πίστις Χριστοῦ blog storm

Romans 3:22 in NIV:

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,

Romans 3:22 in NET:

namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction,

See the difference?

Pseudonymous blogger NT Wrong has set off a tempest in a teapot with the promise of 100 reasons why this should be translated as “faith in” rather than “faithfulness of.” Several big name Bible bloggers have thrown in their two-bits:

Be sure to read NT Wrong’s kickoff post: 100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive

This is one of the times when I most enjoy being a blogger. I have the chance to listen to experts from a variety of disciplines engaging in banter about a choice in Bible translation. It’s not always easy reading. Sometimes the erudition leaves me gasping. Sometimes the sarcasm and irony leave me mystified. But it’s rewarding to have a formerly cut-and-dried English translation suddenly get fuzzy. Because when that happens I get a deeper insight into the original language of the Bible.I have my own opinion about how to best translate this passage but I’m keeping it under my hat for the time being. Instead I’ve just been dancing around the periphery of the topic here, here and here.How do you think this phrase should be translated?

42 thoughts on “πίστις Χριστοῦ blog storm

  1. Davis says:

    If all the early church fathers think its objective, that seems pretty convincing to me. I think they know Greek a little better than the rest of us. I’m not saying that’s the only reason but it seems like this wasn’t an issue back in the day.

  2. Wayne Leman says:

    I lean toward accepting the exegetical decisions of the NET team on these matters. They took the issue of subjective versus objective genitives seriously and carefully interacted with biblical scholarship on the matter, especially some recent scholarlship. It took some courage on their part to translate as “the faithfulness of Christ” instead of the traditional rendering “faith in Christ” but courage is required in scholarship and science when it is necessary to revise old paradigms. These NET footnotes on Rom. 3:22, for instance, needs to be considered in a scholarly way:

    28tn Or “faith in Christ.” A decision is difficult here. Though traditionally translated “faith in Jesus Christ,” an increasing number of NT scholars are arguing that πίστις Χριστοῦ (pisti” Cristou) and similar phrases in Paul (here and in v. 26; Gal 2:16, 20; 3:22; Eph 3:12; Phil 3:9) involve a subjective genitive and mean “Christ’s faith” or “Christ’s faithfulness” (cf., e.g., G. Howard, “The ‘Faith of Christ’,” ExpTim 85 [1974]: 212-15; R. B. Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ [SBLDS]; Morna D. Hooker, “Πίστις Χριστοῦ,” NTS 35 [1989]: 321-42). Noteworthy among the arguments for the subjective genitive view is that when πίστις takes a personal genitive it is almost never an objective genitive (cf. Matt 9:2, 22, 29; Mark 2:5; 5:34; 10:52; Luke 5:20; 7:50; 8:25, 48; 17:19; 18:42; 22:32; Rom 1:8; 12; 3:3; 4:5, 12, 16; 1 Cor 2:5; 15:14, 17; 2 Cor 10:15; Phil 2:17; Col 1:4; 2:5; 1 Thess 1:8; 3:2, 5, 10; 2 Thess 1:3; Titus 1:1; Phlm 6; 1 Pet 1:9, 21; 2 Pet 1:5). On the other hand, the objective genitive view has its adherents: A. Hultgren, “The Pistis Christou Formulations in Paul,” NovT 22 (1980): 248-63; J. D. G. Dunn, “Once More, ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ,” SBL Seminar Papers, 1991, 730-44. Most commentaries on Romans and Galatians usually side with the objective view.

    sn ExSyn 116, which notes that the grammar is not decisive, nevertheless suggests that “the faith/faithfulness of Christ is not a denial of faith in Christ as a Pauline concept (for the idea is expressed in many of the same contexts, only with the verb πιστεύω rather than the noun), but implies that the object of faith is a worthy object, for he himself is faithful.” Though Paul elsewhere teaches justification by faith, this presupposes that the object of our faith is reliable and worthy of such faith.

    The NET translators may be wrong, but if they are, they cannot be dismissed easily. There is a strong argument for accepting the subjective genitive reading here.

  3. Brian B says:

    The heart of the Greek genitive case is source. As we all attempt to understand the nuances, it’s helpful for me to remember that the idea that the genitive is about genos–cause or category.

