Friday, May 12, 2006

Translating ‘Hypocrites’ in the Gospels

More from Kenny Pearce (more earlier):

A repeated issue on this blog has for some time been the difference between translation and transliteration and the way that the vast majority of Bible translations have failed to actually translate a large number of critical words, simply writing out the original Greek words instead. One such example that I’ve been thinking about recently is the word ‘hypocrite.’ ... the English word ‘hypocrite’ does not have the same meaning as the Greek upokrites and this at the very least kills a very good metaphor (compare my post on ‘talents’ ), and possibly even distorts the meaning of the text. ...

Jesus’ criticism in these verses doesn’t have to do with the high moral standards professed but not lived up to, it has to do with general insincerity, and putting on a show. Jesus speaks in a vivid metaphor, saying that to the scribes and Pharisees “life is a stage.” When we transliterate the work into English, we destroy this metaphor and, while we may get the general sense, we certainly miss the depth of what Jesus is getting at here. ...

Also see KP on ‘talents’

Posted by Nathan Bierma on 05/12 at 10:27 AM
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