Friday, April 29, 2011

socialist Bible verse of the day: 1 Timothy 6:10

"For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." — 1 Timothy 6:10 (King James Version)

Brother Will's commentary: Rich people love to stress that it's the love of money and not money that's the root of all evil. They're right technically:  Most translators say "love of money" is the root or a root of all evil. The Geneva Bible and a few others use "desire of money." Tyndale and Wycliffe chose something simpler: "covetessness." The clearest modern translation for the root of all evil is probably "greed."

But while it's true that greed, not money, is a root of all evil, the rich can't answer this: If they don't love money, why don't they share their wealth with the poor?

1 comment:

  1. Email from Bill Colsher, posted with permission:

    Finally! A KJV verse that IS poorly translated!

    That definite article "the" is absent in the Greek. (Yes, it makes a difference.)

    Its like this:

    For of all evils, a root (from which they spring) is the love of money. Those who give themselves up to love of money have gone astray from faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

    After all, if "money" was *the* root of all evils, we would clearly be free to indulge in harmless obsessions like exotic foods, booze, and Egyptian Flute Girls.

    Anyway...

    The word translated "love of money" is φιλαργυρία - literally "love of (small silver) coins". Note that Paul did not use any of the usual terms for wealth (the plut- words), gold (krus-) or anything else referring to wealth.

    In fact, this is another one of the passages that's referring to to the idea of being enslaved by the wrong sorts of things. It absolutely does not mean that money is evil or that having wealth is bad. It does mean that being obsessed with wealth (or anything else) will lead you astray. 1 Timothy 6.9 makes that clear - desiring to *become* rich leads to other foolish and hurtful lusts.

    There are, BTW, several interesting resonances in the use of the word φιλαργυρία. Christians will of course recall the infamous 30 pieces of silver (those would have been shekels of Tyre - the standard of exchange in that time and place) and of course there is the "render unto Caesar" coin - a denarius of Tiberius. Further, the root ἀργύριον normally refers to small change. I don't think it's too unlikely that Paul chose that particular word to emphasize the baseness of this particular obsession - a small, unimportant thing (compared to God) that so easily leads one from faith.

    Your devoted translator,

    -bc

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