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μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων - mia tōn sabbatōn

Greek Word Study on 4521 σάββατον sabbaton Sabbath.
Hebrew Word Study on 7676 שַׁבָּת shabbat Sabbath.
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This is a detailed analysis of the meaning of the Greek words μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων which are translated "first day of the week" in most bibles. Some believe it refers to the Sabbath day, some believe it refers to the feast of weeks, and some believe it refers to Sunday, the first day of the week. So we will analyze the meaning of this phrase according to the use of these words elsewhere in scripture.


#1.1 Analyzing the Greek Word μιᾷ - mia

JOHN 20:1 (NKJV)
1 On the first day of the week1 Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

Note 1: The words translated the first day of the week1 (John 20:19) are the Greek words τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων (Gtr.tē mia tōn sabbatōn), and the issue of when Jesus rose from the dead depends very much on the interpretation of this phrase in the Greek. Many translators have taken this to mean "the first day of the week", which is almost equivalent to Sunday, the day after the Sabbath (Mark 16:1). The answer to the real meaning lies mainly in the analysis of two words "mia" and "sabbatōn", so lets start with that. The Greek word for "one" is declinable and has three genders in the nominative case, εἷς (Gtr. heis) is masculine, μιᾷ (Gtr. mia) is feminine, and ἓν (Gtr. hen) is neuter. They all mean "one", but their usage depends on whether they are used with masculine, feminine, or neuter nouns. In the masculine and neuter genders (in the KJV) out of 265 occurrences it is translated "one" (228x), while other variations include "a" (8x), "other" (6x), "some" (6x), "any" (3x), and in these genders it is never translated "first" on any occasion. In the feminine gender "mia", it is translated "one" (60x), "first" (8x), "a certain" (4x), "a" (3x), "other" (1x), "agree" (1x). Seven of the eight times it is translated "first" it is in connection with the phrase "first of the week", and except for these it would be translated "first" only once in the other 334 occurrences of the word (Titus 3:10). Even in this case it could easily be translated "one". Why then should the word "mia" be translated "first" only when referring to the resurrection of Jesus and subsequent meetings of the saints? If we examine all this evidence honestly, we could conclude that the word "mia" doesn't mean "first" at all, it means "one", with slight variations according to context, and there is no reason why we should ever translate it to mean "first" in the New Testament. God had no need to inspire such an erratic use of the word "mia" when he already has a Greek word for "first", which is πρῶτος (Gtr. prōtos). The words "mia tōn" literally means "one of the", and everywhere else that these words are found together they are translated as follows:

(Mark 14:66) "one of the maids"
(Luke 5:12) "a certain city" (Lit. "one of the cities")
(Luke 5:17) "one of the days"
(Luke 8:22) "a certain day" (Lit. "one of the days")
(Luke 13:10) "one of the synagogues"
(Luke 20:1) "one of those days" (Lit. "one of the days, those")

Therefore, to translate "mia tōn" as "first of the"; only when used with the noun "sabbatōn" doesn't really make any sense.

#1.2 Analyzing the Greek Word μιᾷ with ἡμέρᾳ

Another point that we can clear fairly quickly is the use of the word μιᾷ with ἡμέρᾳ (Gtr. hēmera), which means "day". In these scriptures the word "day" does not appear in the Greek, but sometimes the translators have inserted the word to make it say what they believe it means. This is a legitimate thing to do at times, but only if we can find support from other scriptures to justify it. Does the word "mia" then mean "first" when connected to the word "hēmera", which means "day"? The answer is no if we wish to be consistent in translation, because thus we find in other places:

(Luke 5:17) 'one of the days'Gr. μιᾷ τῶν ἡμερῶνGtr. mia tōn hēmerōn.
(Luke 8:22) 'a certain day'(Lit. 'one of the days')Gtr. mia tōn hēmerōn.
(Luke 20:1) 'one of those days'(Lit. 'one of the days, those')Gtr. mia tōn hēmerōn.
(1 Corinthians 10:8) 'one day'Gr. μιᾷ ἡμέρᾳGtr. mia hēmera.
(2 Peter 3:8) 'one day'Gr. μιᾷ ἡμέρᾳGtr. mia hēmera.
(Revelation 18:8) 'one day'Gr. μιᾷ ἡμέρᾳGtr. mia hēmera.

