Translations and Sola Scriptura

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by thessalonian, Sep 3, 2003.

  1. thessalonian

    thessalonian
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    First, let me start out with my understanding of what Sola Scriptura means. Of course, from my experience, SS has a range of meaning.

    My Understanding of SS
    1) All that is neccessary for our salvation is contained in scripture.
    2) The scriptures are the sole rule of our faith regarding faith and morals.

    How's that.

    Now the question. I started a thread on the word rememberence with regard to the Lord's supper and Jesus saying "do this in rememberence of me" on another board. One person pointed out that the word used in the greek was anamnesis. Now the problem is there is not English equivelant for this word. There are multiple words that cover a part of the meaning but none that capture the full meaning.

    Another example is at the end of John's Gospel, chapter 21, Jesus does the threefold do you love me sceen with Peter. My understanding is that Jesus asks Peter "do you agape me" the first two times and then "do you philleo me" the last time, while Peter answers him "you know I philleo you Lord". Agape is a deeper love. The love we need to have for God is my understanding. There are many other examples, such as 2 Thes 2:15 I have seen paradosis translated to teaching, truth, tradition. Each seems to me are partially true but likely don't capture the full meaning.

    Now here is the problem.
    A parital meaning would not neccessarily render a verse untrue but certainly does not capture all of God's intended word. So it seems to me that the fullness of God's word when one has an English translation (or any other non-greek/hebrew version) is quite clearly not the whole word of God. i.e The word of God = Scritpure + ????. Now as Catholicis this presents no real problem because we believe that the Word of God = Scripture (written Tradition) + Oral Tradition. If a translation contains less of the word of God, the Oral Tradition portion makes up for it. St. Irenaus said "if we had not the scripture we would still have the Church". In other words the word of God is contained in the Church. I wonder how you non-catholic sola scripturists handle this difficulty. Do you have the complete word of God in an English translation? If not, how do you get it? Are the deeper meanings important or is some of God's originial word unimportant? I look forward to your thoughts.

    God bless.

    Thess.
     
  2. WPutnam

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    Hi Thess,

    I know where you are going with this and I certainly agree. But your wording is a bit confusing: agape love is greater then philleo love, isn't it? Please correct me here, as I don't have my Greek reference with me, but if this is so, did not Jesus start out with "do you philleo me" and then end with the third question of "do you agape me?" That seems logical to me, the profound moment when Christ commissioned Peter to lead His apostles and the Church.

    Anyway, I don't want to confuse your chain of thought here, just wondering if a correction is warranted...

    Keep up the good work Thess! [​IMG]

    God bless,

    PAX

    Bill+†+


    Christ has no body now but yours;
    No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
    Yours are the eyes with which he looks
    Compassion on this world.
    Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
    Yours are the hands with which
    he blesses all the world.
    Christ has no body now on earth but yours.


    - St. Therese of Avila -
     
  3. Dan Stiles

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    Let me compound the problem just a bit. Which language was Jesus speaking when He asked Peter "do you love me?"
    Most likely, He was speaking Aramaic, possibly Hebrew, but most likely not Greek (the "original" written language for that scripture), not more modern Greek, Latin, etc.... and certainly not English (1611 Cambridge or 2003 Middle American)...

    Sounds like a job for.....
    The Holy Spirit
     
  4. thessalonian

    thessalonian
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    William,

    No, while I am doing it from memory, I believe I have it right. It was from one of Bishop Sheen's shows I heard on EWTN last week. I believe part of your confusion may be that I think he said in the end Peter's response was "yes lord, I agape you" after Jesus said "Peter, do you philleo me?". Sorry that I don't have more detail offhand. I will try to look up the sermon on EWTN. At any rate the point is that something is lost in the translation.

    Blessings.
     
  5. thessalonian

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    William,

    Nope, looks like peter answers with phileo all three times. My mistake. Jesus uses Agape the first two times and phileo the last time from what I can see on the web. Let's not detract from the purpose of this thread though.

    Blessings
     
  6. MikeS

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    Yes, but the Scriptures are inspired in the languages they were written in, so we can (must) take them to be without error, including any translation error from the language Jesus was actually speaking.

    Indeed! [​IMG] But who does the Holy Spirit guide inerrantly?
     
  7. Pete Richert

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    First of all, agape and phileo. This has been way blown out of proportion and is practically a wives tale now. There is no huge semantic difference between agape and phileo, as they are used interechangably in early Christian literature and even in the NT. If you really wish me to find it, I will post a list of NT occures of these words, you would be surprised. Jesus says that God phileos him and he says that the pharasices agape things and vice versa and there is no strong distiction. Indeed, most people trying to prove there is point to this very section of scripture so it is really just circular logic. I have heard people try to argue that phileo was the stronger love, using passages from the NT!

