Re: Translation versus commentary

On Thu, 5 May 1994, Vincent Broman wrote:

> [Broman's four-square wooden bible] |  [NIV]
> John 3: 3
> Jesus answered and said to him,     |  In reply Jesus declared,  
> "Amen, amen I say to you,           |  "I tell you the truth,
> if someone is not born from above,  |  no one can see the kingdom of God,
> he will not be able to see          |  unless he is born again.
> the kingdom of God."
> By comparing the columns, one can see that Jesus had a strange, archaic way
> of saying "I tell you the truth", and one could also guess that there is a
> question whether "from above" might mean "by heavenly means" or might be a
> dead metaphor for "again".  Both the ambiguity and the interpretation
> process are illustrated.

This seems to miss the point that, in some meaningful sense, anwthen
"literally" means BOTH 'from above' and 'again.'  That seems to be the
whole literary point.  The ambiguity is not an unfortunate problem for the
writer, but a means of communicating something.  Trying to resolve the
ambiguity in this case is like trying to resolve the ambiguity in a
pun--if you succeed, the pun ceases to be a pun.  I can't really imagine
there being a dynamically eqivalent translation of this verse.

Philip Graber
Emory University