Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thief, bandit, or outlaw?

I'm on day 19 of the Common English Bible 90 day reading plan, today reading Mark 13 and 14. I was struck by Mark 14:48, in the story of the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane:
Jesus responded, “ Have you come with swords and clubs to arrest me, like an outlaw?

The Common English Bible translators have chosen "outlaw" for the Greek lestes. I haven't seen that one before; my old Greek New Testament lexicon defines the Greek word as "a robber, brigand, bandit." Other translators have chosen similar words:
Authorized Version (King James): thief
New Revised Standard Version: bandit
American Standard Version: robber
English Standard Version: robber
The Message: dangerous criminal
French translations, like the Louis Segond, tend to use the translation "un brigand."

The New International Version renders the noun as a verb, as Jesus asks "am I leading a rebellion?" Only the Good News Translation translates lestes as the Common English Bible does, as "outlaw."

But I like it. It makes me think about how Jesus is treated as a criminal outlaw, arrested by an armed mob, but he really is an outlaw in the sense of living outside of, and setting us free from, the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

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