Question: Off topic? More

Christian M. M. Brady cbrady at
Sat Mar 16 18:09:57 EST 2002

On 3/16/02 4:38 PM, "Peter Kirk" <Peter_Kirk at> wrote:

> No, I disagree here. Translation is not a matter of mechanical
> substitution of words without understanding. Translators cannot
> translate if they don't understand what they are translating, and the
> process of understanding is what we mean by exegesis. Indiviudual
> interpretation is another matter, and should not be added into a
> translation; but I have to agree with Liz that it is impossible to
> translate without introducing to some extent one's own interpretation.
> So we teach translators to use all of the steps of exegesis outlined by
> Fee in "New Testament Exegesis" and by Stuart in "Old Testament
> Exegesis", although those books are intended for preachers, not
> translators. The same process of exegesis is fundamental both to good
> preaching and to good translation.


You have obviously provided your credentials, but I still insist that there
is (ought to be) a distinction between the kind of understanding necessary
for a good translation and "drawing meaning out" of a text. And let's be
clear: I never suggested that translation was mechanical nor that it
involved a mere "substitution of words without understanding."

A good translator is required to understand the full range of meanings for a
given word in a variety of contexts and will make a choice of one (or
possible a few) words to represent the MT based upon that. Exegesis, and the
steps outlined by Fee and Stuart take one far beyond translation. It takes
one into interpretation (some of which is of course present in translation)
and on into application (which cannot/should not be in translation). (FWIW
two dictionaries define "exegesis" as "critical /analysis/ and /explanation/
of a text, especially the Bible." It is the explanation that takes one
beyond translation.

Take the Isa. 7.14 passage. Lis told us earlier that Childs translates this
as "maiden." That is a pretty good choice. It conveys the ambivalence and
ambiguity of the Hebrew text allowing room for the *exegete* to operate from
within their tradition.

cbrady @
Chris   M   M    Brady
Director * Jewish Studies * Tulane University
The Newsletter for Targumic and Cognate Studies

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