Posted by: mattcolvin | February 21, 2011

Alternative Translation of Ephesians 2:14


In Ephesians 2:14-15, the Greek reads:

Αὐτὸς γάρ ἐστιν ἡ εἰρήνη ἡμῶν, ὁ ποιήσας τὰ ἀμφότερα ἓν καὶ τὸ μεσότοιχον τοῦ φραγμοῦ λύσας, τὴν ἔχθραν, ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ, τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασιν καταργήσας, ἵνα τοὺς δύο κτίσῃ ἐν αὐτῷ εἰς ἕνα καινὸν ἄνθρωπον ποιῶν εἰρήνην…

The bold phrases are usually translated “having abolished in his flesh the hostility” and “having nullified the law of commandments contained in ordinances.” But the word “contained” is an insertion, not in the Greek. And it is not at all clear to me what it means to say that the Torah is “contained in ordinances”. Nor is δογμα the usual Greek word for “ordinance.” Both clauses rely on the same verb, καταργήσας.

I wonder whether we could more accurately take the two “ἐν + dative” constructions as parallel, thus?

“Having abolished the hostility by his flesh, and (having abolished) the law of commandments by (his) teachings.”

This sounds a little bit Marcionite, I admit, but I have in mind things like Jesus’ teaching on the Sabbath, or his teaching about kosher laws in Mark 7:19.


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