This post will open your eyes

eyeLet’s translate Matt. 9:30a to English in this post. The first step is to look at the original text which we will translate. Here is that Greek text:

καὶ ἠνεῴχθησαν αὐτῶν οἱ ὀφθαλμοί

Obviously, not just anyone can translate this to English. The letters are different from those in the English alphabet. And we don’t know what the words mean. So, we need to find a native speaker of Koine Greek (none are still living) or someone who has studied Greek well enough to be able to able to translate not just individual words, but also knows how the words relate to each other syntactically and lexically. Our Greek scholar must also know the Greek lexicon well enough that they will know the semantic ranges of each word and any possible figurative meanings.

Speaking of native speakers, we need to find someone who is a native speaker of English so they can translate what the Greek scholar says the Greek means. Not just any native speaker of English can do translation. Greek scholars who speak English are not necessarily equipped to be English translators. It needs to be someone who has a good intuitive sense of English syntax and lexical relationships, and good English composition, so that the English translation will be expressed in a way that other English speakers can understand and will sound like native English to them. Or it can be a native English speaker who has formally studied to be a translator, trained to explicitly recognize and express English syntax and lexical relationships that they already know intuitively as a native speaker of English.

OK, we’ve found a Greek scholar who we hope has close to a native speaker’s ability to understand the Greek of Matt. 9:30a. Let’s see how they gloss the Greek words so we can begin to understand the Greek:

καὶ ἠνεῴχθησαν αὐτῶν οἱ ὀφθαλμοί

and they were opened of them the eyes

Well, that’s a start. But we don’t know how the words relate to each other syntactically. We have to find out from our Greek scholar. The English translator needs to ask them some questions. Let’s listen in on their translation session:

translator: Who or what was opened, the blind men in the preceding context or something else?

scholar: Here it is eyes that were opened.

translator: Thanks, my eyes have difficulty opening every morning when I get out of bed.

scholar: Well, that’s what the Greek says, that their eyes were opened.

translator: OK, now what does it mean that the eyes were opened “of them”? In English we don’t have an expression that something was opened “of” someone?

scholar: Well, “of them” in Greek simply means that the eyes belong to them, that is, those blind men we read about earlier in this passage.

translator: Oh, now I understand. In English we use the word “their” to indicate that something belongs to them. So let me try to make a rough draft of the Greek meanings you’ve explained to me: “And they were opened their eyes.”

scholar: Yes, that’s what the Greek says.

translator: Hmm, my rough draft still doesn’t sound like natural English to me. The English words do not seem to be in the right order. Let me try a second draft: “And their eyes they were opened.” OK, yes, that sounds better with the words in that order. But I think that “they” isn’t needed in English.

scholar: Oh? But it’s there in Greek as part of the verb.

translator: OK, but maybe I can keep that “they” idea in English without actually saying it. Let me try a third draft: “And their eyes were opened.” Yes, that sounds like good English to me. Thanks, Dr. Scholar.

scholar: You’re welcome. Are we done now? It sounds to me that you have said in English what the Greek says.

translator: We might be done. But before we wrap this up and call it a day, I was taught in my translation training classes always to check to see if any words or phrases are used figuratively, that is, not literally. I know that we can say my third draft English sentence with a non-literal meaning in English. So I need to check to see if the English non-literal meaning has the same meaning as the Greek that said “their eyes were opened.”

scholar: OK, what can be the figurative meaning in English when someone says that their eyes were opened?

translator: In English that can mean that they understood something, they grasped its meaning.

scholar: Oh. Well, I’m sure glad you told me that because that isn’t at all what the Greek means. The Greek literally refers to their eyes being opened physically. It can have that meaning, for instance, if someone comes along and opens the eyes of a dead person or someone who is sleeping. But the Greek also has a non-literal meaning for eyes being opened, that means that a person can see, visually.

translator: Wow! Both Greek and English have figurative meanings for the same literal words having to do with eyes opening, but the figurative meanings are completely different between Greek and English. It’s sure good that we got this figured out together.

scholar: You’re right. Sometimes I think I know Greek better than English now. I grew up speaking English, but my English has gotten a little rusty since I’ve been here at the university.

translator: OK, well, let’s try to nail this down, figuratively, of course! Which meaning does the Greek here have, literal physical opening of the eyes, or the non-literal meaning of being able to see.

scholar: Oh, it’s very clear in this context that it’s not talking about literal opening of eyes, but, rather, of being able to see.

translator: Thank you very much. I would have had an inaccurate translation if we hadn’t checked for figurative meanings in each of the languages we know best. In English we would never say that someone’s eyes were opened to express the idea that they could see.

scholar: That sounds good to me.

translator: OK, let me try a fourth draft translation: “And they saw.” How does that strike you, figuratively speaking, of course?

scholar: Well, it sounds right to me. I have not studied English as carefully as you have. Sometimes I forget English figurative meanings. And people tell me that I don’t speak or write English like a native speaker anymore since I’ve been studying Greek for so many years here at our university. But I know that this Greek sentence is talking about seeing. It’s sure good that we worked on this together.

translator: Right, I’m on the same page with you on that one, figuratively speaking, of course. And I sure wish I understood Greek as you do. It takes a team, doesn’t it? Thanks a million for helping me understand not only what the Greek says, but also what it means. I never could have translated that Greek sentence accurately to English without your help.

scholar: You’re welcome. Maybe we can work together another time. Bye.

translator: Bye.

UPDATE (Dec. 1): (This dialogue, of course, is only part of the translation process, dealing with what is called referential meaning, that is, what did the original text refer to, what specific action? Read Comments to this post for important reminders that there are other layers of meaning which also need to be included somehow, somewhere, in a translation.)

OK, dear blog reader, now it’s your turn. In Comments to this post, please name and quote any English Bible versions which accurately translate the Greek of Matt. 9:30a, as we have discovered its meaning in this translation session.

91 thoughts on “This post will open your eyes

  1. ElShaddai Edwards says:

    1. The NEB and REB both have “and their sight was restored.”
    2. The JB and NJB both have “And their sight returned.”
    3. The Message has “They saw.”

    Are those close enough to accurate?

  2. John says:

    “In Comments to this post, please name and quote any English Bible versions which *accurately* translate the Greek of Matt. 9:30a, as we have discovered its meaning in this translation session.”

    Is this to mean that translations which handled the verse more literally are to be considered “inaccurate”. The question sounds as though it has the built in assumption that the verse’s *meaning* must be translated rather than its *wording* in order to be an “accurate” translation. Don’t some people believe that accuracy has to do with fidelity to the original words–even for the sake of readability?

    I make this comment because I subscribed to the RSS for this site about two weeks ago. Since then, virtually every post has promoted the dynamic translation philosophy. I like dynamic translations. I prefer the 1976 Good News Translation but I use the second edition NLT often as well (ironically I find the TNIV too literal for a dynamic translation). But I haven’t seen any positive information regarding the literal translation philosophy. Is this the norm for this site or an anomaly?

  3. Wayne Leman says:

    John wrote:

    The question sounds as though it has the built in assumption that the verse’s *meaning* must be translated rather than its *wording* in order to be an “accurate” translation.

    You have understood this translation principle correctly, John, as assumed in this blog post and followed by professional translators around the world.

    Don’t some people believe that accuracy has to do with fidelity to the original words–even for the sake of readability?

    Yes, but they are mistaken. They have not been properly taught by people who are trained in translation. If they speak about Bible translation, they are well-intentioned, sincere, and attempting to honor God’s Word (and words) as best as they know how. But they are still mistaken.

    The most important question of adequate translation is not a matter of readability, per se, but of accuracy. Words convey meaning in any language. It is meaning which must be accurately translated from one language to another. Not just any old meaning, not subjective opinions, but the actual meanings of the words, phrases, clauses, sentences, and discourses of the original text. If the original forms have figurative meanings, then their figurative meanings must be translated. The purpose of translation is to enable speakers of one language to understand what was said or written in another language. That cannot be done by translating words. That is a widespread misunderstanding of how languages work and how translation is done most accurately.

    For the record, I am *not* referring to any particular kind of translation philosophy in this post. There are different models of translation approaches which can result in accurate translation. There are different wordings which can be translations of the same original text. Among these wordings some will be more formally equivalent than others. But we only want to keep those wordings which are accurate. We have to look at each translation example to see if it accurately communicates the meaning of the original text.

    On this blog we do not promote any particular kind of Bible versions. We do promote Bible translations that accurately communicate the meanings of the biblical text, and we promote translations that are appropriate for different audiences.

    There is definitely an important role for more formally equivalent translations. Some translations have reading levels appropriate for children. Others are more appropriate for liturgical churches. Some translations are better for detailed word studies. Others are better for overall reading for understanding main themes of larger units of translation, such as episodes, pericopes, books, etc.

    Always, though, we should only use translations which accurately communicate the original meaning. More than one translation can do that.

  4. Peter Kirk says:

    Of course the results would be rather different if you took almost the same Greek words from Luke 24:31. But then the difference may be expressed in the compounded Greek verb dianoigo which Luke uses here, never used in the NT of eyes in reference to literal sight.

  5. Wayne Leman says:

    ElShaddai asked:

    Are those close enough to accurate?

    Them seem so to me, ElShaddai. In this case, surprisingly, I would consider The Message the most accurate wording of the three versions you cited.

    Here is what the UBS Handbook says for this verse:

    And their eyes were opened is a literal translation of a Semitic idiom; TEV and NEB have “and their sight was restored.” The Greek text does not indicate whether the men had previously been able to see, but a number of translations state that this was the case: “and they recovered their sight” (NAB) and “And their sight returned” (NJB). See also Brc, Phps, and AT. GeCL, on the other hand, is noncommittal: “then they could see.” The clause their eyes were opened is not to be understood literally, but rather in the sense of suddenly being able to see. “And they were able to see” or the rendering of GeCL are good reflections of the meaning of the phrase.

  6. Rich says:

    GW: “Then they could see.”

    But I would question a Greek scholar who made some of those comments in the dialogue above (i.e. “Oh. Well, I’m sure glad you told me that because that isn’t at all what the Greek means. The Greek literally refers to their eyes being opened physically. It can have that meaning, for instance, if someone comes along and opens the eyes of a dead person or someone who is sleeping. But the Greek also has a non-literal meaning for eyes being opened, that means that a person can see, visually.”).

    My hunch would be that such a “scholar” wouldn’t last long in the academic world. I wonder whether Conrad or Voelz or Hoerber or (pick you own world-class Greek scholar…) would agree that this is what a “Greek scholar” would say.

    Then again, how do figurative uses of a word come into play in translating. In the Original language text or in the target language? Is it with the Greek, or is it in the English prior to the final draft, or is it something that takes place after the translation, during the reading, studying, preaching, teaching phase. Seems like some assumptions have been made regarding this whole process, which influence how to translate and whether something is “accurate.”

    More food for thought.

  7. Rich says:

    BTW, in common English language discussions, people often say, “I see” when they are listening, and everyone understands that the person “understands” what is said. Does that mean we have to correct the conversation because “obviously the speaker was using it literally”? I don’t think so. There is nothing wrong with saying “I see” to indicate understanding.

  8. Rich says:

    And even further, some might say, “Wow, that opened my eyes!” Would we want an ophthamologist to examine the speaker’s eyes because of that? Certainly not. That is perfectly acceptable, accurate, and understandable English.

    Okay, I won’t string anymore posts together. LOL

  9. Mark Taylor says:

    As I have shared with Wayne in a private email prior to his post, I would argue that the NLT is very accurate in this verse.

    The first edition NLT (like TLB) said simply, “And suddenly they could see!” In the second edition, the NLT translates the Greek idiom literally (“their eyes were opened”), but it also clarifies the meaning of the idiom by explaining it–“and they could see.” So hopefully the readers are getting the best of both worlds. They see into the Greek idiom and also get a ready interpretation of what it means.

    Full disclosure: I am the publisher of the NLT and also served as Chief Stylist for the translation.

  10. Wayne Leman says:

    Rich wrote:

    And even further, some might say, “Wow, that opened my eyes!” Would we want an ophthamologist to examine the speaker’s eyes because of that? Certainly not. That is perfectly acceptable, accurate, and understandable English.

    It sure(ly) is, Rich. And the translation session in the post referred to that figurative meaning in English.

    The issue for translation of Matt. 9:30 is that the figurative meaning of the Greek idiom is not the same as the figurative meaning of the English idiom.

