All things are lawful 2
I do think that a translation which is 'transparent to the Greek' might have value. But I do not agree that this has ever been properly calibrated, so when that claim is made it does not mean much to me. Let's try these qualifiers.
First off, if the translation gives some idea of the semantic relationships it might be more transparent to the Greek. It might not be a good translation on the basis of actual meaning but it would connect the reader to allusions and relationships within Greek discourse.
Second, the stylistic characteristics are important. Is there a concrete metaphor in Greek and can it be translated? Often these metaphors are dead, and may counter the communication of meaning - but sometimes they are not - they add colour.
Third, with reference to style. I personally hold that the Anglo-Saxon vocabulary reflects the Greek language better. Greek does not have the mix of language roots that English does. In fact, English is unusual in having such a mixed source of vocabulary. Not unique, but atypical. I leave myself open to correction here by others - let's see what comes up.
Here is the verse again, (I am avoiding textual issues)
- πάντα ἔξεστιν ἀλλ' οὐ πάντα συμφέρει πάντα ἔξεστιν ἀλλ' οὐ πάντα οἰκοδομεῖ Zhubert
"All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. ESV
"I have the right to do anything," you say—but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"—but not everything is constructive. TNIV
- "I have the right to do anything," but not all things are helpful. "I have the right to do anything", but not all things build up.
- "One has the right to do all things," but not all things are helpful. "One has the right to do all things," but not all things build up.
I have deliberately chosen the impersonal pronoun to strengthen the impression that this is a quote - an aphorism - and to avoid imposing a pronoun not supplied in the Greek. This may not be the best register, but I would suggest it is 'transparent to the Greek'.
I don't suppose that anyone will like this version, but simply, this could be an example of what is 'transparent to the Greek'. Let's define this quality and then make claims about certain translations.
I had the unfortunate experience of hearing a minister recently explain that he had chosen a certain translation on the basis of a claim he read in the preface. But he was unable to verify whether this claim was true. I have also heard remarks that certain translations are "dumbed down." And how would one define that - I ask.
Thank you to commenters for inspiration.