Re: The Original Bible Project

From: jabe (
Date: Fri Mar 19 1999 - 15:14:09 EST

Not quite as possible to keep free of "interpretation" as they would
like us to think. See the "Note about our notes" page: seems to be a
fair amount of it in the samples given.

Besides, what is wrong with reading a text within a tradition? (Or even
pronouncing it within a tradition-- referring to the discussion
elsewhere about modern (i.e., koine and byzanitine) vs. erasmian

Personally, my beef with many interpretive translations is not that they
exist, but that they are fairly shallow. For example, in the comment on
the notes to the sample text from Genesis on the same page, reference is
made to the fact that the authors could have mentioned the "gap theory"
but refrained, as this would be too interpretive. Well, it would have
been rather interpretive, and they are to be praised for their
discretion. But while we are seeking the "original" meaning, we might
also ask ourselves, Where in the early church (or even the later one,
for that matter) or in Judaism do we even find a "gap theory"? So had
they embraced an interpretation like that, their interpretation would
have been historically a fairly marginal one. But if the history of the
reception of a text IS part of that text, how can you completely exclude
it-- how would it even be possible to exclude it-- from a translation?
In fact, it might actually be nice to have something like a complete
patristic "talmud". So I think we are left with the task of raising
consciousness of where we've been, rather than somehow getting back to a
putative "original". Isn't the latter attempt itelf already a
protestant agenda?

It is of course always refreshing to play a little with the "raw"
meaning of roots and forms and to try to feel the imagery of the
original language. I am enjoying Andy Gaus, *The Unvarnished New
Testament* (Phanes Press) right now. By golly, he got 1 Cor 10.17
right! Many times, though, terms which might seem strikingly metaphoric
to a non-native speaker are really only dead metaphors to a native, so
that attempts at "literalism" can err as much on one side as highly
polemical translations do on the other.

BTW, here's something to think about: When St. Euthymios of Trnovo
realized that the Slavonic language had changed in numerous respects in
the years since his bible and other texts were translated into that
language, and that his texts needed to be "updated", he actually went in
the opposite direction: he archaized. It was actually a fairly
brilliant move-- for a long time to come, the bible would still remain
intelligible to Slavonic speakers (it is still the preferred translation
of the various Slavic Orthodox churches), but it was also insulated from
any need for further change until an entirely new translation became
necessary altogether. Of course, this strategy presupposes that the
entire culture belonged to the same church and shared the same values.
We probably don't have that here.

John Burnett


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> The Original Bible Project
> David McKay
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