Are Ants People? (Mondays with Mounce Archive)
Poetry can be exceptionally difficult to translate. It often conveys meaning more with pictures than with individual words, the words working together to create images more powerful than words.
Metaphors are only slightly easier, but here there is even less context and so the meaning of the metaphor is easily loss.
Four things on earth are small
but they are exceedingly wise:
the ants are a people not strong,
yet they provide their food in the summer;
the rock badgers are a people not…
Was Jesus In A Lonely, Deserted, or Uninhabited Region? (Mark 1:45) — Mondays with Mounce 258
The sermon yesterday was on the need for solitude, planned margin. Always a good reminder for those of us who tend to define ourselves by what we do — do I hear the amens?
What caught my eye was the NASB’s use of “unpopulated.” For a translation that tends away from excessive interpretation (although all translations are interpretive), their use of “unpopulated” was a very good choice.
ἔρημος is technically an adjective meaning, “pert. to being in a state of isolation, isolated, desolate, deserted” (BDAG). When used substantivally, ἔρημος means “an uninhabited region or locality, desert, grassland, wilderness.” ἔρημος…
Ellipsis’ Ugly Head (John 12:7) —Mondays with Mounce 254
We don’t talk much about ellipsis in first year Greek, but it is a grammatical fact that occurs more than you might think.
An ellipsis is when words are left out, and the assumption is that the context is sufficient to fill in the gaps. It especially happens in the second of two parallel thoughts, words from the first assumed in the second.
But John 12:7 gives us a good example of ellipsis when there is no parallel. Mary anoints Jesus’ feet, Judas objects, and Jesus responds, “Leave her alone…. It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial” (NIV). ἄφες αὐτήν, ἵνα εἰς τὴν ἡμέραν τοῦ ἐνταφιασμοῦ μου τηρήσῃ αὐτό. In other words, the words “It…
Is “Has Been Causing to Grow” Redundant? (1 Cor 3:6) — Mondays with Mounce 259
One of the important steps every Greek student must make is to move beyond the formal structures of first and even second year Greek, and start considering other issues such as the meaning of a word.
Take for example 1 Cor 3:6. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God has been causing the growth (ηὔξανεν).” Because ηὔξανεν is an imperfect — past time; imperfective aspect — every first year Greek teacher would expect an explicitly durative translation: “has been causing.”
This is great for first year Greek, but let me ask the question. Isn’t the actual meaning of “grow” a durative idea? Do we have to explicitly say “has been causing” to get the durative idea across? Of course not.
In fact, it could be argued that having both “grow” and “has…
Does the Order of Phrases Matter? (Rom 1:5) – Mondays with Mounce 276
One of the harder things to do in translation is line up the phrases properly. Since English uses sequence and proximity, related phrases need to go together. Greek doesn’t care (as much).
Take for example Rom 1:5. Speaking of Jesus, Paul writes, “through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations” (ESV). The Greek is, δι᾿ οὗ ἐλάβομεν χάριν καὶ ἀποστολὴν εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ.
The prepositional phrase translated “to bring about the obedience of faith” (εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως) is adjectival, modifying “grace and apostleship” (χάριν καὶ ἀποστολήν); it is the end result of God’s grace and his apostolic call.
“Among all the nations” (ἐν πᾶσιν…
Mounce Archive 29 — Money Bags (Luke 10:4; 12:33; 22:35, 36)
I don’t know about you, but I don’t carry a purse. Call me old fashioned, but I wouldn’t even carry my wife’s purse unless I grab the straps in a way that makes it clear the purse isn’t mine. And unlike some of my friends, I don’t carry a “man-bag.”
The other problem with “moneybag” is that the similar “moneybags” is used pejoratively for a wealthy person.
The problem is that there really isn’t a word in English for this. The ESV has…
Mounce Archive 28 — Biblical Greek and Holy Week
For today’s Mondays with Mounce post, we decided to select a few classic posts from the archives of Bill Mounce’s weekly column on biblical greek. They touch on three subject areas that impact how we view and understand the events that transpired during Holy Week:
Translating “δια” in relation to Christ’s death; Whether Jesus hung on a “tree” or a “pole;” Paul’s use of “καί” for Christ’s resurrection and suffering.
Enjoy the excerpts below and continue reading the original posts to be enlightened and encouraged this Holy Week by engaging the original biblical greek.
Speaking of Jesus, Paul says he “was delivered up for (δια) our trespasses and raised for (δια) our justification.” What does δια mean? Does it have to mean the same thing in both places? Should it necessarily be translated the…
What’s a Janus? (1 John 3:19) – Mondays with Mounce
Every once in a while we come across a phrase that can either look back to the previous or forward to the next. Sometimes the phrase or verse is truly a Janus, looking both directions. But other times it only goes one way or another.
Bruce Waltke introduced me to the expression “Janus.” It refers to a mythical god with two heads, one looking forward and the other looking back. Wikipedia comments, “In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.”
A common example is 1 Timothy 4:11. “Command and teach these things.” “These things” could be the previous instructions to avoid…
Can a word be a punctuation mark? (Matt 1:18) – Mondays with Mounce 270
This is perhaps a little picky post, but it does illustrate why a word-for-word translation is not always helpful.
Matthew begins with his genealogy, and then moves into the story of Jesus’ birth. “Now (δέ) the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way” (ESV and most). Along comes the NIV and does not represent the δέ. “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about” (also HCSB and, as you might expect, the NLT).
Are they leaving out a word…
Greek Words with No English Meaning – Mondays with Mounce 284
I am currently reading through the New Testament focusing on just one thing: discipleship. Specifically, why should we care about spiritual growth? We’ve gone through the gate; why should we worry about the path? (The answer, of course, is that, according to Jesus, life is at the end of the path, not the other side of the gate.)
This is a practice I strongly encourage. It doesn’t have to be discipleship. You can pick any theme you want. By focusing on one theme, you will probably see things you haven’t seen before.
What is an “Accurate” translation? – Mondays with Mounce 294
A friend asked me this question the other day, and I thought I would take this opportunity to flesh out what I think the answer is.
The standard answer is that a “literal” Bible is the most accurate, and by “literal” they generally mean word-for-word. If the Greek has a verb, the English should have a verb. If the text uses the same Greek three times, the same English word should be used three times.
This understanding is seriously flawed at two levels.
First, the English word “literal” has to do with meaning, not form. Webster gives these three definitions of “literal.”
Involving the ordinary or usual meaning of a word Giving the meaning of each individual word Completely true and accurate: not exaggerated
Meaning 1 and 3 are purely about meaning.…
“A Teacher” or “The Teacher”? (John 3:10) – Mondays with Mounce 291
What a difference an article can make! This is an example of one of those subtle uses of the article that can often be missed, and is also an example of why we need to do our exegesis and translation looking at the bigger picture.
Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night, either because that is when rabbis study, or because he did not want others to know. In the case of the latter, it would give us the best example in the NT of the genitive of kind of time; Nicodemus came as one who comes in the night (νυκτὸς).
He addresses Jesus with some politeness in v 2: “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God.” Note the anarthrous διδάσκαλος;…