DIGGING DEEP 3 (Bible Translations) by Abidan Paul Shah

DIGGING DEEP – 3 (Bible Translations) by Abidan Paul Shah

Recap from last week:

  • 2 Major views of Translation: Formal Equivalent (literal/word-for-word); Functional Equivalent (idiomatic/meaning-based/dynamic)
  • Range of translation: Highly Literal, Modified Literal, Idiomatic, and Unduly Free
  • No translation is strictly one or the other (except maybe the Unduly Free). They frequently overlap, some more than others.

Difference between FORM and MEANING (From Dave Brunn’s book One Bible, Many Versions):

  • FORM includes letters, words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, etc.
  • MEANING includes concepts or thoughts from the forms

“For genuine translation to take place, 2 things must happen: The meaning must remain the same, and the form must change (at least to some degree). If either of these two things does not happen, we have not translated.” (Brunn)

How to translate words?

  • “Words” are important. They are the building block of any language, the starting point of form.
  • “Full meaning of most words does not transfer directly between two languages. Meaning should be viewed as an area and not a precise point.” (Brunn)
  • Usually, there is only a partial overlap of meanings between corresponding words between two languages.
  • A Greek word has a range of meanings and the most appropriate has to be picked in translation.
  • Many times translations are not as accurate or consistent as they should’ve been.

Case in point: Logos (Taken from Dave Brunn’s book One Bible, Many Versions)

  1. Logos has more meanings than just “word”

John 1:1 (NKJV) “In the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God, and the logos was God.”

Acts 1:1 (NKJV) “The former logos I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach.”

Romans 14:12 (NKJV) “So then each of us shall give logos of himself to God.”

1 Corinthians 1:18 (NKJV) “For the logos of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

1 Corinthians 2:1 (NKJV) “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of logos or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.”

1 Corinthians 2:4 (NKJV) “And my logos and my preaching were not with persuasive logos of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”

Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV) “Let no corrupt logos proceed out of your mouth…”

1 Timothy 1:15 (NKJV) “This is a faithful logos and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”

1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV) “…always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a logos for the hope that is in you…”

Acts 20:24 (NKJV) “But of no logos; nor do I count my life dear to myself…”

Matthew 5:32 (NKJV) “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for the logos of sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery…”

  1. Logos is more than just a “single” word

Galatians 5:14 (NKJV) For all the law is fulfilled in one logos, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Check the interesting rendering here by NASB)

John 19:7-8 (NKJV) The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.” Therefore, when Pilate heard that logos, he was the more afraid.”

  1. Guidelines for best translation of logos:
  • Literal translations use “word” most of the time for logos since it is the one that corresponds the most.
  • Idiomatic translations use the meaning that fits the context the most.

How about Revelation 22   18   For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

– Check Matthew 25:19; I Corinthians 15:2; Philippians 4:15; and Hebrews 4:13 (Logos is missing in the KJV translation because the translators were going for meaning rather than form.)

DIGGING DEEP 2 (Bible Translations) by Abidan Paul Shah

DIGGING DEEP – 2 (Bible Translations) by Abidan Paul Shah

Recap from last week:

  • Translations are still the Word of God. They’re also inspired and inerrant to the extent that they represent the original text.
  • Understand the difference between Wahy and Ilham (direct revelation vs. inspiration of the Holy Spirit)
  • There is no perfect or ultimate English Bible translation or word-for-word translation.
  • The best translation is the “modified literal.” “Modified” represents the real situation and “literal” represents the ideal goal. (Taken from Dave Brunn’s book One Bible, Many Versions: Are All Translations Created Equal?) I lean more towards the literal side of things.

How Translation Works:

 

2 Major Views of Translation:

  1. Formal Equivalent: It is also known as “literal” or “word-for-word” translation. It tries to preserve the form in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek writing. This is with regards to both word and grammar.
  2. Functional Equivalent: It is also known as “idiomatic” or “meaning-based” translation. Some have even called it dynamic. It tries to focus on the meaning, naturalness, and clarity.

The matter is more complicated than that. The following is a better Range of Translation, as taken from John Beekman and John Callow’s book, Translating the Word of God.)

 

A.  Highly Literal – The focus is on both words and word orders. For e.g. Interlinears.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Actual – Joshua 1:9 (BHS) הֲלֹ֤וא צִוִּיתִ֨יךָ֙ חֲזַ֣ק וֶאֱמָ֔ץ אַֽל־תַּעֲרֹ֖ץ וְאַל־תֵּחָ֑ת כִּ֤י עִמְּךָ֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ בְּכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר תֵּלֵֽךְ׃ פ

Literal Translation – ?·not I-instructed·you be-steadfast-you ! and·be-resolute-you ! must-not-be you-are-being-terrified and·must-not-be you-are-being-dismayed that with·you Yahweh· Elohim-of·you in·all which you-are-going

John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

Actual – ὅσοι δὲ ἔλαβον αὐτόν, ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τέκνα θεοῦ γενέσθαι, τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ,

Literal Translation – as many as   but received him   he gives   to them   right   children   of God   to be becoming   to the   ones believing   into the   name of   him.

