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Friday, March 31, 2006

2 Tim. 2:15: Orthotomeo VII

To conclude my discussion of ορθοτομεω I now consider the expression as synonymous with ευθειας ποιειτε τας τριβους αυτου 'make his paths straight' in Matthew 3:3 and ευθυνατε την οδον κυριου in John 1:23. Without going into any analysis of the use of these quotatations in the New Testament, I am simply going to try to translate ορθοτομεω in such a way that the connection and the synonymy will be transparent, if that is at all possible.

    Mathew 3:3
    make his paths straight. ESV, NRSV
    make straight paths for him.'" NIV

    Proverbs 3:6
    In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. ESV, NRSV
    in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight NIV
At this point I simply want to translate ορθοτομεω τον λογον τνς αληθειας as 'make straight the path of the true word'. I will even consider 'make straight the path of the True Word'. That, however, seems overly interpretative. However, I would like to think that this inference is there. It is possible that Paul is talking about preaching Christ, not preaching the written word.

One last stop on the way. The Vamva New Tesatment will offer the added commentary of the modern Greek interpretation.

    14 ταυτα υπενθυμιζε διαμαρτυρομενος ενωπιον του Κυριου, να μη λογομαχωσι, το οποιον δεν ειναι εις ουδεν χρησιμον, αλλα φερει καταστροφην των ακουοντων.
    15 Σπουδασον να παραστησης σεαυτον δοκιμον εις τον θεον, εργατην ανεπαισχυντον, ορθοτομουντα τον λογον της αληθειας
    16 Τας δε βεβηλους ματαιοφωνιας φευγε. διοτι θελουσι προχωρησει εις πλειοτεραν ασεβειαν,
    17 Και ο λογος αυτων θελει κατατρωγει ως γαγγραινα, εκ των οποιων ειναι ο Υμεναιος και ο Φιλητος,
    18 οιτινες απεπλανηθησαν απο της αληθειας, λεγουντες οτι εγεινεν ηδη η αναστασις, και ανατρεπουσιν την πιστιν τινων.
    19 Το στερεον ομως θεμελιον του Θεου μενει, εχον την σφραγιδα ταυτην. Γνωπιζω ο Κυριος τους οντας αυτου, και Ας απομακρυνθη απο της αδικιασ πας οστις ονομαζει το ονομα του Χριστου.
Here is my translation at this point. It varies only in a few phrases from the major standard translations, but it gives me more insight into Paul's thinking and his associations.

    14 Remind them of these things and warn them before God not to war about words, which does no good but causes those who listen to fall down.
    15 Make every effort to demonstrate to God that you are trustworthy, a worker with no reason to be ashamed, making straight the path of the true word.
    16 Avoid nonsensical wordiness, for it will lead people into more and more impiety,
    17 And their word will spread like a cancer. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,
    18 Who have wandered away from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.
    19 But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this inscription: "The Lord acknowledges those who are his," and, "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from injustice.”
I have chosen 'acknowledge' in verse 19 since it reflects the interpretation in the Vamva translation. Also in verse 18, the Vamva translation gives the more easily understood αποπλαναω instead of αστοχεω. This demonstrates that for Vamva, the semantic domain of following a road is relevant. While it is tempting to make this contrast between ορθοτομεω and αποπλαναω more transparent, I felt it was necessary to use 'make' or 'prepare' the path, rather than 'guide on a straight path', because of the association with a worker.

Now it is obvious that Paul bases his teaching on Proverbs 3:6, "In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." This passage was familiar to both Timothy and himself, but now Paul shifts the players. The trustworthy worker will make straight the path of the True Word and in return the Lord will acknowledge them.

Sōfrosunē: modesty or good sense?

We have been discussing for some time the rendering of 2 Timothy 2:15. Now, just to confuse everyone (well, not really!), I am bringing up an issue which relates to 1 Timothy 2:15 - an even more controversial verse as it is the one which seems to say that women will be saved by bearing children. But, you will be relieved to hear, I don't intend to get into that controversy here, although this issue has some indirect bearing on it.

Over the last few days, as part of my Bible translation work, I have been looking at the Pastoral Epistles, and have been struggling with the rendering of σωφροσύνη sōfrosunē and related words like σώφρων sōfrōn. σωφροσύνη sōfrosunē is generally understood as meaning something like "good sense, sound judgment". Louw and Nida give an alternative, slightly different sense "moderation, sensibility". But for some reason which is unclear to me, in 1 Timothy 2:9,15 this word is commonly understood as meaning "modesty" (RSV, TEV etc, v.15) or "propriety" (NIV, TNIV). Perhaps this is because it is used of how women should behave, and in v.9 in explicit contrast with expensive clothing. But the regular meaning "good sense, sound judgment" fits very well in both of these verses; a woman with this quality will not waste money on expensive adornment.

In fact in v.9 there are two nouns linked together describing how women should adorn themselves, αἰδώς aidōs and σωφροσύνη sōfrosunē. RSV and NRSV render the phrase "modestly and sensibly" and TEV "modest and sensible", and this is good, for αἰδώς aidōs does mean something like "modesty, decency", and "sensibly" is a good rendering of μετὰ ... σωφροσύνης meta ... sōfrosunēs. The problem in RSV, NRSV and TEV comes in v.15, where μετὰ σωφροσύνης meta sōfrosunēs is rendered "with modesty", as also in NLT, cf. CEV "modest". Why no consistency here? Why not "sensibly" or "with good sense" in v.15? I note that KJV, ERV and ASV are all consistent in using "sobriety" in both verses. So I wonder if this actually started as an accidental error in RSV: someone may have tried to make v.15 consistent with v.9 but misunderstood "modestly" there as rendering σωφροσύνη sōfrosunē rather than αἰδώς aidōs. But, if so, it is an error which has perpetuated itself in TEV, NRSV, CEV and NLT, and has even found its way back into v.9, through NIV and TNIV's consistent rendering "propriety", and JB's consistent "modest".

For once I can report a real improvement in ESV over RSV: this is consistent in having "with modesty and self-control" in v.9 and "with self-control" in v.15. But is "self-control" a meaning of σωφροσύνη sōfrosunē? Not according to Louw and Nida. Nor are RSV, JB, NRSV, TEV, CEV and NLT's "modesty"/"modest" or NIV and TNIV's "propriety". Nor for that matter are JB Phillips' "gravity" or The Message's "maturity"; and whereas the "sobriety" of older versions may originally have had the right meaning, its modern sense of not being drunk is also misleading.

So I find myself in the interesting position that not one of the English Bibles on my shelf can offer an acceptable rendering of this word.

I hope that the Bible in another language which I am working on now will be an improvement, although it was hard to find a suitable word: the one which I am currently suggesting to the translators means something like "prudence", and is related to the adjective already accepted for σώφρων sōfrōn in 1 Timothy 3:2 and elsewhere in the Pastoral Epistles.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

2 Tim. 2:15: Orthotomeo VI

When the Old Testament writings talk about the 'way' being made straight, the usual consequence is that this will prevent you from stumbling. If God directs your path you will not fall down or stumble. However, the 'way of the Lord' is also made straight or level. Both of these phrases reappear in the New Testament.

Here are some of the relevant verses in Hebrew and Greek.

Proverbs 3:6

יְיַשֵּׁר אֹרְחֹתֶיךָ.
and He will direct thy paths. (make your path straight)
ἵνα ὀρθοτομῇ τὰς ὁδούς σου
ὁ δὲ πούς σου οὐ μὴ προσκόπτῃ

Proverbs 11:5

וּבְרִשְׁעָתוֹ, יִפֹּל רָשָׁע. צִדְקַת תָּמִים, תְּיַשֵּׁר דַּרְכּוֹ
The righteousness of the sincere shall make straight his way,
but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.
δικαιοσύνη ἀμώμους ὀρθοτομεῖ ὁδούς
ἀσέβεια δὲ περιπίπτει ἀδικίᾳ

Proverbs 3:23

אָז תֵּלֵךְ לָבֶטַח דַּרְכֶּךָ; וְרַגְלְךָ, לֹא תִגּוֹף.
Then shalt thou walk in thy way securely
and thou shalt not dash thy foot.
ἵνα πορεύῃ πεποιθὼς ἐν εἰρήνῃ πάσας τὰς ὁδούς σου
ὁ δὲ πούς σου οὐ μὴ προσκόψῃ

Isaiah 40:3

קוֹל קוֹרֵא--בַּמִּדְבָּר, פַּנּוּ דֶּרֶךְ יְהוָה; יַשְּׁרוּ, בָּעֲרָבָה, מְסִלָּה, לֵאלֹהֵינוּ
Hark! one calleth: 'Clear ye in the wilderness the way of the LORD,
make plain in the desert a highway for our God.
φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου
εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν

Psalm 91:12

עַל-כַּפַּיִם יִשָּׂאוּנְךָ: פֶּן-תִּגֹּף בָּאֶבֶן רַגְלֶךָ.
They shall bear thee upon their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone
ἐπὶ χειρῶν ἀροῦσίν σε μήποτε προσκόψῃς πρὸς λίθον τὸν πόδα σου

יַשֵּׁר is the underlying Hebrew word for ορθος, and ευθυς. So the path or road is to be made 'straight', 'direct', 'level' or 'smooth'. I don't actually see smooth in the lexicon, but while listening to Bruce Waltke's talk on Proverbs, I noticed that he uses the word 'smooth' for Proverbs 3:6. "He will make your paths smooth." It is a quality that will keep you from dashing your foot. The word also implies 'right', 'correct', 'sincere' and 'honest'.

