One of the most frequent requests JP receives from readers is for a new, English translation of the sayings of Jesus based on an understanding of their Hebraic and Jewish background. Below we offer such a translation of Matt. 5:17-18.
Previous Attempts at Translation
- “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (KJV)
- “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.” (RSV)
- “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (NIV)
From Literal Greek to Dynamic Hebrew
Greek (Codex Vaticanus):
Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον καταλῦσαι τὸν νόμον ἢ τοὺς προφήτας οὐκ ἦλθον καταλῦσαι ἀλλὰ πληρῶσαι (me nomisete hoti elthon katalysai ton nomon e tous prophetas ouk elthon katalysai alla plerosai).
Literal Translation of the Greek:
“Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fill.”
Conjectured Hebrew Reconstruction:
אל תחשבו שבאתי לבטל את התורה ואת הנביאים לא באתי לבטל אלא לקיים (al takhshevu shebati levatel et hatorah ve-et hanevi’im lo bati levatel ela lekayem).
Literal Translation of the Hebrew Reconstruction:
“Do not think that I have come to cancel the Torah [the five books of Moses] and the Prophets [the second section of the Hebrew canon]. I have not come to cancel, but to sustain.”
Idiomatic Translation of the Hebrew Reconstruction:
“Do not think that I have come to weaken the Torah and the Prophets. I have not come to weaken them, but to strengthen them.”
Dynamic Translation of the Hebrew Reconstruction:
“Do not suppose that I have any intention of undermining Scripture by misinterpreting it. My purpose is to establish and maintain the knowledge and observance of God’s Word not undermine it.”