B.  Modified Literal Translation – It focuses on words and is willing to modify the word order to make sense. For e.g. NKJV, NASB, ESV

C.  Idiomatic Translation – It focuses much more on sounding natural and clear. For e.g. NLT, God’s Word, etc.

Joshua 1:9 “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

John 1:12 “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.”

D.  Unduly Free – It changes the wording and word order, historical setting, and original context to suit the present audience. For e.g. Cotton Patch Version

Important point to remember: No translation is strictly one or the other (except maybe the Unduly Free). They frequently overlap, some more than others.

Example: Job 19:27

Hebrew – “which I I-shall-perceive for·me and·eyes-of·me they-see and·not alien-one they-are-exhausted kidneys-of·me in·bosom-of·me.”

NKJV – “Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

ESV – “Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!

NIV – “I will see Him myself; my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger. My heart longs within me.

NLT – “I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!

MESSAGE – “see God myself, with my very own eyes. Oh, how I long for that day!

KJV – “Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

DIGGING DEEP 1 (Bible Translations) by Abidan Paul Shah

DIGGING DEEP – 1 (Bible Translations) by Abidan Paul Shah

Total number of all the Bible translations in the world: Not Sure.

Old Testament: Samaritan Pentateuch, Aramaic Targums, and the Septuagint.

New Testament: Syriac, Coptic, Latin, Ethiopic, Gothic, Armenian, Georgian, Arabic, Slavonic, English, etc.

Total number of English Bible translations: According to one estimation, there are 900 and another as many as 1400. This includes translations as well as paraphrases, revisions, and partial translations.

Original Languages of the Bible: 98.5% of the OT was written in Hebrew. Parts of the OT were in Aramaic: Genesis 31:47; Jeremiah 10:11; Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; and Daniel 2:4b-7:28. Also, Jesus more than likely spoke Aramaic based on evidence of inscriptions, Aramaic words in the Gospels, Aramaic papyri evidence, etc. But, the New Testament was written in Koine Greek.

Translations are still the Word of God – translations are also inspired and inerrant to the extent they represent the original text. We believe that the original words are not isolated entities. They come together to make propositions. Hence, as long as the translations are true to the original text, they are just as much the Word of God as the original text.

Difference between the translations of the Quran and the translations of the Bible: In Islam, only the Arabic Quran is considered to be authoritative. This is the language in which it was given and the translations involve interpretation, which can be distorted. School kids are told to memorize the Quran in Arabic even in countries where Arabic is not the main language. Recitation of the Quran has to be in Arabic. Why is this? In Muslim theology there are 2 key words that are important to understand: wahy and ilham. Wahy is the pure revelation of God. It exists in heaven and everything else, including translations, is just interpretation or rendition. Ilham is God revealing his knowledge into the mind of the person. This is similar to the Biblical doctrine of inspiration. Under wahy, there is no such thing as the “original message” or “context” or the “true words” of the prophet Mohammed; the Quran is the word of God.

A good example to explain the difference between the Quran translations and the Bible translations: From Rodney Decker, “Verbal-Plenary Inspiration and Translation” – The International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Sévres, Paris, has the official International Prototype Kilogram. It is the standard against which all kilogram measures are established. But, my weight measures are still accurate.

2 Timothy 3   16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Peter 1:21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Major points to remember:

  • There is no perfect or ultimate English Bible translation.
  • There is no such thing as a word-for-word translation.
  • There is no such thing as consistent formal equivalent translation.
  • The best translation is the “modified literal.” “Modified” represents the real situation and “literal” represents the ideal goal. (Dave Brunn) In other words, “modified” acknowledges that the translators have to modify in order to reflect the best meaning. Literal is the goal of the translation.
  • Translations carry the same authority as the original text, to the extent that they reflect the original text.
  • Translations have to be constantly updated.

Couple of examples:

(Taken from Dave Brunn’s book – “One Bible, Many Versions: Are All Translations Created Equal?”)

Jeremiah 48:4  בְּנֵ֥י שָׁאֽוֹן׃  = sons of roar, crash, noise

 NKJV – “Those who fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon because of exhaustion. But a fire shall come out of Heshbon, a flame from the midst of Sihon, and shall devour the brow of Moab, the crown of the head of the sons of tumult.”

HCSB – “Those who flee will stand exhausted in Heshbon’s shadow because fire has come out from Heshbon and a flame from within Sihon. It will devour Moab’s forehead and the skull of the noisemakers.

NIV – “In the shadow of Heshbon the fugitives stand helpless, for a fire has gone out from Heshbon, a blaze from the midst of Sihon; it burns the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of the noisy boasters.”

NASB – “In the shadow of Heshbon the fugitives stand without strength; For a fire has gone forth from Heshbon and a flame from the midst of Sihon, and it has devoured the forehead of Moab and the scalps of the riotous revelers.”

 

Romans 3:20 σὰρξ = Flesh, physical body; human nature, earthly descent, human being, person, man, earthly life, etc. 

