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

From: Wayne Leman (Wayne_Leman@SIL.ORG)
Date: Sun May 27 2001 - 12:28:22 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ted Mann" <theomann@earthlink.net>

> 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
> translation theory."
> I hope this is not an inappropriate post. If so, I trust Carl will
> bring the thread to an end.

I see that Carlton has addressed your concern here. We would welcome
discussion of the broader implications for translation on the Bible
Translation discussion list.


> 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
> 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 think these questions would be best addressed on the Bible Translation
list, however I will just briefly say that my epistemology and observations
of many languages, as a linguist, lead me to claim that there is not very
much intended ambiguity in the Greek of the NT. Languages would cease to
function as viable means of communication if they had the level of intended
ambiguity which some seem to claim occurs in the NT. I think the ambiguities
that we find in the Greek of the NT are often real, but they are the result
of our own analysis, and were not intended to be ambiguities by the original
authors. This does not mean that we can speak with confidence that we know
what the original authors intended. But it does mean that we should not
claim that they intended ambiguity just because we can spot a potential
ambiguity and lack of clarity. The two categories have very important
epistemological differences. I, personally, would prefer to put in a
translated text an exegetical option which seems most reasonable, which is
supported by a consensus of scholarship, and then footnote other options. I
do not believe we should translate with lack of clarity if the original
author intended clarity (regardless of whether it sounds clear to us).

This is enuf. Back to specifics of Greek,
Wayne Leman
Bible translation discussion list:

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