Re: PROTOTOKOS, meaning, translation

From: Lee R. Martin (
Date: Thu Feb 27 1997 - 11:41:43 EST

Rolf Furuli wrote:
Dear Rolf,

Thanks for your comments. I am not as saturated with modern linguistics
as you, but I am able to understand what you are saying.

Please explain the need for the fourth part of your model: "concept." I
am accustomed to seeing only a triangle.

> Example: KOSMOS.

 There is one passage, however, where all
> kinds of translations deviate from the usual rendering,
> namely 1 Pet 3:3. The reference here is beautiful apparel.
> Because the Greeks had the verb KOSMEO, their prototype
> concept could also entail this reference. This is impossible
> in English, so we need a new sense/meaning: adornment.

Related also to the adjective in 1 Tim. 2:9 and 3:2.


> Translations based on `functional equivalence` use the
> sentence structure of the target language, and translates
> both the text and the presupposition pool of the original
> readers, i.e. the text is interpreted and processed so
> modern people can apprehend it with their presupposition
> pool.

Yes, this was the approach that I am suggesting.

> Concordant translations use the sentence structure of the
> source language, but translates only the text and not the
> original presupposition pool. Thus the bare `semantic
> signal` is given and the reader himself must work with the
> text to find all its meaning.

I was not familiar with the term "concordant."

> The choice of a literal rendering or not, therefore, depends
> on the target group. Regarding PRWTOTOKOS there is no
> evidence of another prototype-concept than the one resulting
> in the rendering `firstborn`, even though the fullness of
> the word is not conveyed by this English word.
> The real problem with the translation of the word is not
> philological but theological.

It is philological if we determine that the "sense" is one that is not
included in the English "firstborn." That is exactly what happened with
"kosmos," above. The sense "adornment" is not one of the senses of the
English "world."

> <What happened to your doctrine of accepting the obvious?
> <"All things"in heaven, in earth, visible and invisible, is
> <obviously speaking of the whole created universe.
> Agree, except that I think only persons are
> included.

Which persons are the invisible ones?

> However, it does not tell us whether Jesus first
> was created by God and then was used as an instrument in the
> creation of that which is mentioned.

I agree.

Thanks again.

Lee R. Martin
Adjunct Faculty in Old Testament and Hebrew
Church of God School of Theology
Cleveland, TN 37311
Pastor, Prospect Church of God

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