Re: Acts 2:38

From: Edward Hobbs (
Date: Sat Oct 11 1997 - 15:35:28 EDT

Personal preface/apology:

I've fallen behind in keeping up with the Lists to which I subscribe (250
messages piled up in two or three days), but especially I'm sorry about B-
Greek. We had Martin Marty here for three exciting days, during which he,
his brother-in-law (Dick Koenig), and I reminisced about Edgar Krentz and
the old days. Yesterday I threw a private farewell lunch in honor of Marty
and of my own 71st birthday (warm thanks to those of you who sent me
greetings! - what memories you have!), where eight of us drank (most of)
nine magnificent bottles of wine. I had intended to return to my office
and work with B-Greek; instead, I went home to sleep for two hours. Now I
am back in my office, recovered, happy, and trying to catch up.

Dale invited four Carl, me, Edgar, and Carlton to comment on his suggestion
for translating 3rd person imperatives. Carlton and Edgar have already
replied; here's my comment.

I discussed this at some length in various posts some while ago, and those
remarks are in the archives. The net worth of those remarks comes down to
agreement with what Carlton and Edgar have written, and also with Dale's
suggestion. But I also agree with Craig's comment about translation.

To wit:
        Languages are not codes for each other. While it is surely
possible to EXPRESS anything said in one language, quite adequately in
another language, it is NOT possible to say it in the same way, since words
do not coincide precisely between languages, nor do grammatical forms and
syntactic usages. The old "Translators are all traitors" has this truth in
it, that something is lost and something is added, in almost ANY
translation. (I would like to state again, that I firmly believe that
translation is not the purpose of studying Greek; the purpose is to
UNDERSTAND the Greek texts. Translation is a quite distinct skill.)

English lacks 3rd-person imperatives, period. So we must understand them.
If we are forced to translate them, Carlton, Edgar, Craig, and Dale are all
correct in affirming that "permission" is the wrong category to adopt, and
thus "let" is a bad choice. "Must" and "should" and "!" are probably as
well as we can manage -- IF we must translate.

Edward Hobbs

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