The Vanilla δέ (Matt 28:16) - Mondays with Mounce 266
The final sequence of events in Matthew 28 raises an interesting question about the δέ in v 16.
The angel told Mary and Mary to tell the disciples that they should go to Galilee to see the risen Jesus 9 (v 7), a command repeated by Jesus in v 10.
“While they were on their way” (Πορευομένων), Matthew tells us about the priests’ bribing the soldiers.
V 16 concludes, “So (δέ) the eleven disciples went to Galilee to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.” The question is, how do you translate the δέ?
1. If Matthew is making the point that the disciples obeyed the angel and Jesus, δέ can be translated as “so” (NET).
2. If δέ is a continuation of the temporal participle πορευομένων, it can be translated “then” (NIV, NLT, KJV).
3. If the disciples’ behavior is in contrast to that of the priests, then δέ is translated as “but” (NASB). This possibly is why the NJB uses “meanwhile.”
4. HCSB just sees it as a paragraph marker and omits any specific translation (also TEV).
5. “Now” sidesteps the question (ESV, NRSV).
Pretty fascinating. δέ is so vanilla in meaning that context must determine its precise meaning.
William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics on the ZA Blog. He is the author of numerous works including the recent Basics of Biblical Greek Video Lectures and the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek. He is the general editor of Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV.
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