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1. ESV margin, “or, with interpretation, or, paragraph by paragraph. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon says the word מפרש (mephorash) here most probably means “distinctly” (which may mean either “clearly” or “in sections”) though it mentions the sense “interpreted” favored by some (page 831). C.F. Keil in his commentary favors “explaining” but rejects “translating” as the meaning here. He writes, “It is more correct to suppose a paraphrastic exposition and application.” (Hendrickson edition, vol.4, p. 145). The Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti libros (KBL) of Koehler and Baumgartner (Leiden, 1953) favors “divided into parts.” The latest English edition of the revised KBL (Leiden, 2001) favors “making an extempore translation,” so that the meaning of the Hebrew word corresponds to the Aramaic mepharash (Ezra 4:18). But this understanding of the word seems to depend upon a redactional analysis which treats the statement in verse 8 as anachronistic. It seems unlikely that the books of Ezra and Nehemiah themselves would have been written in Hebrew if this language could no longer be understood by most Jews at the time.
2. The BDB Lexicon says that the phrase ושום שכל (wesom sekel) means simply “set forth (the) understanding.” (p. 968).
3. See Nehemiah 13:23-25. Hebrew, and not Aramaic, is meant by יהודית “Judean” here and elsewhere in Scripture. See Loring Woard Batten, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Books of Ezra and Nehemia (International Critical Commentary; Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1913). Gesenius also (Hebrew Grammar, ed. Kautzsch, §2.t) concludes that “the supplanting of Hebrew by Aramaic proceeded only very gradually” and that Hebrew was still understood by the common people as late as 170 B.C., centuries after the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. W. Robertson Smith agrees: “The fall of the Jewish kingdom accelerated the decay of Hebrew as a spoken language. Not indeed that those of the people who were transported forgot their own tongue in their new home, as older scholars supposed on the basis of Jewish tradition: the exilic and post-exilic prophets do not write in a lifeless tongue. Hebrew was still the language of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah in the middle of the fifth century B.C.,” and in a footnote he adds, “An argument to the contrary drawn by Jewish interpreters from Neh. 8:8 rests on false exegesis.” (W. Robertson Smith, “Hebrew Language,” Encyclopaedia Biblica; a Critical Dictionary of the Literary, Political and Religious History, the Archaeology, Geography, and Natural History of the Bible, Volume II, ed. T. K. Cheyne and J. Sutherland Black [New York: The Macmillan Company; London: Adam and Charles Black, 1899], column 1988.) Likewise Gustaf Dalman concludes that “in the time of Nehemiah the Law could still be understood in the original Hebrew in Jerusalem,” but he suggests that its language needed some occasional explanations: “Nevertheless, it required interpretation when read at public services, probably not merely as to the contents (Neh. 8:7f.). Later a full translation into Aramaic was considered to be absolutely necessary, so that the ‘clear and understandable’ reading (Neh. 8:8) was interpreted as meaning the addition of a full translation.” (Jesus-Jeshua: Studies in the Gospels [New York: MacMillan Co., 1929], p. 9.) D. Winton Thomas also concludes that “Hebrew continued to be the normal vehicle of expression” for some time after the return of the exiles (“The Language of the Old Testament,” in Record and Revelation, edited by H. Wheeler Robinson [Oxford, 1938], p. 387). If this is not the case, and if in fact Hebrew was not understood by most Jews in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, this means that the post-exilic parts of the Hebrew Old Testament (1st and 2nd Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah, Haggai, and Malachi) were written in a scholarly language that could not be understood by the people.
4. In this I agree with Jerome, who translates it eruditus in the Vulgate, and with modern scholars who have maintained that κατηχέω always refers to teaching. H.A.W. Meyer takes a hard line on this: “κατηχήθης ist von wirklicher Unterweisung (auch Act. 21, 21) zu verstehen, nich von Hörensagen, wovon auch die Stellen bei Kypke nicht zu erklären sind.” [“κατηχήθης is to be understood as actual instruction (in Acts 21:21 also), not of hearsay, of which, moreover, the passages in Kypke are not to be explained,” Kritisch exegetisches Handbuch über die Evangelien des Markus und Lukas, ad loc.] Towards the beginning of the twentieth century, the modern view that Luke’s Gospel was written mainly for apologetic purposes led some scholars to argue that the Theophilus addressed by Luke was not a Christian, and had only “received some information” about Christianity. Thus Theodor Zahn: “Durch diese erst soll Theophilus zu der Erkenntnis, zu der gründlichen Einsicht und Überzeugung von ‘der Zuverlässigkeit der Reden, von welchen er Kunde bekommen hat,’ geführt werden.” (Einleitung in das neue Testament, 3rd ed., vol. 2 [Leipzig, 1907], p. 366.) It is for this reason alone that Zahn argues that κατηχήθης means only “you were told” in Luke 1:4. For the same reason Hermann Beyer in his TDNT article (vol. 3, pp. 638-40) argues that κατηχέω does not always imply religious instruction in the New Testament, and that the passive is used in a weakened and general sense of “informed” in both Acts 21:21 and Luke 1:4. Bauer’s Wörterbuch more cautiously maintains that the word is used in this sense only in Acts 21:21, and lists Luke 1:4 under the stronger sense unterweisen, belehren (teach, instruct). The extra-biblical evidence adduced for the weakened sense is not very strong. For example, Beyer cites a short letter of Agrippa II quoted in the Autobiography of Josephus, 366: “Jos. Vit., 366 quotes a letter from Agrippa II in which the king writes after reading the Jewish War that, while the author obviously needs no further instruction, on a visit he will tell him many things that happened to him: καὶ αὐτός σε πολλὰ κατηχήσω τῶν ἀγνοουμένων.” But the precariousness of this proof is evident when the whole letter is seen: Βασιλεὺς Ἀγρίππας Ἰωσήπῳ τῷ φιλτάτῳ χαίρειν. Ἐξ ὧν ἔγραψας οὐδεμιᾶς ἔοικας χρῄζειν διδασκαλίας ὑπὲρ τοῦ μαθεῖν ἡμᾶς ὅλους ἀρχῆθεν. Ὅταν μέντοι συντύχῃς μοι, καὶ αὐτός σε πολλὰ κατηχήσω τῶν ἀγνοουμένων. Thackeray (Selections from Josephus, London, 1919) calls this “rather slipshod Greek” (p. 15) and translates it: “King Agrippa to dearest Josephus greeting. From what you have written you appear to stand in no need of instruction, to enable us all to learn (everything from you) from the beginning. But when you meet me, I will myself instruct you in many things of which you are ignorant.” (p. 37.) Thackeray notes that the phrase ὑπὲρ τοῦ μαθεῖν ἡμᾶς ὅλους ἀρχῆθεν is “vulgar and obscure,” but the meaning of the whole sentence depends upon what this phrase means. And it seems to me that Agrippa is saying that Josephus does not need to be instructed in those matters that Josephus has written about, but that there is more for him to be instructed in, concerning other matters which might be added to the history. The collocation with διδασκαλίας and μαθεῖν surely suggests that κατηχήσω means “I will instruct” here. But however this may be understood—and whatever support elsewhere might be cited for a meaning of “inform”—it must be admitted that “instruct” is the ordinary sense of the word.
5. Sydney C. Gayford, “Church,” in A Dictionary of the Bible, edited by James Hastings, vol. 1 (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1898), p. 431.
1. Nida’s principal books are Message and Mission: The Communication of the Christian Faith (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1960); Toward a Science of Translating, with Special Reference to Principles and Procedures Involved in Bible Translating (Leiden: Brill, 1964); The Theory and Practice of Translation (Leiden: Brill, 1969); and see also the book he later co-authored with Jan de Waard, From One Language to Another: Functional Equivalence in Bible Translation (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1986). For biographical information see Eugene A. Nida, Fascinated by Languages (Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2003). For a complete bibliography of Nida’s writings and a discussion of his influence see Philip C. Stine, Let the Words Be Written: The Lasting Influence of Eugene A. Nida (American Bible Society, 2004). I should mention that much of what Nida wrote on the subject does not square very well with the translations which have been produced under the banner of “dynamic equivalence.” Nida himself coined this phrase in an effort to distinguish his method from unrestrained “paraphrase.” Later he complained of abuses of the method he outlined, and for this reason in his later writings he distanced himself from the term “dynamic equivalence,” preferring instead “functional equivalence.” In the preface of his book From One Language to Another (1986) he writes:
One conspicuous difference in terminology in this volume in contrast with Theory and Practice of Translation and Toward a Science of Translating is the use of the expression “functional equivalence” rather than “dynamic equivalence.” The substitution of “functional equivalence” is not designed to suggest anything essentially different from what was earlier designated by the phrase “dynamic equivalence.” Unfortunately, the expression “dynamic equivalence” has often been misunderstood as referring to anything which might have special impact and appeal for receptors. Some Bible translators have seriously violated the principle of dynamic equivalence as described in Theory and Practice of Translating [sic] and Toward a Science of Translating. It is hoped, therefore, that the use of the expression “functional equivalence” may serve to highlight the communicative functions of translating and to avoid misunderstanding.
And on page 36 we find this explanation:
The crucial problems of translation are often stated in terms of a conflict between formal correspondence and functional equivalence. As already noted in the preface, in certain previous discussions of functional equivalence in translation (Nida, 1964; Nida and Taber, 1969), the expression “dynamic equivalence” has been employed. Basically, dynamic equivalence has been described in terms of functional equivalence. The translation process has been defined on the basis that the receptors of a translation should comprehend the translated text to such an extent that they can understand how the original receptors must have understood the original text. The expression “dynamic equivalence” has, however, led to some confusion, since the term “dynamic” has been understood merely in terms of something which has impact and appeal. Accordingly, to avoid misunderstanding such terminology, this text employs the expression “functional equivalence” …
Here it should be carefully noted that Nida does not say that in his earlier works he described the goal of “dynamic equivalence” as being that “the receptors of a translation should comprehend the translated text to such an extent that they can understand how the original receptors must have understood the original text.” Clearly this is not the case, and he aimed at far more than that. Rather, he is saying here that his earlier descriptions took it for granted that such comprehension was necessary or important. Nevertheless, we do sense in From One Language to Another a shift in emphasis, away from the problematic “equivalent effect” or “response” idea and toward the more modest and measurable goal of producing translations which are intelligible to their readers.
Recently some others have preferred to call the same set of principles and methods “meaning-based translation,” or “closest natural equivalence” — a phrase which Nida also sometimes used in his writings. According to Nida these shifts in terminology do not represent changes in the method. Therefore I use the term “dynamic equivalence” because it continues to be the one most widely used. For an explanation of Nida’s own use of this term see my article “Dynamic Equivalence Defined.”
2. Toward a Science of Translating (1964), p. 1. A perusal of the essays collected in Douglas Robinson’s Western Translation Theory from Herodotus to Nietzsche (Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing, 1997) will reveal just how commonplace the basic ideas about translation usually associated with Nida were, long before his birth. The need for “idiomatic” renderings was emphasized by writers in ancient times, and the desirability and possibility of producing an “equivalent effect” was thoroughly discussed by translators in the middle of the nineteenth century. Nida adds nothing substantial to these old discussions, which were quite sophisticated, and he does not even interact with them in such a way that the difficult problems raised in them are addressed. Other more technical aspects of his theoretical writings are little more than ad hoc applications of various concepts developed by other linguists. See for example chapter four of his book Toward a Science of Translating, in which the special concepts and terminology of Chomsky’s generative grammar are pressed into service in some very questionable ways. For Nida’s dependence on Chomsky see Edwin Gentzler, Contemporary Translation Theories (London and New York: Routledge, 1993), p. 44. Gentzler writes, “Despite claims to the contrary, Nida’s theory crystallized with the addition of Chomsky’s transformational component—Nida read Chomsky’s Syntactic Structures in mimeograph form two years before it was published. With the adoption of Chomsky’s theoretical premise, his transformational rules, and his terminology, Nida’s theory solidified ...” Gentzler also points out that it was the acceptance of Chomsky’s ideas among linguists that set the stage for the favorable reception of Nida’s theories of translation: “Generative transformational grammar, along with its legitimacy within the field of linguistics, lent credence and influence to Nida’s ‘science’ of translation.” For an extended critique of Nida’s use of Chomsky’s ideas see V.S. Poythress, “Truth and Fullness of Meaning: Fullness versus Reductionistic Semantics in Biblical Interpretation,” in Translating Truth: The Case for Essentially Literal Bible Translation (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2005). Nida himself contributed nothing new to a general theory of language, and his use of concepts developed by others is often facile. In short, it seems to me that his contributions to translation theory have been overstated.
3. Eugene Nida, Message and Mission (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960), p. 221.
4. Eugene Nida, Bible Translating: An Analysis of Principles and Procedures, with Special Reference to Aboriginal Languages (New York: American Bible Society, 1947), p. 21. The criteria laid down here are so extreme, one might be inclined to regard them as overstatements, written in the heat of enthusiasm; but Nida often made assertions like this in academic contexts, where one would expect to find a more sober and judicious statement of principles. In 1969 he wrote that translators who rightly discern the “needs of the audience” will see that “Non-Christians have priority over Christians. That is to say, the Scriptures must be intelligible to non-Christians, and if they are, they will also be intelligible to Christians. Not only is this principle important in making the translation of the Bible effective as an instrument of evangelism, but it is also necessary if the language of the church is to be kept from becoming an esoteric dialect ...” (Theory and Practice of Translation , pp. 31-2). For many years he was apparently unconscious of how impractical his ideas were. Only after his retirement did he begin to acknowledge the failure of this whole approach. For the article on “Translations” in The Oxford Companion to the Bible (1993) he contributed a sub-section on “Native American Languages” in which he wrote: “For a variety of reasons the publication of the scriptures in some Indian languages has not been a success, but where there have been missionaries or leaders of national churches who have encouraged literacy, instructed people in the meaning and relevance of the Bible message, and trained local leadership, the response has been remarkable” (p. 778, emphasis added). Experience shows that devotional Bible reading cannot be expected outside the context of a church with a sustained teaching ministry.
5. Donald A. Carson, “New Bible Translations: An Assessment and Prospect,” in The Bible in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Howard Clark Kee (New York: American Bible Society, 1993), pp. 57-59.
6. Gilles Gravelle, “Theological Training and Mother-Tongue Translators” (Conference paper, presented at the International Bible Translation Conference sponsored by the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics and SIL International, 15-17 Oct 2007), p. 1. At the time, Gravelle was International Coordinator for Project Development with The Wycliffe Seed Company, a “Wycliffe initiative to connect investors with national-led translation projects.”
7. Stephen Howard Doty, The Paradigm Shift in Bible Translation in the Modern Era, With Special Focus on Thai (Doctoral dissertation, University of Auckland, 2007), p. 106.
8. The founder of SIL, William Cameron Townsend, was not a Baptist. He was from a Presbyterian family, who sent him to college with the hope that he would become a Presbyterian minister. But he dropped out of college to become a colporteur of Spanish Bibles in Guatemala. There he joined a non-denominational missions agency founded by C.I. Scofield, the leader of the Dispensationalist movement in America. He never studied theology, and never made himself accountable to any church body.
9. Lamin Sanneh, “Pluralism and Christian Commitment,” Theology Today 45/1 (April 1988), p. 27.
10. The words are not found in any writing of Tyndale, nor do they resemble anything found in his writings; but they were attributed to him in a report of a conversation in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: “Master Tyndale happened to be in the company of a learned man and, in disputing with him ... the man said, ‘We are better to be without God’s laws than the pope’s.’ Master Tyndale, hearing this, replied, ‘I defy the pope and all his laws;’ and added, ‘If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture than thou dost.’” Although the report may well be true, it is misleading to quote this riposte as if it constituted some “theory of translation.”
11. David F. Wells, No Place for Truth; or, Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), p. 206. The process is more fully described by Nathan Hatch in his book The Democratization of American Christianity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989).
12. “The place of the New Testament in the chain of Christian evolution is a very great and very conspicuous place. But it did not make Christianity. On the contrary, Christianity made it. … S. Paul and others wrote their letters, and the Evangelists wrote their records, for the benefit of the Church or some part of it. They wrote as Churchmen to Churchmen about things with which Churchmen are concerned. … The attempt to produce conversions to Christianity by distributing copies of the Bible, even of the Gospels, is mistaken. I do not at all assert that it is a useless or mischievous thing to do. But it is not an adequate method of producing conversions. And it was certainly not the method of the Apostles. For even if the New Testament had been in existence in their time, they would not have begun their evangelization with it. They might have left copies behind them when they went away. They might conceivably have distributed copies during the course of the catechumenate (just as a modem teacher of, say, Hebrew might require his class to procure Hebrew Bibles at an early stage of their grammatical instruction, so they may turn over the pages, recognize a word here and there, and look forward to the time when they will be able to read it with understanding). They might further have found it useful to ask their disciples to look up references in passing, to use the New Testament, in fact, very much as the Church does now. But they would not have begun with it. ” (S.C. Carpenter, Christianity according to S. Luke [London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1919], pp. 5-9.)
13. For a good discussion of the development of belief in the afterlife in Greek religion see chapter 7 of Stewart Salmond’s The Christian Doctrine of Immortality (4th ed. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1901).
14. Historians have concluded that in ancient times the literacy rate was probably less than fifteen percent even in the most civilized places. See William V. Harris, Ancient Literacy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989). The average rate among Christians may have been somewhat higher.
1. See my articles, “The Semitic Style of the New Testament” and “Was the Bible Written in ‘Street Language’?” for discussion and examples. On the literal character of ancient translations in general see Sebastian Brock, “Aspects of Translation Technique in Antiquity,” in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 20/1 (1979), pp. 69-87; and James Barr, “The Typology of Literalism in Ancient Biblical Translations,” in Mitteilungen des Septuaginta-Unternehmens, 15 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1979), pp. 279-325. Ancient translators assumed that their readers were knowledgeable and motivated, and that the translation would be used in the context of a teaching ministry. As one ancient translator put it, he writes “for those dwelling in a foreign country who are willing to love learning (βουλομένοις φιλομαθεῖν), being prepared beforehand by custom to live according to the Law.” (Prologue to Ecclesiasticus)
2. E.C. Hoskyns, The Riddle of the New Testament (1931), pp. 19-20. This opinion of the language of the New Testament is shared by many linguists and other scholars, and in fact there is none who denies that the language of the New Testament often mimics the Hebraistic “translation Greek” of the Septuagint. Even Nida was compelled to acknowledge the obvious fact: “Bible translators ... have often made quite a point of the fact that the language of the New Testament was Koine Greek, the language of the ‘man in the street,’ and hence a translation should speak to the man in the street. The truth of the matter is that many New Testament messages are not directed primarily to the man in the street, but to the man in the congregation. For this reason, such expressions as ‘Abba Father,’ Maranatha, and ‘baptized into Christ’ could be used with reasonable expectation that they would be understood.” (Toward a Science of Translating [Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1964], p. 170). Yet, as Stanley E. Porter observes, “there is no place in Nida’s framework for the language of the New Testament being anything other than the common language that was in use in the Mediterranean world of the first century. Theories regarding the special nature of the Greek ... have no place in his analysis” (Porter, “Eugene Nida and Translation,” The Bible Translator 56/1 [January 2005], p. 10).
