I came across this post at the Better Bibles Blog this morning. It’s a wonderfully well-done example of the issues which come up as a translator moves from one language to another – in this case Koine Greek to Modern English. It caught my interest because I mentioned the phrase, “No one knows the day or the hour” of the Son of Man’s return in my sermon yesterday, and how people mistakingly believe that this means the year is still open for us to figure out (oh the headaches). The fictional conversation between a translator and a scholar deals with a similar problem when they discuss potential figurative meanings.
Thanks. I am encouraged whenever someone else understands what I have written.
Looking beyond the literalism implicit in the misunderstanding of your sermon you report, there are subtler problems.
We tend to take the meanings of words individually and miss the fact that they have different meanings in context — part of the point Wayne is making. Your example includes a word often misunderstood in Scripture. The word generally translated “hour” doesn’t always mean what we think it does. I posted about it here, in case you’re interested. I would argue that the correct translation of that passage into 21st century English is: “No one knows the date or the time” of the Son of Man’s return. Notice that such a translation undercuts the literalist’s misunderstanding.
Yah, actually my point in the sermon was that the whole “day and hour” thing is basically on idea that has the meaning of, “you have no idea when this is happening.
Not sure I’d turn it to “time” because I like the figure of speech – but if there was a way to communicate the idea even better than re-translating one of the words I’d be up for it.
Thanks of your comment!
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