patty kirk

patty kirk lying down, getting up, sitting at home, walking down the road doing deuteronomy 6:7

Saturday, March 2, 2013

blessed are those who never had children, etc.

I was reading around about the Beatitudes and came across this statement that the Greek word that ends up translated as “Blessed” in virtually all translations is actually more accurately Happy.

I sort of liked that idea, so I looked Blessed up in my exhaustive concordance with the goal of seeing how the same Greek word, μακάριος (makários), was translated in other passages, which is how I generally make up my mind in such matters of translation. Here’s the breakdown of what I discovered: of the 50 uses of μακάριος, 44 were translated in the 1984 NIV as blessed, 4 as good, 1 as fortunate, and 1 as happier. So, I concluded, while “Happy are the…” (or“Fortunate are the …” or even the synonymous “Lucky are the …”) might be a useful way of jerking ourselves out of our usual nonthinking about what the Beatitudes are actually saying, it probably wasn't any more correct.
That said, in case you want to be jerked out of your usual nonthinking about the passage, here’s how it might sound with a different word than Blessed:
Fortunate are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Fortunate are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Fortunate are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Fortunate are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Fortunate are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Fortunate are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Fortunate are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Fortunate are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Fortunate are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 
(Matthew 5:3-12 NIV with the word Blessed changed to Fortunate)

While I was researching μακάριος in my concordance, I got sidetracked into perhaps a better way of reseeing the States of Blessedness. Have a look at all the others that Jesus identifies as μακάριος— that is, as blessed or or happy or fortunate—elsewhere in his teaching:
Blessed are the poor (Luke 6:20).
Blessed are the hungry (Luke 6:21).
Blessed are those who are crying (Luke 6:21).
Blessed are those who never had children (Luke 23:26-31).
Blessed are those who never got to see the One God Sent in person but who nevertheless believe in him (John 20:26-29).
Blessed are those who pay attention to what God tells them to do and then do it (Luke 11:28).
Blessed are those who accept from God the power to recognize him as God (Matthew 16:16-17).
Blessed are those who look for the One God Sent and actually see him, who listen to him and actually hear him (Matthew 13:16 and Luke 10:23).
Blessed are those who aren’t offended by or embarrassed about the One God Sent (Matthew 11:6 and Luke 7:23).
Blessed are those who, as he does, lower themselves to serve others (John 13:12-17).
Blessed are those who love the unloveable (Luke 14:12-14).
To find out why Jesus considered such people fortunate—how, in other words, their current situation rewards them—you’ll have to look up the passages yourselves (which is why I went to the trouble of citing the passages I paraphrased). Have fun!

1 comment:

  1. Today in church we learned that salvation frequently finds people in the "wilderness" - a place that cannot sustain life. Maybe in the wilderness we would find people that are poor in spirit or in mourning or meek or hungry or thirsty, etc.

    Come in from the wilderness and receive life...