Re: Translation

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Oct 10 1999 - 08:36:07 EDT

<x-rich>At 4:24 PM -0700 10/9/99, George Goolde wrote:

>Carlton Winbery wrote:


> "Translation is possible only by looking at form and

>context." That is why we are only fooling ourselves if we think we
can "do

>Greek" without hermeneutics. We must understand the context!

George raises this issue--DIA CRONOU, one might say--occasionally in
language that hints at what he on one occasion termed "that precipice
leading to

the nether parts of the B-greek world" but what I might prefer to call
"that road which is paved with good intentions." And perhaps it is good
to be reminded of the line between the "hermeneutics" shared by all
intelligent, educated, and humane readers of any literature (I would
earnestly like to believe that this includes all B-Greekers!) and
"Hermeneutics" in the narrower sense of those principles of Biblical
interpretation that are tightly bound up with our different
faith-perspectives and theological presuppositions.

We can no more "do Greek" 'without hermeneutics' when we are reading
Homer's Odyssey or a satire of Lucian than we can "do Greek" 'without
hermeneutics' when we are reading the Greek text of the Bible. We can
nevertheless discuss the Biblical text of the Bible without baring and
sharing and despairing over the irreconcilable differences between
faith-perspectives brought to bear by B-Greekers other than ourselves
on a Greek Biblical text under immediate consideration.

Two sentences in the B-Greek FAQ's section on "Netiquette" were
intended to make this point as clearly as possible: "Deep religious
convictions surely characterize many, perhaps most, of the
list-participants, and some of these convictions bear directly upon how
the Biblical text is to be understood. At the core of our discussion,
however, is not what our convictions are but what the Greek text may
legitimately be understood to mean.<bold>"

</bold>I think the real peril of attempting to understand a Biblical
Greek text apart from context emerges most sharply on B-Greek when
persons who know "just enough Greek to be dangerous" bring to the list
a question based upon one or more citations from an English translation
and a Greek word with a Strong's number attached to it; they may ask
what this word "really means" based upon a lexicon entry, often, I
think, seeking reinforcement of some understanding of the passage that
they have already settled upon and looking for list-members to support
their eisegesis. But one does not derive the benefits of reading the
Bible in the Greek text by looking up one or two words in a lexicon.
Rather we MUST, as George says (repeatedly and rightly) understand the

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



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