September 14, 2009

Beggars before the Spirit - 3

SPIRIT is supernatural & experiential, according to Matthew. (post #1) But "poor in spirit" is vague and abstract. (post #2) And now for my suggestion:

I don't pretend to be a great greek-grammarian, but I'm willing to bet the dative to pneumati (in Matt.5:3) can probably (and might best) be left as a simple indirect object, with no verb or other inserted word required. The line is taken to be poetic after all, isn't it? If we do that, the active sense of the subject "beggars" provides an implied action to complete the thought, doesn't it?

On that reasoning, anyway, I hereby and humbly submit my own fledgling effort: Blessed are the beggars before the Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Note: For the literal, we could say "those who beg" instead of "beggars". Also, I'd actually prefer "to the Spirit" or "of the Spirit", but "to" seems awkward and "of" is too vague. While it may be true that we beggars are both begging to God's Spirit and begging for God's Spirit, my main concern is to reinstate Matthew's normal personification of SPIRIT, instead of merely objectifying it. If the subject gives us an implied action, the dative suggests whom that action is directed towards. Doesn't it?

Or for something more idiomatic, I suggest: Happy are those who beg for the Spirit; their reward is the Kingdom of Heaven.

And for a complete paraphrase, I like: Happy are those who beg for God's Spirit. They get the Kingdom of Heaven.

Hey, blogger-man. You know whut? From whar I can see, this Kingdom looks purty weak around these hear parts. You reckon maybe we oughter stop just "being poor" and start akshuly beggin? Oh, waitamminit. That reminds me now 'bout what Jesus prayed, on the very next page of that speech he was givin'. He said, Father... Thy Kingdom come. Ya think maybe that's the same thing he was thinkin about this first B-atytude? Like he was saying, If you beg for the Spirit, you'll get the Kingdom of God.

Well, whaddyaknow? I think, maybe so. :-)

To be concluded... (???)


Rick Wadholm Jr. said...

Hey Bill,
I appreciate (and actually agree:-) with your take on the Beatitudes. The NLT2 actually reads Matthew 5:3 as "God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs." So apparently they take "spirit" as "Spirit" (they go strangely a different direction and use "him" in reference to "God") and the dative in the sense of "for". Great thoughts...and your southern drawl is reassuring (it's so re-assuring...;-).

Bill Heroman said...

I like what the NLT2 was going for there, but it's an interpretation not a translation. As you note, it doesn't even get all of it.

Btw, I think the dative is at once "to" and "for" in this case. Straight up Indirect Object, receiving the [implied] action of the begging. But "for the Spirit" is the double meaning, both gramatically AND spiritually, because what does God have to give us but Himself? :-)

Bill Heroman said...

should have said, "receiving the [implied] petition of the beggar"

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