Re: post.prepared for anglican (reversible translation)

From: John M. Moe (
Date: Fri May 23 1997 - 06:32:55 EDT

Micheal Palmer wrote:
> At 12:44 AM -0400 5/22/97, Paul Zellmer wrote:
> >The characteristic which is more emphasized in "paraphrases" than in
> >"translations" is the dependency on interpretation. Generally, this
> >interpretation is what is being sought in a "same-language" transfer,
> >and so is much more obvious in that case. . . .
> I agree with Paul that this is a common understanding of 'paraphrase', but
> I think it is a faulty one. It assumes that translation is somehow *less*
> dependent on interpretation than paraphrase is. [I don't mean that *Paul*
> assumes this. I mean that this particular common understanding of
> 'paraphrase' implies such an assumption.] I would argue that what passes
> for translation in many discussions of translation versus paraphrase is
> simply less informed interpretation. Since the translator is less informed
> about semantics, Greek syntax, etc. she or he assumes that a very literal
> translation is more accurate than a less literal one. In actual fact,
> however, it is often necessary to be less literal in order to be more
> accurate since there is no one-to-one correspondence between English and
> Greek (or any other language for that matter).
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Micheal W. Palmer
> Religion & Philosophy
> Meredith College
> Visit the Greek Language and Linguistics Gateway at
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------

You have shifted the argument from the meaning of the word "paraphrase"
to justifacation of the type of trnaslation which is commonly understood
as paraphrase. In so doing you have agreed with Paul that "paraphrase"
(as it it commonly understood) is a ligetimate term for the rendering of
a text written in one language, into another language. Now go ahead and
have at it over the relative value of paraphrase verses translation (as
commonly understood)

BTW I think most intelegent people understand that translation is always
interpretation. To put in my two cents worth. It is preceisly at the
point of ambiguities in the original (c.f. the thread on that subject
here in recient days) that the difference between translation and
paraphrase lies. Translation strives to leave the reader of the
receptor language with the same ambiguities that he must face.
Translations which I consicer paraphrases, seem to feel the need to
provide the reader with only their own wise, informed interpretation,
thereby isolating the reader from any other possibility. (I think this
might relate to the discussion of back translation which has been
carried on here.)
         I present an example which I brought to this list a couple of years
ago which started a discussion of translation theory, GOD'S WORD, a
(most arrogatly named) paraphrase which claimes to have discoverd a new
"clossest natural equevalance theory" of translation, at Gal. 5:16 ff.
consistantly renders PNEUMA and its cognates. "your Spiritual nature."
The ambiguity here is, of course, whether PNEUMA refers to deity, or to
the reborn spirit of the Galatian believer. "Closest natural
equvilence" translation, apparantly has no room for ambiguity at all.
NOMOS becomes "Moses' laws" etc. It is difficult to define the
differenc between paraphrase and translation but I know one when I see
it! Bearded Bill, when he started this thread, wrote something about
translation theories being invented to legitimatize calling paraphrases
translations. Right you are! "GOD'S WORD" and "closest natural
equivalance translation" are the proof of the pudding. Let me present
the list wtih the GW rendetion of the section which I have refered to.
If there is not an abvous difference between this and translation I have
more to learn than I thought.

Gal 5:16 Let me explain further. Live your life as your spiritual
nature directs you. Then you will never follow through on what your
corrupt nature wants. 17 What your corrupt nature wants is contrary to
what your spiritual nature wants, and what your spiritual nature wantss
is contrary to what your corrupt nature wants. They are op-osed to each
other. As a result, you don't always do what you intend to do. 18 If
your spiritual nature is your guide, you are not subject to Moses' laws.
        19 Now, the effects of the corrupt nature are obvious: illicit sex,
perversion, promiscuity, 20idolatry, drug use, haterd, rivalry,
jealousy, angry outbursts, selfish ambition, conflict, factions, 21
envy, drunkenness, wild parting, and things like that. I've told you in
tha past and I'm telling you again that people who do things like that
will not inherit the kingdom of God.
        22But the spiritual nature produces love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23genteleness, and self-control.
There arae no laws against things like that. 24 those who belong to
Christ Jesus have crucified their corrupt nature along with its passions
and desires. 25If we live by our spiritual nature, then our lives need
to conform to our spiritual nature. 26 We can't allow ourselves to act
arrogantly and to provoke or envy each other."
        Many examples here of the end of ambiguity (in the sense of more than
one possible understanding. SARX has become "corrupt nature" et. IMHO
this is more commentary than translation.

        Sorry about the length of this post. I should know better than to post
to B-Greek on my day off. I had intended to write only the first
parragraph of this.

John M. Moe

p.s. What do you think of "drug use" for FARMAKEIA? Is the thought
raised by "drug use" a legitimat repersentation of the terem as Paul is
using it here?

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