[B-Greek] referential complexity: frames & scenarios and Galatians 6:18

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Mon Apr 26 15:10:25 EDT 2010

On Apr 26, 2010, at 2:06 PM, Dr. Don Wilkins wrote:
> I had not asked Randall to weigh in on this, but I'm glad that he  
> did. I also appreciate Carl's humor and his tolerance in our (my)  
> straying off-topic.

I don't think this is really very far, if at all, off-topic. It goes to the
heart of questions we raise repeatedly about pedagogy, about what
constitutes "fluency" or "internalization" of Biblical Greek (or any
ancient Greek), about traditional grammar and/or linguistic analysis
as providing a "metalanguage" for discussion of questions about the
structure and meaning of Biblical or other Greek texts.

So far as I can see, the prevalent pedagogical method in Biblical
Greek employed in seminaries and denominationally-oriented
undergraduate schools is instruction in traditional analytical
terminologies and descriptions of morphology, syntax, and 
lexicology and envisions the "proof of the pudding" of successful
instruction as capacity to produce a more-or-less woodenly-literal
version in the student's native language. I personally think this
methodology is bankrupt

> Elizabeth has once again refused further comment, but I appreciate  
> her input and Yancy's. It appears that you all think that a  
> translation that is "wooden" for analysis purposes is a bad idea. I'm  
> not sure Steve Runge would agree, because he seems to see value in  
> linguistic analysis of an English translation.

Well, Steve can and should speak for himself. I don't see much value
in analysis of an English version other than as an analysis of how an
English text expresses its meaning. I don't see how one can analyze
a Greek text other than in terms of the elements constituting that
Greek text.

> On that point,  
> Randall, if you have the time, I would appreciate clarification of  
> your question, "...should someone who reads Greek poorly at best be  
> doing Greek analysis from an English text?" I was not asking about  
> Greek analysis, only linguistic analysis of an English text that is  
> "wooden" to accurately reflect the Greek text. Perhaps you don't  
> believe it's possible to accurately represent the original. If you  
> are saying that one has to master ancient Greek to properly analyze  
> ancient Greek, and similarly to do linguistic analysis of the Greek  
> text, I agree. And if you're saying that the best of bad alternatives  
> is that the non-Greek reader is at the mercy of the translator, I'm  
> not sure this is best, but I think that it is reality for the average  
> Bible student. Yancy's argument for using multiple translations in  
> Bible study works better for someone who reads Greek than for those  
> who don't, because someone like us can view the different  
> translations as commentaries, while those who don't read Greek have  
> no criteria for deciding the most accurate translation (i.e. the one  
> best representing the Greek). They need the guidance of a proficient  
> reader of the Greek (or the Hebrew for the OT). But this is way off- 
> topic (Carl, I apologize in advance).

Randall too can and should speak for himself. I personally would
agree with Yancy's view that a serious student of the Bible who
cannot read Greek would do best to read several different versions
rather than any single one. Like it or not, those who DO read Greek
with some competence are hardly of one mind about what any
particular Biblical Greek text must mean. Nor are they of one
mind about which is/are the better translation(s). One who does not have
any competence in Biblical Greek will have to discern for herself
which supposedly-competent "expert" she chooses to trust. I would
want to do my own picking and choosing, but I don't think I would
lay the burden trustworthiness all on any single so-called "expert."

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

> On Apr 25, 2010, at 2:11 AM, Randall Buth wrote:
>>> The end
>>> product would not be a "Study Bible," but (to use an old term) a
>>> thought-for-thought translation whose accuracy depends entirely on
>>> the understanding of the translator.
>> Having spent twenty years in Bible translation, I would say that  
>> all good
>> translation is done this way and is always similarly limited. Yet  
>> it is
>> as good as it gets.
>> The alternative--to list glosses that mimic the structure of the  
>> source
>> language (Greek, in this case), is to guarantee less accuracy. The
>> reader/audience has no alternative but to interpret the 'glosses'  
>> according
>> to the target language, and will correspondingly be more distant from
>> a fullly accurate interpretation. Any 'Greek' [SIC] training will just
>> compound the issue, because they won't have the necessary breadth to
>> qualify the training that they get and will again woodenly apply  
>> 'rules'
>> to a language whose cadence they do not hear.
>> However, the above quote was not made for translation purposes but
>> for analysis purposes. That brings one back to the question--
>> should someone who reads Greek poorly at best be doing Greek
>> analysis from an English text? I just can't see it, and have heard far
>> too many 'radio-preachers' to believe that the good will outweigh the
>> bad. I think that the bad outweighs the good. Students will be better
>> off, more on-target and in-the-ball-park, working from multiple  
>> English
>> translations done by qualified, skilled translators. And with a little
>> training in order to appreciate the various translations vis-a-vis
>> 'wooden glosses'.
>> Personally, I don't see any other route than to learn Greek well if
>> someone wants to be a skilled, lifelong, interpreter of ancient
>> Greek literature and the NT in particular.
>> If you love Cervantes, learn Spanish fluently. If you love Schiller,
>> learn German fluently. If you love the Bard, learn English fluently.
>> If you love Jesus, learn Greek fluently (Hebrew fluently too).
>> And learn analytical tools in parallel to the language skills.

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