Contemplating an untranslated Greek Word

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Elk, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. Elk

    Elk
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    I found a word in Matthew 18:14, a long big real word in the Greek that was simply not translated—not in the Received Text nor in the Nestle-Aband, although it was in the Greek text in both of these. There it is, but there it is not translated! This word in the Greek is
    NT:1715
    Emprosthen
    1. adverbially, in front, before: Rev 4:6
    2. it serves as a preposition, with the genitive
    a. before, i. e. in that local region which is in front of a person or a thing: Matt 5:24
    b. before, in the presence of, Matt 27:11
    c. before, i. e., in the sight of one: Matt 5:16
    d. before, denoting rank: John 1:15,30
    Please take some time to look up these verses, and you will see how they are used in the Bible text, and it is a significant word.
    This totally surprised me! I wondered why this word was not translated, and so I went on a quest to find out which English Bible translated it. I found two cases. The Young’s Literal Translation used it, but it was so weird that one could not make any sense of it. The second was in NASB, it was not in the text, but in the footnotes, and there also one would never guess on how to insert it into the text.
    And there I sat wondering why this long word was not even translated in the Greek, in the Greek interlinear, let alone in any of the main translations. I did recently come across a printed interlinear that shows it, and it simply says “before”.
    Let us put this word Emprosthen (meaning in front or before) in and just see how it would read. Well, at least in my opinion.


    10 "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11["For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.]12 "What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? 13 "If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. 14 "So it is not the will of your Father *before or in front of you* who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.15 "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. 17 "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 "Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. 19 "Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst."
    Now some of you readers would get very touchy about my placement of that word in this verse, but here it is in the Greek word-for-word…
    Even so not it is will in front or before the Father your which is in heaven, that should perish one the little of these
    Notice that in Greek, the nouns and verbs are reversed in comparison on how we place things in English. Once one reads the Greek interlinears for a while, one can grasp how the words are to be sorted.
    I may not have this correct, but when I look at the entire text here, I see that it indeed makes sense in light of verse 18:11 and comparing verses 18:19-20 together. I could see that it may be translated, this word, in front of will, but in context, does it really make sense??? So...

    What is Jesus saying? Or even why is this word not translated? And as we look at the verse 18:11…can we honestly say that it is to be omitted and placed in the footnotes?
    Was 18:11 deliberately removed? And again, why not translate all the words in the Greek to English? I would appreciate them exactly as they are.
    For that matter, we can also check on John 3:13. Was the last part of the verse “who is in heaven” omitted as well for the same reasons? For most new Bibles do not even include it as a footnote.
    John 3:13
    13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. NKJV



    Just thoughts as when I look at the context of these verses, particularly as it wraps up in 19 and 20, I can see where it makes sense.
    I would love to hear from any Greek experts on this verse. Thanks so kindly.
     
  2. Deacon

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    θέλημα ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ πατρὸς

    will – of – the – father

    Our word “of” is the translation.

    Rob
     
  3. franklinmonroe

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    The Greek word emprosthen (Strong's #1715) is rendered in the KJV as "before" 41 times of 48 total occurrences in the NT; additionally, it is translated as "in the sight of"/"in (one's) sight" three times, "against" just once, "in the presence of" only once, "at" a single time, and as Rob correctly stated, it is represented as "of" here at Matthew 18:14.
     
    #3 franklinmonroe, Aug 21, 2008
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  4. John of Japan

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    Actually, I have to go with Elk on this one. I assume you guys are looking at an interlinear where emprosthen comes up as "of," since my PowerBible program does that. However, in the Greek you have a genitive phrase after emprosthen which is tou patroV umwn, and would produce the rendering "of your father." So emprosthen is not translated with "of" here.

    According to good old A. T. Robertson, "The use of emprosthen with thelêma is a Hebraism." So the KJV translators decided not to translate the emprosthen, thinking the meaning was clear enough. An overly literal translation might say, "Just so, it is not the will of your Father before him..." with the "him" being supplied by the translator, of course. Or, you could add redundency by saying, "the will of your Father in His sight...." So you have a choice. Don't translate emprosthen since it is a Hebrew idiom, or add a word or two in English and make more sense.
     
    #4 John of Japan, Aug 21, 2008
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  5. Deacon

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    The Hebraism mentioned by Robertson runs something like, “favor before God”, we’d commonly say “favor of God”.

    The Theological Dictionary of the NT notes: “... a courtly mode of address taken over by later Judaism from the courtly language of the Near East corresponding to the idea of the glory of the divine throne”.

