Posts for Tag: biblical-studies

A "literal" English Bible translation is inherently anglocentric

When we translate from a source language into a target language, there is no such thing as “keeping all the words”. Greek words are not English words and ruling that only specific translational glosses can be used, does not constitute keeping all the words. The English word ‘ears’ isn’t “all the words”. Translating ὦτα as ‘ears’ isn’t translating the words. It’s still translating the meaning. ὦτα is gone. If you choose that as a gloss, all of the original words are still gone. Literal translation prioritizes English over Greek by assuming that English words have some bizarre one-to-one correspondence to the original language that doesn’t actually exist.

This is the hidden lie in the English Bible tradition. Literal translations only exist in languages that already have a translation. A literal translation is the product of a community conventionalizing a set of target language glosses as authoritative over and against any other glosses. It places the authority of those conventions over the authority of the original text itself. It is, thus, for the English Bible tradition, inherently anglocentric. Without an existing tradition of translation, the idea of “keeping all the words” wouldn’t exist. All the words are Greek.

Mike Aubrey, "On literal translation: He that hath eeris of heerynge, heere he." From Koine-Greek blog. Retrieved November 26, 2022, from https://koine-greek.com/2020/04/22/on-literal-translation-he-that-hath-eeris-of-heerynge-heere-he/.

On humans comprising 1/3 of the divine council

The New Testament authors and the Fathers—most famously St. Athanasius—speak of our becoming sons of God. When St. John bears witness to the worship of heaven near the end of his life, in addition to the angelic hosts seen in similar previous apocalyptic visions, there are glorified human members of the divine council. These are represented by the twenty-four elders (Rev. 4:4, 10; 5:5–14; 7:11–13; 11:16; 14:3; 19:4). These elders are seated and wearing crowns, sharing in Christ’s rule over the creation (4:4)…. [T]he divine council is composed of seventy/seventy-two members. This means that human saints in glory constitute one-third of the divine council. This is the precise proportion of the heavenly host that had joined the devil in rebellion by the time of the birth of Christ, according to St. John (Rev. 12:4). Saint John is not saying that there are only twenty-four demons or twenty-four saints. Rather, he is using these numbers symbolically to indicate the replacement of the fallen members of the angelic host with the saints in glory.

Fr. Stephen De Young, The Religion of the Apostles: Orthodox Christianity in the First Century (Chesterton, Indiana: Ancient Faith Publishing, 2021), 129.

Grace and peace to you

Paul's first hint to us that he is addressing a transnational church comes in the greeting he offers in the beginning of all thirteen of his letters. "Grace and peace to you" is a remarkable combination of a Greek salutation charis (grace) and the ancient Hebrew blessing shalom (peace). Grace expresses the joyful fullness of the gospel and peace expresses the fullness of well-being that God desires for us. In this unique greeting, Paul addresses Gentile and Jewish believers together, as members of one church.

Notice that Paul does not write, "Charis to you Greeks and shalom to you Hebrews." Grace is not just for Gentiles and peace is not just for Jews. God desires the whole body of Christ to receive his grace and to experience his peace. Paul writes with respect for his readers' own ethnic and cultural backgrounds, yet he points to a new countercultural reality—a community in which the barriers between Jews and Gentiles is broken down and eliminated.

Writing to congregations that were often divided and torn by factional strife, Paul's greeting is a concrete reminder to believers that they are called to be a "new creation." While affirming the diversity of every part of the church, Paul transcends their differences to forge a new identity. The church is not a congregation created simply by linking Jews and Gentiles together but a united body of Christ, a transformed people made new in the risen Lord.

Stephen J. Binz, Panorama of the Bible: New Testament (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2016), 65.

Man seeks to become "one flesh" with woman to regain a lost part of himself

Concerning the creation account in Genesis 2 and God's statement that "it is not good for man to be alone:"

Eve has been promised. She is then withheld for two carefully framed verses while God allows the human creature to perform his unique function as the bestower of names on things. There is implicit irony in this order of narrated events. Man is superior to all other living creatures because only he can invent language, only he has the level of consciousness that makes him capable of linguistic ordering. But this very consciousness makes him aware of his solitude in contrast to the rest of the zoological kingdom. (It is, perhaps, a solitude mitigated but not entirely removed by the creation of woman, for that creation takes place through the infliction of a kind of wound on him, and afterward, in historical time, he will pursue her, strain to become "one flesh" with her, as though to regain a lost part of himself.)

Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, rev. & updated ed. (New York: Basic Books, 2011), 34.

Only a prehistory

[In] natural science and technology, the history of their discoveries is not an essential part of themselves, but only a prehistory. Only the datum is significant, not how it came to be. In much the same way, the history of exegesis has degenerated for the [contemporary] exegetes into a prehistory with which their own efforts are not directly concerned.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987), Part 1, Section 2 E, p. 133 (emphasis added), as cited in Mary S. Ford, The Soul's Longing: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on Biblical Interpretation (Waymart, Pennsylvania: St. Tikhon's Monastery Press, 2015), 165.