Also when it comes to putting the word 'first' with the word 'day' we find:

(Matthew 26:17) 'on the first day'Gr.τῇ πρώτῃGtr. tē prōtē (...).
(Mark 14:12) 'on the first day'Gr.τῇ πρώτῃ ἡμέρᾳGtr. tē prōtē hēmera.
(Acts 20:18) 'from the first day'Gr. ἀπὸ πρώτης ἡμέραςGtr. apo prōtēs hēmeras.
(Philippians 1:5) 'from the first day'Gr. ἀπὸ πρώτης ἡμέραςGtr. apo prōtēs hēmeras.

In every one of these cases the word translated "first" is the Greek word πρώτῃ (Gtr. protē), which is the feminine form of "prōtos", and it destroys any idea that "mia" means "first" when used in connection with the word "day". The word "prōtos" in its three genders occurs 160 times in the New Testament, and in the KJV it is variously translated "first" (133x), "chief" (10x), "at the first" (3x), "first of all" (3x), "before" (3x), "beginning" (2x), "former" (2x), "at first" (1x), "chiefly" (1x), "best" (1x), "chiefest" (1x). With such a suitable word as this available, why would any God inspired writer want to use "mia" to mean "first"? God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), so the conclusion is that "mia" is best translated "one" in these scriptures, and not "first".

#1.3 Analyzing the Greek words τῶν σαββάτων

We can now consider the Greek words τῶν σαββάτων (Gtr. tōn sabbatōn), which have been translated "of the week" in these few places, to see if there is any justification for this. The words "tōn sabbatōn" also occur in the expression "tē hēmera tōn sabbatōn", which literally reads "the day of the sabbaths", and is usually translated "the Sabbath day". It occurs three times in the New Testament:

(Luke 4:16) "on the Sabbath day" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath
(Acts 13:14) "on the Sabbath day" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath
(Acts 16:13) "on the Sabbath" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath

In the Septuagint it occurs at least 11 times, given below with the KJV translation:

(Exodus 35:3) "upon the Sabbath day" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath
(Leviticus 24:8) "Every Sabbath" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath
(Numbers 15:32) "upon the Sabbath day" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath
(Numbers 28:9) "on the Sabbath day" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath
(Jeremiah 17:21) "on the Sabbath" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath
(Jeremiah 17:22) "on the Sabbath" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath
(Jeremiah 17:24) "on the Sabbath" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath
(Jeremiah 17:27) "on the Sabbath" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath
(Ezekiel 46:1) "on the Sabbath" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath
(Ezekiel 46:4) "in the Sabbath day" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath
(Ezekiel 46:12) "on the Sabbath" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath

It also occurs once in the Septuagint (Numbers 15:33) where it is not translated in the KJV.
The words "ton sabbaton" also occur in the expression "tēn hēmeran tōn sabbatōn" which occurs 6 times in the Septuagint.

(Exodus 20:8) "the Sabbath day" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath
(Deuteronomy 5:12) "the Sabbath day" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath
(Deuteronomy 5:15) "the Sabbath day" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath
(Jeremiah 17:22) "on the Sabbath day" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath
(Jeremiah 17:24) "on the Sabbath day" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath
(Jeremiah 17:27) "the Sabbath day" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath

