Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Greetings from South Africa

We have been having a great month in South Africa. Vacationing with some YWAM friends. Teaching the Pastorals in two schools. Visiting two game parks and photographing all the wild animals. It is an amazing thing to sit in a “lorrie” 5 feet from two sleeping lions.

Before I get to Greek, I did want to share perhaps my favorite thing I learned about wild dogs, or more correctly, “painted wolves.” Only the alpha male and alpha female have pups, and the pack accepts the responsibility of raising them. If any member of the pack is hurt, unlike most animals the pack will not leave that dog. Broken leg or whatever, the pack stays with the injured animal until it is healed. What a wonderful picture of what the church could be. Not that only the pastor can have children ;-), but that the whole group accepts the responsibility of caring for all the individual members and wouldn’t leave any behind.

In the course of teaching Titus, I came across a great example of the dangers of breaking a long Greek sentence into multiple English sentences and in the process miss translating the connecting word.

Titus 2:3-4 in the NIV reads, “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good (καλοδιδασκάλους). Then (ἵνα) they can urge (σωφρονίζωσιν) the younger women to love their husbands and children.” The problem is that the new sentence disconnects “teach” from “urge,” and “then” is too weak of a  translation of ἵνα. The Greek is explicit that they teach (and perhaps the earlier qualities in the sentence) “in order that” they can urge them to love.

I understand that the force of ἵνα can be weakened under specific circumstances (definition #2 in BDAG), but I don’t think that applies in this situation. One of the good things the older women are to teach the younger women is that they should love.

The NASB is okay with longer sentences and so it reads, “teaching what is good, so that they may encourage” (see also the ESV, HCSB, NRSV). The NET puts a sentence break at the end of v 3: “teaching what is good. In this way they will train.” The footnote on “way” reads, “Grk “that they may train” (continuing the sentence of 2:3).”

The NLT is unacceptable at this point, missing the connection altogether. “Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women.” The KVJ also, surprisingly, misses the point: “teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women,” although the change in punctuation in the NKJV does help. “teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women.”

I understand there are times we must shorten a painfully long Greek sentence in translation, but it must be done with the utmost caution as it can often separate thoughts that were meant to be kept together.