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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

F. F. Bruce articles

Since there is so much to read out there, I am going to take a break from writing! I have been reading articles uploaded at

    It is not given to mortals to attain complete objectivity―not even to mathematicians. But one can at least acknowledge it as an ideal and endeavour to approach it as closely as possible, instead of decrying it as a misleading will-o’-the-wisp. Theology is more than the application of grammar to the text, but it cannot dispense with the application of grammar to the text as a basic procedure.
F.F. Bruce on Primary Sense and Plenary Sense

Thanks to Rob Bradshaw who is uploading articles by F. F. Bruce and others to his website.


At Wed Apr 11, 10:36:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Suzanne, this topic is most relevant for Bible translation. IMO, the most objective Bible translations are those which translate what Bruce would call the primary sense of a passage. There are a variety of ways that Bible translators can include more of the plenary meaning than is justified just by what the passage being translated says and means within its own context. I have seen two kinds of interpretive translation that occurs. One is criticized by Ryken and others like him who do not like dynamic equivalence translation. Ryken prefers translations which allow the reader to more more "transparent" for the modern reader, taking the reader to the text, rather than "modernizing" the text, bringing it to the reader. On the other hand, Ryken has been part of the ESV translation project which practices its own interpretive translation by "Christianizing" many passages in the Hebrew Bible. They remove the original author's primary sense and substitute for it a Christological interpretation that comes from New Testament interpretations.

I, personally, would like to see less of any kind of interpretive translation. Instead, I prefer translations to reflect F.F. Bruce's primary sense.

And lexically, I prefer that translations have wordings that focus more on the primary senses of words, rather than on secondary (or tertiary, or even more distant) meaning senses. The more distant the meaning senses of words we use in a translation, the more difficult it is for a majority of Bible readers to readily understand what translators intend the meaning to be. It takes more cognitive work and more time to work with non-primary lexical senses of words.

Thanks for this post which has important implications for Bible translation.

At Thu Apr 12, 11:25:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I am really enjoying different aspects of F.F. Bruce's writing. It is also a window into a different time.

There was a real sense of language scholarship and long-term committment to the Biblical languages as well as trying to be self-aware and objective.


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