Matthew 6:22a: What is the subject and why?

John Milton

Active member
22 Ὁ λύχνος τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν ὁ ὀφθαλμός. ἐὰν οὖν ᾖ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ἁπλοῦς, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου φωτεινὸν ἔσται· 23ἐὰν δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρὸς ᾖ, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου σκοτεινὸν ἔσται. εἰ οὖν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἐν σοὶ σκότος ἐστίν, τὸ σκότος πόσον.

Here is how a few modern translations take it. (At least one of the translations* wasn't labeled, so I don't know where they all come from.)

Douay-Rheims Bible
The light of thy body is thy eye. If thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be lightsome.

Unknown translation*
The lamp of the body is the eye, if, therefore, your eye may be perfect, all your body will be enlightened,

King James Version
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

New King James Version
"The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.

English Revised Version
The lamp of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

American Standard Version
The lamp of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

New American Standard Version
"The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.

English Standard Version
"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,

Lexham English Bible
"The eye is the lamp of the body. Therefore if your eye is sincere, your whole body will be full of light.

New Century Version (Variant Count: 3)
"The eye is a light for the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.

New English Translation
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If then your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.

New Revised Standard (Variant Count: 6)
"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light;

Revised Standard Version
"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light;

Holman Christian Standard Bible®
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.

New International Version
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.

New International Version (1984)
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.

The Holy Bible, Berean Study Bible
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your vision is clear, your whole body will be full of light.
 

Roger Thornhill

Well-known member
22 Ὁ λύχνος τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν ὁ ὀφθαλμός. ἐὰν οὖν ᾖ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ἁπλοῦς, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου φωτεινὸν ἔσται· 23ἐὰν δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρὸς ᾖ, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου σκοτεινὸν ἔσται. εἰ οὖν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἐν σοὶ σκότος ἐστίν, τὸ σκότος πόσον.

Here is how a few modern translations take it. (At least one of the translations* wasn't labeled, so I don't know where they all come from.)

Douay-Rheims Bible
The light of thy body is thy eye. If thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be lightsome.

Unknown translation*
The lamp of the body is the eye, if, therefore, your eye may be perfect, all your body will be enlightened,

King James Version
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

New King James Version
"The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.

English Revised Version
The lamp of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

American Standard Version
The lamp of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

New American Standard Version
"The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.

English Standard Version
"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,

Lexham English Bible
"The eye is the lamp of the body. Therefore if your eye is sincere, your whole body will be full of light.

New Century Version (Variant Count: 3)
"The eye is a light for the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.

New English Translation
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If then your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.

New Revised Standard (Variant Count: 6)
"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light;

Revised Standard Version
"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light;

Holman Christian Standard Bible®
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.

New International Version
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.

New International Version (1984)
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.

The Holy Bible, Berean Study Bible
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your vision is clear, your whole body will be full of light.

I can using Linguistics and the parallel account at Luke 11:34. Look at Luke 11:33.
 

Roger Thornhill

Well-known member
I didn't ask about another passage. I asked about this one. I would like to discuss it in isolation.

That's not what I do. That is what some do to ignore reasonable evidence to force their opinion.

The parallel passages are a very valuable tool. Mathew just did not include the previous statement and Luke did. Matthew is abridged and Luke is more complete. Harmonize.
 

John Milton

Active member
That's not what I do. That is what some do to ignore reasonable evidence to force their opinion.

The parallel passages are a very valuable tool. Mathew just did not include the previous statement and Luke did. Matthew is abridged and Luke is more complete. Harmonize.
If that's not what you want to do, please don't contribute. I can't stop you, but that is my request.
 

Roger Thornhill

Well-known member
If that's not what you want to do, please don't contribute. I can't stop you, but that is my request.

Lol! I have answered your question, you just don't like the way I did it. You did not specify how. You should just say put on blinders before you answer this or just use this verse and nothing else.
 

Gryllus Maior

Active member
The two are grammatically interchangeable in the context.
That's not what I do. That is what some do to ignore reasonable evidence to force their opinion.

The parallel passages are a very valuable tool. Mathew just did not include the previous statement and Luke did. Matthew is abridged and Luke is more complete. Harmonize.
Actually, it's standard practice to examine a passage in its local context before making connections to any parallels that might exist.
 

John Milton

Active member
The two are grammatically interchangeable in the context.

