Re: Re: definite and indefinite articles/ and John1:1

From: Eric Weiss (
Date: Sat Mar 22 1997 - 17:13:12 EST

Re: definite and indefinite articles/ and John1:1

A couple thoughts:

As I understand it, normal Greek grammar is usually or often to omit the
definite article in prepositional phrases, even when it is to be
understood. But for you to apply your "methodology" consistently, you'd
have to omit the definite article in translation every time it is
omitted in Greek. You'd have problems with phrases like John 1:1 - "EN
ARCH..." - which should (as you do) by your methodology be translated:

1) "in beginning" [poor or incorrect English grammar - in English an
-ing word directly following a preposition would indicate a participle
or gerund, I believe, e.g., "in beginning to play piano"or "in beginning
a song" - it wouldn't be proper English to translate a noun (like ARCH)
this way - the definite ("the") or indefinite ("a/an") article would be


2) "in A beginning" [probably an inaccurate translation, since the idea
of "one of several beginnings" was probably not a Christian orJewish
view of creation]


3) to translate it "in THE beginning" - which is most likely the gospel
author's meaning AS IT WOULD [HAVE TO] BE EXPRESSED IN ENGLISH - would
violate your methodology. So you'd frequently have to choose between
your methodology and the author's meaning and intent - lots of
asterisks, footnotes, etc., e.g., "literally 'in [a] beginning'" with
explanatory notes, etc.

Because of reasons and examples like this, I'd say it's extremely
difficult, if not impossible, to make a consistent literal
methodological translation from one language to another - at least if
one wants the translation to be accurately understood in the receptor
language. Applying a rigid methodology seems to me (to use perhaps a bad
analogy) like a science - but translation is both a science and an art.

Good luck!

"Eric S. and Karol-Ann Weiss"

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