We have just looked at and. Other such connectives are not , or and if In the formalization of propositional logic, the counterparts of such connectives are sometimes called boolean operators. The basic expressions of propositional logic are propositional symbols , often written as P , Q , R , etc. There are varying conventions for representing boolean operators. From the propositional symbols and the boolean operators we can build an infinite set of well formed formulas or just formulas, for short of propositional logic. First, every propositional letter is a formula.
The 2. Table 2. These rules are generally straightforward, though the truth conditions for implication departs in many cases from our usual intuitions about the conditional in English. From a computational perspective, logics give us an important tool for performing inference. Suppose you state that Freedonia is not to the north of Sylvania, and you give as your reasons that Sylvania is to the north of Freedonia. In this case, you have produced an argument.
The sentence Sylvania is to the north of Freedonia is the assumption of the argument while Freedonia is not to the north of Sylvania is the conclusion. The step of moving from one or more assumptions to a conclusion is called inference. Informally, it is common to write arguments in a format where the conclusion is preceded by therefore. Therefore, Freedonia is not to the north of Sylvania. An argument is valid if there is no possible situation in which its premises are all true and its conclusion is not true.
Now, the validity of 9 crucially depends on the meaning of the phrase to the north of , in particular, the fact that it is an asymmetric relation:. Unfortunately, we can't express such rules in propositional logic: the smallest elements we have to play with are atomic propositions, and we cannot "look inside" these to talk about relations between individuals x and y. The best we can do in this case is capture a particular case of the asymmetry. To say that Freedonia is not to the north of Sylvania , we write -FnS That is, we treat not as equivalent to the phrase it is not the case that So now we can write the implication in 10 as.
How about giving a version of the complete argument? We will replace the first sentence of 9 by two formulas of propositional logic: SnF , and also the implication in 11 , which expresses rather poorly our background knowledge of the meaning of to the north of. We'll write [A1, This leads to the following as a representation of argument 9 :. By contrast, if FnS were true, this would conflict with our understanding that two objects cannot both be to the north of each other in any possible situation.
Arguments can be tested for "syntactic validity" by using a proof system. We will say a little bit more about this later on in 3. Logical proofs can be carried out with NLTK's inference module, for example via an interface to the third-party theorem prover Prover9. The inputs to the inference mechanism first have to be converted into logical expressions. Here's another way of seeing why the conclusion follows. If SnF is true, then -SnF cannot also be true; a fundamental assumption of classical logic is that a sentence cannot be both true and false in a situation.
Consequently, -FnS must be true. Recall that we interpret sentences of a logical language relative to a model, which is a very simplified version of the world. A model for propositional logic needs to assign the values True or False to every possible formula. We do this inductively: first, every propositional symbol is assigned a value, and then we compute the value of complex formulas by consulting the meanings of the boolean operators i.
A Valuation is a mapping from basic expressions of the logic to their values. Here's an example:. We initialize a Valuation with a list of pairs, each of which consists of a semantic symbol and a semantic value. The resulting object is essentially just a dictionary that maps logical expressions treated as strings to appropriate values. As we will see later, our models need to be somewhat more complicated in order to handle the more complex logical forms discussed in the next section; for the time being, just ignore the dom and g parameters in the following declarations.
Now let's initialize a model m that uses val :.
- A Cp-Theory Problem Book: Functional Equivalencies.
- AC -Theory Problem Book: Vladimir V. Tkachuk;
- Poverty Targeting in Asia.
- The Art of Executing Well: Rituals of Execution in Renaissance Italy (Early Modern Studies, Volume 1).
Every model comes with an evaluate method, which will determine the semantic value of logical expressions, such as formulas of propositional logic; of course, these values depend on the initial truth values we assigned to propositional symbols such as P , Q and R. Your Turn: Experiment with evaluating different formulas of propositional logic. Does the model give the values that you expected? Up until now, we have been translating our English sentences into propositional logic. Because we are confined to representing atomic sentences with letters like P and Q , we cannot dig into their internal structure.
In effect, we are saying that there is nothing of logical interest to dividing atomic sentences into subjects, objects and predicates. However, this seems wrong: if we want to formalize arguments such as 9 , we have to be able to "look inside" basic sentences. As a result, we will move beyond Propositional Logic to a something more expressive, namely First-Order Logic.
This is what we turn to in the next section. In the remainder of this chapter, we will represent the meaning of natural language expressions by translating them into first-order logic. Not all of natural language semantics can be expressed in first-order logic. But it is a good choice for computational semantics because it is expressive enough to represent a good deal, and on the other hand, there are excellent systems available off the shelf for carrying out automated inference in first order logic.