  11. Wayne Leman says:

    Mark noted:

    The first edition NLT (like TLB) said simply, “And suddenly they could see!” In the second edition, the NLT translates the Greek idiom literally (”their eyes were opened”), but it also clarifies the meaning of the idiom by explaining it–”and they could see.” So hopefully the readers are getting the best of both worlds. They see into the Greek idiom and also get a ready interpretation of what it means.

    Hi Mark. I’ll write the same here that I did to you by email: I think that NLTse confuses the English rather than clarifying the Greek. In standard English eyes being opened has only the two meanings mentioned in my post: (1) literal, physical opening of the eyelids; (2) figurative, mental recognition of some fact. I don’t think we can mix the literal and figurative meanings in the same sentence in English, just as we can’t say “Bobby Smith kicked the bucket and died,” if we intend “kicked the bucket to be an idiom.

    Or course, I could be wrong. I often have been. We would need to field test my intuitions here in the Wal-Mart (it has displaced K-Mart!) parking lot to see (!) how others speakers of standard English react to using the literal and figurative meanings in the same sentence. I suspect that they would find the sentence confusing. I would suggest putting the literal translation of the Greek figure of speech in a footnote, and keep the NLT1 wording, to communicate more accurately to the most number of English speakers.

    I do appreciate what the NLTse team was attempting to do.

  12. ElShaddai Edwards says:

    Wayne wrote: In standard English eyes being opened has only the two meanings mentioned in my post: (1) literal, physical opening of the eyelids; (2) figurative, mental recognition of some fact.

    Add “(3) emotional awareness or recognition of some fact” if you’ll accept extensions of the idiom, e.g. “open the eyes of my heart”.

  13. Wayne Leman says:

    Add “(3) emotional awareness or recognition of some fact” if you’ll accept extensions of the idiom, e.g. “open the eyes of my heart”.

    We’d have to field test to determine if the meaning of that phrase is understood by speakers of any dialect of standard English.

    Emotional recognition and mental recognition are often expressed with the same idioms, so there is a possiblity of acceptability for trranslation here.

    OTOH, I have never heard anyone say “open the eyes of my heart” outside of a Bible context. My own guess is that it is not part of the repertoire of standard English idioms. We have wonderful idioms in English, just as there are in other languages, and English idioms can be used in English Bible translation to great effect. Of course, translators have to be careful that they do not use idioms that have unacceptable connotations, such as using “kicked the bucket” in a Bible translation as an idiomatic translation of “die.” I can’t think of any biblical passage in which that colloquial English idiom would be acceptable.

  14. Tiffany says:

    Something I believe translators have to take into account is whether the goal of the original language is to use figurative language to convey an idea, that is, would the original audience hear figurative language and then translate for themselves the meaning?

  15. J. K. Gayle says:

    translator: Wow! Both Greek and English have figurative meanings for the same literal words having to do with eyes opening, but the figurative meanings are completely different between Greek and English. It’s sure good that we got this figured out together.

    What if Matthew is directing his readers back to something more original than the Greek? I mean, perhaps this whole thing of “someone’s blind eyes opened” is a Hebrew idiom that he finds already translated into Greek in Isaiah 35:5 and 42:7. Maybe it’s the LXX translators and scholars who made the literal translation decisions first: τότε ἀνοιχθήσονται ὀφθαλμοὶ τυφλῶν and ἀνοῖξαι ὀφθαλμοὺς τυφλῶν. Can anyone find an earlier instance in ancient Greek literature of this idiom? I’m finding that verbs that mean something closer to the English “see” or “look with” are the Greek words that show up more with the Greek words for “eye.” Even if Matthew isn’t intending a direct quotation to Isaiah, isn’t there some Jewish cultural literacy he’s invoking here? Isn’t the very big “eye opening” statement that Jesus who is making blind eyes see the very one Isaiah is prophesying about?

    John Hobbins then is making an astute statement by asking “Don’t some people believe that accuracy has to do with fidelity to the original words–even for the sake of readability?” And Tiffany is on to something when she suggests “Something I believe translators have to take into account is whether the goal of the original language is to use figurative language to convey an idea, that is, would the original audience hear figurative language and then translate for themselves the meaning?”

    If we go with the Dynamically Equivalent example that Rich Rhodes gives (i.e., GW “Then they could see”), then none of Matthew’s Greek readers would see any longer that possibly-Hebrew idiom (first translated literally into Greek) and its ostensible connection to that Ἰησοῦς.

  16. J. K. Gayle says:

    Rich says, and everyone understands that the person “understands” what is said.

    ElShaddai says, if you’ll accept extensions of the idiom….

    Mark explains, but it also clarifies the meaning of the idiom by explaining it–”and they could see.” So hopefully the readers are getting the best of both worlds.

    Wayne cautions, Or course, I could be wrong. I often have been. We would need to field test

    I think we readers and listeners and speakers and writers really do tend to “understand” language play. Dynamic equivalence theory, while rightly wanting to make the original understandable, will often tend to rob the reader and listener of connections that a more literal translation will allow. Mark’s 2nd ed NLT “using the literal and figurative meanings in the same sentence” seems somehow more satisfying to me than clunky footnotes. But my concern with both DE and this hybrid DE of the 2ed NLT is that readers must rely on the guesses of the “scholars” and “translators” who all may have missed some of the “understanding” that more naive readers might get. The question, “What would Matthew might have intended and how can I reduce that to English?” does not always seem, to me, as important as “What connects me and other readers to this text as Matthew wrote it?”

  17. Wayne Leman says:

    Kurk concluded:

    If we go with the Dynamically Equivalent example that Rich Rhodes gives (i.e., GW “Then they could see”), then none of Matthew’s Greek readers would see any longer that possibly-Hebrew idiom (first translated literally into Greek) and its ostensible connection to that Ἰησοῦς.

    Kurk, you have addressed the perennial tension that translators face between retaining forms of the original, that may have extratextual value, and directly communicating the meaning of those forms in translation. Thanks.

    For myself, when we have such a choice, there are only so many options which allow translation readers to understand the meaning of the original, which I would consider the highest priority in translation (even above retaining allusional or connotational meanings):

    1. Translate the literal meaning in the text and footnote the figurative meaning.
    2. Translate the figurative meaning in the text and footnote the literal.
    3. Translate the literal meaning in the text and text people what the figurative meaning is.

    I’m one who goes for the clearest, most direct route for the reader to the highest priority level of meaning in the original. I would consider that referential meaning. Sometimes other meanings can be retaining in translation, but it is more often the case that non-referential meanings have to be given up and footnoted or taught. I would rather that readers themselves be able to directly access referential meaning and be taught all the other *possible* meanings of a passage, than vice versa.

    But then I’ve always been something of a populist 🙂

  18. Richie says:

    Wayne, your presentation above of the translation process is a classic. I hope it will be promoted in some form to a wider audience. The process you illustrate is also true, of course, for all translation work, not just Bible translation.

    The famous statement by Nikita Khrushchev in 1958 of “We will bury you!” illustrates the same principles in a very real life situation in another context.

    In speaking to Western diplomats Khrushchev said “My vas pokhoronim” (Russian transliteration) which literally means “We will dig you in (i.e., bury you)!” The phrase is ambiguous in Russian and can be understood both literally and metaphorically. It was translated into English as “We will bury you!” which is also ambiguous and can be take both literally and figuratively. In the context of the Cold War, however, the statement was instantaneously taken by the Western diplomats who were present to mean “we will bury you through war (probably nuclear)!”

    The Western diplomats thus staged a walk-out as Khrushchev continued his speech and, therefore, did not hear the rest of Khrushchev’s speech which somewhat, in a rambling way, clarified his meaning. However, Khrushchev also later clarified his meaning in another speech in Yugoslavia when he explained that his statement “we will bury you” had gotten him into trouble (with his fellow politburo members) and that all he meant was that in the Marxist-Lennist conception of history that the proletariat would ultimately, and inevitably, win out over the capitalists in the long-run. It seems that his Politburo comrades also all understood that meaning at the time of his first speech, though they considered it reckless language. Khrushchev may have even meant it to be taken somewhat humorously – Gromyko, standing near him, actually laughed when he said it.

    Nevertheless, to this day most people think he was speaking of nuclear war and at the time it caused East-West tensions to be heightened to an enourmous degree with important political, policy, and practical consequences.

    Translation matters, and this situation called for some very skillful and artful translation indeed!

  19. EricW says:

    I like J. K. Gayle’s comments (November 30, 2008 at 12:14 pm) about not losing a possible Hebrew idiom and/or LXX reference by trying too hard to translate the meaning into the receptor language’s manner of speaking. It’s a possible example of how translation alone can’t do all that’s necessary – footnotes are likely essential for some of these things. If her example is correct, then I think an argument can be made that the better translation here would be a literal one (which it seems is what Matthew chose to do when he may have purposefully used archaic prophetic LXX language) that retains the messianic significance of what Jesus did.

    Thanks, J. K.!

  20. Rich says:

    I think I need to eat more carrots or Wheaties, … or maybe get more sleep. Wayne, I read something into the post that wasn’t there and missed what was there. As the boys used to say: “The blind man picked up a hammer and saw”, which may catch the nuance, eh?

    Sorry for the confusion. And I really do need more sleep at my age. LOL

  21. Wayne Leman says:

    Eric wrote:

    If her example is correct, then I think an argument can be made that the better translation here would be a literal one (which it seems is what Matthew chose to do when he may have purposefully used archaic prophetic LXX language) that retains the messianic significance of what Jesus did.

    Eric, a couple of comments off the top of my head (and I have to be careful since I don’t have much left to lose from there!):

    1. We don’t know if Matthew intended a Hebrew Bible allusion. He may have; he may not have. We *do* know what referential meaning he intended. We know what happened to the blind men; they could see. That is the highest priority meaning that must be there in a translation. Then, if the English lexicon and grammar allows it, we can try to find some way to allow for a Hebrew Bible allusion while not taking away from the primary meaning that “open eyes” *refers* in this context to getting eyesight. If a translation language does not allow both meanings, then we have to find some other way to preserve the non-referential (in this case, allusional) meaning. One solution is to use a footnote.

    2. I would definitely disagree with you that using an English wording that does not clearly give us the primary meaning is “the better translation.” If our translation does not allow readers to get the primary meaning, we need to keep revising until it does. And how to we discover what primary meaning readers get? By asking them, through field testing.

    I want to assure you that I agree with you that allusional meaning needs to be preserved somewhere in a translation. We just need to be sure that we don’t put such emphasis on *potential* allusional meaning that primary referential meaning is lost. That would really be an instance of inaccurate translation. Accurate translation, first of all, must take care of primary, referential meanings. Then we can work on finding ways to include other possible meanings, including connotations, allusions, poetic beauty, etc.

  22. Wayne Leman says:

    I guess I should clarify, I am the “Rich” who posted the GW translation, not Rich Rhodes.

    Regardless of which of you it is, you are always Rich in what you have to say. 🙂

  23. Rich Shields says:

    Wayne wrote: Accurate translation, first of all, must take care of primary, referential meanings. Then we can work on finding ways to include other possible meanings, including connotations, allusions, poetic beauty, etc.

    But isn’t that what Kurk meant about the original referent for Matthew being the Hebrew OT prophetic statements? Are we all talking past one another?

  24. EricW says:

    Wayne:

    Though waiting for a corrected 2nd printing (esp. re: the footnote to John 3:3), The Voice is at the top of my list for translations I next want to own/read (I read the free PDF of John), and am probably mostly on your side. When I read and taught NT Greek (just casually to church members, not in a formal or vocational way), the question I frequently found I was asking myself – and trying to convey to the students – was: “What does this MEAN – i.e., how do you say this in English so that it has the same meaning, regardless of what words you use or don’t use?” Learning NT Greek was probably the most important factor in disabusing me of the reverence I had previously held for “formal equivalence” translations (versus dynamic equivalence or paraphrasing).

    On a related note, in the early 1980s, I believe, my wife and I, on our anniversary, saw David Rhoads’ one-man presentation (complete with a few costume changes, but otherwise performed in a plain church fellowship hall at St. James Lutheran Church, Kansas City, MO) of the Gospel of Mark, based on his own translation as contained in his book Mark As Story. We had seen Alec McGowan’s well-known presentation/recitation of St. Mark’s Gospel (KJV) on the A&E Network, but we much preferred Rhoads’s – not just because it was “in person” but also because of the freshness and vividness of the language of his translation. Ending the gospel as he does at Mark 16:8 was startling and wonderful – it left us hanging with a sense of suspense that simply reading the gospel hadn’t done. Thus I gained a fresh appreciation for conveying the meaning and the impact of the text.

