Thursday, October 17, 2013

What is an evil eye?

But if you have an evil eye, your whole body shall be full of darkness. (Matthew 6:23)

Some terms create real problems for translators and o ofqalmoV sou ponhroV h  (evil eye in above translation) is one of those terms. Below are some of the other choices translators have made.

your eyes are unhealthy (New International Version)
your eye is bad (New Living Translation)
your eye is diseased (Net Bible)
thine eye be evil (English Revised Version)
your eyesight is bad (Weymouth New Testament)

The majority of translators chose to translate it -- your eye is evil.  “Evil eye” is a well-known term, as can be seen by simply searching on Google.

The evil eye is a malevolent look that many cultures believe able to cause injury or misfortune for the person at whom it is directed for reasons of envy or dislike. Talismans created to protect against the evil eye are also frequently called "evil eyes." The term also refers to the power attributed to certain persons of inflicting injury or bad luck by such an envious or ill-wishing look. The evil eye is usually given to others who remain unaware. The idea expressed by the term causes many cultures to pursue protective measures against it. The concept and its significance vary widely among different cultures, primarily the Middle East.[i]

If this is what the term meant to Jesus, then one of these would be the best option:

but if you have a malevolent look. . .
but if you have the power to inflict injury or bad luck. . .

No wonder people get confused when they read English translations of Jesus’s words. The above options present readers with options that mean from “poor eyesight” to “an evil power.”

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