[b-greek] Acts 2:38 (translation theory}

From: Ted Mann (theomann@earthlink.net)
Date: Sun May 27 2001 - 08:49:30 EDT

With regard to Acts 2:38, Wayne Leman wrote:

"I want to be able to understand the meaning of the Greek phrasing from an
appropriate English translation. It is supposed to be possible, according to
translation theory."

     I hope this is not an inappropriate post. If so, I trust Carl will
bring the thread to an end.
     Although I am not greatly experienced in such matters, it seems to me
that some translators try to provide readings that overly explain (what they
think is) the meaning of the original text, even if the meaning of the
original text is obscure. Personally, I prefer a translation that
replicates the original text as nearly as can be, even if the translation is
difficult to understand. If the meaning of the original is clear, the
translation should be clear; if the original is opaque, so should be the
translation. I want to know, as nearly as possible, what the original
writer wrote, and how it impacted the original readers. If the original
reader would have scratched his head in an effort to understand the text, I
would like to scratch mine. Anything beyond that, it seems to me, enters
the realm of commentary, interpretation, or perhaps even conjecture. While
I appreciate commentary, I prefer it to be separate from the translation, if
possible. I realize, of course, that my preference is only a theoretical
possibility, and I also know that all translation requires some degree of
interpretation on the part of the translator.
     Concerning Acts 2:38, or any other passage, I ask the following
questions (if such questions can in fact be answered): "What would the
original readers of this passage have understood it to mean? Would it have
been clear or unclear to them?" If it would have been clear to them, the
translation should reflect that clarity; if it would have been unclear, so
should be the translation.
     I can think of an exception to my preference, but I won't go into it



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