Wednesday, 14 March 2012

He had better hear!

Despite studying a few languages and being a Bible student for many years, somehow this point foot-noted in the .Net Bible escaped me until this week...

"Let (person) do (action)" is the classic English form of the imperative, not the permissive... well, I knew that; but I never managed to apply it to my reading of the gospels.

The comment that .Net gives each time we get the verse which is historically translated "he who has ears, let him hear!" reads thus:
"The one who has ears to hear had better listen!" - The translation “had better listen!” captures the force of the third person imperative more effectively than the traditional “let him hear,” which sounds more like a permissive than an imperative to the modern English reader. This was Jesus’ common expression to listen and heed carefully.
A friend not so long ago commented similarly that, even though he had been familiar since childhood with the archaic KJV forms, which frequently give additional information to that available in modern English, he had in 40 years of Bible reading missed every time what Simeon was saying:
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: (Luke 2:29)
That is not an interrogative (a request, "please let your servant depart in peace") but a simple indicative statement - because he had now seen the Lord's Messiah, he was now departing in peace; it had come to pass. His eyes had seen salvation and peace had thus been obtained. Amen!

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