    With that in mind, I believe a phrase such as ‘faith that finds its source in Christ’ or ‘faith belonging to the category of Christ’ captures the essence of the phrase.

    Although I definitely respect the arguments for a subjective genitive, it’s hard for me to think that a Greek would hold ‘genitive’ and ‘subjective’ in the same area of their brain.

    Thanks for allowing me to share in this great and insightful discussion

  4. Mike Sangrey says:

    Several observations are key for me concerning this topic. They form “big picture” supports, and so they lead me to believe the phrase should be translated “the faithfulness of the Messiah.” I’m not dismissing the detail oriented arguments. They’re important. I just think getting my mind around the big picture flow helps me see what Paul is doing in this text.

    1. Rom. 1:18 to 3:31 form a single semantic unit. Think of it as a coherent section where all the support is focused on two key ideas. Those key ideas are stated in 1:17.

    2. Rom. 1:17 is purposefully ambiguous. By “ambiguous” I mean it succinctly states two concepts. I don’t mean it’s unclear. The mechanics of the ambiguity work the same as a pun. The point of this statement is essentially, “The rigteousness of God is revealed by the gospel. The obtaining of this rigteousness is throughly permeated by faith.” I’ve removed the ambiguity (or at least attempted to); however, the ambiguity is revealed even here when one simply asks, “Whose faith (faithfulness) are we talking about?”

    3. Those two propositions are: (1) Our life is to be characterized by our faith. And (2), Our life is characterized by God being faithful. (‘Life’ is to be thought of here in a very broad sense.)

    4. Those two propositions are fully developed by Habakkuk. In fact, those two propositions capture what the book of Habakkuk is all about. In other words, Habakkuk 2:4 is the key thematic statement of Habakkuk.

    So, what Paul does in the beginning of Romans is take the key thematic statement from Habakkuk and develop the exact same theme. He shows how both Jew and Gentile alike have failed to be faithful to God, that God has responded by being faithful, and therefore, we are to respond in faith. Habakkuk does exactly the same thing (though limited to Jew).

    Therefore, this lead me to expect strong Pauline statements at the end of the section. One to the effect that God is faithful and the other stating that we are to have faith in God. Rom. 3:21-30 does exactly that.

    In short, Paul in Romans, just like Habakkuk, shows that God has been faithful. In Romans it is clear that this faithfulness is in the person and work of Jesus Christ. So, we are to respond in faith. This is just like Abraham, by the way (See Rom. 4ff).

  5. Mike Sangrey says:

    By the way, one other quick comment. It would be interesting to list all the arguments for subjective and for objective genitive. And then characterize each of them as to whether they are linguistic or theological.

  6. Don says:

    Paul is a punster. Seeing the double meaning of what he is saying sometimes is important. And puns rarely translate well!

  7. David Ker says:

    Mike, thanks for big picture stuff which was how I planned to attack this one. And for Habakkuk, one of my favorite OT books.

    Don, is there punning in this passage that you’re thinking of?

  8. Carl Conrad says:

    Brian B.: “The heart of the Greek genitive case is source.”

    With all respect, that’s not true. The Greek text conveys the semantic force of three original IE cases: “source” is ablative; “partitive” is a distinct usage; the original “genitive” was purely structural and indicated “belonging.” There is nothing in the genitive morphology to favor one possible sense over another; how the linkage of the genitive word to its head substantive is to be interpreted depends wholly upon context and how that is interpreted.

  9. Mike Aubrey says:

    Winer believed the genitive denoted source/origin.
    Brooks & Winbery held that it was descriptive.
    Robertson described it as “specification” (though he noted the ablative/partitive distinction, since he separated care “form” from “function” and described Greek based on Sanskrit)
    Louw & Porter consider the basic sense of “restrictive” – which isn’t very different from specification. Describing it as “restrictive” seems to be broad enough to encompass both ablative and partitive meaning.

    The NET’s reference to Wallace’s Exegetical Syntax (and Wallace in general) has a limited definition of grammar that seems to consider syntax autonomously from other aspects of language (a dubious view). The question is: If we understand grammar as the entire system of relationships and distinctions made in a language, can their statement hold?

  10. David Ker says:

    Thanks for that summary, Mike.

