The Line between Translation and Commentary – Mondays with Mounce 298

Bill Mounce on 1 week ago. Tagged under ,,,.

Every once in a while you read a verse that obviously cannot mean what it says. Whether you are working with a formal or a functional equivalent translation, both are going to just translate the words and leave the exegesis up to the reader (and the commentaries). But if you are reading a natural language translation like the NLT, they will often try to help the reader. A couple examples.

John writes a short letter, and at the end says, “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink” (2 John 12, ESV, see most translations). Do you see the problem here? He…

Read more

The Tongue, Evil, and Defilement (James 3:6) – Mondays with Mounce 297

Bill Mounce on 2 weeks ago. Tagged under ,,.

There are several things going on in James 3:6. Two of the more interesting are the placement of γλῶσσα and whether καθίσταται is a middle or passive.

“And the tongue is a fire (ἡ γλῶσσα πῦρ)! The tongue is a world of iniquity (ὁ κόσμος τῆς ἀδικίας ἡ γλῶσσα) set among our members (καθίσταται ἐν τοῖς μέλεσιν ἡμῶν ); it defiles the whole body (ἡ σπιλοῦσα ὅλον τὸ σῶμα), sets on fire the course of our life (καὶ φλογίζουσα τὸν τροχὸν τῆς γενέσεως), and is set on fire by hell (καὶ φλογιζομένη ὑπὸ τῆς γεέννης).”

If the second γλῶσσα goes with the preceding, it means “The tongue is a (or “the”) world of iniquity, and this means that the subject of καθίσταται is drawn from its personal ending.

If γλῶσσα goes…

Read more

What is the “Literal” Meaning of ἄγγελος? (James 2:25) – Mondays with Mounce 296

Bill Mounce on 3 weeks ago. Tagged under ,.

In James 2:25 we read, “Was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she took in the spies (ἀγγέλους) and sent them out by another way?”

BDAG defines ἄγγελος as referring to both humans and divine powers.

a human messenger serving as an envoy, an envoy, one who is sent a transcendent power who carries out various missions or tasks, messenger, angel

Under #1 they list Luke 9:25 (human messengers going before Jesus), Luke 7:24 (John’s disciples), prophets (specifically John the Baptist, Mt 11:10; Mk 1:2; Lk 7:27),…

Read more

Where, Oh Where Did the Antecedent Go? (Phil 1:19) – Mondays with Mounce 295

Bill Mounce on 1 month ago. Tagged under ,,.

Usually it is no big deal to find an antecedent. Start looking for a word with the same number and gender as the pronoun. Every once in a while, however, the antecedent can be a little elusive.

In Phil 1, Paul explains how his imprisonment and all that has happened to him (τὰ κατ᾿ ἐμὲ) has served to advance the gospel throughout the Palace Guard, which in turn has emboldened the Philippian Christians (1:12–15). He then includes a short caveat, explaining that different people have different motives, but at the end of the day he concludes ἐν τούτῳ χαίρω (1:16–18a).

Paul then shifts tenses from the…

Read more

English Style and Loss of Meaning (1 Peter 5:6–7) – Mondays with Mounce 294

Bill Mounce on 1 month ago. Tagged under ,,,.

Alistair Begg preached a sermon the other day on Truth for Life about 1 Peter 5:6–7. “Humble yourselves (ταπεινώθητε), therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast (ἐπιρίψαντες) all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (NIV).

His question was on the relationship between ταπεινώθητε and ἐπιρίψαντες. In the Greek, as well as the more formal equivalent translations, the answer is obvious. ἐπιρίψαντες is an adverbial participle explaining something about ταπεινώθητε; part of humbling yourself is to cast your anxiety on God. A proud person thinks that they can handle life and wants to stay in control; the humble person realizes that they can trust God to handle the anxious issues of life. So the ESV writes, “Humble yourselves…

Read more

What’s the Point? (James 1:18) – Mondays with Mounce 293

Bill Mounce on 1 month ago. Tagged under ,,,.

One of the things I am sensitive to is the difference between an indicative and a non-indicative form. English style often blurs the distinction, but for Greek students it can be important to feel the difference. Often, the difference is one of nuance, but a difference nonetheless.

Look at James 1:18 in the English and tell me what is the main point?