    It looks like it can be had on DVD, though I don’t know if this is from the old VHS-recorded performance that was available around the time we saw him: http://www.selectlearning.org/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=393

  25. Wayne Leman says:

    Rich asked:

    But isn’t that what Kurk meant about the original referent for Matthew being the Hebrew OT prophetic statements?

    If that is what Kurk was saying, I’m sorry I missed it. I would have to say that reading Matthew’s account of Jesus healing the blind men the main meaning of “their eyes were opened” would have to be that they were able to see, visually. Surely we all agree on this, don’t we? That’s what the passage tells us. If we didn’t have healing of the blindness, we would have a very different story. The ability of see would be the primary original referential meaning of the Greek verb. (Referential meaning is what was referred to, as opposed to what is not directly referred to, such as connotational meanings.)

    Now, Matthew, like each of the gospel writers, had an overarching purpose for writing his gospel. Matthew is very much focused on using Old Testament passages to *prove* that Jesus was the Messiah. His gospel is full of Old Testament quotations and allusions. Matt. 9:30a may very well be one of those, as Kurk has pointed out.

    But in our attempt to retain each level of meaning of Matt. 9:30a, we dare not give up the primary meaning that the men who used to be blind now could see. IF there is a way in English to translate in such as way that any *possible* allusional meaning is also included, that’s a goal to meet. But languages do not always match so that both the referential and figurative meanings of the original text can be expressed in the translation language. My blog post claims that that is the case for this verse, since the figurative meaning of the Greek verb and the English verb do not match. And since they do not match, if we still use the unmatched forms, we create translation inaccuracy. Accuracy is retained when meanings of forms match, not when there is a mismatch.

    You’ve probably heard the Italian proverb that translation is treason. We simply cannot retain all levels of meaning in translation. We can try our best, but the different syntaxes and lexicons and languages do not allow for perfect matches of all meanings. We have to decide what is the primary meaning and if other meanings cannot be included, due to differences between the languages, we have to use some other method to convey additional meanings. Such methods can be teaching, footnotes, study Bible notes, etc.

    I wish that languages matched perfectly and all possible meaningc could be retained when we translate every phrase, clause, sentence, and higher level discourse structures. But the reality is that no two language have forms that match perfectly for translation. Something is always lost in translation. The only way not to lose anything is to learn the biblical languages. And even with that, we seldom can learn them well enough to get all the meaning that way either.

  26. Mike Sangrey says:

    Regarding the literal rendering because of the allusion to Isa. 35 and 42…

    I agree that there is value in keeping allusions when they exist. I “test” the value of these allusions by asking the text a question such as, “Does the allusion support the paragraph level meaning?” Often the suggested allusion does not help. In those misguided cases, it appears to me that the suggestion strains the interpreter’s fidelity to the text as a text.

    However, I think a relatively substantive argument can be made for an allusion here in Matthew. In fact, Jesus’ statement a moment later (ὁρᾶτε μηδεὶς γινωσκέτω, “See [that] no one knows”) then becomes somewhat funny and entertaining. It’s as if he states explicitly, “See to it that no one grasps that the event that just happened, with its allusion to Isaiah’s prophecy about the Messiah, indicates that I’m the Messiah.” Stating such irony in such a terse way becomes quite clever; and, like I said, funny. Good writing is not dull. And this type of quip helps keep the “story” beautiful and valuable. Though it’s extremely hard to bring such humor over in translation; it at least lends support to an interpretation.

    But, do we have to force the English away from its Englishness, and make it look like the Greek, in order to get people to make the connection to a Hebrew idiom used in a book written several centuries earlier to which we modern readers, for the most part, only have an English translation? Sounds to me like a long walk off a short pier. Frankly, I did not get the allusion until it was pointed out to me by a Hebrew expert. Walking across all those idiom connections is just too many steps into deep water.

    Wouldn’t it be better to do one of two things? One, make the allusion a bit more obvious for the modern audience. If the allusion is definitely there, then why don’t we make it more definite? That, in fact (if we’re correct about the allusion actually being there), would be a rendering very much like the original intended. The other possibility is to translate the Isaiah texts so they more readily come to mind.

    Perhaps we could do both.

    One could say in Isaiah, “And the eyes of the blind will see,” and in Matthew: “And the eyes of the blind saw.” That’s really the point, isn’t it?

    One advantage of this translation is it strengthens the allusion in English by making the referent of the pronominal antecedent explicit. In other words, it promotes the discovery of the allusion rather than hide it.

    It’s only downside, that I can see, the expression sounds quite profound. Well, maybe in this case it is. If there’s an allusion, then the point made by the statement is profound.

  27. Peter Kirk says:

    Wayne wrote, in a comment:

    3. Translate the literal meaning in the text and text people what the figurative meaning is.

    You mean, send them the figurative meaning by SMS message? That’s the only sense I can make of this sentence, as this is the only sense I know of “text” as a verb, and I can only parse the second half with “text” as a verb. I guess there’s a typo here, but I’m really not sure what was intended. Did you mean this to be about putting both the literal meaning and the figurative meaning in the text, as NLT2 has done?

    “Open the eyes of my heart” is a good song, but I have never really understood it!

  28. Wayne Leman says:

    Peter wrote:

    Wayne wrote, in a comment:

    3. Translate the literal meaning in the text and text people what the figurative meaning is.

    You mean, send them the figurative meaning by SMS message?

    Oh, wow! Yes, there’s another of my mental word substitution typos. I do it so frequently these days. I intended to type “tell.”

    I think most of my typos in recent years have when my brain substitutes one word for the one that I intend. I don’t even notice the substitution as it is taking place.

    As for what I think about the NLT2 rendering, I’ve told Mark by email and now here on the blog that I feel that the NLT1 rendering was better. But I sure do understand why his exegetical team wanted to put “open” in there, to try to retain something of the Greek idiom. I just think that English does not allow us to mix literal and figurative wordings that *refer* to the same thing, in this case, the referent being the act of being able to see.

    For instance, I would think that it is at least semantically anomalous, if not syntactically aberrant, to say:

    “I got angry and blew my top.”

    or

    “I’m down in the dumps and very sad.”

    I think that English speakers have a lexical constraint on the syntax of English “and.” Hebrew waw does not have that constraint, and so we have a large number of instances of Semitic parallelism in the Hebrew Bible, as well as Semiticized Greek kai doublets in the New Testament (“rejoice and be glad”, etc.).

  29. Peter Head says:

    Your scholars are not behaving in a scholarly fashion in their use of absolute negatives. Most scholars I know are pretty cautious about such things:

    Greek scholar: “Oh, it’s very clear in this context that it’s not talking about literal opening of eyes, but, rather, of being able to see.”
    I don’t see how this can be excluded from the context, esp. since in the previous verse Jesus touched their eyes. This Greek scholar thinks one has to chose EITHER a literal physical meaning OR a non-literal figurative meaning.

    English translator: “In English we would never say that someone’s eyes were opened to express the idea that they could see.”
    According the OED this is perfectly acceptable English: For “open”:
    “To uncover (an eye) by parting the eyelids, so as to allow one to see; to part (the eyelids). In extended or allusive use: to open one’s eyes (to): to take notice (of), look carefully (at); (also) to adopt an expression of surprise or wonder (at); to open a person’s eyes: to cause a person to see; to enlighten or undeceive a person; (also) to cause a person to stare in astonishment.”

  30. Peter Kirk says:

    Peter H, it would be interesting to see (literally) the OED’s citations for the sense “to open a person’s eyes: to cause a person to see”. I would rather suspect that this was first found in a Bible translation, or in material directly related to the Bible. Has it ever been used regularly in non-biblical contexts? The issue here is of course that the argument can become circular and lead to the implication that every word, phrase or sense used in KJV is current in modern English.

  31. Mike Sangrey says:

    Dictionaries, especially good ones like the OED, provide data to be considered. However, we can’t then make a “logic” jump to conclude that “if a usage is listed in the dictionary, we can use it that way in a particular context.” An obvious way of showing this is to simply substitute one of the citations for another in a given text. It’s quite easy to come up with total nonsense.

    I don’t mean to so easily dismiss the suggestion, however. It’s frequently not easy for a translator to know whether a particular usage will be the most easily, contextually processed choice by a given audience. That’s why this blog frequently, and strongly, recommends field testing a translation choice.

    The real determiner as to whether a translation choice accurately reflects the exegesis is whether or not the audience agrees that the choice reflects the exegesis. Statistically, a translator can compare different translation choices, each of which the translator believes accurately reflects the original, by testing each one. With a sufficiently large testing universe the translator will be able to determine which choice gives the least processing effort. That choice is the best choice.

  32. J. K. Gayle says:

    Peter Kirk asks:
    Has it ever been used regularly in non-biblical contexts?

    I don’t know if Shakespeare’s The Tempest could qualify as a regular non-biblical context, but the Bard does know how to play with language. I wonder if he field tested this English and, if not, whether his audiences scratched their heads and cried “foul”:

    While you here do snoring lie,
    Open-ey’d Conspiracie
    His time doth take.
    If of life you keep a care,
    Shake off slumber, and beware:
    Awake, awake!

    Doesn’t he know how that mixes the literal with figural metaphors?!

    And then there’s the translator, Mary Sidney Herbert, and her (eye) opening lines to Psalm 139 (again stretching metaphors without a scholar or another translator in sight):

    O LORD, O Lord, in me there lieth nought
    But to thy search revealed lies,
    For when I sit
    Thou markest it;
    No less thou notest when I rise;
    Yea, closest closet of my thought
    Hath open windows to thine eyes.

    If only she had had access to the more-accurate, less-biblish TNIV or even could have waited to learn her biblish from the KJV team:

    1 You have searched me, LORD,
    and you know me.
    2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.

    O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
    Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising,
    thou understandest my thought afar off.

  33. John Hobbins says:

    I guess I should clarify, too, that I am not the “John” who commented earlier (pace Kurk).

    But I do link to this post and discuss it on my blog.

    BTW, whether the idiom “open the eyes of” in the sense of healing someone’s blindness came into English through Bible translation or not is irrelevant in the end. Usage is king. If idioms once native in Hebrew or Greek find a home in English, so much the better. Note how in English the Biblicism “he went the way of all the earth” became “he went the way of all flesh” a merger if you wish, of two idioms kept distinct in the Bible itself. Great stuff.

    Here are examples available online that demonstrate, I believe, that the idiom under discussion would be intelligible to many:

    “we kept our eyes open. We were never blind.” “People are often blind to the views of others.” “They opened their eyes to the views of others.”

  34. Wayne Leman says:

    John exemplified:

    “we kept our eyes open. We were never blind.” “People are often blind to the views of others.” “They opened their eyes to the views of others.”

    John, do these exx. refer to physical blindness or mental blindness? If it is the latter, I dealt in my blog post with the English figure of speech having to do with opened eyes.

    I repeat: As far as I know, English speakers do not have a figure of speech having to do with opening of eyes that has the figurative meaning that the Greek verb does in Matt. 9:30a.

    I have only heard and read English where opening of eyes has a figurative meaning referring to understanding something.

    But if you have encountered English speech or writing that has the meaning of the Greek idiom, that is important data that needs to be factored into discussion of my blog post. So, have you encountered any English exx. where a person is referring to gaining physical eyesight when they speak of having their eyes “opened”?

  35. J. K. Gayle says:

    Wayne asks (John) have you encountered any English exx. where a person is referring to gaining physical eyesight when they speak of having their eyes “opened”?

    Does Shakespeare’s The Tempest count?

    And yet methinks I see it in thy face,
    What thou shouldst be: the occasion speaks thee; and
    My strong imagination sees a crown
    Dropping upon thy head.

    What, art thou waking?

    Do you not hear me speak?

    I do; and surely
    It is a sleepy language, and thou speak’st
    Out of thy sleep. What is it thou didst say?
    This is a strange repose, to be asleep
    With eyes wide open; standing, speaking, moving,
    And yet so fast asleep.

    Noble Sebastian,
    Thou let’st thy fortune sleep—die, rather; wink’st
    Whiles thou art waking.

    Thou dost snore distinctly;
    There’s meaning in thy snores.

  36. Wayne Leman says:

    Kurk asked:

    Does Shakespeare’s The Tempest count?