NKJV – Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

ESV For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since zthrough the law comes knowledge of sin.

HCSB For no one will be justified in His sight by the works of the law, because the knowledge of sin comes through the law.

NLT For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

MessageOur involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.

NETFor no one is declared righteous before him23 by the works of the law,24 for through the law comes25 the knowledge of sin.

NIV Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

NASBbecause by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

Hoi Polloi Podcast 11 – Biblical Words

In this episode, Abidan Paul Shah focuses on biblical words and their meanings. Often people do poor word studies and misinterpret passages. This episode will teach you to study words in their proper contexts.

For more information on Digging Deep, Clearview Church’s summer Bible study, check out the Facebook page at facebook.com/ClearviewDiggingDeep. You can also find the notes from each week on Pastor Shah’s blog.

DIGGING DEEP – 5 BY ABIDAN PAUL SHAH

DIGGING DEEP – 5 by Abidan Paul Shah

Digging Deep

Digging Deep

Some preliminary remarks about language(s):

  • It is possible to communicate God’s Word in human words without any errors.
  • Avoid claims that one language is intellectually superior to another.
  • The main purpose is to understand how the language works at a particular stage and not how it has evolved. For e.g. Grammar and glamour are related.

Recognize language families:

  • Semitic (Hebrew and Aramaic)

Our focus is Northwest Semitic, which is divided into Canaanite and Aramaic

Abraham probably spoke an ancient form of Aramaic, coming from the Aramean region, Upper Mesopotamia (Deut. 26:5)

They must have adopted a form of Canaanite that later became Hebrew.

Hebrew probably had its glory days under David and Solomon but did not spread beyond the borders of Israel.

Aramaic became an international language under the Assyrians.

Later the people of the Southern Kingdom (Judah) were taken into exile to Babylon where they adopted Aramaic.

When they returned, they kept both Hebrew and Aramaic but the later became more prominent.

98.5% of the OT was written in Hebrew. Parts of the OT were in Aramaic: Genesis 31:47; Jeremiah 10:11; Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; and Daniel 2:4b-7:28. Also, Jesus more than likely spoke Aramaic based on evidence of inscriptions, Aramaic words in the Gospels, Aramaic papyri evidence, presence of Aramaic in the Jerusalem Talmud and targums.

Hebrew can be divided into various periods: Early Biblical Hebrew (oldest poetic composition), Classical Biblical Hebrew (pre-exilic to post-exilic), Late Biblical Hebrew (Persian Period).

Hebrew almost became a dead language after the destruction of the temple and hence the Masoretes had to insert vowels into the text.

  • Indo-European (Greek)

Mycenean Greek goes back to the 13th century BC.

It was fragmented – Ionic (Western coast of Asia Minor), Attica (Athens), Aeolic (Thessaly), Doric (Corinth)

Athens became the cultural center and hence Attic played a big role in Greek literature.

Because of Alexander the Great (356-323BC), it became the lingua franca.

It went through some radical changes and became koine, the language in which the New Testament was written.

Koine is not “Holy Spirit” Greek, just common Greek of the time.

 

For our purpose of studying the Bible in depth, language can be broken down in 3 parts: 

  1. Word – is the building block of language. But, without a context, words are almost meaningless. For e.g. “Set that on the counter” and “Counter that argument.” One of the most common mistakes in word studies is “Root Fallacy” – meaning is determined by etymology (origin of the word). For e.g. “Good-bye” comes from the Anglo-Saxon “God Be With You.” But, the word “nice” comes from the Latin necius, which means “ignorant.” Other examples: bureau, express, beef, and pork.

Common Greek Misuse: “agapao” vs phileo. Agapao = divine love and phileo = brotherly love. But it is not so clear-cut. There are many overlaps. In Sam 13:15, agapao (LXX) is used for Amnon’s rape of his sister. II Tim 4:10 – Demas left Paul because he loved this present, evil world. Again, John 3:35 – Love =agapao but John 5:20 – Love = phileo.

Along with the syntax, we need literary and historical context. Also, the speech patterns of biblical Hebrew and Greek culture must determine the principles for word study. This does not mean that every root word study is useless.

  1. Sentence – It’s not enough to look at what the Bible contains but what it communicates. Sentence is a complete thought. Some cautions here as well regarding excessive use of grammatical categories. For e.g. Aorist in Romans 6:10
  1. Paragraph – Sometimes the Bible indicates where it starts and ends but many times it doesn’t. The context is key. There are many complicated tools to recognize shifts in paragraphs but just being sensitive to the context can help a lot.

 

Test Passages:

  1. Difference in meaning of the words “faith,” “works,” and “justify” as seen in Romans 4:1-5 and James 2:14-26.

 

  1. What is the place of “faith” in Mark 11:22 vs. Galatians 2:16, Acts 3:16, Colossians 2:12?

 

  1. How specific is a usage? Philippians 1:27 and Galatians 1:12

 

  1. Is this too much grammar? Matthew 7:7

 

  1. What is the flow of Romans 1:16-18?
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