Re: Literal translation/target group

From: Williams, Wes (
Date: Wed Oct 15 1997 - 18:43:16 EDT

Don wrote:
<It does interest me, though, because it sounds like you are
presupposing the possibility to get into the writer's mind, and I am
becoming more and more convinced that this is impossible; i.e. that we
can only try to understand what the writer has written.>
Regarding Rolf's quote:
        <<>NWT transliterates GEENNA and translates gei hinnom as "the
valley of
>Hinnom", while NASB translates GEENNA as "hell" and gei Hinnom
as "the
>valley of Hinnom".
>In this case I will commend the NWT and criticize the NASB. The
Greek and
>Hebrew words are proper names, and such may be rendered
>differently in different languages due to different stocks of
phonemes. ...
>Additionally (I speak philologically and not theologically),
the word
>"hell" has a huge load of connotations which not necessarily is
found in
>GEENNA/gei hinnom. >>

Don responded:
<It brings me a great deal of pain to see the NASB compared with the NWT
on any level, I'm afraid. The translators of the NWT do not hesitate to
alter the text at will to suit their theology (if one can call it that).
But as to the examples you discuss, it's fine to leave such cryptic
terms as GEENNA as proper names if your audience understands the

But Don, by stating "if your audience understands the situation," does
this not suggest a presupposition of, as you state above, 'getting into
the writer's mind' instead of 'what the writer has written?' In the case
before us, a presupposition that the writer intended a connotation of
"hell" for GEENA rather than "the rubbish heap" (Phillips) makes me
wonder about the statement 'not hesitating to alter the text at will to
suit theology.' The "translation theology" criticism works both ways
depending on what side of the theological fence one is on. However,
taking it on a case by case basis (rather than categorically sweeping
statements subject to debate), it does appear that NWT is to be
commended here, in agreement with Rolf, since no particular translation
theology is forced upon the readers by the NWT GEENA transliteration
(vs. "hell" or "rubbish heap"), contra the above claim re: NWT.

I do respect your knowledge and experience, but I do not care for
appeals to sweeping categorizations reflecting theological prejudice
when it comes to evaluating whether a particular point on translation is
right or wrong or preferable or comparable, regardless of the human
source. Would it be too much to ask to proceed with evaluating biblical
texts while minimizing the effects of the theological baggage each of us

Wes Williams

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:33 EDT