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Home    About    Bible Translation

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Most Sentences in the Bible Begin with And

BY DREW PUBLISHED 09/25/2013

Stephen Hawking touches on a surprising topic in his autobiography My Brief History: Biblical Hebrew’s waw-consecutive. The blog Parchment and Pen sets up, tells and reflects on the excerpted episode:


Hawking only mentions his “run in” with Christianity a few times. A prominent memory of the Bible was having a tutor use the Bible in English class. He writes:


To keep us occupied, he therefore set us to read a chapter of the Bible each day and write a piece on it. The idea was to teach us the beauty of the English language. We got through all of Genesis and part of Exodus before I left. One of the main things I learned from this exercise was not to begin a sentence with “And.” When I pointed out that most sentences in the Bible began with “And,” I was told that English had changed since the time of King James. In that case, I argued, why make us read the Bible?”


I believe, sadly, Stephen Hawking received bad biblical information. I wish I could get in a time machine to provide an alternative response to the inquisitive young Hawking. One of those frustrating moments in history where his English teacher doesn’t know what he’s talking about.


I would have let Hawking (and his English teacher) know about the importance of the conjunction in the Hebrew language. Every first year Hebrew student recognizes the conjunction used all over the place. Since all our modern Bibles are a translation there are always decisions made by the translators between being extremely literal to the text versus sounding like good English. In Greek, for instance, the verb can frequently be the first word in the sentence (Kick, the you, the ball). Only Yoda speaks that way in English.


The King James translators, to honor the importance of the Hebrew text, would bend the laws of English to be faithful to the originals. This can actually help support how vitally important everyone involved views the message of the Bible. Instead of Hawking feeling like the Bible is a book of bad English, I hope he will one day see it as an eternally important collection of Hebrew and Greek writings.


Check out the rest of the post, Stephen Hawking Detained in Russia for Bible Smuggling.

POSTED IN BIBLE TRANSLATION, LANGUAGE TAGGED: CONJUNCTIONS, ENGLISH, HEBREW, KJV, OT, STEPHEN HAWKING | LEAVE A COMMENT

Cultural Influences in Bible Translation

BY DREW PUBLISHED 09/25/2013BY DREW PUBLISHED 02/26/2013

If translation is simply representing a text in another language, then there is no room for cultural influences, right? Not quite.


Imagine translating the Bible into a language that has never been written before. A native speaker is found who also speaks his country’s national language. The native speaker turned translator begins translation with the help of an expat consultant who has been trained for this very task. The translator and the native translator work together through the medium of the country’s national language, not the first language of either of them. How many cultural influences are at play in such a (common) circumstance?


United Bible Societies translation consultant Robert Bascom writes, “The task of cross-cultural communication involved in Bible translation is especially daunting in view of the multiplicity of cultures involved.” He identifies up to five cultures that may be at play in a given project:

  1. The culture of a given biblical text
  2. The culture of the translation consultant (often an outside/expat trained in the West)
  3. The culture of the language of communication (e.g., French culture in francophone Africa)
  4. The culture of the translator
  5. The culture of the country where the work is being done


Robert Bascom, “The Role of Culture in Translation” in Bible Translation: frames of reference, ed. Timothy Wilt (Manchester: St. Jerome, 2003), 81.


POSTED IN BIBLE TRANSLATION TAGGED: AFRICA, CULTURE, FRANCOPHONIA, ROBERT BASCOM, TIMOTHY WILT, TRANSLATION CONSULTANT, UBS | LEAVE A COMMENT

Handing Off Bible Translation in Ethiopia

BY DREW PUBLISHED 02/24/2013

Christianity Today has a great story from Ethiopia about the “handing-off” of the work Bible translation to national translators: The Gospel Hand-Off.This story highlights some the roles that Wycliffe is playing in translation today.


We can’t help but rejoice at the increased involvement in Bible translation by so-called “target” communities. May we all see ourselves as “partners” in Bible translation for the glory of God and the building up of the Church.


In a victory the Caudwells could scarcely have imagined 12 years ago, the churches of Basketo now have the Gospels of Mark and Luke in their mother tongue, and the entire Basketo New Testament is currently being reviewed. Throughout the process, the credit for the work was due not to one or two missionaries, but to a wide team of translators, consultants, and supporters both in Ethiopia and worldwide. Today, the Basketo people are more than 90 percent Christian.


