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Re: [GTh] A New Tack on Translating RWME

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  • 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 1 of 11 , May 5, 2008
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      > [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 2 of 11 , May 6, 2008
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        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 3 of 11 , May 6, 2008
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          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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