“He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word” (NLT, see also the NIV). “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth” (ESV; see also the CSB). “In fulfillment…

Read more

Are Metaphors Inspired? – Mondays with Mounce 292

Bill Mounce on 2 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

I have been thinking a lot about some of the general issues of translation, and one of the points that keeps coming up is the issue of metaphors. I would like your opinion.

Are metaphors inspired?

I am asking if the inspired authors chose to use a metaphor to convey meaning, are we required to use a metaphor?

There are, of course, metaphors that make no sense in a target language. We have no choice with those and must interpret the metaphor. Consider the story of the prodigal son. When the father saw his prodigal son returning, he ran and “fell on his neck” (KJV, Luke 15:20). While that is a word for word translation, it certainly is not what the text means. Even the NASB, the most formal equivalent translation…

Read more

Nobody Talks Like That! (Ps 102:12) – Mondays with Mounce 291

Bill Mounce on 2 months ago. Tagged under ,,,,.

You know you have been talking too much about translation when your spouse throws your own words back in your face. Robin was reading Ps 102:12 the other day. “But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations” (NIV).

“Renown,” she laughed, what’s renown? And then she quoted my common response: “That’s not English; nobody talks like that.”

Now Robin knows precisely what “renown” means. “The condition of being known or talked about by many people; fame.” But would we use a word like that? Probably not; “fame” would be the normal way of saying it.

But this brings up the interesting issue of active vs passive vocabulary. The average adult has an active vocabulary of 20,000–35,000 (read more

Read more

The Case of the Missing Object (Matt 5:25) – Mondays with Mounce 290

Bill Mounce on 2 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

I have been enjoying reading the CSB, the new version of the former HCSB. Tom Schreiner and his group of translators have done an excellent job at updating an already good translation.

I was reading in Matt 5 this morning and came across v 22. “Everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment (κρίσει). Whoever insults his brother or sister, will be subject to the court (συνεδρίῳ). Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to hellfire (τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός).”

The progression of the three punishments has always been a difficult exegetical decision.…

Read more

How You Can Translate Mark 1–4 On Your Own

Jeremy Bouma on 3 months ago. Tagged under ,,,,.

9780310528036A few weeks ago we introduced you to an approach to reading biblical Greek that Mark Strauss calls “interesting and innovative.”

Reading Biblical Greek, conceived of and designed by Richard J. Gibson and Constantine R. Campbell, introduces first-year Greek students to the essential information needed to optimize their grasp of the fundamentals of the Greek language.

The goal of their approach is “to equip students to read the text of Mark’s Gospel as soon as practicable.” (vii) They succeed in part because their grammar is paired with an equally innovative companion workbook.

This supplemental workbook is designed to help students navigate their way through translating Mark 1–4, all on their own, by breaking up the Greek text into manageable portions and providing the…

Read more

Doesn’t ἀντί Always Mean “Instead of”? (Heb 12:2) – Mondays with Mounce 289

Bill Mounce on 3 months ago. Tagged under ,,,.

I came across a really strange use of ἀντί the other day. It serves as a good example of semantic range.

Speaking of Jesus, Heb 12:2 says, “For (ἀντί) the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” The most common meaning of ἀντί, by far, is the idea of replacement. BDAG’s first two definitions are: (1) “indicating that one person or thing is, or is to be, replaced by another, instead of, in place of”; (2) “indicating that one thing is equiv. to another, for, as, in place of.”

This would give a strange interpretation of verse 2.…

Read more

Ambiguous and Meaningless (John 3:21) – Mondays with Mounce 288

Bill Mounce on 3 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

Sometimes Greek can really be frustrating, especially when it is succinct. Here is a good example: John 3:21 reads, “But the one who does the truth comes to the light, so that his deeds may be clearly seen (φανερωθῇ αὐτοῦ τὰ ἔργα), that (ὅτι) they have been done (ἐστιν εἰργασμένα) in God (ἐν θεῷ).”

Most of the translation is pretty straight forward except for the final phrase. If ἐν is given its normal meaning of sphere, it doesn’t make any sense. If ἐν is instrumental, then you have the awkward idea that the person does the truth, but actually they were done by God.

As always, it is fun to check out the translations.

“what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (NIV) “that his works have…

Read more