3. The scholarly literature on the meaning of the expressions εν Χριστω Ιησου, εν Κυριω, etc., is very extensive. Adolf Deissmann in his Die neutestamentliche Formel “in Christo Jesu” (Marburg, 1892) explained the εν as a spatial metaphor expressing incorporation by mystical union with Christ. Moulton likewise relates it to “the idea of the mystic indwelling” (A Grammar of New Testament Greek, vol. 1 [Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark, 1906], p. 103). J. Dick Fleming concludes that the “thought of vital union is the central and original conception of the phrase [εν Χριστω] used by St. Paul.” (Art. “In” in vol. 1 of Hastings’ Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels [Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark, 1906], p. 795). For a review of others up to 1955 see E. Best, One Body in Christ, 1955. In Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Oepke explains that the εν in εν Χριστω Ιησου, εν Κυριω, and related formulae expresses inclusion within “Christ as a universal personality.” (English edition [Eerdmans, 1964], vol. 2, pp. 541-2.) Nigel Turner in his Grammatical Insights into the New Testament calls the εν of εν Χριστω “the mystical en” (pp. 118-122). Though Deissmann compared εν Χριστω with Hellenistic parallels, obviously it does not belong to the realm of secular and “popular” Greek. To claim that the English word “Christian” adequately conveys the meaning would be to dismiss all that has been written on the subject by scholars. Nida discusses this issue as it relates to the translation of Ephesians chapter 1 in his book The Theory and Practice of Translation, p. 155, where he writes: “Some exegetes insist that en with ‘Christ,’ ‘Son,’ or any other designation of the second person of the Trinity can only mean ‘in Christ’ in a very special Pauline sense. The principal difficulty with such a rendering is that it simply does not make much sense, if any, in English. Such an expression has no meaning at all outside this type of Biblical context, and then only after long, detailed explanation. Even in the more than four hundred years that this expression has been used in the English language, Christian preachers and scholars have been quite incapable of making it really meaningful.” I will let the reader decide whether Matthew Henry’s comment on the words “in Christ” in Ephesians 1:3 utterly fails to make the phrase meaningful: “It bespeaks the mystical union between Christ and believers, that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is their God and Father, and that in and through him.”
4. The significance of this has often been noticed by theologians. For example, Geerhardus Vos: “In a very striking way God regularly appears as the speaking subject in the quotations made from the Old Testament. Where Paul contents himself with the formula, ‘as it is written,’ or ‘as the Scripture says,’ Hebrews prefers to make the affirmation of the divine authorship explicit and employs the formula ‘God says.’ That this is not the result of meaningless habit, but possesses doctrinal significance, appears from the cases, where, rhetorically considered, it would be unnatural to introduce God as the speaking subject, since in the passage quoted He is the Person spoken of. Even in such cases the author insists upon emphasizing that the statement about God came from the mouth of God Himself. It is God who said ‘the Lord shall judge His people’ (x. 30). And so vivid is the realisation of this supreme fact of the direct divine authorship of Scripture that what we call the secondary authors, that is, the writers of the Biblical books, are, again in distinction from Paul’s custom, scarcely ever mentioned. The only case where the name of a Bible writer is introduced is chap. iv. 7, and even here the phrase is not ‘David saying’ but ‘God saying in David.’ There are even passages where pains seem to have been taken to bring out the relative unimportance of the secondary authorship by more positive means than the mere omission of the writer’s name. In a couple of instances use seems to have been made for this purpose of the indefinite pronoun ‘some one’ and the indefinite adverb ‘somewhere’: ‘One has somewhere testified saying’ (ii. 6); ‘For He hath spoken somewhere of the seventh day on this wise’ (iv. 4). By this manner of statement the impression is conveyed that in view of the authority wherewith God invests every word of Scripture the human instrumentality through which the divine word was mediated becomes a matter of little or no importance. As a matter of fact the word of revelation is so literally to the writer’s mind the word of God that it is represented as having been spoken by God being locally present in His messengers: ‘God of old times spoke unto the fathers in the prophets’; ‘God said in David.’ The conception is not instrumental, as if ‘in’ were a Hebraizing construction for ‘by means of’; it should rather be compared with the similar form of statement by our Lord to the disciples: ‘it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you’ (Mat. x. 20), and by Paul who offers to the Corinthians a proof of Christ speaking in him (2 Cor. xiii. 3).” (“Hebrews, the Epistle of the Diatheke,” Princeton Theological Review 13/4 , pp. 626-27). Even if it be regarded as a metaphor it cannot be dismissed as insignificant. See Michael Reddy, “The Conduit Metaphor,” in A. Ortony, ed., Metaphor and Thought. Cambridge University Press, 1979.
5. Barclay M. Newman, Creating and Crafting the Contemporary English Version (New York: American Bible Society, 1996), p. 17.
6. Brooke Foss Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John: the Greek Text with Introduction and Notes, vol. 1 (London: John Murray, 1908), p. 124. Likewise Hermann Olshausen explains, “the words, ‘are wrought in God’ ... represent God, the source of truth, as the ground of all truth and sincerity in a creature, so far as they are manifested in him. Hence εν, in, retains its proper meaning; and the expression may be explained by εν δυναμει θεου, in the power of God. (Biblical Commentary on the New Testament, by Dr. Hermann Olshausen, Translated from the German for Clark’s Foreign and Theological Library, First American Edition, revised after the fourth German edition, by A.C. Kendrick, vol. 2 [New York: Sheldon & Co., 1860], p. 364.) The kind of semantic reductionism that interprets this expression merely as “wrought with God’s approval” (Hendriksen) is naturally favored by those who are trying to make the text easier to understand. But if εν θεω receives this treatment, one might as well also translate εν Χριστω as “pleasing to Christ.”
7. C. Hugh Holman, A Handbook to Literature (4th edition; Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1980), p. 12. Holman further writes, “Complex literary allusion is characteristic of much modern writing, and discovering the meaning and value of the allusions is frequently essential to understanding the work.” But literary allusions are not less important in ancient and medieval works. Another handbook defines allusion as “an indirect or passing reference to some event, person, place, or artistic work, the nature and relevance of which is not explained by the writer but relies on the reader’s familiarity with what is thus mentioned” and explains that “the technique of allusion is an economical means of calling upon the history or the literary tradition that author and reader are assumed to share” (Chris Baldick, The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms [Oxford University Press, 2008], p. 9).
8. Werner Winter, “Impossibilities of Translation,” in The Craft and Context of Translation, ed. Roger Shattuck and William Arrowsmith (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1961). Reprinted in Problems in the Philosophy of Language edited by Thomas M. Olshewsky (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969), pp. 477-89.
9. “La Miseria y el esplendor de la traducción,” La Nación (Buenos Aires), May-June 1937. Reprinted in José Ortega y Gasset, Obras Completas: Tomo V (1933-1941) (Madrid: Revista de Occidente, 1947), pp. 429-48. On the publication history and influence of the essay see Ordóñez-López Pilar, “The Misery and Splendour of Translation: a Classic in Translation Studies,” in SKASE Journal of Translation and Interpretation 4/1 (2009), pp. 53-77.
10. David S. Katz, God’s Last Words: Reading the English Bible from the Reformation to Fundamentalism (Yale University Press, 2004), pp. 40-41.
11. C.S. Lewis, The Literary Impact of the Authorised Version (London: Athlone Press, 1950), p. 21.
12. Edward Sapir, “Communication,” in Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences vol. 4 (New York: Macmillan, 1931), pp. 78-81.
13. Unfortunately only the ERV, ASV, and NASB enable the reader to see this allusion, by supplying a note at John 1:14. B.F. Westcott calls attention to this in his book Some Lessons of the Revised Version of the New Testament (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1897): “Thus in verse 14 on dwelt we read the note ‘Greek tabernacled.’ The peculiar word is marked in order to bring to the reader’s mind two passages of the Apocalypse: vii. 15, He that sitteth on the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them ; xxi. 3, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men.” (p. 17.) For a full discussion of the allusion see Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John (New York: Doubleday and Co., 1966), pp. 32-35.
14. See also Isaiah 49:1, which seems equally pertinent. I chose this example quite at random from the “Index of Allusions and Verbal Parallels” appended to the third edition of the Greek New Testament published by the United Bible Societies (Stuttgart, 1983), which lists over two thousand allusions. Some of those listed may be seen as questionable, but regarding this one, Herman Ridderbos says “Paul is obviously alluding to” Jeremiah 1:5. (The Epistle of Paul to the Churches of Galatia [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953], p. 63).
15. I leave open the question of whether ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου means “from the time that I was in my mother’s womb” or “when I came from my mother’s womb” here. But the former rendering seems preferable to me, especially if we are right in seeing it as an allusion to Jeremiah 1:5 or Isaiah 49:1.
16. In this article “New Living Translation” refers to the first edition of the version, published in 1996. The second edition (published in 2004) makes some improvements. In Acts 5:30 it reads “killed him by hanging him on a cross,” and it gives a literal translation in a footnote: “Greek, on a tree.” Other differences between the editions will not be noticed in this article.
17. Jan de Waard and Eugene A, Nida, From One Language to Another: Functional Equivalence in Bible Translating (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1986), p. 37.
18. J.H.A. Hart, in The Expositor’s Greek Testament vol. 5 (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1910), p. 48. The connection with the words of Exodus is not just literary decoration here. Hart observes that in this epistle Peter “is engrossed with the conception of the Church as the new Israel which has been delivered from idolatry—the spiritual Egypt—by a far more excellent sacrifice.” Nevertheless, in his book Toward a Science of Translating, Nida mentions this Semitic idiom as an example of a “semantically exocentric” phrase which is “meaningless or misleading if translated literally” (p. 170). We grant that the meaning of “gird up your loins” is not obvious to many people in our day, and that it requires an explanation.
19. Identification with the redeemed of the Passover has always been an important element of Jewish religion, as may be seen in the traditional הגדה של פסח (Haggadah shel pesach): “In every generation each one of us should regard himself as though he himself had gone forth from Egypt, as it is said (Ex. xiii. 8), ‘And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt.’ Not our ancestors alone did God redeem then, but he did us redeem with them, as it is said (Deut. vi. 23), ‘And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.’” (Translation from The Revised Haggada ... Translated, Edited, and Annotated by Rev. A.A. Green [London: Areenbeg & Co., 1897], p. 27.) On which see further W.D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism (revised edition; London: S.P.C.K., 1955), pp. 102-106. Regarding the significance of the Passover in the epistles of Paul, Davies writes: “it is highly significant that in several places in the Epistles ... the Apostle compares the Christian life to the Passover Festival: he obviously regards the great deliverance at the Exodus and its accompaniments as the prototype of the mighty act of God in Christ.” (cf. 1 Cor. 5:6-8; 10:1-11.)
20. Dennis E. Johnson, “Fire In God’s House: Imagery From Malachi 3 In Peter’s Theology of Suffering (1 Pet 4:12-19),” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 29/3 (September 1986) p. 285. In criticizing the NIV along with the other versions mentioned in this book I do not mean to put the NIV on the same level as the others with respect to “dynamic equivalence.” The NIV is ordinarily more literal. However, many Bible teachers will agree with me when I say that the NIV does too often give paraphrastic renderings. It is not so much a problem of “accuracy” (narrowly defined) as a regrettable loss of imagery, vividness, and allusiveness in this version. As Daniel Wallace has said, the NIV “is so readable that it has no memorable expressions, nothing that lingers in the mind. This is a serious problem for the NIV that is not always acknowledged.” (The History of the English Bible Part IV: Why So Many Versions?) Leland Ryken, who focuses on literary qualities, includes many criticisms of the NIV along with criticism of more paraphrastic versions in his recent book, The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2003). I should also note that in the 2011 revision of the NIV, “painful trial” was changed to “fiery ordeal,” and “family of God” was changed to “God’s household.”
21. Toward a Science of Translating, pp. 211, 231. Nida also advises translators to eliminate repetition in From One Language to Another, pp. 87, 96, 119. The translators of the Good News Bible frequently eliminate or combine clauses that are seen as repetitious. Another good example may be seen in Hosea 2:4-5, where parallel lines of the prophet’s poetic discourse are reduced to non-repetitious prose.
22. As R.B.Y. Scott observes, the KJV’s “passing over is better than he will spare, because it preserves the allusion to the deliverance commemorated by the Pesach (Passover) festival; the verb appears in the O.T. only here and in Exod. 12.” (Interpreter’s Bible, volume 5 [New York, 1956], p. 340.) The NEB’s rendering, “standing over her,” is in accordance with a newly proposed sense for the word פסח in this place. Likewise the New JPS version’s “protecting.” Baruch Levine in his article on “Feasts and Festivals” in The Oxford Companion to the Bible (1993), p. 226, continues to assert that the word “properly means ‘to straddle, stand over,’ hence ‘protect’ (Isa. 31.5).” But most scholars have rejected this proposal, there being no sufficient evidence that in Isaiah 31:5 the word means something other than what it has always been understood to mean—and clearly it does mean “pass over” in Exodus. The REB revision of the NEB substitutes “sparing her” for “standing over her” in Isaiah 31:5.
23. Thus St. Augustine writes concerning God’s omniscience, Quid est praescientia nisi scientia futurorum? Quid autem futurum est Deo, qui omnia supergreditur tempora? Si enim in scientia res ipsas habet, non sunt ei futurae, sed praesentes, ac per hoc non jam praescientia, sed tantum scientia dici potest. “What is foreknowledge except a knowledge of future events? What, however, is future in the sight of God, who transcends all concepts of time? For if he has the events themselves in the scope of his knowledge, they are not future as far as he is concerned but present; and by this very fact it can no longer be called foreknowledge but only knowledge.” (De Diversis Quaestionibus ad Simplicianum, II. ii. 2., cited in Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology, vol. 1, p. 401.) Some commentators have doubted whether Isaiah could have intended such an idea of transcendence. Franz Delitzsch assets that this thought is “quite outside the biblical range of ideas,” and so he thinks the expression must mean only “the eternally dwelling one” (Commentary on the Old Testament by C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, vol. 7, Isaiah, translated by James Martin, Hendriksen reprint, 2001, p. 549). Yet the Hebrew text says plainly, “he who inhabits eternity,” and so it is translated thus in essentially literal versions (KJV, ASV, RSV, NASB, ESV, etc.). We reject the notion that the mind of this great prophet could not have received such an idea of God’s transcendence, and we think it is only a low view of inspiration which will put it “outside the biblical range of ideas.”
24. D. A. Carson, “God’s Love and God’s Sovereignty,” Bibliotheca Sacra 156/623 (July 1999), p. 262. It should be noted that in the current controversies about “Open Theism,” in which some people are even denying that God transcends time, this phrase in Isaiah 57:15 becomes more than a “fine expression” that stretches the mind: it becomes a point of reference for the teaching and defense of orthodox theology.
25. “… nicht verlangen, daß das, was in der Ursprache erhaben, riesenhaft und ungewöhnlich ist, in der Übertragung leicht und augenblicklich faßlich seyn solle.” Wilhelm von Humboldt, Einleitung zu Aeschylos Agamemnon metrisch übersetzt (1816).
26. “I can remember times when working on Mark in Cincinnati that the committee spent a half an hour or more deciding on the meaning of one word in a verse. For example, in Mark 1:12 the King James Version says that ‘the spirit driveth (ekballei) him into the wilderness,’ using the first meaning of ekballo given in the lexicons. I can still remember some of our participants facetiously wondering what kind of a car the Spirit used to transport him into the wilderness.” Wesley L. Gerig, “Translating the New International Version,” Reflections, official publication of the Missionary Church Historical Society, vol. 5/2 (Fall 2001), p. 6.
27. It is maintained by some that in the first century the sense of the word ekballo was weakened so much that it meant merely “sent,” without a connotation of command or compulsion, and so this has been given as a meaning of the word in some Greek Lexicons. But the NT citations offered in support of this opinion (Matt. 9:38, John 10:4, Acts 16:37, etc.) fail to establish it, and it is not acknowledged in Lust’s Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint (2003). In the Septuagint and in the New Testament the word is nearly always associated with commands or the use of force. Probably the NIV translators favored a weakened sense here, against the weight of the evidence, because they feared that ordinary readers would think “impelled him to go out” meant that Jesus was compelled against his own will.
28. Strangely enough, Wyclif chose this excellent equivalent for the Greek word while translating, not directly from the Greek, but from the Latin Vulgate, which has verecundia here. “Shamefastness” was used by the KJV translators also (though corrupted to “shamefacedness” in later printings), and retained in the ERV and ASV revisions. That αιδως and its cognates denoted a sense of shame appears clearly in the following quotations from Epictetus, a moralist of the first century: πεφύκαμεν δὲ πῶς; ὡς ἐλεύθεροι, ὡς γενναῖοι, ὡς αἰδήμονες. ποῖον γὰρ ἄλλο ζῷον ἐρυθριᾷ, ποῖον αἰσχροῦ φαντασίαν λαμβάνει; τὴν ἡδονὴν δ' ὑπόταξαι τούτοις ὡς διάκονον, ὡς ὑπηρέτιν, ἵνα προθυμίας ἐκκαλέσηται, ἵν' ἐν τοῖς κατὰ φύσιν ἔργοις παρακρατῇ. “And how are we constituted by nature? Free, noble, modest: for what other animal blushes? what other is capable of receiving the appearance (the impression) of shame? and we are so constituted by nature as to subject pleasure to these things, as a minister, a servant, in order that it may call forth our activity, in order that it may keep us constant in acts which are conformable to nature.” (Discourses, book 3, chap. 7). καίτοι καὶ δέδωκέ μοι ἡ φύσις αἰδῶ καὶ πολλὰ ὑπερυθριῶ, ὅταν τι ὑπολάβω αἰσχρὸν λέγειν. τοῦτό με τὸ κίνημα οὐκ ἐᾷ τὴν ἡδονὴν θέσθαι ἀγαθὸν καὶ τέλος τοῦ βίου. “And indeed nature has given to me modesty, and I blush much when I think of saying any thing base (indecent). This motion (feeling) does not permit me to make (consider) pleasure the good and the end (purpose) of life.” (Fragments, 52. English translation from The Discourses of Epictetus, with the Encheridion and Fragments, translated by George Long [London: George Bell and Sons, 1877]; Greek text according to the edition of Heinrich Schenkl [Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1916]).
29. Cf. the monograph by Douglas L. Cairns, Aidos: The Psychology and Ethics of Honour and Shame in Ancient Greek Literature (Oxford University Press, 1993). A good introduction to the subject as it relates to the New Testament is in Jerome H. Neyrey’s Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew (Philadelphia: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1998).
30. The NIV translation here is so uncommonly bad that I was prompted to look for an explanation for it in works written by the original NIV committee members. I found one in a book by Ralph Earle, Word Meanings in the New Testament (Baker, 1986). Earle quotes J.H. Bernard’s opinion that “aidos here signifies that modesty which shrinks from overstepping the limits of womanly reserve,” and says “in our opinion, that states the case with accuracy and relevance” (p. 338). We can agree with that judgment. But Earle does not clearly explain why we should think the NIV’s “decency” is an accurate rendering. He seems most interested in contrasting the NIV’s rendering with the KJV’s “shamefacedness.” Speaking of women “in this day,” he says that “something between shamefacedness and boldfacedness” should be sought, and so he recommends the NIV’s rendering because it expresses a “golden mean.” This is unacceptable, if we are being asked to think that αιδως denotes some state of mental poise equally distant from shyness and boldness (!) — but it does indicate that the NIV translators knew what the word αιδως means. Bernard, whom Earle quotes in part, even says in his commentary that “shamefastness and sobriety ... is as near to the Greek as we can go in English.” (The Pastoral Epistles, edited with Introduction and Notes [Cambridge, 1906], p. 45.)
