Greetings Tilt, Kirk, all,
I know Tilt likes the "freedom from death" translation, but it's hard to see the etmology of this translation. It's certainly not a literal one, as there doesn't seem to be anything there resembling "freedom" let alone "freedom from" in the Pali word amata.
Similarly, to pick up Tilt's point, there's no "the" in amata either, so similarly, "the deathless" is not a literal translation of the term in question either.
Both "freedom from death" and "the deathless" are interpretations
of what amata might mean rather than a literal and agreed definition
per se. Being interpretations they're both far more subjective than an agreed definition, and different people will have their preferred interpretation for different reasons... hence the reasons different people are presenting different suttas, and finding that neither interpretation universally applies or fits with all.
Now I'm not a Pali expert at all, but a reasonable etymology for amata seems to be...
a [not] + mara [death] + ata [ness]
It's not an interpretation - it's a deconstruction of the term into (what might be
) its constituent components.
And despite all the brouhaha about how amata should be interpreted, and the fact I'm sure a hundred and one holes could be poked through my Pali tinkering, the definition "not-deathness" I propose here seems to be an amenable fit with all the suttas that have been provided by participants in the discussion.
Any thoughts on "not-deathness"? Perhaps try substituting it into the sutta extracts provided above and see how it fits.