    This “it is the will before Yahweh” corresponds exactly to the θέλημα ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν of Mt. 18:14 …
    [TDNT Vol. 2, Page 745]

    Rob
     
  6. Elk

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    Idiom readjustments

    Hello. I see that more and more with so called "idioms".
    Translators always having to do us a favor and tell us what they mean, instead of just translating it as it is.
    I see that in John 1:18...I do not think there are two English Bibles that have translated that verse exactly. I copied that out one from all kinds of translations, and there was not a single one that matched another exactly, worse, most try to tell us what it means instead of just translating it as is.
    Bugs me, man.

    Grin.

    And who has the authority to call it as such anyway?
    Who is to say that that is not literal?
    I tend to be a Bible literalist, so I have a problem with some of these interpretations all right.

    Just like how did "bosom" in John 1:18 ever get to be the "side" or "near" or such phrases.

    I think these kind of liberties do great harm to the understanding of the Bible.
     
  7. Deacon

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    Seeing the way the NT writers translated the OT is an interesting study in itself.

    There are many different ways to translate, word-for-word literalism is only one of them;
    and it wasn't the primary method in the NT.

    Rob
     
  8. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Hi, Elk.

    It is not always possible to translate an idiom literally without completely changing the meaning. Here are my notes (made elsewhere) on translating idioms:

    Idioms are notoriously difficult to translate. I believe putting Greek idioms into Japanese while preserving the original meaning is one of the hardest tasks I have.

    Consider. I once heard an American pitcher for a Japanese pro baseball team being interviewed after his win. He used the term "hairy," as in, "I had a hairy time there in the 5th inning." Now, would you translate that literally, the word kedarake in Japanese? You would end up with, "I had hair all over me in the 5th inning." What, did you stop pitching and let the catcher cut your hair? Did you suddenly turn into a monkey? This English idiom must be translated by a plain word meaning "difficult" in Japanese or by an equivalent idiom meaning "difficult."

    When translating idioms, the exact meaning of the idiom in the original is what is most important. An idiom is "any expression peculiar to a language, conveying a distinct meaning, not necessarily explicable by, occasionally even contrary to, the general accepted grammatical rules." (Dictionary of Linguistics, Mario Pei & Frank Gaynor, p. 95). In other words, often when you translate an idiom in a strictly literal rendering, the meaning changes and you have failed as a translator.

    As a Bible translator, here are my own principles for translating an idiom. Translate idioms directly in cases where the meaning comes across clearly in the receptor language. When the meaning of an idiom does not make sense in the receptor language, find an equivalent idiom or phrase to reproduce the meaning of the original.
     
  9. franklinmonroe

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    The Greek word literally rendered here may have resulted in "... it is not the will before your Father which is in heaven...", or perhaps the AV men had considered "... it is not the will in front of your Father which is in heaven..." which was essentially reduced to "... it is not the will (in front) of your Father which is in heaven..."; that is, emprosthen is now represented by the English word "of" alone.
     
    #9 franklinmonroe, Aug 22, 2008
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  10. John of Japan

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    Sorry, franklinmonroe. Nice try but I can't buy it. If emprosthen becomes "of," then what does the genitive of "the Father" become? It remains untranslated, even though "of the Father" is the normal meaning of tou patros. In fact, how could you translate it any other way than "of the Father"?
     
  11. Rippon

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    JoJ, I agree with you here.Have you changed your mind?I'll have to review your posts from old threads.Perhaps it was the issue of idioms in Psalms.I had said that idioms constituted about 25% or so;you thought it was far less.
    That last paragraph of yours would be in harmony with the principles of translation in the TNIV and NLTse -- among other Bibles BTW.

    Meaning-based translation (MBT) -- that's a departure from the more FE-oriented methodology you used to espouse.
     
  12. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Nope, haven't changed. Sorry. :smilewinkgrin:
    This may have been what I posted before on that thread, I don't remember. I had written it before and it was germane.
    Actually, it just makes sense, no matter what your translation method is. I read something recently not too far from this in Nida's Toward a Science of Translating. An idiom is an idiom is an idiom, and you have to do something with it.
    Not really. I still look for the straight transformation (ala transformational grammar) as per optimal equivalence. And as for meaning-based translation, that's a misleading term, because it is what all translation is. If you are not translating meaning you are not translating. The questions (and the differences) are: (1) how close do you stick to the form of the original, and (2) do you put authorial intent ahead of reader comprehension?
     

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