31. Johann David Michaelis, A Dissertation on the Influence of Opinions on Language and of Language on Opinions. Second edition. (London: W. Owen, 1771), p. 28. English translation of Beantwortung der Frage von dem Einfluß der Meinungen in die Sprache und der Sprache in die Meinungen (1760).
32. James D.G. Dunn, Romans 1-8 (Dallas: Word Books, 1988), p. 17.
33. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, 1949), pp. 426-27. No scholar will deny that the word χαρις commonly has this meaning in the New Testament.
34. See the parallel in Gal. 5:18, in which “Spirit” stands where “grace” is used here. This is no sectarian understanding of “grace” that I insist on. On Romans 6:14 John Calvin writes “by the word grace we are to understand both parts of redemption—the remission of sins, by which God imputes righteousness to us—and the sanctification of the Spirit, by whom he forms us anew unto good works.... it is hence impossible that we should be subject to sin, when the grace of God reigns in us; for we have before stated, that under this term grace, is included the spirit of regeneration.” Likewise the Lutheran commentator R. C. H. Lenski writes concerning “grace” here, that it “includes all that comes to us from the favor Dei through Christ: justification, baptism, the new life and newness of life... grace removes the curse of sin, breaks its dominion, joins us to Christ and God, fills us with spiritual power to trample unrighteousness under foot and to work righteousness. Gratia non solum peccata diluit, sed ut non peccemus facit [‘Grace not only remits sins, but brings it about that we might not sin’]. Augustine. ‘Under grace’ still regards us as being subjects. Man is or can never be independent. But being subjects to grace is pure blessedness for sinners, for while law comes with threatening demands which we are helpless to fulfill, grace showers upon us not only what we need but all that it possibly can bestow, even the capacity to receive.” The failure to understand χαρις as a divine power was one of the features of the ancient Pelagian heresy, against which Augustine wrote, Tu vestro more, qui de vestro descendit errore, non agnoscis gratiam, nisi in dimissione peccatorum; ut iam de cetero per liberum arbitrium ipse homo se ipsum fabricet justum. “You, according to your custom, which stems from your error, do not acknowledge grace except in the remission of sins, that now from henceforth a man by his own freedom of will might make himself righteous.” (Contra Julianum, ed. Migne, § CCXXVII.) Some who have defended the use of “favor” have falsely claimed that Tyndale used it instead of “grace” in his translation of the New Testament. This impression was probably created by a sentence in his Answer to Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue, in which he defends an occasional use of “favour” where it seemed best to him, and says that “grace” was one of “juggling terms” of Roman Catholics, who “were wont to make many divisions, distinctions, and sorts of grace.” But the fact is, he used the word “grace” in the great majority of places where χαρις occurs in the New Testament. In his edition of 1526, he used “grace” in 106 of the 148 verses where it occurs; and in the revision of 1534 he increased it to 116. (The King James version adds only ten more, using “grace” in 126.) Evidently Tyndale knew that in most cases the word “favor” could not express the meaning of χαρις, and felt that “grace” was the better word.
35. Barclay M. Newman, Creating and Crafting the Contemporary English Version (New York: American Bible Society, 1996), p. 25.
36. Toward a Science of Translating, p. 43.
37. John Lyons, Language and Linguistics: An Introduction (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1981), p. 46.
38. Gerald Hammond puts it well: “While the Renaissance Bible translator saw half of his task as reshaping English so that it could adapt itself to Hebraic idiom the modern translator wants to make no demands on the language he translates into ... The basic distinction between the Renaissance and the modern translators is one of fidelity to their original. Partly the loss of faith in the Hebrew and Greek as the definitive word of God has led to the translators’ loss of contact with it, but more responsibility lies in the belief that a modern Bible should aim not to tax its reader’s linguistic or interpretive abilities one bit.” (Gerald Hammond, The Making of the English Bible [Manchester: Carcanet New Press, 1982] pp. 212-13).
1. Review of “The Message” in The Bible Translator 46/1 (January 1995), p. 155.
2. This useful distinction is made by E.D. Hirsch: “Meaning is that which is represented by a text; it is what the author meant by his use of a particular sign sequence; it is what the signs represent. Significance, on the other hand, names a relationship between that meaning and a person, or a conception, or a situation, or indeed anything imaginable.” (E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Validity in Interpretation [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967], p. 8.)
3. Eugene A. Nida, “Analysis of Meaning and Dictionary Making,” International Journal of American Linguistics 24/4 (October 1958), pp. 279-292; reprinted in Language Structure and Translation: Essays by Eugene A. Nida, Selected and Introduced by Anwar S. Dil (Stanford University Press, 1975), p. 6.
4. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament by Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, Subsequently Revised by Walter Baumgartner and Johann Jakob Stamm … Study Edition … Translated and Edited under the Supervision of M.E.J. Richardson, vol. 1 (Leiden: Brill, 2001), p. 13. The same element of meaning should be recognized in the verb בָּעַל, which means not merely to “marry” but to “take possession of a woman as bride or wife” (Koehler-Baumgartner, vol. 1, p. 142), and also in the related noun בַּעַל, ba'al, from which the primary meaning “owner” or “lord” does not disappear when it denotes a husband (Genesis 20:3, Exodus 21:3, Deut. 22:22, etc.). This does not mean that in Israel the wife was legally the property of the husband, like a slave; but it does indicate that the husband was popularly understood to be the “owner” of the wife in some extended sense. On the subject of marriage in ancient Israel I recommend the very helpful overview by Daniel Block, “Marriage and Family in Ancient Israel,” in Marriage and Family in the Biblical World, edited by Ken M. Campbell (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2003) pp. 33-102.
5. Ludwig Köhler, Hebrew Man, translated from the German Der Hebräische Mensch by Peter R. Ackroyd (London, 1956), p. 43. This little book gives much useful information about the cultural setting of the Old Testament.
6. See other references to the hair-cutting custom in Jeremiah 16:6; 47:5: 48:37; Job 1:20; Isaiah 3:24; 15:2; 22:12; Ezekiel 7:18; Micah 1:16.
7. See the BDB lexicon, p. 634. C.F. Keil in his commentary on Jeremiah gives an excellent exposition of the double sense of נזר here: “In these verses the judgment of ver. 20 is depicted in all its horror, and the description is introduced by a call upon Zion to mourn and lament for the evil awaiting Jerusalem and the whole land. It is not any particular woman that is addressed in ver. 29, but the daughter of Zion (cf. vi. 23), i.e. the capital city personified as a woman, as the mother of the whole people. Cut off נזרך, thy diadem. There can be no doubt that we are by this to understand the hair of the woman; but the current opinion, that the word simply and directly means the hair, is without foundation. It means crown, originally the diadem of the high priest, Ex. xxix. 6; and the transference of the same word to the hair of the head is explained by the practice of the Nazarites, to wear the hair uncut as a mark of consecration to the Lord, Num. vi. 5. The hair of the Nazarite is called in Num. vi. 7 the consecration (נזר) of his God upon his head, as was the anointing oil on the head of the high priest, Lev. xxi. 12. In this sense the long hair of the daughter of Zion is called her diadem, to mark her out as a virgin consecrated to the Lord. Cutting off this hair is not only in token of mourning, as in Job i. 20, Mic. i. 16, but in token of the loss of the consecrated character. The Nazarite, defiled by the sudden occurrence of death near to his person, was bound to cut off his long hair, because by this defilement his consecrated hair had been defiled ; and just so must the daughter of Zion cut off her hair and cast it from her, because by her sins she had defiled herself, and must be held as unconsecrate. Venema and Ros. object to this reference of the idea to the consecrated hair of the Nazarite: quod huc non quadrat, nec in faeminis adeo suetum erat [because it does not fit in this context, and moreover it was not customary among women]; but this objection is grounded on defective apprehension of the meaning of the Nazarite’s vow, and on misunderstanding of the figurative style here employed. The allusion to the Nazarite order, for the purpose of representing the daughter of Zion as a virgin consecrated to the Lord, does not imply that the Nazarite vow was very common amongst women. Deprived of her holy ornament, Zion is to set up a lament upon bare hill-tops (cf. iii. 21), since the Lord has rejected or cast out (ver. 30) the generation that has drawn His wrath down on it, because they have set idols in the temple in which He has revealed His glory, to profane it.” (English translation by David Patrick.)
8. BDB p. 1046; Koehler-Baumgartner p. 1628. The basic meaning seems to be “bare place,” but the most barren spots in Judea are the eroded hill-tops.
9. As usual, the narrative focuses on men. See the discussion of this feature of the Bible in my article, “The Gender Neutral Language Controversy.” There is no need to suppose that “the story takes the existence of other people for granted and the inconsistency did not occur to the narrator,” as one liberal annotator would have it. (Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible [Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1948], p. 29.)
10. A. R. Fausset, in Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown (1871).
11. Cf. Nigel Turner, Christian Words (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981), p. 65; Konrad Weiss, “χρηστος,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament vol. 9 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), pp. 488-9; Walter Grundmann, “χριω, χριστος,” in idem, p. 495. Grundmann writes, “χριστος is never related to persons outside the LXX, the NT, and dependent writings.” J.B. Lightfoot writes, “‘the anointed’ would convey no idea at all to a heathen ignorant of the Old Testament and unacquainted with Hebrew customs.” (St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians [third ed; London, 1873], p. 16, n. 1.)
12. See the interesting discussion of the Jewish interpretation of the Sabbath commandment in James Kugel’s The Bible As It Was (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997), pp. 389-91.
13. On the import of the expression in Job see Franz Delitzsch, The Book of Job, translated by Francis Bolton, on Job 14:1 and 4. “Woman is weak, with pain she brings forth children; she is impure during her lying-in, therefore weakness, suffering, and impurity is the portion of man even from the birth (ch. 15:14, 25:4) ... he acknowledges an hereditary proneness to sin.” Similarly Marvin Pope, Job (Anchor Bible series; Doubleday & Co., 1973), pp. 105-106. “Birth with its blood and messiness gives man a taint of uncleanness from the start ... from an unclean thing (woman) no clean thing can be expected.” A note in the Jerusalem Bible (1966) at Job 14:4 explains, “The emphasis is laid on the physical (and therefore ritual) uncleanness which man contracts from the moment of his conception, cf. Lv 15:19f, and birth, cf. Lv 12:2f, since he is born of a woman, Jb 14:1, cf. Ps 51:5. But this ritual uncleanness involves a corresponding moral weakness, a tendency to sin, and Christian interpretation has seen in this passage at least an allusion to what was later recognised as ‘original sin’ passed on from parent to child. Cf. Rm 5:12.” On the γεννητοις γυναικων in Matt. 11:11, see Heinrich Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Hand-Book to the Gospel of Matthew, trans. P. Christie (New York, 1884), p. 223. “Among those born of women” is “intended to denote the category of men according to that nature which is peculiar to the whole race in virtue of its origin (mortality, weakness, sinfulness, and so on).”
14. A moment’s reflection will find the difference between “grandsons” and “sons’ sons.” The two expressions are not fully equivalent, and the difference between them does have some cultural significance. Today even some of the most literal versions put “grandsons” here, because it is possible to interpret בני as including daughters. But to those who are familiar with the ancient patriarchal culture, it is by no means clear that בני here is meant to include daughters, so that בני בנים would include the sons of daughters also.
15. In the Septuagint עשה אמת is literally translated with ποιεω and αληθεια. See also Isaiah 26:10 in the Septuagint, where the expression has been inserted by the translator. But I am still not convinced that αληθεια in John’s Gospel should be understood as אמת in this sense. If the meaning is connected with the Hebrew word, the usage of אמת in Daniel (“divine instruction” and “body of religious knowledge,” cf. BDB, p. 54), seems more pertinent, and both עשה and ποιεω are flexible enough to yield the meaning “act in accordance with the Truth.” An analogous Semitic expression is ποιει τον νομον “do (i.e. act in accordance with) the Law” in John 7:19.
16. C.H. Dodd, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel (Cambridge, 1953), p. 176. We note that most of the versions that aim for “dynamic equivalence” still refrain from altering such expressions as “true light” (John 1:9) “true bread” (John 6:32) “true vine” (John 15:1) and “true tabernacle” (Hebrews 8:2), but the meaning of “true” in these expressions will not be understood by readers who are unfamiliar with the eternal archetype concept denoted by αληθινος in John’s Gospel and the Epistle to the Hebrews. A “dynamic” equivalent for “I am the true vine” eludes us, but it would have to be something like: “I am what the grapevine symbolizes; I embody the everlasting Vine-Idea in the mind of God, from which all earthly vines have derived their imperfect and temporary existence, as symbols and shadows of what is truly real in heaven.”
1. “Translating Hoi Ioudaioi in the New Testament,” TIC Talk 24 (1993).
1. Arie de Kuiper and Barclay M. Newman Jr., “Jesus, Son of God – A Translation Problem,” The Bible Translator 28/4 (October 1977), pp. 432-38.
2. Eugene A. Nida, “Intelligibility and Acceptability in Bible Translating,” The Bible Translator 39/3 (July 1988), pp. 301, 302.
3. The only ancient Greek manuscripts listed for the omission of υἱοῦ θεοῦ in the UBS edition of the Greek text (in which the words are bracketed) are codex Sinaiticus, codex Coridethianus (from the ninth century), and miniscule no. 28 (from the eleventh century, which omits “Christ” as well). The only versional evidence supporting the omission is the so-called Palestinian Syriac manuscript, and one manuscript of the Georgian version. This evidence is quite inadequate. It is obviously outweighed by the authorities which include υἱοῦ θεοῦ: the Greek uncials B A D L W K Δ Π, all but one miniscule, all Latin and Coptic witnesses, all but one Syriac, etc. Metzger explains in his Textual Commentary that despite the weakness of the documentary evidence for it, some critics believe that υἱοῦ θεοῦ may have been originally absent but added here because “there was always a temptation (to which copyists often succumbed) to expand titles and quasi-titles of books.” Among critical texts only that of Westcott and Hort omits the words, and among English versions only the TNIV and the New World Translation.
On the SIL website D. Richard Brown is described as a member of the Board of Directors from 1996 to 2008 and Corporate Vice-President from 1996 to 1999, among other things. He is currently a Translation Consultant and Associate Area Director of SIL-Eurasia. For many years he has used his positions within SIL and the Wycliffe Bible Tranlators to promote the so-called “insider movement” approach to missions in Muslim countries. The approach discourages converts from publicly identifying themselves as Christians or forming any visible churches, and encourages them to think of themselves as being “Messianic Muslims” or “Biblical Muslims.” See D. Richard Brown, “Biblical Muslims,” International Journal of Frontier Missions 24/2 (Summer 2007), pp. 6-74. His idea of a Muslim-contextualized form of Christianity is one in which Jesus is not called the “Son of God,” and he has advocated the elimination of the phrase (along with “father” in reference to God) in Bible versions designed for use in this kind of setting. See
D. Richard Brown, “The ‘Son of God’: Understanding the Messianic Titles of Jesus,” International Journal of Frontier Missions 17/1 (Spring 2000) pp. 41-52;
D. Richard Brown, “What Must One Believe about Jesus for Salvation?” International Journal of Frontier Missions 17/4 (Winter 2000) pp. 14-15;
D. Richard Brown, “Explaining the Biblical Term ‘Son(s) of God’ in Muslim Contexts,” International Journal of Frontier Missions 22/3 (Fall 2005) pp. 91-96;
D. Richard Brown, “Translating the Biblical Term ‘Son(s) of God’ in Muslim Contexts,” International Journal of Frontier Missions 22/4 (Winter 2005) pp. 135-145;
D. Richard Brown, John Penny, and Leith Gray [pseudonym of Larry Ciccarelli], “Muslim-Idiom Bible Translations: Claims and Facts,” St Francis Magazine 5/6 (December 2009), pp. 87-105;
D. Richard Brown, Leith Gray [pseudonym of Larry Ciccarelli], and Andrea Gray, “A New Look at Translating Familial Biblical Terms,” International Journal of Frontier Missions 28/3 (Fall 2011) pp. 105-120;
D. Richard Brown, Leith Gray [pseudonym of Larry Ciccarelli], and Andrea Gray, “A Brief Analysis of Filial and Paternal Terms in the Bible,” International Journal of Frontier Missions 28/3 (Fall 2011) pp. 121-125.
In view of the contents of these articles, and of the positions of authority held by Brown, it is quite useless for SIL to issue statements claiming that “SIL does not support the removal of the divine familial terms, ‘Son of God’ or ‘God the Father’ but rather requires that Scripture translation must communicate clear understanding of these terms.” (<http://www.sil.org/sil/news/2012/SIL-Son-of-God-translation.htm>, January 2012). It cannot be denied that Brown and at least one other SIL employee (Larry Ciccarelli) have advocated or defended the elimination of these familial terms in translations. And it cannot be denied that for several years other senior officers at SIL and Wycliffe have refused to acknowledge that there is a problem here, and have taken no action to set things right, though they were repeatedly asked to do so by missionaries within their organizations.
In the past three years many articles have been written for the purpose of refuting Brown’s arguments. See, for example, the two articles by David Abernathy: “Translating ‘Son of God’ in Missionary Bible Translation,” St. Francis Magazine 6/1 (February 2010), pp. 176-203; and “Jesus is the Eternal Son of God,” St Francis Magazine 6/2 (April 2010), pp. 327-94.
5. See the testimonies in “Fact Check: Biblical Missiology’s Response To Wycliffe’s Comments On ‘Lost In Translation.’”
6. Robert C. Dentan, “The Story of the New Revised Standard Version,” Princeton Seminary Bulletin 11/3 (1990), p. 217.
7. The idea that the Old Testament should be interpreted only in light of its own historical context, without reference to the New Testament, naturally appeals to humanistic principles of interpretation; but it practically denies the divine authorship of the Bible as a whole. In an ostensibly Christian context it can lead only to a de-canonization of the Old Testament. Bernard Ramm writes: “The conviction of the early Church was that the Old Testament was a Christian book. It recognized its inspiration no doubt. But a sheer appeal to the inspiration of the Old Testament without the profound conviction that it was a Christian book would not have made its case. The heresy of Marcion—that the Old Testament was not a Christian book—has been vigorously contested in the Christian Church wherever and whenever it has appeared and in whatever form it has appeared. The entire Patristic period is uniform in its testimony that the Old Testament belongs to the Church because it is a Christian book. There is absolutely no doubt that this conviction stemmed from the manner in which our Lord and his apostles used the Old Testament.” (Protestant Biblical Interpretation, revised edition [Boston: Wilde, 1956], p. 240.)