    In Bantu languages we have “associative particles” like wa, ya, la, etc. (Like “of” in English) These simply join two things (usually both “nounish”) in some way only determined by context, culture and logic. Only when a speaker doubts whether the hearer would understand the relationship would he/she need to perhaps over-specify. (That’s basic Relevance Theory stuff that I’ve swallowed hook line and sinker as you might notice.)

    In this case, there should be enough evidence to tell whether Paul was using the genitive in the default way or whether he was using it in a marked way. I haven’t studied it enough to decide but I think the answer is there.

    Where you won’t find the answer is by comparing other instances of this form in other contexts (OK, maybe that will help a little…). Since if the context is different, the meaning of the genitive could also be different. I’m waiting for a more precise linguist than myself to jump in here and maybe tidy things up.

  11. Mike Aubrey says:

    David, what I would like to see studied is how subjective/objective nominalizations like this function depending on the verb type the head noun is derived from – verb types as described HERE by Van Valin.

    I’m curious about whether other nouns that comes from verbs of a similar classification would help clarify things. Could we draw parallels that might help in interpreting? My hypothesis is that we could, but I don’t have time to test it – or at least not enough to have to something to post in the near future.

  12. David Ker says:

    Enjoy! The danger I see is in using English glosses or etic categories to try to group things. The Van Valin stuff reminds me of SSAs and I suspect that line of inquiry would lead only to madness and death (OK, I exaggerate slightly… ).

  13. donjo says:

    Puns and wordplay are often the first things to go in a translation yet these kinds of things show it was alive when written. I am coming to the conclusion that these types of things, including possible ambiguous phrases, should be translated using BOTH alternatives for study purposes; which of course is not good for recitative purposes. That is, the idea of finding the one best wording choice is a false goal for study purposes; in some cases, it takes 2.

  14. Peter Kirk says:

    I did the Van Valin stuff a few years ago. It certainly led to madness, nearly to death, and to an exit from your organisation! Well, I’m not sure about cause and effect here, but that was the order of events…

  15. J. K. Gayle says:

    Don says, “Paul is a punster. Seeing the double meaning of what he is saying sometimes is important. And puns rarely translate well!”

    danielandtonya ask, “Why no talk of third options? Are we falling into the either/or trap?”

    amen and amen

  16. J. K. Gayle says:

    Here’s a good example of the Greek genitive (though not Paul’s) in polysemic wordplay:

    “Let us reconsider, in literal transcription, the celebrated Simonidean sentence. . . :

    ὁ λόγος τῶν πραγμάτων εἰκών ἐστιν.

    [The word of things a picture is.]

    True to itself, the statement does what it says. It shows us λόγος and εἰκών poised on either side of the world of τῶν πραγμάτων in a syntactic tension that precisely pictures their ontology. “Things,” in the genitive case, depend for their meaning on “word” and “picture” at once: both nominatives vie for the attention of the genitive πραγμάτων, which is placed to read in either direction and unite all three words like the hinge of a backsprung bow. It is a taut and self-controlled contstruction, but not self-sufficient. The verb ἐστιν (“is”) secures the relationship from outside, even though, in such a sentence in Greek, the verb “is” is redundant. Simonides’ ἐστιν insists on itself after other words have had their say and extraneous to their needs. Why? Simonides seems to want to pain more than words need to say. His iconic grammar renders a relationship that is mutual, dynamic and deeper than the visible surface of the language. As a painter who uses words to make paintings, Simonides requires of his read a different kind of attention than we normally pay to verbal surfaces. . . . When we consider Simonidean sentences, we see appearances engaged in a dialectic with one another, by participation of λόγος and εἰκών at once. We overhear a conversation that sounds like reality. . . that reenacts the reality of which it speaks. This is mimesis in its most radical mechanism. This is the bone structure of poetic [depth].”
    –Anne Carson, Economy of the Unlost: Reading Simonides of Keos with Paul Celan page 52.

