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Re: literal not = interpretive
- To: JohnBARACH@aol.com
- Subject: Re: literal not = interpretive
- From: Paul Dixon - Ladd Hill Bible Church <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Sun, 8 Jun 1997 15:06:41 -0700 (PDT)
- cc: email@example.com
- In-Reply-To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thank you, John, for an excellent expression of my thoughts exactly -
though I'm not sure I could have said it as well. Perhaps now I can.
Paul S. Dixon, Pastor http://users.aol.com/dixonps
Ladd Hill Bible Church "Negative Inference Fallacies" /nif.htm
Wilsonville, Oregon "Evangelism of Christ ..." /evangelism.htm
"Evil Restraint in 2 Thess 2:6" /restrainer.htm
On Fri, 6 Jun 1997 JohnBARACH@aol.com wrote:
> Although this discussion of translation and interpretation is probably a
> little off topic on this mailing list, I figured I'd throw in a comment
> In a message dated 97-06-06 14:48:40 EDT, email@example.com (Andrew
> Kulikovsky) writes:
> > Translation is expressing the intended message of a given speaker or
> > writer in a different language to the one in which the message was
> > originally expressed.
> > Interpretation is determining what the intended message actually is
> > along with its meaning and significance.
> > Obviously there is going to be some overlap between interpretation and
> > translation since you need to understand the intended message in order
> > to translate it correctly.
> Throughout this discussion, we are calling upon certain presuppositions as
> well as our definitions. I begin (laying my cards on the table) from the
> presupposition that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, but what do I mean
> by that presupposition? Do I mean that the message is inspired? Or that the
> words AND the message are inspired? I mean the latter. God chose to give
> His message in certain words; that is, He chose to so work with the writers
> of Scripture and their own personalities (I do not subscribe to a dictation
> theory of inspiration) that the *words* they chose communicated the *meaning*
> and *message* He intended.
> Our views of translation are affected by these presuppositions.
> Translation--at least on my presuppositions--is not simply a matter of
> getting the "meaning" across, as if the meaning can be divorced from the
> words which bear it and from the sentences and the forms of those sentences.
> I request that a translation honor not only what it perceives to be the
> meaning of a passage, but also--as much as is possible--the words and the
> For instance, Paul is quite capable of writing short sentences. But Paul
> often bursts into extremely lengthy sentences. Why? Presumably the lengthy
> sentence captures some aspect of the meaning of what he is saying. Paul's
> lengthy run-on sentences, his complicated grammar, his anacoluthonoi (the
> correct plural?), his parentheses--all of these things are designed for a
> certain effect. Some translations--notably, the NIV--break Paul's long
> sentences into much shorter ones, supplying verbs and subjects as needed.
> But in so doing, do they not lose some of the force and power of the
> original sentence?
> Another example: It is common to hear that certain tribes have no idea what
> "snow" is or what "sheep" are, and therefore translators say that they must
> choose other words for their versions of Scripture. Instead of sheep being
> eaten for the passover--to choose just one shocking example--their
> translation informs the people of this tribe that Israel sacrificed and ate
> pigs! Doesn't that communicate the same "meaning?" the translator will ask.
> Um ... no!
> There's another aspect to this. Often in Scripture--as in any other ancient
> text--the *words* can be translated, but they are ambiguous. A "pot of gold"
> could be a pot full of gold or a put made of gold. Which is it? A theory of
> translation based on "communicating the *meaning*" might make the decision
> and translate "pot made of gold." But ... I'd rather make that decision
> myself as the reader! The translator could have left the simple genitive as
> "pot of gold" and left the reader to solve the interpretation problem
> himself! Instead, that act of interpretation has been done--and the average
> reader has no idea that the text *could* be read as "pot full of gold."
> Granted, all translations involve interpretation to some degree. But there
> are indeed degrees of interpretive tendency. It's one thing to choose to
> translate "pot" instead of, say, "bucket." It's something else to make the
> decision--which the words and their syntax leave open--that "pot of gold"
> means "pot made of gold." It's also one thing to try as much as possible to
> leave interpretive possibilities open for the reader solve. It's something
> else to try to make the text as readible and clear as possible by solving as
> many ambiguities as possible.
> After all, the Bible, like any other book but perhaps more so, requires work
> to read and to understand. Understanding the Bible is not a simple matter of
> finding the right translation.
> In this connection, I recommend _The Future of the Bible_ by Jakob van
> Bruggen, the noted Dutch New Testament scholar and commentator. (If you
> read Dutch, you must check out van Bruggen's commentaries on the synoptics
> and on 1 Cor. 7 and 11. He often takes unique and interesting and
> controversial directions based on his close attention to the text.)
> John Barach