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RE: [GTh] A New Tack on Translating RWME

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  • Judy Redman
    ... It is not possible to build much of a case about what gender Greeks considered something to be based on the gender of Greek words, unless they are proper
    Message 1 of 11 , May 4, 2008
      Roger says:
      >
      > Hmmmm--- "the rejected masculine lithos" becomes the head of
      > what was the feminine "gonia". #114 restated? Actually, I
      > do not take much credence in Greek gender as Greek words were
      > invented long before the NT authors used them and Jesus did
      > say he made all things new. And as I understand, the Coptics
      > borrowed from the Greek

      It is not possible to build much of a case about what gender Greeks
      considered something to be based on the gender of Greek words, unless they
      are proper names. English is the only language with which I am familiar
      that bases the gender of nouns on the gender of the objects they represent.
      Greek nouns that name inaninmate objects can be masculine, feminine or
      neuter - that doesn't mean that Greeks thought of tables, chairs, books etc
      as being male, female or genderless.

      Coptics borrowed many words from Greek, mainly to express concepts that
      didn't exist in Egyptian thought, but not always. They didn't always carry
      the gender of the word across from the Greek though.

      Judy

      --
      "Politics is the work we do to keep the world safe for our spirituality" -
      Judith Plaskow, Phoenix Rising, 2000

      Rev Judy Redman
      PhD candidate, Postgraduate member of Council & Uniting Church Chaplain
      University of New England Armidale 2351
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    • CJED5@aol.com
      [Mike,] thank you for posting this! It s answered the questions I had about Meyer s translation, although my personal jury is still out on his rationale.
      Message 2 of 11 , May 5, 2008
        [Mike,] thank you for posting this! It's answered the questions I had about
        Meyer's translation, although my personal jury is still out on his rationale.

        I'm not an expert in Greek by any means, but have been looking into how to
        translate 'anthropos' recently. 'Anthropos' when used of an individual
        always refers to a male individual, alhough it is also used to refer to a group of individuals of either sex. It reminds me of the Old English use of the
        word 'man, originally 'human', while wapman was a male human (weapons-man) and
        wombman a female human. In the same way, 'man' referring to an individual is
        used solely to apply to a male human.

        I recall that Michael Marlowe discussed the translation of anthropos ... ah,
        here it is!
        (http://www.bible-researcher.com/anthropos.html)

        [J.S. Chandler]
      • Michael Grondin
        ... Thanks for your note, J.S. (and please sign your notes - that s the protocol, and I don t know if the name I put on it agrees with you.) The Marlowe piece
        Message 3 of 11 , May 5, 2008
          > [Mike,] thank you for posting this! It's answered the questions I had
          > about
          > Meyer's translation, although my personal jury is still out on his
          > rationale.

          Thanks for your note, J.S. (and please sign your notes - that's the
          protocol, and I don't know if the name I put on it agrees with you.)
          The Marlowe piece is great. It covers the area I had intended to
          cover in the second part of this note, when thinking about it last night,
          and with much more expertise than I have at my disposal. Marlowe
          answers the questions I would have posed, without knowing the answers.

          This weekend, I came to realize that my analysis in this series of notes
          was still incomplete. It occurred to me to ask two questions about
          Meyer's Anthropos Principle (i.e., that RWME corresponds to, or is
          synonymous with, ANTHROPOS). The first was, "Even if it's false, what's
          the translational impact?" The second was, "Even if it were true, what
          would the translational impact be?" Both of these questions need to
          be answered in order to come to a proper judgement about Meyer's
          translations (and others that appear to depend on the Anthropos Principle.)
          I'll look at these two questions, and describe how I approached them.

          "Even if the AP is false, what's the translational impact?" The reason
          this question arises is that it's possible that a translation derived by
          applying the AP might be _no different_ from a translation which was
          derived from a case-by-case examination of the 35 occurrences of
          RWME in Coptic Thomas. Even though the application of the AP
          would certainly yield inaccurate results if used on a broad range of
          Coptic writings, the particular usages of RWME in Thomas might be
          such that the application of AP against _them_ might yield accurate
          results accidentally. (This is an application of the "Blind Pig Principle",
          namely that even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while. Or is that
          the Blind Squirrel Principle?)

          While it's true that I _felt_ that certain RWME-contexts in Thomas
          were male-gendered rather than gender-neutral, feelings aren't
          tools of cognition, so the thing to do seemed to be to look at the
          Greek NT parallels of Thomas' RWME-sayings. Frankly, I was
          disappointed at the results; in every case in which there was a
          word in the Greek that corresponded to RWME (other than cases
          like 'someone' or 'no one'), it was ANTHROPOS, not ANHR.
          Especially pertinent was L72 (the Divider saying) where Jesus
          addresses someone in a salutation that even Meyer renders in
          male terms as 'mister'. In the Greek, however (Lk 12:13), the
          salutation employs ANTHROPOS, while the person addressed
          is referred to only as 'someone in the crowd'. Could it be that
          what such a salutation really meant (but contra Meyer's translation
          of it) was 'Oh human!' rather than 'Oh man!'? If so, then it would
          seem at least plausible that a case-by-case examination of
          RWME-usages would yield the same results as applying AP,
          unsound though AP is.

