Nicene Creed

Eric S. Weiss eweiss at
Mon Jan 20 10:14:03 EST 2003

If this had been translated with all the articles translated as "the," a
poor reader of English could very likely conclude that several distinct
entities are being referenced here. I.e., there is the Holy Spirit, then
there is the Kurion/Lord (neuter), then there is the Lifegiver, then there
is someone/something who proceeds from the Father, etc.

If the successive phrases are all descriptive or appositive and further
describe TO PNEUMA TO hAGION, then translating them into English as a
relative clause with "which" or "who" or "that" is, in my opinion, the
better translation because it more correcly translates the meaning and
intent of the Greek than a string of "the" clauses would. And it that
sense, Moule's is a more "literal" translation, since "literal" means "in
accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of a
word or words; not figurative or metaphorical" (Random House-Webster's
College Dictionary)

Moule's is of course not a "formal equivalence" translation, as he does
not translate the Greek article every time with the English article or
only use the English relative pronoun when the Greek uses a relative

(But, then, what do we mean by the Greek relative pronoun? When the
article in Greek, as here, FUNCTIONS like the relative pronoun, it
semantically IS a Greek relative pronoun, I would think. But I'm only a
rank novice when it comes to discourse analysis, so don't quote me!)

That's why, as Carl seems to suggest, terms like "formal equivalence" and
"dynamic equivalence" are problematic terms. William Mounce in his
forthcoming GREEK FOR THE REST OF US (a "Greek for non-Greek students"
book) spends some time dispelling the affection many (myself at one time)
have wrongly acquired for translations designated as "literal."

> At 7:49 AM -0500 1/18/03, Steve Puluka wrote:
> >Hello Everyone,
> >
> >I'm working my way through CFD Moule's book "The Holy Spirit" (Mowbrey,
> >1978) for a class this semester. On page 43 in discussing the Nicene creed
> >statement:
> >
> >
> >The Greek text and punctuation here is from the Greek Orthodox liturgical
> >tradition, Moule does not supply the Greek but offers the following as a
> >"literal" translation.
> >
> >...also in the Holy Spirit,
> >which is Lord,
> >which makes alive,
> >which proceeds from the Father
> >which is worshipped and glorified with the Father and the Son,
> >which spoke through the prophets.
> >
> >My question regards the  sense Moule is making of the article.  I don't
> >understand how we get to a sense of "which" in this construction.  I've
> >re-read the chapters on the article in both Wallace and the "big" Robertson,
> >but this translation seems a stretch to me, not a literal one.  But I know
> >enough about Moule and his ability with Greek that I don't want to dismiss
> >it.
> Actually, Steve, translation of a substantive with a relative clause is a
> fairly standard strategy and one that is particularly commonly adopted when
> the substantive is a participial phrase; what Moule offers (assuming you've
> cited it directly) certainly makes better English than what you might
> IMAGINE is "more literal", i.e.
> the lordly/sovereign
> the alive-making,
> the one proceeding from the Father,
> the one with Father and Son co-worshipped and co-glorified,
> the one having spoken through the prophets ...
> This is to say, everything in the "literal" translation that I have just
> offered is present in Moule's version without exception and not a single
> bit of content has been added in Moule's version--but Moule's version is
> quite clearly better English and certainly more intelligible as a
> liturgical text. I wouldn't fault it as being a "literal" translation. Nor
> do I think this is so simply a question of whether one prefers "dynamic
> equivalence" or "formal equivalence" (there are now so many quasi-technical
> terms supposedly describing varieties of translational accuracy). Strictly
> stated, it's a matter of whether the reproduction of the Greek structure
> into an English structure yields intelligible English--and in my own view,
> my attempt above to produce an English structural equivalent of the Greek
> phraseology of this section of the Nicene Creed fails the test of authentic
> intelligible English. I would certainly prefer what you've cited from Moule
> and wouldn't hesitate to call it "literal."
> -- 
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
> 1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
> cwconrad at OR cwconrad at
> WWW:

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