    Now, it’s quite possible that Paul intends the kind of wordplay that Carson says Simonides intends. The astute reader gets it. It’s also quite possible that Paul intended no such thing. And still, if we’re as smart as C. S. Lewis reflecting on the Hebrew Psalms, we readers can see “second meanings” anyway; Lewis would argue, then, that Paul would, after the fact, either agree with us that there are such second meanings or they aren’t there. Such an argument never destroys what the reader reflecting in the scriptures might see. (Lewis says that some lines from Virgil also seem to predict the Virgin Birth of Christ, though Virgil would likely protest No. Lewis, in addition, says that Plato predicted the Passion of Christ in writing a few lines on Socrates’ passion; Plato, says Lewis, would agree with the second meanings Lewis sees.)

    Why does any Bible translator, wanting a better English bible, want to force the reader to see one and only one meaning in Paul’s clearly difficult genitive construct of Christ?

  17. Wayne Leman says:

    Kurk asked:

    Why does any Bible translator, wanting a better English bible, want to force the reader to see one and only one meaning in Paul’s clearly difficult genitive construct of Christ?

    No Bible translator does, Kurk. The only reason a Bible translator would translate only a subjective or objective reading of a genitive is if they are convinced from the evidence that one of those readings is most likely. Just as it is possible that a Greek writer intended multiple meanings with a genitive, it is also possible that they intended only one. It is the task of the exegete to attempt to figure out whether a pun, multiple meanings, or a single meaning is intended.

    All translators have to do this. Sometimes a speaker at the U.N. (or anywhere else) makes a statement that is unintentionally ambiguous. It is the translator’s job to determine (quickly, on the spot, no less! What a job!) what was the intended meaning and translate that, not both possible meanings (if that is even possible in the target language).

  18. David Ker says:

    Well, I’m not happy with that translation. How about “The word is a picture of the reality”?

    The blog storm is driven mostly by theological concerns rather than linguistic ones. That’s OK with me. But as a pseudo-linguist/bible translator I believe there are linguistic grounds for ambiguity here with a big caveat: the context supplied the needed information for interpreting “πίστις Χριστοῦ” which could have been ambiguous in Greek. But in English “the faith of Jesus” is not ambiguous. It simply means Jesus’s faith and could never mean “faith in Jesus.”

    I believe Mike Sangrey has the answer.

  19. J. K. Gayle says:

    It is the translator’s job to determine (quickly, on the spot, no less! What a job!) 🙂 Thanks Wayne. But why always the propensity to assume one or the other or one over the other meaning?

    David, Tell us again “the answer” that Mike has. Yeah, and I like your play with the Simonides play. Which makes me want to play with Paul this way (quickly, on the spot!):

    how about “Joshua belief” for πίστεως Ἰησοῦ? An English appositive (nouns behaving as adjectives in both directions) for those Greek genitives (in their differing directions)?

    (Last week, I was in the Texas Department of Public Safety, helping one of my daughters apply for her drivers license. Here’s what professional translators have put on a poster on the wall:

    “If you’re not covered, you’ll be discovered. / Si no te cubres, te desubren.”

    Clever plays, I thought. They’re both catchy phrases but both different and the same meanings at once.

    By “catch-y,” I (probably also) mean the other stuff that is on the poster:

    “TexasSure catches drivers without insurance / TexasSeguro descubre a los conductores sin seguro.”

    “Learn more at / Aprende más en” [and then they give the website URL]

    I guess a point here is that diglots [i.e., Greek/ English] catch translators being reductive.

  20. David Ker says:

    Mike’s comment is here.

    I think we’re being falsely accused here. It’s not that we want to reduce meaning to only option. Instead translation forces us to choose. Put the most likely option in the text and footnote an alternative reading which is what NET has done in this case. And I agree with Wayne that it was daring on the part of the NET translators to put the less accepted reading in the text.

  21. John says:

    “Faith of Jesus” could be argued as ambiguous: “of” in English has many many different uses, historically and currently; I remember reading that someone counting the different uses of “of” in the KJV, for instance, and they caught 27 (that they could discern).

    There are times we use “of” less nowadays, but I still find even “archaic” uses as actually commonly used, it’s just we’re so used to those points it’s used we don’t even realize something “special” is going on.