Notice that three of these references (Exodus 20:8; Deuteronomy 5:12; 5:15) refer to the Sabbath inclusion in the Ten Commandments. In fact the word "sabbatōn" occurs 26 times in the Septuagint text altogether (excluding the Apocrypha), and always refers to the Sabbath day (Additional references: Exodus 16:1; Leviticus 23:15; 23:32; 23:38; Numbers 28:10; Nehemiah 10:33; Isaiah 58:13; Ezekiel 22:26; Amos 6:3). It is never translated "week", so we can see there is no precedent, either in the Septuagint or elsewhere in the New Testament, to translate this word as referring to anything other than the Sabbath day, and to do so is inconsistent. Consider the New Testament church, who were originally all Jews, and had only the Old Testament for their scripture. Knowing the Hebrew, and the Greek of the Septuagint, how would they understand the word "sabbaton"? Only to mean Sabbath. Consider the early Gentile church, many of which knew no Hebrew, and would have only the Septuagint for a bible: how would they understand the word "sabbatōn"? Only to mean Sabbath. This leaves us with "tōn sabbatōn" referring to the Sabbath, and there is no need to force any other interpretation upon it anywhere. Some have tried to explain "tē mia tōn sabbatōn" to mean "the first day after the Sabbath", and this is possible if the preposition "meta" was used with the accusative case in the Greek (DFH p106; HPVN p31; JWW p66; WP p113), or even a word before in the genitive case:

(Leviticus 23:15 Septuagint) "τῆς ἐπαύριον τῶν σαββάτων" (Lit. the morrow of the Sabbath),
(Nehemiah 13:19 Septuagint) "ὀπίσω τοῦ σαββάτου" (Lit. after the Sabbath).

But in the Old Testament there was no such expression as "the first day of the week", so it cannot be shown to be a Hebrew idiom, and there is no justification for trying to make "tē mia tōn sabbatōn" mean "the first day after the Sabbath" either, unless we assume that the word ἐπαύριον (Gtr. epaurion) is also missing or implied. Even if we make that assumption, the word μιᾷ was never used in the phrase (Leviticus 23:15), so we have no example of it meaning that. The phrase "of the week" occurs once in the Old Testament (Daniel 9:27), where the Septuagint uses "τῆς ἑβδομάδος" (Gtr. tēs hebdomados) and not "tōn sabbatōn".

#1.4 Analyzing the Greek Word σαββάτου

There are other reasons why some might be confident that "tōn sabbatōn" never properly translates "of the week", the first of which is that the singular of "tōn sabbatōn", in the same genitive case, "tou sabbatou", is elsewhere translated "Sabbath". We can see that the translators have been drastically inconsistent to translate "tōn sabbatōn" as "of the week".

(Matthew 12:8) "on the Sabbath day" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(Mark 2:28) "of the Sabbath" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(Mark 16:1) "the Sabbath" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(Luke 6:5) "on another Sabbath" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(Luke 13:14) "on the Sabbath day" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(Luke 13:16) "on the Sabbath day" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(Luke 14:5) "on the Sabbath day" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(John 19:31) "that Sabbath day" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(Acts 1:12) "a Sabbath" σαββάτου = Sabbath

Everywhere in the text of the Septuagint it is also translated Sabbath in the KJV:

(2 Chronicles 23:8) "on the Sabbath" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(2 Chronicles 23:8) "on the Sabbath" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(Nehemiah 10:31) "on the Sabbath day" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(Nehemiah 13:15) "on the Sabbath" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(Nehemiah 13:17) "the Sabbath day" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(Nehemiah 13:19) "before the Sabbath" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(Nehemiah 13:19) "after the Sabbath" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(Nehemiah 13:19) "on the Sabbath day" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(Nehemiah 13:22) "the Sabbath day" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(Isaiah 66:23) "one Sabbath" σαββάτου = Sabbath
(Lam 2:6) "Sabbaths" σαββάτου = Sabbath

