Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Things to Click

Over at Clayboy, Doug Chaplin asks what should we call the Old Testament/First Testament/Hebrew Bible. In my academic works I tend to refer to "Israel's sacred texts and traditions" because the canon was not closed for most Jews and there was a fluidity of texts and editions around. Also, Old/First Testament presupposes a Christian canonical framework, which I think can be used in its proper place, but not in the descriptive historical area. Even "Hebrew Bible" is a bit misleading and anachronistic since it contains it contains Aramaic and ANE loan words and "Bible" itself is a modern term. I think a bigger question is what do we call the Jewish literature written after the OT and before the NT (whoops, I lapsed into the old language again). Do we call it "intertestamental literature" or "post-biblical literature" or something else?

Over at Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight reflects on the new translation the Common English Bible. I know for a fact that the 1 Esdras translation is absolutely brilliant, the best in English around (I do have insider info on that one!). A big point of discussion is that the CEB translates tou huiou tou anthropou (i.e. the Son of Man) as "the Human One". This is not entirely new. In the Scholars Bible (by Robert Funk et al.) the phrase is translated as "Son of Adam" and Herman C. Waetjen in his under read but useful Mark commentary A Re-Ordering of Power: A Socio-Political Reading of Mark's Gospel translates it as "the Human Being". Do we translate the words or a possible semitic idiom behind the words?

Over at the Institute, Anthony Bradley has a great post on Glenn Beck confusion and why Christian leaders are unable to offer a viable alternative to him.

Over at Vorsprung durch Theologie, David Kirk reflects on his time studying on 1 Corinthians.


Tyler Stewart said...


I am of the opinion that we should let phrases stand as much as possible. I am against over translating idioms. Obviously, this requires careful judgment. I'm not suggesting that every time a translator comes across the Hebrew word for "face" he ignore its idiomatic use as "presence" or whatever its particular nuance, but that when the meaning can be understood it is helpful for the reader to do the work of reading the idiom idiomatically.

I think this is especially the case when the idiom is debatable. One example that comes to mind is the NIV's translation of sarx as "sinful nature." In this case, theology has dictated an idiomatic rendering when a simple translation will do. I thinks this helps non-original language readers to appreciate the significance of context.

Those are my thoughts on your question. What do you think?

andrewbourne said...

A thought to say Israel`s writings and traditions suggest a Northern Kingdom bias plus a misunderstanding that the majority of these writings have been developed after the Exile when neither Judea or Israel existed. Can we not respect what those traditions of these writings call them Tanakh

jeff miller said...

interesting post and comments. I too would rather see an idiom transliterated with all its difficulty, over against a mis-translated just happens that in the case of "son of man" I always find myself mentioning "the human" as a great way to understand what sense this title probably carried with it.
Thanks for the post,