Next time, I want look at how the New Testament quotes Isaiah and Psalms. And finally, it will be time to go back to 2 Timothy 2 and see which meaning/meanings for ορθοτομεω best fit into this chapter, looking at how Proverbs has made its influence felt in the way Paul uses vocabulary in this epistle.

When I was a child I had two small wooden texts, one was Proverbs 3:6 and the other was Isaiah 40:11. Somehow, I think of these two verses as tying God's people together across the millenia. The one in Paul's reference, for the most part obscured, and the other immortalized in early Christian art.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

2 Tim. 2:15: Orthotomeo V

I want to thank my cobloggers for additional information from Moulton and Milligan and from the LXX on 'orthotomeo'. This has become an very interesting exercise. Fortunately not very much hangs on the conclusion. Certainly no one would suggest that we are not to teach the word of truth accurately, regardless of our findings.

Peter supplies 'cut off the head', 'cut down trees' 'cut stone' 'cut in two' 'cut out the tongue', and there is 'cut out leather' and 'cut short' as further compound words made with '-tomeo.' So this seems like a productive method for creating words.

My reactions so far are that 'temno' and compound words with '-tomeo' are about as common as 'cut' in English, that is very common. It appears that the image when 'temno' is combined with road can be one of 'cutting across country', or 'leading/guiding'. In this case 'handling' in English might not be quite right, but 'cutting with precision' is too strong the other way. Not that we don't want precision, but is this the connotation that Paul intends in using this word?

I know this does not take into account the stonecutting image but I have not been convinced that this is implied here. I want to stick with the road itself being cut in a straight direction across country. However, I am open to persuasion otherwise.

In the course of reading, I noticed the expression 'suntomos' for both taking a 'short cut across country', and being 'short and to the point' in speech. Therefore, a compound with '-tomos' can apply literally to travel and figuratively to speaking.

The meaning of the word 'temno' for a road seems to range from the road being built, the road being marked, the road leading somewhere, taking the road, being guided on the road and so on. The range is significant. The point made by David R. is important. Nothing replaces simply reading a lot of text in Greek/Hebrew.

So far, there has been more discussion about the '-tomeo' part of the word than 'orthos'. 'Orthos' means 'straight up', 'upright', 'straight', 'direct', 'on a straight path', 'correct and true'. I would also argue that it is a close synonym of 'euthus'. There does not seem to be any differentiation between the two words, at least as they are used in Biblical literature.

Here are the only other two occurences of the exact word 'orthotomeo' in literature.

    Proverbs 3:6
    ἐν πάσαις ὁδοῖς σου γνώριζε αὐτήν
    ἵνα ὀρθοτομῇ τὰς ὁδούς σου
    ὁ δὲ πούς σου οὐ μὴ προσκόπτῃ

    In all your ways make her known.
    that she may make straight your ways,
    [and your foot will not stumble] NETS

    Proverbs 11:5
    δικαιοσύνη ἀμώμους ὀρθοτομεῖ ὁδούς ἀσέβεια δὲ περιπίπτει ἀδικίᾳ

    Righteousmess cuts out blameless paths
    But impiety is beset with injustice NETS

This is a longer passage in Proverbs which, I think, will show the synonomy between ορθος, ευθυς, αγαθος and λειος, smooth; and their opposite κακος, bad; σκολιος, crooked; σκοτος, dark; and καμπυλος, bent; also οδος, road; τριβος, path; τροχος, course; βουλη, counsel, and αξων, axle.

    Proverbs 2:6 - 21
    6 ὅτι κύριος δίδωσιν σοφίαν

    καὶ ἀπὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ γνῶσις καὶ σύνεσις
    7 καὶ θησαυρίζει τοῖς κατορθοῦσι σωτηρίαν
    ὑπερασπιεῖ τὴν πορείαν αὐτῶν
    8 τοῦ φυλάξαι ὁδοὺς δικαιωμάτων
    καὶ ὁδὸν εὐλαβουμένων αὐτὸν διαφυλάξει
    9 τότε συνήσεις δικαιοσύνην καὶ κρίμα
    καὶ κατορθώσεις πάντας ἄξονας ἀγαθούς
    10 ἐὰν γὰρ ἔλθῃ ἡ σοφία εἰς σὴν διάνοιαν
    ἡ δὲ αἴσθησις τῇ σῇ ψυχῇ καλὴ εἶναι δόξῃ
    11 βουλὴ καλὴ φυλάξει σε
    ἔννοια δὲ ὁσία τηρήσει σε
    12 ἵνα ῥύσηταί σε ἀπὸ ὁδοῦ κακῆς
    καὶ ἀπὸ ἀνδρὸς λαλοῦντος μηδὲν πιστόν
    13 ὦ οἱ ἐγκαταλείποντες ὁδοὺς εὐθείας
    τοῦ πορεύεσθαι ἐν ὁδοῖς σκότους
    14 οἱ εὐφραινόμενοι ἐπὶ κακοῖς
    καὶ χαίροντες ἐπὶ διαστροφῇ κακῇ
    15 ὧν αἱ τρίβοι σκολιαὶ
    καὶ καμπύλαι αἱ τροχιαὶ αὐτῶν
    16 τοῦ μακράν σε ποιῆσαι ἀπὸ ὁδοῦ εὐθείας
    καὶ ἀλλότριον τῆς δικαίας γνώμης
    17 υἱέ μή σε καταλάβῃ κακὴ βουλὴ
    ἡ ἀπολείπουσα διδασκαλίαν νεότητος
    καὶ διαθήκην θείαν ἐπιλελησμένη
    18 ἔθετο γὰρ παρὰ τῷ θανάτῳ τὸν οἶκον αὐτῆς
    καὶ παρὰ τῷ ᾅδῃ μετὰ τῶν γηγενῶν τοὺς ἄξονας αὐτῆς
    19 πάντες οἱ πορευόμενοι ἐν αὐτῇ οὐκ ἀναστρέψουσιν
    οὐδὲ μὴ καταλάβωσιν τρίβους εὐθείας
    οὐ γὰρ καταλαμβάνονται ὑπὸ ἐνιαυτῶν ζωῆς
    20 εἰ γὰρ ἐπορεύοντο τρίβους ἀγαθάς
    εὕροσαν ἂν τρίβους δικαιοσύνης λείους
    21 χρηστοὶ ἔσονται οἰκήτορες γῆς
    ἄκακοι δὲ ὑπολειφθήσονται ἐν αὐτῇ
    ὅτι εὐθεῖς κατασκηνώσουσι γῆν
    καὶ ὅσιοι ὑπολειφθήσονται ἐν αὐτῇ

    Because the Lord give wisdom,
    also from his presence come knowledge and understanding;
    7 and he stores up salvation for those who succeed,
    he will shield their journey
    8 to guard the ways of righteous deeds
    and he will protect the way of the ones who revere him.
    9 Then you will understand righteousness and judgement
    and you will make all good courses straight.
    10 For if wisdom comes into your mind,
    and perception seems pleasing to your soul,
    11 Good counsel will guard you,
    and holy insight will protect you,
    12 In order that it can rescue you from an evil way
    and from a man who speaks nothing reliable.
    13 Oh, those who abandon straight ways
    to walk in the ways of darkness;
    14 who rejoice in evil
    and are happy about evil perverseness
    15 whose paths are crooked
    and their courses are bent
    16 in order to remove you far from the straight way
    and to make you a stranger to a righteous opinion
    17 My son do not let bad counsel overtake you,
    that which forsakes the teaching of youth
    and has forgotten the divine covenant;
    18 for it has set her house near death
    and its courses by Hades with the shades
    19 all those who walk in her will not come back,
    nor will they seize straight paths;
    for they are not being seized by years of life.
    20 For if they were walking good paths,
    they would have found the smooth paths of righteousness,
    21 The kind will be the inhabitants of the earth,
    and the innocent will be left in it;
    because the upright will dwell on the earth
    and the holy will be left in it;
    22 the ways of the impious will perish from the earth,
    and the transgressors will be banished from it. NETS
(Now one can see why I was so glad to find NETS online.) This is where the semantic domain is built. Although I do not find that 'explain correctly' is a wrong translation, it would be nice to use some term in 2 Timothy that would evoke the Old Testament in the New.

At this point one can also see the introduction of a new dimension. The path must be not only straight but also smooth and level so that 'your foot will not stumble'. There is still a little way left to travel. The Hebrew should be considered as well as the Greek OT.

90 year old clarity

Today is my father-in-law's 90th birthday. I honor him and my mother-in-law who turned 89 a few days ago. This last weekend my wife and I drove to Eugene, OR, to help her parents celebrate their birthdays. It was a good time. My parents-in-law are godly people, not perfect--they have their flaws--but godly. They were missionaries in Mexico for 30 years, then pastored in the U.S. after their missionary work. Mom taught music and founded one or two music schools. Dad taught Bible. Later they moved from southern Mexico to Mexico City where Dad taught Hebrew and Greek in a seminary.

They are people of the Word and prayer. They have Bibles lying around their living room where they now sit much of the time since they are not as mobile as they used to be and Mom needs Dad to be around all the time. On this visit I noticed several copies of the New Living Translation in their living room. I asked Dad, the Bible scholar, Biblical languages professor, what he thought of the NLT. He said, "It's clear." I agree. Wise words from 90 years of hearing, studying, teaching, and preaching from the Bible. If I make it to 90, I hope I can be that wise.