It is wrongly translated "week" (Mark 16:9) and in one other place (Luke 18:12). Here is the inconsistency of false teachers again, the same word (Gr. σαββάτου, Gtr. sabbatou) which is translated "Sabbath" (Mark 16:1), they now insist means "week" here (Mark 16:9). Why should "sabbatou" mean week here, and Sabbath everywhere else in the bible? Can't you see anything wrong with their reasoning?
Secondly, why try to use "sabbatōn" to mean "week" when there is a perfectly good word for it in Greek, which is ἑβδομας (Gtr. hebdomas)? This word does not appear in the New Testament, but it does appear in the Septuagint where it is translated "week" (Daniel 9:27 (2x)), "weeks" (Exodus 34:22; Numbers 28:26; Deuteronomy 16:9 (2x); 16:10; 16:16; 2 Chronicles 8:13; Daniel 9:24; 9:25 (2x); 9:26), and is also used to denote "a week of sabbaths" (Leviticus 23:15; 23:16; 25:8). Certainly if the inspired writer had desired to say "week", then he had a perfectly good word to use for it, without causing the confusion of translating "sabbaton" to mean "week". On top of all this, the Greek word "hebdomas" for week is feminine and singular, while the word "sabbaton", which is being used to replace it, is neuter plural! Doesn't the evidence look like the translators have mistranslated the scripture? "God is not the author of confusion," (1 Corinthians 14:33).

#1.5 John William Burgon's Explanation

John William Burgon gave explanation of the meaning of σαββάτων in his book defending the last twelve verses in the book of Mark, and it is well worth consideration.

