July 26, 2005

This Post is Old!

The post you are reading is years old and may not represent my current views. I started blogging around the time I first began to study philosophy, age 17. In my view, the point of philosophy is to expose our beliefs to rational scrutiny so we can revise them and get better beliefs that are more likely to be true. That's what I've been up to all these years, and this blog has been part of that process. For my latest thoughts, please see the front page.

More on The Source New Testament

A list of verses, with comparison to the TNIV (apparently chosen as a point of comparison because both eschew the use of gender-indefinite masculine pronouns and sometimes use singular "they"), is now available from Better Bibles Blog here. A few short reactions: The Source translates less literally than the English translations that I ordinarily use (NKJV and NASB), which attempt to go so far as even to reproduce the sentence structure of the original language (this attempt sometimes fails completely due to differences between Greek and English grammar and sometimes, especially in the NASB, leads to sentences that can be misleading and bear little or no resemblance to English as written by educated native speakers). This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the passages posted generally convey the meaning well. Particularly in Rev. 3:20 she does MUCH better than TNIV, although she is forced to depart from the Greek (literally "I will dine with him, and he with me") in order to do it. The translation "we will have dinner together" is much more idiomatic English and is both gender inclusive (which the original language text is, because Greek indisputably DOES have a gender-indefinite masculine pronoun) and avoids the singular "they" (which I hate, despite linguists' insistence that it's been around for some 700 years - English is already faced with a paucity of pronouns without confusing the singular and plural in gender indefinite cases, as we have already reduced ourselves to a single second person pronoun. It's getting increasingly difficult to communicate with any precision in this blasted language!) She does lose a little of the strength of the emphasis on mutuality, but one cannot possibly convey the feel of the Greek perfectly in an English translation. If a single translation of a passage conveys the entire meaning of every word, as the Amplified Bible attempts to, it will lose the flow, as the Amplified Bible does (the Amplified Bible is a good tool if you need a quick look at the different possible meanings of a verse - not so good for casual reading).

Her modification of Hebrews 2:6 is probably unnecessary and is not so concise as the more traditional renderings (it also uses the abstract noun "humanity" whereas the Greek literally says "what is a man"). The reason I say it is unnecessary is that when defining Greek words we very often say that anthropos (the word here) is "man as opposed to a god or an animal" and aner (the other Greek word for man, which also means husband) is "man as opposed to woman," and everyone seems to understand what we mean (as far as I can tell), so using man in the context doesn't seem to me to be at all misleading. But this is splitting hairs (ha! watch me start a sentence with a conjunction in the middle of a discussion of grammar!).

I also really like her use of more standard translations of Greek words, as in the use of paideuo in Heb. 12:7, although I am interested to know how she renders elencho (reprove, censure - NKJV renders it as rebuke) and mastigoo (whip, scourge) to ensure that the idea of discipline remains intact (paideuo, unlike didasko, very frequently has a moral component; it is not instruction in some particular field of knowledge but comprehensive education in order to make you a complete person. Here this moral education is clearly intended in the context, hence the traditional translation). As for rendering adelphoi, brothers (or siblings, if you prefer; it is the same word that would be used for a group of siblings of mixed genders, although it would not be used for an entirely female group), as "fellow believers," I'm undecided. That's obviously what it means, and using brothers in that way sounds awefully "Christianese" today, but I'm still not sure, I guess because it is reporting what the Bible means rather than what the Bible says.

In sum, I remain intrigued by this translation, and will be looking into it further.

Posted by Kenny at July 26, 2005 8:58 PM
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I noticed in her version of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 she changes "love is kind" to "love is king", which seems like a major change in meaning. I was wondering what the Greek word typically means and your views on it, since you didn't address that change.

Posted by: Lauren at July 26, 2005 9:43 PM

Lauren, you said: "I noticed in her version of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 she changes "love is kind" to "love is king", which seems like a major change in meaning. I was wondering what the Greek word typically means and your views on it, since you didn't address that change."

My bad! "king" was a typo for "kind." I checked my typing before posting but missed that one. I will fix it.

Posted by: Wayne Leman at July 26, 2005 10:26 PM

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