    But on to the more important topic, sola scriptura. Protastants, evangelics, fundlementalists, etc, all use outside sources to help themselves understand the meaning of scripture. They study history, they study language, they study economics, sociology, etc. Most will have no problem studying Greek Lexicons to help draw out all the nuances or angles of what the Bible teaches. The difference is, the study is always focused on discovering WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES. The Greek Lexicons have no authority of their own and can be wrong. All such research is always highly suspect and should be. There is a difference between here. The SS believer will do everything he can to understand the Bible, but in the end it must be proved within the Bible or it suspect. If the Catholic church wishes to teach Mary was conceived without sin, or did not die, etc, they look to tradition. No matter of research whatsoever on the form of the SS believer will convince him this is true because it says nothing of it in the Bible. You could only prove it to him by say, proving without doubt that when Mary told the servants, "Do what he tells you" in Greek it really reads, "I was born sinless, do what he tells you, I will not die." I think you understand my point.
     
  8. WPutnam

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    OK, I was not sure...

    God bless,

    PAX

    Bill+†+


    Pillar and Foundation of Truth, the Church. (1 Tim 3:15)
     
  9. swaimj

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    First, Pete, I appreciated your reply to Thess. Thess, a couple of comments: First, while some fundamentalists hold the the KJV is the perfectly inspired/preserved word of God in english, I do not hold this and many fundamentalists/conservatives do not. I am not sure if that was an assumption in your question or not.

    I think your question as to the meaning of greek words and how they are translated is a broader question about the ability of language to transfer ideas. If your question destroys our position, it would only be because you demonstrate that words ultimately cannot communicate clearly. If that were the case, whether our authority is written or oral, it would be unreliable. Somehow I can't help but feel that your line of reasoning is as damaging to your own position as it is to ours. Words are finite and God is infinite. Therefore words ultimately cannot describe, explain, or reveal God in his fulness. However, since humans are finite, God has used finite means to communicate with us. If he used infinite means, then we most assuredly would not understand him.

    Another question that your reasoning raises is the issue of preservation of oral tradition. Since you go by the name of Thess, I assume you are familiar with Paul's instruction to the Thessalonians to obey the "tradition" whether by word or by letter. I am quite confident that I have the traditon of Paul in letter. How do you know that you have his oral tradition?
     
  10. DHK

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    The Holy Spirit ispired the writers of Scriptures to write down the sacred words which we have today. Only those words which the writers wrote down are inspired. "Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."
    It is the original manuscripts, and only the original manuscripts, which are inspired, that is, God-breathed. This is what the word inspired means in 2Tim.3:16, "God-breathed." They were written down as with the very breathe of God. They were God-breathed. No other Scripture or book can make a claim like that. That is what makes the Scriptures unique and infallible.

    However God did promise to preserve His Word. Preservation is different than inspiration. Throughout the centuries many copies of the originals have been made, thousands in fact. Some of these have minor variants; some of them have many variants. There are essentially two Bibles. One that follows the Critical Text of Westcott and Hort (most modern versions), and the one that follows the textus receptus or Received Text (the King James Version). Between thest two categories you will find many differences besides language sytles. In the modern versions many verses are deliberately omitted on the basis of "better texts," which isn't necessarily so.

    However, that being the case, meaning is lost in translation, as was pointed out in the original post. That was a fair assessment. Meaning is lost when any language is translated into another. There are some things in some languages that are untranslatable. That is why we have Greek helps. Not everyone has to be a Greek scholar. We do have enough helps out there to give us the true sense of the word or phrase in question.
    An easy example is the idiom that Jesus used: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into Heaven." Many people still picture in their mind the stainless steel needle (which hadn't even been invented yet) that Jesus was referring to. But what was Jesus referring to? I'll leave that to your own study to find out. It takes a study of going back to the Greek words and phrases or idioms. We can't just assume things. Translations are not inspired. They are translated, and their translations are preserved as accurately as possible to the original.

    Let me ask you this. If I made my own translation, would you consider me inspired? Woud you consider my translation inspired? Why or why not?
    DHK
     
  11. thessalonian

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    Just to let you guys know I do appreciate your thoughts and have not forgotten this thread. Needless to say I don't agree and will present my reasons why when I get a chance. Your input is valuable to me however.

    Blessings
     
  12. Yelsew

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    When translating any language to another, if a word in one language does not have a corresponding word in the other language, it is quite acceptable to insert a phrase or even a derived concept to express the meaning of the one word.

    It is also acceptable to insert explanatory comments where necessary to transfer the original meaning of the thought from one language to another.

    I believe, because I have no proof, that has been done with every English language translation. You see, the message is what is important not the individual words. 99% of all bible readers don't have the foggiest idea of how they come to have the Holy Scriptures in the English language anyway, and most don't care. What they do care about is the content of the message translated, and they trust that the Holy Spirit guided the translation process. I personally do not believe that God would allow his Word to be corrupted in or through translation.
     
  13. DHK

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    What you are describing is a paraphrase, not a translation. A translation is always word for word. If you look at an interlinear of the Greek New Testament, and then at the KJV, you can see how close it comes. Then compare a paraphrase like the Good News (bad news) For Modern Man, or the Living Bible, you will find a tremendous difference in "translation." They are not translations, just one man's opinion of what the Bible says. That is what results when one inserts words, phrases, and thoughts that are not in the original.
    Here is a good example:
    In the KJV, Eccl. 6:9 is a direct translation from the Hebrew, word for word.

