Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ryken vs Köstenberger

Here is an odd thing. Perhaps a few people could comment on this conundrum -

Leland Ryken defends a "word by word" translation here.
    One of the clichés of the dynamic equivalent movement is “meaning based translation,” rather than “word-based translation.” But the dichotomy is a false one. Essentially literal translators believe that the meaning that the biblical authors intended us to grasp is embodied in the words that they used. The implication of “meaning-based” advocates is that essentially literal translations lack meaning!
and here,
    All translation is lexical interpretation, and that is all that can be accurately said about “all” translation. All translation is the translator’s interpretation of what English word or phrase best captures the meaning of the equivalent word in the original text.

    The other kind of interpretation is what we call exegesis and commentary. It offers an interpretation of the meaning of a text—not usually an individual word, as in lexical interpretation, but meaning of the broader content of an utterance. For example, to render Psalm 23:5a as “you anoint my head with oil” is a lexical decision as to what English words are the verbal equivalent of the words of the original. But when a dynamic equivalent translation renders that verse as “you welcome me as an honored guest,” we have moved beyond lexical interpretation to commentary.

What happens if we apply this principle to 1 Tim. 2:12. Andy Naselli writes in the JBMW journal,

    After exhaustively studying authenteo in extrabiblical literature, he [Henry Baldwin] concludes that four meanings are possible: (1) to control, to dominate; (2) to compel, to influence; (3) to assume authority over; and (4) to flout the authority of.

But lower down Naselli writes, with reference to Köstenberger,

    His thesis is that didaskein and authentein (two infinitives joined by oude,) both denote either positive or negative activities; since didaskein must be positive, authentein is a positive activity and thus must mean "to have or exercise authority" and not "to flout the authority of " or "to domineer."

Why does Köstenberger so strongly disagree with translating the word authentein according to its lexical meaning? (While I agree with his analysis of oude, my understanding is that didaskein does not necessarily have to denote a positive activity, but authentein is found with a uniquely negative connotation, so both verbs must be negative in this verse.)

Grudem also strongly disagrees with any attempt to translate the word authenteo according to its recognized lexical meaning,

    in 1 Timothy 2:12 the TNIV adopts a highly suspect and novel translation that gives the egalitarian side everything they have wanted for years in a Bible translation. It reads, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man”

Ryken seems to be saying that altering the word due to an exegetical analysis or an appeal to context, would be commentary rather than translation. I wonder if either John Starke or Andy Naselli would care to clarify why authentein should not be translated with a "verbal equivalent" in this passage.


G said...

Nice Suzanne, I will be waiting to see if there is some clarification coming.

Kristen said...

This is why I find it so useful to use a word-for-word type translation and compare it to a meaning-for-meaning type. With the best of intentions, every translator brings biases to the text, and therefore, while meaning-for-meaning is often more accurate in reflecting the original intention, it has the weakness of placing another layer between me and the original. Sometimes I find I want to look past that additional layer.

Anonymous said...

Even "lexical translation" moves into exegesis and commentary. This is because of word choices.

On the ESV translation, their first priority was to be masculinist and their second was to be essentially literal, as Suzanne's example shows.


Brian said...

it's theology driven exegesis;

their theology is "no women pastors";

therefore it shows in their exegesis;

seems more like "exit-Jesus" since it doesn't seem to model Christ in this interpretation.

last comment is a bad joke - ;)

Anonymous said...

To be fair, EVERYONE does theology-driven exegesis, it cannot be helped.
Since the non-egals sincerely believe God does not want women as church leaders, this is the grid through which they interpret everything. To put it another way, they wear "blue" lenses and, voila!, find many passages in Scripture are tinted blue. And then they wonder why others do not see what they see.


Kristen said...

Good point, Don. I find Scot McKnight's idea in "The Blue Parakeet" that everything in the Bible is best looked at in terms of its contribution/relation to the Story of creation/fall/redemption-as-restored-community - to be a good "pair of glasses" to put on to read the texts. When this is done, we can look at Paul's teachings on Christian action to be practical ways to fulfill loving God, loving one another, and spreading the message-- not as a bunch of new restrictive laws to impose on women or anyone else.

A.Admin said...

Essentially literal translators believe that the meaning that the biblical authors intended us to grasp is embodied in the words that they used.

As a side note, do we have the original and exact words the authors used?