendants ultimately will be extended to the nations). In 22:18 and 26:4, another conjugation of the same verb is used in a similar context that is undoubtedly reflexive (“bless themselves”). Many scholars suggest that the two passages in which the sense is clear should determine the interpretation of the three ambiguous passages: the privileged blessing enjoyed by Abraham and his descendants will awaken in all peoples the desire to enjoy those same blessings. Since the term is understood in a passive sense in the New Testament (Acts 3:25Gal 3:8), it is rendered here by a neutral expression that admits of both meanings.

1 comment:

citizen DAK said...

I think the NABRE Note is a winner: It describes the ambiguity of the conjugation (reflexive vs passive), in a way that is explicit and clear (to me) -- and includes cross-references. :)