More on Aktionsart and How Words Convey Meaning – Mondays with Mounce 272

Bill Mounce on 3 months ago. Tagged under ,.

I have been thinking more these days about how words convey meaning. The challenge in any first year Greek class is to create a solid, accurate base of learning, simplified enough so students don’t get discouraged, but not so simple that they have to relearn their grammar in second year.

One area where this is especially sensitive is in translating verbal tenses. Teachers are divided in choosing the perfective or imperfective aspect as the default translation of the present tense. However, since Greek has the two past tenses that are clearly imperfective (imperfect) and perfective (aorist), we are generally pretty strict at always translating the imperfect as continuous and the aorist as undefined. Makes sense.

But what I am considering is that perhaps we need to be more nuanced even in first year Greek. Aktionsart describes all the factors that…

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Is Celibacy the “Right” Thing? (1 Cor 7:37)

Bill Mounce on 4 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

Does καλῶς mean “right” or “well”? This is one of those situations where I would think we hear things differently.

Paul has been arguing for celibacy, the gift that no high school or college student wants. His basic argument is that it is better to remain celibate so as to be able to focus on ministry, but it is only right for those with the spiritual ability to do so. (And all students sigh a sigh of relief.)

Within that context Paul says, “However, the man who stands firm in his resolve is under no compulsion but has control over his desire, and has determined this in his heart to keep her as his virgin, he will do well” (v 37).

The problem surfaces in the NIV 1984, which says,…

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When is Greek Grammar Bad English Grammar? (1 Cor 9:6) – Mondays with Mounce 270

Bill Mounce on 4 months ago. Tagged under ,,,.

This blog can be placed in the category of the inconsistencies of formal equivalent translations, which try to keep Greek word order if possible. But what if the word order isn’t really incorrect grammar, but poor style?

Paul writes, “Or is it only I and Barnabas (ἐγὼ καὶ Βαρναβᾶς) who have no right to refrain from working?” Do you see the problem? Paul writes, “I and Barnabas,” but English style requires “Barnabas and I.”

What is interesting is that almost all the translations I check reverse the order to match English style (ESV, NASB, HCSB, Read more

The Many Faces of γάρ (1 Cor 14:23) – Mondays with Mounce 269

Bill Mounce on 5 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

We all know that a word has a range of meanings. In fact, I am not sure there is a word that only means one precise thing. And while a word may have a dominant meaning, that doesn’t preclude it having secondary meanings that are sometimes used. After all, what’s the point of a secondary meaning that is never used?

We also know that Greek wants to start sentences with a conjunction that indicates the relationship of the second sentence to the first.

For example, δέ can mean “and” or “but.” It can also be translated by a period. After all, with the way English works, if you have two sentences in the same paragraph, we naturally read the second sentence as being in relationship to the first.

Take γάρ. Its dominant meaning is “therefore.” BDAG gives this as its…

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Idioms and Context (1 Cor 2:7) – Mondays with Mounce 268

Bill Mounce on 5 months ago. Tagged under ,,,.

Idioms are notoriously difficult to translate. When they occur in isolation, they are a little easier since you can just find an English expression that carries the same meaning. But when they fit into the context of the passage, they are more difficult.

Paul tells the Corinthians, “we speak the wisdom of God; a wisdom that was hidden in mystery and that God had determined before the ages (πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων) for our glory” (1 Cor 2:7; see NRSV; NLT).

To most English readers, “before the ages” is meaningless. What ages? The Ice age? Which one?

To someone who understands the linear nature of the Jewish concept of time, it is…

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Statistics Don’t Lie, but Statisticians Can Mislead (1 John 1:7) – Mondays with Mounce 267

Bill Mounce on 5 months ago. Tagged under ,,,.

I am finishing up a class for BiblicalTraining.org on why I trust the Bible. For the last several weeks I have been immersed in Dan Wallace and Bart Ehrman discussions.

Ehrman’s book Misquoting Jesus has nothing to do with misquoting Jesus but is a popular presentation on the challenges of textual criticism, and who buys a book titled Textual Criticism other than serious students?