8. Quoted in D. A. Carson, The Inclusive-Language Debate (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), p. 41. In an article published in June of 2011, committee chairman Douglas Moo is reported to have said, “Our gender decisions were made on the basis of very careful and significant research … and the decisions we’ve made about gender have no motivation of not offending people.” (Michael Foust, “TNIV debate renewed in critique of new NIV,” Baptist Press, June 3, 2011.) Similarly, in a document posted on the official website of the NIV Committee on Bible Translation, Moo asserts that “we object very strongly to the accusation that our gender translation decisions were motivated by a desire to avoid causing offense. … Let us say it as emphatically as we can: the NIV translators have never been motivated by a concern to avoid giving offense.” (“A Brief Response from the Committee on Bible Translation to the Review of the updated NIV by the Committee [sic] on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,” <www.niv-cbt.org/wp-content/uploads/cbt-response-to-cbmw-review.pdf> dated 9 June 2011.) But I do not see how this claim can be reconciled with the committee’s policy statement, which explicitly states that they aimed to give “non-offending renderings.” I have elsewhere treated this subject at length, in an essay on The Gender-Neutral Language Controversy.
9. According to statistics presented by Robert Slowley at http://www.slowley.com/niv2011_comparison/.
10. Malcolm Ritter, “Doctors Work To Help Gifford’s Brain Rewire Itself,” 14 Feb. 2011.
11. See the graph at www.bible-researcher.com/human.dignity.jpg showing the comparative frequency of “human dignity” and “human depravity” in books published between 1800 and 2000.
12. Cf. the article ανθρωπος by Joachim Jeremias in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament edited by Gerhard Kittel, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), pp. 364-7.
13. David F. Wells, No Place for Truth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), p. 223. Although he is obviously not in sympathy with feminism, the clumsy and often inappropriate use of “inclusive language” in this book (several times in reference to faithful pastors) puts a question mark over the author’s claim to be writing “from a position that is antimodern across the entire front” (p. 11). It may be the work of an Eerdmans editor.
14. David Gelernter, “Feminism and the English Language,” The Weekly Standard 13/24 (March 3, 2008).
15. Mark L. Strauss, Distorting Scripture? The Challenge of Bible Translation and Gender Accuracy (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1998).
16. Strauss, Distorting Scripture, p. 109.
17. David J. A. Clines, The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, vol. 1 (Sheffield Academic Press, 1993).
18. Grant Osborne, “Do Inclusive-Language Bibles Distort Scripture?” Christianity Today, October 27, 1997. I will note here that Osborne’s use of the quotation of Psalm 32:1-2 in Romans 4:7-8 is rather misleading. He seems to imply that Paul has deliberately substituted neuter plurals for the masculine singulars in the Hebrew original, in the same way that the gender-neutral versions commonly do. But Paul’s quotation here is actually from the traditional Greek translation (the Septuagint), which often differs in little ways from the Masoretic Hebrew text. Moreover, the plurals of verse 1 are masculine, and the rendering of verse 2 does reflect the masculine singular words of the original.
19. Toward a Science of Translating, p. 167. Edward L. Greenstein (professor of Bible at Jewish Theological Seminary in New York) observes: “In principle the TEV opposes ‘any attempt to modernize the text,’ but it seems certain that the male-oriented language of the Hebrew Bible honestly reflects the cultural perspective of those who first transmitted it. The concept of ‘person’ devoid of gender connotations may not have been part of ancient Israel’s mindset, just as the concept of an integrated ‘universe,’ which the TEV posits in Gen. 1:1, was not. The question once raised by a very popular idiomatic Bible translator, James Moffatt, abides: ‘How far is a translator justified in modernizing an Oriental book?’” (Essays on Biblical Method and Translation [Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989], p. 92).
1. See the detailed discussion of “etymology and exegesis” in Moises Silva’s Biblical Words and their Meaning (2nd ed., Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), pp. 44-51.
2. George Campbell, “Dissertation vi.: Inquiry into the Differences in the Import of some Words commonly thought synonymous,” in vol. 1 of The four Gospels, Translated from the Greek; with Preliminary Dissertations, and Notes Critical and Explanatory (London: A. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1789). During the nineteenth century many scholars expressed similar thoughts, especially in connection with complaints about the needlessly discordant renderings of the KJV. For example, Edward H. Plumptre: “While it would be simple pedantry to lay down unconditionally that but one and the same word should be used throughout for one in the original, there can be no doubt that such a limitation is the true principle to start with, and that instances to the contrary should be dealt with as exceptional necessities.” (“Version, Authorized,” in Dr. William Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible … Revised and Edited by Professor H.B. Hackett, with the cooperation of Ezra Abbot, vol. 4 [Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1881], p. 3441.) One article that dwells on the subject is J. Henry Thayer’s “Unwarranted Verbal Differences and Agreements in the English Version,” in Anglo-American Bible Revision: Its Necessity and Purpose, by members of the American Revision Committee (Philadelphia, 1879), pp. 133-43.
3. There is, however, some cultural significance in the fact that the same word is used for “bride” and “daughter-in-law.” The same word is used for “bride” and “daughter-in-law” in ancient Hebrew and Greek because both languages are dominated by the perspective of the patriarchal father in a patrilocal society, where the “daughter-in-law” is a “bride” acquired for his son, and brought into his extended household. To use a single word in reference to “bride” and “daughter-in-law” is to see things from the standpoint of the ancient pater familias.
4. The verbal association of anger with the nostrils is mildly interesting, as an example of what Johann Gottfried Herder calls the “Analogie der Sinne” in his “Abhandlung über den Ursprung der Sprache” (Herders sämmtliche Werke, ed. Suphan, vol. 5, p. 70); but it is not really a metaphor, because by the time the Bible was written “anger” was just a common meaning of the noun אַפַּיִם. The phrase אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם is moreover a fixed expression or idiom (probably liturgical), and it would not have suggested any ludicrous picture of someone being “long of nostrils” for the ancient Hebrew reader.
5. Thus Athanasius, in the first of his Four Discourses Against the Arians, interprets Ephesians 3:15, “For God does not imitate men; but rather men, because God is properly, and alone truly, Father [Πατέρα] of His Son, are also called fathers of their own children; for of Him is all fatherhood [πατριὰ] in heaven and earth named.” (οὐ γὰρ ὁ Θεὸς ἄνθρωπον μιμεῖται· ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον οἱ ἄνθρωποι διὰ τὸν Θεὸν κυρίως καὶ μόνον ἀληθῶς ὄντα Πατέρα τοῦ ἑαυτοῦ Υἱοῦ, καὶ αὐτοὶ πατέρες ὠνομάσθησαν τῶν ἰδίων τέκνων. Ἐξ αὐτοῦ γὰρ πᾶσα πατριὰ ἐν οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς ὀνομάζεται. chap. 27.)
6. “The two words must be distinguished or the sentence is meaningless. λαλια is audible speech, the spoken word (not, of course, ‘chatter’ or ‘loquacity’ as often in earlier Greek): the Jews fail to understand the sayings they hear (cf. their frequent misunderstandings, e.g. in this chapter vv. 19, 22, 25, 33, etc.). This is because they cannot grasp and obey (for this use of ακουειν see on 5.24) Jesus’ message, the divine Word which he bears (and indeed is). ου δυνασθε must be given full weight; cf. 12.39.” — C.K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John (London: S.P.C.K., 1965), pp. 288-9.
7. Simon Kistemaker, in the continuation of Hendriksen’s New Testament Commentary, ad loc. See also the translation and comments of Bo Reicke, The Epistles of James, Peter, and Jude (Anchor Bible series, 1964), pp. 88-90.
8. Bindley translation, p. 52. The Greek is as follows. οὐχ ἁπλῶς, ὥσπερ πάντα τὰ ἐπὶ γῆς ἄλογα ζῷα, ἔκτισε τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ εἰκόνα ἐποίησεν αὐτούς, µεταδοὺς αὐτοῖς καὶ τῆς τοῦ ἰδίου Λόγου δυνάµεως, ἵνα ὥσπερ σκιάς τινας ἔχοντες τοῦ Λόγου καὶ γενόµενοι λογικοὶ διαµένειν ἐν µακαριότητι δυνηθῶσι, ζῶντες τὸν ἀληθινὸν καὶ ὄντως τῶν ἁγίων ἐν παραδείσῳ βίον.
9. William Sanday and Arthur Headlam, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (10th edition. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1905), p. 71.
10. James D.G. Dunn, Romans 1-8 (Dallas: Word Books, 1988), p. 132.
11. H. Wheeler Robinson, The Bible in Its Ancient and English Versions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1940), pp. 36-37.
12. It may be said that our word ‘soul’ combines the senses of נֶפֶש and רוּחַ, or that it corresponds more with the Greek conception of the ψυχη than with the Hebrew נֶפֶש. There is some truth in this. But נֶפֶש and רוּחַ (and their Greek counterparts ψυχη and πνευμα) so overlap in meaning, and are so closely associated in Scripture, that many scholars have treated them as virtually interchangeable. For a close analysis I recommend the helpful book on this subject by Franz Delitzsch, A System of Biblical Psychology, translated from the 2nd German edition by the rev. Robert E. Wallis (2nd ed. Edinburgh, 1885). The article “Soul” by Colin Brown in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978) is very helpful in some respects, but unfortunately it includes some statements which I think are misleading. For example: “A clear indication of how unfamiliar the OT is with the concept of a soul separate from the body, or a soul which becomes separated from the body at death, is the fact that it can speak of a dead person as the soul of that person, and mean by this phrase the dead person in his corporeality (Num. 6:6).” It is by no means clear to me that in Numbers 6:6 נֶפֶש refers to the dead body. Rather, it seems to me that here נֶפֶש refers somewhat loosely to the person as recently living. And the writers of the Old Testament certainly did think of man as having a soul which departs from the body at death and continues to exist in the spirit world. This concept was universal in the ancient world, and is taken for granted in the New Testament.
13. Gordon Wenham in his commentary on Genesis (vol. 2; Nashville, 1994) agrees: “Isaac does not say simply, ‘So that I may bless you.’ The use of ‘my soul’ rather than ‘I’ seems to express Isaac’s strong desire to bless Esau (cf. Deut 12:20; 14:26; Ps 84:3; Cant 1:7; 3:1-4).” He further notes that in verse 7 when Rebekah tells Jacob what Isaac said, she “seems to be playing down the strength of Isaac’s desire to bless Esau” when she changes “my soul” to “I.” (p. 206)
14. Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology, translated by D.M.G. Stalker, vol. 1 (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), p. 153.
15. Ronald Youngblood, quoted in Kenneth L. Barker, Accuracy Defined and Illustrated: An NIV Translator Answers your Questions (International Bible Society, 1995), p. 54. See also the brief explanation by Herbert M. Wolf, “When ‘Literal’ Is Not Accurate,” in The NIV: The Making of a Contemporary Translation, edited by Kenneth L. Barker (Colorado Springs: International Bible Society, 1991), p. 130.
16. Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), p. 95. “This relationship of identity of sin and flesh is one of the most distinctive and radical data of Pauline anthropology. What is important for our present context is that there is here a new indication of the universality of sin, in that flesh on the one hand is a description of all that is man, and on the other of the sinful in man.” For a good discussion of other aspects of this issue see Robert P. Martin, Accuracy of Translation (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth, 1989), pp. 32-37. I want to make it plain here that I do not endorse any criticism brought against the NIV’s rendering “sinful nature” by those who refuse to accept the teaching that fallen man is inherently sinful. I am sure that James D. G. Dunn is quite wrong when he contends that “Flesh for Paul was neither unspiritual nor sinful. The term simply indicated and characterized the weakness of a humanity constituted as flesh and always vulnerable to the manipulation of its desires and needs as flesh.” (The Theology of Paul The Apostle [Eerdmans, 2006], p. 70.) He is correct, however, in his observation that “the range of translations for the same term destroys any sense that Paul had an integrated concept of sarx, whose spectrum of meaning might have a coherence and integration which helped explain that spectrum.” (ibid., p. 70.) I contend that the interpretive rendering “sinful nature” is not necessary, because where “flesh” is used in this sense it is obvious.
17. Douglas J, Moo, “‘Flesh’ in Romans: A Challenge for the Translator,” in The Challenge of Bible Translation: Communicating God’s Word to the World. Essays in Honor of Ronald F. Youngblood, ed. Glen S. Scorgie, Mark L. Strauss, and Steven M. Voth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), p. 374.
18. See the BAGD lexicon, p. 744.
19. In his Large Catechism, commenting on the phrase “the resurrection of the flesh” in the Apostles’ Creed, Luther writes: “Dass aber hier steht ‘Auferstehung des Fleisches,’ ist auch nicht wohl deutsch geredet. Denn wo wir Fleisch hören, denken wir nicht weiter denn an die Scharren. Auf recht deutsch aber würden wir also reden: Auferstehung des Leibes oder Leichnams, doch liegt nicht große Macht daran, so man nur die Worte recht versteht.” (“The term ‘resurrection of the flesh,’ however, is not well chosen. When we Germans hear the word Fleisch [flesh], we think no farther than the butcher shop. Idiomatically we would say ‘resurrection of the body.’ However, this is not of great importance, as long as the words are rightly understood.”) In his commentary on Galatians (1519) he writes at 5:17, “Just as ‘spirit’ in this passage does not signify chastity alone, so it follows necessarily that ‘flesh’ does not signify lust alone. I have had to say this because it has become an established usage almost among all to understand ‘desires of the flesh’ only in the sense of ‘lust.’ According to this usage, it would be impossible for the apostle to be understood.” And on verse 21: “Here most plainly of all it is evident that flesh is understood, not only in the sense of lustful desires but as absolutely everything that is contrary to the spirit of grace.” (English translation from Luther’s Works, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, vol. 27 [St Louis: Concordia, 1964], pp. 362, 7.)
20. cf. Siegfried Raeder, “The Exegetical and Hermeneutical Work of Martin Luther,” in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: The History of Its Interpretation. II: From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, edited by Magne Sæbø (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008), pp. 401-2. Raeder explains that Luther used a literal rendering of “flesh” even though it was foreign to the German idiom, because the word was so expressive of a “humble anthropology”:
For the most part Luther’s translation of the Bible is looked at by linguists from the viewpoint of his masterly German. But it is not less remarkable that he also retains the strange features of Hebrew style, whenever he considers it necessary. This is an important matter for both theologians and linguists. Each of the languages implies a sort of petrified philosophy, analysing the structures of reality in its own way. For instance, the conception of time is different in the Semitic languages from the Indo-European. By that every language has its limits in interpreting reality. Therefore a language may be enriched and enlarged by adopting elements of another. Luther was convinced that certain things could not be expressed in German as completely as in Hebrew.
For instance, the Hebrew language uses the word בָשָׂר ‘flesh’ in order to name the totality of living things on earth, both animals and human beings. Originally, the German word Fleisch cannot be used with that wide meaning; usually we understand ‘flesh’ only as a material element. But Luther loved the Hebrew word בָשָׂר. Man is hungry, thirsty, in one word: pitiful, and “flesh is the most common ... form in all of us.” [WA 5, 270, 36-38 (= AWA 211, 482, 13-15). Cf. Tresmontant, Biblisches Denken (1956) 99-130 (“Grundzüge der biblischen Anthropologie”), esp. 99-100, 103f.] This is a humble anthropology. In contrast to Aristotle, Luther calls ‘flesh’ the form of man. Aristotle would say that the soul is the essential form of man and that ‘flesh’ is only the matter to be formed. Luther retained the word ‘flesh’ in his translation, differing from the German (and English) mode of speaking: Ps 56:5: Was sollte mir Fleisch tun? (NEB: “What can mortal men do to me?”); Ps 65:3: Darum kommt alles Fleisch zu dir (NEB: “All men shall lay their guilt before thee”); Isa. 40:10: Alles Fleisch miteinander wird es sehen (NEB: “all mankind together shall see it”); Isa 49:26: Alles Fleisch soll erfahren, daß ich bin der HErr (NEB: “All mankind shall know that it is I, the Lord”).
21. Luther was well aware of the ignorance of the common people. In the Preface to his Small Catechism (1531) he wrote: “Diesen Katechismum oder christliche Lehre in solche kleine, schlechte, einfältige Form zu stellen hat mich gezwungen und gedrungen die klägliche, elende Not, so ich neulich erfahren habe, da ich auch ein Visitator war. Hilf, lieber Gott! wie manchen Jammer habe ich gesehen, daß der gemeine Mann doch so gar nichts weiß von der christlichen Lehre, sonderlich auf den Dörfern, und leider viel Pfarrherren fast ungeschickt und untüchtig sind zu lehren ...” (“The deplorable conditions I found during a recent tour of inspection has impelled me to publish this catechism, or statement of Christian doctrine, after having prepared it in very brief and simple terms. May God help us! what a pathetic state of affairs I saw! The common men know nothing at all about Christian doctrine, especially those who live in the villages; and unfortunately many pastors are very inept, and unfit to teach.”) Again I would point out that he did not choose to address the problem by simplifying the Bible. Instead he provided a catechism, and demanded a more effective teaching ministry.
22. Moo, op. cit., pp. 375, 377.
23. Bruce M. Metzger, The New Testament: Its Background, Growth, and Content (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1965), 131.
24. Arthur Capey also notices this in a review of the Jerusalem Bible: “In Acts i.9-11, where the disciples witness the Ascension, the incremental repetition of ‘into heaven’ is dismembered: the sky is substituted for the heaven they look towards, ‘heaven’ being retained for the Lord’s destination only. (It wouldn’t do, would it? to ask the modern reader to believe that heaven is ‘up there’.— All right for St Luke, of course, and for first-century fishermen).” (Translation vs Paraphrase [Herefordshire: Edgeways Books, 2010], p. 36.) The same thing may be seen in the New American Bible and the New International Version. The BAGD lexicon suggests that the plural ουρανοι may be distinguished from the singular ουρανος in that “the plural is preferred” for the sense “the abode of the divine” (also Blass-Debrunner § 141.1 states that “the singular predominates in the literal sense”), but there are far too many exceptions for this generalization to bear much exegetical weight in particular cases. John never uses the plural, though the reference is normally to heaven. I note that in Acts 1:10-11 the four occurrences of ουρανος are all in the singular.
25. Any argument that the two senses would have had no semantic interaction founders on John 11:11, 13, where the ambiguity of the words is exploited.
26. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1958), p. 689. I do not, of course, mean to suggest that this metaphor supports the doctrine of “soul sleep” put forth by some sectarians.
27. In this connection I would also draw attention to the remarks of Leland Ryken, in The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2003), p. 179.
Three dozen times we read in the Old Testament court chronicles that a king “slept with his fathers” (e.g., 1 Kings 2:10). Stop to consider what all is contained in this evocative formula to record a person’s death. The continuity of generations is present in the idiom, along with the idea of death as the common human fate. Perhaps the covenant is hinted at in the patriarchal reference to fathers who preceded a person. The mystery of death is captured in the metaphor of death as a sleep. So is the thought of cessation from labor. A whole view of death is encapsulated in the ancient idiom.
All of these resonances get wiped out in modern translations that tell us simply that a given king “died” (NLT, CEV). One of the translations that renders it thus claims in its preface that it is the “only” translation that “clearly translates the real meaning of the Hebrew idiom . . . into contemporary English” (NLT). On the contrary, it has precisely not translated the real meaning of the Hebrew idiom; it has instead given us an emaciated version of the original, and in fact it has replaced the ancient attitude toward death with the utilitarian modern view that death is only an abstraction.
