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[Synoptic-L] Re: Mark, Papias, & Translation Greek

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  • Randall Buth
    shalom, ... Josephus Jewish War is one such. Though many question its status as translation since it is so Greek. I would concur, adding perhaps that a
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 24 2:20 AM

      while coming in late on the thread, a couple of observations:
      >LJS: << A good translation should in theory be undetectable as a
      >translation. >>
      >SCM: << I challenge you to point to one ancient Greek translation of a
      >Semitic source which reads stylistically as well as any ancient text
      >originally composed in Greek.

      Josephus 'Jewish War' is one such. Though many question its status as
      translation since it is so Greek. I would concur, adding perhaps that a
      professional stylist could have produced it, a option already old in the
      history of scholarship.

      >LJS: << This is somewhat of an odd way of responding to my mind. To merely

      >answer a challenge with a challenge. But I would ask what you mean by
      >"stylistically as well", to what are we comparing the translations? Homer?

      >Herodotus? Mark? Revelation? Basil of Caesarea? These are all very
      >different "stylistic" works. Or should we only compare our translations
      >with "Semitic Greek" works such as Philo, the LXX, Testament of the 12, or

      >IV Ezra, all composed in Greek, unless my memory fails me, except the LXX
      >of course. What is the standard we shall use? >>

      Philo reads remarkly 'unSemitic' Greek.
      While some of the Testament literature has turned up at Qumran in Aramaic
      and Hebrew texts.
      So the above comment is nor refined enough.
      1st century educated Hellenistic would be a good standard. Paul's letters
      make a nice 'Jewish Greek' standard, though that is tongue in cheek because
      he writes a good standard Greek and should not be grouped together with the

      > Furthermore, there have been numerous statistical
      >studies which claim that they distinguish between Greek texts which are
      >literal translations of a Semitic source and those texts which were
      >originally composed in Greek.

      See the studies by Raymond Martin, especially 1987, 1989, 1995.

      >Now I don't mean to suggest that any one of these by themselves can
      >indicate whether a work is a literal translation or an original Greek
      >composition. And, there are other similar criteria which I have not
      >But I would suggest that once all these criteria have been properly
      >assessed it is generally fairly easy to distinguish between a literal
      >translation of a Semitic source from most original Greek compositions.
      >read the first couple of chapters of Maccabees I and the first couple of
      >chapters of Macabees IV, the difference between the two should be apparent

      >to anyone able to read Greek.

      Nothing better than some simple common sense and observation.
      Yes, 1 Maccabbees is obviously from Hebrew. But not IV, nor II.

      >Let's take the issue of the genitive absolute. According to statistics
      >supplied by Nigel Turner (and A. W. Argyle), in translated books of the
      >LXX, the frequency of the genitive absolute is from a 1-in-83 verses (in
      >Job) to a 1-in-1406 verses (in Ecclesiasticus). (The lower the second
      >number the more frequent it occurs.) The frequency for 1 Maccabees is
      >1-in-231 verses, and for 4 Maccabees it is 1-in-23 verses. The frequency
      >for the genitive absolute in the Gospel of Matthew is 1-in-20 verses. And
      >one should not forget, we have a large body of evidence for Greek
      >translations from a Semitic source, namely the translated books of the
      >This analysis is not based on scant evidence.

      ><< Davies and Allison in the commentary on Matthew make the point well
      >worth keeping in mind that perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the

      >testimony of those such as Origen whose command of the Greek language was
      >certainly more native and superior to any modern scholar when he states
      >that Greek Matthew is a translation, perhaps it is such a good one that we

      >are unable to detect it as such, especially since we don't have the source

      >text. >>
      >With all due respect, I don't know if this argument should carry much
      >weight. While it is undoubtedly true that Origen, as well as Eusebius,
      >Clement of Alexandria, and Irenaeus (to mention Davies and Allison's other

      >examples), understood Greek better than probably any modern scholar living

      >today, I don't know if they ever spent much time thinking about the
      >possible differences between translation Greek and non-translation Greek.

      Yes, Matthew was written in Greek (though not just from the above
      The gospels raise a peculiar problem though, that of inconsistency.
      For example, Matthew has many sentences that are pure Semitic to the point
      of clanging in any Greek hear or of giving zero meaning. (like, 'bind and
      loose' or 'what be commandment big?' or 'then/edayin' in the narrative
      framework) Idioms like this could give any ancient Greek reader the naive
      impression of dealing with 'translation'.
      So even though we need to acknowledge that gospel of Matthew was written in
      Eusebius and Origen should be absolved of having had their sensitivities

      Haggim semeHim
      Randall Buth

      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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