Re: Searchng for an agenda-neutral Bible

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Nov 24 1998 - 15:40:10 EST

<x-flowed>At 2:02 PM -0600 11/24/98, Joseph A. Weaks wrote:
> Carl, et. al., I really see this as a translation theory question,
> simply (and calmly) stated, but if you deem it inappropriate fuel for a
> theoogical/ideological discussion, I apologize and retract all rights to
> exist granted to me by my Creator.

Now, now, you needn't go so far ... I don't think ... ;-)

I've no problems with a translation theory question as such, although
theological and hermeneutical assumptions have a way of getting entangled
quickly in matters that appear to be simply "translation theory." And I
have my own problems with what the endeavor at authentic "gender neutral"
translation does to debase the English language, although I have no quarrel
whatsoever with the endeavor to make the inclusive intent understood. For
instance, I am sick of listening to the version of John 3:16 that I'm
hearing much too often in the sanctuary where I've worshipped for 37 years:
"God so loved the world that God gave God's only Son ..." The message
expressed therein is clear enough, but the message that also comes through
is that an English without pronouns is no longer English--or it's a very
ugly English. I'd much prefer a radical paraphrase like "God's only Son is
the incredible gift of God's love to the world ..." And I suspect that
paraphrase may in many instances be a more honest conveyance of an
expression from an alien language than a literal version.

There was a time when I thought the RSV was the "most honest" version of
the Bible, but I realize that's a delusion. The Italian proverb "traduttori
traditori" is surely right in part: "translators are traitors."

I've read somewhere that real poetry (make that real "x") can only be
converted into another language by someone who is at least as creative an
artist as the composer of the original; in that respect, certainly, most of
what passes as translation is pathetically mechanical and uninspired (and I
mean uninspired in a "secular" sense).
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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