RE: A Fork In the Road

From: A. Brent Hudson (
Date: Sat Oct 18 1997 - 12:49:44 EDT

Wes wrote:

> I use the NIV here because I respect what they
> did at Luke 16:23. They add a footnote to give
> the reader more information (which is what I like
> to see in translations).
On this we agree. I, too believe the footnoting of difficult texts is the best way to deal with the problem.

As for transliterating hADES, does this really solve anything? Transliterating Greek terms only adds new words to the English language that will ultimately adopt a semantic range in compliance with the translators use of the transliteration. Since transliteration is not employed uniformly in any translation, these new words adopt a semantic range that does not match the originating Greek term. Thus transliteration is akin to subterfuge since it actually skews things away from an ambiguous Greek term making it appear as though no English translation is possible for a particular word. For instance, the term BAPTIZW in Mark 7:4 is translated as 'wash.' Add to this that some manuscripts including 'dining couches' (viz. NIV text note) and BAPTIZW may not always mean immersion in the NT, but perhaps operates like the English word 'to soak' which most often means to put into water but can also be used when a person is 'soaked' after being caught in the rain (unless someone can show that couches were dunked).
 Also, this text gives Christian baptism a context within Jewish purity rites that is clouded when this and Luke 11:38 translate instead of transliterate BAPTIZW. Since consistency is a problem with transliteration, the best solution (IMO) is to give an English gloss (not transliteration) and offer alternatives in footnotes. Since only 2 of BAPTIZW's 77 occurrences are not transliterated, this is a case where a note seems to be in order, even though the text is not "theologically sensitive" in itself.

I think it would be nice to have a companion volume for translations that actually dealt with their committee's debate and decisions. Something similar to Metzger's companion to the GNT on textual matters. I can't help but think such a volume would be appreciated by students of the NT. What a great way for those learning Greek to understand the possibilities and implications of the text and for English-only readers to understand the text in a fuller sense. If nothing else, it would help us to realize just how much these translators wrestle with the text before putting it to paper.


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