Re: Translation versus commentary
May I express my gratitude to Larry Hurtado and Adrian Machiraju
for their responses to my posting, and my apologies that I seem to
have agitated my good friend Larry so much :-) I hope I may also
be counted among Larry's "serious" and "devout", yet when I preach
I tend to read the lessons from the GNB simply because otherwise
I observe a sea of incomprehesion. I still have to do what (I think)
Ronald Knox described as the clergyman's job: spending all his time
telling the people that the Bible doesn't mean what it says. But
then, Knox wasn't discussing DE when he said that!
My major concern, though, is that Larry and Adrian still seem to
assume that a translator *knows* what the text says and only has
to struggle for a proper equivalence (dynamic or otherwise). Here
I disagree. If I were sure of the "cadence and idioms of the original",
Larry, I'd not have the problems I do. "If one reads the New Testament
in Greek, [says Adrian] one may well misunderstand it, but if one
does understand it, what one has understood is the New Testament."
But how can I know I have understood? What were the cadences of
the idiom (if that's what it was :-) "the son of man" (whether in
Ezekiel, in Daniel, or in any of the Gospels)? If Prof JC O'Neill
is right, Paul uses "in Christ" not as a formula or idiom but in
a variety of different and quite unrelated ways: "through"; "by means
of", "because of"; "in the case of" &c. But again, how can we know?
It is precisely because Larry's reader will "form serious judgements
about meaning, application, teachings, intention, etc." that I'm
worried. I guess I'd rather see a programme of educating the readers
of the dangers of *any* translation than presenting them with another
one which they may think they can rely on with impunity. I certainly
don't want them to be "content to accept the wisdom of whatever group
produced a particular translation", Adrian. Only to be aware that
that is what they are in fact doing if they do not challenge every
translation they can get hold of.
Yes, certainly one who knows both French and English is likely to
understand any reasonable translation from English of "the cat sat
on the mat" (though still may miss that the major point is precisely
the alliteration). But almost by definition our target audiences
*don't* know Greek; at least, not at all well. How do we teach it
to achieve those goals you express so well ("it ought to bring a
much greater sense of the insecurity of any translation")?
Enough, and more than enough. Thanks for making me think.
Douglas de Lacey, Cambridge, UK.