Bible Translation: January 2006 Archives

Questions from Bruce

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Bruce Meyer left the following comment:

Hi Jeremy (and others, is that right?). I was reading some parts of the Bible today that caught my eye, and I wondered what's going on here. Since you're the resident expert on All Things Commentaried, I thought I would run them by you.

Proverb 25:23 says, a backbiting tongue brings forth angry looks. My reaction is, ooh, I'm scared, not. What else is going on here? Maybe it's the Evil Eye, a virtually effective curse?

The other one is Revelation 3:18, Jesus says "I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich..." OK, it's not literal. Assuming it's not trivial, perhaps Christ is urging the comfortably lukewarm to dig deeper, and get the real thing, not the minimally acceptable qualities that a baptized Christian needs to not get kicked out. But is there more here, do you think? Thanks.

I responded in the same comment thread, but I've moved my response now to this post.

As I was catching up on some old posts that I'd saved in my RSS reader to come back to later, I stumbled upon a fun and informative post by Tyler Williams called Dogs, Urine, and Bible Translations: On the Importance of Translating Connotative Meaning. It involves Jesus giving attitude to his mother, dentistry in Amos, and pissing in the KJV. See also his earlier post Going Potty in Ancient Times that isn't about language.

(For those unfamiliar with the reference, the title of this post comes straight out of the KJV. Read Tyler's post for the context and for what it amounts to. I have to wonder what KJV-onlies who think 'piss' is a dirty word think about this one. Or maybe they just aren't reading their Bibles.)

Better Bibles Blog has three recent posts worth reading. Wayne Leman tackles the singular 'they' and 'them' in contemporary English with respect to inclusive-language translation. Read the comments, too. At one point he lists some very old uses of the singular 'they', including one going back to Chaucer in the 14th Century. This isn't some recent innovation.

Also, Peter Kirk decided to look into whether J.I. Packer's support for the ESV and criticisms of the TNIV amount to the kind of ideological rage that others who have criticized the TNIV have engaged in. He finds that Packer is much more balanced and simply doesn't like the way the TNIV does things but hasn't been calling it inaccurate or some of the other nonsense that has passed for a concern for purity in Bible translation. I hadn't looked into Packer's particular role in this discussion, so I'm relieved to hear this. He does soften his conclusion a bit in the comments, but I think where Packer is on this is much healthier than the position of some notable others.

Suzanne McCarthy isolates an interesting translation issue that has spawned a whole translation, the use of language that assumes knowledge of church history and current church practice, in A Non-Ecclesiastical Bible.

Also, not at the Better Bibles Blog, Kenny Pearce discusses the theological significance of linguistic facts. I agree with those who dismiss the idea, defended by Wayne Grudem and Vern Poythress, that facts about inclusive language in any particular language should be taken to illustrate a theological truth. But some of the issues Kenny points out soften the more general claim that some people use to support the dismissal of the Grudem-Poythress view.

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