Indigenous missionaries like Getachew are increasingly sent out to neighboring people groups. Foreign and local ministries are ministering in greater ways than either could alone. “Foreigners increasingly need to adopt a posture of service to the local and national leaders,” says Simon.


Continue reading


POSTED IN BIBLE TRANSLATION TAGGED: BASKETO, CHRISTIANITY TODAY, ETHIOPIA | LEAVE A COMMENT

Bible Translation Conference 2013: Promoting Excellence

BY DREW PUBLISHED 11/16/2012

Thrilled to get this email in my inbox, I had to pass along the preliminary details for Bible Translation Conference 2013. I had such a great time at Bible Translation Conference 2011 last year and offered some reflections afterward. I would strongly encourage you to attend.


I am pleased to give you this information about the upcoming biennial Bible Translation Conference. You may have already gotten this information from another source, but I don’t want anyone to miss out on this tremendous opportunity. In particular, please note the abstract deadline.


We are excited about the ways this conference has been used over the years to encourage the Bible translation community. At our last conference in 2011, more than 320 Bible translators, linguists, literacy specialists, anthropologists, sign language and orality specialists, consultants, and other professionals attended. They came from over 71 service fields, 41 countries, and 55 Bible translation organizations and training institutions. The next conference will continue the trend!

DATE AND LOCATION:

The upcoming Bible Translation Conference will be October 11-15, 2013, in Dallas, Texas, at the International Linguistics Center. It is co-sponsored by SIL International and the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics.

THEME:


The theme for this year’s conference is


PROMOTING EXCELLENCE IN BIBLE TRANSLATION


We will be accepting abstracts for papers on the following sub-themes:


a. Workforce and Training (including project management, cluster projects and other models, developing independent thinking and critical analysis skills, training paradigms, developing consultants, etc.)


b. Bible Translation Theory and Practice (including textual and exegetical issues, factors of genre, key terms, extended metaphors, drafting approaches, etc.)


c. Print and Non-Print Media (including storying, arts and performance, signed languages, scripts, study notes, multi-media, internet and new media, etc.)


d. Engagement and Impact (including host community participation, scripture engagement, acceptability, ethics, contextualization, Scripture selection in the translation process, etc.)


We encourage submissions that present case studies of experimental or innovative approaches. The abstract deadline will be May 3, 2013.


The BT2013 Call for Papers, costs, plenary speakers’ names, and registration deadlines will follow at a later date.


ACTION STEPS:


1. This preliminary announcement informs you of the theme for the 2013 Conference. You are encouraged to plan to submit an abstract. We will accept abstracts until May 3, 2013.


2. Please plan to attend BT 2013, October 11-15.


3. Please help us spread the word by forwarding this email to interested colleagues.


For more information see:


http://www.gial.edu/news-views/bt-conference or write BTConference_Dallas@sil.org


POSTED IN BIBLE TRANSLATION TAGGED: BIBLE TRANSLATION CONFERENCE, SIL | LEAVE A COMMENT

Acquiring Lexica – Your Input Appreciated

BY DREW PUBLISHED 10/24/2012

It’s time that I finally buy Greek and Hebrew lexica. I’m therefore currently trying to work out the best way to go about adding BDAG and HALOT to my library, whether physically or digitally. I’d love your input.


At the moment, I’m most seriously considering digital versions given my somewhat transient life–currently living in France, but about to move to Africa in the new year. Additionally, I love the Logos app for my Android smartphone and wouldn’t be surprised if purchasing their biblical language set of BDAG and HALOT integrated perfectly into the app. On the other hand, I’m not currently a user of Logos on my computer, thus I’d really only be able to access the lexica on my phone–not a terribly inviting notion. But Is it the case that if I purchase the lexica I’d only be able to access them through the app or would I somehow be able to use Logos for PC without buying a huge package?


Or, do I go with Bibleworks? of which I have an older version thanks to a very benevolent friend.


Or, ought I just buy the physical books?


I’d love your thoughts on the best way to add BDAG and HALOT to one’s library in 2012. Thanks!


POSTED IN EVERYDAY, LANGUAGE TAGGED: BDAG, HALOT, LANGUAGE, LEXICON, RESOURCE | 6 COMMENTS

So Much in this Way

BY DREW PUBLISHED 10/23/2012

Sorry for the nonsense title of this post. You’ll understand why shortly. Now on to the subject at hand. Have you seen the latest video from Wycliffe USA called “Translating for Understanding”?