God bless you, Dad. And you, too, Mom. Thanks for raising such a special woman to be my wife.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

2 Tim. 2:15: Orthotomeo IV

Yesterday I did not include all the references from the BAGD entry. However, there is no rush on my part to conclude this study so I thought that I would post these texts today. Here they are: Thucydides 2.100, Herodotus 4, 136, Plato , Leg 7 page 810E; Plutarch., Galba 24, 7; Josephus. C Ap. 1, 309.

The texts as they appear here are copied from the Perseus Digital Library. However, I did not sit at the computer to read many of these texts on the internet. My husband is a forestry consultant with an avid interest in modern and ancient military history. Thucydides and Herodotus were familiar to both of us already in their English Penguin paperback form so we were able to have a lively discussion about the military and social context of road-building.

I am simply going to post these texts for now so people can start building a semantic web from terms like ευθυτομος, συντομος, and the various meanings of τετμημένος. What looked originally like an unusual word appears to fit into a fairly common nomenclature for both roads and words.
    Thucydides, Peloponnesian War

    Archelaus, the son of Perdiccas, on his accession, who also cut straight roads, and otherwise put the kingdom on a better footing as regards horses, heavy infantry, and other war material than had been done by all the eight kings that preceded him. Thu. 2.100.1
    καὶ ὁδοὺς εὐθείας* ἔτεμε Greek.
    Herodotus, Histories
    [A]nd as the Persian army was for the most part infantry and did not know the roads (which were not marked), while the Scythians were horsemen and knew the short cuts, they went wide of each other, and the Scythians reached the bridge long before the Persians. Herodotus Laws 4.136
    ἅτε δὲ του̂ Περσικου̂ μὲν του̂ πολλου̂ ἐόντος πεζου̂ στρατου̂ καὶ τὰς ὁδοὺς οὐκ ἐπισταμένου, ὥστε οὐ τετμημενέων τω̂ν ὁδω̂ν, του̂ δὲ Σκυθικου̂ ἱππότεω καὶ τὰ σύντομα τη̂ς ὁδου̂ ἐπισταμένου, ἁμαρτόντες ἀλλήλων, ἔφθησαν πολλῳ̂ οἱ Σκύθαι τοὺς Πέρσας ἐπὶ τὴν γέφυραν ἀπικόμενοι. Greek
    Plato, Laws
    You are, I say, bidding me adventure myself with the latter company and proceed boldly along the path of legislation marked out in our present discourse, without flinching. Plato's Laws 7.810e
    μεθ' ὡ̂ν διακελεύῃ με παρακινδυνεύοντά τε καὶ θαρρου̂ντα τὴν νυ̂ν ἐκ τω̂ν παρόντων λόγων τετμημένην ὁδὸν τη̂ς νομοθεσίας πορεύεσθαι μηδὲν ἀνιέντα Greek
    Plutarch, Galba
    [H]e went on into the forum, near the spot where a golden pillar stands, at which all the several roads through Italy terminate.
    ἐβάδιζεν εἰς ἀγοράν, οὗ χρυσοῦς εἱστήκει κίων, εἰς ὃν αἱ τετμημέναι τῆς ᾿Ιταλίας ὁδοὶ πᾶσαι τελευτῶσιν Greek
    Josephus, Contra Apionem
    [O]n the next day there was one Moses, who advised them that they should venture upon a journey, and go along one road till they should come to places fit for habitation:. Josephus, Contra Apionem, 1, 309
    τῃ̂ δ' ἐπιούσῃ ἡμέρᾳ Μωση̂ν τινα συμβουλευ̂σαι αὐτοι̂ς παραβαλλομένοις μίαν ὁδὸν τέμνειν ἄχρι ἂν ὅτου ἔλθωσιν εἰς τόπους οἰκουμένους Greek
    Pindar, Odes
    And he founded precincts of the gods that were greater than before, [90] and he established, for the processions of Apollo, protector of men, a straight cut, level, paved road for the clatter of horses' hooves, where at the edge of the marketplace he rests by himself in death. Pindar 5. 90
    κτίσεν δ' ἄλσεα μείζονα θεω̂ν,
    εὐθύτομόν τε κατέθηκεν ̓Απολλωνίαις
    ἀλεξιμβρότοις* πεδιάδα* πομπαι̂ςἔμμεν ἱππόκροτον
    σκυρωτὰν ὁδόν, ἔνθα πρυμνοι̂ς ἀγορα̂ς ἔπι* δίχα κει̂ται* θανών.
    μάκαρ μὲν ἀνδρω̂ν μέτα
    ἔναιεν, ἥρως δ' ἔπειτα λαοσεβής.

    Monday, March 27, 2006

    Tim. 2:15: Orthotomeo III

    To continue my discussion of ορθοτομεω, here is the full entry in BAGD,

      ορθοτομεω found elsewh. independently of the NT only Pr. 3:6, 11:5. where it is used w. οδους and plainly means 'cut a path in a straight direction' or ‘cut a road across country (that is forested or otherwise difficult to pass through) in a straight direction’. So that the traveler may go directly to his destination (cf. Thu. 2, 100, 2 οδους ευθειας ετεμνε; [and other references which I have ommitted, sorry.]
      Then ορθοτεμνειν τον λογον της αληθειας would perh. mean 'guide the word of truth along a straight path (like a road that goes straight to its goal) without being turned aside by wordy debates or impious talk', 2 Tim. 2:15. For such other mngs. as teach the word aright, expound it soundly, shape rightly and preach fearlessly, s. M-M.
    From this is seems evident that BAGD does not agree with M-M's definitions of ορθοτομεω. (M-M stands for The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament by Moulton and Milligan. I do not have access to this.) However, I would like to review the early translations of ορθοτομεω.

      'preaches straightforwardly the word of truth' Peshitta Lamsa Translation 2nd century

      'raihtaba raidjandan' (richtig darbeiten - rightly present or perform)' Gothic circa 4th century

      'recte tractantem verbum veritatis' (rightly treat/handle) Latin Vulgate 5th century
    Once again, BAGD does not seem to recommend this meaning for ορθοτομεω. I would certainly welcome any comments on this. Oddly, I cannot find any English Bible translation that uses the meaning preferred by BAGD, 1979, other than Nyland's, 2005. Darby's 'cut in a straight line' is similar but not identical in meaning.

    It appears to me at this point, that the problem for most translators is that the BAGD meaning 'cut a path in a straight direction' requires the addition of the word 'road' or 'path' to the text in English. However, we have seen that for Romans 12:19 that even a literal version will add a word when necessary. Here the words 'of God' do not occur in the Greek, but are added to contribute what is considered part of the 'implied meaning' of the original text.

      Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." Rom. 12:19 ESV
    So, I think we have to seriously consider the BAGD meaning, even though it is not used in the better known translations.

    I would like to add this additional endorsement of the BAGD, by Poythress in his article, 2001, on Greek Lexicography,

      What do we conclude? Louw-Nida may help the translator who is wrestling with conveying metaphors effectively. It will not help the exegete who needs exact information about distinct meanings, uncluttered with an artificial multiplication of senses generated by metaphorical uses.

      Thus Bauer is the main and indispensable lexicon to use for serious exegesis of the New Testament. But the exegete must also have an eye on Liddell-Scott-Jones, so as not to miss possible senses that Bauer does not list. And Liddell-Scott-Jones is itself subject to refinement because of the mass of material now available in the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae.

      Louw-Nida, though profoundly stimulating in various respects, was not really designed for use in careful exegesis, and is likely to be misused by those who try to use it for this purpose. The translator who has finished his exegesis, and who is dealing with a knotty problem with a new language and culture, may look to Louw-Nida for help in conveying the meaning into the new cultural situation.

    It is clear from the introduction to this article that Poythress gained most of his experience with lexicons in the process of working on the ESV, and not before. He says,

      "In my own experience working on the English Standard Version, a conservative revision of the Revised Standard Version, I encountered considerable complexities in using the lexicons."

    To be continued. 'Orthotomeo' in either Proverbs or Thucydides, as the spirit moves.

    Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker

    In view of recent discussions about the nature of the language of the New Testament, I thought I would take a break from 'orthotomeo', to quote from the introduction to Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker. I am quoting from the 1979 edition, which is called the BAGD. Other editions have slightly different initials so it is possible to identify the edition by the initials if the writer is conscious of this nomenclature and follows it.

      We have yet to consider those words which our literature, primarily the New Testament, either shares with the LXX alone, or for which it is the only witness, and which for this reason play a unique role as ‘voces biblicae’ in the philology of the Greek Bible. Before the systematic investigation of the popular speech, their number was much larger. The fact that the advances in our knowledge have freed one after another of these words from their isolation and demonstrated that they were part of the living language forces upon us the conclusion that the great mass of Biblical words for which we do not yet have secular evidence also belong to that language.
      Of course, there are some formations with regard to which it is not only possible, but in some instances very probable, that the translators of the Old Testament formed them for their own purposes and then handed them on to the composers of our literature, while the latter, in turn, created other terms to satisfy their own needs . The Hellenistic spirit, however, makes itself felt even in these cases through the fact that those forms are preferred for which we have been able to establish a preference in the common speech. BAGD xix

      Spoken Jewish-Greek as an entity to be clearly differentiated from the language of the people in general is something that can rarely be established, though more often suspected. As for the influence of the LXX, every page of this lexicon shows that it outweighs all other influences on our literature.