    I’m not sure, Kurk, since I’m not clear on what the bard is saying. It sounds like he is saying that someone is asleep while their eyes are open (that happens fairly often, I think). I don’t know if that’s all he is saying, or if he is actually speaking figuratively and mental blindness or something similar. But if he is speaking about being asleep while having one’s eyes open, that wouldn’t count, would it, since it’s not an example of someone’s eyes being “opened” resulting in gaining eyesight after being blind. Whatever else Matt. 9:30a might mean, surely we agree that those blind men were healed by Jesus, and as a result they could see with their eyes, don’t we? Isn’t that the primary thing that the Greek verb refers to? This seems so basic to me that I’m unclear what the concern is about. I haven’t said there are not other possible levels of meaning. I have only addressed the most basic kind of meaning that is expressed by the Greek verb. If you or John Hobbins or anyone else believes that I’m wrong on this, and that the men were still blind after Jesus spoke to them, please let me know, along with some evidence, so that I can rethink my claims about the meaning of the Greek.

    I’m a very basic guy, as you may have seen (ahem!) by now. If a translation doesn’t accurately communicate the most basic meaning, I don’t see (ahem!) how we can call it accurate. But I will continue to agree with you and others that there are quite possibly other layers of meaning here. Jesus never wasted opportunities for onlookers (sighted ones!) to learn something. He may have wanted to confront them, as he did several times, about their own spiritual blindness when they thought they could see spiritually.

    I’d like to try to find out if we agree on the very basic things I posted about. Do you think we do, or is there something that you are saying that you consider basic that I’m not seeing (ahem!) yet?

  37. Peter Kirk says:

    Kurk and John, I have yet to see an example from either of you of what I was asking about,

    the sense [listed in OED] “to open a person’s eyes: to cause a person to see”.

    – where “see” is presumably to be intended literally, and the person was previously physically blind. I agree with John that

    Usage is king. If idioms once native in Hebrew or Greek find a home in English, so much the better.

    The point of dispute is whether this idiom has ever found a proper home in English, if it has ever been used except in Bible translations and specific allusions, in the way that “the way of all flesh” and “saved by the skin of his teeth” have become English idioms detached from their original biblical roots. I have yet to see any evidence that the idiom in question has found itself a new home in this way. And until I see such evidence I must concur with Wayne that this usage is biblish and so probably not suitable for a Bible translation for a popular audience.

  38. David Frank says:

    I am going to comment on the exchange between Mark Taylor and Wayne Leman regarding the NLT wording of Matthew 9:30a, which reads, “Then their eyes were opened, and they could see!” Wayne noted that this translation doesn’t “work” because it conjoins two ways of saying the same thing, figurative and literal. In English it is confusing to say the same thing twice joined by “and,” because according to the normal conventions of English, the two things joined by “and” would be interpreted as referring to two different things.

    I’m going to suggest another way of looking at it whereby the NLT wording does make some sense. If “their eyes were opened” is interpreted as an event, and “they could see” is interpreted as a resulting change of state, then in my book this expression works. That is the way I would interpret it. It would be analogous to something like “I opened the trap and the animal was free.”

  39. Wayne Leman says:

    David suggested:

    I’m going to suggest another way of looking at it whereby the NLT wording does make some sense. If “their eyes were opened” is interpreted as an event, and “they could see” is interpreted as a resulting change of state, then in my book this expression works. That is the way I would interpret it. It would be analogous to something like “I opened the trap and the animal was free.”

    David, nice idea. Thanks for thinking of this possible solution. With this solution, what would be the English meaning of “their eyes were opened”? What was the event that occurred that resulted in them being able to see?

    My understanding has been that the Greek verb itself here *refers* to the blind men getting their eyesight. I would have no problem with expressing the meaning of the Greek verb with two English verbs, if those two verbs accurately reflect what happened with the one Greek verb, either explicitly and/or implicitly.

    Again, it’s a nice solution. I just need more information to be able to think about it further.

  40. J. K. Gayle says:

    Peter Kirk says The point of dispute is whether this idiom has ever found a proper home in English, if it has ever been used except in Bible translations and specific allusions, . . . . And until I see such evidence . . . this usage is biblish and so probably not suitable for a Bible translation for a popular audience.

    Wayne, I think David Frank’s solution is Mark’s, John’s, and Luke’s. Can we go back to Matthew again first? Doesn’t he use this idiomatic phrase consistently but only twice? His second use is at Mt 20:23. Let’s say that popular audiences hearing his Greek have not encountered this phrase before. Then we guess that it’s probably a Hebrew idiom translated literally. But does that mean that Matthew’s Hebrew idiom, not idiomatic in Greek, is not suitable for writing his Greek-translated bible?

    Now look at what Mark, Luke, and John do. They all do something that Mark Taylor observes that NLT2 does, what David Frank allows in his English. The other gospel writers include both the Hebrew idiom literally translated into Greek with the explanation in Greek-translated dialogue. Of course, in the examples below, Mark and John tell similar stories as Matthew, and the meanings are the same (whereas for Luke’s different story the meaning is a bit different).

    The other gospel writers, in their Greek translations (of the Hebrew/Aramaic idiomatic dialogue):

    Mark (8:25 TNIV & Greek ) — Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. εἶτα πάλιν ἐπέθηκεν τὰς χεῖρας ἐπὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ καὶ διέβλεψεν καὶ ἀπεκατέστη καὶ ἐνέβλεπεν τηλαυγῶς ἅπαντα

    John (9: TNIV & Greek)–
    10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked. 11 He replied, “. . . . So I went and washed, and then I could see.” 14 . . . Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes . . . 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.” 17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “. . . It was your eyes he opened.” 18 They still did not believe that he . . . had received his sight . . . 19 . . . they asked. “. . . How is it that now he can see?” 21 “. . . how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know.” 25 He replied, “. . . I was blind but now I see!” 26 Then they asked him, “. . . How did he open your eyes?” 30 The man answered, “. . . he opened my eyes.” 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.
    10 ἔλεγον οὖν αὐτῷ πῶς οὖν ἠνεῴχθησάν σου οἱ ὀφθαλμοί 11 ἀπεκρίθη. . . ὕπαγε . . . καὶ νίψαι ἀπελθὼν οὖν καὶ νιψάμενος ἀνέβλεψα 14 . . . τὸν πηλὸν ἐποίησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ ἀνέῳξεν αὐτοῦ τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς . . . 15 οὖν ἠρώτων αὐτὸν καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι πῶς ἀνέβλεψεν . ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς πηλὸν ἐπέθηκέν μου ἐπὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς καὶ ἐνιψάμην καὶ βλέπω. 17 λέγουσιν οὖν τῷ τυφλῷ πάλιν . . . ὅτι ἠνέῳξέν σου τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς 18 οὐκ ἐπίστευσαν . . . αὐτοῦ τοῦ ἀναβλέψαντος . . . 19 . . . ἠρώτησαν αὐτοὺς . . . πῶς οὖν βλέπει ἄρτι 21 πῶς δὲ νῦν βλέπει οὐκ οἴδαμεν ἢ τίς ἤνοιξεν αὐτοῦ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἡμεῖς οὐκ οἴδαμεν αὐτὸν 25 ἀπεκρίθη . . . ὅτι τυφλὸς ὢν ἄρτι βλέπω 26 εἶπον οὖν αὐτῷ . . . πῶς ἤνοιξέν σου τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς 30 ἀπεκρίθη ὁ ἄνθρωπος . . . καὶ ἤνοιξέν μου τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς 32 . . . οὐκ ἠκούσθη ὅτι ἠνέῳξέν τις ὀφθαλμοὺς τυφλοῦ γεγεννημένου

    Luke (24:31a TNIV & Greek )–Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him. αὐτῶν δὲ διηνοίχθησαν οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ καὶ ἐπέγνωσαν αὐτόν

    Should Mark, John, Matthew, and Luke excise the Hebrew idiom translated literally into Greek because the popular audience of Greek listeners may call it biblish (i.e., Isaiah-LXX-ish?)?

  41. Wayne Leman says:

    Kurk asked:

    Let’s say that popular audiences hearing his Greek have not encountered this phrase before. Then we guess that it’s probably a Hebrew idiom translated literally. But does that mean that Matthew’s Hebrew idiom, not idiomatic in Greek, is not suitable for writing his Greek-translated bible?

    Very perceptive question, Kurk! It can even get us to some difficult issues surrounding inspiration of the biblical texts, whether or not the LXX was as “inspired” as the Hebrew original, and the implications for inpiration in the New Testament. Of course, even without those theological issues (which we will not deal with here, just tantalize those who are theologically inclined!!), there are the questions which you have been raising about translation methodology. After all, the LXX translators missed out on Pike’s lectures, didn’t they?!

    This is, indeed, a difficult topic. I don’t have any simple answers. One solution which some have offered is to state that the biblical authors had the assistance of the Holy Spirit in a way that translators since the close of the biblical canon do not. That solution has some attractiveness to it, but I’m not sure it deals adequately with the concerns that you and many others have as well.

    One of Pike’s students, John Beekman (the man with the artificial heart valve), became a Bible translation consultant who, along with Nida, but largely working independently of him, significantly advanced the science and art of Bible translation. He helped bring together into a much more cohesive whole the discipline of translating more difficult forms such as poetic parallelism, figures of speech, and various rhetorical devices. Beekman helped raise the standards for missionary Bible translations. He was deeply concerned that we do a better job translating. He would sometimes say, “Let’s not blame the Holy Spirit for translations that we do poorly.”

    There is wisdom in what Beekman said. And we can look back over church history, as well as ordinary world history, and see significant advancements in science, medicine, and, yes, even Bible translation. The ancients did the best they could at that time. But there has been progress in translation studies since then. Modern Bible translators can benefit from that progress.

    Just because the LXX translators translated as they did–and their work was uneven, fairly good in place, not so good in other place–does not mean that we should translate at they did. God gives us minds to use for his glory to study material which is “there” and interesting, just as you have demonstrated with your own major academic stepping stone recently. If you had simply repeated what someone else had said or done, your big paper would not have been approved, as you well know after all that effort!

    The fact that there are Semiticisms in the New Testament should not keep modern translators from using the best possible translation techniques today so that the meanings of the biblical texts will be communicated as accurately as possible to users of translations. If this were not so, then why even translate? Why not just teach everyone the biblical languages?

    This does not, by any means, suggest that there is only one right way of translating. It does not suggest that there may be some contexts in which literal translation, even if not understood without teaching, is appropriate. But I think it does suggest that God wants us to continue using our minds today, to try to use the best translation techniques currently known, to be humble in the process, always be willing to revise, always be willing to listen to others who might suggest an improvement, and then placing our work, as well as our lives, in the hands (metaphorically speaking, of course!) of the Holy Spirit for him to take our imperfect work to do God’s work.

    I’m sure there is much more that could be said on this topic, but, in summary, I think, the point can be made that just because certain translation techniques or Midrashic (and other) interpretational approaches were sometimes used, does not necessarily mean that those techniques are what we are called to use today. God didn’t teach Abraham everything about monotheism and monogamy as soon as Abraham headed out of Ur. In fact, there were many things that God didn’t teach his people for hundreds of years. There was something called progress revelation. God understands how mortal we are, how finite our minds are, and so he has chosen not to teach us everything all at once. And he has given us free choice as part of our educational discoveries. I think it was OK with him that the ancients didn’t have a fully accurate cosmology of the universe. It didn’t bother him that many people thought that the universe was geocentric. It didn’t bother him that many Bible translations were done literally. He was able to use imperfect translations and still does today. I know; he’s using one I helped produce!

  42. David Frank says:

    Wayne, in answer to your question regarding the NLT translation of Matthew 9:30a, I would interpret “And then their eyes were opened” to be in reference to the act of healing. The act of healing is itself an event. As this follows with “…and they could see,” I interpret the part coming after “and” to refer to the resulting change of state. Another analogy would be something like “Jesus healed the crippled man and he could walk,” which is meaningful to me. It is a description of an act of healing followed by a description of a change of state.

  43. J. K. Gayle says:

    After all, the LXX translators missed out on Pike’s lectures, didn’t they?!

    🙂

    Wayne, That’s quite an eye-opening statement! Ha, you made me LOL, which opened my mouth! I like the points you bring in from Beekman and that you make yourself about the need for progress in translation methods. I concede you that.