Our next step will be to describe how formulas of first-order logic are constructed, and then how such formulas can be evaluated in a model. First-order logic keeps all the boolean operators of Propositional Logic. But it adds some important new mechanisms. To start with, propositions are analyzed into predicates and arguments, which takes us a step closer to the structure of natural languages. The standard construction rules for first-order logic recognize terms such as individual variables and individual constants, and predicates which take differing numbers of arguments.
For example, Angus walks might be formalized as walk angus and Angus sees Bertie as see angus, bertie. We will call walk a unary predicate , and see a binary predicate. The symbols used as predicates do not have intrinsic meaning, although it is hard to remember this. Returning to one of our earlier examples, there is no logical difference between 13a and 13b.
A Cp-Theory Problem Book
By itself, first-order logic has nothing substantive to say about lexical semantics — the meaning of individual words — although some theories of lexical semantics can be encoded in first-order logic. Whether an atomic predication like see angus, bertie is true or false in a situation is not a matter of logic, but depends on the particular valuation that we have chosen for the constants see , angus and bertie.
For this reason, such expressions are called non-logical constants. By contrast, logical constants such as the boolean operators always receive the same interpretation in every model for first-order logic. It is often helpful to inspect the syntactic structure of expressions of first-order logic, and the usual way of doing this is to assign types to expressions. Following the tradition of Montague grammar, we will use two basic types : e is the type of entities, while t is the type of formulas, i. Given these two basic types, we can form complex types for function expressions.
The logical expression can be processed with type checking. Although the type-checker will try to infer as many types as possible, in this case it has not managed to fully specify the type of walk , since its result type is unknown. To help the type-checker, we need to specify a signature , implemented as a dictionary that explicitly associates types with non-logical constants:. Although this is the type of something which combines first with an argument of type e to make a unary predicate, we represent binary predicates as combining directly with their two arguments.
For example, the predicate see in the translation of Angus sees Cyril will combine with its arguments to give the result see angus, cyril. In first-order logic, arguments of predicates can also be individual variables such as x , y and z. In NLTK, we adopt the convention that variables of type e are all lowercase. Individual variables are similar to personal pronouns like he , she and it , in that we need to know about the context of use in order to figure out their denotation. One way of interpreting the pronoun in 14 is by pointing to a relevant individual in the local context.
Another way is to supply a textual antecedent for the pronoun he , for example by uttering 15a prior to Here, we say that he is coreferential with the noun phrase Cyril. As a result, 14 is semantically equivalent to 15b. Cyril is Angus's dog. Cyril disappeared. Consider by contrast the occurrence of he in 16a. In this case, it is bound by the indefinite NP a dog , and this is a different relationship than coreference. If we replace the pronoun he by a dog , the result 16b is not semantically equivalent to 16a.
Angus had a dog but he disappeared. Angus had a dog but a dog disappeared. Corresponding to 17a , we can construct an open formula 17b with two occurrences of the variable x. We ignore tense to simplify exposition. He is a dog and he disappeared. At least one entity is a dog and disappeared. A dog disappeared. Everything has the property that if it is a dog, it disappears. Every dog disappeared. Although 20a is the standard first-order logic translation of 20c , the truth conditions aren't necessarily what you expect. The formula says that if some x is a dog, then x disappears — but it doesn't say that there are any dogs.
So in a situation where there are no dogs, 20a will still come out true. Now you might argue that every dog disappeared does presuppose the existence of dogs, and that the logic formalization is simply wrong. But it is possible to find other examples which lack such a presupposition. For instance, we might explain that the value of the Python expression astring.
We have seen a number of examples where variables are bound by quantifiers. What happens in formulas such as the following? The scope of the exists x quantifier is dog x , so the occurrence of x in bark x is unbound. Consequently it can become bound by some other quantifier, for example all x in the next formula:. If all variable occurrences in a formula are bound, the formula is said to be closed. We mentioned before that the Expression object can process strings, and returns objects of class Expression. Each instance expr of this class comes with a method free which returns the set of variables that are free in expr.
Recall the constraint on to the north of which we proposed earlier as 10 :. We observed that propositional logic is not expressive enough to represent generalizations about binary predicates, and as a result we did not properly capture the argument Sylvania is to the north of Freedonia. You have no doubt realized that first order logic, by contrast, is ideal for formalizing such rules:. The general case in theorem proving is to determine whether a formula that we want to prove a proof goal can be derived by a finite sequence of inference steps from a list of assumed formulas.
First, we parse the required proof goal and the two assumptions. Then we create a Prover9 instance , and call its prove method on the goal, given the list of assumptions. Happily, the theorem prover agrees with us that the argument is valid. We'll take this opportunity to restate our earlier syntactic rules for propositional logic and add the formation rules for quantifiers; together, these give us the syntax of first order logic. In addition, we make explicit the types of the expressions involved. In this case, we say that n is the arity of the predicate. Table 3. We have looked at the syntax of first-order logic, and in 4 we will examine the task of translating English into first-order logic.