28. The Koehler-Baumgartner lexicon uses some rather sloppy reasoning to justify its statement that one of the senses of the word is “repeatedly.” It seems to me that the editors have attributed this meaning to the word merely because in a few places where the word occurs there is also some repeated action implied by other words in the context. This only give us more reason to think that the idea of repetition does not belong to the word הַשְׁכֵּם itself. The editors should have refrained from inventing a new sense for the word in Jeremiah, because “rising up early” does not really present a problem. As one lexicographer states: “A constant problem to guard against is the proliferation of meanings. It might be possible to defend the thesis that every time a word is used its meaning is minimally different; but even if true, this would hardly be helpful to the users of a dictionary. In practice many examples of a word’s use are so much alike as to be virtually identical, and it is this which enables the lexicographer to group the examples under mutually exclusive definitions. It is often tempting to create a new sense to accommodate a difficult example, but we must always ask first, if there is any other way of taking the word which would allow us to assign the example to an already established sense. We need the lexicographic equivalent of Occam’s razor: sensus non sunt multiplicandi praeter necessitatem. As I have remarked in several of my notes, there may be no reason why a proposed sense should not exist, but is there any reason why it must exist?” (John Chadwick, Lexicographica Graeca: Contributions to the Lexicography of Ancient Greek [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996], pp. 23-24.)
29. Mark L. Strauss, “Form, Function, and the ‘Literal Meaning’ fallacy in English Bible Translation.” Address at the 2003 annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. Accessed online. (Later published in The Bible Translator, Vol. 56, No. 3 [July 2005] pp. 153-168.)
31. The same point may be made from the common Hebrew word for sin. Robert Girdlestone in his Synonyms of the Old Testament (2nd ed., 1897) says that the Hebrew verb חָטָא, the ordinary word for “to sin” in the Old Testament, also “originally signifies to miss the mark,” and in a footnote he points to the occurrence in Judges 20:26 where “the word is used in its original sense” (pp. 76-77). However, I would point out that in Judges 20:26 it is the hiphil (causal) form of the verb that occurs, not the uninflected qal form, and so it is not actually the same morpheme. And what I have said concerning ἁμαρτάνω also applies in the case of חָטָא. The sense “miss the mark” should be seen not as a basic sense but as a specialized and rarely used sense (perhaps archaic) which has little to do with the common sense of the word. William Vine in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words rightly says in connection with the noun hamartia that “a missing of the mark” is an “etymological” sense which is “largely lost sight of in the N.T.” Girdlestone thinks this sense is intended in Romans 3:23 (“the sinner is one who has missed or come short of the mark,” p. 85), because of the collocation with the passive of ὑστερέω, which might be understood in the sense “fall short.” But I am fairly certain that ὑστεροῦνται here means “they lack” or “are deprived” of the glory of God (Vulgate, Luther, Calvin, Geneva Bible, Godet, Meyer, REB, NAB, Dunn, among others), rather than “they fall short,” and so I doubt very much that Paul had any archery metaphor in mind. See Dunn’s commentary.
32. He objects to this note because he thinks it implies that “flesh” is a more accurate rendering, and because he thinks the primary sense “flesh” has no relevance for the interpretation of Paul’s usage of the word. He fears that the rendering “flesh” will be “susceptible to an inappropriate Platonic or Gnostic dichotomy between mind/spirit and matter.” Nevertheless, “Because the English lexeme ‘flesh’ has — through centuries of use — become for Christian readers a technical term with most of the same connotations as Greek sarx, translations produced primarily for Christian readers may choose to retain this term.”
33. ibid. Strauss will not tolerate any indication at all that the primary meaning of αδελφοι is “brothers” because he has been one of the most vehement advocates for gender-neutralization of the biblical text. He claims that the meaning “brothers” is excluded by the context and that “brothers and sisters” is “well attested” for αδελφοι “both in secular Greek and in the New Testament.” But against these claims see my article, “The Translation of Αδελφος and Αδελφοι.”
1. Barr failed to mention the obvious ideological agenda behind most of the questionable semantic assertions that he brings under discussion. The most blatantly fallacious assertions about the meanings of biblical words made by scholars belonging to the neo-orthodox “biblical theology” school in the 1950’s were not innocent attempts at “seeing the Bible as a whole” along the lines of traditional forms of systematic theology. Nor were they merely consequences of faulty methods of linguistic analysis. They were motivated by a desire to subvert the dualistic themes of traditional Christian theology which derive from the Bible itself (especially of the New Testament). The tendency of the school was monistic and anti-supernaturalist. It was hostile to any “spiritualizing” distinction made between body and soul, spirit and flesh, heaven and earth, or this world and the world to come. There was also a tendency to insist upon the “social” nature of salvation in the Bible. Any assertion about the meanings of words that appeared to support their materialist and socialist views was welcomed, no matter how improbable. A typical example of the kind of imaginative philology encouraged by this school may be seen in Samuel Terrien’s The Psalms and their Meaning for Today (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1952), p. 240:
Moreover, “blessedness” in Hebrew does not suggest a state of “beatific” aloofness, a splendid isolation comparable to the impassiveness of the Hellenistic gods, or a self-satisfied detachment from “the turbulence and terrors of this world.” The Hebrew word ashre, usually rendered “blessed” or “happy,” probably derives from a root meaning “to go forth,” “to advance,” and, in one of its forms, “to lead the way.” The happiness of the Bible is not motionless but dynamic, and it has social implications. It goes somewhere, it has a purpose, and it opens a path to others.
2. Eugene Nida, “Implications of Contemporary Linguistics for Biblical Scholarship,” Journal of Biblical Literature 91/1 (March 1972), p. 86.
3. Charles Martindale, “Unlocking the Word-Hoard: In Praise of Metaphrase,” in Comparative Criticism, vol 6, edited by E.S. Shaffer (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1984), pp. 62-3.
4. “There is no getting away from the fact that single words have more or less permanent meanings, that they actually do refer to certain referents, and not to others, and that this characteristic is the indispensable basis of all communication.” (Gustaf Stern, Meaning and Change of Meaning, with Special Reference to the English Language [Göteborg 1931], p. 85.) “There is usually in each word a hard core of meaning which is relatively stable and can only be modified by the context within certain limits.” (Stephen Ullmann, Semantics: an Introduction to the Science of Meaning [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962], p. 49.)
5. See the exposition in Calvin’s commentary on Isaiah.
6. Gesenius claims that the sense belongs to “later Hebrew,” but Tregelles in his translation of Gesenius rightly puts a question mark after this assertion. Skinner in the Isaiah volume of the Cambridge Bible series (1898) writes: “Render: I have tried thee &c. (R.V. marg.). This sense of the verb is Aramaic (cf. Job xxxiv. 4?), and since the verb ‘choose’ is a common word of the prophet, the fact of its being found here in a different sense may be an argument against his authorship.” Likewise Koehler-Baumgartner lists the occurrence in Isaiah 48:10 under the “Aramaic” sense of “examine.” (Study Edition, vol. 1 [Brill, 2001], p. 119.) It is only by unwarranted etymological speculations that lexicographers have tried to assign the sense “tested” to the Hebrew word בחר. Gesenius equates בחר with בחן (“tested”) and reasons that the word must have this meaning “since trial must precede choice.” He even declares, precariously enough, that “the primary idea” of the word “is either that of rubbing upon the lapis Lydius or touch-stone, so as then to be i.q. בחן q.v. or else it lies in cutting in pieces and scrutinizing, comp. בקר no. 1.” Likewise John Oswalt in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament edited by Harris, Archer and Waltke (Moody Press, 1980) posits an imaginary “root idea” of “to take a keen look at,” thus “accounting for the connotation of ‘testing or examining’ found in Isaiah 48:10” (vol. 1, p. 100). It is very strange to see such pointless speculations in place of the simple recognition that in Isaiah 48:10 the word most probably means what it always means elsewhere in Scripture.
7. “Who was Gesenius, that our Presbyterian ministers and professors should appeal to his dictionary as the final court in linguistic matters? Should a rationalist of his type, whose opinions in Higher Criticism would be rejected as untenable, shall the work of such a man be accepted as the standard in the field of lexicography?” — Robert Dick Wilson, The Lower Criticism of the Old Testament as a Preparation for the Higher Criticism (Princeton University, 1901), p. 6.
1. John Wesley, Preface to Sermons on Several Occasions (1746).
2. Dan McCartney and Charles Clayton, Let the Reader Understand: A Guide to Interpreting and Applying the Bible (2nd ed. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Publishing, 2002), p. 143. Along the same lines, Sanday and Headlam write: “It is probably a mistake in these cases to restrict the force of the gen. to one particular aspect (‘the Gospel of which God is the author,’ or ‘of which Christ is the subject’): all aspects are included in which the Gospel is in any way related to God and Christ.” (Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, p. 5.)
3. It’s All Greek to Me: Translating God’s Word into Today’s Language (Colorado Springs: International Bible Society, n.d.), accessed July 2010.
4. In The Letters of Paul: an Expanded Paraphrase (Paternoster Press, 1965), Bruce paraphrases Ephesians 1:13 thus: “Yes, it was in Christ that you too by the exercise of your faith were sealed with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of promise. The Spirit of promise, I say, because He is the pledge of that inheritance which will be ours …”
5. The expression “word of his grace” in Acts 20:32 is syntactically identical, and is also best understood as an attributive genitive.
6. I do not know if linguists have a term for this problem, but I have often noticed it, and cognitive psychologists have paid some attention to it. Comprehension of whole sentences is sometimes actually degraded by lower reading speeds. When reading is slowed down or halted, and unusual attention is given to verbal details, ordinary language comprehension bogs down and fails to operate normally. This may seem counterintuitive, but problems of comprehension are often solved by reading faster, or by hearing the text being read aloud by a more fluent reader.
7. A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, 4th ed. (Nashville: Broadman, 1934), p. 496 (“the descriptive attributive genitive expresses quality like an adjective indeed, but with more sharpness and distinctness”).
8. Some commentators wrongly confuse the two. William Hendriksen, for example, writes, “Both Luther and Calvin defined the term which in the A.V. is rendered ‘the righteousness of God’ as indicating the righteousness that avails before God. And there can be no question about the fact that this kind of righteousness is indeed indicated.... It is clear then that ... the term in question should be rendered ‘righteousness from God,’ meaning that God, its Author, imputes this right standing to the sinner, who accepts it by faith.” (Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, p. 62). This is in line with the teachings of Luther and Calvin, but obviously they did not interpret or translate the genitive construction in Romans 1:17 as meaning “righteousness from God.”
9. In his commentary, Ernst Käsemann says “a complete history of the interpretation of δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ in Paul can scarcely be given here since it would embrace many volumes.” (Commentary on Romans, translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980], p. 25.)
10. The BAGD lexicon’s treatment of δικαιοσύνη in Paul’s epistles is tendentious and disappointing. It states, “In specif. Pauline thought the expr. η εκ θεου δικ. Phil 3:9 or δικ. θεου Ro 1:17; 3:21f, 26 (s. Reumann, below); 10:3; 2 Cor 5:21 (here abstract for concrete; δ. = δικαιωθεντες), and δικ. alone Ro 5:21; 9:30; 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 3:9 all mean the righteousness bestowed by God; cf. η δωρεα της δ. Ro 5:17, also 1 Cor 1:30 (cf. IQS 11, 9-15; IQH 4, 30-37). In this area it closely approximates salvation (c.f. Is 46:13; 51:5 and s. NHSnaith, Distinctive Ideas of the OT ‘46, 207-22, esp. 218-22; EKäsemann, ZThK 58, ‘61, 367-78).” One must look in the works cited (Snaith and Käsemann) to understand what is being said in the last sentence. The explanation of δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ given by Abott-Smith (Edinburgh, 1937) is better: “a righteousness divine in its character and origin.” For a good brief discussion of the Hebraic sense “covenant faithfulness” acquired by δικαιοσύνη in Jewish Greek see James D.G. Dunn, Romans 1-8 (Dallas: Word Books, 1988), pp. 40-42.
11. The tendency of many interpreters to run in front of the author is exemplified by Timothy Dwight when he writes (in a comment added to the American edition of Meyer’s commentary) that “verse 17 may be regarded as containing in itself the subject of the Epistle.” (p. 76.) We can assume that Paul already had in mind the subsequent argument of the Epistle when he wrote this verse, of course; but obviously the verse itself does not “contain” or express everything that the Apostle goes on to say. An accurate translation not only exhibits the ideas of the author, but also develops them in the same order and in the same way that the author does.
12. Strauss in “Form, Function, and the Literal Meaning Fallacy” wrongly asserts that “English does not have a genitive case and so it is impossible to render it [the Greek genitive] literally.” He claims that the “s” inflection serves only as a possessive, and quibbles that the prepositional genitive with “of” is not an inflected form. But English certainly does have a genitive case, and it can serve nearly all the same functions as the Greek genitive. See a full discussion of the matter with examples in George O. Curme, A Grammar of the English Language (D.C. Heath and Co., 1935), vol 1, p. 133-6, vol. 2, pp. 70-88. The article “Genitive” in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage (Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam Co., 1995) even seems designed to refute Strauss’s ill-informed claims. The article refers to a study done by the American linguist Charles C. Fries, American English Grammar: the Grammatical Structure of Present-day American English with Especial Reference to Social Differences or Class Dialects (Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1940), in which Fries, using letters sent to the U.S. government as his body of data, found that in these letters the possessive genitive “accounted for only 40-percent of all genitives.” Strauss himself acknowledges that the English prepositional genitive largely corresponds with the Greek: “The genitive phrase dikaiosune theou may be a possessive genitive referring to an attribute of God (God’s own righteousness); it may be a genitive of source referring to a status given by God (righteousness from God); or it may be a subjective genitive, indicating an activity of God (the righteousness shown by God). The English phrase ‘righteousness of God’ can be understood in any of these three ways. Its ambiguity makes it a suitable substitute in this context.” But he does not see that Paul may have intended more than one sense here, or may not have intended to make a distinction between them (“Paul certainly knew which of these meanings he intended”).
13. It is not even clear how ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν should be connected to the rest of the sentence. Should it be construed with δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ “righteousness of God” or ἀποκαλύπτεται “revealed”? The prepositions are so ambiguous, and the connection to the sentence so uncertain, we must concede that the phrase defies any exact and sure analysis.
1. Vladimir Nabokov, “Problems in Translation: Onegin in English.” Partisan Review 22/4 (1955), p. 512.
2. Eugene A. Nida, “Marginal Helps for the Reader,” The Bible Translator 9/1 (January 1958), pp. 1-21.
3. See the history of the policy in Roger Steer, “‘Without Note or Comment’: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” in Sowing the Word: the Cultural Impact of the British and Foreign Bible Society 1804-2004, edited by Stephen K. Batalden (Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2004), pp. 63-80; David G. Burke, “Text and Context: The Relevance and Viability of the Bible Society Movement’s Fundamental Principle–‘Without Doctrinal Note and Comment’–Past, Present and Future,” United Bible Society Bulletin 194/195 (2002), pp. 299-332.
4. The Theory and Practice of Translation (Leiden: Brill, 1969), p. 2.
5. James D.G. Dunn, Romans 1-8 (Dallas: Word Books, 1988), p. 41.
6. Ernst Käsemann, Commentary on Romans, translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), p. 27. Gerhard von Rad sets up a false dichotomy when he says “Jahweh’s righteousness was not a norm, but acts” (Old Testament Theology, vol. 1, p. 373). Throughout the Bible, righteousness is certainly defined by norms of the covenant relationship, and it is predicated of persons, not only actions. The righteous acts of God cannot be conceptually severed from the personal quality of being righteous. “The Lord is righteous in all his ways” (Psalm 145:17), and “he who performs righteousness is righteous” (1 John 3:7).
7. N.T. Wright, “Lost and Found in Translation: From 1611 to 2011,” Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 10 May 2011.
8. William Sanday and Arthur Headlam, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (10th edition. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1905), p. 24.
9. Benjamin Jowett, The Epistles of St. Paul to Thessalonians, Galatians, Romans, with Critical Notes and Dissertations, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (London, 1859), pp. 53-54.
10. The difference of rendering here is due to the fact that the Hebrew words לא or לוא “not” and לו “to/for/in him” sound alike and may also be spelled alike. The translator must decide which way to go. In ancient times the Targums, the Syriac version, and the Vulgate interpreted it as “I hope in him,” and English versions have usually followed their lead. Part of the Septuagint tradition also supports this. The “I have no hope” interpretation found in some twentieth-century versions (beginning with the ASV, and followed by RSV, TEV, etc.) is favored by scholars who maintain that it is most suitable for the context, but there is no ancient precedent for it. The NLT interpretation is a novelty. The 2004 revision has changed the wording to “God might kill me, but I have no other hope,” but still fails to give an alternative in the margin. The failure even to notice the traditional interpretation here is astonishing, because the KJV rendering “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” has often been quoted, and is one of the most famous lines of the Old Testament. One commentator (Marvin Pope) observes that it “has been hailed as the quintessence of the Hebrew spirit of faith.” But the vanity of our modern translators is such that this venerable interpretation can suddenly be eliminated without a trace, in a version intended for devotional readers.
11. Noel D. Osborn, “Basic Types of Footnotes for Old Testament Translations,” The Bible Translator 33/4 (October 1982), p. 416.
12. Jill Smith, “Footnotes and Glossaries,” The Bible Translator 42/4 (October 1991), p. 418.
13. D. Richard Brown, Leith Gray [pseudonym of Larry Ciccarelli], and Andrea Gray [pseudonym of Andrea Ciccarelli], “A New Look at Translating Familial Biblical Terms,” International Journal of Frontier Missions 28/3 (Fall 2011), p. 111.
14. For example, Paton J. Gloag: “By this we are probably to understand neither a direct intimation of the Spirit, as in Acts xvi. 6, nor yet a mere resolution formed by Paul himself; but a secret impulse of the Spirit by whom he was directed in all his journeys.” (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, vol. 2 [Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1870], p. 211.)
15. For exposition along traditional lines see the commentaries of Calvin, Matthew Henry, Alford, etc. Alford writes, “All Israel’s reproach was Christ’s reproach: Israel typified Christ: all Israel’s sufferings as the people of God were Christ’s sufferings, not only by anticipation in type, but by that inclusion in Christ which they, his members before the Head was revealed, possessed in common with us. Christ was ever present in and among God’s people; and thus De Wette well and finely says here, ‘The writer calls the reproach which Moses suffered, the reproach of Christ, as Paul, 2 Cor. i.5; Col. i.24, calls the sufferings of Christians the sufferings of Christ, i.e., of Christ’s dwelling, striving, suffering, in his Church as in his body; to which this reproach is referred according to the idea of the unity of the Old and New Testaments, and of the eternal Christ [the Logos] already living and reigning in the former.’”
16. Some imperatives are less forceful than others, but even the so-called “conditional imperative” never lacks imperatival force. See the discussion and references in Daniel Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), p. 489-92. Richard T. France appears to be trying to justify the rendering of the NIV in his recent commentary on The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 2007) when he says that the imperative here “probably reflects a popular proverbial style, as in our ‘give him an inch and he’ll take a mile’” (p. 485); but the English verb in his example is not in the imperative mood, and he offers no evidence that a Greek imperative was ever used to pose a merely hypothetical condition. France ignores the interpretation given by nearly all other commentators, who understand ποιησατε in the sense “consider.” The BAGD lexicon states that the meaning here is “assume, suppose” (p. 682).
17. Robert Gell, An Essay toward the Amendment of the Last English Translation of the Bible, or, A Proof, by Many Instances, that the Last Translation of the Bible into English May Be Improved (London, 1659), Preface, p. 23.