    “Faith of Jesus” certainly would, today, indicate to sense “Jesus’s faith(/fulness)” since “‘of’ possessive” (for lack of the better linguistic term: somebody please enlighten me if they remember the answer), but perhaps placing that into the text and highlighting that “of” needn’t always indicate possession, that it is also used as “conderning”/”regarding”, or “indicating object” (as in “faith in”), and thus footnotes could be used to re-ambiguate this “of” against modern developments of sense and style, for example:

    “the faith of[1] Jesus”

    The greek here is ambiguous as to whether the intended sense is “Jesus’s faithfulness” or “faith concerning/regarding (“faith in”) Jesus”; the expression may, in fact, be a multivalent pun, intended to evoke both of these senses in the mind of the hearers, the theological intent being that righteousness is through faith in Jesus Christ, and the other aspect, that it is, in fact, Christ’s righteousness that is secured (for those whom it is intended) because Christ is faithful (and was faithful), and (using Reformed lingo here:) “imputed” to those of faith.

    In either case it seems the ambiguity is a question of possession, not just adjectivial; “who’s faith(fulness) is this?”. I would say, at least in terms of truth, either is “acceptable”, and neither is explicitly demanded here; the “proper” (and correct, I believe) order her would be to say it something like this “Christ’s faithfulness, and that found in those who belong to Him”, i.e. His righteousness is imputed, but also, in a sense, His faithfulness.

    Notice above how many times “of” is used, and that the meaning isn’t always the same; “of” is one of those tiny words that, in use, I find fascinating. : )

  22. John says:

    “also, in a sense, His faithfulness.”

    i.e. in life, and continuing, since obviously people just aren’t perfectly faithful, thus they need Him still as their advocate (among so much else)!

  23. Robert Jimenez says:

    Just thought I would mention that both the TNIV, and HCSB have it as an alternate translation in the footnote: “Or through the faithfulness of” TNIV

    “Or through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ” HCSB

  24. David Ker says:

    John, I’m with you on footnoting it as I mentioned a couple of comments back.

    Robert, thanks for pointing that out.

    Starred examples below are marked (ie “unusual”) forms

    1The brick house
    *The house of brick
    2The house of cards
    *The card house
    3The house of the rising sun
    *The rising sun’s house
    4Jack’s house
    *The house of Jack

    What’s going on here?

    For a native speaker one option just sounds better than the other. But try explaining why you chose one or the other to a non-native speaker and you’re in for trouble!

    I think the same thing can be said about the phrase in question. As non-native speakers we can’t really tell how Paul was using this phrase and if it was polysemic. He might not have understood the difference either but it sounded right to him.

  25. J. K. Gayle says:

    David (and Wayne) — Sorry for “accusing” you of being reductive. Are you instead being mechanistic?

    When you say “translation” forces the translator’s choice or even her or his act of choosing, then isn’t that like putting the cart before the horse who has no human at the reigns (i.e., the mechanism and the power before the human agent)? To condescend to such a theory of language and translation is to neglect God’s linguistic role for Adam (Genesis 2:19), no? Seems to me Jesus, and Paul aptly enough too, left to followers, listeners, and readers this kind of agency (the ability and response-ability to transform The old meaning of language into new ones, that allowed the old ones to breath). The Sadducees’ footnote on what the Pharisees’ Moses wrote on divorce was hardly the kind of translational metanoia that Jesus seemed to call for and to enact.

    Last night I re-read what Willis Barnstone writes at the end of his retranslation of the four gospels and Revelation. Makes me want to cry because I believe him when he says that Christian translators have robbed the Jews of their Jesus. His is a compelling argument. By translator choices “Jesus” is neither Joshua nor Yeshua, Judas Iscariot is not Jude or Judah, the Jews are not the Judeans, and so forth. Footnotes in English hide and don’t reveal the facts where the Greek text may have anti-Semitism. (Barnstone mentions the John 20.16 footnote: “The text has her [Mary the Magadalene] say ‘Rabboni!’ (which means ‘teacher’). We note however, the inevitable and illogical cover-up in the interpolation ‘which means teacher’ that has again been added [like a footnote] to the text, in instructive parenthesis, to dissuade the reader from the unwelcome notion that ‘rabbi’ actually means ‘rabbi,’ and that Yeshua is a rabbi and therefore a Jew. That a rabbi might also be a teacher does not, as some contend, excuse the intentions of the parenthesis, which is to suggest that he is not a Jewish rabbi but an unattached local teacher.” (page 118).

