Re: Translating Implict Information

From: David L. Moore (
Date: Mon Apr 29 1996 - 23:51:22 EDT

At 08:44 PM 4/29/96 -0700, Bill Caulfield wrote:
>There was discussion in early April around the need for and the
>method of displaying translator supplied words or wording. The
>group did not seem to reach a consensus; except to agree that it
>was an area fraught with difficulty.
>In my study, I found the book-Translating The Word Of God-by
>Wycliffe translators John Beekman and John Callow to offer some
>interesting comments and insights on the subject of transferring
>meaning via translation.
>Galatians 3:18 is a verse with a situation similar to the problem
>mentioned with 2 Th 2:6 in NASB. (My apology for not recording
>the name of the individual who mentioned 2 Th 2:6 to the group.)
>The KJV italicizes 'it' in 18b, whereas the NASB does not. At Gal
>3:18b, the transitive verb, KECHARISTAI, requires a direct object
>to complete its action - which Paul left to the Galatians hearers (and
>subsequent exegetes) to provide.
>Don Wilkins, who noted that he worked as a translator of the
>NASB and sits on the editorial board, offered the following
>comments regarding using italics in translation.
>>There are two problems that should be considered, though and
>>perhaps some of you will offer suggestions. First, it is one thing to
>>add a word when good English does not demand it and the idea of
>>the word is inferred from the context; this calls for italics. But
>>when a word is necessary to make sensible English and there is
>>virtually no doubt about the context, trans-lators often feel
>>justified in using roman for the word in question.
>Since the NASB does not italicize 'it' in Gal 3:18b, it would seem to
>fall under Don's rule no.2 - >a word is necessary to make sensible
>English and there is virtually no doubt about the context.
>For the sake of discussion - I do not believe 'it' (=s 'righteousness'
>???) is the object from the context that the Galaatians would have
>supplied. They would have supplied Canaan Land! In short, the
>verb in the perfect speaks of a past completed act having present
>results. The thought is something actually present, real and
>verifiable. While 'righteousness' is certainly real, it is not easily
>verified as present. Canaan Land not only completes the thought;
>but also converts the text from an assertion--which is the effect of
>an indefinite direct object, "it"--to a statement. Most importantly, it
>is a statement that the Galatians can verify. So understood, the text
>provides a specific historical incident against which Paul's argument
>in 3:15-17 can be judged.

        The context suggests "inheritance" (v. 18a) in the sense of
"promise" (v. 17c), and by extension, "that which is promised" or
"...inherited" as a referent for "it" in the usual translation of Gal. 3:18.
Abraham received by the "promise" a great deal more than the land of Caanan.
If we might take a passage from Romans, it becomes clear that, in Paul's
theology of the "promise," Abraham is heir, not only to Caanan, but to the
world, through his faith (Rom. 4:13). And beyond the world, there are many
spirtual blessings he is heir to through the promised "seed."

        The perfect tense should not be limited to material, palpable
things. Just several lines up from the verse under consideration, in the
first part of v. 17, we have a perfect participle used in capacity as a verb
that speaks of the previously established covanant. This covenant really
lacked material confirmation at the time of the giving of the Law, and was
not even in a palpable form as were the tablets of the Law, but Paul notes
that the covenant takes precedence over the Law because the former was
established upon the promise of God whereas the Law was established in a
different way and for a different purpose (v. 19).

        Bill is correct in pointing out that a "verb in the perfect speaks
of a past completed act having present results." Nevertheless, the flow of
the reasoning often adds nuance, and it is also important to let the context
tell us what those *results* may be.

>This is my initial post. I trust it falls within established boundaries.

        I am confident that we all welcome you. Your post focuses our
attention on the meaning of a New Testament passage. I believe that's an
excellent emphasis. I hope you will continue to actively follow and
contribute to the discussion.


David L. Moore Director
Miami, Florida, USA Department of Education Southeastern Spanish District of the Assemblies of God

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