RE: Why isn't BAPTIZW translated

From: A K M Adam (
Date: Fri Sep 20 1996 - 09:31:47 EDT

I've appreciated this thread a lot, since I frequently get grouchy about churchifying
translations/transliterations of Greek (like translating EKKLHSIA as "church," APOSTOLOS as
"apostle, and yes, BAPTIZW as "baptize"). I acknowledge that these were all on their way to
becoming technical terms within Christian discourse--how far they were along that route seems open
to fruitful discussion--but what the "technical term" side of the discussion frequently overlooks is
that they were *ordinary words* on the way to becoming technical terms. As such, when we gloss
these with churchy words that are exclusively technical terms (at least in their origins, since they
now serve non-technical metaphorical and colloquial usages) we occlude some of the resonance that
an ordinary-word-cum-technical-term would evoke.

Among all the lexical ruminations, I found Carl's suggestion of "bathe" for BAPTIZW most appealling;
it certainly hints at the theological/technical usage of BAPTIZW, it does so with an
everyday-language word that fits BAPTIZW nicely, and it does so without specifying how far under
the water someone or something got, for how long. Thanks, Carl, for this and all your help.

Grace and peace,

A K M Adam
Princeton Theological Seminary

"To translate is human; to parse, divine"

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