    And in places such as Luke’s genealogy of Jesus the names get changed in English from Greek to explain or to disambiguate–The unwitting effect is that the key figures become Christianized and the villains become less Christian and more Jewish. Does the translation “force” the translator? Barnstone himself translates otherwise to show otherwise. His translating is “brave” the way Adam’s naming is and Jesus’ parables are.

    Really, I don’t mean to accuse. But can language choices really be blamed on language?

    John may not be intending this but I think his observations about our English “of”s get at what Ken Pike calls the N-dimensionality of language (N=iNfinite).

    Mike’s proposals really are very good–so thanks for linking back. I think you’re on to something, Mike, by also wanting us to look at “all the arguments for subjective and for objective genitive. And then characterize each of them as to whether they are linguistic or theological.” What if the “linguistic” really is “theological”?

  26. David Ker says:

    JK, I’m not sure how to put your ideas into practice. How would you go about translating Romans in the way you suggest? I’m not being snide at all but sincerely curious.

  27. John says:

    JK, the choices made in the translations to disambiguate between the testaments follow the standard accepted forms of the names as found in English; even Jewish translations typically do this with the OT where more forms more like Hebrew or Aramaic could, perhaps, be used. For context of what I’m saying, it’s like the Jews laughing off the messianic Jews who insist upon calling Jesus “Yeshua” all the time; it’s not that it’s never called for, there are, in fact, great times to use Yeshua instead of Jesus in conversations with Jews, but only if one knows what the heck one’s talking about. Translations are not specifically attempting to make Jews seem like villains and English people wonderful; these days some rather attempt to censor firm words towards Jews, anything that can be perceived as anti-semitism, (despite that those passages are usually Jew-authored).

    Both Christian and Jewish communities have extensively debated, past and present, what form to render the names to translate, and both typically accept as judicious and most wise the standard forms as they have been adopted by the language, and become natural. The Jews really aren’t unaware that Jesus was a Jew, and in the event someone wants to remove any connotation of thought to the contrary perceived in some Jew, if they’re familiar with Jewish lingo, that person might drop “Yeshua” here and there…judiciously.

    Grace.

  28. J. K. Gayle says:

    David,
    Thanks for continuing a conversation – for being so inquisitive. I think Pike’s emics and etics are so valuable for the translator (especially the translator who is an outsider to a Jewish text written in Hellene to the Jew first and then to the Hellene). Isn’t it Richard Hays whose commentary makes a big deal out of the fact that theologians today (i.e., Christians in the western world) are “reading somebody else’s mail” (i.e., a Jew’s letter[s] to Hellenized Jews in Corinth, Greece). (By mentioning Hays, I’m not trying necessarily to say his views on interpreting the genitive are necessarily the best ones. I am suggesting that outsiderness is huge when considering ambiguity.)

    What’s the same and what’s different — make a world of difference when one is an outsider, no?

    I don’t know how Mike can know that “Rom. 1:17 is purposefully ambiguous.” But I do think Mike helps when he explains: “By ambiguous’ I mean it succinctly states two concepts. I don’t mean it’s unclear. The mechanics of the ambiguity work the same as a pun.” And can’t we then move beyond the “mechanics”? Things get quite personal for Paul writing to Romans (who are actually Jews and Hellenes in Rome)–being in Rome is dicey. The Romanization of religion, the Latin appropriation of Hellenisms, is a huge thing. Paul claims Roman citizenship, speaks and writes facile Greek, and is a Jew of the Jews ready (it seems) to punt the whole thing for this late-arriving mythic Joshua. Language is theo-logic and is theology. The sociolinguistic rhetoric is just mind blowing.

    There’s much that seems coded. Can’t it be that a very unique phrase like πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ is coded? Aren’t the prushim (the pharisees) outraged? Aren’t the hellene goyim amused? Aren’t the imperialists offended (to be named neither Jew nor Greek — funny how no Italian, no Roman, is marked in Paul’s language about Jesus and Jesus believers). It’s like when Barack Obama, during the primaries, was telling African American audiences, “I need you to grab your cousin pookie to vote; I need you to get Ray Ray out to vote.” Can he say that?! Is he black enough? Isn’t he ignoring the whites? How do the Japanese newspaper editors translate that? Do they flatten it by choosing one meaning, and give footnotes to explain the other meanings possible? In their monolingual context, and especially if they the Japanese are pro-Obama for some reason or are pro-Clinton or pro-Republican for other reasons, then will their translation allow the dicey-insider double meanings? Or can the Japanese reporter/translator possibly do what Ishmael Reed does when rendering D. O. Fagunwa’s Igbo Olodumare from Nigerian èdè Yorùbá into American ebonics — so that we readers get the fact that there’s an insider’s joke or two going on (and we’re not on the inside)?

