Translation versus commentary

Larry Hurtado "wonder[s] if this [DE] is not combining/confusing two
tasks: translation and explanation/commentary". I would wonder whether
we can (or should try) to define the two tasks so that they can be
mutually exclusive. Clearly, if there's no word for "shepherd" in the
target language, one has to use a paraphrase. It's not ureasonable to
call that commentary.  Footnoting is fine for academics, but as part
of the text the very existence of a footnote will convey meaning (ie
again commentary) to some readers.

I'd like to suggest (just to stir the pot :-) that *all* translation
is interpretation/commentary; and that we can best see that perhaps
by avoiding the emotionally-charged area of *Bible* translation
and turn to secular alternatives. Try translating "the cat sat on
the mat" into French, and note down how many decisions you have
make on the way; and how many possible interpretations of the phrase
you rule out for the French reader.  Take a piece of manifest
nonsense, like *Jabberwocky*, and discover how easy it is to
translate that into French{1}. Nor does learning Greek and Hebrew
*solve* these problems in any way. It may make us more aware of
possible ambiguities hidden by the translators' decisions; but
it cannot resolve them. At worst it gives us a dangerous sense
of false security: as though *my* guess at the meaning is
incontrovertably bette than that of the group which produced
the ... [add your own favourite translation here].

As one who has done it to some of them, I believe that in general
we teach undergrads and ordinands just enough Greek to be bad for them.

Douglas de Lacey, Cambridge UK.

{1} M. Gardiner, _The Annotated Alice_, provides translations of
Jabberwocky into Gernam and french, together with (as I recall)
a lengthy discussion of the art of translatig nonsense.