You can easily understand why the creators of the video chose such a well-known verse as the example passage to be translated. I often employ John 3:16 as well when I’m speaking on Bible translation. but for different reasons. Yes, the verse is well-known, but the translation issues involved in translating John 3:16 are not.


First, a comparison of English translations shows the different ways in which the Greek word monogenes has been translated. We have, for example, “only-begotten” in the beloved King James but “(one and) only” in more recent translations like the English Standard Version, the New International Version and the New Living Translation (NLT, the version referenced in the video above). This change from begottenness to uniqueness reflects an evolution in the understanding of the underlying compound mono + genes. John 3:16 most likely speaking of the Son’s uniqueness and not his begottenness.


Secondly, one encounters the issue of how best to translate the very first word in the Greek, houtos. This adverb may either be translated as an adverb of manner meaning “in this way” or as an intensifier like “so much.” You may have noticed that the video above (quoting the NLT) opts for the second of these, rendering John 3:16: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son…” while the Holman Christian Standard Version, for example, goes with “in this way” but adds the following footnote:

The Gk word houtos, commonly translated in Jn 3:16 as “so” or “so much” occurs over 200 times in the NT. Almost without exception it is an adverb of manner, not degree (for example, see Mt 1:18). It only means “so much” when modifying an adjective (see Gl 3:3; Rv 16:18). Manner seems primarily in view in Jn 3:16, which explains the HCSB‘s rendering.


I’m inclined to side with the translation “in this way,” but see also the value in translating houtos as “so” in this verse, given that it represents the ambiguity present in the original. I for one would not immediately think to translate houtos as “so much” like the NLT has done.


My opinions aside, the above video highlights–unwittingly I suppose–more than it’s designed to address in the world of translation.


POSTED IN BIBLE TRANSLATION TAGGED: ESV, GREEK, HCSB, JOHN, KJV, MONOGENES, NIV, NLT, VIDEO, WYCLIFFE | LEAVE A COMMENT

Literacy in the Ancient World

BY DREW PUBLISHED 08/15/2012

A while back a friend and I were discussing literacy in the ancient world. We were entertaining questions such as, two thousand years ago, how many people could read? Could write? Owned books? I never was able to find an answer online, or even a guess. Well, last weekend while on the TGV to Paris I had the time to crack open the latest edition of JETS, the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, and to my delight I discovered an article that treated this very subject while addressing a broader theme.

Stanley E. Porter and Bryan R. Dyer, “Oral Texts? A Reassessment of the Oral and Rhetorical Nature of Paul’s Letters in Light of Recent Studies,” JETS 55.2, pp. 323-341.

In this article, Porter and Dyer critique Ben Witherington’s rhetorical critical approach to NT interpretation, taking exception with his emphasis on the NT culture as primarily an oral one. They write, for example, “it is too simplistic to describe the NT era as an oral culture as opposed to a written one–the truth is that it is much more complex than this” (p. 329). What follows is the ushering in of statistics and estimates of literacy in the ancient world. This is what I want to highlight in this blog post in bullet point form.


Porter and Dyer (P&D) note the following concerning literacy in the NT era (pp. 329-332):


Here’s a pic of a very cool wall I stumbled upon in Paris that has “I love you” in a myriad of languages. For the life of me I couldn’t get make the sun streaks coming through the trees to go away for the photo. Dommage !













POSTED IN LANGUAGE TAGGED: ALEXANDRIA, BEN WITHERINGTON III, BOOKS, BRYAN DYER, DRACHMA, EPHESUS, GALEN, JESUS, JETS, LITERACY, NT, READING, RHETORICAL CRITICISM, ROMAN EMPIRE, STANLEY PORTER, WRITING | LEAVE A COMMENT

Can You Read?

BY DREW PUBLISHED 07/08/2012

It’s hard for native speakers to avoid the conclusion that you are uneducated, or stupid even, if you speak their language less than satisfactorily. On Thursday a woman asked me if I knew how to read. I was dumbfounded and so simply replied by saying, “Qui? Molière?” She laughed.















POSTED IN EVERYDAY, LANGUAGE TAGGED: FRENCH, L2, LANGUAGE ACQUSITION, LANGUAGE LEARNING, MOLIÈRE, STUPIDITY | LEAVE A COMMENT

Placing Bible Translation Theories in Historical Context

BY DREW PUBLISHED 05/26/2012

The following article from SIL’s Journal of Translation was incredibly helpful to me in providing contemporary context for Bible translation theories, especially meaning-based translation. Inside, you’ll find discussions and the history of terms like dynamic equivalency, meaning-based translation, functional equivalency, optimal equivalency, relevance theory, frames of reference, and skopostheorie, among helpful bibliographies and charts and graphs. The article, like the journal, may be freely downloaded.