    But some are going to protest that they know for certain that Paul is not intending the word plays. Even then, more is said that he may believe he wants to say. Every time I’ve done a matched-guise technique, I’ll ask listeners to declare first on a direct questionnaire what they think is the “best” language (of the ones to be listened to second in the guise). In some very interesting cases, certain populations of listeners will say something like “English is best for university study” but then they rate, for example, the French speaking professor as the best one to study under. For those who don’t know what a MGT is, doesn’t matter. The point is that people will say they intend one thing but act as if they intend another thing altogether. So even if we could ask Paul what he meant, could he really tell us?

    That’s a long answer to your short question. The short of it is the text translated best keeps us outside, humble and laughing as best we can at the puns. Or at the very least, it allows the insiders to stay inside, if we’re going to barge in on them.

  29. J. K. Gayle says:

    John,

    Barnstone is a Jew, and is one of the best translators the world has know. He doesn’t just translate Greek but also Chinese and Spanish. He’s not just a practitioner but a theoretician and a historian of translation. // On the Christian translation of the Jewish scriptures, B says by analogy that it would be very strange if translators made all Greeks the villains in the death of Plato’s Socrates and if Socrates somehow joined the tribe of the translators, appropriated as non-Greek by their own. That’s the way he looks at the issues. // Even if B were out of touch some how (he’s not), Kenneth Pike (a leader in linguistics and Bible translation) and Richard Hays (a reputable theologian) advise us outsiders to approach the text of the Bible as outsiders.

    Are these ideas too contentious? Too complicated and complicating?

    Grace, and peace. (and like David says, I don’t mean that snidely but sincerely!)

  30. Mike Sangrey says:

    J.K.Gayle wrote: What if the “linguistic” really is “theological”?

    Ok, I’ll answer your question with a question: What if the “theological” really is “linguistic”?.

    🙂

    The logical progression for me is linguistic first, then theological. But, then again, I’m often accused of having the idealism of a teenager. 🙂 In practice, we have no choice in the process of getting at the meaning to be anything but iterative, or even spiral. It’s the very nature of communication for interpretation to be influenced by the subjective. The question for me is, “What rules?” (Pun intended? 🙂 )

  31. John says:

    “this late-arriving mythic Joshua”

    Not a believer?

    “Aren’t the imperialists offended (to be named neither Jew nor Greek — funny how no Italian, no Roman, is marked in Paul’s language about Jesus and Jesus believers).”

    This isn’t too surprising: it appears at this time that unless they wanted to be more specific Jews might just call others “Greek”, (like “Gentile”); the Romans were very Greek-ish themselves; it’s like early English history: depending on who conquered who, despite that new conquerors on other parts of the island came, a conquered people called all the invaders by the name of whoever conquered them.

    “On the Christian translation of the Jewish scriptures, B says by analogy that it would be very strange if translators made all Greeks the villains in the death of Plato’s Socrates and if Socrates somehow joined the tribe of the translators, appropriated as non-Greek by their own. That’s the way he looks at the issues.”

    But that’s exactly what the NT itself does; it does not just hold those who staked his hands to the block of wood accountable, but holds all Jews culpable for His death for not believing…and His own disciples for fleeing…and all who believe for their benefit from His death…and the world for rejecting Him; each has guilt in His own way; the theology that breathes off the pages of the NT is that none will have any excuse before God especially in this, and that there is grace, mercy, salvation for those who believe. The NT does not hold the “Jewish leaders[hip]” or “the ruling Jews” or etc. accountable, but all the Jews: without apology; it’s not so much comparable to the case of Socrates (though I think I could give it a good shot if as a Lawyer I had to make that argument) because one’s a mortal, the other has to do with what God promised, brought to pass, and etc.: some of Jesus’s last free moments in Jerusalem he broadly condemns Jerusalem for not recognizing, as the OT commands, the time of His (the Messiah’s) coming.

