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Featured Linguistics and Bible Translation

Discussion in 'Bible Versions & Translations' started by John of Japan, Sep 14, 2022.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    In modern Bible translation theory, in particular in missionary translations, linguistics has become an important component. Some scholars even call translation a branch of linguistics, but I prefer to think of translation studies, in particular Bible translation theory, as a separate discipline. Either way you look at it, the two disciplines go together.

    Now, there are two kinds of linguists. There are experts in the study of language, or linguistics. Then there are experts in a certain language. That's where I come in, due to my two years of formal Japanese study and 33 years as a missionary, and I have a lot of credits in Hebrew and NT Greek, and have taught it in Japan and the US, so they call me a linguist here. I teach Bible translation courses and Greek, but we have a prof with a top MA in linguistics who teaches the linguistic courses. I have studied the scholarly discipline of linguistics on my own, but have never taken a formal class in the subject.

    To the best of my knowledge, "linguistics" is a 20th century term. Before that it was called "philology," and mostly concerned the study of ancient languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin, etc. In this thread I'll share some volumes in my library as I've done for other subjects, but I'll also talk about how the discipline affects Bible translation.

    Had a freshman in this morning asking how he can get started in Greek 101, though it is a year away for him. I love this! Someone asked me recently what my favorite course is, and I told them Greek. I just love the students' reactions when they translate a Bible verse for the first time, or we discuss the grammar of a word, phrase, or verse. If you think I'm bragging when I talk about Greek here, I certainly don't think of it that way. I'm just talking about what I love--the Word of God in Greek!!
     
    #1 John of Japan, Sep 14, 2022
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2022
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  2. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    But haven't I heard that the Greek is not inspired like the KJV is? -:confused:
     
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  3. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    You've been talkin' to the wrong people, bub! :D

    I always laugh at the KJVO statements to the effect that the writer (or speaker) doesn't know Greek and Hebrew, so he has to have a Bible he can read. That's generally a lazy statement: "Learning foreign languages is too haaaaaard for me! :Cry My young Greek students never say that! The freshman who dropped by yesterday was very eager to get started on the alphabet and vocabulary, even though he can't take it for another year.

    There is a linguistic theory called universal grammar that I always share with my Greek students on the very first day. It's main proponent has been the famous secular linguist Noam Chomsky, but it fits right in with Bible truth. The idea is that every human being has the innate ability to learn a language. We would say that ability is God-given, of course.

    KJVO folk who complain about the Hebrew and Greek original texts and how "hard" they are to read remind me of the Japanese grandma who we ran into who thought all babies all over the world were born with the innate ability to speak Japanese, but then had to work to learn their heart language.:Rolleyes
     
    #3 John of Japan, Sep 15, 2022
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2022
  4. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    In ancient times, students studied language by writing in wax on a wood tablet. We find an example of this in Luke 1:63, where Zecharias wrote with a stylus on a "writing table" (KJV), "His name is John." The Greek word is πινακίδιον, only appearing here in the NT.

    Before the 20th century, philology was generally the study of languages rather then how languages are put together and how they work (modern linguistics). Students did a lot of reading from the classical texts, including the Greek NT. Classical works I have include:

    Xenophon's Anabasis (Greek), a history book that tells us how the army of Darius got under the walls of Babylon to defeat Belshazzar.
    Virgil's famous poem, the Aeneid (Latin)
    Caesar's Gallic Wars (Latin), with the famous beginning, "Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres," meaning "All of Gaul is divided into three parts"
    Homer's Iliad (Greek)

    These each come with parsing (telling the parts of speech), grammar notes, and a dictionary in the back. (Lexicons give complete meanings, but dictionaries only give glosses--one or two word basic meanings.)
     
  5. JD731

    JD731 Well-Known Member

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    The Bible never instructs us to study Greek. Or does it?

    It seems to me a waste of time when you already have a KJV. Unless one is going to a mission field where some language other than English is being spoken. Then you have two languages to learn. I doubt most Greek speakers ever gets involved in translating.

    I met a fine fellow yesterday at the VA clinic who told me he is with the Gideons. I don't remember how many languages they print Bibles in and send them out but I remember that it was a great number. I specifically asked him about Japanese and he said they do send Bibles there. This tells me they already have a translation if indeed he knows what he is talking about..

    There is no magic in the Greek language. A Greek speaker has no advantage over one who studies the KJV.
     
  6. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    Does the Bible instruct us to ONLY use the KVJ?


    Are you saying the KJV is the ONLY version to be used


    Several years ago, I was talking to a lady from Greece. (Yes, she knows Greek) I asked her why the Greek Orthodox Church baptizes infants . by immersion. She stated that in Greek the word means to dunk .
    So JD - the answer is YES - a Geek speaker does has a large advantage over a non Greek speaker. Just as a Englishman/American has a large advantage over non-english speaking.
     
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  7. JD731

    JD731 Well-Known Member

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    The Greeks are not translating the scriptures, are they?
     
  8. JD731

    JD731 Well-Known Member

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    The Greek Christians ought to be the sharpest Christians in the world. Has anyone noticed how they have been doing?

    How about this. Our church congregation actually sent a missionary out of our church to Thessaloniki, Greece about 12 years ago.
     
  9. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    I was not asking if Greeks were translating.

    Can we try this again?
    1) Does the Bible instruct us to ONLY use the KVJ?
    2) Are you saying the KJV is the ONLY version to be used

    I will admit that I do not have a college degree - but it appears that
    both questions only need a "yes" or "no"
     
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  10. JD731

    JD731 Well-Known Member

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    First question. If you are looking for those words the answer is no.
    Next question; it is the only Bible for me but you will need to make up your own mind. What you do is none of my business.