Actually, it's standard practice to examine a passage in its local context before making connections to any parallels that might exist.
Thank you for replying. I would agree that they are generally interchangeable with some slight difference in meaning depending on the order they are given. Do you have any guess as to why "the lamp of the body" is given first?
 

Gryllus Maior

Active member
Thank you for replying. I would agree that they are generally interchangeable with some slight difference in meaning depending on the order they are given. Do you have any guess as to why "the lamp of the body" is given first?
I didn't say "generally" interchangeable, but grammatically. I think it's largely which sounds best to the translator.
 

John Milton

Active member
Maybe I am wrong but I thought the question was about the word order in Greek.
I believe I understand the confusion. Since I was too lazy to switch to a Greek font or scroll up and cut and paste the Greek text, I rendered the initial Greek phrase in English. I suppose responded to that.
 

John Milton

Active member
I didn't say "generally" interchangeable, but grammatically. I think it's largely which sounds best to the translator.
I only intended to signal my hesitancy to say they are "grammatically" interchangeable. I agree 100% that the S and the PN could be switched or configured in many different ways that are grammatically correct, if that is what you meant. However, I do feel that the order influences (I am struggling for the right word. Perhaps "influences" is too strong but "changes" almost certainly is.) the meaning of the section.

The way the Greek text is written, I understand the section describing how the eye is like a lamp rather than the other way around. Thinking about it in this sense, the lamp has two options: it is either lit and giving off light, or it is not lit and dark. According to my sense of the passage (and I don't want to say too much more because I am thinking about writing a journal article on this passage), the eye is also like this. Though it may appear that you can have impaired vision and still see/have light, the reality is that you can't. I'm not sure this idea is as clearly conveyed if ὁ ὀφθαλμός had come first.
 

Gryllus Maior

Active member
I only intended to signal my hesitancy to say they are "grammatically" interchangeable. I agree 100% that the S and the PN could be switched or configured in many different ways that are grammatically correct, if that is what you meant. However, I do feel that the order influences (I am struggling for the right word. Perhaps "influences" is too strong but "changes" almost certainly is.) the meaning of the section.

The way the Greek text is written, I understand the section describing how the eye is like a lamp rather than the other way around. Thinking about it in this sense, the lamp has two options: it is either lit and giving off light, or it is not lit and dark. According to my sense of the passage (and I don't want to say too much more because I am thinking about writing a journal article on this passage), the eye is also like this. Though it may appear that you can have impaired vision and still see/have light, the reality is that you can't. I'm not sure this idea is as clearly conveyed if ὁ ὀφθαλμός had come first.
All very good observations, and it sounds like you have thought this through carefully (as is right when writing an article!). I was a bit casual in my response, and it's really a function of context when both nouns are articular to determine which one is intended to be the actual subject. That they may be grammatically interchangeable does not mean that they are seen to be so semantically or contextually.
 

Roger Thornhill

Well-known member
I only intended to signal my hesitancy to say they are "grammatically" interchangeable. I agree 100% that the S and the PN could be switched or configured in many different ways that are grammatically correct, if that is what you meant. However, I do feel that the order influences (I am struggling for the right word. Perhaps "influences" is too strong but "changes" almost certainly is.) the meaning of the section.

The way the Greek text is written, I understand the section describing how the eye is like a lamp rather than the other way around. Thinking about it in this sense, the lamp has two options: it is either lit and giving off light, or it is not lit and dark. According to my sense of the passage (and I don't want to say too much more because I am thinking about writing a journal article on this passage), the eye is also like this. Though it may appear that you can have impaired vision and still see/have light, the reality is that you can't. I'm not sure this idea is as clearly conveyed if ὁ ὀφθαλμός had come first.


The proper word order is what the speaker had in mind for the subject.

If your interest is what Jesus meant, then you won't want to ignore Luke 11:33-34.

The two gospel writers conveyed Jesus' dominical sayings slightly differently at times. Whether they were the same instance or on two different occasions they need to be harmonized in my view.

In Luke 12:34 the lamp is picked up from verse 33 and is most naturally the subject.

In this view the phrase ends with 'eye' and is picked up with eye as the subject in the next clause.

The same is true in Mathew, we just don't see the equivalent of Lk 11:33 because the account starts with the saying.

For the same reason the subject of John 1:4 is clear as described by linguists Levinsohn and Buth.

Before I read them, I would have merely called this 'context', but they leverage the use of the correlative και so it's a grammatical (structural) argument.

Proper exegesis considers structural before semantics.
 
Top