      It is the purpose of this lexicon to facilitate the understanding of texts that were composed in the Late Greek described above. This kind of Greek was the mother-tongue of those who wrote them, … no matter how well they may have been acquainted with Semitic idiom. Likewise those who heard and read their messages spoke the same kind of Greek. They, at least, were no longer conscious of Semitic originals upon which, in one form or another, some of those writings were based. xx - xxi
    I hope some of this clarifies why I would agree that the language of the New Tesatment is the common speech, but I also consider the Septuagint a highly important aspect of language study for understanding the text.

    Here is a description of this lexicon. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (3rd ed.)
      This is the standard lexicon of New Testament Greek. It is Danker's revision of the English adaptation of Walter Bauer's classic German work. Known to many as "Arndt & Gingrich," the first edition came out in 1957 and is often referenced as BAG (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich). Danker became involved in the much expanded 2nd edition that came out in 1979, known as BAGD (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, Danker). The 3rd edition is Danker's revision. It was published in 2000 and is known as BDAG (Bauer, Danker, Arndt, Gingrich). Bauer's name still stands in the first position, but Danker's name now precedes those of Arndt and Gingrich.
    I do have to add an odd aside. While reading the introduction to this lexicon, 1979, I came across the following statement,

      On adelphos. There is no longer any doubt in my mind that adelphoi can mean ‘brothers and sisters’ in any number. There are passages that scarcely permit any other interpretation. Ptolemaeus, Apostelesm. 3, 5 has as its subject περι γονεων and 3, 6 περι αδελφων, divided into male and female. The meaning is so clear that FERobbins [1948] rightly translates the second title "Of Brothers and Sisters.' Likewise Diog. L. 7, 108; 120 al. xxvii
    In The TNIV and the Gender Neutral Bible Controversy, 2005, page. 425, I read this about the Colorado Springs Guidelines, 1997,

      Guideline B.1 originally read:

      "Brother" (adelphos) and "brothers" (adelphoi) should not be changed to "brother(s) and sister(s).
    The guideline above was later revised, likely because someone contacted the authors of the guidelines with reference to this glaring error, but it is an indication of the lack of preparation that went into the guidelines, as I have indicated before.

    However, it is worth noting that among the endorsements for The TNIV and the Gender Neutral Bible Controversy is found this,
      “In an earnest plea for reduction of ideological interests, the authors probe the need for setting higher standards of accuracy in translation of gender-related terms.” Frederick Danker.
    In my opinion something here does not add up. The authors of The TNIV and the GNBC did not have the necessary desire for high accuracy to read either the introduction to this Lexicon, 1979, or the entry for adelphos in the lexicon. In spite of this, these authors are commended by the editor of this lexicon. What am I missing?

    I have had certain people question my commitment to truth. But one of the reasons I am writing for this blog is to carve a straight highway for the word of truth.

    Sunday, March 26, 2006

    2 Tim.2:15: Orthotomeo II

    I will be breaking down this discussion of orthotomeo into smaller posts in order to look closely at some of the tools available on the internet, as well as the few that I have at home. (This also means that we may still be tossing this one around when Rich Rhodes gets back from his conference.) The different lexicons and texts that I use are by no means exhaustive and they are not what would be available on a college campus but they are extensive nonetheless.

    The entry for orthotomeo in some lexicons is broken down into its component parts immediately. For example, I have a small Greek-English Lexicon to the New Testament by T.S. Green, Bagster, London, 1972. The entry for orthotomeo is

      (orthos & temno) to cut straight, to direct aright, to set forth truthfully, without perversion or distortion
    For Liddell Scott Jones(LSJ in Perseus) the entry is
    So, in fact, it does not give the etymology, although that is basic to understanding the word. This is perplexing to me because my own Liddell Scott, 1869, has

      (orthos, temno) to cut straight, handle aright
      BADG does not supply the etymology either. So I don't know what the best route is to find the etymological information online. Any suggestions would be welcome here. While Zhubert has a fascinating site and I have been using it for a text of the Setpuagint, the definitions there seem to be no more than a reminder, or a hint at a possible basic meaning.

      In any case, after turning up such a short entry for orthotomeo, I went directly to the LSJ entry for temno.

      But I want to stop for a minute and talk a little about the Perseus LSJ. Here is Ian's take on this,
        LSJ in "Liddell-Scott-Jones," the standard, but cryptic, abbreviation for the Oxford University Press "A Greek-English Lexicon." This is a massive work compiled by Henry George Liddell (1811–1898, Dean of Christ Church, and father of, inter alia, Alice Pleasance Liddell, the friend of "Lewis Carroll") and Robert Scott (1811–1887) -- as "Revised and Augmented throughout" by Sir Henry Stuart Jones (1867–1939) and others, 1925-1940, and since supplemented.

        Perseus has a digital version as "Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon," which can be found by either scrolling down the screen or doing a "Find" for "Liddell" after clicking "Classics" in the left hand column.

        Note that Perseus is usually slow, and sometimes glacial; and navigation can be frustrating.If you are familiar with the Oxford English Dictionary, the apparently "historical" arrangement of meanings in the entries should look familiar.

        In fact, as in the OED, the arrangement is often "logical," and not based on dated developments, the surviving information not being adequate for such a reconstruction. However, it remains the first place to look; and is an absolutely esssential tool.
      This is the Tools & Lexica page that I posted yesterday. Scroll down that page till you see Dictionary entry lookup. The page called dictionary headwords looks like this. However, you have to set the display the way you want. I have often chosen the UTF-8 for Unicode Greek. The only problem is that you must remember to input your word using the popup online character display, follow 'enter Greek here'. To avoid this, leave the display as Latin, enter with an intuitive Latin transliteration scheme and read the text in Latin letters. I often use the Latin transliteration since it is the default form of the text and seems to work faster.

      I left the display on Latin transliteration and entered orthotomew in the search window. Here is the page. Choose the link for LSJ and then scroll down for the definition. If there is a problem working this dictionary, it is most likely because the display and the text that one is entering are not in the same mode. Trial and error seem to be the only answer. There is the option of using the symbol font transliteration as well if that is any help.

      I still have trouble finding my way around Perseus but I hope that this will be a beginning. Try putting in temnw in this page and see what happens. You must also select the LSJ link and then the entry will display. I still have trouble navigating and can only say that it seems to take some getting used to.

      While 'temno' could possibly mean to divide into portions or share, it also means to cut off your head, or hack down a tree. It expresses both strength and sharpness. In that sense, I agree with Peter's recent comments associating temno with a sword, if I am guessing correctly. The association is there but the Old Testament use of this expression is leading me in a slighly different direction, one that is still full of masculine imagery, which I have no trouble with, and presents a more vivid picture than 'handle' or 'treat'.

      Next time, I will talk more about the meaning of orthotomeo in Proverbs and how this is translated into English.

      2 Tim. 2:15: Orthotomeo

      There have been a few posts here recently that would fall into the category of looking at the Bible with a telescope. For me that was reading and commenting about the Septuagint, and the nature of language and literacy in the ancient Mediterranean world. However, all along I have had a particular word under the microscope. (Thanks Lingamish for the image.) This study has also been a good exercise in looking for the OT in the NT.

      While copying out 2 Timothy in January, I was using the time as a personal devotional study as I went along. After a few bumps in the road, I eventually got the idea that I would translate this book for myself. Most others on this blog are translators. Although I trained as a translator, for a variety of reasons I have never been involved in a translation project in more than a passing way. So this time I thought that I would work towards a finished product.

      The verse that has proved the most ambiguous so far has been 2 Timothy 2:15. In particular the word 'orthotomeo' 'ορθοτομεω'. I have decided to write about my investigation of this word in two parts. First, I will follow how the word has been translated and suggest some reasons for the different versions; and then I will trace backwords the possible origins of the word. I will try to talk a little about the tools that I am using as I go along.

      Let me clarify that I have been working on the entire epistle but I will only discuss this one phrase for now. I am not looking at the verse out of context but I can only write about so much at a time. Here is the verse which I have copied from the online Greek Bible . I prefer to use this rather than the Zhubert site for now, since I find the mouse over dictionary on Zhubert quite distracting.
        σπούδασον σεαυτὸν δόκιμον παραστῆσαι τῷ θεῷ, ἐργάτην ἀνεπαίσχυντον, ὀρθοτομοῦντα τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας
      Next, I looked up the definition of ορθοτομεω in the LSJ lexicon on the Perseus Digital Library site. (Choose classics and then other tools and lexica to find the dictionaries.) The meaning for orthotomeo is given as 'cut in a straight line', or 'teach it aright'. So two slightly different translation traditions exist for this word, derived from either the literal or the figurative meaning of the word.

      I also looked at the more extensive entry in the BAGD. I don't think this is available online anywhere. The first meaning in BAGD is 'cut a path in a straight direction.' with a reference to Proverbs 3:6 and 11:5. There is also mention of a synonymous expression οδους ευθειας τεμνω found in Thucydides and a few other places. This means to 'cut a road across country in a straight direction.' More about this later.

      BAGD continues, "For such other meanings as 'teach the word aright, expound it soundly, shape rightly, and preach fearlessly see M-M." Apparently in M-M, which I found an oblique reference to somewhere, ορθοτομεω is compared by analogy to καινοτομεω, which means 'cut anew', but can also mean 'to innovate'. My overall impression of BAGD is that 'cut a straight path' is the preferred meaning for ορθοτομεω.