    But if Beekman is concerned about us learning from the Holy Spirit, I’m concerned about our learning from Jesus. Pike’s progress may seem like a regress to us. It is not. He constantly fought “progress” when language theorists like Chomsky would re-introduce reductive formalism (a modern mix-mash of ancient Plato’s idealism and Aristotle’s binary logic). He would point out that, better than Chomsky, some un-progressed cultures did not have many numbers or advanced math in their language. Pike’s ethnographic (i.e., monolingual demonstrative) methods seem to recover the methods of Jesus, who left his words in the hands of the not so educated (Paul excepted of course) to translate them into Greek. The gospel writers we call John, Mark, and Luke were not afraid to play with language, and to impose LXX biblish on their Greek-hearing audiences. Matthew seems like them. And there are others. I think, for example, of C.S. Lewis with his Reflections on the Psalms, not taking the Hebrew scholar’s position but rather the ethnographer’s position, the learners’ position (and he sees many “second meanings” in the Psalms, which reminds me of Pike’s N-dimensionality of language). I’m all for progress in translation methods, but sometimes we have to recover the buried methods, even the ones we’re learning and relearning from Jesus, no?

  44. John Hobbins says:

    Peter and Wayne,

    It is true that the usual semantic range of the expression in question in English is not coterminous with the wider range the equivalent expression has in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

    Nevertheless, in the context of Matthew 9:27-31, the use of the expression for physical healing is intelligible, so intelligible, in fact, that only a trained linguist is likely to notice and say, “Hey, that’s funny English. We don’t talk that way.”

    That at least is my claim, subject to field-testing. I am happy to field-test the claim along the following lines tomorrow in my 7th and 8th grade confirmation classes. I will distribute NRSV Matthew 9:27-31 on a sheet of paper with whatever follow-up questions you wish to ask in terms of comprehension.

    If it turns out that you are right, that they “lose the primary meaning of what happened to the blind men because they read the story in a translation with ‘And their eyes were opened,'” I will include within the body of my post on the subject on my blog a mea culpa to the effect that I completely over-estimated the ability of kids today to understand what I thought was an intelligible expression in context.

  45. Wayne Leman says:

    I’m all for progress in translation methods, but sometimes we have to recover the buried methods, even the ones we’re learning and relearning from Jesus, no?

    For sure, Kurk. There’s gotta be balance in everything, as well as grace and tolerance. I’m glad that Pike stood up to the worst of Chomsky’s stuff. And now perhaps a majority of linguists have moved beyond Chomsky, recognizing, like Pike, that Chomsky’s approach was not rich enough to handle how language really works, in relation to a unified theory of the structure of human behavior, of course! 🙂

  46. Wayne Leman says:

    John wrote:

    If it turns out that you are right, that they “lose the primary meaning of what happened to the blind men because they read the story in a translation with ‘And their eyes were opened,’” I will include within the body of my post on the subject on my blog a mea culpa to the effect that I completely over-estimated the ability of kids today to understand what I thought was an intelligible expression in context.

    OK, John, but I suggest not testing with Scripture since Scripture has a special holy status. English speakers tend to try to get Scripture to make sense, regardless of how it is translated, because it is Scripture.

    A more objective approach is to test the same expression, with a context, of course, using some non-biblical text or made-up scenario.

    For instance:

    “Students, I’ve got a paragragh here that I’d like you to help me with. You can help me revise it if that is necessary:

    Bob was blind since he was born. His optic nerve was not properly attached to the back of his eye. Doctors told his parents there was nothing that could be done for him. But when Bob was thirty years old he read an article in a Braille journal about a new laser technique that was able to attach the optic nerve in some patients. He decided he would like to try to his eyesight. He went to the Mayo Clinic where the surgical team performed the surgery. The surgery took four hours. Then he eyes were bandaged. On the third day the lead surgeon removed the bandages from Bob’s eyes. He asked Bob, “Is anything different?” Bob waited for awhile and then said, “Yes, doctor. Do you have curly hair?” His surgeon said, “Yes, I do.” And Bob said, “Wow, you have opened my eyes.”

    What did Bob say happened to him? What do you think he meant by that? What would you have said if you were Bob? Could you help me revise the last sentence if you think it could be worded better?

    Notice that we don’t ask the students if they can understand what “opened my eyes” means? Those who field test find that such a yes/no question is not scientifically helpful. Instead, they have found it is more helpful to ask content questions that probe subjects’ understanding.

    I hope this is helpful.

  47. David Frank says:

    This probably isn’t going to interest most people trying to follow this discussion, but I just wanted to add that I don’t see Beekman and Pike as very compatible on a theoretical level. What little there was in the way of theory in Beekman’s approach to Bible translation was indeed more structuralist in the tradition of Chomsky, including some dabbling with the contrast between deep structure and surface structure, and also a sharp distinction between form and meaning, such that the meaning could be detached from the forms of one language and reattached to the forms of another language. Pike taught that form and meaning always go hand in hand, and you can’t deal with form apart from meaning, nor meaning apart from form. He rejected the Saussurean and Chomskyan langue/parole, competence/performance, deep structure/surface structure, and syntax/semantics dichotomies.

    Pike and Beekman were colleagues with different areas of specialization, and I believe Pike didn’t try to meddle with the model for translation that Beekman was developing. I imagine that he was okay with the end result, even if the theoretical model wasn’t very satisfying. Similarly, Pike and Nida were peers and friends who were both prominent in the development of the field of linguistics, but Nida switched his attention to translation theory, and Pike stuck with linguistics and human behavior in general. Nida’s model has been described, correctly or incorrectly, as being influenced by Chomsky’s Transformational Grammar. (I could give you a citation in a book on translation theory; I’m not sure how accurate it is.)

  48. John Hobbins says:

    Wayne,

    I take it then that you realize that the expression in question is readily intelligible in its biblical context. That being so, I would argue for retaining it.

    The “objective” test you offer is of interest to linguists, but not necessarily to Bible translators per se. It is true that readers of the Bible try harder than they otherwise might to understand the text before them. I say we should leverage that predisposition, not cast it aside.

  49. David Frank says:

    Commenting on Wayne’s last comment, about field testing the expression “and his eyes were opened,” I agree that we wouldn’t be able to check this by simply asking a yes-or-no question, because often people will say they understand something but when you do a little further digging you find out they don’t really. So I would test it with a content-type question, asking instead to paraphrase it or say what they understand this phrase to mean. However, in my experience in Bible translation, while I would take responsibility as a translator to make sure the meaning was clear to the target audience, on naturalness issues I wouldn’t be too forceful in insisting on using only the same expressions that could be found in everyday language use. Rather, that is something that has to be worked out with native speakers of the language, and the translator has to be sensitive to them.

  50. Wayne Leman says:

    John wrote:

    I take it then that you realize that the expression in question is readily intelligible in its biblical context.

    No, not at all, John. It still sounds to my wife and me that the eyelids of the blind men were physically moved so that they were no longer covering their eyeballs. And it’s not just because we are linguists. I have done years of field testing. If you did it also, you would be amazed at what people think some of the literal translations in the Bible mean.

    I’m sorry if I miscommunicated something that led you to assuming that I understand “their eyes were opened” to mean the blind men could see. I only know that because I have been taught that that’s what it’s supposed to mean. But that isn’t what “eyes opened” means in English. Go ahead and do the objective field testing. Listen carefully to the answers. Watch the body language. Notice if any eyes roll (or even if they are opened!). We’re trying to find out if “their/my eyes were opened” means that they can see; they are no longer blind.

  51. J. K. Gayle says:

    David Frank wrote Pike taught that form and meaning always go hand in hand, and you can’t deal with form apart from meaning, nor meaning apart from form. He rejected the Saussurean and Chomskyan langue/parole, competence/performance, deep structure/surface structure, and syntax/semantics dichotomies. . . Pike stuck with linguistics and human behavior in general.

    Thanks, David, for noting the distinctions between others and Pike. Although Pike was more interested in language as a metaphor for epistemology and actions (i.e., “behavior”), there’s much in that that relates to translation. For example, in this discussion of (dynamic) equivalents, the English idiom “he opened my eyes” can be seen as an “allo” of the “emic” notion “he made me see.” The question is whether the translator’s emics (or even the emics of the ideal audience of the translator, even a real field-tested audience) equals the emics of any real reader. Gosh. That sounds awfully insider. But you do know tagmemics. What Richard Rhodes writes (in a comment in this series) about “label categories” comes into question here. Pike was interested in the “psychological reality” of the native speaker of a language. Any of us, likewise, could be interested in the “psychological reality” of the translator. This is an ancient problem, as articulated famously by Heraclitus. Is the river the same one stepped in? Is light still light if seen by physicists as a wave, as a particle, or in relation to space and to time? Why does light only have to be, logically, reductively, one thing in itself and not the thingS that a human see it can be? When does a grain become a heap? A human egg become a human being in the womb? The hue we call “blue” become “green”? When does “καὶ ἠνεῴχθησαν αὐτῶν οἱ ὀφθαλμοί” become an important referent back to an LXX literal translation of a Hebrew idiom? Pike was all about the personal, and less about “the mechanical text.” Humans, even translators, make personal (not arbitrary) decisions about what equals what.

  52. John Hobbins says:

    Wayne,

    Well, then, I will do the field test. The question I will ask of my confirmands, after they read the expression in context, is:

    (1) The blind men ask for mercy. What were they hoping for?

    (2) Do the blind men get what they ask for?

    (3) Jesus asks, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
    Do what?

    [Note that NLT evidently considered the source language too obscure here. It translates: “Do you believe I can make you see?”]

    (4) What happened to the blind men after Jesus touched their eyes?

    (5) Their eyes were opened, but were they still blind?

    This is a form of recursive testing of global, or Gestalt comprehension. I can imagine other kinds of questions. You are certainly to suggest your own.

  53. Wayne Leman says:

    John, those sound like good questions to me. I’d probably first ask(5)as a content question such as:

    What does it sound like happened when their eyes were opened?

    Then I might also ask:

    “Who do you know who would say “their eyes were opened” for what happened?

    Would you say it that way? If not, how would you say it?

  54. Peter Kirk says:

    Kurk, since you justify by Matthew’s example the practice of literally translating foreign idioms, I presume that you are conceding my point that “open someone’s eyes” in this sense is an idiom foreign to English, not one which “has ever found a proper home in English”. The question then arises whether, in a particular style of translation for a particular audience, it is appropriate to use such idioms. The problem with appealing to the biblical authors for justification here is that we have little clear evidence of how well their target audiences understood imported idioms like this one. Sadly we can’t field test their first readers!

    As for John’s proposed field test, one problem with it is that even if his readers do correctly understand the idiom that does not prove that it has found a home in English and is part of a natural English text. A text can be understandable but still so unnatural that it will not be accepted by its target audience. Another problem with John’s test is that among readers even vaguely familiar with the Bible the first part of the story invokes a scenario which is expected to end with the blind men being able to see, so much so that I suspect that even if read out with complete nonsense syllables in place of “their eyes were opened” an average audience would answer the question that afterwards the blind men could see. This is a potential problem with all field testing of wording in context.

  55. J. K. Gayle says:

    Peter,
    I do concede your point. And I like your expression “found a proper home in English.” Your metaphor is the one Lydia H. Liu uses to describe Chinese translation of modern English terms; Liu says the Chinese translators don’t think of equivalences or of one language as the “source” and the other the “target” but rather of one language as the “guest” and the other the “host.” Probably the similarity in your metaphor and Liu’s is something you didn’t intend. But the emphasis on politeness that “proper home” speaks to is, I think, very helpful. My point is that we English readers will host the Hebrew idiom into our language as our guest. And the LXX translators, along with the gospel writers, as hosts allowed the same idiom into their Greek. I imagine that we and they don’t need to be so eager to kick out the awkward foreignism with our boot of field testing. Don’t we learn – and learn from – others’ languages much this way?

  56. Wayne Leman says:

    Kurk wrote:

    I imagine that we and they don’t need to be so eager to kick out the awkward foreignism with our boot of field testing. Don’t we learn – and learn from – others’ languages much this way?

    Your mentor Pike, I think, tried to address the danger of foreignizing other people’s languages. He emphasized that there was an insider’s view of their own language. We outsiders come with our many analytical categories, attempting to discover what the inside view is. Insiders may or many not accept foreignisms. It is up to them to decide. One thing we should not do in the translation process is force foreignisms upon them. I’m sure that Pike himself did not do so when he helped translate into one of the Mixteco languages of Mexico.

    Field testing is something done to ensure that the insider’s view of their own language is respected, that we do not impose foreign syntax upon them, distorting their languages. Literal translations that import foreign forms to languages are a kind of colonialism, yes?

    People matter, right? We need to listen to the people, to test how they themselves would say something. We should not impose our own language forms on them. We need to respect them enough to know what is best for their own languages, yes?

