Translating St. Paul: Any human day?

Reading 1 Corinthians, I came across the following strange wording:

ἐμοὶ δὲ εἰς ἐλάχιστόν ἐστιν ἵνα ὑφ’ ὑμῶν ἀνακριθῶ ἢ ὑπὸ ἀνθρωπίνης ἡμέρας· ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ ἐμαυτὸν ἀνακρίνω·
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. (4:3 NRSV)

The bolded Greek words seem to be “by any human day” rather than “court.” Is this an idiom I’m missing? Is it meant to contrast the “Day of the Lord” with “human days”? (If it’s the latter, I wonder if there is an economical translation that could capture that aspect a little better than “any human court.”)

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7 Responses to “Translating St. Paul: Any human day?”

  1. adhunt Says:

    BDAG, ημερα, ΙΙΙ – “a day appointed for a very special purpose” b – esp. of a day of judgement, fixed by a judge.

    Fee likens it to “having ones day in court”

  2. sodade Says:

    André Chouraqui translates as follows (in French):

    3. Pour moi, il m’importe fort peu d’être jugé par vous
    ou par le jour des hommes; je ne me juge même pas moi-même.

    His translations are very good, esp. the Torah, but also the NT etc. I use it most of the time, because he stays very close to the original text, use of words.

    Several english translations use the word ‘day’. The latin vulgate uses the word iudicer which refers to law/ judgement.

    Here are more translations: http://www.greeknewtestament.com/B46C004.htm

    Thr greek word means day but one of the interpretations is ‘appointed day’ and from there: a day on which judgement will be done, court will speak…

  3. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I suppose the English “day” has connotations of “my day in court” as well.

  4. Adam Morton Says:

    The Vulgate also has ‘die’ in there, so it seems many translations preserve this. ” Day in court” is close, but I think that does contrast it with the Day of the Lord–that appears to be the sense of the surrounding verses.

  5. Tim Morton Says:

    Liddell and Scott go with “tribunal” but it may be circular reasoning:

    http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3Dh%28me%2Fra

    However they also say hemera is figurative for “time”
    I sometimes think hypo can mean “according to”
    So them we might obtain
    “According to human temporality”

  6. kim fabricius Says:

    cf. 3:13.

  7. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I decided to look up some commentaries. Here’s what Calvin has to say:

    Or of man’s day. While others explain it in another manner, the simpler way, in my opinion, is to understand the word day as used metaphorically to mean judgment, because there are stated days for administering justice, and the accused are summoned to appear on a certain day He calls it man’s day when judgment is pronounced, not according to truth, or in accordance with the word of the Lord, but according to the humor or rashness of men, and in short, when God does not preside. “Let men,” says he, “sit for judgment as they please: it is enough for me that God will annul whatever they have pronounced.”

    Here’s an excerpt from a sermon by Luther:

    The expression “man’s judgment” (“menschliche Tag”) implies that judgment of approval whereby man exalts and makes illustrious and renowned those he esteems. The thought is suggestive of the illumination or glory of day, which renders visible things unrevealed in darkness. In the Latin, illustrious people–they who are on everyone’s tongue–are called “praeclari,” “nobiles,” “illustres.” In German, “durchlauchtige” stands for those of high renown, those having name and reputation superior to others. On the other hand, the unrenowned are called “obscuri,” “ignobles,” humiles”–insignificant, unknown, humble. The holy Scriptures term kings and princes “doxas,” “glorias,” “claritates,” indicative of glory, splendor and popularity.


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