reason for b-greek
Stevens, Charles C
Charles.Stevens at unisys.com
Thu Dec 10 15:50:01 EST 1998
Well said, Jim.
Every translation is a compromise; no translation can include all the shades
of meaning present in the original, and that's due not only to the semantics
of the language itself but also to the underlying cultural milieu in which
the text was written. That applies to the Bible, it applies to Shakespeare,
it applies to Alice in Wonderland, and it applies to Humpty Dumpty.
The best illustration of the dangers of translation that I've heard people
use is the idea of the task of translating the dialogue of the "Rocky &
Bullwinkle" show for "dubbing" for consumption by, say, the residents of
Nepal (yes, I know, this is a reductio ad absurdum).
It may be possible to provide a text that, say, children would understand
that "lip-synched" adequately.
It might even be possible to provide one that would capture one of the
deeper layers of meaning or one aspect of the subtleties of humor -- both of
which likely rely on a contemporary American adult viewpoint to understand,
so some sort of commentary would likely be required -- still with some
fairly-close "lip-synch". .
But providing a text understandable to children, while simultaneously
reflecting accurately *all* of the possible layers of meaning in a *single*
translation is just flat impossible -- with or without the additional
requirement of "lip-synch"!!
There are different translations not just for different *folks*, but for
different *purposes*. Some translations endeavor to provide a "semantic
equivalent" of the original text, the extreme of which is the paraphrase.
Other translations endeavor to provide a one-to-one correspondence between
the original text and the new, the extreme of which is the interlinear. And
so far as I am concerned *no* translation can cover both simultaneously,
much less cover both simultaneously while also seamlessly reflecting
semantic subtleties in the original Greek that aren't also reflected in
A student whose native language is Icelandic is not likely to gain a
*complete* appreciation, or anything like a *full* understanding, of the
subtleties of Shakespeare while reading Icelandic translations of his works.
Why should we assume the Bible is any different in that respect?
-Chuck Stevens charles.stevens at unisys.com
From: Jim West [mailto:jwest at Highland.Net]
Sent: Wednesday, December 09, 1998 11:20 AM
To: Biblical Greek
Cc: b-greek at franklin.oit.unc.edu
Subject: Re: reason for b-greek
At 03:29 PM 12/9/98 -0500, you wrote:
>I have to explain to new students of biblical Greek the importance of
>studying the language. Could you please give me some reasons why we
>should study biblical greek and why biblical greek is relevant for today
>Many people in my midst think that it is a waste of time. I have to come
>up with very convincing answers to help them understand the importance of
>studying biblical Greek.
Consulting a person without knowledge of the Biblical languages about some
verse in the Bible is like consulting a doctor who had never learned
anatomy. Those who foolishly believe they can understand the meaning of a
Biblical text without recourse to the original are simply kidding
themselves. They can certainly, to be sure, understand something; but they
just as certainly cannot understand half of what the text is saying and
meaning, if that much, without being able to read the underlying original
Jim West, ThD
Quartz Hill School of Theology
jwest at highland.net
B-Greek home page: http://sunsite.unc.edu/bgreek
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