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.

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