Hermeneutics and the goal of Concordance

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Van, Jul 26, 2011.

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  1. Van

    Van
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    I believe all modern translations have all utter failed to faithfully translate the Bible because they translate the same Greek word into many English words, obliterating the actual message of scripture.

    I make this charge not based on any expertise, I do not even understand basic Greek grammar. I simply look at my Exhaustive Concordance, which tells me how each Greek word is translated, and I see the same word being translated into dozens of English words, but it appears to me that only a few, 4 or less, could be used.

    So my first question is why the lack of concordance? My only guess is it may be the result of “pre computer” editing, or lack thereof. I think those who know how to translate should whittle down the variations, because I believe a very different and easily understood Bible would emerge.

    I presented my observation to John of Japan, and he suggested I start a thread on this subject. So here goes:

    Lets take the Greek preposition “ek” which means “out of”, “from” or “away from”, and “by”. It is used to show the point of origin of an action (place, time or cause.) Thus the English word “of” means much the same thing.

    Apparently the word appears over 900 times in the KJV text, but only 61 times in the NAS text. “Ek” is translated into 25 English words in the NAS. Lets look at a few of them and see if we can substitute one of the following: (1) of: (2) out of: (3) from: (4) since, and (5) away from.

    Matthew 7:9 reads (NASB95) “ Or what man is there among you who when his son asks for a loaf will give him a stone.” Why not a more literal translation which would read,

    “Or what man is of you whom his son will ask for a loaf, he will not give him a stone will he?” Note the change from “among” to “of” which shifts the meaning. Among points to physical location, one of the group of men standing there, whereas “of” points to type of man based on location.

    Why not translate “ek” as “among?” Because another preposition, “en” means in and therefore means among.

    One more example: Luke 11:13, which reads (NASB95) If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

    But “your” is not in the text and so a more literal translation would be “…more will the Father of heaven give….” And again “heavenly” is an attribute of behavior, or can be understood that way, whereas the Father of heaven clearly designates the entity in view.

    In summary, I believe the translators of old, mistakenly have taken a shotgun to the text. And we, with our computer sort and search capacity, should fix it ASAP!
     
  2. Mexdeaf

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    Not to be facetious, but that's the problem right there.
     
  3. Van

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    My view is that it is the biblical translations that have the problem of a lack of concordance.

    Now one may argue that a lack of concordance is not a problem, so Calvinism. They think it is ok to pick and choose from a large pallet of possible words and choose the one that agrees with their overall understanding of doctrine. I say that violates a basic hermeneutic.
     
    #3 Van, Jul 26, 2011
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  4. TCGreek

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    You're correct. Hopefully he is open to seeing things differently.
     
  5. Van

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    I am open to discussing specifics associated with the topic, but not open folks who post generalized disparagements, devoid of actual content.
     
  6. Mexdeaf

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    1. To limit a word to a singular meaning while ignoring the context would not be wise.

    2. The KJV translators said this:

    “Another things we think good to admonish thee of (gentle Reader) that we have not tied ourselves to an uniformity of phrasing, or to an identity of words, as some peradventure would wish that we had done , because they observe, that some learned men somewhere, have been as exact as they could that way...
    “Lastly, we have on the one side avoided the scrupulosity of the Puritans, who leave the old Ecclesiastical words, and betake them to other, as when they put WASHING for BAPTISM, and CONGREGATION instead of CHURCH: as also on the other side we have shunned the obscurity of the Papists, in their AZIMES, TUNIKE, RATIONAL, HOLOCAUSTS, PRAEPUCE, PASCHE , and a number of such like, whereof their late Translation is full, and that of purpose to darken the sense, that since they must needs translate the Bible, yet by the language thereof, it may be kept from being understood. But we desire that the Scripture may speak like itself, as in the language of Canaan, that it may be understood even of the very vulgar.”

    3. And further:

    “Some peradventure would have no variety of senses to be set in the margin, lest the authority of the Scriptures for deciding of controversies by that show of uncertainty, should somewhat be shaken. But we hold their judgment not to be sound in this point. ...doth not a margin do well to admonish the Reader to seek further, and not to conclude or dogmatize upon this or that peremptorily? For as it is a fault of incredulity, to doubt of those things that are evident: so to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left (even in the judgment of the judicious) questionable, can be no less than presumption.


     
  7. TCGreek

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    You need some thick skin, man.
     
  8. humblethinker

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    Coming from a KJVO/TRO background I have a measure of empathy for what you are saying here. I am not qualified to speak authoritatively about translations or the original languages. However, after doing much study about the KJVO/TRO issue I do think that the more common english bibles that we have are an faithful representation of the greek text. I think someone trained in linguistics and modern language translation would be able to give us some good ideas as to the difficulties that they run into.

