Acts 5:30


"The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree."

The objection to this verse deals with the phrase, "whom ye slew and hanged on a tree." Modern translations, such as the New King James Version, reads: "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree."

James White comments:

"Peter did not say that the Jews had slain Jesus and then hung him on a tree. Instead, they put the Lord to death by hanging Him upon the tree. It is difficult to see exactly where the KJV derived its translation, as there is no 'and' in the text to separate 'slew' and 'hanged on a tree.'" (The King James Only Controversy, [Bethany House, 1995] 225-226)

White's suggestion is faulty in two aspects. First, because he misreads the text of the Authorized Version, making it read "whom ye slew and THEN hanged on a tree." Second, because he condemns the Authorized Version for inserting the word "and," yet White himself agrees with the insertion of the word "by."

In English, the word "and" does not usually mean a time frame, as White has interpreted it (however the phrase "and then" does refer to time). Therefore, the text is not saying that the Jews murdered Christ and then placed him on the cross. The word "and" is a conjunction which simply links two thoughts together. As such, it is used as the word "further." We understand the text to mean that the Jews were responsible for killing their Messiah. Further, they were responsible for having him placed on the cross. This is a proper use of English. When one assumes that the text is stating that the Jews murdered the Lord and THEN crucified him, he is reading his own thoughts into the text making it say something it does not say. In so doing, one simply shows their lack of understanding the English language.

This same construction is illustrated in Miguel de Cervantes', Don Quixote. The barber tells Sancho Panza that "we suspect already, that you have murdered and robbed him, for here you are mounted on his horse." Sancho defends himself by stating, "for I am not a man to rob or murder anybody; let his own fate, or God who made him, kill each one." (Chapter 26:40.) Sancho places the word order as "rob or murder," while the barber places the order "murdered and robbed." Both statements are grammatically correct because "and" means "further," and not a regard to time.

Again, same construction is seen in 1 Samuel 17:50-51. David had already killed Goliath with the stone from his sling-shot. He then takes the Giant's sword and cuts off his head. The Revised Standard Version translates this as follows:

"So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine, and killed him; there was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine; and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath, and killed him; and cut off his head with it."

The word "and" is used in this translation as it is in the Authorized Version. The Giant died from a strike to his head with a stone coming from David's sling. The text then says David ran over to the body of the dead Giant, "and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath, and killed him." David kills a dead man. How? By removing his sword, "and cut off his head with it." Again, the word "and" in this text does not mean "and then" but it means "further." That is to say David killed Goliath with a stone from his sling. Further, David cut off the Giant's head with his own sword.

In a footnote to support his claim against the KJV, James White quotes Dana and Mantey, two Greek grammarians.

"The participle 'hanging' is a circumstantial instrumental (or modal), expressing the means by which death was inflicted. Dana and Mantey list a syntactical category that would give us the KJV rendering; however, they indicate that this category should be utilized only when the participle does not 'present in a distinct way any of the above functions' (H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (Macmillan: 1955), p. 228). Since the participle clearly fits into one of those preceding categories, there is no reason to choose the category that would give us the KJV rendering." (The King James Only Controversy, 239).

The full quote from Dana and Mantey reads as follows:

"A participle may not present in a distinct way any of the above functions, but may merely express an attendant circumstance--an additional fact or thought which is best rendered in English by the conjunction 'and' with a finite construction. Here the English participle fails to extend its use sufficiently to take care of the entire force of the Greek participle, and at the same time it is doubtful if a separate clause is an exact translation. It is one of those idioms which have no exact parallel in English...'They went forth and preached everywhere. (Mk.16:20; See also Lk. 4:15; 2 Tim. 4:11)" (A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, [Toronto: Macmillan, 1927], 228-229).

It should be noted that the entire subject of the classification of the participle is introduced with, "This matter has occasioned great diversity of opinion among Greek grammarians." (Ibid., 223). All this means is this; the verses which are called "error" are really a matter of opinion. The verses can be translated exactly as the KJV translators did. It is not an error, but simply a matter of diversity of opinion among Greek grammarians.

In our Christianity Today debate, James White retorted with:

"Of course, that is untrue. 1) Dana and Mantey do not list Acts 5:30 or 10:29 (sic.) as fitting this category. 2) They say the final category should only be used when the previous categories do not fit; a previous category "did" fit, and that without question. 3) You have failed to deal with the real issue: did the Jews kill Jesus and THEN hang Him upon a tree, Dr. Holland? Yes or no? " ( Subj: Acts 5:30 Date: 95-08-21 22:10:20 EDT From: Orthopodeo)

It is true that Dana and Mantey did not use Acts 5:30 or 10:39 "as fitting this category." But for that matter, why should they? All that is needed is to state the rule and give an example or two, not list every example. And, if Mr. White does not approve of citing Dana and Mantey for this passage, then why does he do so in his own footnote? After all, Dana and Mantey were not citing Acts 5:30 or 10:39 on page 228 of their book either. And yet, White cites them as authorities for his point of view. As to the final question, the answer is, of course, no. The Jews did not kill Jesus and THEN hanged Him upon a tree. The word "then" is found only in the mind of James White and not in the text of Scripture.

 

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' then, is to be understood in a spiritual sense, as a kind of innermost dwelling of the Father's love and of His nature, in which the Son always