          At this point, I thought to ask the second question, "Even if AP
          were true, what would the translational results be?" In other words,
          even if RWME corresponded to ANTHROPOS, was it true, as Meyer
          implied, that ANTHROPOS should always be translated in a gender-
          neutral way? Here, the Marlowe piece that J.S. Chandler provided a
          link to gives a negative answer from a general viewpoint. Not having
          that kind of expertise myself, the best way I could think of to answer
          the question was to see whether the Greek translators on the Jesus
          Seminar translation panel agreed with Meyer and Patterson in their
          translational elimination of 'man'. I was pleased to find that they didn't.

          Although there was an overall attempt by the Jesus Seminar to go
          to what is called 'inclusive language', the translation of Thomas
          sayings involving RWME differed in three cases from the translation
          of parallel Greek passages involving ANTHROPOS. I previously
          mentioned L78.2, where Meyer and Patterson have 'person'
          dressed in fine clothes, but the JSem Greek translators have 'man
          dressed in fine clothes. Add to that 86.2, where the Meyer-Patterson
          translation changes singular to plural to yield 'human beings' [have no
          place to lay their heads and rest'], but where the JSem Greek translators
          have 'son of Adam'. And 63.1, where the JSem Greek translators have
          'rich man', but Meyer-Patterson has 'rich person'. (At least, that's the way
          it is in _The Five Gospels_. In _The Complete Gospels_, however,
          which I thought was the same, 'rich person' has unaccountably been
          changed to 'rich man' in the Thomas translation. Not the doing of
          Meyer and Patterson, I assume.)

          What this shows, I think, is that the Greek translators on the JSem
          translational panel didn't agree with Meyer and Patterson on a
          radical program of translating every occurrence of ANTHROPOS
          in gender-neutral terms, _even though_ those other translators
          were interested in eliminating gender-bias. This in turn agrees
          with what Marlowe has to say, so I think it's fair to conclude that
          what Meyer takes as an implication of the Anthropos Principle
          is in fact - and independently of the Principle - unsound as well.

          Mike Grondin
          Mt. Clemens, MI
        • John Moon
          I have an observation, Could the lack of male dominance in the translation be a subtle or not so subtle left over from assuming that Gospel of Thomas must be
          Message 4 of 11 , May 6, 2008
            I have an observation,

            Could the lack of male dominance in the translation be a subtle or not
            so subtle left over from assuming that Gospel of Thomas must be in
            fact a gnostic text?

            That is, because the gnostics might have used certain forms ( Later)
            removing the male oriented original intent. (Due to their beliefs
            systems)

            The translators would be inclined to translate and remove the male
            orientation, which likely was the case in the original Greek copy( Or
            Aramaic).

            Either way I ask this?


            How it is translated today( say by removing the male dominance Of
            ANTHROPOS, and other words within the text).


            WOuld that be how it was written or originally intended.

            That is we may( and others may want to make it culturally acceptable,
            and bring certain bias to the text which might never have occurred
            when it was originally written.

            I would say "How " it is translated should be focused in on the
            timeline.

            If it would not have been said or written in that day and time? It
            should not be translated in a way that differs from that text and
            it's Sitz im leben.

            Therefore, in the society and time in which it occurred. Which is the
            most likely translation?

            I would suggest that it would be male,but I ask openly.


            Regards,

            John Moon
            Springfield,Tenn.
            John Moon



            On May 5, 2008, at 10:06 AM, Michael Grondin wrote:

            > What this shows, I think, is that the Greek translators on the JSem
            > translational panel didn't agree with Meyer and Patterson on a
            > radical program of translating every occurrence of ANTHROPOS
            > in gender-neutral terms, _even though_ those other translators
            > were interested in eliminating gender-bias. This in turn agrees
            > with what Marlowe has to say, so I think it's fair to conclude that
            > what Meyer takes as an implication of the Anthropos Principle
            > is in fact - and independently of the Principle - unsound as well.



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Michael Grondin
            ... Absolutely not. Neither Meyer nor Patterson think it s a gnostic text. Their translation(s) derive from two (unsound) principles: 1. That RWME corresponds
            Message 5 of 11 , May 6, 2008
              John Moon asks:
              > Could the lack of male dominance in the translation be a subtle or not
              > so subtle left over from assuming that Gospel of Thomas must be in
              > fact a gnostic text?

              Absolutely not. Neither Meyer nor Patterson think it's a gnostic text.
              Their translation(s) derive from two (unsound) principles:

              1. That RWME corresponds to ANTHRWPOS, and that
              2. ANTHRWPOS should always be translated as gender-neutral.

              On the other side of the issue, Doresse thought (late 50's) that Thomas
              was gnostic, yet he retained 'man' in his translation (_The Secret Books
              of the Egyptian Gnostics_). Grant and Freedman (_The Secret Sayings
              of Jesus_, 1960) also took Thomas to be gnostic, yet they used the
              Schoedel translation, which retains 'man'.

              Though I'm not sure exactly what you're getting at with your other
              questions, I think we can rule out that any version of Thomas ever had
              a special vocabulary. Of course we can only speculate about an
              Aramaic or Syrian version, but the Coptic RWME and the Greek
              ANTHRWPOS have an ambiguity to them which is also present in
              the English word 'man'. Sometimes it's a generic or species-related
              meaning, as in 'Anthropology is the study of Man' or (from Thomas)
              'Man is like a wise fisherman'. Sometimes it's used to refer to individuals
              who happen to be male. As to how one _should_ translate Coptic Thomas,
              that question would lead to an interminable debate which would, I think,
              come down in the end to one's point of view.

              Mike Grondin
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