The first difficulty of this class is very fairly stated by one whose name I cannot write without a pang, - the late Dean Alford:-
(I.) The expression πρώτῃ σαββάτου, for the "first day of the week" (in verse 9) "is remarkable" (he says) "as occurring so soon after" μιᾷ σαββάτων (a precisely equivalent expression) in ver. 2. Yes, it is remarkable.
Scarcely more remarkable, perhaps, than that St. Luke in the course of one and the same chapter should four times designate the Sabbath τὸ σάββατον, and twice τὰ σάββατα: again, twice, τὸ σάββατον, - twice, ἡ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ σαββάτου, - and once, τὰ σάββατα [St. Luke 6:1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9: and 13:10, 14, 15, 16. St. Luke has in fact all four different designations for the Sabbath which are found in the Septuagint version of the O. T. Scriptures: for, in Acts 13:14 and 16:13) he twice calls it ἡ ἡμέρᾳ τῶν σαββάτων.] Or again, that St. Matthew should in one and the same chapter five times call the Sabbath, τὰ σάββατα, and three times τὸ σάββατον [St. Matthew 12:1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12.] Attentive readers will have observed that the Evangelists seem to have been fond in this way of varying their phrase; suddenly introducing a new expression for something which they had designated differently just before. Often, I doubt not, this was done with the profoundest purpose and sometimes even with manifest design; but the phenomenon, however we may explain it, still remains. Thus St. Matthew, (in his account of our Lord's temptation, - chapter 4,) has ὁ διάβολος in ver. 1, and ὁ πειράζων in verse 3, for him whom our SAVIOR calls σατανᾶς in verse 10. - St. Mark, in chapter 5:2, has τὰ μνημεία, - but in verse 5, τὰ μνήματα. – St. Luke, in 24:1, has τὸ μνῆμα; but in the next verse, τὸ μνημεῖον. – ἐπὶ with an accusative twice in St. Matthew 25:21, 23, is twice exchanged for ἐπὶ with a genitive in the same two verses: and ἔριφοι (in verse 32) is exchanged for ἐρίφια in verse 33. Instead of ἄρχων τῆς συναγωγῆς (in St. Luke 8:41) we read, in verse 49, ἀρχισυνάγωγος: and for οἱ ἀπόστολοι (in 9:10) we find οἱ δώδεκα in verse 12. οὖς in St. Luke 22:50 is exchanged for ὠτίον in the next verse. In like manner, those whom St. Luke calls οἱ νεώτεροι in Acts 5:6, he calls νεανίσκοι in verse 10. All such matters strike me as highly interesting, but not in the least as suspicious. It surprises me a little of course that S. Mark should present me with πρώτῃ σαββάτου (in verse 9) instead of the phrase μία σαββάτων, which he had employed just above (in verse 2.) But it does not surprise me much, - when I observe that μία σαββάτων occurs only once in each of the Four Gospels. [It occurs in St. Matthew 28:1. St. Mark 16:2. St. Luke 24:1. St. John 20:1, 19. Besides only in Acts 20:7.] Whether surprised much or little, however, am I constrained in consequence, (with Tischendorf and the rest,) to regard this expression (πρώτῃ σαββάτου) as a note of spuriousness? That is the only thing I have to consider. Am I, with Dr. Davidson, to reason as follows: "πρώτῃ, Mark would scarcely have used. It should have been μία, &c. As proved by Mark 16:2, &c. The expression could scarcely have proceeded from a Jew. It betrays a Gentile author." Am I to reason thus? .... I propose to answer this question somewhat in detail.
(1.) That among the Greek-speaking Jews of Palestine, in the days of the Gospel, ἡ μία τῶν σαββάτων was the established method of indicating "the first day of the week," is plain, not only from the fact that the day of the Resurrection is so designated by each of the Four Evangelists in turn; (St. John has the expression twice;) but also from St. Paul's use of the phrase in 1 Corinthians. 16:2. It proves, indeed, to have been the ordinary Hellenistic way of exhibiting the vernacular idiom of Palestine. The cardinal (μία) for the ordinal (πρώτῃ) in this phrase was a known Talmudic expression, which is obtained also in Syriac.
[Lightfoot (on 1 Corinthians. 16:2) remarks concerning St. Paul's phrase κατὰ μίαν σαββάτων, - "בחד בשבת [b’had b’shabbath] 'In the first [lit. One] of the Sabbath,' would the Talmudists say." Professor Gandell writes, "In Syriac, the days of the week are similarly named. See Bernstein s. v. (some Syriac writing inserted here) [lit. one in the Sabbath, two in the Sabbath, three in the Sabbath.]"]