      In any case, ορθοτομεω is only found elsewhere in Greek literature in Proverbs, as far as I can tell.

      The most recognized and still occasionally quoted translation for ορθοτομεω is 'rightly dividing the word of truth' KJV. Using and Bible Gateway, I looked first at the major English translations for this verse and then a handful of other languages. Here is the list.

        'rightly dividing the word of truth' KJV
        'dividynge the worde of trueth iustly' Tyndale
        'accurately handling the word of truth' NAS
        'who correctly handles the word of truth' NIV
        'correctly explains the word of truth' NLT
        'who teaches only the true message' CEV
        'rightly handling the word of truth' ESV, RSV
        'rightly explaining the word of truth' NRSV
        'laying out the truth plain and simple' The Message
        'cut a direct path for the truthful word' The Source
        'deals straightforwardly with the Word of the Truth' Jewish Bible
        'cutting in a straight line the word of truth' Darby
        'rytli tretinge the word of treuthe' Wycliffe
        'recte tractantem (handle) verbum veritatis' Vulgate
        'recht teile das Wort der Wahrheit' Luther
        'dispense droitement la parole de la vérité' Louis Segond
      I was surprised to see that 'rightly dividing the word of truth' first appeared in Tyndale's translation and that up until then 'rightly handle' was the usual understanding of the term.

      Luther translates ορθοτομεω with 'teilen', which means 'share, apportion, split, divide'. It has occured to me that Tyndale may have misunderstood Luther's term. Possibly Luther meant 'share the word of truth', and Tyndale thought that he meant 'divide' the word of truth. The reason that I think Luther meant 'share' is that the French translation says 'dispense' the word of truth. However, Luther's choice of word is ambiguous. One problem with this is that I am not quite certain of the chronology of Luther and Tyndale's work. I was wondering if they shared some of their work before the published dates, but I don't know enough about it.

      So there are four clusters of meaning, 'divide', 'share', 'handle', and 'cut a path for'. The Gothic translation, uses 'present' which will be clumped with 'share' for the purposes of this study.

      Ann Nyland's The Source uses 'cut a direct path for the truthful word'. This is the only translation that uses the interpretation favoured by the BAGD, and it is one which directly mirrors Proverbs 3:6 in the KJV, 'he shall direct thy paths'. If this NT translation were intended to be read with the OT in the KJV then this would be, hands down, the only correct translation for this phrase.

      At this point I decided to eliminate the meaning 'divide' as an aberration and share/dispense as unlikely and examine more closely 'cut a straight/direct path for.' Personally I rather liked 'rightly divide'. I thought that it meant 'parse correctly'. However, over time, I came to see that Paul probably would have considered such an understanding as one of those 'childish ways.' Much as I like it, it is time to move on.

      There is nothing wrong with the translation 'handle correctly' other than the fact that it doesn't reflect the use of the term in Proverbs. Surely that is what Paul was thinking of and the translation should represent that if possible. I will write more about this later.

      Friday, March 24, 2006

      Blogging in my wife

      I am a man who has been blessed by more than 33 years of marriage to my wife, Elena. She has been steady, a friend, a needed foil, at times, and has grown in me, as I have grown in her. Living in my wife has been a privilege. And she gives me the idea that she has appreciated living in me, as well. Elena has never tolerated my natural tendency to wallow in some untruths which I learned as a child. Instead, she has encouraged me to move beyond them. I honor her for this and have grown in truth partly because of her influence. Sometimes, as our anniversary approaches, I have written poetry for her. And I am glad to publicly speak in her. She deserves it. Not only do our children rise up and call her blessed, but I, her husband, do as well. I hope that many other men will walk in their wives as I have been privileged to do in mine.

      For any husband who is reading this, do you live in your wife?

      Thursday, March 23, 2006

      Blogger comment problem?

      I am trying to leave a comment on my own posting An Emotional Blockage, 2 Corinthians 6:12, but Blogger system will not allow me to. It keeps asking me to enter a validationword which appears to be "srnenita", or perhaps "smenita", but rejects either of these spellings - and I don't see how the letters can be anything else. Usually after a few attempts or after a time a new validation word appears, but this word has continued to appear after numerous attempts over quite a long time. I can comment OK on other postings.

      Is anyone else having a similar difficulty? If so, maybe you can comment on this posting. But I would particularly like to see comments on that other posting.

      By the way, this is what I wanted to comment on that other posting:

      My own latest version of this translation is literally:
      (What is) hindering your relations with us is not us, the hindrance is in your inner feelings.

      An Emotional Blockage, 2 Corinthians 6:12

      I am very puzzled about how to translate 2 Corinthians 6:12. Here is a literal translation of vv.11-13:
      Our mouth has opened to you, Corinthians, our heart has been enlarged. (12) You are not restricted in us, but you are restricted in your bowels. (13) And in the same exchange, as to children I speak, you also be enlarged.
      It is clear from the images of "heart" and "bowels" that Paul is talking about emotions. "Restricted in your bowels" does not refer to literal constipation, although perhaps to metaphorical. And the contrast between "restricted" and "enlarged" is clear. But the subject of "you are restricted" in both cases is the Corinthians. So it puzzles me that TEV, TNIV and CEV have made v.12 into something reciprocal:
      It is not we who have closed our hearts to you; it is you who have closed your hearts to us. (TEV);
      We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. (TNIV);
      We are not holding back on our love for you, but you are holding back on your love for us. (CEV).
      I am currently checking a draft translation of this which is rather literal, something like:
      What is restricting you is not us but the desire of your inner being.
      Now I accept that this is not very clear and needs further work. But another exegete commented on this:
      This seems to miss to the point entirely. Paul is saying “We have never withheld our affection from you, why are you withholding it from us?”
      But is this Paul's point? Are TEV, TNIV and CEV correct? According to the UBS Translator's Handbook:
      Knox provides another possible model: "it is not our fault, it is the fault of your own affections, that you feel constraint with us."
      Nyland's rendering, in The Source, is similar:
      Any constraint in our relationship is in your feelings, not ours.
      It seems to me that the Greek indeed means something like this. I don't see how the alternative can be justified. Does anyone else?

      The question then comes of how to translate Knox's and Nyland's sense. I take it as meaning that the blockage in the Corinthians feeling and responding to Paul's emotions, including but not restricted to his love, is not that Paul is hiding his emotions, for he has (metaphorically, of course) enlarged his heart, but in the Corinthians' own emotional blockage. The point is not that they are not expressing their own love or other emotions; indeed 7:2-16 shows us that the Corinthians were expressing their emotions concerning Paul, including their love for him. No, the point seems to be that they cannot receive love or other emotions from Paul. Is that right? But then how do I express this, especially in a language which has no general term for emotions?

      Wednesday, March 22, 2006

      Why not have majestic or Biblical sounding translations?

      From the length of the threads on posts about how a Bible translation should sound, it's clear that this is an important (and sometimes emotional) topic. There seem to be two general camps. One camp takes the position that Bibles should be couched in the language of the day. The extreme examples are TEV/GNT and the Message. The other camp seems to want something else. Sometimes the phrasing is something like, "Bibles should be more faithful to the original." But other times the concern is that the language of the day is too banal for the weight of God's word. The extreme examples here are the KJV and RSV. There is, of course, every shade in between.

      Once, long ago, I spent a year working as an interpreter in real life (if you can call the Vietnam war real life). There I had an aha moment about the difference between language that communicates and language that doesn't. The situation was that an American sergeant (not in my unit) came out wanting to get the Vietnamese soldiers he was training to line up. In the surly and colorful way of sergeants, he shouted at his American translator to tell those sorry-a-d, no good, pieces of s-t, to get their f-in' a-s in line this instant. (Army talk, you know.) The translator used all the right words -- straight out of the dictionary. The Vietnamese soldiers looked bewildered, but they didn't move. Overhearing this, a member of my translation team, a twenty-something Vietnamese kid from a Chinese family in Saigon who had learned his English by immersion trying to dodge the Vietnamese draft, stepped up, said about 5 syllables -- I didn't understand a word of it -- and those Vietnamese soldiers lined up almost before he finished his sentence. And they all had the look of oh-are-we-in-deep-doodoo-now.

      Three years later in graduate school I was to learn that there is a name for the thing that made the difference. It's called perlocutionary force.

      When we communicate, it is not a simple, one-dimensional act. We communicate not only about the things our words refer to, but the very act of speaking betrays things about how we are feeling, who we see ourselves as, and often also how we feel about the things we talking about. Much of this information is in our tone of voice, our accent, and the particular emphasis and inflection we put on particular words. In general this information gets left out when we write, so we're fooled into thinking it isn't really there. But sometimes it appears in the words we use as well. Every language has words and phrases of the same reference, but carrying different kinds of perlocutionary force, get vs. receive, Look! vs. Behold!, line vs. queue, the dog vs. that gosh darn, no good flea bag. Each of these examples reflects a different aspect of perlocution: get vs. receive, informal vs. formal, Look! vs. Behold!, colloquial vs. church talk, line vs. queue, American vs. Canadian/British; the dog vs. that gosh darn, no good flea bag, neutral stance vs. angry stance. (Perlocution is multidimensional. I haven't come near to exhausting things that can be communicated apart from the actual reference.)

      Now the thing is that there is perlocutionary information all over the Bible. Jesus is rude to the Pharisees but polite to Pilate, exasperated with disciples but sympathetic with the sick. If we flatten the language down in translation to be one-dimensionally majestic or one-dimensionally Biblical, we are in danger of failing to be accurate and accountable to the original text.

