Re: translation

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Feb 27 1996 - 11:25:04 EST

My apologies if this has actually gone through before, but my impression is
that it hasn't. But in some respects my views on the questions raised in
the original post differ from othrs, so I throw in my 2c worth.

brent justin anduaga-arias wrote:

> The RSV in 1st John 5:13 states "I write THIS to you..." All of my
> other English translations have "I write THESE THINGS to you..." Is
> there a grammatical reason for the RSV's departure or is it just
> "translator's liberty?"

Are you looking at a Greek text at all in relation to this question? The
Greek word translated 'THIS' in RSV and 'THESE THINGS' in the "other"
versions is TAUTA. Literally this is "these things"--and your "other"
translators have rendered it in a slavishly literal fashion. The RSV on the
other hand, has rendered it in what is more normal English idiom to refer
to "the preceding"--English tends to use the singular for reference to what
has just been said or what is about to say, where Greek tends to use a
neuter plural.

> Also, in Hebrews 10:12 some of my English translations say "...offered
> FOR ALL TIME..." while others say "...sat down FOREVER..." The Greek word
> (which is being translated variously as indicated) seems to have
> ambiguity as to what its object is. Does the confusion arise purely from
> ambiguity of grammar or is context contributing to the translator's
> differences?

Yes. That is: the phrase in the Greek, EIS TO DIHNEKES falls neatly in the
middle between the two predicate clauses; some translators have preferred
to understand it with "offered," others with "sat down." If you think about
it a little, however, it's clear that this phrase means BOTH that the
action was performed once for all time AND that its performer then took his
throne once for all time. That would seem to be why it is centrally placed.
Imagine it thus (painfully literal, but rhetorically perhaps not
ineffective): "And he, upon offering a single offering for our sins--for
all time--took his seat at the right hand of God ..."

> Again, in Romans 3:25 the RSV says "... to be received BY faith." The
> Greek word here is DIA, which I have always presumed means "through" - by
> which other translations indeed render this word. Can someone tell me if
> there is a grammatic reason for "by" or is it again just "translator's
> liberty?"

Would you perhaps prefer "through the instrumentality of"--in order to
capture the precise nuance of DIA + genitive in this instance, or would you
settle for "by"--which means the same thing and is considerably more

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:38 EDT