λόγος can refer to a "word," or a series of words (i.e., "statement"), or in a much larger sense to the matter to which the words refer. So what were the disciples not to talk about after Jesus' transfiguration?
I received an email the other day that reminded me that we all need to remind ourselves to have a little humility in doing our Greek exegesis. I'm not talking about arrogance as the opposite of humility, but humble caution. The question had to do with the translation of three participles in Mark 16:16, and why the NASB is the only translation to get it “right,” and why the other translations got it “wrong.”
When the Greek is ambiguous, it is always nice to maintain that ambiguity in English. But usually you can’t and you have to make a decision. However, in this verse the ambiguity is essential to the meaning of both the verse and the passage.
If you translate word-for-word in Acts 6:2, you miscommunicate. The Apostles were not wanting to stop being waiters, they weren't asking to stop “waiting on tables.” They understand that their "service" is different." They understand that their "service" is different.
2 Tim 1:3–5 is one long Greek sentence, and it illustrates the dangers of breaking up a long Greek sentence into shorter English sentences, and also the danger of connecting the phrases merely sequentially. Why was Paul so thankful, despite the fact of his imprisonment and coming execution?
When Greek lays out a sequence of events, it tends to use anarthrous participles followed by an indicative verb. The question for the student is how to translate the participle into proper English. In our passage, the participle is actually telling us why the false teachers turned aside to error.
This is a rather technical blog on the nature of Greek appositional constructions. I imagine I lost many of you with that first sentence, but the distinction between the two forms is important exegetically. If you read "x of y," is "y" the same thing as "x" or is "y" explaining something about "x"?
When the woman answers Jesus, "Yes, Lord," is she agreeing or disagreeing? Most translations use an adversative like "but" for the following γάρ even though that gloss does not appear in the lexicon. Are they right to do so?
The present tense can describe anything from a single point in time to an imperfective action to an action devoid of any time significance. It is the difference between "I study" and "I am studying." In our passage, there is a significant difference, in fact a life and death significance, between the two.
The Greek word ὁ is much more than what we call the “definite article.” Depending on context, it can function as a demonstrative or a possessive pronoun. In this verse, it is called an “anaphoric” article.
Paul tells Timothy that the church and care for widows you are truly windows. A few verses later he says that the widow who the church should care for is the woman who is truly in need “and” (καί) is left all alone. The question is whether the καί is repeating the first requirement or adding a second.
It can be very disconcerting for people who do not know Greek to look at an interlinear Bible and not see any Greek word under an English word. Are the translators adding to God’s word? Case in point is 1 Timothy 3:11 and the question as to whether Paul is speaking of deacons’ wives or deaconesses.
Romans 8:28 can be a source of comfort; it can also be a challenge, especially for people in the midst of pain and disappointment. However, sometimes people struggle with a misunderstanding of the verse, thinking that they have to believe that every single thing that happens is good. Is it?
Dynamic equivalent translations are not overly concerned with concordance, i.e., translating the same Greek word with the same English word. But if it is possible to find the right English word that matches all the different uses of the Greek word, it can be a good thing. Yet that task can be more difficult than you might think. And the Greek of Acts 7:19 is a bit treacherous.
Many people do not use certain gender terms properly, which creates confusion in the discussion of translation theory. What is “gender neutral,” “gender inclusive,” and “gender accurate"? Why is this even an issue?
Is it more accurate to translate word-for-word, or to translate phrase-by-phrase? Some argue the former, but in truth it isn't possible. Meaning is conveyed primarily by phrases, and words gain their specific meaning in the context of the phrase. So accuracy has more to do with the phrase than the individual words.
People often lump functional equivalent translations like the NIV with natural language translations like the NLT, and then critique the former based on the latter. But these are two distinctly different translation theories and should be kept separate, although obviously they share much in common.
"Formal Equivalent Translation" try to translate word-for-word as much as possible, and shift to translating meaning when necessary. This gives the impression of being an "accurate" translation. But the simple fact of the matter is that no translation goes word-for-word in a single verse in the Bible. The nature of language doesn't allow it.
As you get into Greek, you will find that the grammar is not always correct. Sometimes, like in Revelation, the grammar can be explained by the fact that John is in an ecstatic state and the grammar irregularities enhance the message. But even in non-apocalyptic literature, you will find that the grammar rules are not always followed. This should not affect your view of inspiration. All good writers violate grammar, periodically, for effect, or for other reasons.
People often say there are two forms of translation, "formal" and "functional." One is more "word-for-word" and the other is more "thought-for-thought." This is not accurate. There are actually five, and a truly "literal" Bible is not really a biblical translation at all.
Since a word in one language does not line up exactly with a word in another language, translation is often a matter of choosing one meaning or the other, which generally means some information is lost. It also means all translations are interpretive. Words have what is called a "semantic range," a breadth of meaning. They don't have one "literal" meaning. In this passage, is Paul saying Timothy is his legitimate child or genuine child? Is Paul talking about Timothy's legal status or character?
I am starting a short series of blogs on what I have learned about translation since joining the Committee on Bible Translation, which controls the text of the NIV. In this first posting I am discussing my dislike of the word "literal."
When you have one preposition and two objects, the writer is telling you, in a very nuanced way, that you should be viewing the two objects as a single entity. Not identical, but in some way functioning as one. So when a single preposition governs both "God" and "Christ," what is Paul saying?