1. Robert G. Bratcher, “The Nature and Purpose of the New Testament in Today’s English Version,” The Bible Translator 22/3 (July 1971), p. 98.
2. William L. Wonderly, “Some Principles of Common-Language Translation,” The Bible Translator 21/3 (July 1970), p. 132.
3. Even the Epistle to the Romans, which is the most comprehensive book of the New Testament in regard to Christian teaching, assumes far too much knowledge of Christianity to serve the purpose of communicating “basic information.” As Sanday and Headlam explain, “the Epistle ... was at one time described, ‘a compendium of the whole of Christian doctrine.’ The Epistle is not this, because like all St Paul’s Epistles it implies a common basis of Christian teaching, those παραδοσεις as they are called elsewhere (1 Cor. xi. 2; 2 Thess. ii. 15; iii. 6), which the Apostle is able to take for granted as already known to his readers, and which he therefore thinks it unnecessary to repeat without special reason. ... Hence it is that just the most fundamental doctrines—the Divine Lordship of Christ, the value of His Death, the nature of the Sacraments—are assumed rather than stated or proved. Such allusions as we get to these are concerned not with the rudimentary but with the more developed forms of the doctrines in question. They nearly always add something to the common stock of teaching, give to it a profounder significance, or apply it in new and unforeseen directions. The last charge that could be brought against the Epistle would be that it consisted of Christian commonplaces. It is one of the most original of writings. No Christian can have read it for the first time without feeling that he was introduced to heights and depths of Christianity of which he had never been conscious before.” (Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, fifth ed. , p. xli.)
4. Vern Poythress, “Gender Neutral Issues in the New International Version of 2011,” Westminster Theological Journal 73/1 (Spring 2011), pp. 90-91.
5. Richard Francis Weymouth, The New Testament in Modern Speech: an Idiomatic Translation into Everyday English from the Text of ‘The Resultant Greek Testament’ by the Late Richard Francis Weymouth (London: James Clarke and Co., 1903).
6. Richard C. Trench, On the Authorized Version of the New Testament, in Connexion with Some Recent Proposals for Its Revision (2nd ed. London: Parker, 1859), pp. 50-51.
7. “9 Reasons You’ll Love the HCSB,” Facts and Trends, Fall 2011, p. 24.
8. Eugene Nida, “Problems of Revision,” The Bible Translator 2/1 (1951), p. 11.
9. We should point out here that the use of “behold” in the New Testament is a distinctly Hebraistic and biblical usage, and not colloquial Greek at all. In many places it does not correspond in meaning with “look here,” or any normal usage of ιδου found in secular Greek literature or non-literary papyri; but its use does correspond perfectly with that of the Hebrew interjections הֵן (hen) and הִנֵּה (hinneh), translated as ιδου in the Septuagint. James Hope Moulton writes, “We very rarely use the interjection ‘Behold’ in ordinary speech, and normal late Greek speech did not use it much more than we do. In those parts of the New Testament which come from Aramaic sources, or are written by men (like St. James) who continued to use Aramaic as their ordinary language, we find this ‘behold’ extremely often.” (The Science of Language and the Study of the New Testament [Manchester, University Press, 1906], p. 16.)
10. Wilhelm Michaelis, in the art. “οραω,” in vol. 5 of the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967), p. 318.
11. Jan de Waard and Eugene Nida, From One Language to Another (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1986), p. 9. I am aware of the fact that many young people do not know that “I shall not want” means “I shall not lack what I need” here. When I asked my 13-year-old daughter about it, I discovered that she thought it meant “I will not desire more than I need.” But I find it very difficult to believe that anyone would interpret it in the way that Nida supposes.
1. Daniel Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), p. 487. Wallace goes on to say, “There is a permissive imperative (see below), but its semantics are quite different from this.” However, the “permissive imperative” is Wallace’s own invention. None of the examples he gives under this heading on p. 489 require any “permissive” sense in the verb, and the category is not recognized by other grammarians. To be quite fair I must mention that in 1 Timothy 5:16 even some of the most literal versions have fallen below their usual standards. The New King James Version has “do not let the church be burdened,” and the 1995 revision of the New American Standard Bible has replaced “let not the church be burdened” with “the church must not be burdened.”
2. Some English grammarians have maintained that the subjects of third-person imperatives in English are only apparently third persons, and that the real subjects are always implicit or “null” second persons, to whom the commands are addressed. This however is artificial, and simply a figment of analysis, based upon the idea that a statement in the imperative mood by its very nature must be a command addressed to a second person, and that it would be somehow illogical to give commands indirectly. Presumably these grammarians would say the same thing about third-person imperatives in all languages. It is not clear to me how William D. Mounce can state that “there is no English equivalent to a third person imperative” (Greek for the Rest of Us [Zondervan, 2003], p. 194), when it is quite obvious that we do have an equivalent third-person imperative in such translations as “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor” (Ephesians 4:28). The same artificial analysis which would deny that there is really a third-person imperative in English grammar would apply just as much to Greek as it does to English, if it were valid. Stanley Porter seems confused about English grammar when he says that when we use “let him …” to translate a Greek third person imperative we use “an English permissive structure,” which has a “permissive sense.” (Fundamentals of New Testament Greek [Eerdmans, 2010], p. 301).
3. Ron Rhodes, The Complete Guide to Bible Translations (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 2009), p. 160.
4. Leland Ryken, The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2003), p. 112.
5. For example, Ernst Käsemann, Commentary on Romans, trans. Geoffrey Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), pp. 10-13. Käsemann theorizes that the salutation incorporates a “pre-Pauline liturgical fragment” in which one may see “the trace of a very early christology.”
1. By the same token, fraternus and paternus do have such connotative force in the Latin language, because of their obvious derivation from the common words for brother (frater) and father (pater). The semantic principle here is well-expressed by James Mackintosh: “In all cases where we have preserved a whole family of words, the superior significancy of a Saxon over a Latin term is most remarkable. ‘Well-being arises from well-doing,’ is a Saxon phrase which may be thus rendered into the Latin part of the language:—‘Felicity attends virtue;’ but how inferior in force is the latter! In the Saxon phrase, the parts or roots of words being significant in our language, and familiar to our eyes and ears, throw their whole meaning into the compounds and derivations; while the Latin words of the same import, having their roots and elements in a foreign language, carry only a cold and conventional signification to an English ear. It must not be a subject of wonder that language should have many closer connections with the thoughts and feelings which it denotes, than our philosophy can always explain.” (Sir James Mackintosh, The History of England [London, 1830] p. 82, emphasis mine.)
2. Barclay M. Newman, Creating and Crafting the Contemporary English Version (New York: American Bible Society, 1996), p. 26.
3. Richard C. Trench, English, Past and Present (10th ed., London: MacMillan and Co., 1877), p. 37. For Bible translation, Trench commends the balance that he finds in the King James Version: “We shall nowhere find a happier example of the preservation of the golden mean than in our Authorized Version of the Bible … the happy wisdom, the instinctive tact, with which its authors have kept clear in this matter from all exaggeration. There has not been on their parts any futile and mischievous attempt to ignore the full rights of the Latin element of the language on the one side, nor on the other any burdening of the Version with so many learned Latin terms as should cause it to forfeit its homely character … They gave to the Latin element of the language its rights, though they would not suffer it to encroach upon and usurp those of the other.” (pp. 37-40.)
4. Richard C. Trench, On the Authorized Version of the New Testament, in Connexion with Some Recent Proposals for Its Revision (2nd ed. London: Parker, 1859), p. 34.
5. This canard continues to be repeated even by those who must know better. For example, Alister McGrath in his book In the Beginning (New York, 2001), asserts that Tyndale “avoids Latinate terms” (p. 78). But an examination of any given chapter of his New Testament quickly reveals that he did not avoid Latinate words. In many places his words are drawn straight from the Latin Vulgate. In Col. 1:13 he uses “translated” for μετέστησεν, after the Vulgate’s “transtulit.” In Matt. 4:5 “pinnacle” for πτερύγιον is an imitation of the Vulgate’s “pinnaculum.” In John 1:5 κατέλαβεν is rendered “comprehended” after the example of the Vulgate’s “comprehenderunt.” “Tribulation and anguish” for θλῖψις καὶ στενοχωρία in Rom. 2:9 corresponds to the Vulgate’s “tribulatio et angustia.” He often uses Latin terms when he could easily have used Germanic words instead. For example, we find that he uses the word “concupiscence” to translate επιθυμια in Romans 7:8, though he used “lust” to translate the same word in 7:7. McGrath notices this, and says that “the assumption here must be that Tyndale believed that his readers would be familiar with this term,” but it must at least be admitted that he did not consciously avoid Latinate words. And it should be noticed that Tyndale’s use of “lust” in 7:7 is straight from Luther, whose version Tyndale used as a model, yet he departs from Luther’s Germanic diction to use the Latinate word in 7:8. Evidently the vocabulary of the English peasant (“the boy who drives the plough”) was not much in mind when he did his translation, and much of his “Anglo-Saxon” diction derives from the work of the Saxon Reformer.
6. Thomas Pyles and John Algeo, The Origins and Development of the English Language, third ed. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982), p. 246.
7. James B. Greenough and George L. Kittredge, Words and their Ways in English Speech (London: MacMillan, 1901), p. 106.
8. “Upon the languages of Teutonic origin the Latin has exercised great influence, but most energetically on our own. The very early admixture of the Langue d’ Oil, the never interrupted employment of the French as the language of education, and the nomenclature created by the scientific and literary cultivation of advancing and civilized society, have Romanized our speech; the warp may be Anglo-Saxon, but the woof is Roman as well as the embroidery, and these foreign materials have so entered into the texture, that, were they plucked out, the web would be torn to rags, unravelled and destroyed.” (Francis Palgrave, History of Normandy and England, vol. 1. p. 78, as quoted by Richard C. Trench, English, Past and Present [10th ed., London: MacMillan and Co., 1877], p. 37.) Ferdinand de Saussure explains that words with similar meanings are usually not really interchangeable, because they become specialized and occupy different areas of the semantic field. “Language is a system of interdependent terms [les termes sont solidaires] in which the value [la valeur] of each term results solely from the simultaneous presence of the others ... Within the same language, all words used to express related ideas limit each other reciprocally; synonyms like French redouter ‘dread,’ craindre ‘fear,’ and avoir peur ‘be afraid’ have value only through their opposition: if redouter did not exist, all its content would go to its competitors.” (Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics, trans. Wade Baskin [New York: Philosophical Library, 1959], pp. 114-16.)
9. An English Grammar: Methodical, Analytical, and Historical ... by Professor Maetzner of Berlin, translated from the German, with the sanction of the author, by Clair James Grece, vol. 1 (London: John Murray, 1874), p. 9. This evaluation of English is commonplace in the works of nineteenth-century German linguists. Often quoted is Jacob Grimm’s praise of English in his essay Ueber den Ursprung der Sprache (Berlin, 1852): “Ihre ganze überaus geistige, wunderbar geglückte anläge und durchbildung war hervorgegangen aus einer überraschenden vermählung der beiden edelsten sprachen des späteren Europas, der germanischen und romanischen, und bekannt ist wie im englischen sich beide zu einander verhalten, indem jene bei weitem die sinnliche grundlage hergab, diese die geistigen begriffe zuführte. Ja die englische spräche … sie darf mit vollem recht eine weltsprache heißen und scheint gleich dem englischen volk ausersehn künftig noch in höherem maße an allen enden der erde zu walten. Denn an reichthum, vernunft und gedrängter fuge lässt sich keine aller noch lebenden sprachen ihr an die seite setzen” (“Its entire, thoroughly intellectual [geistige], and wonderfully successful foundation and perfected development issued from a marvellous union of the two noblest tongues of Europe, the Germanic and the Romanic. Their mutual relation in the English language is well known, since the former furnished chiefly the material basis, while the latter added the intellectual conceptions [die geistigen begriffe]. Indeed, the English language … has a just claim to be called a language of the world; and it appears to be destined, like the English race, to a higher and broader sway in all quarters of the earth. For in richness, in compact adjustment of parts, and in pure intelligence, none of the living languages can be compared with it”). See further the exposition of this in Phillip Schaff’s essay on “The English Language” in Literature and Poetry: Studies on the English Language; the Poetry of the Bible; etc. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1890), pp. 1-62.
10. See George C. Richards, A Concise Dictionary to the Vulgate New Testament (London: Samuel Bagster & Sons, 1934), introduction, p. ix. Richards attributes to Jerome the following Latin words borrowed from Greek: abyssus, agon, agonia, alllegoria, anathematizo, angario, angelus, aroma, azymus, baptismus, baptizo, basis, blasphemia, blasphemo, brauium, byssus, cathecizo, cathedra, cauterio, cetus, character, charisma, chorus, clerus, clibanus, daemon, daemonium, diabolicus, diabolus, diacon, discus, dogma, dragma, dyscolus, ecclesia, episcopus, ethnicus, euangelista, euangelium, euangelizo, fascino, gazophylacium, genealogia, haeresis, holocaustoma, idolatria, metreta, mna, mysterium, nauclerius, neomenia, neophytus, orfanus, paedagogus, peripsima, petra, phantasma, platea, presbyterium, presbyterus, propheta, prophetizo, proselytus, scandalizo, schisma, stadium, stigma, thesaurizo, zelus.
11. For the word “atonement” the Oxford English Dictionary gives two quotations from Sir Thomas More (spelled attonemente and attonement, both from his History of King Richard the Third, although one is wrongly assigned to another work), and it gives the date of 1513 for these citations. This would precede Tyndale’s use of the word (as a rendering of καταλλαγη in Romans 5:11) in his New Testament translation of 1526. However, these quotations are from a work left unfinished by More at his death in 1535, and first published by a literary executor in 1557. The 1513 date is based upon the assertion of the publisher that it was written “about the yeare of our Lorde 1513.” The fact remains that Tyndale was the first to use the word in a printed book. The coinage is not quite as original as one might think, because the similar word onement had already been used with the same meaning by Wyclif, but the noun atonement is clearly derived from the verb atone, which does not seem to have been used before Tyndale’s time. Walter Skeat says that the word atone “came into use somewhere about a.d. 1530.” (An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language [Oxford, 1882], p. 40.)
12. See many other examples listed in Stanley Malless and Jeffrey McQuain, Coined By God: Words and Phrases That First Appear in English Translations of the Bible. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2003. Walter Skeat (an expert on Middle English vocabulary) says of the Wycliffite versions: “In some cases, the translators seem to have been unable to find any equivalent English word, and have contented themselves with retaining the original Latin word in a sort of English dress.” (The New Testament in English According to the Version by John Wycliffe ... and Revised by John Purvey ... Formerly edited by the Rev. Josiah Forshall .. and Sir Frederic Madden ... and now reprinted [Oxford, 1879], Introduction, p. xxii.)
13. John R. Slater, The Sources of Tyndale’s version of the Pentateuch (Chicago, 1906), p. 54, as quoted in Samuel McComb, The Making of the English Bible (New York, 1909), p. 26. McComb adds that Tyndale’s literal method “to a considerable extent has created the antique and dignified cast of sentences which lifts the Bible out of the ruck of ordinary literature and makes it a book apart.”
14. B.F. Westcott, A General View of the History of the English Bible (3rd ed., revised by William A. Wright; New York: Macmillan, 1916), p. 158.
15. Gerald Hammond, The Making of the English Bible (Manchester: Carcanet New Press, 1982), p. 212.
1. In secular Greek the usual word for “happy” is not μακαριος but ευδαιμων, a word that does not occur in the New Testament or in the Septuagint. The BAGD Lexicon observes that in the New Testament μακαριος usually has the sense “privileged recipient of divine favor,” and that the rendering “O the happiness of ... scarcely exhausts the content which μακαριος had in the mouths of Greek-speaking Christians” (p. 486). I should mention that Nida has acknowledged that the rendering “happy” involves a trivialization of the meaning of μακαριος in the beatitudes. In his article “The Sociolinguistics of Translating Canonical Religious Texts” (1994) he writes: “The term translated ‘blessed’ is the Greek word makarios, which in many contexts means simply ‘happy’ or ‘fortunate.’ But the term ‘happy’ would trivialize the meaning of the text, and ‘fortunate’ seems too close to ‘lucky.’ The Greek term makarios is the regular way of talking about the blessed state of the Olympian gods, and in this context of divine blessing in the Gospel of Matthew there is a literary echo to Psalm 1.1, which in the Septuagint Greek translation also begins with makarios. The religious dimension of this word suggests the English term blessed.”
2. David Dewey, A User’s Guide to Bible Translations (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2004), p. 46.
3. Our word “repentance” is derived from the Latin word poenitentia, “regret,” and is related to our words penitence and penalty. With this etymology in mind, some authors have thought that the word gives too much prominence to the negative or emotional element of meaning in μετανοια, and have associated it with Roman Catholic teachings that emphasize the need for contrition, confession, and penitential exercises. Treadwell Walden, for example, insisted that “repentance” perpetuates “the insidious influence of a Latin tradition” (The Great Meaning of Metanoia [New York, 1896], p. 140). But in point of fact, the meaning of the English word is not so narrowly confined to its etymology that it does not denote a positive change of mentality and amendment of life in addition to sorrow for sin. Walden and others have argued that the word μετανοια means simply a “change of mind.” Concerning this claim, Nigel Turner writes: “Writers like de Quincey, Matthew Arnold and Percy Dearmer seized on the secular meaning [of μετανοια] to support their protest against the Christian’s obsession with repentance and sin. The aim of these writers and many humanists is to eliminate the emotional and mystical element from associations of repentance and to substitute for conviction of sin the recognition by the ‘sinner’ that he has made a mistake, to see repentance as the unemotional and non-mystical admission of a failing, with consequent change of mind and will. We cannot think that this is what the words mean in a Christian vocabulary. They are more than touched with a little emotion. They rend the heart, passionately.” (Christian Words [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981], p. 377.) Most scholars agree with Turner. The best concise definition of μετανοια I have seen is B.B. Warfield’s — “the inner change of mind which regret induces and which itself induces a reformed life.” (“On the Biblical Notion of ‘Renewal,’” Princeton Theological Review 9/2 [April 1911], p. 257.)
4. In an article on “The Genitive Case in the New Testament” published in The Bible Translator 1/2 (1950) Harold Greenlee says this is an example of the genitive used “to express a loose relationship which often cannot be specifically categorized” and offers the interpretation “a baptism which had reference to repentance” (p. 70). In the same issue of The Bible Translator Nida says that “the relationship between the primary word of the phrase and the genitive attributive may be very poorly defined. For example, in Mark 1:4 the phrase ‘did … preach the baptism of repentance’ … The most that we can understand from the genitive construction which underlies the relationship of these words is that the baptism had reference to repentance, or that repentance was associated with baptism.” (“Equivalents of the Genitives in Other Languages,” p. 72.)
5. In his famous Ninety-Five Theses, Luther defined the poenitentia commanded by Christ as an odium sui, “self-loathing,” and declared that “the whole life of believers should be one of repentance.”
6. Eugene Nida, “Translation and Word Frequency,” The Bible Translator 10/3 (July 1959), p. 107. In his article, Nida introduces this principle as a reason for leaving frequently-used Greek conjunctions untranslated, the idea being that they are so frequently used as to be virtually meaningless; but I do not find in his writings any mention of the same principle for frequently-used words in the receptor language. He never advocates the use of uncommon words in the receptor language to translate uncommon words in the original.
