My analysis of the problems with the NRSV continues in Part 3! Translators of the Bible have a terrifically complicated, difficult, and usually thankless task. I knew that, of course ever since taking Greek back in college. But I did not relate to the problems emotionally until I started publishing translations of my own. It’s HARD.
My first translation project was a two-volume edition of the Apostolic Fathers for the Loeb Classical Library (published by Harvard University Press). It was at that point that I realized that what translators do is not at all what the rest of us do who can teach the ancient languages and read Greek and assign Greek translation exercises to classes of graduate students.
When you are with a class of students, you can sit around the table, discuss the various options about how a text can be translated, and talk about the pros and cons of various English renditions. Make a few suggestions for how to provide nuance to a rendering. Explicate the fuller meaning of the Greek by paraphrasing a phrase or a clause in several English sentences to capture the fuller meaning, and so on. But when you’re publishing a translation, you have to make a DECISION and type a few words instead of some other words. It’s really really hard at first.
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