σάββατον and σάββατα, - designations in strictness of the Sabbath-day, - had come to be also used as designations of the week. A reference to St. Mark 16:9 and St. Luke 18:12 establishes this concerning σάββατον: a reference to the six places cited previously [St. Matthew 28:1, St. Mark 16:2, St. Luke 24:1, St. John 20:1, 19, Acts 20:7.] establishes it concerning σάββατα. To see how indifferently the two forms (σάββατον and σάββατα) were employed, one has but to notice that St. Matthew, in the course of one and the same chapter, five times designates the Sabbath as τὰ σάββατα, and three times as τὸ σάββατον. [St. Matthew 12:1, 2, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12.]
The origin and history of both words will be found explained in the following note:
[The Sabbath day, in the Old Testament, is invariably שַׁבָּת (shabbath): a word which the Greeks could not exhibit more nearly than by the word sabbaton. The Chaldee form of this word is שַׁבָּתָא (shabbatha): the final א (a) being added for emphasis, as in Abba, Aceldama, Bethesda, Cepha, Pascha, &c.: and this form, (I owe this information to my friend Professor Gandell,) because it was not so familiar to the people of Palestine, (who spoke Aramaic,) gave rise to another form of the Greek name for Sabbath, - viz. σάββατα: which, naturally enough, attracted the article (ta) into agreement with its own (apparently) plural form. By the Greek-speaking population of Judæa, the Sabbath day was therefore indifferently called τὸ σάββατον and τὰ σάββατα: sometimes again, ἡ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ σαββάτου, and sometimes ἡ ἡμέρᾳ τῶν σαββάτων.
Sabbata, although plural in sound, was strictly singular in sense. (Accordingly, it is invariably rendered "sabbatum" in the Vulgate.) Thus, in Exodus 16:23, σάββατα ἀνάπαυσις ἁγία τῷ κυρίῳ: and 25, ἔστι γὰρ σάββατα σήμερον τῷ κυρίῳ. Again, τῇ δὲ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ἑβδόμῃ σάββατα. (Exodus 16:26: 31:14, Leviticus 23:3.) And in the Gospel, what took place on one definite Sabbath-day, is said to have occurred ἐν τοῖς σάββασι (St. Luke 13:10, St. Mark 12:1).
It will, I believe, be invariably found that the form ἐν τοῖς σάββασι is strictly equivalent to ἐν τῷ σαββάτῳ; and was adopted for convenience in contradistinction to ἐν τοῖς σαββάτοις (1 Chronicles 23:31 and 2 Chronicles 2:4) where Sabbath days are spoken of.
It is not correct to say that in Leviticus 23:15 שַׁבָּתוֹת is put for "weeks;" though the Septuagint translators have (reasonably enough) there rendered the word ἑβδομάδας. In Leviticus 25:8, (where the same word occurs twice,) it is once rendered ἀναπαύσεις and once ἑβδομάδες. Quite distinct is שָׁׁבוּעַ shavooa) i.e. ἑβδομας; nor is there any substitution of the one word for the other. But inasmuch as the recurrence of the Sabbath-day was what constituted a week; in other words, since the essential feature of a week, as a Jewish division of time, was the recurrence of the Jewish Sabbath day of rest; τὸ σάββατον or τὰ σάββατα, the Hebrew name for the day of rest, became transferred to the week. The former designation (as explained in the text,) is used once by St. Mark, once by St. Luke; while the phrase μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων occurs in the N.T., in all, six times.] (2.) Confessedly, then, a double Hebraism is before us, which must have been simply unintelligible to Gentile readers. μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων sounded as enigmatical to an ordinary Greek ear, as "una sabbatorum" to a Roman. A convincing proof, (if proof were needed,) how abhorrent to a Latin reader was the last-named expression, is afforded by the old Latin versions of S. Matthew 28:1; where ὀψὲ δὲ σαββάτων τῇ ἐπιφωσκούσῃ εἰς μίαν σαββάτων is invariably rendered, "Vespere sabbati, quæ lucescit in prima sabbati."
(3.) The reader will now be prepared for the suggestion, that when S. Mark, (who is traditionally related to have written his Gospel at Rome,) varies, in ver. 9, the phrase he had employed in ver. 2, he does so for an excellent and indeed obvious reason. In ver. 2, he had conformed to the prevailing usage of Palestine, and followed the example set him by St. Matthew 28:1 in adopting the enigmatical expression, ἡ μιᾷ σαββάτων. That this would be idiomatically be represented in Latin by the phrase "prima sabbati," we have already seen. In verse 9, therefore, he is solicitous to record the fact of the resurrection afresh; and this time, his phrase is observed to be the Greek equivalent for the Latin "prima sabbati;" viz. πρώτῃ σαββάτου. How strictly equivalent the two modes of expression were felt to be by those who were best qualified to judge, is singularly illustrated by the fact that the Syriac rendering of both places is identical.