    The real concern these days is people who make a big deal out of “the Jews killed Jesus” and go after them…despite that even the NT says it was the Father’s will; Paul himself has harsh words for the Jews and yet calls them beloved (not just for him, but true Christians in general). Anybody that misses the fact that all are held culpable for that sacrifice (whether participant, or believer, or rejecting it) is seriously missing the subtleties, and doomed; anybody also who tries to go to the other thing and use that thought to promote universalism (I bring it up because it happens) is also doomed.

  32. J. K. Gayle says:

    David said: I’m not sure how to put your ideas into practice. How would you go about translating Romans in the way you suggest? I’m not being snide at all but sincerely curious.

    ΟἼΔΑΜΕΝ ΔῈ ὍΤΙ ὍΣΑ Ὁ ΝΌΜΟΣ ΛΈΓΕΙ ΤΟῖΣ ἘΝ Τῷ ΝΌΜῼ ΛΑΛΕῖ ἽΝΑ ΠᾶΝ ΣΤΌΜΑ ΦΡΑΓῇ ΚΑῚ ὙΠΌΔΙΚΟΣ ΓΈΝΗΤΑΙ ΠᾶΣ Ὁ ΚΌΣΜΟΣ Τῷ ΘΕῷ

    ΔΙΌΤΙ ἘΞ ἜΡΓΩΝ ΝΌΜΟΥ Οὐ ΔΙΚΑΙΩΘΉΣΕΤΑΙ ΠᾶΣΑ ΣᾺΡΞ ἘΝΏΠΙΟΝ ΑὐΤΟῦ

    ΔΙᾺ ΓᾺΡ ΝΌΜΟΥ ἘΠΊΓΝΩΣΙΣ ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑΣ

    ΝΥΝῚ ΔῈ ΧΩΡῚΣ ΝΌΜΟΥ ΔΙΚΑΙΟΣΎΝΗ ΘΕΟῦ ΠΕΦΑΝΈΡΩΤΑΙ ΜΑΡΤΥΡΟΥΜΈΝΗ ὙΠῸ ΤΟῦ ΝΌΜΟΥ ΚΑῚ ΤῶΝ ΠΡΟΦΗΤῶΝ

    ΔΙΚΑΙΟΣΎΝΗ ΔῈ ΘΕΟῦ ΔΙᾺ ΠΊΣΤΕΩΣ ἸΗΣΟῦ ΧΡΙΣΤΟῦ ΕἸΣ ΠΆΝΤΑΣ ΤΟῪΣ ΠΙΣΤΕΎΟΝΤΑΣ

    Οὐ ΓΆΡ ἘΣΤΙΝ ΔΙΑΣΤΟΛΉ

    FIRST, WE SEE THAT WHAT THE LAW STATES IS STATED TO THOSE WITHIN THE LAW SO THAT EACH MOUTH CAN BE STOPPED AND THAT UNDER JUSTICE EVERYONE OF THE WORLD-ORDER CAN BE BORN TO THIS GOD.

    HENCE: “OUT OF WORKINGS OF LAW THERE CAN BE NO JUSTICE FOR ANY FLESHLY BODY IN HIS PRESENCE.”

    THROUGH LAW, IN FACT, THERE IS KNOWLEDGE ABOUT VIOLATIONS.

    NOW, SECOND, WITHOUT ANY LAW AT ALL, JUSTICE OF GOD HAS NONETHELESS APPEARED RIGHT UNDER TESTIMONY OF THE LAW AND OF THE PROPHETS:

    JUSTICE OF GOD THROUGH PROVING-BELIEF OF JOSHUA, THE ANOINTED MASHIAH, INTO EACH BELIEVER PROVEN.

    THERE IS NOT, IN FACT, ANY DIFFERENT WAY TO DRESS THIS UP.

    >David, My only commentary is that I’ve tried to make this sound as legally Greekish and as legally Jewish as I can, under the shadow of a litigious Romanish empire.

    >John, You are saying “even the NT says,” aren’t you?

  33. David Ker says:

    Excellent effort, JK. Very legalese. And I like the ambiguity in the key phrase although “into each believer proven” while an excellent attempt at pun strays into nonsense for me.

    Again, great job.

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