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David Ker

Rending of garments... throwing of ashes in the air...

Looking forward to more on this.

Esteban Vázquez

Amen, amen, amen! I am just mortified every time someone states that the NT was written in the "language of the common people," because it is usually the case that no amount of evidence or pleading will convince them of the contrary.

As for the NLT being generally better (and preserving certain Hebraisms in the NT is a plus in my book) in the NT testament vs. the Old, I have noticed this too, much to my chagrin.

(Goodness, it just dawned on me that I still owe you email!)

Peter Kirk

I was going to add my Amen!, but then I realised that either Esteban or I have totally misunderstood you. I agree that the language of the NT contains many Hebraisms and OT allusions which would be fully understood by "no ordinary Greek man or woman", although they could get a basic understanding of it. But it was written to a large extent in "language of the common people" in its target audience, who were not ordinary Greeks but Greek-speaking Jews and Greeks who were at least to some extent interested in the Jewish faith. The exact target audience varies from book to book, and so the style does.

Iyov

Peter, it appears to me you are writing a type of tautology. Every work has some audience (if only its own author) who can understand it. So, you may as well say "Ezra Pound's Cantos was written in the ordinary language designed to be understood by its reader, T. S. Eliot."

To say that the degree of Hebraism was a function of the "intended audience" of the NT books (as if the NT books were textbooks in a national educational curriculum) rather than converse makes an unwarranted assumption. Perhaps the assumption might be justified for the epistles which (if we have them in the original form) actually were intended for specific audiences. But when we discuss the gospels, it is more natural by Occam's Razor to say that authors used different degrees of Hebraisms and technical language in the NT books and as a result, they have varying degrees of accessibility.

 JohnFH

Esteban and Iyov understand my drift, and that of Hoskyns.

I'm not sure what you are driving at, Peter, but I'm sure you will clarify as time goes by.

Peter Kirk

Iyov and John, let me help to explain by giving an example. Suppose you were writing a popular magazine article intended for the youth in a religious Jewish community. You would probably write it in general terms in modern informal English. Well, maybe you two wouldn't, but a good author would! But you would include references to Jewish customs and items, Hebrew and Yiddish loan words and phrases. As a result the article would not be understood well by a Gentile reader with no special understanding of Jewish customs. That would not imply that in general terms it is in a special high level literary form of English. I would suggest that parts of the New Testament are in a similar category, written for Jewish audiences and so hard for Gentiles to understand because of the special terminology used.

Keith Williams

I agree that discussions of the "level" of the language in the Greek NT often fall into overly simplistic generalizations. My limited experience with the Hebrew Bible leads me to the same conclusions there. The same criticism can be leveled at those who want to claim the high literary character of Hebrews and Job for all of Scripture. Surely Mark and Chronicles have their own, less literary character as well.

I look forward to your posts on the NLTse! Also, if you have any input for me on my new series on the NLT changes, I'd love to hear them.

Keith Williams

Hmm. Looks like my HTML skills could use some work. Sorry!

 JohnFH

Keith,

That's nice of you to show up here! Just for that, I won't be quite so hard on NLT2 as I was planning to be! Seriously, NLT2 is an excellent DE translation, but DE translations have their limitations, as I will show.

 JohnFH

Peter,

I going to take the agreement we have and run with it. You are aware that the level of difficulty at the level of vocabulary (grammar, syntax, rhetoric) varies from one book of the NT to the next. With what justification are those differences not reflected in translation? Why the leveling? The diversity and unity of the NT at this level reflects a theological truth: we serve the Lord in different ways, but we serve the same Lord.

I for one want a translation that reflects the diversity and the unity. How about you?

Peter Kirk

John, I too would prefer "a translation that reflects the diversity and the unity", although without making it too hard for the intended target audience. As I understand it, only small parts of the NT are written in a high literary style, and even this was not too hard to understand for general readers. Specialist vocabulary is a separate issue. I think more work needs to be done on style and level of language in biblical Hebrew.

 JohnFH

A lot of work has been done on style and register in biblical Hebrew. I refer you to the work of Frank Polak in particular (discussion and bibliography on this blog will be easy to find through googling).

John

By the way, if you'd take issue with some of Mr. Marlowe's arguments, if you provide good, reasoned, intelligent feedback to him (his e-mails is on his site), whether or not he agrees with your arguments, I bet he'd likely appreciate it. : )

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