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View Diary: Where in the Bible? (22 comments)

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  •  the Bible is perhaps one of the more difficult (2+ / 0-)
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    stunvegas, Deward Hastings

    holy texts around since it is based on one of the older extant religions which means there is a considerable pre-literacy period followed by a period where oral traditions were transcribed.

    Add to that the many, many different versions of various Bibles (there were a dozen or so variants of KJV during James' lifetime) and relying upon the text as any sort of inerrant oracle becomes an exercise in futility.

    Take for example, the small problem of translation.  The earliest Gospels date to around 69CE,  40 years or more after the events described, or almost two generations removed.  Add to this the conceit that the Gospels are a transcribed account, word for word, of the exact words spoken during these events.  The problems inherent in this quickly becomes evident as it appears Jesus spoke a variant of Aramaic, of which there were about a dozen dialects extant during the First Century CE, some mutually intelligible one to the other.  The Gospel authors never met this Jesus chap and even if they did rely on first hand accounts, the problem of translating the everyday Aramaic to Koine Greek is quite staggering.  For example, Greek recognizes 4 words for different types of love while most dialects of Aramaic only use a single term (from memory)  The question is if the nuances between "eros", "philos", "storge" and "agape" were present in the original texts or were extrapolated there by later authors.  This does not even begin to address the linguistic problems of the Attic Greek definition of Agape vs the First Century Koine Greek definition.

    Fortunately for many adherents, the current Great Awakening does not rely upon such niceties of history and linguistics but instead asserts that the present day translations are the results of holy men divinely inspired by God in their work.  Therefore, the English versions are as inspired by God as their earlier counterparts, such as Luther's or Eck's German translations and all are equally inerrant        

    •  entlord - Get serious! (2+ / 0-)
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      Crider, Deward Hastings

      These guys don't READ the Bible. They simply assume that the Bible agrees with their world view.

         As for the translation problem - meh - Assuming that Jesus was actually a resident of the town of Nazareth, he would have been an hour's walk from the Roman city of Sepphoris and near a main road connecting the major cities. Since koine was the near universal language, he and his apostles probably spoke it.
        Presumably, the Gospels trace back to the disciples, whose native language would have been Aramaic but who almost certainly spoke koine as well. And since some of them left Palestine, they must have been able to function in the Greco-Roman world.
         There are all kinds of problems with the Gospels, but I don't think that an Aramaic to Greek translation difficulty was one of them.

      •  that assumes he would have had close contact (0+ / 0-)

        with the Romans and other non Jews.  I am unconvinced that those Jews who did not deal with non Jews on a regular basis had any real facility with Koine Greek.  As far as the Gospels state, we know that Jesus was quintessentially a First Century Jew and not probably interacting in any great degree with the nonJewish population.

        I am amused by claims by various apologists that Jesus not only spoke but also read and wrote in Koine Greek and Latin as well as Classical Hebrew.  Quite an accomplishment for the son of a lowly carpenter.  While there appears to be some debate as to the quality of Greek written by Paul (those texts that can be attributed directly to him), I can only cite my Greek professor of some 40 years ago as he said that Paul, who was an educated man, did not understand the nuances of Greek, such as negation, so that some passages remain in dispute to this day.  To be sure we can assume Paul was more learned than Jesus.

        I would say what is more likely is that a pidgin language developed between the Jewish and nonJewish population whereby they could communicate but would hardly be considered fluent  

        •  but that assumes (0+ / 0-)

          the accuracy of a biblical story . . . that Jesus was the (ignorant) son of a "lowly (ignorant) carpenter".  And that is something that is most definitely not in evidence.

          Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

          by Deward Hastings on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 08:36:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  sorry you can't have it both ways (0+ / 0-)

            either the Gospels are accurate or they are not;  perhaps you can offer some sort of historical information which would substantiate that Jesus would have been fluent in several languages, given the insular nature of much of Jewish society in the First Century?  After all, the Sadducees were the Hellenized Jews of the era.  Are you trying to suggest Jesus was a Sadducee?  

        •  Latin, I'll Agree, is a Stretch (1+ / 0-)
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          Dogs are fuzzy

          The brief glimpse we get in Luke of Jesus' boyhood suggests that he had a deep interest in Scriptures and listened to the teachings of the rabbis he encountered whenever he could.  I don't find it implausible that such a boy would learn the language of the Torah as well as the Aramaic he probably spoke in daily life.

          As to knowing Greek, well I suppose that depends on exactly how insular a community he grew up in.  I know little about what First Century Nazareth was like and how much contact it had with nearby Gentile communities.  The (admittedly brief) source I looked up before starting this comment claims that it was located near a major trade route between Egypt and Mesopotamia, which may be relevant or not.

          It's unusual for a child in America to grow up knowing more than one language, but it's pretty much expected for a child in Switzerland.  Jesus was the son of a tradesman, who I suspect did business with all sorts of people and I don't think it's too outlandish to suggest that Jesus encountered folks who spoke Greek.

          As for Latin... well... if we're going to credit him with Divine Omniscience then we can say that Jesus spoke Latin, Aztec and Esperanto, but I think that lies outside the bounds of this discussion.

          "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

          by quarkstomper on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 08:57:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  probably not relevant since he was not a son (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            quarkstomper

            of a merchant but of a craftsman.  There is a question as to how much business a devout First Century Jew would have had with Gentiles.  I think examination of the Jewish texts of the era would reveal that Jews were generally exhorted to remain with their own and not to mingle with the non Jewish world.

            the great dispute between Paul and Peter was based on if a Christian were first and foremost a Jew or if a Gentile could be a Christian without first becoming a Jew.

      •  Assuming (0+ / 0-)
        Assuming that Jesus was actually a resident of the town of Nazareth
        Which didn't exist at the time.

        There are a lot more problems with the New Testament than translation errors.

        America, we can do better than this...

        by Randomfactor on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 08:13:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Political translations. (2+ / 0-)
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      wilderness voice, Dogs are fuzzy

      The Bible is actually quite ambiguous about abortion.

      Start with "test for an unfaithful wife" found at Numbers 5:11-31.  The priest gives an accused woman some holy water mixed with dust from the tabernacle floor and makes her drink it along with taking an oath.

      The result:

      But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse[d] among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”
      Clearly, if the woman has been unfaithful, the purpose of this test is to cause an abortion.

      This translation is NIV, and uses the word "miscarriage."  Why I've chosen the right-wing NIV will be clear shortly.

      Another passage is found in the "Book of the Covenant" in Exodus, among some of the oldest material in the Hebrew bible.

      Exodus 21:22 (again, NIV):

      If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely[e] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
      Again, NIV.  Notice the phrase "gives birth prematurely."  In fact, it's clear from the Hebrew that the fetus is aborted.  The less politically motivated KJV translates it this way:
      If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

      23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,

      24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

      25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

      The "yet no mischief follow" refers to the status of the woman.

      The Hebrew indicates that a blow to a woman that causes a miscarriage is not a capital crime but is to be compensated as a civil matter.  If the blow kills the woman or destroys the woman's capacity to bear other children, then it's a more serious matter.

      This has always been the view of Jewish commentators:

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

      All of this is in the context of writings drawn from an ancient, patriarchal world that we would find harsh, even horrifying.  Also, the Hebrew bible is a collection of writings from a period of nearly 1,000 years and includes writers who vehemently disagree with each other on many matters of theology and ethics.

      The details of the history of this NIV translation, done in 1973, are fascinating.  There was a lot of political intrigue behind this change in translation, and it was closely related to Roe v. Wade and the Right's effort to draw in Evangelicals on the abortion issue.

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