One of Ehrman’s more popular statements is that there are more errors in the manuscript tradition than there are words in the Greek Testament. He says there are 400,000 variants and there are 138,213 words in NA28, which could imply that every word is in question. Since he focuses on the only two paragraph length passages that raise the issue of textual criticism, John…

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Should You Practice Your Sermons? (1 Cor 1:17) – Mondays with Mounce 266

Bill Mounce on 5 months ago. Tagged under ,,,.

Paul tells the Corinthians, “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom (οὐκ ἐν σοφίᾳ λόγου), lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Cor 1:17; see the NJB, “wise words”).

The problem with this translation is that it would mean no pastor should speak with eloquence. I guess that means all pastors can speak wisdom but they can’t sound fluent or persuasive. And it means the two days I used to spend practicing my sermons were an unbiblical waste of time.

The NIV (2011) has, “not with wisdom and eloquence,” a poor change from the 1984, “not with words of human wisdom,” which makes…

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ETS and NA28 – Mondays with Mounce 265

Bill Mounce on 6 months ago. Tagged under .

I just came home from the national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in San Antonio. The general topic was the Trinity, but for me the highlight was Dr. Daniel Wallace’s presidential address on current issues relating to textual criticism and the work of his ministry, the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM.org). One of the things I learned is how active women were as scribes, a fact rarely discussed.

I also met with a ministry that is working on a Greek text of the New Testament that more accurately reflects manuscript evidence in terms of spellings.

Did you know that our current Greek texts standardize spellings?

Westcott and Hort worked to show the variation of spellings evidenced in the manuscripts, especially when you can see different tendencies in different authors. So for example, “David” can…

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“If” or “Since” We Stand Firm (1 Thessalonians 3:8) – Mondays with Mounce 264

Bill Mounce on 6 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

In a first class conditional sentence, the protasis is assumed true for the sake of the argument. In other words, if the protasis is true, then the apodosis must follow. So Paul says, “If you live according to the flesh, you will certainly die” (Rom 8:13).

Where first class conditional sentences get a little tricky is when the “if” injects an element of uncertainty where none is intended. The tendency of some is to translate εἰ as “since” in these situations. “If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you” (Matt 12:28). Jesus most certainly was casting out demons by the Spirit of God, and so some prefer “Since I cast out ….” Wallace…

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Let’s Play “Fill in the Blanks” (1 Timothy 4:3) – Mondays with Mounce 263

Bill Mounce on 7 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

Paul can hardly be accused of mincing his words. He is an apostle, knows the truth, and says it clearly and unapologetically. Sometimes he uses sentences that are so long we struggle a bit to follow his discussion, but the Greek often has clues that help.

In describing the false teachers, Paul says that “some” people (τινες) will depart from the faith, and then follows with a series of participles that tie the argument together. When the NIV and NET start a new sentence at 3, and the NLT starts a new paragraph, they break the flow of thought and…

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Do all things really work for good? (Romans 8:28) – Mondays with Mounce 262

Bill Mounce on 7 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

The ESV represents the standard translation of this verse. “For those who love God all things work together for good” (see also the NET, KJV, HCSB).

The reason these are poor translations is because they make it appear that “all things” mystically make everything that happens good.

Really?

Part of this is just common sense, after you have stripped away the religiosity and shallowness of the church’s stereotypical response. Don’t get me wrong; I believe our sovereign God is all good all the time, but it is just nonsensical to say that every evil thing that happens is good, regardless of how you massage…

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Is there ever a time to use “man”? (Col 3:9–10) – Mondays with Mounce 261

Bill Mounce on 7 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

Paul tells the Colossian church to “Stop lying to one another, since you have put off the old man (τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον) with its practices, and have put on the new man (τὸν νέον), which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (3:9–10).

The challenge is the translation of ἄνθρωπον and the dual meaning in the verse.

On the one hand, it is a contrast between our old sinful nature and our new regenerated nature, hence the NLT’s translation. “Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”

On the…

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