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Abraham's Bosom, the Place Where he Belonged: A Short Note on απενεχθηναι in Luke 16.22

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 December 2005

Faculty of Theology, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80105, NL 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands


In the story of the rich man and the poor Lazarus in Luke 16, the usual translation of v. 22 is: ‘The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham’, or ‘he was carried by the angels to the bosom of Abraham’ (εγενετο δε αποθανειν τον πτωχον και απενεχθηναι αυτον υπο των αγγελων εις τον κολπον Αβρααμ). None of the dozens of existing translations of Luke and commentaries on his Gospel that I have consulted offer anything other than this. There is nothing wrong with this translation, except that the verb used here for carrying away, αποϕερειν, can have a semantic aspect that is not captured in this rendering, an aspect which I strongly suspect is present here. I submit as a translation of the verse the following free rendition: ‘The poor man died and the angels carried him away to the bosom of Abraham, the place where he belonged (or: his well-deserved place)’.

© 2006 Cambridge University Press

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