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Monday, September 18, 2006

Jude 24-25 and literary beauty

An animated discussion has been taking place about the literary beauty of English translations of Jude 24-25 in the comments to a preceding post. (It's probably the immediately preceding post, but that is not easy for me to find out since I am now back on the reservation in Montana and I'm "borrowing" my neighbor's dial-up connection. I miss our high speed, always-on connection at home.)

In any case, I thought it would be interesting to post several translations of Jude 24-25. Perhaps we can draw a few conclusions regarding literary beauty of the various translations. I would like to think that while beauty is so often in the eye of the beholder, some elements of literary style might be more objectively measured. And if we polled enough people, we might find a statistically significant number of people preferring certain literary elements over others. At the same time, as with art and music, subjective judgements are very much a part of trying to decide what is beautiful and what is not.

These two verses in Jude surely were beautiful in Greek. Yes, these two verses are a long "run on" sentence--and run-on sentences often are not perceived to be beautiful by many (?) current English speakers (or at least their English composition teachers). But in this case I agree with those who see beauty in this long sentence, with its rhetorical progression that builds toward the ending climax (yes, I think a Freudian allusion is appropriate here; I think that there is beauty in a number of different kinds of climax, including musical, artistic, literary, and intimate physical oneness).

The progression, in this case, is not simply that of any old items on a laundry list. These are terms in Greek and, surely should be so in translation to English or any other language, of wonderful, glorious concepts captured by words (sorry, I tried not to use the word "glorious" since it's part of several translations of this verse, but sometimes it is difficult to avoid a word which fits so well!). There is syntactic parallelism which we could chart. I suspect that enjoyment of syntactic parallelism would be a nearly universal phenomenon. It definitely is in music. It's all over Western styles of music and it is widespread in Cheyenne indigenous music which is sung to different scales from Western music, has different rhythms, etc. Parallelism is part of the beauty of poetry, whether it is formal English poetry with rhythm and rhyme or Hebraic poetry where parallelism of concepts predominates.

Here, then, are translations of Jude 24-25:
Vnto him that is able to kepe you that ye faule not and to present you fautlesse before the presence of his glory with ioye yt is to saye to God oure saveour which only is wyse be glory maiestie dominion and power now and for ever. Amen. (Tyndale)

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, [be] glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen. (KJV)

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen. (RSV)

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (NRSV)

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (ESV)

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (NASB)

Now to the one who is able to keep you from falling, and to cause you to stand, rejoicing, without blemisht before his glorious presence,to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time, and now, and for all eternity. Amen. (NET)

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glory without fault and with unspeakable joy, to the only God, our saviour, be glory and majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before time was, now, and in all ages to come, amen. (Phillips)

Now to the One who can keep you from falling and set you in the presence of his glory, jubilant and above reproach, to the only God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all time, now, and for evermore. Amen. (REB)

Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now, and forever. Amen. (HCSB)

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—Jude 1.25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (NIV)

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (TNIV; one change from NIV: "falling" to "stumbling")

God can guard you so that you don't fall and so that you can be full of joy as you stand in his glorious presence without fault. Before time began, now, and for eternity glory, majesty, power, and authority belong to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (GW)

Now to the one who is able to keep you from falling and to make you stand faultless in his glorious presence with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time and for all eternity! Amen. (ISV)

And now, all glory to God, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and who will bring you into his glorious presence innocent of sin and with great joy. All glory to him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Yes, glory, majesty, power, and authority belong to him, in the beginning, now, and forevermore. Amen. (NLT)

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to bring you faultless and joyful before his glorious presence— to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, might, and authority, from all ages past, and now, and forever and ever! Amen. (TEV)

Offer praise to God our Savior because of our Lord Jesus Christ! Only God can keep you from falling and make you pure and joyful in his glorious presence. Before time began and now and forevermore, God is worthy of glory, honor, power, and authority. Amen. (CEV)

And now to him who can keep you on your feet, standing tall in his bright presence, fresh and celebrating—to our one God, our only Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Master, be glory, majesty, strength, and rule before all time, and now, and to the end of all time. Yes. (The Message)
What kinds of literary beauty do you see in these various translations? And do you note any objective language characteristics that correlate with that beauty?

6 Comments:

At Mon Sep 18, 12:24:00 PM, Blogger Henry Neufeld said...

One thing to note when comparing the translations is that there are significant textual variations involved in this verse. One can't comment on the translator's stylistics without first factoring out the different Greek texts.

