Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

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Sunday, April 7, 2019

To What "Place" did Judas Go? (Acts 1:25).

Sometimes, in an attempt to make a translation understandable, functional equivalent translations can lose clues as to meaning, the very thing they are trying not to do. In the case of Acts 1:24, the NIV loses the double use of τόπος.

Functional equivalent translations like the NIV place a high view on being understandable. It was therefore surprising to find it omitting the key to understanding Judas’s “place” in Acts 1:25.

The Apostles have picked two replacements for Judas and are now asking God to chose one of the two. Judas had a place of ministry and apostolicity (τὸν τόπον τῆς διακονίας ταύτης καὶ ἀποστολῆς), but instead he went to his own place (εἰς τὸν τόπον τὸν ἴδιον).

Most of the translations maintain the concordance of the two occurrences of τόπος but still produce something less than understandable. “... to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place” (NRSV, see also NAS, ESV, NET).

The NIV has “... to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs” (see also CSB, NLT). While “his own place” in this context may mean “where he belongs,” the reader has lost the help of the double use of the word “place” (τόπος).

BDAG gives definition 1g for the second occurrence of τόπος; “a transcendent site: esp. of the place to which one’s final destiny brings one.” It also gives definition 3 for the first occurrence: “a position held in a group for discharge of some responsibility, position, office.

Sometimes you can’t maintain concordance, using the same English word to translate the same Greek word, but in a sentence that is less than clear, the reader needs all the help they can get. I would prefer something like, “... to take over this place of apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go to the place where he belongs.”