7. Leland Ryken, The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2003). This book is the most helpful popular-level work on the subject that I am aware of.
8. Poetic parallelism may be found even in some of the briefest sayings of Christ recorded in the Gospels. For example: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Matt. 8:20, Luke 9:58.) Luke says that the people of Nazareth were amazed at “the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” when he preached in the synagogue (Luke 4:22). That is, they wondered how the son of a tradesman in their little town could have become such a gifted speaker. For complete treatment of this subject see Charles F. Burney, The Poetry of Our Lord: An Examination of the Formal Elements of Hebrew poetry in the Discourses of Jesus Christ (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1925).
9. Eugene Nida, “The Sociolinguistics of Translating Canonical Religious Texts,” Traduction, Terminologie, Rédaction, vol. 7, no. 1 (1994), pp. 202, 208.
10. ibid., pp. 200, 202. I observe here that when Nida calls it a “mistake” that people expect the Word of God to be impressive, he does not speak as a linguist, but as a language reformer with an agenda, or perhaps as an apologist for the kind of versions being published by his employer. A disinterested linguist does not raise protests against the assumptions commonly held by speakers of a language.
11. Eugene Nida, “Science of Translation,” Language 45/3 (1969), p. 494.
12. Dewey, p. 44.
13. St. Augustine, In Evangelium Ioannis Tractatus Centum Viginti Quator, Tractate lxxxii, §3. “Quid est ergo: Manete in dilectione mea, nisi, manete in gratia mea?” (“What then is ‘Abide in my love’ except ‘Abide in my grace’?”) Therefore when Jesus says in the next verse, “if you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love,” it is only another way of saying that an obedient heart is the result of God’s love for us. An English translation of Augustine’s sermon on these verses is available in vol. 7 of A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, edited by Philip Schaff (New York, 1888), p. 347. Not everyone will agree with Augustine’s identification of God’s dilectio with his dynamic gratia, but I do. Westcott finds special significance in the form of expression here: “The exact form of the phrase, which is found here only (τῇ ἀγάπῃ τῇ ἐμῇ), as distinguished from that used in the next verse (τῇ ἀγάπῃ μου), emphasizes the character of the love, as Christ’s: the love that is mine, the love that answers to my nature and my work.”
14. See Hauck’s article on μενω in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. 4 (English edition, 1967), pp. 576.
15. Concerning the Lord’s use of γυναι to address Mary in John 2:2 and 19:26, one of the original NIV translators claimed that “there is no doubt that this form of address expressed deep love and respect. The NIV seeks to convey this warmth by translating both passages as ‘Dear woman’” (Herbert M. Wolf, “When ‘Literal’ Is Not Accurate,” in The NIV: The Making of a Contemporary Translation [Colorado Springs: International Bible Society, 1991], p. 130). Concerning τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί he writes, “the issue is complicated by the close relationship between Mary and Jesus,” and “the precise shade of meaning is difficult to determine” (p. 136). But the notion that γυναι as a form of address “expressed deep love and respect” and “warmth” is absurd. Γυναι in itself does not bear any such connotations. And the meaning of τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί is not at all difficult to determine. It is the ordinary rendering of מַה־ לִּי וָלָךְ in the Septuagint, and identical or similar expressions obviously bear the same meaning in the New Testament (Matt. 8:29, 27:19, Mark 1:24, 5:7, Luke 8:28). Renderings such as “what is that to me and to thee” (Douay Rheims) and “what concern is that to you and to me” (NRSV) in John 2:4 lack any support in usage, ignore the well-attested meaning of the idiom, and can only be defended by an argument which maintains that the context here absolutely requires a different meaning.
16. St. Augustine, In Evangelium Ioannis Tractatus Centum Viginti Quator, Tractate viii, §9. “Cur ergo ait matri filius: Quid mihi et tibi est, mulier? nondum venit hora mea. Dominus noster Iesus Christus, et Deus erat et homo: secundum quod Deus erat, matrem non habebat; secundum quod homo erat, habebat. Mater ergo erat carnis, mater humanitatis, mater infirmitatis quam suscepit propter nos. Miraculum autem quod facturus erat, secundum divinitatem facturus erat, non secundum infirmitatem; secundum quod Deus erat, non secundum quod infirmus natus erat.” English translation from vol. 7 of The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Most modern commentators agree with this in substance, though they add other ideas to it. Westcott, for example, explains that Jesus addresses Mary as “woman” because “It emphasizes ... the contrast between the divine Son and the human mother,” and he explains that τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί “serves to show that the actions of the Son of God, now that he has entered on his divine work, are no longer dependent in any way on the suggestion of a woman, even though that woman be his mother. Henceforth all he does springs from within.” (The Gospel According to St. John, ad loc.)
1. “Quis vero non videat istis Hebraismis multam vim inesse? Benedic, anima mea, Domino. Magnificat anima mea Dominum. Dic animae meae, salus tua ego sum. Plusque nescio quid exprimi, quam si dictum esset, sine adjecto, Benedic Dominum, Magnifico Dominum, Dic mihi, salus tua ego sum.” John Calvin, Psychopannychia (1534), in Ioannis Calvini Opera Quae Supersunt Omnia, Volume 5 (Brunsvigae: C.A. Schwetschke et Filium, 1866), col. 179. Translation by Henry Beveridge, in Tracts Relating to the Reformation, vol. 3 (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1851), p. 421.
2. Spectator, No. 405; Saturday, June 14, 1712.
3. Worth quoting here are the remarks of Leland Ryken on “Literature as Incarnation” in his book The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2003), pp. 159-60. “There is no more foundational literary principle than that the subject of literature is human experience concretely presented. Literature incarnates its meaning and ideas in concrete form. Every writing student knows the cliché about the writer’s task being to show, not to tell. To show means to embody in the form of characters, settings, and action if the text is a story, and in image and figurative language if it is a poem. C. S. Lewis’s formula was that literature ‘is a little incarnation, giving body’ to its subject. And in an entirely different discussion, Lewis theorizes that ‘the most remarkable of the powers of Poetic language’ is its ability ‘to convey to us the quality of experiences.’ The chief means by which literature communicates the very quality of experiences is concreteness of expression. In literature we constantly encounter the sights and sounds of real life. For biblical poets, virtually nothing remains abstract.” For an extended discussion of the value of concreteness in diction see John H. Gardiner, “On Improving the Style of the Bible,” Atlantic Monthly, vol. 94 (1904), pp. 683-92.
4. Claus Westermann, Genesis 37-50 (Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 1986), p. 156. Westermann calls this concluding sentence “most unusual and moving.”
5. Charles S. Baldwin, Writing and Speaking: A Text-Book of Rhetoric, vol. 2 (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1911), p. 365.
6. Lewis E. Gates, “Newman as a Prose Writer,” in Three Studies in Literature (New York: Macmillan, 1899), p. 105.
7. Max L. Margolis, The Story of Bible Translations (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1917), pp. 23, 25.
1. Leonard Bloomfield, “Linguistics as a Science” in Studies in Philology vol. 27, no. 4 (October 1930), p. 553.
2. Prejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982), pp. 284-88.
3. For the “progressive” political motives see Frederick J. Newmeyer, The Politics of Linguistics (University of Chicago Press, 1986).
4. Franz Boas, The Mind of Primitive Man (New York: Macmillan, 1911), pp. 148-54.
5. Edward Sapir, “The Grammarian and his Language,” American Mercury 1 (1924), p. 152.
6. Otto Jespersen, Language: Its Nature, Development, and Origin (London: George Allen & Unwin LTD, 1922), pp. 319-20.
7. Dell H. Hymes, “Inequality in Language: Taking for Granted,” Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, vol. 8, no. 1 (Spring 1992), pp. 8-10. A minor revision of the article appears in James E. Alatis, ed., Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics 1992: Language, Communication, and Social Meaning (Washington: Georgetown University Press, 1993). Other linguists who insist that languages are “potentially” equal have recently felt a need to speak of the actual inequality of languages. Rajend Mesthrie writes: “Sapir, Worf and descriptive linguists generally were at pains to stress that languages were in principle of equal complexity. This was a necessary step to guard against potential European and American ethnocentrism in linguistics and anthropology. … Every language has the potential to add to its characteristic vocabulary and ways of speaking if new roles become necessary. Some languages have a superior technical vocabulary to that of others in certain spheres. This is a difference in actuality rather than in potential.” (Introducing Sociolinguistics [Edinburgh Univ. Press, 1988], pp. 35-7.) In a similar vein I.M. Schlesinger speaks of the difference in “availability” between languages: “It is widely held that, in principle, everything that can be said in one natural language can be said in every other one. What is at issue here is therefore relative, not absolute, availability; there are differences in the ease with which a given distinction can be made in various languages. Some languages have a certain contrast built in to their grammar, which may therefore be more readily attended to than in other languages, the speakers of which have to resort to circumlocutions to express it. That is, they have to resort to them if they wish to express the distinction in question; but very often they will not wish to do so, precisely because of the effort required.” (“The Wax and Wane of Whorfian Views,” in The Influence of Language on Culture and Thought: Essays in Honor of Joshua A. Fishman’s Sixty-Fifth Birthday, edited by Robert L. Cooper and Bernard Spolsky [Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1991], pp. 7-44; p. 22)
8. Eugene Nida, “Language and Communication,” in No Man Is Alien: Essays on the Unity of Mankind, edited by J. Robert Nelson (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1971), pp. 186, 194.
9. Richard C. Trench, On the Authorized Version of the New Testament, in Connexion with Some Recent Proposals for Its Revision (2nd ed. London: Parker, 1859), pp. 14-15.
10. See Ivan Kalmar, “Are there Really No Primitive Languages?” in David R. Olson, ed., Literacy, Language, and Learning: the Nature and Consequences of Reading and Writing (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985), pp. 148-166. For a clear picture of primitive linguistic limitation see the study of Daniel Everett, “Cultural Constraints on Grammar and Cognition in Pirahã: Another Look at the Design Features of Human Language,” Current Anthropology 46/4 (August-October 2005), pp. 621-46. The grammatical resources of the Pirahã language are so limited that one cannot even form such a phrase as “John’s brother’s house.” One can only say, in two separate sentences, “John has a brother. This brother has a house.” (“Recursion and Human Thought: Why the Pirahã Don’t Have Numbers,” Edge 213, June 14, 2007).
11. Otto Jespersen, A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles: Syntax (London: Allen & Unwin, 1965), p. 106.
12. Roger Smith, The Norton History of the Human Sciences (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1997), p. 835.
13. Mildred L. Larson, Meaning-Based Translation: A Guide to Cross-Language Equivalence (2nd ed. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1998), chap. 3.
14. From Goethe’s Faust (lines 1922-39), as translated by Anna Swanwick. “Zwar ist’s mit der Gedankenfabrik / wie mit einem Webermeisterstück, / wo ein Tritt tausend Fäden regt, / die Schifflein herüber hinüber schießen, / die Fäden ungesehen fließen, / ein Schlag tausend Verbindungen schlägt. / Der Philosoph, der tritt herein / und beweist Euch, es müsst’ so sein: / Das Erst’ wär’ so, das Zweite so, / und drum das Dritt’ und Vierte so, / und wenn das Erst’ und Zweit’ nicht wär’, / das Dritt’ und Viert’ wär’ nimmermehr. / Das preisen die Schüler allerorten, / sind aber keine Weber geworden. / Wer will was Lebendigs erkennen und beschreiben, / sucht erst den Geist herauszutreiben, / dann hat er die Teile in seiner Hand, / fehlt leider! nur das geistige Band.”
1. A search for quotations of this statement in the books indexed at Google Books finds thirty-nine titles, several of which treat it as authoritative. For example, Wayne Grudem cites it in his book The Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy (Nashville, 2000), to support the idea that because “God is sovereign over the affairs of the world, including the languages spoken by different people, and his Word commands us to make disciples and teach ‘all nations’ (Matt. 28:19-20) … we may rightly expect that he has put in the various language systems of the world the ability to convey the meaning of the Bible accurately.”
2. See the criticism in Edward L. Keenan, “Some Logical Problems in Translation,” in M. Reutter-Guenthner and F. Guenthner, Meaning and Translation: Philosophical and Linguistic Approaches (London: Duckworth, 1978), pp. 157-89.
3. “Formal completeness has nothing to do with the richness or the poverty of the vocabulary. It is sometimes convenient or, for practical reasons, necessary for the speakers of a language to borrow words from foreign sources as the range of their experience widens. They may extend the meanings of words which they already possess, create new words out of native resources on the analogy of existing terms, or take over from another people terms to apply to the new conceptions which they are introducing. None of these processes affects the form of the language, any more than the enriching of a certain portion of space by the introduction of new objects affects the geometrical form of that region as defined by an accepted mode of reference. It would be absurd to say that Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason could be rendered forthwith into the unfamiliar accents of Eskimo or Hottentot …” (“The Grammarian and his Language” , reprinted in Selected Writings of Edward Sapir, edited by David G. Mandelbaum [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1963], pp. 153-4.)
4. Edward Sapir, “The Status of Linguistics as a Science,” Language, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Dec. 1929), p. 212. See the enlightening discussion of this point in Michael J. Reddy, “The Conduit Metaphor: A Case of Frame Conflict in our Language about Language,” in A. Ortony (Ed.), Metaphor and Thought (Cambridge University Press, 1979), pp. 284–310.
5. In Nida’s discussion we find the idea that nouns which do not refer to physical objects are really just “nominalizations” of verbs that need to be turned back into verbs. This seems to be rooted in the simplistic transformational theories of language introduced by Chomsky in the 1950’s. But his real motive for wanting to get rid of abstract nouns in the translation is the desire to avoid admitting that an accurate translation usually requires corresponding nouns in the receptor language, which are often uncommon in daily speech, and sometimes altogether lacking in the language. The first English translators did not hesitate to borrow or create new English nouns to represent the Greek and Hebrew nouns (see my discussion of this in chapter 13). But the followers of Nida, in their excessive concern for easiness and naturalness, will not allow translators to enrich modern tribal languages in a similar manner. Mildred Larson, in her book Meaning-Based Translation (1984, 2nd ed. 1998) follows Nida by making a fallacious distinction between “grammatical” and “semantic” classification, as if semantics could be divorced from grammar, and says that a “skewing between the grammar and the semantic categories” occurs whenever we use abstract nouns. For example, she claims that the word “knowledge” really refers to an “event concept know,” and that we are somehow “skewing” such “event” concepts by using nouns to speak of them (pp. 62-64). If the receptor language lacks a corresponding noun that is used very commonly in daily speech, the translator is advised to transform the abstract nouns into verb clauses “because the use of a noun may make the reader think of an object,” and so forth (p. 248).
6. “Dynamic Equivalence in Translating,” in An Encyclopaedia of Translation: Chinese-English, English-Chinese, edited by Sin-wai Chan and David E. Pollard (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1995), p. 223.
1. Michael Marlowe, “The Effect of Language upon Thinking,” published online at <www.bible-researcher.com/linguistics.html>, April 2004.
2. Edward Sapir, “The Status of Linguistics as a Science,” Language, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Dec., 1929), p. 214.
3. Edward Sapir, “Communication,” in Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences vol. 4 (New York, Macmillan, 1931) as reprinted in Selected Writings of Edward Sapir in Language, Culture and Personality, edited by David G. Mandelbaum (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1963), p. 106.
4. Edward T. Hall, Beyond Culture (New York: Doubleday, 1976).
5. Ernst-August Gutt, “Translation, Metarepresentation and Claims of Interpretive Resemblance,” in Similarity and Difference in Translation, edited by Stefano Arduini and Robert Hodgson (American Bible Society, 2004) p. 96-97. On the last sentence Gutt notes “For example, neither the Translator’s Handbook on the Letter to the Hebrews (Ellingworth and Nida 1983) nor Deibler’s Index of Implicit Information in the New Testament (Deibler 1999) draws attention to the existence of this substantial body of implicit information.” More detailed discussion of the need for background knowledge is in Gutt’s “Aspects of ‘Cultural Literacy’ Relevant to Bible Translation,” Journal of Translation 2/1 (2006), pp. 1-16, where he complains of the picture “often conveyed in the literature on translation, where one gets the impression that implicit information consists of comparatively small bits and pieces of information” (p. 4) and argues that “It is not just missing bits and pieces of information that hinder people’s comprehension, as has often been assumed, but the absence of whole mental models.” (p. 15)
6. C. John Collins, “What the Reader Wants and the Translator Can Give,” in Translating Truth: The Case for Essentially Literal Bible Translation (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2005), pp. 84-85.
1. Thus Lünemann (Critical and Exegetical Hand-Book to the Epistles to Timothy and Titus ... and to the Epistle to the Hebrews [Edinburgh, 1883], p. 465), who quotes Calvin: Nec tantum in universum praecipit apostolus, ut sibi omnes caveant, sed vult ita de salute cujusque membri esse sollicitos, ne quem omnino ex iis, qui semel vocati fuerint, sua negligentia perire sinant. “The Apostle does not give only a general precept that all should take heed to themselves, but he wishes them to be solicitous for the salvation of every member, so that they should not allow any of those who had been once called to perish through their neglect.”
2. In the Greek, it is a prepositional phrase with an articular substantivized infinitive, and it is added as a manifestation of the “heart of unbelief.” See Blass-Debrunner § 404, which offers the rendering “in the form of an apostasy” for ἐν τῷ ἀποστῆναι.
3. Robert C. Dentan, “The Story of the New Revised Standard Version,” Princeton Seminary Bulletin 11/3 (1990), p. 220.
5. Walter Harrelson, “Inclusive Language in the New Revised Standard Version,” Princeton Seminary Bulletin 11/3 (1990), p. 229.
6. Burton H. Throckmorton, Jr., “The NSRV and The REB: A New Testament Critique,” Theology Today 47/3 (October 1990), p. 286. Throckmorton avers that the “undisguised androcentricity” of masculine pronouns for God is a “deficiency of the NRSV which is of such magnitude as will render it in its present form unusable for many believers.”
7. J.J.M. Roberts, “An Evaluation of the NRSV: Demystifying Bible Translation,” Insights: A Journal of the Faculty of Austin Seminary 108/2 (1993), p. 31.
1. The “consultative group” is described in Toward a Science of Translating rather cynically, as “persons needed to provide a kind of representative blessing on the work. In other words, they approve what has been done, but do not themselves participate to any considerable extent” (p. 247).
1. From Goethe’s Faust (lines 1217-37), as translated by George Madison Priest. “Wir sehnen uns nach Offenbarung, / Die nirgends würd’ger und schöner brennt / Als in dem Neuen Testament. / Mich drängt’s, den Grundtext aufzuschlagen, / Mit redlichem Gefühl einmal / Das heilige Original / In mein geliebtes Deutsch zu übertragen, / (Er schlägt ein Volum auf und schickt sich an.) / Geschrieben steht: »Im Anfang war das Wort!« / Hier stock ich schon! Wer hilft mir weiter fort? / Ich kann das Wort so hoch unmöglich schätzen, / Ich muß es anders übersetzen, / Wenn ich vom Geiste recht erleuchtet bin. / Geschrieben steht: Im Anfang war der Sinn. / Bedenke wohl die erste Zeile, / Daß deine Feder sich nicht übereile! / Ist es der Sinn, der alles wirkt und schafft? / Es sollte stehn: Im Anfang war die Kraft! / Doch, auch indem ich dieses niederschreibe, / Schon warnt mich was, daß ich dabei nicht bleibe. / Mir hilft der Geist! Auf einmal seh ich Rat / Und schreibe getrost: Im Anfang war die Tat!”