    I think Pike is trying to sit up in his grave right now and say “Bravo!”

  57. David Frank says:

    JK Gayle — Thank you for sharing that Chinese metaphor for translation. It is a wonderful way of thinking about translation, and I will keep it in mind. There are other metaphors we often use for translation, such as bridge building or carrying a load, but I like that one.

  58. Mike Sangrey says:

    Kurk wrote:
    Don’t we learn – and learn from – others’ languages much this way?

    It would be wrong for me to state (or even imply) that people don’t learn. However, we all have to come to grips with the fact that we’re dealing with a continuum here which boils down to how much cognitive, linguistic processing the translator wants the reader to perform relative to the expected value the translator and reader want to obtain. Not that these two are polar opposites; in fact, they work together to propel the reader toward a correct interpretation. In other words, the goal is a minimum of processing effort while maximizing the value.

    Along with Wayne’s reply, another issue is that people from one language tend to understand the foreignisms of another language by processing it through their own mother tongue grid. This produces exegetical mistakes.

    A classic example of this (though at the word level) occurs when someone explains δύναμις (DUNAMIS) as a dynamite kind of power. They’re using the metaphor (or idiom) of one language to explain the other.

    This also happens at the phrase level (though I think it diminishes with each step up the linguistic hierarchy). Job’s “skin of my teeth” is probably a good example of this since it likely, literally refers to the gums (cf Koehler-Baumgartner Lexicon as well as a footnote in the TNIV).

    To illustrate: English exegetes process that phrase by first accepting it as literally referring to “the teeth’s skin.” Then, since teeth don’t have skin, the metaphorical idea of scant or barely comes readily to mind–“so little of it, it’s not even there”. That’s the English way of figuring it out. However, the Hebrew cognitive processing doesn’t naturally go down that road. It doesn’t have to since the expression is native (that is, idiomatic) to Hebrew. For them, the sense of emaciated would have come readily to mind.

    So, Job 19:20 could say something like: I am nothing but skin and bones; I have escaped, but so withered, I’m toothless.

    In other words, yes, people learn. But, why put the teacher in a place where he or she has to explain what the text should have said.

  59. John Hobbins says:

    Peter,

    My field-testing so far bears out your prediction that people would “get” the phrase in context just fine. But I don’t think the reason is that my readers are familiar with the Bible (some of them aren’t). It’s just that the text is full of redundancies, as most communication is. The text is packed with clues that point to what the phrase in question is likely to mean. The phrase itself is rather helpful, too.

    Interestingly enough, by asking the same question of global comprehension based on five different hooks, by the end of the questions, some people end up wondering if they need to change their mind. That is, they answer 3 or 4 times that what is asked for and received is restoration of physical sight, but begin to wonder if instead the blind men may have remained blind and only had the eyes of the heart opened. This result, of course, is an artifact of the repetitious questioning.

    For the rest, I would simply say that an expression has found a home in English if it is intelligible in context, even if its use is not appropriate in all or many imaginable settings. Here are some examples of calques, grammatical and lexical, that are intelligible and appropriate in some settings but not in others. For example.

    Hey, schmuck! What gives? Move it already! Limo, schlimo. Smart, he isn’t.

    That’s New Yorkese full of Yiddish calques. This calque too, based on Yiddish fun=German von, is especially nice:

    After all, what do we know from grammar?

    Since usage is king, that’s proper English, but only in a niche environment.

    Or how about calques from Latin into English? Many in fact are restricted in usage. For example:

    “it came to my mind,” = mihi venit in mentem
    “I came, I saw, I conquered” = veni, vedi, vici
    “At your pleasure” = a bene placito

    And, finally, for a good laugh:

    “Always wear underwear” – Semper ubi sub ubi

  60. Peter Kirk says:

    John, I would suggest that your New Yorkese has found a home in New York English, but not in English as a whole. Such expressions would be appropriate for a special New York Bible, but not, I would suggest, for a Bible intended for a worldwide audience, still less as one Bible for everyone as ESV is billed. But for an expression to be at home in English it needs to be not just understood but also natural. Yoda-speak is understandable, indeed was probably deliberately designed to be, but natural English, at home in English, it is not.

  61. David Frank says:

    John Hobbins — I see that you are an astute observer of language, and I hope you continue observing and testing. I’m glad you did that experiment with your confirmation class, and whatever you learned is valuable.

    I agree with you that people might understand something, especially in context, that would at the same time be unnatural, and it is important to keep the concepts of comprehension and naturalness separated. I do believe that a translation should be meaningful and comprehensible first of all [have I just now violated the rule about conjoining synonyms?], and as for naturalness, that is a judgment call, depending on the translator’s understanding of his or her audience’s needs and desires.

    Maybe you could do a translation into New York English or Yiddish-influenced English!

  62. J. K. Gayle says:

    Wayne wrote: The fact that there are Semiticisms in the New Testament should not keep modern translators from using the best possible translation techniques today so that the meanings of the biblical texts will be communicated as accurately as possible to users of translations. If this were not so, then why even translate? Why not just teach everyone the biblical languages?

    One thing we should not do in the translation process is force foreignisms upon them.

    Mike wrote: Along with Wayne’s reply, another issue is that people from one language tend to understand the foreignisms of another language by processing it through their own mother tongue grid. This produces exegetical mistakes. A classic example of this (though at the word level) occurs when someone explains δύναμις (DUNAMIS) as a dynamite kind of power. They’re using the metaphor (or idiom) of one language to explain the other.

    Wayne, The Chinese metaphor is not “forcing” but “welcoming.”
    And there is no need to force the choice between EITHER (X) “translating” all Semiticisms OR (Y) “teaching everyone the biblical languages.” The NT historians do BOTH translating AND using translation into Greek to teach or to help others learn Semitic languages (and Pike would have no objection to that either). See below.

    David,
    I like your kinder gentler translation metaphors of “bridge building or carrying a load” too.

    Mike,
    Matthew’s transliterating does not automatically or necessarily “produce exegetical mistakes.” But Matthew was not transliterating (as your δύναμις to dynamite example does) when he included the Hebrewism (i.e., the foreign idiom “opened eyes”) into his Greek. Is it the translator’s job to eliminate all possibility of misreading and wacky interpretations? Doesn’t Matthew also guide his Greek readers into understanding Semiticism? Isn’t it interesting how Matthew chooses to transliterate Jesus’s words on the cross: ηλι ηλι λεμα σαβαχθανι? He uses Greek-spelled Hebrew for the first two words and Greek-spelled Aramaic in contrast to Mark’s Greek transliterations of Aramaic only: ελωι ελωι λεμα σαβαχθανι. Neither translator is interested only in some field-tested acceptable Greek phrase for what Jesus said on the cross. Both historians do go on to give their translations in Greek. But with other Hebrewisms and Aramaicisms, there’s no translation by either Mark or Matthew: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aramaic_of_Jesus.

    Back to “opened eyes,” Matthew doesn’t explain his translation of the Hebrew idiom (or his appropriation, perhaps, of the LXX translation of it). But I don’t think he’s worried at all about the exegetical faux pax that some will make. Mark and John and Luke (as I showed above) do translate the foreignism into Greek and go on to explain it. How about “inter-lation” as a metaphor for such meaning-ful trans-lation? (Interlation is Mikhail Epstein’s metaphor, which he also calls stereotexting. This I think parallel’s Jesus’s parables and Pike’s monolingual demonstration in which he writes IPA and English on the board for the foreign sounds and phrases he hears).

  63. J. K. Gayle says:

    David, Please feel free to call me Kurk. The bridge is a wonderful image, thanks!

    (The kind of carrying across notion reminds me some of Willis Barnstone’s “Parable of the Greek moving van” in which he discusses the logo on the side panels of transport vehicles around Peloponnisos at the Greek port Piraeus: it’s the word, μεταφορά. Barnstone goes on to say the modern word means, ambiguously, “translation.” And he argues “translation is metaphor.”

    Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping, in their book of English-translated Chinese poetry, compare translation to a auto-bodyshop work; Tony says the same here http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/manoa/v011/11.2barnstone.html:

    “The Chinese poem in English is like a stolen car sent to a ‘chop shop’ to be stripped, disassembled, fitted with other parts, and presented to the consumer public with a new coat of paint. But despite its glossy American exterior, it’s a Chinese engine that makes this vehicle run, and fragments of the poem’s old identity can be glimpsed in its lines, the purr of its engine, the serial number, which we may still be able to read. The burden of my essay will be to discuss ways I’ve found of negotiating between Chinese and American poetic paradigms, and to engage in a limited discussion of what American parts have proved compatible with this Chinese vehicle, which has been a part of Western poetic traffic since the early years of modernism.”)

    As for Epstein’s “interlation” and “stereotexting,” a calque or loan translation may be the technique to achieve the effect. But Epstein is not interested the particular technique nor at all in what’s lost in translation. Rather, he’s curious about what is found in translating, especially in a multi- and bi-lingual context–like Matthew’s context when he translated “opened eyes.” There’s Matthew’s “translingualism” when he brings Semitic foreignisms into his Greek for readers in a or “polyglossic” world. This is more than code-switching for the audience. Epstein theorizes this briefly here: http://www.fascicle.com/issue01/Poets/epstein1.htm.

    I’m opening up a can of worms when I say that refusing to translate a foreignism was Vladimir Nabokov’s infamous game. He was a DE translator. He did not do what Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John did. Nabokov said, “In my translation I have sacrificed to total accuracy and completeness of meaning every element of form save the iambic rhythm, the retention of which assisted rather than impaired fidelity.” One of his critics says that Nabokov, translating his own works, “did not anglicize a Russian narrative or russify an English one; in many cases he inserted explanations into the translated text or substituted a reference from the culture of the target language for the original reference.” This, of course, works against “interlation.” And for similar reasons, W. Barnstone calls Nabokov the “most intractable of the anti-translators.” http://speakeristic.blogspot.com/2008/09/woman-is-another-famous-poser.html

  64. Peter Kirk says:

    Kurk, did you give us W. Barnstone’s argument for “translation is metaphor” as another example to go with Mike’s dynamite one of a gross exegetical error based on fallacious etymological reasoning? That is what it is.

  65. David Frank says:

    Kurk — I have a copy of Barnstone’s The Poetics of Translation right next to me, on my desk, and now I just have to find the time to read it. Your comments have gotten me interested. Regarding Nabokov, I didn’t realize he would be categorized as a DE translator. Wasn’t he famous for suggesting that a translation should consist of about one line of translated text, with the rest of each page filled with footnotes? (That is my paraphrase of my recollection of something he said.) I believe I have read that Nabokov advocated literal translation, but didn’t always practice what he preached. Though this is outside my area of expertise and outside the scope of this blog, the impression I get of Nabokov is that he was disillusioned about the possibility of doing justice to a great work of literature in translation, unsure of and dissatisfied with his own best efforts in that regard. It does remind me somewhat of the field of Bible translation.

    So I’ll ask now if you have read the book Le Ton Beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language, by Richard Hofstadter. I think you would appreciate it. Whether or not you have read it, we probably shouldn’t continue this line of discussion here in the comments section of Wayne’s very valuable blog, “This Post Will Open Your Eyes.”

  66. J. K. Gayle says:

    Clever, Peter.
    Pike used to tell a story of one of his teachers saying how he wished that each word of a language had one and only one meaning. The student, young Pike, replied: “Then how, sir, would we ever learn language?” I think I’m getting a sense of what troubles many Bible translators, although I do want to be sensitive to Wayne’s posting guidelines, especially #3. Many Bible translators want to view language (especially the language in the holy bible) as fixed, as static, as rather not dynamic. You have to want to change it, because you’re a translator, but you can’t because it’s changing God’s word. Doesn’t God, like Einstein and Matthew, allow a phrase (say “light” or “opened eyes”) to be viewed as a particle, as a wave, as a field? I’m using Pikean concepts again.

    David,
    I haven’t yet read Richard Hofstadter’s book but will on your recommendation! I do love the ambiguity of his title! He says in the intro, as I peek in via your amazon.com link, that another book caused his blind eyes to be opened: “that book caused the decades-old scales to drop from my eyes. . . . my mind was open.” 🙂 I’m trying to keep this related to Wayne’s post on Matthew’s translation in better English translation. But I think the various comments by so many are extremely interesting and helpful and would be open to discussing tangential issues at my blog if you wish.

  67. John Hobbins says:

    Peter,

    You say,

    “But for an expression to be at home in English it needs to be not just understood but also natural.”