    I do like logic. Why aren't the Greek Christians the most knowledgeable in the world for the reasons you have suggested? Why aren't they translating the Greek into English? What advantage is it to learn the Greek language if you already have a translation you are confident in? Unless, of course, you are called to translate the Greek into another language that is not English. How has the Greek language helped the Greek Christians? Can we learn something here?
     
  11. Logos1560

    Logos1560 Well-Known Member
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    The Bible never instructs us to study English.

    The Bible never commands English-speaking believers to read and study only the KJV.

    The Bible never states that the word of God is bound to the textual criticism decisions, Bible revision decisions, and translation decisions of one exclusive group of Church of England critics in 1611. The word of God is not bound (2 Tim. 2:9).

    The Bible never teaches believers to commit sin by showing respect to persons or by showing partiality to one exclusive group of Church of England priests/critics in 1611 (James 2:9). The wisdom from God above is without partiality (James 3:17).
     
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  12. Logos1560

    Logos1560 Well-Known Member
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    There may be many possible reasons.

    Perhaps they have been incorrectly raised on and taught traditions of men [similar to how KJV-only teaching is a tradition of men]. Someone knowing Greek does not make them a sound Bible scholar just as someone knowing English does not make them a sound Bible scholar. In addition, present-day Greek in Greece is not exactly the same as New Testament Greek so that understanding present-day Greek does not make them an authority on NT Koine Greek. The NT is only part of the original-language Scriptures. There is a need for Hebrew and Aramaic scholars to translate the OT.

    How could Greek-speaking believers be translating the Greek into English if they are not also English-speaking? They do not need to be translating the Greek NT into English since other Bible scholars have already done that task.
     
  13. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    I did NOT ask if the KJV is the only Bible for you.

    One last time: The question I asked:
    1) Does the Bible instruct us to ONLY use the KVJ?
    2) Are you saying the KJV is the ONLY version to be used
     
  14. JD731

    JD731 Well-Known Member

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    Well, you said you did not have a college degree and that might explain why you do not understand that you got an answer when, in reality, you got one.
     
  15. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    My father had a term for college evacuated people - but my mom said if I cant say something nice.........

    I will say this - I do keep track of people who do not answer my questions - esp when they say they (think) did answer.
     
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  16. JD731

    JD731 Well-Known Member

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    Likewise, he never instructs us not to study English.

    Likewise, he never commands to not read and study only the KJV.

    God makes his ways known through the pages of scriptures and in his dealings with men. He in fact does choose one thing over another and when he does he calls that thing holy.

    God has shown that he chooses one over another.

    Ge 4:4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

    Ex 2:25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.

    Most times you clearly don't know what you are talking about.
     
  17. JD731

    JD731 Well-Known Member

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    To the highlighted text. Exactly. So why teach Greek to someone who is not going to need translating skills? That is my question.It is a waste of time.
     
  18. JD731

    JD731 Well-Known Member

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    ?
     
  19. Logos1560

    Logos1560 Well-Known Member
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    According to a sound definition and explanation of the term translation, a translation could be understood to act as a borrower. “The borrower is servant to the lender” (Prov. 22:7). One clear way in which a Bible translation could properly be considered to act as a servant would be in how it borrows, derives, or acquires its own text and its authority from its master or source original-language Scripture text or texts from which it is made (Prov. 22:7). By definition, a translation would be a borrower from its original language texts. As a borrower, a translation would act as servant to the lender or lenders [its original language texts] according to what is stated at Proverbs 22:7. Should what the Scriptures directly state about a borrower be denied or rejected? The specific words of the master original language texts of Scripture should or would determine which different words in another language should be in a Bible translation. The original meaning of the words as used in context in the master original language texts should give rise to which words should be used in a translation of those texts. The different words of a translation are under the authority of the original language words from which they are translated. The exact original-language words that proceeded directly from God set the standard and are the proper authority for what the words of a translation should say (John 12:49, Matt. 4:4). Therefore, it is sound and scriptural to conclude that the preserved original-language words of Scripture have greater authority than the translated words that borrow or derive authority from their underlying source or sources.

    Since a Bible translation acts as a borrower, it could be considered wise to follow scriptural advice and consult more than one of them. There is safety in consulting a multitude of counsellors. "In the multitude of counsellors there is safety" (Prov. 11:14, Prov. 24:6). "Without counsel purposes are disappointed, but in the multitude of counsellors they are established" (Prov. 15:22). Perhaps the KJV was partially based on these proverbs since the KJV is a revision of several or multiple pre-1611 English Bibles.

    By trying to demand or advocate use of only one English Bible, the word of God is in effect being bound to the textual criticism decisions, Bible revision decisions, and translation decisions of that translation's human translators. That would conflict with the scriptural assertion that the word of God is not bound (2 Tim. 2:9).
     
  20. Logos1560

    Logos1560 Well-Known Member
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    It was not a waste of time according to your trusted KJV translators.

    Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626), a KJV translator, wrote: "Look to the original, as, for the New Testament, the Greek text; for the Old, the Hebrew" (Pattern of Catechistical Doctrine, p. 59). Gustavus Paine pointed out that another KJV translator John Rainolds (1549-1607) "urged study of the word of God in the Hebrew and Greek, 'not out of the books of translation'" (Men Behind the KJV, p. 84). Mordechai Feingold cited where John Rainolds wrote: “We must diligently give ourselves to reading and meditating of the holy scriptures in tongues in which they were written by the holy Spirit” (Labourers, p. 14). Feingold also cited where John Rainolds asked: “Are not they blind, who prefer a translation, and such a translation before the original?” (p. 121).
     
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