WERE THE KING JAMES TRANSLATORS JUSTIFIED IN ADDING “WOMEN” TO MATTHEW 24:41?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Our Authorized Version’s italicized words are a constant target of the critics who would have us believe they are totally unnecessary. One interesting italicized word is “women” in Matthew 24:41 and Luke 17:35. Were our 1611 scholars remiss in adding it? Did they have a valid reason for supplying it, or should we remove it?
“Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (Matthew 24:41). “Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (Luke 17:35). The underlying Greek Textus Receptus reads thus: “Duo [Two] alethousai [shall be grinding] en [at] to [the] muloni [mill], mia [one] paralambanetai [shall be taken], kai [and] mia [one] aphietai [left]” (Matthew 24:41). “Duo [Two] esontai [shall be] alethousai [grinding] epi to-auto [together]; mia [one] paralephthesetai [shall be taken], kai [and] e [the] etera [other] aphethesetai [shall be left]” (Luke 17:35).
As we can see, in neither verse does the Greek “gynaidzin” (“women”) appear. Yet, the Authorized Version translators inserted the English equivalent both times. Why? Furthermore, how did they know “women”—rather than “men”—is the correct interpretation?
According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, “it was the custom to send women and female slaves to the mill-houses to turn the hand-mills.” The Greeks called them “gynaikes aletrides” (“women grinders”). Exodus 11:5 speaks of Egyptian women who functioned in the same capacity: “And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant [female servant] that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.”
Were our 1611 scholars mistaken in supplying the word “women” in Matthew 24:41 and Luke 17:35? No, we think not. Their knowledge of Greek language and Bible culture led them to interpret the verses as they currently read in English. Let us take the position of faith and believe the wording of the King James Bible, the work of men whom the Holy Spirit led to bring His Greek Bible into its purest English form!
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