Re: Translation of Jn 1:18

Date: Sun Sep 28 1997 - 07:22:46 EDT

Paul and Carl, thanks for your comments. I might explain that I have an
irritating and time-consuming way of learning, I dismantle the thing I
study, it inevitably stops working, often in several places, and by making
it work again, I learn. I do the same with computers, having just spent a
week doing the same thing to a computer program I inherited, which almost
works again, but is now my own.

Paul S. Dixon writes on 9/20/97:

> First, QEON is a predicate.

Carl is right that I began hyperliterally, but I must own up that this slipped
by me as it happened to say what I wanted it to say. And, for the first
time I see a pitfall of crude, hyperliteral translation which I hadn't
appreciated before but should've been obvious. I had hoped to use them
as a final products for certain purposes, but now consider this impossible.

> The second problem is your translation implies the anarthrous QEON is
> indefinite.

I have been systematically going against the rule and with the exception to
try to get a different look at the Prologue.

Cannot MONOGENHS QEOS mean "a one-of-a-kind, a god," instead
of being a nominative group ?

> How and where do you get "from one and the same Mother"?

Abridged L&S: "born from one and the same Mother". I haven't yet found
out anything else about it.

Carl W. Conrad writes on 9/20/97:

> In fact, this whole prologue challenges and defies
> adequate translation. I suspect that long acquaintance with it and with
> familiar versions of it has blunted our capacity to sense realistically the
> enormity and sheer untranslatability of the most important portions of the
> Johannine prologue.

Sometimes I think it's gonna drive me crazy (it's not a long trip).
I just finished reading Heidegger's translations of _Anaximander's
Fragment_, LOGOS, MOIRA, etc. Hyperliteral translations range from
the type Carl offered, at the grammatical end of the scale) to the
type Heidegger offers (at the eisegetic end of the scale). Heidegger's
type is more of a "theological" explication, almost a mystical identification
with the text, what he calls "thinking through the saying", the very
type which is considered questionable on the list. His concern is to
map the ancient Greek concepts onto his own philosophical terms,
which, in my opinion map very well, which is hardly surprising since
they are the ancestors of his philosophy. One of his techniques, which
I use myself, is context-limiting, i.e. taking a verse, phrase, and even a
word completely out of context, examining all its nuances etymologically,
then re-constructing and re-wording, often using long hyphenated phrases
to replace a single word. Obviously, this is not proper procedure for
translators, but does seem to be a way of accessing the *hyperliteral*
meaning (if there is such a thing and whatever that may be). He recognizes
that his method is outside of scholarly proof and depends upon a sort of
contemplative participation. I am by nature tempted toward his method,
despite its obvious pitfalls, and can't help feel that it puts me in the
"philosophical" category, if not the crank category. In fact, I most often
find other people's efforts at participation laughable and artificial, partly
because it is so common among the newly quickened. Then we come to a
text like the Prologue, which seems to defy standard translation methods
and invite participation. I am interested in the perspective of grammarians
and translators on his method and its validity and legitimate uses (if any).
Is it simply bad translation practice, or is there a level of meaning beneath
the text, a "subconscious" meaning, so to speak ? Is there a legitimate
means of using this method in translation or is it like creativity, to be
harnessed, but censored from the final product? Or, if this sort of thing
is merely commentary, isn't there a proper way to feed it back into the
translation? To feed the subjective back into the objective, that's the
problem. It's not a science, but is it even an art?

An analogous phenomenon is when you are reading student papers (you
do read them don't you?) and you feel that you could write a complete
personal profile of the student, even if you don't place the name with a
face. Or, when reading any author, you find yourself suddenly not actually
following the text, but analyzing the picture he is inadvertently
constructing of his own mind.

Anyway, could John the Baptizer be speaking through the end of 1:18 ?

Will Wagers "Reality is the best metaphor."

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