Re: Sharp's Rule Extension/ Exceptions

From: Alan Repurk (
Date: Wed Jun 26 1996 - 16:50:02 EDT

Mark OBrien wrote:
> Original message sent on Mon, Jun 17 6:16 PM by (Alan
> Repurk) :
> > Are these rules for beginning students of Koine Greek who
> > have not yet learned to use the context of the surrounding
> > text to aid in their translations ?
> I'm not quite sure I understand what you mean here. These rules or limitations
> are actually those imposed by Granville Sharp himself on his rule. If you want
> to apply Sharp's Rule, then you need to understand the restrictions under which
> it does not apply.
> Regards,
> Mark O'Brien
> Grad. student, Dallas Theological Seminary

I have been doing some thinking about the subject of translating
ambiguous passages in relation to the focus of Sharp's rule and found a
reference that I think might have some bearing, but I am not sure if it

In "Biblical Words and Their Meaning: An Introduction to Lexical Semantics",
Zondervan,1983 by Moises Silva, pages 151-155 it discusses the case of
unintended ambiguity.

He quotes a paper from 1953 from 'prominent linguist Martin Joos' in which he
proposed the rule of maximum redundancy, "The best meaning is the least meaning".
He applies this to the hapax legomenon (word which only appears once) and says
that a rule of thumb is that it should be translated in a manner "to make it
contribute least to the total message derivable fromt he passage where it is at
home, rather than, e.g., defining it according to some presumed etymology or
semantic history"

Part of the reasoning in this comes from Joo's theory that there is considerable
redundancy in communication which is necessary to overcome incomplete transmission of
thought because of things like grammatical lapses on the part of the speaker,
less than perfect enunciation, physical noise, etc. He says that missing a complete
word seldom bothers us because the sentence as a whole normally discloses that word,
and that even if we fail to hear a complete sentence wen listening to a speeh,
we are unlikely to miss anything that is not automatically deducible from the
rest of the speech.

Now here is the part I am not sure of. Could this apply to ambiguous verses
like 2 Pet. 1:1 tou teou hemon kai soteros Iesou khristou. Would not the best
translation be one which contributes the least meaning to the context of the
passage ?

 Sorry if this is off topic, I am new here and I can tell that my scholarship
is quite modest compared to the level and quality of posts here. I just was
curious about this topic and interested in any feedback.


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