      Let me give a simple example from Paul, one that has been, to the best of my knowledge, completely overlooked. It's complex because the difference in word choice in Koine is only available as a difference in emphasis in English. Greek has a number of near synonyms that could be translated something like think, believe. They are: ὑπολαμβάνω, νομίζω, δοκέω, πιστεύω, and οἴομαι. They all share the general meaning 'consider X to be true', where X represents some proposition, in the philosopher's sense. If I say,

      "I think he came home late last night."

      "He came home late last night" is the proposition that I consider to be true.

      To understand the differences in meaning among these five Greek words, you have to understand that they differ in two distinct ways regarding the truth of the proposition. One way is they reflect a scale of how committed the thinker/believer is to the truth of the proposition. The other has to do with what the person speaking believes about the truth of the proposition.

      First the scale. With ὑπολαμβάνω the commitment of the thinker to the truth of the proposition is weak. It more or less matches the English verb assume or suppose, e.g. Lk. 7:43.
      I suppose,” answered Simon, “that it would be the one who was forgiven more.” “You are right,” said Jesus. (GNB)
      With νομίζω the commitment is stronger. So maybe 'consider it likely', e.g. Acts 16:13.
      On the Sabbath we went out of the city to the riverside, where we thought there would be a place where Jews gathered for prayer. We sat down and talked to the women who gathered there. (GNB)
      δοκέω is the most neutral verb of the set. It's the one that gets used when you ask the neutral question "What do you think?" (e.g., Matt. 26:66),
      “What do you think?” They answered, “He is guilty and must die.” (GNB)
      And πιστεύω is, of course, the strongest. It's the word used of faith. (I'll have more to say about that in a future post.)

      But then what about οἴομαι? That's the interesting one. It means the thinker believes the proposition to be true, but the speaker (the one who is actually using the word) believes that the proposition is false. It is used in Phil. 1:17.
      The others do not proclaim Christ sincerely, but from a spirit of selfish ambition; they think that they will make more trouble for me while I am in prison. (GNB)
      To come close in English to saying what the Greek actually means you have to empasize the word think.
      The others do not proclaim Christ sincerely, but from a spirit of selfish ambition; they THINK that they will make more trouble for me while I am in prison. (GNB)
      Recognizing that the Scripture contains a lot of perlocutionary force information, some of which may only be available in nuanced readings, means that if you place a high value on faithfulness to the original, you have to translate to a register in which those subtler distinctions are available.

      Monday, March 20, 2006

      NETS Online

        My own strong feeling is echoed in the words of the late Biblical scholar, Dr. C.H. Dodd, that 'it is rarely safe to ignore the LXX in attempting to determine the meaning of Pauline language.' [Journal of Theological Studies NS 5, 1954, p. 248].

        However, if we would get to the heart of the Christian message we need more than the help of secular Greek. The great Christian words which concern salvation and Christian living were not produced in a secular environment. They are rooted in the Greek Old Testament, so that Septuagintal study is likely to forward Christian exegesis.

      This is an excerpt from an article by Michael Marlowe, which rightly argues that the Hebrew - Greek translation tradition found in the Septuagint helps us get to the heart of the Christian message. There is no disagreement about the Hebraistic nature of Septuagint Greek.

      However Pietersma suggests an educational origin rather than a liturgical origin for at least some of the text. This would imply to me a more practical level of language, one that was meant to facilitate understanding of the original Hebrew words, one by one.

      So the Greek text would not necessarily be in a certain high or refined style, but was sometimes simply a calque for the Hebrew which was the authoritative text. These calques remained frozen or fossilized in the Greek language of the Greek speaking Jewish community and recur in the NT. This does not suggest to me a high language, but nontheless a language which has its own particular characteristics.

      While this language may not have been the langauge of the street or marketplace, I have never seen any way in which it was intended as a high literary style, a little awkward maybe, but that is all.

      However, words and phrases did take on connotations and specific religious meaning. If anything this would only suggest a general principle that once a translation had been made in a linguistic and religious community, and this translation had become part of the theological discourse of that community, the translation should never be revised. That would justify the King James only faction.

      However, I do not think that anyone would go so far as to say that the Bible should never be retranslated into the same language twice. Some argue, as Dr. Packer did with me, that once a Christian community had settled on a certain vocabulary to express its theology, then that vocabulary should become standard and not be changed.

      I recognize this human tendency to enshrine a known entity, but I do not know how it can be defended. To me this principle serves the interests of theologians who do not wish to see their theological works become outdated. That would mean that theological texts themselves become a closed cannon. Each denomination would have a set of foundational texts that others may comment on, but not interact with on an equal level.

      However, if people can continue to reinterpret the Christian message in their preaching, should the text itself not be retranslated to represent the language use of the current day?

      While the NETS translation was explicitly created to correspond to the NRSV, I do not think that there was any intention that this literary English style had a unique stylistic correspondance to the style of the Greek. The language of the Septuagint was considered in terms of its relation to Hebrew, but not for the literary level of the language.

      The NRSV was chosen as the corresponding English translation for a variety of reasons well presented in this introduction, To the Reader of NETS. The most obvious one is that the NRSV is a close word for word translation. However, this definition does not necessarily equate with a high literary style.

      Pietersma's argument seems to be this, if the Greek was a calque of the Hebrew, then the English should be a calque of the Greek. But this is not for the purpose of maintaining a refined language, more likely an awkward language. There is no spiritual value judgement attached to this choice of the NRSV in my understanding of Pietersma's argument, rather, it is a pragmatic decision. I am not suggesting anything like the old argument that the language is 'debased', but simply that we should not make too much of its style.

      Here is a description of the range of lexical guidelines used in translating NETS.

        Renderings -- Stereotypes/Calques -----Isolate Renderings

        The vertical line on the scale represents a semantic demarcation, since words or lexemes placed to the left are always governed by their normal Greek semantic range, while those to the right may be governed by their Hebrew counterparts, though, when such is the case, not by their full semantic range.

        NETS translators have ordered the linguistic information of the Greek in terms of this scale, and have translated accordingly. Though the full extent of the scale is represented in all books or translation units of the Septuagint, naturally, not all units show the same distribution profile.

        Two factors that have exercised a direct influence on a given book's profile are its degree of literalness and its relative chronological placement within the corpus. By literalness is here understood the degree of consistency of Hebrew-Greek verbal equations, as well as the relative number of such one-to-one equations a given book or translation unit features. A book's chronological place within the corpus may be expected to determine the number of calques it contains. That is to say, the later the book the more calques may have been part of its translator's everyday, living lexicon.

      So terms which originated as calques of Hebrew became part of the everyday lexicon of the community. Some seem to argue that calques from the Greek text into English need to become part of the everyday lexicon of the contemporary Christian community. Is there a defense for this?

      While the final text of the New English Translation of the Septuagint, NETS, is to be published this year, the provisional text can now be read online.

      Textual variants affecting Old Testament translation

      Today Henry Neufeld blogs on Examples of Textual Issues in Translation. Henry begins:
      One issue that is commonly neglected in comparing Bible translations is the text used. Translators are well aware that differences in translation can be the result of differences in the text used, but in modern times, the approach to the text used by most translations has been very similar, and thus tends to be ignored by non-professionals. One major distinction is between those translations that follow the Textus Receptus, and those that use a more modern, eclectic text in the New Testament. The NKJV is a good example of a modern translation that follows that text.

      But in discussing the RSV, ESV, and NRSV, I was reminded of another textual difference that is less well known: The attitude of the translators toward conjectural readings and readings in supported only by an ancient version or one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Typically, in translating the Hebrew scriptures, Christian translators have followed the Masoretic Text, the text printed in the vast majority of Hebrew Bibles, unless they find it impossible to translate the MT intelligibly. In that case they will look to the versions, the scrolls, or even to a conjectural emendation in some translations. The tendency in New Testament textual criticism, because a large amount of external evidence is available, is to study each variant and determine the best text, but this procedure has not yet carried over into Old Testament studies.
      Henry goes on to discuss how treatment of the textual variants affects translation of two passages:
      The first is an added paragraph between 1 Samuel 10:27 and 11:1. In this case we have an explanatory paragraph that comes between Saul becoming king and the situation in Jabesh Gilead which is Saul’s first problem as the leader of Israel. The NRSV alone among the modern translations includes this paragraph as part of the text. It is noted in a footnote in both the NLT and the CEV.
      He discusses the textual evidence for specific translation choices. He does the same with his second example:
      A second case involves the text of Isaiah in the Revised English Bible (REB) and the New American Bible (NAB). Isaiah 41:6-7 are transposed in that version to follow Isaiah 40:20. This is a correction supported by no external textual evidence at all. Presumably the change is based on a copying error involving miscopying part of a column, but the mechanism by which the change could occur is a bit obscure. It would have had to occur very early in the text.
      Henry writes well, as always, and many visitors to this blog should find his comments helpful to understand how some Bible versions differ from others in the Old Testament, due to differences in the biblical texts used.

      Saturday, March 18, 2006

      The Bilingual Nature of the Septuagint

      I have posted an excerpt from an article by A. Pietersma which not only suggests some new thinking around the nature of bilingualism in the Septuagint text, but also should cause us to reflect on the nature of bilingualism with which the church of today approaches the Bible. Is it the original text or an English version which carries authority.

      A New Paradigm for Addressing Old Questions: The Relevance of the Interlinear Model for the Study of the Septuagint.