#1.6 Examining John Burgon's claims

John Burgon's claim that Luke designated "the Sabbath τὸ σάββατον, and twice τὰ σάββατα: again, twice, τὸ σάββατον, - twice, ἡ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ σαββάτου, - and once, τὰ σάββατα [St. Luke 6:1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9: 13:10, 14, 15, 16.]" is true, although different cases are used, so they will appear different to anyone who does not know Greek. (See Luke 6 and Luke 13.) That Luke uses the same four expressions for the Sabbath that are used in the Septuagint is also true (2 Kings 11:5; 11:7; and Ezekiel 20:12; 20:13; and Nehemiah 13:15; 13:19 without the article; and Jeremiah 17:21; 17:22). That "Matthew should in one and the same chapter five times call the Sabbath, τὰ σάββατα, and three times τὸ σάββατον [St. Matthew 12:1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12.]" is also true, again with different cases; τῷ σαββάτῳ here is always dative case, τοῖς σάββασιν (See Matthew 12). The idea that the Gospel writers often varied their way of writing the same thing is also true. This is the way scripture is written. Often one thing or individual is described by many different names, or in many different ways. His idea that the first day of the week was the day of the resurrection I must disagree with. Here we are trying to determine whether Jesus actually raised up on late Friday afternoon, or late on the Sabbath afternoon. A Sunday resurrection has been disproved.
Concerning his remarks about the Syriac, and how the week was designated there, I cannot comment at this present time.
His idea that two different ways of expressing the Sabbath arose, one singular and one plural with a singular meaning, work out like this. There would be two different words for the Sabbath, one second declension neuter, and one third declension neuter, and they decline like this:

  Second Declension Neuter Third Declension Neuter
CaseSingularPluralPlural (Singular meaning?)

Here, the third declension is supposed to be strictly plural with singular meaning according to John Burgon, and the second declension is supposed to be either singular or plural. The problem is, that except for the dative case, the third declension which should be singular in meaning is identical to the second declension plural. A confusing thing then to know whether σάββατα, or σαββάτων, are meant to be singular or plural whenever we come across them. We could search for σάββατα and σαββάτων in the Septuagint, and see if they ever translate from the singular "shabbat" in the Hebrew. Also concerning σαββάτοις being plural, and σάββασιν being singular, we can check the Septuagint and the New Testament to see if we can get evidence there.
Concerning σαββάτων in the Septuagint, it translates from the Hebrew singular שַׁבָּת (Gtr. shabbat) most of the time (Exodus 20:8; 35:3; Leviticus 23:15; 24:8; Numbers 15:32; 28:9; 28:10; Deuteronomy 5:12; 5:15; Isaiah 58:13; Jeremiah 17:21; 17:22(2); 17:24(2); 17:27(2); Ezekiel 46:1; 46:12). In four places it translates the plural (Leviticus 23:8; Nehemiah 10:33; Ezekiel 22:26; 46:4). Also concerning σάββατα, this is translated from the same singular in the Hebrew (Exodus 16:23; 16:25; 16:26; 16:29; 20:10; 31:14; 31:15; 31:16; 35:2; Leviticus 16:31; 23:3(2); 23:32(2); 25:2; 25:4(2); 25:6; Deuteronomy 5:14; Isaiah 1:13; 56:2; 56:6; 58:13; Amos 8:5. It also translates from the plural in many places (Exodus 31:13; Leviticus 19:3; 19:30; 26:2; 26:34(2); 26:43; 2 Chronicles 31:3; 36:21; Isaiah 56:4; Ezekiel 20:12; 20:13; 20:16; 20:20; 20:21; 20:24; 22:8; 23:38; 44:24; Hosea 2:13). From this evidence it is evident that the Greek third declension plurals σαββάτων and σάββατα were used with a singular sense in many places. Looking at σάββασιν, this does not occur in the Septuagint, but it does occur in the New Testament. The King James Version translates some as singular (Matthew 12:1; 12:11; Mark 1:21; 2:23; 2:24; 3:2; Luke 13:10) and some as plural (Matthew 12:5; 12:10; 12:12; Mark 3:4; Luke 4:31; 6:2; 6:9). The New King James translates every one as singular except Luke 4:31, but it is possible to translate even here with a singular. Even so it could be argued either way looking at the context for those translated plural in the KJV. However, if we accept John Burgon's theory, they should all be singular. Before we do that, let us examine his statement, "Sabbata, although plural in sound, was strictly singular in sense. (Accordingly, it is invariably rendered "sabbatum" in the Vulgate.)" The Latin verb for Sabbath declines like this:

