Thursday, August 15, 2013

Is Our Translation Bias Showing?

I was leading a discussion the other day on Biblical research and the topic of personal bias came up. If I hold
a position or have only been taught a certain way, won't I translate or read meanings from that biased perspective? Do I need to guard against interpreting scripture from by perspective instead of from the meaning of the text?

Since this dovetailed with previous work in my book, Those Pesky Verses of Paul,  I turned the discussion to 1 Cor. 11.16f as an illustration of just that tendency in action. After the statements of Paul on the issue of headcoverings, praying and who was created first, he finally concludes the issue by saying that if anyone has any problems and wishes to contradict him, well the simple truth is the churches have no other view than the one given. 

Is that, however, true? The text presents several views and deciding which view Paul meant or is referring to, can be as clear as mud. Some things are clear: Paul was responding to complaints, he frequently quotes what factions are saying, and then gives his pronouncement as the guiding religious leader. 

The truth is that in that particular section of text the Greek word utilized is the guide. The word is toioutos and it is best translated as 'no such' and the passage best reads the churches have no such rule or view.  Arguments that Paul is referring to being contentious seems a stretch off topic in the context and a tad bit obvious for Paul to conclude a discussion on a volitile topic with a simplistic caution against disagreeing.

Many, many Bibles and commentaries, however, will translate it in violation of the meaning of the word as 'no other'. The notes in the NIV Study Bible infers the two terms are synonomous, The Interpreter' One Volume Commentary  of the Bible infers the same, Mounce's Interlinear for the Rest of Us (2006) translate's it as 'other' as do works like Green's Interlinear Greek New Testament (1988), and Berry's Interliner Greek-English New Testament (1969) and the EVS Reverse Interlinear New Testament (2006). The implication is clear and their bias evident. 

There is a big difference in one small word.... 

The churches have no other view....this is the rule, the standard, the law 


The churches have no such view....there is room for diversity and liberty 

One word can mean a lot.

--Marilyn A. Hudson, author of Those Pesky Verses of Paul 

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