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Thursday, March 23, 2006

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?


At Thu Mar 23, 12:28:00 PM, Blogger rebecca said...

Just seeing if the comments work for me...

At Thu Mar 23, 12:29:00 PM, Blogger rebecca said...

Apparently they are working for me. Try logging out and logging in again to see if you can get them to work for you.

At Thu Mar 23, 01:17:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

The verification word has now changed! So I will try again with my comment:

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.


At Thu Mar 23, 03:32:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

(What is) hindering your relations with us is not us, the hindrance is in your inner feelings.

Peter, that's clearer than using the metaphorical language that doesn't communicate well in English. For me (American ears, so you can take it or leave it!!), the last part doesn't flow as smoothly as we might like. How about:

"the hindrance is in how you have been feeling"


"your own emotions are getting in the way"

At Thu Mar 23, 08:12:00 PM, Blogger codepoke said...

I had that same problem with that same word on another site around lunch time. Fascinating.

Cool post, too! Thanks.

At Fri Mar 24, 02:40:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Thank you, Wayne. My rendering was not intended to be a good English one, but a back translation of my suggested target language rendering. Remember that the target language does not have a general word for emotions, except for the one I have glossed "feelings" which also covers the senses, i.e. sight, hearing etc. Something like "how you have been feeling" might work, but I am not sure how to express that in the target language.

I suggested a slight change last night from "your relations" to "your close relationship", an unrelated word in the target language with an adjective. But all of this needs to be checked with a mother tongue speaker, not yet available to me.

At Fri Mar 24, 01:55:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Our mouth has opened to you, Corinthians, our heart has been enlarged.

We have expressed our affection for you openly,

You are not restricted in us, but you are restricted in your bowels

but you have been closed to receiving our affection.

I thought I would try something different.

Thanks for mentioning the UBS handbook. I have been googling 'Helps for Translators' for several months now, knowing that something that big could not have disappeared completely.

At Fri Mar 24, 03:47:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Suzanne suggested "but you have been closed to receiving our affection." Yes, indeed, Suzanne, that sounds good, if a little bit too restructured for the situation we are working in, which requires basically a modified literal translation. It will help me to think of a better rendering.

At Fri Mar 24, 04:20:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Just a thought. I wasn't thinking of it in terms of an end product.


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