    It might be an easier task to get everyone to agree on an original language text (NA27 vs TRO vs MT) than to get everyone to agree to what you have suggested.

    Also, versions that were translated during the 'computer editing' age would be: NASB 1995, NET 2005, NIV 2011, ESV 2001, KJV2000 2000 and others. Are they not good enough? Can you give some specific instances where what you are proposing would correct some innacurate doctrinal issues?
     
  9. JesusFan

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    Think a modern 'reputable" english translation is in may superior to the KJV, but that aside, isn't it also true that regardless IF holds to TR/CT/MT etc as text source, that english Bibles agree roughly 95 % of the time, and NO major doctrines are affected regardless which reputable English version is your preference to use?
     
  10. humblethinker

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    :thumbsup:I agree with all you have to say here. That percentage is what I've heard as well.
     
  11. Van

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    I do not think the OP proposed limiting the range of SL meanings to one. In my examples they had three or four meanings.

    I know a whole lot of posts have been posted concerning how much better the CT is than TR and vice versa, but I think that is much ado about nothing. The differences mentioned are usually nits, and do not affect the message. If we boiled it down to significant differences, it would be a manageable amount when I think the CT would carry the day.

    On the other hand I think the shotgun approach, translating a work like "of" into 25 different words works against understanding the message. The premise that some of this might be required by grammar beyond my understanding is certainly possible, but I see the argument basically as an excuse for the status quote, and a failure to recognize the problem.
     
  12. Mexdeaf

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    Ok, then I misread you and I apologize for that, but I still don't see how this will "solve" anything.
     
  13. glfredrick

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    Van, we got into this discussion a while back, and as i recall, I gave you over 30 "usages" for the word "run." I also recall that you never answered that post...

    Words don't have a SINGLE definition, not even in the Bible. They have a usage in context that scholars work hard to discover. That is why a concordance is just the very beginning point to understanding what it is that any given word in the original languages is saying, and also why errors are made in doctrine -- they being driven by a mindset that any particular word can ONLY mean this and not also that.

    Note the "in context" issue... I believe that you are correct to rail against using this or that definition of any given word at any given time. That is not how it works! In context means that a word will be used the way that the pericope surrounding that term requires the term to be understood.

    Just as the English word "day" (as well as the Hebrew word "yom") can mean a literal 24-hour period of time, it can also mean an age, such as, "Back in the day..." which most would understand from context means a period of time in history, not July 24, 1992 or some other particular date.

    Using, "I have to run..." could mean several things. I have to strap on some specialized shoes and enter a track, where I compete in a footrace, or simply, "I'm leaving now." Ad an "s" to the sentence, as in, "I have the runs..." and it means something else entirely that is not even closely related to anything like foot movement, save that "running" to a toilet is in order to deal with the "runs" that one might be experiencing.

    Your unwillingness to allow the Hebrew and Greek of the Scriptures to have this same level of idiomatic freedom is symptomatic of your statement above, "I make this charge not based on any expertise, I do not even understand basic Greek grammar."

    You can actually remedy that situation with some effort, and from all appearances, you appear to be fully capable of doing so.
     
  14. Van

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    Hi Gilfredrick, I have a faint recollection of your post but have no idea of the thread and post number. Please provide an example of your point again.

    Next you address a single meaning, when my post referenced a limited range of meanings. Please address the actual topic.

    We agree with the hermeneutic of contextual analysis. But that must fall within the pallet of actual word meanings. As I recall your contention was the same author would use the same word to mean opposites. That dog will not hunt.

    I did not challenge the range of meanings found in the lexicons, but I do challenge that a word that has two or three meanings should be translated into a dozen different English words. And I certainly disagree that the full range of meanings found in a lexicon makes any of them appropriate, we should still try to us the same or similar meanings when the context allows. For example John uses "world" to refer to fallen mankind or the corrupt system of fallen mankind, and not eight or nine divergent meanings.
     
    #14 Van, Jul 26, 2011
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  15. Van

    Van
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    If we look at Luke 11:54 we see modern translations rendering a figure of speech, "something out of his mouth" as "something he might say." My contention is if the Greek reads "something out of his mouth" then that is how it should be translated. Why assume we know what the idea is and put our words in the inspired author's mouth. Why not footnote the phrase and explain in a marginal note that it refers to words and ideas, not spit or vomit. I believe all these "helpful" translators simply corrupt the text.
     
  16. Van

    Van
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    If we look at John 6:66, we see the NASB reads "As a result of this, many of his disciples....

    But the Greek reads "Out of this many of his disciples....

    So again "ek" which means "out of" is translated as "as a result". It would be so refreshing to read a faithful translation without all the "helpful" corruptions based on trying to make the supposed idea more clear. That is why we have commentaries.
     