    9 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this is also vanity and vexation of spirit.

    Here is how the Living Bible "translates" the first half of the same verse:

    "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

    That is not what the Bible says, and the translator has no right to interpret it as such. The reader is the one who has the responsibility of studying the Bible to find out what the words mean, and what the author of the Book meant when he wrote the words. The translator has no business putting in his two cents worth for the reader. Otherwise where would it stop? How would one know what is the Word of God and what is not? An opinion is simply an opinion. The translator must be careful not to translate beyond that which is written in the original. That is why in the KJV when the translators did add a word here and there for clarity sake they almost always put the added word in italics to show that it wasn't in the original.

    The message arises out of individual words. Individual words are very important. It was Jesus who said: "Not one jot nor one tittles shall pass from this book til all be fulfilled." A jot is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and a tittle is the smallest part of a Hebrew letter, like the crossng of a "t" He was emphasizing the importance of the very words.

    Paul emphasized the same thing:
    2Tim.3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

    "All Scripture" extends to every word. If the words are paraphrased into a person's thoughts then the translation is lost completely, and we don't know what the Holy Spirit had intended to say. Did the Holy Spirit ever intend to say "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." I think not. BTW, Bad News For Modern Man omits the "blood" 19 times.

    It is the devil that corrupts the word. There are corrupt translators. When you say that you don't believe that God would allow His word to be corrupted; is that not aking to saying that God would not allow His creation (man) to sin? Man is a sinful being. He has being deliberately corrupting the Word of God ever since it came from the pen of the holy writer, or from God himself.

    Go back to the Garden of Eden.
    "Hath God said?"
    --A questioning of the veracity of God's Word.

    Eve's response--not a direct quote from what God had said. She altered His words.
    DHK
     
  14. Singleman

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    Says who? I haven't found any dictionary that says a translation must be word or word. Every translation of any length leaves out or inserts words to make the meaning more clear. There is, after all, no one perfect English equivalent for each Hebrew or Greek word. While I don't endorse extremely loose paraphrases like the LB, every translation does paraphrasing to some extent. It may not be desirable, but it is inevitable.
     
  15. DHK

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    There is a vast difference between a translation and a paraphrase. Thus the difference in words. A translation translates and a praphrase paraphrases. Profound isn't it? The KJV, NASV, NIV, ASV, are all translations. Good News For Modern Man and the Living Bible are paraphrases which were not translated at all. They are like a mother telling Bible stories to her children before going to bed. They are the Scriptures paraphrased or put into one's own words, and even into one's own interpretation. If you happen to have a liberal interpretation of the Bible, you will end up with a liberal Bible such as the Good News for Modern Man, which attacks the deity of Christ by omitting the blood 19 times.

    Remember that the J.W.'s have their own translation of the Bible too. It happens to be a better translation than the two paraphrases mentioned above by virtue of the fact that it is a translation, even though it also deliberately attacks the deity of Christ.

    A translator's duty is to translate; no interpret. The paraphraser has taken upon himself the task of interpreting the Scriptures, giving his own private interpretation in his paraphrase. According to 2Peter 1:20-22, that is wrong. The Scriptures are of no private interpretation. What did Peter, Paul, John, and the other writers say? How are we to know if the translators do not faithfully translate word for word what they wrote? When the translators of the KJV added anything they put what they added in italics so the reader would know what was added. They translated the Word of God; they didn't paraphrase it. There is a big difference.
    DHK
     
  16. Yelsew

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    Wait a minute, the scope of my post was a word for word translation that includes, in the absence of a perfect match, a phrase or explanatory note for that one word. I was not addressing paraphrasing the entire work.
     
  17. DHK

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    I agree with you to some extent. No matter what languages are used there is always meaning lost when a translation is made from one language to another (even when additional words are supplied). When speaking of the Word of God, the duty of the translator is to translate as closely as possible to the original--word for word--adding as little as possible for clarity's sake. It then becomes the readers responsibility to find out what the words of the Bible means--the idioms of the Greek and Hebrew, and other words and phrases. It is up to our study to find those things out. "Search the Scriptures." Study to show yourselves approved unto God."

    However, when translating for an individual a lot more liberty may be taken, because it isn't the Word of God. On the mission field I have often had need of a translator. When a direct translation doesn't work, the translator rewords it and says: "What he means is...

    But one translating the Bible doesn't have that option. He must adhere to the manuscript at hand and translate what is before him word for word, as far as what is humanly possible.
    DHK
     
  18. Yelsew

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    Not necessarily DHK, "meaning loss" in translation exists where the insistance on a word for word exchange is imposed.

    However, when thoughts, concepts, ideas, and messages are translated, it is not necessary to have a "word for word" exchange to get an exact translation.
     

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