an aging translation
This generation is an evil generation.The translation employs the traditionally used English word "generation" to translate the Greek word genea of this verse. But is "generation" the most accurate English translation of genea in this context? Let's examine the lexical data.
First, let's look at the Greek lexicon. Louw and Nida explain genea as:
people living at the same time and belonging to the same reproductive age-class - ‘those of the same time, those of the same generation.’ ...BDAG gloss genea as:
The expression ‘the people of this generation’ may also be expressed as ‘the people living now’ or ‘the people of this time.’ Successive generations may be spoken of as ‘groups of people who live one after the other’ or ‘successions of parents and children.’
- those exhibiting common characteristics or interest, race, kind
- the sum total of those born at the same time, expanded to include all those living at a given time and freq. defined in terms of specific characteristics, generation, contemporaries
- the time of a generation, age
Now let's look at the English lexicon. My American Heritage dictionary gives these meaning senses for the word "generation":
- All of the offspring that are at the same stage of descent from a common ancestor: Mother and daughters represent two generations.
- Biology. A form or stage in the life cycle of an organism: asexual generation of a fern.
- The average interval of time between the birth of parents and the birth of their offspring.
- a. A group of individuals born and living about the same time. b. A group of generally contemporaneous individuals regarded as having common cultural or social characteristics and attitudes: “They're the television generation” (Roger Enrico).
- a. A period of sequential technological development and innovation. b. A class of objects derived from a preceding class: a new generation of computers.
- The act or process of generating; origination, production, or procreation.
To perform the field test, we would need to read enough of the context so that those being tested would have adequate clues to what the meaning of "generation" might be. I would think that all of verse 29 would be a sufficient context, but there would be nothing wrong with supplying a larger context to those with whom we are testing the translation.
We could then ask individuals, "What group of people does it sound like Jesus is addressing?" If they answer with the word "generation," then we would need to follow up and ask, "And what would you understand "generation" to mean in this context?"
How would you answer these questions?