Re: Re Conditional sentences

From: Michael Holmes (
Date: Fri May 10 1996 - 10:51:05 EDT

At 07:04 PM 5/9/96 -0700, Don Wilkins wrote, in part:
>Ron and others have contributed some very insightful comments about this
>thorny subject. I would only add that there is no real need to translate
>EI in a different way from "if", and indeed I think to do otherwise may
>inadvertantly confuse the context.

Like Don, I have appreciated very much the discussion of conditional
sentences. Don here raises the matter of translation of them, and I am
curious to learn what list members would do in a case like Luke/Mat 4:3, "if
you are the son of God ...". In my experience, virtually every English-only
reader thinks that the tempter is challenging the *identity* of Jesus,
whereas it seems almost certain that what is being challenged is his
*character* (cf., e.g., Fitzmyer on Luke)--i.e., the only reason the tempter
bothers to tempt this particular individual is precisely because he is "son
of God," and he wishes to learn what kind of son he will prove to be. In
this case, in view of the limited means in English to deal with conditional
sentences (limited, at least, vis-a-vis Greek), doesn't it "inadvertantly
confuse the context" to translate EI as "if"? Would not "since" be truer to
the intent of the text?

Do grammatical concerns have any bearing here, or is this a matter of
translation theory?

Mike Holmes
Bethel College

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