      Abstract: It is argued in this essay that the interlinear paradigm for Septuagint origins (1)articulates wide-spread practice in the discipline, (2) fully accounts for the linguistic character of the vast majority of translated texts, (3) can be seen to be firmly rooted in Hellenistic educational practice, and (4) strongly suggests a Jewish educational rather than a liturgical origin for most of the translated corpus.

      If I have convincingly argued that the constitutive character of most of the Septuagint is that of an interlinear text, produced in the Jewish school, a number of interesting conclusions follow. Let me once again begin with Sebastian Brock. According to Brock, that the Pentateuch was viewed as a primarily legal document put the Jews of the diaspora in a difficult position, for, writes Brock (1978:72),

        either their Greek Bible required 'correcting' on the basis of the Hebrew original . . . or it had to be accorded the same position of prestige as the Hebrew original.
      Egypt, says Brock, essentially adopted the latter position, namely, that the Greek was equal to the Hebrew, while Palestine adopted the former stance, namely, that of the superiority of the Hebrew, with the result that the Greek was in need of correction. Brock sees this split as having been occasioned by virtual unilingualism (i.e. Greek) among Egyptian Jews versus frequent bilingualism in Palestine.

      An increasingly literal rendering of the parent text, in Brock's view, presupposes a bilingual expositor who could render an otherwise unintelligible text intelligible. As a result the concept of hebraica veritas could flourish only in Palestine.

      Though Brock makes a good point, given his view that the Pentateuch was classified as a legal document by its translators and that it was accordingly translated in a verbum e verbo manner, a school origin for its text coupled with interlinearity as a linguistic paradigm has more explanatory power. As long as the Greek functioned as a crib for the study of the Hebrew, the question of relative authority could scarcely arise, since the Greek was only a tool. The problem of authority could only arise when the Greek text became an independent entity.

      That stage of development had already been reached by the time of Aristeas. Just how long the Greek continued as crib, we do not know, but it would seem certain that the relative authority of mother and daughter, so to speak, did not become an issue in the household of faith until the daughter asserted her independence.

      Furthermore, though Egyptian Jews may well have believed that the biblical text was essentially a legal document and may have regarded it as verbally inspired, neither can be inferred from the nature of the text as we have it or from its origin.

      What its school origin does allow us to infer is that what Homer was to the Greeks, the Hebrew Bible was to the Jews. Both were clearly regarded as texts to be studied in the schools, texts that were normative for the community.

      Typologically, I would see the development of the Septuagint in four stages: (a) the Hebrew text as sole authority, (b) the Greek as crib to study the Hebrew, (c) the Greek text as independently authoritative, (4) the debate over the relative authority of the Hebrew and the Greek.

      Albert Pietersma. A New Paradigm

      While some may find that this article does not reflect the same understanding of inspiration that we have, the author teaches 'Novels of the Greek Apocrypha' and 'Jewish Historians who taught in Greek'.

      Should Bibles be majestic and magnificent, as well as clear?

      This point, which I originally made well down the comment thread on Luke 17:3 -- TNIV singular "they", deserves the greater exposure of its own posting.

      Steven wrote of Bible translation:
      This requires a voice that transcends mere street gabble and current best-seller status. The language must be deliberate, nuanced, clear, and yes, when possible, even majestic.
      Yes, I think I would largely agree, although not with "majestic" in places where there was nothing majestic about the original. There is a place for best-seller style Bibles like The Message, but probably not as main church or study Bibles. But the word "clear" used here certainly needs to be stressed. There is no place for Bibles which, in the name of majestic or elevated style, use words and constructions which are not clear and clearly understood by the target audiences.

      Steven continued:
      I don't demand that translators enshrine the King James Version as the apotheosis of translations, but a good translator, in great humility could learn a great deal from the philosophy that underlay the magnificence of that translation of the Bible.
      Maybe, although they should not learn from many of the attitudes and actions of the KJV translators, or of its royal sponsor. But, I wonder, how much of the currently perceived "magnificence" of that translation stems from the translators' philosophy, and how much from the natural human tendency to set up anything old and well known as a model of beauty or "magnificence"?

      Thursday, March 16, 2006

      Translating waw in Hebrew poetry

      One of the most pervasive features of biblical Hebrew poetry is its rhetorical parallelism. Every student of the Hebrew Bible quickly learns that much of Hebrew poetry is in the form of two lines with one or more forms on each line having a relationship of synonymy. The words which are synonymous are not necessarily true synonyms--if there ever are such things in any language--but they are close enough in meaning to enable the two lines to sound poetic.

      One of the best known poetic couplets is Psalm 119:105:
      Your word is a lamp to my feet,
      a light on my path (REB)
      What are the parts of this couplet which are parallel, creating the Hebraic poetic effect? If you thought that lamp and light are, you're right. There are also two others which can be more easily missed, because we do not think of them as synonymous. They are my feet and my path. They both refer to the same metaphorical area upon which the light of God's Word shines, namely, where my feet walk. Light in the darkness helps me see where I am going so that I don't stumble over rocks, tree roots, or any other obstacle on my path.

      Now, I memorized Psalm 119:105 in the KJV, the version of the Bible that I did almost all of my extensive Bible memorization. Perhaps you are more familiar with the KJV wording, as well:
      Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet,
      and a light unto my path. (KJV)
      Now, stop and think about this wording. Focus on the word "and" and ask yourself if, as an English speaker, you can join "lamp" and "light" with "and" so that the two words remain in a synonymous relationship, at least for purposes of poetic parallelism? This might be difficult to think about. We are not used to thinking this way, especially when it involves something as sacred as the Bible, or something with which we are so familiar, such as Psalm 119:105.

      See if this helps. Let's test something which is not from the Bible. How does this sound to you?
      Mark is my brother and my sibling.
      I hope that you sense that there is something wrong with that sentence. There is. English rules do not allow allow us to conjoin two words, in this case "brother" and "sibling," which are synonymous (or nearly so). English which has two things conjoined is interpreted by native speakers of English that those two things are different.

      Now, look at the REB rendering of Psalm 119:105 again. Notice that the REB translators do not include English "and" between the two lines of the poetic couplet. They translated the Hebrew conjunction waw accurately to the English comma, a punctuation mark. Sometimes English "and" is an accurate translation of Hebrew waw and sometimes it is not. It is not in Hebrew poetic parallelism. The English comma can, as it does in the REB translation of Ps. 119:105, separate the two parts of an appositive construction. Appositives are accurate ways of translating the parallelism of Hebrew poetry. So the formal equivalent of Hebrew waw that connects the lines of poetic parallelism is an English punctuation mark (comma, semicolon, or period) which creates an appositive relationship between two linguistic units. Nifty, eh?

      English "or" behaves the same as English "and." Notice how odd the following English sentence is:
      My father doesn't curse or swear.
      We can sense that there is something wrong with that sentence because the conjunction "or" is joining two verbs, "curse" and "swear," which are synonymous.

      Now you have a tool for checking accuracy of translation of Hebrew poetic couplets in any English Bible version. If there is poetic parallelism, there should not be an English conjunction which is only used to conjoin dissimilar entities, whether they are nouns, verbs, or adjectives.

      Why are there so many occurrences of English "and" and "or" in translations of Hebrew poetic parallelism? Because many Bible translators focus on translating individual words rather than the function of those words. Hebrew waw has a different function in different contexts. Its function in each context needs to be translately accurately to the equivalent function in any target language such as English.

      Let's try another example, Ps. 51:2. Which of the following versions accurately reflect the parallelism of iniquity and sin, and washing and cleansing by not connecting the two lines in which those words occur with English "and"?
      Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
      and cleanse me from my sin! (RSV, NRSV, ESV)

      Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
      And cleanse me from my sin. (NASB)

      Wash away all my iniquity
      and cleanse me from my sin. (NIV, TNIV, REB)

      Wash away all my evil
      and make me clean from my sin! (TEV)

      Wash me thoroughly of my iniquity,
      and purify me of my sin; (Tanakh)

      Wash away all my guilt;
      from my sin cleanse me. (NAB)

      wash me clean from my guilt,
      purify me from my sin. (NJB)

      Wash me thoroughly from my guilt,
      and cleanse me from my sin. (GW)

      Wash away my fuilt,
      and cleanse me from my sin. (HCSB)

      Wash away my wrongdoing!
      Cleanse me of my sin! (NET)

      Wash me clean from my guilt.
      Purify me from my sin. (NLT)
      OK? Now why don't you test yourself to see if you can spot accurate translations of Hebrew waw connecting the parallel lines of other examples of Hebrew poetic parallelism? You can do so on your own. And I'll give you an exercise to start with, the new poll with a green background in the right margin of this blog. Try to answer the poll based on the English rule that the word "and" is used to connect dissimilar items. It's OK if you discover that one of your favorite Bible versions could benefit from some revision of its translation of Hebrew poetry. A need for revision does not mean that you are using a bad Bible. Every Bible version has some weak spots. But almost every English Bible version is accurate and worthy of your use. Still, every Bible translation can benefit from improvements. That's what making better Bibles is all about. That's why Bible publishers pay their Bible translation committees to do periodic revision.

      Wednesday, March 15, 2006

      A SENT translation

      Webb Mealy, PhD is writing a translation called SENT (the Spoken English New Testament). He says in the appendix to Romans:
      My aim is to create natural spoken English, not literary English. This translation is especially intended for reading aloud--whether in church, or in one's own private reading. I find that the supposed virtue of reading "without moving your lips" is no help for really engaging with the scriptures. Silent reading may be good for maximizing reading speed, but it is not necessarily good for letting the full impact of the sacred text soak in.