 
At Mon Sep 18, 12:46:00 PM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

Some textual differences (NASB rep. Ecl. Cr.; EMTV/NKJV rep. Maj. TR.):

Jude 1.24: Majority Text (H&F) reads them rather than you in the phrase, "...who is able to keep you from stumbling... (NASB)"

EMTV, "Now to Him who is able to keep them from stumbling..."

Jude 1.25: N-A and UBS text read "To the only God our Savior..." while Majority read "To the only wise God our Savior..."

N-A and UBS omit "...the only wise..." or, as in NKJV, "...Who alone is wise...", and reads rather "...through Jesus Christ our Lord..."

N-A and UBS add "...before all time..." and render "...before all time and now and forever...", while Majority reading renders "...both now and forever..."

I won't list the specific manuscripts. Suffice to say, many of the earliest and "best" manuscripts give attestation (many will differ on what constitutes for "the best" manuscripts).

Now we can talk about the actual renderings and their perceived beauty.

 
At Mon Sep 18, 04:16:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Jude verse 25

1. M. Robinson's Byzantine text

μονω σοφω θεω σωτηρι ημων δοξα και μεγαλωσυνη κρατος και εξουσια και νυν και εις παντας τους αιωνας αμην

2. Textus Receptus

μονω σοφω θεω σωτηρι ημων δοξα και μεγαλωσυνη κρατος και εξουσια και νυν και εις παντας τους αιωνας αμην

3. Tischendorf

μονω θεω σωτηρι ημων δια ιησου χριστου του κυριου ημων δοξα μεγαλωσυνη κρατος και εξουσια προ παντος του αιωνος και νυν και εις παντας τους αιωνας αμηνελπιζω δε ευθεως σε ιδειν και στομα προς στομα λαλησομεν

4. Westcott-Hort

μονω θεω σωτηρι ημων δια ιησου χριστου του κυριου ημων δοξα μεγαλωσυνη κρατος και εξουσια προ παντος του αιωνος και νυν και εις παντας τους αιωνας αμην

While there are also significant variants in verse 24, as Matthew has noted above, I found verse 25 the most interesting.

What I am wondering is if the και inserted in the Byzantine manuscripts after δοξα was done deliberately to create the effect of parataxis. In Byzantine manuscripts the και would probably have been an ampersand and could easily slip into the text. Interesting.
In any case, it is very difficult to attribute the balance and rhythm of the KJ text to the translators.

 
At Mon Sep 18, 06:20:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Here is what I think.

1. I can't discuss this fully and disregard the Greek. It would rather talk about the status of Greek ampersands in Byzantine manuscripts. However, I guess I would need to scoot over to 'evangelical text crit' to do that.

2. I am personally biased in favour of parataxis and would like to post on it some day. But I don't think it can be easily inserted into a text which sounds more or less like a laundry list in the original Greek.

3. I picked up a detective novel a few days ago and found that it quoted from the King James. I concede, in English, KJ is very important as a text, and it is possible that I have just taken it for granted. Obviously many people value its contribution to English literature and assume that it can be understood, at least in part.

4. I think that the rhythm of the KJ can be improved on, as I believe I did here.

For think of when you were called, my friends, that not many were wise according to the flesh, not many powerful, not many well-born. But the foolish things of this world God has chosen to shame the wise, and the weak things of this world God has chosen to shame the strong. 1 Cor. 1:26-27

5. There is a certain choice of diction, vocabulary found in the KJ text, that was mandated by the king. There are other terms that just don't belong, and IMO, someone should have had their knuckles rapped soundly for 'bowels or mercies'.

I have to admit that some interesting issues have been brought up, but I don't have the answers.

 
At Mon Sep 18, 09:39:00 PM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

1. I can't discuss this fully and disregard the Greek. It would rather talk about the status of Greek ampersands in Byzantine manuscripts. However, I guess I would need to scoot over to 'evangelical text crit' to do that.

Congratulations, you have successfully identified this blog as the wrong place to undertake a discussion such as that. ;D

4. I think that the rhythm of the KJ can be improved on, as I believe I did here.

I would have been more interested in a supposed improvement to the verse under investigation.

Now, to him who is able to make me sleep! So very tired...

 
At Mon Sep 18, 11:47:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I would have been more interested in a supposed improvement to the verse under investigation.

That can't be done without discusssing the status of the ampersand - remember! I refuse to make any attempts at the impossible.

However, I have already written about the kai ampersand here and here.

 

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