[B-Greek] Jn 2.4 and translation practices

Ann Nyland nyland at tsn.cc
Mon Nov 27 21:55:07 EST 2006

Hi all,
Jesus did not address his mother as "Woman", he addressed her as GUNAI, 
which was a most common form of polite address in Greek, e.g. in 
Aristophanes, Acharnians, 262 Dikaiopolos says, "Dear wife, you watch us 
from the roof. Let's go!" (Trans. as "Dear wife" not "woman" by 
J.Henderson.) R.D. Dawe, (ed.) Sophocles: Oedipus Rex. Cambridge Greek and 
Latin Classics, (Cambridge: C.U.P., 1982), p. 190 translates GUNAI in 
Sophocles, O.T., 928, as "lady".
It was a common term of endearment or respect in the Greek language.
Ann Nyland

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <frjsilver at optonline.net>
To: "Steve Westfall" <steve.westfall at comcast.net>
Cc: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 1:12 PM
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Jn 2.4 and translation practices

> Dear Friends --
> I could be wrong (I was once, you know....), but it seems to me that 
> Jesus's addressing His mother as 'woman' is one of those imported 
> Semiticisms which all translations ought to preserve.  We must remain 
> always aware of what is Greek, and what is Hebrew/Aramaic in Greek 
> garments.
> What I mean is that -- if the Greek translators of the Aramaic Gospel's 
> _Urtext/Urspracht_ felt that it was important to render a word literally 
> or calque it rather than translate it -- we should be able to recognize 
> what is Greek and what is imported, and leave it in some form redolent of 
> its original flavor no matter what our modern sensibilities might suggest. 
> Isn't that why God made footnotes?!
> Of course, if we read the NT and wrongly assume that every word of it is 
> Greek, we'll be greatly confused in our attempts to understand what we 
> read.  And this pertains not only to vocabulary, but -- in some 
> instances -- even to grammar.  It's not enough for us to be able to read 
> ALFA to O MEGA (W), or to use a Greek-English dictionary.  God help the 
> preachers who give 'word study' sermons based on so little and so mislead 
> their people!
> There is *nothing* disrespectful about this form in Aramaic.  We see this 
> even in Modern English, when people (even women among themselves -- I've 
> heard it there, as well as 'Guys!') prefix an emphatic statement with 
> 'Man!'
> This isn't quite an identity, I admit, but it's close.
> Yet, try to render one of our 'Man!' statements in Greek.  Would we use 
> ANQRWPOS or ANHR?  Why?  Or why not?
> I think that our _Angst_ over this situation is greatly overwrought, and I 
> suggest that we merely render the text as we find it, and add footnotes as 
> we must.
> Peace and blessings to all.
> Father James Silver
> Monk James
> Orthodox Church in America

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