 Second Declension Neuter

As we can see, "sabbatum" is a singular form, so in the Vulgate we would therefore expect to find "sabbato" for the singular and "sabbatis" for the plural in the dative case, and in fact we find the following. In Matthew 12:1 we find "sabbato", but everywhere else in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, on 13 occasions we find "sabbatis", which is plural. Checking a different Vulgate we find a similar thing: "sabbato" in Matthew 12:1 and Luke 6:9, and "sabbatis" in the other 12 places. So in this case, John Burgon's statement about σάββασιν being translated by the singular in the Vulgate simply does not prove true.
There are some other things that we could contend with here also. John Burgon says that μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων sounded enigmatical, that is to say that is is an enigma. By definition enigma is "a saying in which the meaning is concealed under obscure language", in other words, it doesn't mean what it says. God does use parables, but he is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), and to think that God inspired the bible to be written with phrases that are, as John Burgon says, "simply unintelligible to Gentile readers", is unacceptable to me. Another thing that we could consider here is that Latin has a word for "week", which is "hebdomas". If the people who translated the Vulgate and the Old Latin manuscripts understood σαββάτων to mean "week", then why did they not use the word "hebdomas" instead of "sabbatum"? It seems that just like the Greeks used the word for Sabbath in these places instead of their word for week, so it is with the Romans.


There are certain facts that we can conclude from what we have studied so far.
1. The Greek word σαββάτων does not translate as week.
2. The plural form for Sabbath is often used with a singular meaning.
3. The day that the women were going to the tomb was clearly the day after the Sabbath day.

(Luke 23:56) "And they rested on the Sabbath day according to the commandment."

They were expecting someone to move a very large stone which was too heavy for them (Mark 16:3). This would be work, and contrary to the Sabbath commandment to do no work, therefore they would not have done this on the Sabbath day. Also two disciples walked to Emmaus and back on that day. Emmaus was between six and seven miles from Jerusalem, and so here you have two disciples walking over six miles on the Sabbath which far exceeded a "Sabbath day's journey" (Acts 1:12), which is thought to be about three quarters of a mile. No true disciple of Jesus would have done this, but then you have them going back over another six miles to tell the apostles on the same day. Walking about 13 miles on the Sabbath would be out of the question. The fact that there was a travelling restriction on the Sabbath is not only mentioned in the scripture (Acts 1:12), but also confirmed by Jesus when he said concerning the last days, "But pray that your flight is not in winter, nor on the Sabbath day." (Matthew 24:20). If there was no travelling restriction on the Sabbath day Jesus would not have told them to pray this prayer.
So what is the answer? Simply this: in ancient Greek there was an 8 case system compared to the 5 case system in New Testament Greek. The 8 cases were Nominative, Vocative, Accusative, Genitive, Dative, Ablative, Instrumental, and Locative. By the time of the New Testament the Instrumental and Locative cases had disappeared and their functions had been taken over by the Dative case. The ablative case had also disappeared and its function had been taken over by the Genitive Case. Here is a definition of the Ablative case.

Ward Powers - Learn to Read the Greek new Testament - p107
The word "ablative" means "that which is carried away or separated". It indicates the derivation, source, or origin of something, from which that something is now separated.

So in the time of the New Testament the function of the Ablative was part of the Genitive case, and this is what was being used by the New Testament writers. The word μιᾷ means "one" and the word σαββάτων means Sabbath, so this is what a good translation of John 20:1 would look like.

(John 20:1) "And on one day from the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene comes early to the tomb, it being still dark, and sees the stone had been removed away from the tomb."

The Jews did not name the days like we do today, except for the Sabbath, instead they counted the days from the Sabbath. Thus in the Didache 8:1 we find δευτέρα σαββάτων καὶ πέμτῃ referring to the second and fifth day from the Sabbath. So although the translators of the New Testament did not use the correct words in the translation, they got the meaning right, because "the first day of the week" is equivalent to "one day from the Sabbath".

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