Kerr, Glen J. “Dynamic Equivalence and Its Daughters: Placing Bible Translation Theories in Their Historical Context,” Journal of Translation 7(1): pp. 1-19.


Here are two interesting excerpts to spur you on to read more (p.11 and p. 13, respectively):


“The truth is that practice in translating has far outdistanced theory[.]“


and


[O]ne gets the sense that much of the writing on dynamic equivalence was a sort of polemic against formal equivalence, which was viewed as the regnant approach to Bible translation in need of dislodging.


This post is especially for Joe, who was looking for something like this ages ago.


POSTED IN BIBLE TRANSLATION TAGGED: DYNAMIC EQUIVALENCE, FRAMES OF REFERENCE, FUNCTIONAL EQUIVALENCY, GLEN KERR, JOURNAL OF TRANSLATION, MEANING-BASED TRANSLATION, OPTIMAL EQUIVALENCY, RELEVANCE THEORY, SIL, SKOPOSTHEORIE, THEORY | 1 COMMENT

D. A. Carson on ‘Jesus, the Son of God’

BY DREW PUBLISHED 05/15/2012

As I post I’m making dinner and listening to a lecture given by D. A. Carson at Westminster Seminary back in March. It’s titled “A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misconstrued, and Currently Disputed: Jesus, the Son of God.” You can download the mp3 and have a listen.


Unfortunately, Dr. Carson begins his talk by saying he won’t be discussing this christological title in connection with Bible translation as he just came from doing so. One always stands to benefit, however, from Carson’s careful exegesis and that’s what you’ll find in this lecture (I hope–still listening!).

HT: Credo blog


POSTED IN THEOLOGY TAGGED: AUDIO, BIBLICAL THEOLOGY, D. A. CARSON, LECTURE, MP3, SON OF GOD, WESTMINSTER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY | LEAVE A COMMENT


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The Bible Never Taught Us About Defending Your Home

PUBLISHED 11/13/2014

Notice of pending foreclosure It’s been a while since this has been updated. I would like to blame it on my recent financial problems but really I have been a bit lazy. Story time: For those of you that don’t know my family has lived in the same home for the last 10 or so years. My parents decided to take a much needed 4 month long vacation and tasked me with paying their bills while they were gone. I don’t live at home anymore so I would stop by their place everyonce in a while. Not a problem. They had prewritten all of their checks and told me the address to send it to when I got the bills in the mail. All I had to do was check the mail, buy stamps and make sure everything was paid.

I though everything was going smoothly until after the second month I noticed the power was cut off. Thinking there was some misunderstanding I contacted the power company and was told both previous checks had bounced. I was unable to contact them since they were on a hiking expedition. I didn’t think it was that big of deal since they were gone anyways.

A week later I am going through their mail and find all these notices of missed payments for just about every bill I had been paying for them. Since I was not on their account I was not able to get any information about what was happening. Electricity was gone. Internet was gone. Cable was gone. Home telephone no longer working. Nothing.

When I finally did get a hold of my parents 3 months into their vacation my dad said he may have goofed and filled out the wrong checks. He said not to worry about it and he would take care of it when they got home since reception was bad.

About two weeks before they got home I noticed a letter in the mail that said “Final Notice of Default.” At that point I became worried. I figured as soon as my parents got home they would pay all the payments that bounced. However just in case I started doing research and found out they might actually be in jeopardy of losing their home to foreclosure. I found a local foreclosure defense website that explained what would most likely happen if the mortgage was not paid. ( Source: http://theorlandoforeclosure.attorney/ )

Sure enough when my parents came home they were served by the bank telling them the property was being foreclosed on. Even when my parents tried to pay the full amount the bank refused to work with them. We ended up meeting with a foreclosure defense attorney. They were able to get the case dismissed after a few months. Scary situation.

I just goes to show you how important it is to make your payments on time. If I had not done my research and if they had not gotten back in time we could have lost the home to the bank.

POSTED IN PAY YOUR BILLS, STOP FORECLOSURE, SMART ATTORNEY | LEAVE A COMMENT