    That is where we disagree. All creative writers violate your rule to one extent or another. Translators of high-prestige texts violate your rule rather often, out of a sense of loyalty to the source text.

    The old rule remains a good one: as literal as possible, as free as necessary.

    You have replaced that rule with another, whereby the requirement of naturalness of expression trumps all others.

    Translations that take the rule you espouse the furthest, like CEV, end up amputating arms and legs of the text in order to make sure that the translation is natural and intelligible to semi-literate individuals.

    The semi-literate are and always have been in the majority, so it’s no wonder that there are translations of this kind, but it might at least be noted that such was the case in the time of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Job, and whenever and wherever the Psalms have been sung and prayed as well. Nevertheless, the authors of this literature did not dumb down their language for the sake of the semi-literate.

  68. Mike Sangrey says:

    John wrote:
    The old rule remains a good one: as literal as possible, as free as necessary.

    You have replaced that rule with another, whereby the requirement of naturalness of expression trumps all others.
    […]
    The semi-literate are and always have been in the majority, so it’s no wonder that there are translations of this kind [ie. the CEV]… Nevertheless, the authors of this literature did not dumb down their language for the sake of the semi-literate.

    You misunderstand naturalness. Naturalness does not dumb down the language nor the communication itself. So, your objection is a red herring.

    The intent of naturalness is to enable seamless, cognitive processing. That’s why it is inextricably linked to accuracy. The less natural the text is, the less likely a person will accurately understand the original author’s intent. I’m not going to get sidetracked into whether you and I agree or disagree on the CEV’s presentation of Biblical content; however, “dumbing down” is a separate issue from naturalness. It relates to content, not the language itself.

    Additionally, naturalness exists along a continuum. So, it’s not an all or nothing attribute of a specific text. I’d love to see sufficient field testing of translation choices so that the translators could pick the statistically most appropriate choice for the intended audience.

    Lastly, I think I would prefer a rule much more like: As accurate as possible, as natural as necessary. I don’t think ‘free’ should stand as a quality goal in Bible translation any more than I think ‘literal’ assures accuracy.

    Also, please keep in mind that I am a strong believer that literal translations are necessary. I think they are especially helpful when they provide other information which makes the translation (and translators) transparent.

    However, I don’t think they can be consistently interpreted correctly by a majority audience. At least, not without ongoing and considerable help. The general populace, even when constrained to a Christian segment of the population, does not have the needed set of skills. If you think I’m wrong, then you need to address both the Bible illiteracy problem as well as the existence of so many disagreements about the meaning of Biblical texts among that same audience.

  69. Peter Kirk says:

    John, I did not say that “the requirement of naturalness of expression trumps all others”. I would say that it trumps the rule of slavish adherence to the grammatical forms of 16th century English, which is one place where the ESV translators slipped up. But otherwise it is another rule to set alongside, indeed if anything probably beneath, the other rules of accuracy and clarity in translation. In a case like the one this post was about I would not want to be dogmatic about whether to go for the more natural or the more literally accurate expression – the decision probably depends on the target audience. What I object to is the argument that naturalness is not important and should be ignored. So, Mike, I like your summary: “As accurate as possible, as natural as necessary.”

  70. John Hobbins says:

    Mike,

    You say:

    “The intent of naturalness is to enable seamless, cognitive processing.”

    Very well put. That is exactly what a translation like CEV aims for. That is why it finds the parallelism of Hebrew poetry troublesome. Parallelism requires cognitive circling, or stereoscopy. The seams show and they require attention. Out with it. Out with hard and unfamiliar words. Speed bumps that trip up the average reader. The poetic function identified by Roman Jakobson, referred to as defamiliarization: out with that, too.

    You may not want to get sidetracked with actual examples, but I think you know as well as I do: they exist in spades.

    Peter,

    The ESV situates itself in a tradition of translation: Tyndale-Geneva-KJV-RSV-ESV. You are, I realize, anti-traditional in this and many other ways. But most Christians want to draw from treasures old and new, as Jesus recommends in Matthew. ESV fits this bill well for many. CEV does not.

    For the rest, “accuracy” in this context doesn’t settle the question. It just reframes the debate. In what sense is a translation or a paraphrase accurate? In what sense is it not?

  71. Mike Sangrey says:

    John wrote:
    You may not want to get sidetracked with actual examples, but I think you know as well as I do: they exist in spades.

    What I actually wrote:
    I’m not going to get sidetracked into whether you and I agree or disagree on the CEV’s presentation of Biblical content; however, “dumbing down” is a separate issue from naturalness. It relates to content, not the language itself.

    I see I wasn’t clear. The phrase “presentation of Biblical content” is ambiguous.

    I love examples. That’s what keeps us dealing with real data. I’m a firm believer that a good theory is practical.

    By content I’m referring to the meaning. That is, does the CEV convey the original meaning? My use of the word content has much more to do with exegesis than it does how the meaning is rendered with the language. For example, the question of should Isaiah 7:14 be young woman or virgin is an exegetical consideration. It’s those type of things I don’t want to get sidetracked with.

    As I understand our discussion in the comments here, I think the topic has to do with whether or not the same forms as they occur in different languages convey the same meaning. For example, does the participle in Greek convey the same meaning as the English one? Or, more to your reply, does Hebrew parallelism convey the same meaning as phrases in parallel in English?

    Further, should a translation for a wide audience put the reader in a position where he or she must process these foreign grammatical constructions? This might be more to the point.

    The Hebrew parallelism question is actually quite interesting. If one intends to couple the phrases together with and, then the answer is very typically no even though it mimics the Hebrew form. However, translating with a comma generally works fine. There are other ways, too. The translator can unwrap the parallelism and still convey the original meaning. At least one reason for the need to unwrap is because the lexis of the two languages are different.

    You are right, however. I very much take issue with introducing speed bumps into the text. I think people should be able to process the text in real time. It should be just in time grammar and not analyze me grammar.

    Now, again, this does not refer to the meditative response to the text that asks questions like: How should I then live? and How does this remold my view of life, the universe, and everything? And, also, I recognize the need for bridging translations which help hold translators accountable and enable motivated Bible students to dig deeper in to the exegetical support. But, those are different discussions.

    These other issues should require second order cognitive processing. However, simply grasping how the words and other structures are put together in a text should not require this second order processing. In this later case the text should be natural.

  72. Peter Kirk says:

    John, you asked about accuracy. To summarise in response, I would say that if two expressions are judged equally accurate but one is natural and the other is not, one should choose the natural one; but if one is more accurate than the other, one should prefer that one even if it is less natural. But there would be limits to that – I would not want to have “speed bumps” in the text for the sake of preserving tiny nuances of meaning which may not really be part of the intended meaning.

    Of course ESV went where it did out of tradition. And that is a sensible thing to do for the minority of Bible readers who prefer that old-fashioned language, genuinely and not just because they have heard the false teaching that it is more holy. My quarrel with ESV is in the way it has been promoted as suitable for all audiences including those who cannot cope with the old-fashioned and Biblish language – and with the gender inaccuracies introduced for the sake of a sectarian agenda.

  73. David Frank says:

    John Hobbins wrote on Dec. 6, “The old rule remains a good one: as literal as possible, as free as necessary.” I was curious about this “old rule,” but I was away from the office and the library and didn’t have the time to research this. But I was wondering where you got this maxim for translation.

    Now I have looked it up, and this was the motto of the New Revised Standard Version. It is a very good translation, too, for certain purposes. But it is not an ideal for how translation should be done properly. This is not an old rule, as far as I can tell. This is a perfectly reasonable guideline for what I would call a specialty translation. The NRSV is not a normal translation; it is a literal translation, and it is most useful for for people who are studying or have studied the original languages.

    A more reasonable guideline for translations would be “As clear, accurate and natural as possible.” I don’t think that, generally speaking, literalness should be considered a value in translation, unless your goal is to make a literal translation, which should be considered a specialized type of translation. I do think that accuracy is one of the highest goals in translation, but I wouldn’t equate that with literalness. In fact, sometimes accuracy and literalness can be in conflict, if accuracy is understood as conveying the correct meaning.

    John H. wrote later (Dec. 7), “For the rest, ‘accuracy’ in this context doesn’t settle the question. It just reframes the debate. In what sense is a translation or a paraphrase accurate? In what sense is it not?”

    Yes, I agree with you here. And I say it is very important to reframe the debate. Let’s not hold up literalness as a goal in Bible translation, but rather consider how to make a translation accurate, besides other goals in translation such as clarity and naturalness. Forget about literalness, unless your goal is to make or use a specialty translation, for biblical scholars.

  74. Rich Rhodes says:

    There is, underlying this whole discussion, the assumption that accuracy is distinct from naturalness. That distinction doesn’t exist for me. I’m with Pike on this one. Naturalness is as much part of the meaning as the reference.

    That’s why you can legitimately say the following English sentences are translations of the Spanish sentences:

    Come in! — Adelante (lit. forward)
    Excuse me. — Con permiso (lit. with permission)

    A lot of the expressions that function to lubricate social interaction can’t be translated in any way that isn’t deeply DE. Reference is not the issue, naturalness is.

    This means we’re always balancing naturalness and referential overlap. I’m willing to give up on some referential overlap to match naturalness. That was implicit in the Perscheid joke post I wrote a couple years back. I keep coming back to Ortega y Gasset. No translation matches the original in reference — it is always both exuberant and deficient — it refers to things the original didn’t, and it doesn’t refer to things the original did. Once you realize that referential accuracy is always just a matter of degree, then the whole game changes.

    The fact that you can figure out, in some context, that the English wording he opened his eyes can refer to restoration of sight overlooks the fact that there is meaning in the expression being dramatically non-normative. That meaning was not in the NT, even if it was a neo-Semiticism and not the normal way Greek was spoken in Palestine — which is a very real possibility.

    BTW, the Berkeley Greek composition professor doesn’t think that the expression ἀνέῳξεν αὐτοῦ τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς is particularly odd in reference to the restoration of sight, certainly not as odd as in modern English.

  75. John Hobbins says:

    This is an enjoyable debate, one which I will take up again, with examples.

    A few brief remarks. The “literal as possible and as free as necessary rule” was already the motto of the RSV translation team, unless my memory is entirely faulty. I doubt they invented it either.

    I disagree with the notion that a translation that purposely adheres to the wording of the source text even when that means stretching the resources of the target language, is of interest only to scholars.

    Note that Alter’s translations have been selling well to a literate, lay audience. The new Zurcher Bibel struggled mightily to render the Hebrew and Greek in “Hebrew” and “Greek” dress. It was done very intentionally, with the help of top-notch linguists and professors of literature. It’s been a long time since a Bible in German has sold so briskly.

    On a related note, Peter is of course all wet when he suggests that only a minority of people are interested in a translation in the KJV tradition. The number of people who are sticking to KJV or NKJV remains enormous. ESV, of course, is just RSV with many improvements and a few unimprovements.

    Part of what is at stake in this debate is cultural planning (an aspect of translation according to Pym and others). If your goal is to loosen Christianity from its ancient moorings and the linguistic and the theological update it received through the Reformation, you are going to advocate a non-traditional translation. Someone like Peter is self-aware about this, but I’m sure everyone else has thought through the confessional and theological implications of their preferred translation technique.

    It is also frustrating for someone like me who reads Luther and knows the Lutherbibel a bit, to see remarks of his co-opted by others with whom he shares relatively little in terms of translation method.

    Now, if you believe in promoting a version of Christianity which draws from riches old and new, you are going to advocate a translation that is traditional in some ways but innovative in others. I have yet to see this component of things adequately discussed on Better Bibles, a grave oversight in my estimation.

    I agree with Rich that reference is a matter of degree, but I don’t see how that is a game-changer. In any case, the whole question of naturalness is more complex than people have so far let on. Here’s an example from the Psalms:

    First in Biblish:

    The fool says in his heart, there is no God.

    Now in DE:

    The fool thinks to himself, God does not care.

    It’s an example, I think, of what is lost and what is gained in DE translation. There is a sense in which it is not possible to understand how the word atheist in our culture has been and continues to be used without access to the Biblish version.

    Furthermore, since Pascal at the latest, if not before, one cannot discuss these matters without reference to the heart, which is a vital anthropological and metaphysical concept in our culture, with analogues in most other cultures. So you cannot just eliminate it from the translation without considerable loss.

    Basically, the Psalms text, once one translates it in DE translation, no longer coheres with the very history of reception it set in motion. At the very least, this result is extremely paradoxical.