      He goes on to say:
      My experience has been that the biblical text has the greatest impact on English-speaking hearers when it is translated so that it reads just as naturally in English as it presumably did in Greek.

      For a look-see, you'll find three PDF files here. He has drafted Matthew, Mark, Romans, and 1 Corinthians.

      His translation of OUN in Romans is thought provoking. I appreciate how he has tried to capture the flow of thought. This is difficult to do since "connective" words don't only have meaning, but perform a function within a discourse. English words like: therefore, so, finally and even phrases like let's review are not so much truth propositional as they are guides to the reader. Let's review is how Webb Mealy translates OUN in Romans 3:27.

      Tuesday, March 14, 2006

      Luke 17:3 -- TNIV singular "they"

      TNIV Luke 17:3 reads:
      So watch yourselves. If a brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.
      Some have objected to this wording on exegetical and/or linguistic grounds, namely:
      1. Exegetical: The underlying Greek has ho adelphos sou, which, it is claimed can only be translated accurately as "your brother." Dr. Grudem believes this. When challenged as to whether you should also forgive a sister who sins against you, Dr. Grudem answers, "Yes, by application, but not by accurate translation of the Greek of this verse." In other words, according to Dr. Grudem, what Jesus said only refers to forgiving a (spiritual) brother, not a spiritual sister. By application, the principle would apply to forgiving sisters, as well.

      2. Linguistic: While recognizing that there is increasing usage of singular "they" when it takes an indefinite pronoun antecedent, such as "everyone," "anyone," and "nobody," some object to use of singular "they" extended to a context where the antecedent is an indefinite noun, such as "a man," "a woman," or "a doctor."
      With regard to the exegetical claim, it should be noted that many exegetes believe that ho adelphos sou of Luke 17:3 is gender-neutral. That is, it refers to either a male or female sibling. Some Greek lexicons do allow for gender-neutral meaning for adelphos in contexts such as this.

      With regard to the linguistic objection, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain as the linguistic contexts in which singular "they" is used by many English speakers expand. Some of us trained to use only generic "he" may object to such usage. Or we may call it substandard usage, or subliterary usage, but it is still widespread usage by a large cross-section of social strata of English speakers. Just tonight I was watching a PBS program featuring Wayne Dyer, a well-known widely published author with a Ph.D, a fluent, native speaker of English. He uttered a sentence which had a subject which had an indefinite noun and a singular "they" later which referred back to that noun as its antecedent. I wish I had immediately written his sentence down, but I did not. But it was of this flavor:
      If a person believes that they can do something, they are more likely to actually do it.
      Others who observe language have noted this same usage also.

      William Shakespeare, who had a good command of literary English, included sentences in his writings with singular "they," including the following which takes as antecedent an indefinite noun:
      "There's not a man I meet but doth salute me / As if I were their well-acquainted friend" (Comedy of Errors, Act IV Scene 3)
      Whether or not we approve of Shakespeare's use of singular "they" in this sentence, or whether or not we consider it of high literary quality, he still used it, and his writings have stood the test of time. The singular "they" must have sounded appropriate to him in this context more than 400 years ago, just as it sounds appropriate to me today. There is no syntactic difference if were to add "or woman" after the word "man to Shakespeare's sentence, since conjoined noun phrase can substitute for noun phrases with a single noun.

      Now, if people are speaking, and some are writing, with singular "they" taking an indefinite noun as antecedent, then there should be no problem having the noun subject of the sentence be a conjunct noun phrase with two nouns joined by "or." Such a conjoined phrase functions exactly the same as a noun phrase which has only a single noun.

      For those who use singular "they" as part of their grammar, it is perfectly grammatical for them to have as antecedent to this pronoun an indefinite pronoun, indefinite noun, or a conjoined indefinite noun phrase. Therefore, for its intended audience, the TNIV wording of Luke 17:3 is grammatical. It is true that the most formal registers of English may not yet see much of the usage of singular "they" with an indefinite noun or indefinite conjoined noun phrase, but the TNIV is not attempting to use the most formal registers of English. Nor, on the other hand, is the TNIV rendered simply in colloquial English. The TNIV translators attempt to retain the "dignified" style of the NIV, a style which has been appreciated by many churches, while updating the language to reflect changes which have occurred within English since the NIV was first published.

      For more on the translation of Luke 17:3 in the TNIV, click here to read an explanation for it from the TNIV translators. You need not agree with either the exegetical or linguistic argument made by the TNIV translators, but anyone who claims that the TNIV wording is inaccurate or ungrammatical will have to do so with empirical evidence. To prove the claim of inaccuracy or ungrammaticality requires presentation of data from Greek lexicography and English linguistics which will likely be debated by some with a firm grounding in Greek lexicography and/or English linguistics.

      To read what some English lexicographers who supervise the creation of English dictionaries have to say about singular "they" usage click here. Of course, we will find other English lexicographers who disagree.

      And that is one of the points of this post. Scholars do not agree on a number of matters. It is dangerous for anyone to use such categorical terms as "translation inaccuracy" when there is such disagreement. In my opinion, a more appropriate scholarly claim to make at such times is to say, "In my opinion, a better translation wording would have been _____. And here is why I believe that."

      Ultimately, whether we like it or not, throughout history it is English speakers themselves who have determined what language rules will be followed. English teachers attempt to teach "proper" English to their students and much of what they teach does align with the rules which are actually used by good speakers. But English teachers are often slow to catch up with language changes. English teachers persisted in telling students not to split infinitive when this was just an artificial rule, borrowed from Latin grammars. We will always have William Safire and others who care about English grammar, but do not recognize that language change occurs not by what editors and English teachers say about the language, but by the rules that speakers and writers actually follow, and the new rules that they adopt. Let me not be misunderstood: I am not advocating use of singular "they." If it bothers you, don't use it. Use some other linguistic forms to communicate singular generic reference. What I do object to is objecting to language usage which is widespread and considered appropriate by those who speak and write those forms.

      Based on our own ideolect of English or our sensitivities to what we consider to be the best quality English literature, we may not approve of the TNIV wording of Luke 17:3 with its singular "they." But it is inaccurate to say that that wording is "inaccurate" or "ungrammatical." Of course, we can sincerely believe either or both claims, but believing something does not establish it as true.

      Grace Seminary to Sponsor Religious Symposia

      Luke 1:34--the ESV is better

      Today's ESV Bible blog post wrestles with the preference of Anthony Esolen of the Mere Comments blog and Fr. Bob of the The 7 Habitus blog for translating the Greek (imported from Hebrew) idiom of Luke 1:34 literally as "I know not a man" (or, better English as "I do not know a man.").

      The ESV blog points out that the ESV:
      translates Luke 1:34 as, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” and adds the footnote “Greek since I do not know a man.
      The ESV wording here is better than a literal translation. It accurately translates the figurative meaning of the Greek of Luke 1:34 for English speakers. A literal translation of "I do not know a man" does not communicate that figurative meaning so accurately to many, perhaps most, English speakers today. In fact, it is literally not true, since Mary likely knew several men, including her own father and her betrothed, Joseph.

      Monday, March 13, 2006

      Jesus' words: formal or conversational

      The long comment thread on Mike Sangrey's posting Interpretation versus Translation -- Competition or Teamwork? had already shifted well off the original subject when Michael Marlowe, aka Son of Abraham, introduced a new and significant issue. To avoid this discussion getting lost, I am addressing this issue in a new posting.

      At the end of a comment mostly about singular "they", Michael wrote:
      I agree that the style of the translation should imitate the style of the original. But I don't think it's true that the words of Christ in the NT are in conversational style. I think they are highly rhetorical, and for the most part they follow conventions of gnomic and prophetic literature. These are not really the same as the conventions of formal prose style in English, but the discourse is definitely formal in character. So when I see Christ's words translated into an informal conversational idiom--as they are in the recent "common language" versions and paraphrases--I think the translation really gives a false impression.
      Perhaps this is the centre of the problem which has led to such sharp disagreement about singular "they". Are Jesus' words as reported in the Bible conversational, in the same sense as the literary examples discussed earlier in the comment thread concerning singular "they"? Or are they prepared discourses in highly polished formal style? Or somewhere in between? That certainly affects how they should be translated.

      How do we decide this question? I assume that Michael is not taking a theological perspective that anything which Jesus said must have been in the most perfect and exalted language, so wonderful that it deserves to be printed in red whoever might have spoken it. If we look at the evidence, we will find that Jesus' words, as they appear in the New Testament (and so mostly not in fact his Hebrew or Aramaic ipsissima verba), are in the ordinary Koiné Greek of their period. But what particular register of Koiné Greek? I must say I don't know. It certainly wasn't the formal Greek of Luke 1:1-4, nor was it the involved argumentation of Paul's letters. To my non-expert eyes it seems to be down-to-earth conversational language, not generally polished at all, although scattered with sometimes cryptic sayings which do show some signs of careful wording. But if Michael or anyone else has any evidence that Jesus' words are in fact in a formal style, I would like to see it.

      If Jesus' words are in a conversational style as I believe, there should be no requirement that an English translation of them be in the most formal literary style; in fact such a translation would be inaccurate and misleading. It must therefore be acceptable to use in the Bible, at least in Jesus' words, constructions like singular "they" which are widely used in conversational language but, at least according to some, not acceptable in the most formal language.

      Any comments?