if a man gains / gained the whole world

Discussion in 'English Only' started by epistolario, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. epistolario

    epistolario Senior Member

    Philippines
    Tagalog
    I have a question about this Biblical passage:

    For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?

    I think that passage is a hypothetical situation because it is extremely impossible for a man to gain the whole world. I'm wondering why the translators did not use this construction:

    For what would it profit a man if he gained the whole world and forfeit his soul?
     
  2. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Hullo, ffrancis.

    I see you left out an "s" in the verb "forfeit" in the last line. This is interesting because if there was an "s" the sentence would strike us as of uncertain grammaticality:

    For what would it profit a man if he gained the whole world and forfeits his soul?

    Maybe in order to make it grammatical we should write:

    For what would it profit a man if he gained the whole world and forfeited his soul

    which I suspect wouldn't represent what the Author had in mind.

    GS




     
  3. Sparky Malarky

    Sparky Malarky Senior Member

    Indiana
    English - US
    Even though this is the Bible, I suspect that "gain the whole world" is a bit of hyperbole. It may not be possible to own everything in the whole world, but if someone is rich enough it might feel like they do.

    What will it profit a man if gains (what seems like) the whole world, but he loses his soul?
     
  4. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    In Mk 8.36 the English Bible (KJV) has “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”; the Greek original has two infinitives, literally “to gain … to lose”.

    In Mt 16.26 the KJV has “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”; the original has “if” followed by the subjunctive of both verbs. In Greek grammar this construction is used for the future conditional: “if (at some time in the future) he shall gain …” The English translation is very literal and precise.

    As can be observed, the English translators have assumed that the Mark passage has the same meaning as the Matthew passage.
     

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