Some interesting articles from the last month or so of the blogs I follow. Think of this blog as not only my writing, but also an internet commonplace book.
On fluency in biblical languages:
I’m not fluent in Latin or Greek. I don’t even pretend to be. I have far too little experience in speaking and listening, and conversation, to make any claims like this. I can read very competently, I can write moderately well, and I can buy my theoretical groceries (i.e. I have had and can have routine conversations about things I am familiar with). I wasn’t taught Latin or Greek communicatively, so it’s no wonder I’m not very communicative in them. Instead, I studied both in very traditional philological styles, grammar + translation + analysis. So I’m very good at grammar, translation, analysis.
There are other ‘fallacies’ which themselves are fallacious, however. Below are enumerated three of these:
- a word has no meaning apart from context;
- diachronics are not helpful; instead one must focus entirely on synchronics;
- etymology is always worthless.
…Ricoeur speaks of the implicit “contract” between the author and reader concerning the factual nature of the events described (Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 275). If the author and reader have different understandings of that contract, misunderstanding results. Similarly, different cultural understandings of authorship and attribution result in conflict. In cultures that are not as attuned to modern Western literary culture–such as the cultures from which some of my students come–it is understandable that authorship, citation, quotation marks, and footnotes can be confusing. This is not to excuse their actions: the expectations of our institution have been clearly communicated, and they have many tools to assist them in learning the conventions of modern Western print culture. Part of our job as a Western-style institution in Eastern Europe is to help the students learn how to engage responsibly in the wider academic world according to those conventions.
Bill Mounce on subtle ways of translating:
The point of these illustrations is simply to enjoy the literary style of the NIV (and NLT) and learn to appreciate the tremendous literary skill practiced by these two translation committees. After all, according to Webster, a “literal” translation is one that reproduces the same “meaning,” not the same form.
And this post by the Patrologist on exegesis, just for this paragraph:
To wrap up, I am constantly amazed to interact with so called ‘critical scholars’ who look at, say, a book like John’s Gospel and see nothing but a pastiche of cut-up pieces that represent a proto-Gnostic text re-edited by a proto-Orthodox edited then re-edited again. Why do they see only that? It’s because they analyse a painting by looking at each blob of paint from a stroke of the brush and consider it a different source. They never step back and see the artistry. Whether they are right or wrong is irrelevant to the fact that they can’t step back and look at the whole, can’t discuss the meaning of the book, can’t discuss themes, genre, art, motifs. Because they can’t decide which of 400 types of genitives the proto-Gnostic redactor meant, and their competency in the language is like a tourist who got off the plane with an antique reference grammar of the language and nothing else.