[B-Greek] Question about "apple of the eye"

yancywsmith yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
Tue Jun 27 13:36:17 EDT 2006

Fellow Greekers,

Marion referenced an English idiom that translates a LXX/Hebrew  
phrase that I had been already mulling over later and wondered if  
anyone on the list knows something about. While we say "apple of my  
eye" the LXX (Deut 32:10; Ps17:8/16:6; Zech. 2:8 'ISHON/BAT 'AYIN, H  
KORH TOU OFQALMOU ) lit. "little man/daughter of eye" cp. Ben Sirah  
17:22 "WS KORH" lit. as a "daughter" (shortened from KORH OFQALMOU) I  
understand that this refers physionomically to the pupil, but does  
the idiom arise from the optical effect created by looking closely  
into someone's eye and seeing a reflection of oneself? My Chinese  
friend says that back home they have a saying, "Be nice to me or I  
will squeeze you," while making a blinking motion, the assumption is  
that the reflection in the eye is under the control of the eye's  
owner, and, also has a sympathetic relationship to the person  
reflected. I am wondering (1) is there any type of cultural  
background we are missing in order to be able to understand this  
idiom? (2) is it a dead metaphor or just an incomprehensibility in  
the LXX arising from over literal translation? (3) is there any  
similar Greek or Greco-Roman image/metaphor? (4) Is this image taken  
up in Greek Christian literature and discussed? BTW, I am pretty sure  
that there is not any connection in either Greek or Hebrew with a  
desirable apple, which is TAPUAC, and MHLON, MYLOY. It seems like a  
beautiful and meaningful covenant image. I have a particular interest  
in relevant background assumptions that readers/speakers access to  
make usually incomplete linguistic references meaningful.

Yancy  Smith
yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
5636 Wedgworth Rd.
Fort Worth, TX 76133

On Jun 27, 2006, at 10:27 AM, Marion Fox wrote:

> Marion Fox here,
> I disagree with the quote. In fact, a free translation is almost  
> certain to be biased by the theological presuppositions of the  
> translator. Whereas a literal translation is not. Now then, suppose  
> that the original is an idiom. I argue that the translation should  
> still be translated in a literal manner with the idiom being  
> explained in a footnote. This allows the reader to interpret the  
> text for himself. It is not the function of a translator to  
> interpret the text, but to translate the text. What value is a  
> literal translation of an idiom? The idiom can become an idiom of  
> the target language. This allows the language of the Scriptures to  
> become part of the language of the target language. In English  
> there are a number of idioms that have been derived from the  
> Scriptures: (1) good Samaritan law, (2) eleventh hour decision, (3)  
> apple of my eye, (4) etc.
> Yours in His service,
> Marion R. Fox
> On 6/27/06, Iver Larsen <iver at larsen.dk> wrote:
> That is a wonderful quote. It describes quite well the predicament  
> of translators. If I translate literally, I know that
> I am a liar, because I lose so much of the originally intended  
> meaning. If I am too free, I may introduce some ideas not
> intended. On the other hand, I believe more heresies are based on  
> literal versions than understandable ones, unless the
> translators deliberately alter the meaning to suit their own  
> agenda. Doing a free translation is much more demanding in
> terms of knowing the whole Bible backwards and forwards as well as  
> a high level of linguistic awareness in both original
> languages and target language.
> In our Danish version we said in English back translation:
> "By the grace of God you have been allowed to not only believe in  
> Christ, but also to suffer for him."
> It sounds better in Danish than in English, though.
> Iver Larsen
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "yancywsmith" <yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net>
> To: "Lillian Belt" <lillianlbelt at yahoo.com>; <b- 
> greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Tuesday, June 27, 2006 12:58 AM
> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Phil 1:29
> I quite agree, unfortunately it is very difficult to make a
> translation in which the meaning of the Greek does not suffer, either
> through over literalness or through too much freedom. The Talmud
> Bavli (Qid. 49a) has this delightful mind bender: "He who translates
> a verse verbatim is a liar. But he who alters it is a villain and a
> heretic." Moral of the story? Don't translate, I guess!?! I just
> checked the Spanish translation we did of Phil 1:29. We came up with:
> "Dios les ha concedido el honor no sólo de creer en Cristo, sino
> también de sufrir por él." English back translation: "God has granted
> you the honor not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering
> for him." I think translations that put in a subject of the verb
> "have been given" (something like "honor," "opportunity,"  or
> "privilege" GNB) are trying to get at the nuance of the CARIS root in
> the verb (an implication of abundance, generosity, etc) in a way that
> makes better sense to their reading audience than simply using the
> Greek structure, which certainly cannot be used without retouching. I
> also agree that there is certainly more meaning intended by Paul than
> comes across in just about any translation I have seen, but trying on
> new renderings for size is almost as rewarding as finding the right  
> one.
> Yancy Smith
> yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
> 5636 Wedgworth Rd.
> Fort Worth, TX 76133
> 817-361-7565
> On Jun 26, 2006, at 3:50 PM, Lillian Belt wrote:
> > Well, this is my first attempt at this so here goes:
> >
> > I think you are right, Yancy, in that the word ECARISQH is the key
> > word to a proper translation, however, I depart from there.  I
> > think it would be better interpretered in light of the NT writer's
> > concept of the word, than what is "natural" in English. To be
> > "granted" to do something accords to that person a higher honor,
> > than to be given an opportunity.  I think your translation, "a
> > grand opportunity has been given" is far enough "off the mark", as
> > to diminish the power and force of the original language, thus the
> > translation suffers harm.  Even in English if we "grant" something,
> > it is by special permission, rather than just an opportunity.
> >
> > I hope I have kept to the guidelines of this web site, and
> > addressed only lexiconical and not theological issues.
> >
> > I await replies.
> >
> > Lillian Belt
> > PO Box 320
> > Independence, KS USA
> ---
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> -- 
> Marion Fox
> http://www.fivefpublishing.com

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