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

From: Clwinbery@aol.com
Date: Sun May 27 2001 - 09:46:47 EDT

In a message dated 5/27/01 7:49:03 AM, theomann@earthlink.net writes:

> 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,
>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 here.
I would say that the first paragraph is borderline, probably fits better in
b-translation, but talking of what the original readers understood is in the
center of this list. The second paragraph gets us back to the task of this
list. If we can just stay out of the theology that inevitably lurks in these

Back in 96 or 97 we had a long discussion of this verse. Reference was made
to a series of articles in the Jour. of Bib. Lit. back in the fifties (seems
not so long ago for me) in which Frank Stagg argued for the causal EIS +
accusative and was refuted by others who demonstrated that such a use occurs
nowhere else in ancient Greek. The decisive post (IMHO) was written by Eduard
Hobbes. This is in the old archives and must be sought out by hand since the
search program is not working. I will continue looking for it and seek to set
it forth as I think it would be a good corrective to some of what I am

Carlton Winbery
LA College

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