    For other reasons, of course, I value the DE translation. Heart-speech does reference the thought process. The language of existence does reference relationality. As when a Sicilian mother tells her disobedient daughter, “Non esiste piu per me.” That’s very strong language that says, “I don’t care about you anymore” (though it also says, paradoxically, the opposite at the same time, just as Dio non esiste “God does not exist” does in all the languages I know).

    And here’s a wrinkle. A very well entrenched use of scripture involves lifting a single verse out of context and using it as a motto for life or thought for the day. In view of that use, what kind of translation is more suitable? Please discuss.

    If the answer comes back right away, a DE translation, naturally – I will be very disappointed. A question like this deserves careful thought, not a knee-jerk reaction based on either/or logic.

  76. Peter Kirk says:

    John, most people who buy NKJV or ESV do so because they have been taught in their churches that one of these is the best Bible and that they should be suspicious of Bibles in good modern English. This is the false teaching I mentioned earlier, which sadly is extremely common. I accept that some people still buy KJV because they genuinely prefer its language.

    As for cultural planning, indeed. If your goal is to tie Christianity to the linguistic and the theological update it received through the Reformation, you are going to advocate a traditional translation. I hope someone like you, John, is self-aware about this. But as you rightly note I entirely reject this goal. I don’t reject the Reformation, but I believe Christianity needs to move on beyond it and not allow itself to be tied there.

    As for your DE “translation” of “there is no God”, this is not a translation but a distortion. Where did you get it from? This looks like an attempt to blacken the name of the method by linking it with an example which is not DE at all and which is not, I think, taken from any major DE version.

  77. David Frank says:

    Regarding the maxim, “As literal as possible, as free as necessary,” I do see that aim expressed explicitly in the preface to the NRSV, but I don’t see it explicitly stated in the preface to the RSV. Maybe that is beside the point, though. That would be the approach to making a literal translation. If your goal is to make a literal translation, that would be a motto to keep in mind in the process. I don’t think “literal” should be confused with “accurate.” A literal translation is most suited for those who know how to use it, and I personally have used the RSV quite a bit in my own research. I consider a literal translation to be a kind of specialty translation, and the motto “As literal as possible, as free as necessary” doesn’t apply to normal translation.

    Looking back at the preface to the RSV, I like what it says:

    The Bible carries its full message, not to those who regard it simply as a heritage of the past or praise its literary style, but to those who read it that they may discern and understand God’s Word to men. That Word must not be disguised in phrases that are no longer clear, or hidden under words that have changed or lost their meaning. It must stand forth in language that is direct and plain and meaningful to people today.

    John Hobbins, one thing I hear you saying is that there are reasons you might prefer a certain form of the English Bible, apart from whether or not it is a good translation. You prefer a translation that sounds formal, that transports the reader/hearer from everyday life, into a more formal and awesome sphere. You want a translation that has a sanctified aura about it, and one way to achieve that would be to use language that doesn’t sound normal, such as a form of English from the past. This goes along with your preference for formal, liturgical worship. I can identify with you there. I, too, prefer a formal style of worship, where people don’t dress ultra-casual, and where a reading of The Message would seem out of place. It is related to sanctification, and I don’t want to minimize the appropriateness of this approach to meeting with God.

    Regarding the translation of Psalm 14:1, I would translate this as something like, “The fool says to himself, God is irrelevant.” Or, to use nonsexist language, maybe “Fools say to themselves….” But, as I understand it, to retain the literalism “says in his heart” is inaccurate. In the ancient Hebrew way of thinking, the heart was the seat of the intellect, not of emotions, so to say “in his heart” in English communicates the wrong thing. If you wanted to be a little more literal in your English translation, you could say, “The fool says in his mind,” but I think it would be saying the same thing, only less strangely, to say “…says to himself” (or “say to themselves”).

    I will acknowledge that a literal translation like “says in his heart” can be appropriate if the user of the translation knows what the text is supposed to mean, apart from the words.

  78. David Frank says:

    One other thing to John Hobbins. You wrote, “It is also frustrating for someone like me who reads Luther and knows the Lutherbibel a bit, to see remarks of his co-opted by others with whom he shares relatively little in terms of translation method.” I don’t follow you here. I fully identify with Martin Luther’s approach to translation, and I don’t see the disconnect between it and the modern Dynamic Equivalence approach. The only thing is that Luther’s translation is now some 500 years old, so it now has an archaic feel to it that it didn’t have back then.

    You might be interested in the writings of Ernst Wendland, who has developed an approach to translation that he calls a literary-rhetorical approach. The term “dynamic equivalent” is sort of passé now, and other names for basically the same approach (which I consider a very normal approach) are meaning-based or functional-equivalent. Wendland’s literary-rhetorical approach is in the same vein, except that it reflects his high regard and concern for the literary value of the scriptures. See also his article on “Martin Luther, the Father of Confessional, Functional-Equivalence Bible Translation,” published in two parts, in Notes on Translation 9.1.16-36 and 9.2.47-60 (1995). See also Michael Trinklein’s “Luther’s Insights into the Translator’s Task,” published in The Bible Translator 21.2.80-88 (1970).

  79. John Hobbins says:

    Peter,

    I will respond to your comments on blog.

    David,

    I am familiar with Ernst Wendland’s work, and hope to get him to contribute to an SBL session on Hebrew poetry I am involved in putting together. I agree he is doing very interesting work.

    In a post entitled, Martinus Luther, you are the apple of my eye, easily googleable, I exemplify my point that Luther was not a DE translator ante litteram. Of course, counter-examples might be cited, but really, Luther’s translation lies on the FE, Hebraizing side of the continuum, not the DE side. The very recent Zurcher Bibel is, for sure, more consistently literal than was Luther, and follows in the footsteps of the original Zurcher Bibel, and Zwingli, in so translating.

    Note also this comment by Luther – I cite it simply to demonstrate a danger which Luther ran rather strongly in theory, but much less in practice, precisely because he translated literally more often than not:

    “I endeavored to make Moses so German that no one would suspect he was a Jew.”

    That quote ought to send chills down your spine.

    Finally, by way of example, I address on my blog a danger involved in making clarity the overarching goal of a translation: the peculiar treachery of translations that aim for clarity (a two part series).

  80. David Frank says:

    John Hobbins — I have gone back and looked at your blog on “Martinus Luther, you are the apple of my eye.” It does seem appropriate to refer to it when were are discussing Wayne Leman’s “This Post Will Open Your Eyes” and “Mixing Apples with Apples.” Unfortunately, your blog from a year ago was too sketchy to give much support for your thesis that Martin Luther was more on the formal-equivalent side of translation, as opposed to the dynamic-equivalent side. It just discussed Luther’s translation of one particular phrase, and I confess that I don’t know enough about the history of the English phrase “apple of my eye,” nor the public comprehension thereof, to be able to discuss the appropriateness of translating Deut. 32:10 that way. I personally understand the phrase, and I don’t have a problem with it. I won’t try to speak for everyone else. If what you’re saying is that it is best to keep metaphors in a translation, rather than translating them nonfiguratively, then I fully agree. But note that — though I am not a Hebrew scholar — I don’t think the word “apple” is in the Hebrew. I believe that if you really wanted to translate this verse literally, you would have to say something like “the little man in his eye.”

    You and I — and a lot of other people — admire the work and the approach of Ernst Wendland, and I hope you are able to get him for the SBL conference. Note, though, that Wendland labeled Martin Luther’s approach as functional-equivalent. He used that as a description of Luther’s approach, and also said, “Luther aimed to produce what is known nowadays as a common-language version.” Being dynamic-equivalent or functional-equivalent doesn’t mean a translation has to abandon figurative language or be of poor literary quality.

    See also a secular chapter on the history of translation, in the book Translation Studies: Theories and Applications (2001) where Jeremy Munday discusses the word-for-word vs. the sense-for-sense approaches to translation over the ages and lists Martin Luther as an important figure on the sense-for-sense side. He writes (p. 22),

    Non-literal or non-accepted translation came to be seen and used as a weapon against the Church. The most famous example of this is Martin Luther’s crucially influential translation into East Middle German…. In response to accusations that he had altered the Holy Scriptures in his translations, Luther defended himself in his famous Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen (Circular Letter on Translation) of 1530.

    And on p. 23,

    Luther follows St Jerome in rejecting a word-for-word translation strategy since it would be unable to convey the same meaning as the ST and would sometimes be incomprehensible…. While Luther’s treatment of the free and literal debate does not show any real advance on what St Jerome had written eleven hundred years before, his infusion of the Bible with the language of ordinary people and his consideration of translation in terms focussing on the TL and the TT reader was crucial.

    See also an article entitled “More on Luther’s Bible Translation Principles” in Notes on Translation 11.3.25-37. In this 1997 article, Milton Watt says, “Whereas Erasmus emphasized ‘the letter’ in his view of translation, Luther accentuated ‘the spirit.’ … Luther did not deny the need for philology, but he did relegate it to a lower priority.”

    In Watt’s article Luther is quoted as saying,

    We followed the rule that whenever the words could have given or tolerated an improved meaning, there we did not allow ourselves to be forced by the artificial Hebrew of the rabbis into accepting a different inferior meaning. For this is what the schoolmasters teach, that words are to serve and follow the meaning, not the meaning the words.

    However, Watt also notes that Luther chose to be more literal in translation in two situations: 1) where the meaning of the source text is ambiguous, and 2) where there is a significant theological issue at stake.

    So, John Hobbins, despite labels and polemics, perhaps you and I are not so far apart in our ways of thinking about translation, if we agree that a translation should be of good literary quality, should not be reluctant to translate figurative language as figurative language, should be faithful to the original in every way possible, and should not be afraid to make people think, and we both hold up Martin Luther’s translation as a positive example. We could probably still argue about which English translation best fits our image of what a translation should be, and whether to label Martin Luther as a formal-equivalent or dynamic-equivalent type of translator. No translation can be totally faithful to the original, and how you judge the relative merits of various translations depends on what you are focused on.

  81. David Frank says:

    Regarding what I said about the use of the expression “the apple of (one’s) eye” in the English and German translations of Deut. 32:10, I meant to add that I know even less about the appropriateness of that expression in German than in English. The expression is legitmately part of the English language, but as to whether or not it accurately expresses the meaning of the Hebrew original, I can’t say. I see that even The Message uses that expression.

    One might suppose that “the apple of my eye” came into the English language via a translation of the Bible, as did a number of English expressions. But I just did a little research at http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/34850.html, and it seems the expression was used in English to mean “cherished one” a long time before 1611, or even Wycliffe’s translation.

    I think it’s great when a Hebrew or Greek idiom can be translated using a similar English idiom, which seems to be what happened in this case.

  82. John Hobbins says:

    David,

    We agree on a lot of things. For example, it sounds like we both agree on the principle of metaphor to metaphor translation – the point of the “apple of my eye” post. It’s true that the underlying Hebrew does not mean “apple,” but does seems to be a figure of speech for “pupil” of an eye.

    It’s comforting to the poet in me that you “get” the expression “apple of my eye” without difficulty. Nor does it surprise me that Peterson uses the expression.

    At the time, your colleagues here on BBB argued to a man in favor of not using the expression in a Better Bible. At least that is how I remember it.

    I’m familiar with the quotes about Luther’s translation method. My judgment to the contrary is impressionistic at this point. I continue to hold, based on my use of his translation, that Luther’s approach amounted to a moderate and spare use of DE translation technique, more moderate than, say, (T)NIV.

    In context, one might argue, that was radical. In that sense, but only in that sense, Luther might be considered a forerunner of Nida and the GNB.

    But it is important to qualify the relationship. Otherwise it comes to have a paradoxical ring to it, if you’ve ever used, as I have, the LutherBibel and Die Gute Nachricht (=GNB) side by side. The gap is enormous. As in a mile wide.

  83. Wayne Leman says:

    At the time, your colleagues here on BBB argued to a man in favor of not using the expression in a Better Bible. At least that is how I remember it.

    I would not have been one of them, John, since I believe there are times when it is acceptable to use a literal translation of a biblical language expression IF the literal expression is already in use in English, or is at least understandable for the correct meaning by the majority of English speakers, and if the expressions have the same meaning in both languages.

  84. Mike Sangrey says:

    John,
    I would not have been one of them either. In fact, I think by now it would be obvious that I’d be for an English expression that accurately reflects the original meaning. I’m certainly not against using delighting and even entertaining language. Personally, I think too much of that has been done in nearly all English translations. However, it’s difficult to pull off accurately.

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