Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Skeuos Ekloges

 But Saulos, still breathing menace and murder toward the Lord's students, having come to the high priest, petitioned from him letters to the synagogues in Damaskos, so if he found any being of the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Ierousalem. 

In travel, it happened in drawing near to Damaskos, there unexpectedly flashed around him a light from heaven. And having fallen on the ground, he heard a sound saying to him, Saulos, Saulos, why do you harry me?

And he said, Who are you, Lord?

And he said, I am Iesous, whom you are harrying. It is harsh for you to kick against the goads.

Trembling and aghast, he said, Lord, what do you wish me to do?

But rise and enter the city and you will be told what you ought to do.

And the men accompanying him stood dumb, hearing indeed the voice, but seeing no one.

Saulos then rose from the ground, but opening his eyes could see nothing. Then leading him by the hand, they brought him to Damaskos. And he did not see for three days, nor eat, nor drink.

And there was a certain student in Damaskos named Hananias, and a vision of the Lord said to him, Hananias!

And he said, See me, Lord.

Then the Lord to him: Having risen, go to the lane named Level, and seek, in the house of Iouda, one named Saulos of Tarseus. For see! he is praying! And he saw a man in a vision named Hananias having come and having laid hands on him so that he might see again.

Then Hananias responded, Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how many evils he has done to your holy ones in Ierusalem, and here he has authority from the high priests to bind any who appeal to your name.

But the Lord said to him, Go journey, for this one is my selected vessel to carry my name to the nations and also rulers, and then to the sons of Israel. For I will show him how much he ought to endure for my name.

Then Hananias went off and entered the house, and having laid his hands on him, said, Saulos, brother, the Lord has sent me, Iesous who appeared to on the way you were going, that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit. 

Then immediately the flake-like fell from his eyes so that he saw again. And rising, he was baptized, and taking food, he was invigorated. And he was with the students in Damaskos for some days.

And at one he began proclaiming Iesous in the synagogues, that he was the Son of God. Then all hearing were flummoxed, and were saying, Is this not the one who was laying waste in Ierusalem all who appealed to this name? And for this he had come here, that, having bound them, he might lead them to the high priests.

But Saulos was more empowered and bewildered the Jews dwelling in Damaskos, teaching that this is the Anointed.

[Acts 9:1-22, my rough translation; today is the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. I've translated what is usually translated as 'disciples' as students, mostly just as a reminder that the word wasn't some technical term but just meant people who studied under a teacher. I suspect that there is a deliberate contrast between 'the Way' (i.e., an early name of Christianity) and 'the way you were going' later in the passage. It's hard to translate the terms that Luke uses to talk about the complete chaos Saul is causing by the end of the passage. Existanto, which I've translated a 'flummoxed', could be translated as 'were made insane' or 'were struck mad'. I was tempted to translate it loosely but reasonably correctly as 'felt like they were losing their minds'. Synnechynnen, which I've translated as 'bewildered', literally suggests that everything was poured together, that is to say, thrown into a chaos and confusion in which nothing can be distinguished from anything else. The phrase that the Lord uses to describe Saul, skeuos ekloges, is interesting; skeuos is the same word that Paul himself uses to talk about God selecting some people for 'honorable use' in Romans 9. It can take a very generic meaning as any sort of instrument or implement, so 'instrument' would work as well as 'vessel'. Ekloges means something like 'taken out for a reason' and could also be translated as 'chosen'; Paul also uses the term in Romans 9. This is not insignificant, given the fact that Romans 9 is specifically about the mission to the Gentiles.]

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