2. Ardel B. Caneday notices the importance of this verse in current debates about “Open Theism.” In a review of John Sanders’ 1998 book The God Who Risks, he describes Sanders’ interpretation: “Gen. 50:20, a verse that affirms that God effectively succeeds at his plans, has consoled innumerable Christians. But it now means something quite different. Sanders explains, ‘I take this to mean that God has brought something good out of their evil actions. God was not determining everything in Joseph’s life, but God did remain with him.’ (p. 55) The subject and its verb—‘God intended it for good’—has nothing to do with intention at all, but refers to God’s ability to mop up the mess, which is ‘to bring good out of evil human actions’ (p. 55).” (“Putting God at Risk: A Critique Of John Sanders’s View Of Providence,” Trinity Journal 20/2 [Fall 1999] p. 137.) We wonder if Sanders has been reading the New Living Translation. Is it asking too much of Bible translators that they should avoid giving ‘proof texts’ for such heretical ideas in their versions?
3. Gordon Fee and Mark Strauss, How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth (Zondervan, 2007), pp. 31, 52, 69, etc.
4. H.C.G. Moule, The Epistle to the Philippians, with Introduction and Notes (Cambridge, 1893), ad loc.
5. Ernst Würthwein, The Text of the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Biblia Hebraica. Translated by Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), p. 47. The English version quoted here was translated from the fourth edition of Würthwein’s Der Text des Alten Testaments (Stuttgart, 1973).
6. Dugald Stewart, Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind, in The Works of Dugald Stewart, vol. 2 (Cambridge: Hilliard and Brown, 1829), p. 97. Emphasis added. It should be noted here that distortions of an author are likely to increase with the degree of admiration in which he is held. Therefore when the preface of a Bible translation says, “the translators were united in their commitment to the authority and infallibility of the Bible as God’s Word in written form,” practical wisdom might sometimes require us to beware of this tendency.
7. See his book Christianity in Culture: A Study in Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1979) esp. Chapter 15, “Dynamic-Equivalence Theologizing,” pp. 291-312, and his article “Dynamic Equivalence Churches: An Ethnotheological Approach to Indigeneity,” in Missiology, vol. 1 (January, 1973), pp. 39-57. The relationship of Kraft’s missiology to Nida’s theory of translation is not merely verbal. For a good discussion of the matter see Robert L. Thomas, “Dynamic Equivalence: A Method of Translation or a System of Hermeneutics?” in The Master’s Seminary Journal 1/2 (Fall 1990), pp. 149-76.
8. In a conversation with one retired missionary from the Wycliffe Bible Translators I learned that this “contextualization” strategy sometimes has very bad consequences. Before introducing Jesus Christ to one tribe he asked them which of their gods was most powerful, and then proceeded to tell them that this god has sent to them a Son. The tribesmen were not at all receptive. Later the missionary discovered that this god, with whom he had associated Jesus Christ, was the god most feared and hated by the tribe, a malevolent deity more like Satan than God. For the true God of the Bible they had no “equivalent.”
9. Stanley E. Porter, “Hermeneutics, Biblical Interpretation, and Theology,” in I. Howard Marshall, Beyond the Bible: Moving from Scripture to Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), pp. 125-6. Porter (currently President and Dean of McMaster Divinity College in Ontario) is largely supportive of Marshall’s contention that “Orthodoxy is not tied to specific vocabularies and forms of words.”
1. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association also published and promoted a juvenile version titled the Everyday New Testament (Minneapolis: World Wide Publications, 1988), done at a third-grade reading level. The version had earlier been published as the International Children’s Version (Ft. Worth: Sweet Publishing, 1986), but its name was changed so that it might be promoted as a version suitable for adults. One book published by the Association boasted (falsely, it seems) that the version “has become popular with all groups and ages, including home-makers, college students, and professional people” (Irving L. Jensen, Enjoy Your Bible [Minneapolis: World Wide Publications, 1988], p. 131).
2. James Stalker, The Preacher and His Models (London and New York: Hodder and Stoughton, 1891). Rev. James Stalker, D.D. (1848-1929) was best known for his books Life of Christ, Life of St. Paul, and Imago Christi. He was Professor of Church History at Free Church College, Glasgow, and a notable preacher in his day.
1. The English Bible: A History of Translations (New York: Oxford University Press, 1961), p. 153.
2. The History of the Bible in English (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), p. 268.
3. Donald A. Carson, “New Bible Translations: An Assessment and Prospect,” in The Bible in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Howard Clark Kee (New York: American Bible Society, 1993), p. 37. The volume consists of papers and comments collected from a 1991 symposium sponsored by the American Bible Society.
4. The June 16, 1997 issue of Christianity Today reported that Eugene Rubingh, who until 1999 was the IBS vice president for translations, says “publishers Zondervan and Hodder & Stoughton first suggested a more inclusive text to the CBT [the IBS Committee on Bible Translation] because they knew of seminary professors dropping the NIV in favor of the New Revised Standard Version.”
5. As quoted by Stephen W. Paine, “Twentieth-Century Evangelicals Look at Bible Translation,” Wesleyan Theological Journal 4/1 (Spring, 1969).
7. As quoted in “Decline of the NIV?” WORLD magazine, vol. 14, No. 22 (5 June 1999).
8. “Dynamic Equivalence in Translating,” in An Encyclopaedia of Translation: Chinese-English, English-Chinese, edited by Sin-wai Chan and David E. Pollard (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1995), p. 226.
9. William L. Wonderly, “Common Language and Popular Language,” The Bible Translator 23/4 (October 1972), p. 405.
10. For the liberal argument see J.A. Wharton, “Shadow,” in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 4 (New York: Abingdon Press, 1962), p. 302. Wharton claims that “the familiar KJV phrase ‘shadow of death’ is based upon a popular etymology of צלמות [in which the word is understood to be a combination of] צל, ‘shadow,’ plus מות, ‘death’ ... whereas the word is now seen as a form derived from צלם (unused in Hebrew; Akkadian tsalamu, ‘grow black’) and should be translated with the RSV: ‘gloom,’ ‘deep darkness’ (the RSV retains ‘shadow of death’ in Ps. 23:4 for the sake of the traditional phrase, which is not seriously misleading in this verse). The error probably goes back to a very ancient homiletical interpretation of the word, which is accepted by the Greek translations (σκια θανατου, ‘shadow of death’) and appears in free adaptations of Isaiah 9:2—Hebrews 9:1 in the New Testament (Matthew 4:16; Luke 1:79).” But subsequent scholarship has tended to support the traditional etymology.
11. The phrase לארך ימים “unto length of days” occurs in two other places: Psalm 93:5 and Lamentations 5:20. In Psalm 93:5 the context clearly indicates that the meaning is “forever more,” and in Lamentations 5:20 it is used in parallel with another expression meaning “forever.” In Psalm 21:4 the phrase ארך ימים “length of days” (without the prefix ל “unto”) occurs in the sentence “length of days for ever,” which indicates that ארך ימים may refer to an indefinitely long period, even “forever.” We conclude that the traditional rendering “forever” gives the true sense in Psalm 23:6.
12. For a fully developed critique of the view of Standard English expressed by Bloomfield and other “descriptive” linguists see John Honey, The Language Trap: Race, Class, and the Standard English Issue in British Schools (Kenton, Middlesex: National Council for Educational Standards, 1983) and Language is Power: The Story of Standard English and its Enemies (London: Faber & Faber, 1997).
1. Preface to Tyndale’s translation of the Pentateuch, 1530.
2. John A. Broadus, A Treatise on the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, edited by Edwin Dargan (New York: Armstrong, 1903), p. 320.
1. Consider Your Ways; being a Pastor’s Address to his Flock, by the Rev. J.C. Ryle, Rector of Helmingham, Suffolk (Ipswich and London, 1849), p. 29.
2. James A. Blaisdell, “The Bible and the Common Man,” Bibliotheca Sacra 62 (October 1905), pp. 777-8.
3. Robert Nisbet, Twilight of Authority (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1975; reprinted Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000), p. 114.
4. Wayne Leman, “Cognitive Bibles,” 24 Sep. 2005.
5. Wayne Leman, “The Word for the Gullahs,” 20 Dec. 2005.
6. Nida comes close to acknowledging this in one place, in a discussion of the “special effects” of less common words: “these lexical features for special effects are almost the converse of those which are so important for the sake of efficiency. 1. Little-known words. Unfamiliar words carry special impact …” (Theory and Practice of Translation, p. 150).
7. Book III, chap. ii, §§ 2-3. “Deviation from the ordinary idiom makes diction more impressive; for, as men are differently impressed by foreigners and by their fellow-citizens, so are they affected by styles. Hence we ought to give a foreign air to our language; for men admire what is far from them, and what is admired is pleasant.” Translation from The Rhetoric of Aristotle. A Translation by Sir Richard Claverhouse Jebb … edited by John Edwin Sandys (Cambridge, 1909), p. 148. The original Greek, according to the edition of W.D. Ross, reads: τὸ γὰρ ἐξαλλάξαι ποιεῖ φαίνεσθαι σεμνοτέραν: ὥσπερ γὰρ πρὸς τοὺς ξένους οἱ ἄνθρωποι καὶ πρὸς τοὺς πολίτας, τὸ αὐτὸ πάσχουσιν καὶ πρὸς τὴν λέξιν: διὸ δεῖ ποιεῖν ξένην τὴν διάλεκτον: θαυμασταὶ γὰρ τῶν ἀπόντων εἰσίν, ἡδὺ δὲ τὸ θαυμαστόν ἐστιν.
8. Frederick F. Bruce, The English Bible: A History of Translations (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1961), p. 15. The reference is to Margaret Deanesly’s The Significance of the Lollard Bible (London: The Athlone Press, 1951), pp. 8f. Bruce, like other writers, goes on to contrast the extreme literalism of the earlier Wycliffite version with the more natural or “idiomatic” quality of the later Wycliffite version, but this is rather misleading because the later version can hardly be called idiomatic English. Although it is somewhat more idiomatic than the first, it remains highly literal, having more in common with the Latin text than with the English spoken by ordinary people at the time. David Daniell observes that in the later version “the Vulgate vocabulary remains” and that its syntax is sometimes so unidiomatic that it is “close to gibberish.” (The Bible in English [New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 2003], pp. 83-4.)
9. James Macknight, A New Literal Translation, from the Original, of the Apostle Paul’s First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians, with a Commentary and Notes (London, 1787), p. viii.
10. Albert Barnes, Introduction to Notes, Explanatory and Practical, on the Gospels (New York: Harper and Bros., 1855), p. xiii.
11. Translation from R.H. Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, vol. II (Oxford, 1913), p. 121, lines 308-11.
12. Translation from C.D. Jonge, The Works of Philo Judæus, vol. III (London, 1855), § VII, p. 82.
13. The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2003), p. 91.
14. Samuel Johnson, The Idler, no. 69, Aug. 11, 1759. “The wits of Charles’ time had seldom more than slight and superficial views; and their care was, to hide their want of learning behind the colors of a gay imagination: they therefore translated always with freedom, sometimes with licentiousness, and perhaps expected that their readers should accept sprightliness for knowledge, and consider ignorance and mistake as impatience and negligence of a mind too rapid to stop at difficulties, and too elevated to descend to minuteness. Thus was translation made more easy to the writer, and more delightful to the reader; and there is no wonder if ease and pleasure have found their advocates. The paraphrastic liberties have been almost universally admitted; and Sherbourne, whose learning was eminent, and who had no need of any excuse to pass slightly over obscurities, is the only writer who in later times has attempted to justify or revive the ancient severity.”
1. Toward a Science of Translating, p. 27.
2. The Ring of Truth: A Translator’s Testimony (New York: Macmillan, 1967), p. 21.
3. As quoted by Robert Martin, in Accuracy of Translation (Banner of Truth, 1989), p. 15.
4. As quoted by Harold Lindsell, in The Bible in the Balance (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), pp. 159-160.
5. See my discussion of this in chapter 3.
6. Toward a Science of Translating, p. 27, emphasis added.
7. For example, Philip Schaff in his History of the Christian Church several times describes the traditional view of inspiration as an outmoded “mechanical” or “magical” one, as in the following sentence: “the church fathers adopted for the New Testament the somewhat mechanical and magical theory of inspiration applied by the Jews to the Old; regarding the several books as composed with such extraordinary aid from the Holy Spirit as secured their freedom from errors” (vol. 2, 5th ed. [New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891], p. 520).
1. <http://www.ubs-translations.org/publications/translation_theory_and_practice/>, accessed 14 June 2011.
2. Philip C. Stine, Let the Words be Written: the Lasting Influence of Eugene A. Nida (New York: American Bible Society, 2004), p. 41.
3. In 2012, when SIL was under fire for advising translators to avoid literal translations of the term “Son of God” in Muslim countries, the organization posted on its website a “Statement of Best Practices for Bible Translation of Divine Familial Terms, with commentary” (30 April 2012), in which it sought to justify its extremely controversial policy by a quotation from Nida. The writer of this document thought it was relevant to observe that even the most literal English translations translate ἐὰν δὲ κοιμηθῇ ὁ ἀνήρ with “but if the husband dies” instead of “sleeps” in 1 Cor. 7:39. He writes, “In order to properly communicate the conditions under which a woman is free to remarry, English versions do not use the lexically-corresponding verb to sleep in this verse, but rather they use a verb which expresses the intended meaning. This is an example of what de Waard and Nida discuss in From One Language to Another, that changes of ‘form’ or wording should be done in translation when ‘a literal rendering would give an entirely wrong meaning’ (1986, 38). It is true, of course, that sleeping or dying in 1 Cor 7:39 do not have the same theological weight as Son of God. De Waard and Nida also discuss specific theological terms such as Lamb of God, cross, and sacrifice, stating that they ‘need to be preserved, but often with explanatory marginal notes’ (1986, 38). Preserving theological terms is a valid principle, but in some cases it may be in tension with the previous principle that permits a change of form when the ‘literal rendering would give an entirely wrong meaning’ (1986, 38).” The SIL statement is distorting Nida’s advice here, by suggesting that the first principle should nullify the second even in the translation of such a key term as “Son of God.” But it is notable how the writer feels a need to establish his simple point by a quotation from Nida, even if he must struggle to reconcile it with other things said by Nida on the same page.
4. John Beekman and John Callow, Translating the Word of God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974), p 32.
5. William F. Kerr, in The Living Bible, Not Just Another Version (Tyndale House, 1975), quotes Beekman as saying: “Many Bible translations currently available in the world’s major languages were done many years ago and do not communicate the gospel message clearly to the average person. The Living Bible is the most readable and the most natural English translation available. The fast-growing ministry of Living Bibles International is worthy of the prayer support of all of us.”
6. The saying may be traced to John Calvin, who in his Acta Synodi Tridentinae Cum Antidoto (Geneva, 1547) wrote: “Hoc semper lectoribus testatum esse volo, quoties in hac quaestione nominamus solam fidem, non mortuam a nobis fingi, et quae per caritatem non operatur: sed ipsam statui unicam iustificationis causam. Fides ergo sola est quae iustificet: fides tamen quae iustificat, non est sola (Galat. 5, 6; Rom. 3, 22). Quemadmodum solis calor solus est qui terram calefaciat: non tamen idem in sole est solus, quia perpetuo coniunctus est cum splendore. Quare totam regenerationis gratiam non separamus a fide: sed vim iustificandi, ac facultatem fidei in solidum, ut necesse est, vindicamus.” (p. 232; as reprinted in Ioannis Calvini Opera quae Supersunt omnia, vol. 7, ed. Baum, Cunitz, and Reuss [Braunschweig: C.A. Schwetschke, 1868], col. 477.) “I wish the reader to understand that as often as we mention Faith alone in this question, we are not thinking of a dead faith, which worketh not by love, but holding faith to be the only cause of justification. (Galatians 5:6; Romans 3:22.) It is therefore faith alone which justifies, and yet the faith which justifies is not alone: just as it is the heat alone of the sun which warms the earth, and yet in the sun it is not alone, because it is constantly conjoined with light. Wherefore we do not separate the whole grace of regeneration from faith, but claim the power and faculty of justifying entirely for faith, as we ought.” (Calvin’s Tracts: Containing Antidote to the Council of Trent, etc. vol. 3, trans. by Henry Beveridge [Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1851], p. 152.)
7. For the history of this policy see Roger Steer, “‘Without Note or Comment’: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” in Sowing the Word: the Cultural Impact of the British and Foreign Bible Society 1804-2004, edited by Stephen K. Batalden (Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2004), pp. 63-80.
8. Personal correspondence, dated 30 May 2009.
9. Mildred L. Larson, Meaning-Based Translation: A Guide to Cross-Language Equivalence. 2nd ed. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1998. First published in 1984.
10. The derivative nature of the work is acknowledged in the Preface. “The author is deeply indebted to the late John Beekman, from whom she learned much of what is included in this book. The material presented here borrows heavily from his writings and those of John Callow, Kathleen Callow, Katherine Barnwell, and Eugene Nide [sic]. This book simply takes the translation principles expounded by them and puts these principles into a new framework as a textbook for prospective translators, especially speakers of the many minority languages of the world.”
1. Frederick F. Bruce, The Letters of Paul: An Expanded Paraphrase, Printed in Parallel with the Revised Version with Fuller References by Drs. Scrivener, Moulton & Greenup (Exeter, Devon: Paternoster Press, 1965), p. 12.
2. Ibid., p. 9.
3. Recently Dr. John Piper, Senior Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, has said “Back in the sixties, we loved Phillips’ paraphrase. And the reason we could love it, is because it was called a paraphrase. There’s not a single Bible edition published today that will call itself a paraphrase, to their shame. Everything is a translation.” (“What do you think about paraphrased Bible translations?” <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKgjorVqmx4>, dated May 22, 2009.)
4. Ernst-August Gutt, “Translation, Metarepresentation, and Claims of Interpretive Resemblance,” in Similarity and Difference in Translation, edited by Arduini and Hodgson (American Bible Society, 2004), p. 98. “… the importance of high-resemblance metarepresentations [i.e. accurate translations] of biblical documents does not in itself rule out the validity of lower-resemblance metarepresentations [paraphrastic versions]. Both have their valid place. For example, paraphrased versions of the Bible are recognized by many as valuable Christian literature. However, to avoid serious miscommunication, it is of crucial importance that the receptor audience is clearly aware of the degree of resemblance intended in a particular metarepresentation. Given that for many Christians the term ‘Bible translation’ automatically conveys a claim of high resemblance in meaning, it will probably be advisable in many situations to use terms other than translation for lower resemblance metarepresentations.”
5. The sentence is found on the front flap of the dust jacket of the first edition of The Living New Testament (1967).
6. Zondervan Press Release, 4 February 2005.
7. Kimberly Winston, “Call It the Year of the Upgrade,” Publishers Weekly, 14 October 2002.
8. Dale Buss, “Big Brand on Campus,” brandchannel.com, 27 January 2003.
9. David Klinghoffer, “A Feast of Good Books,” Publishers Weekly, 11 October 2004.
10. B. F. Westcott, The Bible in the Church (London: Macmillan & Co., 1864), p. xi.
11. See the index page at <http://www.bible-researcher.com/versions.html>.
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