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John, Unfortunately, I really won't have much of a window until some time in mid-July. You post what you need to, and I'll get to it or not. The simplest way to understand the heart of my stance is this: We're WAY over-thinking this thing. We've had two millenia of people by the thousands, the tens of thousands, including no small number of geniuses thinking about the NT since the time the various books in it were written. (And you can pretty much double that for the OT.) Every syllable has been examined and re-examined. Every imaginable reading has been tried. Whole complex theologies, many all but incompatible with one another, have been proposed and Scripture re-examined in their light. We can hardly look at Scripture without seeing layer on layer of stuff. Stuff that both is and isn't really there. If you want to hear what the original audience heard, you have to turn your back on all that. Not so easy to do. Furthermore, so little of the NT is literature that talking about literary translation is, I maintain, a basic genre mistake. (For the OT, it's the other way around, but even there there are serious questions about the Torah and the prophets as literature.) It is a logical mistake to take the fact that the Bible has influenced our literature so deeply and infer from that that the Bible is literature. (I do, however, appreciate how much the interplay of the Bible and Western literature sets up an expectation that the words of the Bible should sound literary.) BTW, I think that treating the Bible as literature is a handy way for non-believers to avoid engaging the heart content of Scripture. So anyway, you can cite brilliant translation theorists till you're blue in the face and it won't matter to me. So much of translation theory is about literary translation, and I think that approach is a fundamental mistake when it comes to the Bible. When a given book really is literary, Song of Songs, for example, then you'll have my attention, but when you are translating Luke and Acts, it just isn't literature. I'll much sooner read the comments on translation problems on LEO. They help me clarify my thinking much more than literary theory. And there's a substantive argument here. There are a lot of quotes in the NT, and the language in the quotes is demonstrably different from the language of the rest of the NT, which means: the LXX was in Biblish to the writers of the NT. If you translate the whole of the NT into Biblish there's nowhere to go. That's as much time as I can afford tonight. (Daniel Bruhn is a grad student, actually. I think that paper was for Ling 150 which is the upper division sociolinguistics course that can be taken for graduate credit.)
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I thought I would get back to blogging when I had finished all my commitments (one last round to go), and then you up and publish this! It can't go unanswered, but I'm still one lead article in a collected volume and one son's wedding away from having the time to give a real answer. Let me put down an IOU. Ken Pike always used to say that it was about the assumptions. If we really shared assumptions we end up in the same place. But we don't. You see the Bible as essentially foreign and other. I see the Bible, especially the NT, as immediate and, at its heart, simple. Jesus' stories are about farmers and compassionate foreigners and fathers who love their sons so much that they overlook horrible transgressions. Paul's letters are about dealing with churches trying to wrap their heads around a loving God and stumbling along the way. To a man the writers of the NT would be horrified to discover we treat their writings as Scripture. They were solving very specific down to earth problems, like preserving an apostle's witness of Jesus life when he was getting old, or dealing with a church that hadn't quite mastered the balance between freedom and responsibility. They weren't about challenging Hellenistic culture or Roman authority (cf. Rom. 13). If they were in anyone's face it was the Jewish hegemony. To me the Bible is about being human, not about making a kind of self-aware counter-cultural statement that is only possible in a post-Freudian world. I'd say speaking to culture (as opposed to speaking to people) is very much in the spirit of postmodernism. In my understanding the thrust of pomo is against globalization and homogenization, the very thing you accuse the NIV and TEV of. To the extent the world of the Bible is foreign, it's foreign in being less self-aware than any 20th/21st century educated person is. Its stories are sparer and less laden with description than we would write. But this is, as they say in the computer business, upwardly compatible. Roman era Greek speakers would have a harder time understanding us than we have understanding them. We have SO many more artifacts integrated into our lives and so many more highly-developed societal structures that we depend on and so much better an understanding of our inner lives. Finally (for now) I think the evidence is clear from the mounds and mounds of papyri that keep showing up that there is a lot less Aramaic in NT Greek than one tends to think if one is used to looking at Semitic -- or possibly that what Aramaic influences there were were in colloquial Greek from Athens to Alexandria. The point is NT Greek (maybe with the exception of the clearly barely competent John) isn't "funny" Greek for the the Greek of the time. (There's even a good case to be made that the LXX was as much in use in the synagogues as the Hebrew Scripture.) Some of these differences in view really are unresolvable. I have one other big thing to say, but it's midnight here and that point deserves a whole post which I'll put over on BBB when I get the time to write it up properly.
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Jun 16, 2011