Sunday, February 28, 2021

John 2.13-22 Translation and Commentary (RCL Third Sunday in Lent Year B)

For the Greek and Gospels classes I teach, I have developed a way of working with a biblical passage that I have found helpful and that I encourage my students to use. I've been doing this for years, but I decided I might as well share it. 

First, you will note that I work closely with the Greek text, but you don't need to know Greek. Instead, you'll see in the one handout that what I do is line up a variety of English translations from the 'literal' New American Standard Bible to a more 'dynamic, functional' one like the New Living Translation. I also usually include Peterson's The Message paraphrase since he really did work closely with the original Greek. I.e., by looking at the range of English translations, we have a better idea of what issues we should be looking at in the Greek text.

Second, when I use this in class, I usually have students work in groups addressing the questions that I pose to each verse. Some of the questions are Greek grammatical or lexical ones. Some of them draw attention to key words or concepts and encourage further word studies or research to understand what is going on. Some are translation matters which are highlighted by the comparison of English versions.

Third, I sometimes include my own translation in which I try to apply the results of my questions. You will see that my translations are not easily located on the literal > functional continuum. I tend to be closer to the literal end, but more importantly, I try to capture the emphases and distinctive elements of the Greek. The end result is something that ends up oriented to hearing in English what the Greek sounds like to me in terms of emphasis, word order, and syntax. This all reflects my conviction that these texts were originally heard by most people and not silently read to one's self. (This is especially true for the Gospel of Mark--which I regard to be closest to a transcription of an oral performance--and less true for Luke--which turns Mark into a literary work.) 

Included here are links to my guide for the assigned text in the Revised Common Lectionary for the Third Sunday in Lent Year B. (March 7 in 2021) which is John 2.13-22.

If you want to try to do the exegetical work for yourself, HERE is the translation exercise.

If you want to see how I've answered my own questions, HERE is the key to the exercise.

If you just want to see my translation, HERE it is. You'll see that I have visually presented my translation to highlight the sense units and sentence structure. If I were going to perform this text, I would next go through and use color highlighting and bolding to note the themes and words that hold the text together. It's a great aid in memorization.

In any case, the resources are all in DOCX format, so they are easily editable. You are welcome to use them as you wish. (I would ask that if you share them, do keep my name and provide attribution.)

If you find this helpful, let me know, and I'll try to find a way to share these on a regular basis.

Friday, February 19, 2021

English Bible Versions: Literal, Dynamic / Functional, Paraphrase

I have previously posted on the range of English versions of the Bible and noted the range of so-called "literal / word-for-word" translations through "dynamic / functional equivalent / thought-for-thought" translations and on to paraphrases. 
I have now (2021.02) updated the list. I had started with a helpful list I found online by Bruce Terry which provides an approximate rating of each version from literal (or using formal equivalence) to dynamic or paraphrase. I edited this list and added a few evaluations of my own. The scale used is where a "1" would be an interlinear Hebrew/Greek to English and a 10 would be a loose paraphrase. (The Cotton Patch Version gets a "10.") I have made some adjustments to his rankings in light of my experience and added some notes. Most of these translations are available online at BibleGateway, and further information is linked there.

HERE is a link to the updated downloadable document that organizes 50 of the most common English versions. It provides:
  • An alphabetical list of the versions
  • A ranking of the versions from literal to paraphrase
  • My suggestions on the best versions to consult across a range of translation approach.
My point in organizing English translations this way is to help readers get a sense of the difficulties and choices that must be made when translating. Viewing a range of translations gives a sense of the possibilities, but translation will always be both an objective, scholarly task as well as a subjective process that attends to audience and intent.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Using Accordance and Logos to Search the LXX and the Greek NT Simultaneously


I composed a guide for my students on how to use Accordance Bible software to search across both the LXX and the Greek NT simultaneously. It's part of an exercise on searching for the phrase καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν... to show how this translation of a Hebrew idiom is used to make a NT text sound more 'biblisch.' 

The PDF provides some commentary on the LXX texts in Accordance and then a step by step guide to setting things up in Accordance, conducting the search, and analyzing the results.

HERE is the guide.


The procedure is somewhat simpler in Logos, and to replicate what I did with Accordance, the graphic above shows what to do using a Bible search and a combined Greek LXX & NT LogosMorph text. I could have added more parallels (includes the NETS), and Logos' "Analysis" provides some powerful ways to look more deeply into the results. In particular, it offers a "Next Context" which is helpful for studying the idiom further. Where Accordance is able to graph the hits across both the LXX and GNT on a single chart, I have not been able to find a way to do so in Logos. (Let me know if there is a way!)

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Pergamon Digital Map
Produced by the German Archaeological Institute, this digital map of Pergamon / Pergamum is really fantastic. HERE is the website and the introduction:

The publication of the new archaeological map of Pergamon is an important milestone in the study of the ancient metropolis. For the first time since 1973 a new cartographic basis for the ancient city of Pergamon is available. The new map represents all known archaeological remains.

Viewer has options for details, labels (English, German, Turkish), and backgrounds, all in outstanding detail. Further, clicking on sites provides links out to further resources such as iDAI.gazetteer and the iDAI.objects arachne site which has more information and photos. You can spend a lot of time poking around all that there is to see here.

HT: Mark Wilson on FB