  17. Van

    Van
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    If we look at John 9:32 we see "since the beginning of time it was never heard" in the NASB when the Greek reads "Out of the age it was never heard" Here we see the translators adding to the idea expressed. Now they may be right, but lets stick to the actual words, and put this insight in a footnote.
     
  18. Mexdeaf

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    I hate to say it but I think you are on your own on this one. Be blessed.
     
  19. TCGreek

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    I couldn't say it better myself.
     
  20. glfredrick

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    Not worth looking up, and I've covered the main points here again for that reason. Words have usages, and those usages are directed by context, not by a dictionary or concordance.

    Red can mean a color, or it can mean a certain political leaning. Not exactly opposites (and I don't recall suggesting that any particular word can have a completely opposite meaning -- that is rather a contrived strawman call) but widely separated in concept.

    Water can be a noun or a verb. Context is the only way to know. I can tell my kiddo to water plants or I can ask him to use the hose to place some water on plants. Same concept, but the actual word "water" is used in completely different ways, as one is noun and one is verb.

    I am on topic. Every word has a range of usages not a single one. That is my point, to which you agree, with one exception that I will cover below.

    Of course a word will fall within the hermeneutic of contextual analysis and within actual word USAGES (not meanings). I did not content that the same author would use the same word to mean opposites, but perhaps a different (human) author might use the same word to mean opposites. Historically, as usages differ in every age, some words have indeed become their opposite in usage, which a comparison with Webster's early dictionary and a modern version will quickly confirm. This is part of why a translation done several hundred years ago may now be inadequate, even if a very good translation in its day. Word usage changes through time. There is no set pattern, save that people continue usage as they see fit.

    In English (in opposition to Koine Greek or even more so for Hebrew) we have a myriad of synonyms for almost every word. Ever hear of a thesaurus? There may well be a dozen potential English words that will work in place of one Greek term, and more (if you understood Greek grammar this would not even need explanation!) virtually every Greek (and Hebrew) word in the Scriptures have a multiplicity of "meanings" built in by the prefix, root, suffix, gender, number, etc. It can often take as many as 5 or 6 English words to actually say what that one Greek or Hebrew term is saying. Such is the nature of the game when translating from a very robust language into a hodge-podge language made up of any number of other languages such as English.

    There, simply, is no real way to make a one-for-one (or even a one-for three or four) concordance that will fit every Greek or Hebrew term as it is used in the Scriptures, which is exactly why there are a myriad of different translations and usages.

    As an example, Strongs cites the Greek, kalos (good), in the following way:

    Transliterated Word: kalos
    Root: a prim. word;

    Definition: beautiful, good:--

    List of English Words and Number of Times Used
    beautiful (1),
    better (5),
    better (2),
    commendable manner (1),
    excellent (1),
    fair (1),
    fine (2),
    good (79),
    high (1),
    honest (1),
    honorable (1),
    right thing (1),
    sound (1),
    treasure (1),
    what is right (2).

    Each of these various usages of a rather plain and simple word match the context where they are found, and each has something to do with the CONCEPT of "good" but not the "meaning" of good. You seem to struggle with the "concept" idea, but that is a critical factor in translation when there is often not a one-to-one direct translation for what is being expressed in the text.

    But what happens when we complicate the concept of good just a tad and make it an adjective "do good"?

    Then we have this word in Greek: ἀγαθο·ποιός -όν (agathopois ou) where "kalos" is buried as a root stem and modified with prefix, suffix, and other modifiers to cause it to mean "do goods" or "do gooders" when applied in context to an individual's intent.

    The word can be a neutral genitive plural, masculine genitive plural, or feminine genitive plural; and is a present active participle masculine nominative singular as used in this instance. It is found in Acts 14:17, 1 Peter 2:14, and 3 John 1:11.

    Further, you have said before that you are not interested in the etymology of any given word in the original languages, and that etymology has no bearing on what the word (should, according to you) mean. But that too is false. Etymology has everything to do with the original languages, for that is how the grammar is constructed and also how it is taken apart so that we can understand what is said.

    We do this with English as well, but often fail to realize it because of the way we were taught (or the lack thereof) grammar. For instance, words with "re" such as "reform" or "renew" have a prefix that modifies the usage of the word. To "renew" is to make something new again, while just plain "new" means new for the first time. To extent that particular word even further we can also add a suffix, such as "renewable" which now is used to say that something has the capacity to be renewed. Virtually every English word has a root stem with prefix and suffix attached to modify the word, but we simply do not read English that way because we were not trained to read our own language in that fashion. Learn any alternative language, however, and one finds very quickly just how deficient one is in their home language, and just how much is taken for granted once true grammar is procured.

    It is my hope that this post helps to educate you somewhat on how the original languages actually work and why it is that they cannot always have but 3 or 4 "meanings" that all actually mean the same exact thing.
     
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