Pet Peeve of the Day

I’ve been on a Textus Receptus kick lately, so I’ve been doing my Bible reading in the New King James, since it’s the only modern translation based on the TR.  I can’t quite make myself dig straight into thees and thous.  But today in my reading, I come across 2 Timothy 2:17:

And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort.

Really?  Cancer?  I’m having a hard time believing Paul knew much about the spreading of cancer.  Totally pulls me out of the text.  So now, I’m looking it up… KJV says, “canker,” which at least sounds more legit, and is possibly where the cancer thing came from.  My KJV has glosses from the Revised Standard Version for some reason, and the RSV says “gangrene”.

Now I’m on a mission.  New Living Translation says “cancer.” Wuest says “cancer.”  What is with these people? NIV says “gangrene,” a surprising relief.  New English Trans. says “gangrene”;  So does Young’s and Mounce’s. The Message says, “accumulate like poison,” because why not?

The Greek word is γάγγραινα, which means… gangrene.  Literally.  That’s all it means.  You can even make that out by looking at the shape of the Greek word. I have no idea what cankers or cancer has to do with it.  Gangrene spreads rapidly, has no incubation period, and isn’t limited to unsightly spots on your upper lip.  It has to be cut out immediately or the patient will die.  This is clearly the image that Paul was aiming at.  

And this is why I get frustrated with Bible translations and translators.  They need to just. translate. the text.  As much as possible, leave the interpretation to the reader.  If the original is vague, make your translation vague.  Because if you help me out, and I catch you, all it will do is undermine my confidence.

What Did Paul Really Say about Slavery? | Dr. Platypus

What Did Paul Really Say about Slavery? | Dr. Platypus.

This article (three deep, I’m afraid!) is less interesting than you’d hope for. It’s interesting that Luther pushed the meaning of “calling” in the wrong way because he didn’t want people thinking that they had to become monks to please God. And it’s interesting that translation has been a little off on this word (particularly for 1 Cor. 7) ever since. But I’d never heard of an uber-conservative Paul who wanted everyone to stay exactly where they were at. That’s a different religion entirely. People who convert, by definition, don’t stay where they’re at.

At the same time, the guy undermines any arguments he wants to make from here about slavery because he leaps off the text in favor of “of course nobody should be a slave! slavery is awful!” To which I supply, of course slavery is awful, but Paul was also clearly not preaching la revolucion! either. Anybody who unhesitatingly tells an engaged man to stay single probably wouldn’t bat an eye at telling slaves to stay slaves.

Meanwhile, the author takes Paul to task and tells us where he went wrong. Frankly, anybody who is willing to say Paul was wrong in the text of scripture probably isn’t somebody I’d trust to properly interpret the scripture.

Aw, Come on!

Reading in 1 Samuel today, and I come to the passage in chapter 15 where Samuel has to come to Saul and tell him that God has rejected him as king. Samuel says, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.” Then, six verses later, the text says, “And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.”

I mean, come on! Six verses between “God doesn’t regret” and “God regrets”? I don’t care what your theories are on how or by whom the bible was written. The guy who put that in there had to see that coming. I mean, really.

I’m reading the ESV, and I don’t really have the time to go looking to see what other translations put down, much less try to look up the Hebrew, so I’m stuck having to parse out all on my own in what sense God does regret and in what sense he doesn’t.

When Avoiding Inclusive Language Becomes Mistranslation

When Avoiding Inclusive Language Becomes Mistranslation.

It’s always possible to get that modifier in the wrong place, but that’s also the danger of Hebrew in general, since it expects the reader to think.

I never can get past reading a verse that I would never be allowed to write, and yet which makes perfect sense as long as you don’t deliberately misconstrue: “Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” I mean, how hard is it to figure out which him is He and which is him?

What it is to Translate

I’m crossing my fingers and making another attempt at reading Calvin’s Institutes, this time the Henry Beveridge translation, which seems to actually be easier to read than the Ford Lewis Battles translation. I’m not sure if this is because Beveridge was a better translator than Battles, or if the publishers at Henderickson (whose edition I’m using) decided to provide the extra service of inserting more periods. Either way, the sentences are easier to read, because they’re shorter.

I come, however, across this passage on translating from the Preface of the original translation by Thomas Norton:

For I dared not presume to warrant myself to have his meaning without his words. And they that know what it is to translate well and faithfully, especially in matters of religion, do know that not only the grammatical construction of words suffices, but the very building and order to observe all advantages of vehemence or grace, by placing or accent of words, makes much to the true setting forth of a writer’s mind.

In the end, I rested upon this determination, to follow the words so near as the phrase of the English tongue would suffer me. …

Norton has been talking about how terse Calvin’s Latin original is. Calvin packed a lot of meaning into the original, and Norton found that the goal of putting out the same meaning in English required either a lot more words or a book that was a lot harder to read. His solution was to hue close to a word-for-word translation.

But what catches me is is phrase that “those that know what it is to translate well and faithfully” know that following the precise word order is important. Apparently the folks who prefer to translate in paraphrase know no such thing. Recent translation research proves otherwise.