[B-Greek] habakkuk 2:3 mt-lxx formal equivalence translation inadequate

Philip phil-eng at ighmail.com
Sun Jun 8 09:01:29 EDT 2003

> My explanation for this `meaningless' translation is
> that the LXX translators tried to mimic the infinitive absolute form of
the MT, which was a brilliant attempt but resulted in a bad
Glendon Gross wrote,

While I am not an expert in the MT, I know that our most recent manuscripts
are dated about 400-600 years after the LXX. (~300 A.D.)  I'm prepared to
accept the possibility that the LXX could be referring to an earlier

Philip’s response


Also, I see from the Hebrew that a possible literal translation of the words
translated ERXOMENOS hHXEI would be "for to come he will come".  [Looking in
The Interlinear NIV Hebrew-Engish Old Testament, edited by John R.
Kohlenberger III, on pp. 548.]

Isn't the present participle an adequate translation of the Hebrew
infinitive here? Since the passage is prophecy, I admit I am more forgiving
of the verb tenses than I might otherwise be.

Philip’s response

But what is an “adequate translation”, bearing in mind the different
translation methods.
I think the issue is that the LXX translators attempt to use the FORMAL
EQUIVALENCE translation method (which focuses on preservation of form,
rather than meaning) as opposed to the DYNAMIC EQUIVALENCE translation
method (which focuses on preservation of meaning, rather than form). The
FORMAL EQUIVALENCE translation approach attempts to retain the language
forms of the original as much as possible in the translation, regardless of
whether or not they are the most natural way to express the original meaning
and have weaknesses in terms of readability, overall preservation of
original meaning, and impact and tend to distort the form of the target
language by introducing an alien form of the source language into the target

In terms of being “more forgiving “ of verb tenses etc. perhaps we can say
that the DYNAMIC EQUIVALENCE translation method is more forgiving. Perhaps
we have to admit here that the FORMAL EQUIVALENCE method cannot strictly be
applied in this doublet case. A good attempt by John R. Kohlenberger III
"for to come he will come". [The Interlinear NIV Hebrew-Engish Old
Testament, edited by, on pp. 548.] But according to Greek grammar, the
present participle ERXOMENOS takes place at the same time as the leading
verb hHXEI, which is future tense. Kohlengerger tries but doesn’t fully
capture this use of the present participle.

It seems as though only when we apply, at some point, the DYNAMIC
EQUIVALENCE translation method, can we make sense out of this phrase and the
many others which occur in this form.
Philip Engmann

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