Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Translating what is there or what you think is there

ἤδη δὲ καὶ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται: πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται. Luke 3:9

The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς τὸν ἀμπελουργόν, Ἰδοὺ τρία ἔτη ἀφ' οὗ ἔρχομαι ζητῶν καρπὸν ἐν τῇ συκῇ ταύτῃ καὶ οὐχ εὑρίσκω. ἔκκοψον [οὖν] αὐτήν: ἱνατί καὶ τὴν γῆν καταργεῖ;

So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ Luke 13:7

We may think that in the first passage, the text refers to a fig tree. We have some evidence that it could possibly refer to a fig tree. So why has the Greek word dendros in Luke 3 never been translated as "fig tree?" Because is doesn't actually say "fig tree" in Greek.

Now think of the word anthropos. This is a word of common gender which means "person" or "human being." Sometimes it refers to a single woman or in the plural to a group of women. But often it refers to men. So should the text translate this word as "people" or as "men?" Which word better represents what the Greek says?

Denny Burk is the new spokesperson for CBMW and he says that it should be translated "men." So does Dr. Packer. But what translation principles is opinion this based on?


Lynne said...

Thank you for continuing to stand up to these people (I saw you did a great job on the Sola Panel too) Frankly their prejudice and twisting arguments leave me quite exhausted

BradK said...

On what translation principle is he basing his opinion? The principle that God doesn't want women teaching men, of course. Since Burk KNOWS that God doesn't tolerate such evil as women teaching men, then he KNOWS that God really intended for anthropos to refer to males here. Therefore it should be translated as such. QED. If we can't follow such logic, well then it's probably because we haven't received proper instruction from trustworthy men like Burk.

Sadly, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the above is basically the kind of thinking in which Burk is engaging.

Donald Johnson said...

His translation principle is that he is wearing blue (masculinist) lenses. He wears them as he thinks God is masculinist and that the Bible is masculinist. It seems like he opposes non-masculinist translations in every location they can be opposed.

It is like comps are reading a different Bible than non-comps and that concerns me.

Donald Johnson said...

I posted on Biblegateway.

The word means people and might refer to a group of all men, all women, or a mixed gender group. Burk is doing too much interpreting in his choice of translation as men, he is going beyond the text based on his understanding of OTHER Scripture. When one does that, I can see why Blomberg wonders why. Perhaps he was politically incorrect to wonder about Burk's motivations.

But the moderator is GC which is comp, so who knows if it will pass their muster.

Anonymous said...

BradK and Don, You have nailed it. They start with a wrong premise and end with a wrong overarching conclusion.

Of course, their wrong conclusion benefits them.

Kristen said...

Denny Burk doesn't know me well enough to moderate my comments. So I posted twice. *grin*

Donald Johnson said...

I tried to post on Burk's blog and is awaiting moderation:

As an egal, here is how I see things:

1. Translation ALWAYS involves interpretation. It cannot be helped as there are word choices to be made in trying to convey the intent of the author.

2. Things are ALWAYS lost in translation as each language carves up reality in different ways, so no translation is perfect.

3. The NIV editors decided as one of their stated goals to NOT have their translation try to decide the gender issue. This is in contrast to the ESV and HCSB which specifically state how the editors there have decided it (comp) in their translation goals.

4. Context is everything in determining what is meant by some text. And it is appropriate to look to immediate context, Scriptural context (the whole counsel of Scripture) and cultural context of the original readers in trying to do one’s best to assess this.

5. Based on how Denny interprets other Scripture, he is confident that Paul MEANT men (as in male humans) in this passage and points out how it can refer to an all male group of humans in some cases.

6. The NIV editors decided that people was the better meaning and it ALSO met their translation goals, as Blomberg points out.

7. One might disagree with the NIV 2011 translation goals, but I think it was a noble goal to try to have a Bible that could be used by both egals and comps and everyone in between and undecided.

Donald Johnson said...


Burk disallowed my post, the Biblegateway site allowed it.

EricW said...
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