Yet as we argued in 1 , this only gets us further forward if we can give a meaning to sentences of first-order logic. In other words, we need to give a truth-conditional semantics to first-order logic. From the point of view of computational semantics, there are obvious limits in how far one can push this approach. Although we want to talk about sentences being true or false in situations, we only have the means of representing situations in the computer in a symbolic manner.
Despite this limitation, it is still possible to gain a clearer picture of truth-conditional semantics by encoding models in NLTK. In the models we shall build in NLTK, we'll adopt a more convenient alternative, in which Val P is a set S of pairs, defined as follows:. Such an f is called the characteristic function of S as discussed in the further readings. Relations are represented semantically in NLTK in the standard set-theoretic way: as sets of tuples.
For example, let's suppose we have a domain of discourse consisting of the individuals Bertie, Olive and Cyril, where Bertie is a boy, Olive is a girl and Cyril is a dog. For mnemonic reasons, we use b , o and c as the corresponding labels in the model. We can declare the domain as follows:. We will use the utility function Valuation. So according to this valuation, the value of see is a set of tuples such that Bertie sees Olive, Cyril sees Bertie, and Olive sees Cyril. Your Turn: Draw a picture of the domain of m and the sets corresponding to each of the unary predicates, by analogy with the diagram shown in 1.
You may have noticed that our unary predicates i. This is a convenience which allows us to have a uniform treatment of relations of any arity. In our models, the counterpart of a context of use is a variable assignment. This is a mapping from individual variables to entities in the domain. Assignments are created using the Assignment constructor, which also takes the model's domain of discourse as a parameter. We are not required to actually enter any bindings, but if we do, they are in a variable , value format similar to what we saw earlier for valuations.
In addition, there is a print format for assignments which uses a notation closer to that often found in logic textbooks:. Let's now look at how we can evaluate an atomic formula of first-order logic. First, we create a model, then we call the evaluate method to compute the truth value. What's happening here? We are evaluating a formula which is similar to our earlier examplle, see olive, cyril.
However, when the interpretation function encounters the variable y , rather than checking for a value in val , it asks the variable assignment g to come up with a value:. Since we already know that individuals o and c stand in the see relation, the value True is what we expected. In this case, we can say that assignment g satisfies the formula see olive, y.
By contrast, the following formula evaluates to False relative to g — check that you see why this is. In our approach though not in standard first-order logic , variable assignments are partial. For example, g says nothing about any variables apart from x and y. The method purge clears all bindings from an assignment. If we now try to evaluate a formula such as see olive, y relative to g , it is like trying to interpret a sentence containing a him when we don't know what him refers to.
In this case, the evaluation function fails to deliver a truth value. Since our models already contain rules for interpreting boolean operators, arbitrarily complex formulas can be composed and evaluated. The general process of determining truth or falsity of a formula in a model is called model checking. One of the crucial insights of modern logic is that the notion of variable satisfaction can be used to provide an interpretation to quantified formulas. Let's use 24 as an example. When is it true? Let's think about all the individuals in our domain, i. We want to check whether any of these individuals have the property of being a girl and walking.
In fact, o is such a u :. One useful tool offered by NLTK is the satisfiers method. This returns a set of all the individuals that satisfy an open formula. The method parameters are a parsed formula, a variable, and an assignment. Here are a few examples:. It's useful to think about why fmla2 and fmla3 receive the values they do.
Since neither b Bertie nor c Cyril are girls, according to model m , they both satisfy the whole formula. And of course o satisfies the formula because o satisfies both disjuncts. Now, since every member of the domain of discourse satisfies fmla2 , the corresponding universally quantified formula is also true. Your Turn: Try to figure out, first with pencil and paper, and then using m. Make sure you understand why they receive these values. What happens when we want to give a formal representation of a sentence with two quantifiers, such as the following?
There are at least two ways of expressing 26 in first-order logic:. Can we use both of these? The answer is Yes, but they have different meanings. We distinguish between 27a and 27b in terms of the scope of the quantifiers. So now we have two ways of representing the meaning of 26 , and they are both quite legitimate. In other words, we are claiming that 26 is ambiguous with respect to quantifier scope, and the formulas in 27 give us a way to make the two readings explicit. However, we are not just interested in associating two distinct representations with We also want to show in detail how the two representations lead to different conditions for truth in a model.
The admire relation can be visualized using the mapping diagram shown in In 28 , an arrow between two individuals x and y indicates that x admires y. So j and b both admire b Bruce is very vain , while e admires m and m admires e. In this model, formula 27a above is true but 27b is false. One way of exploring these results is by using the satisfiers method of Model objects. This shows that fmla4 holds of every individual in the domain.
By contrast, consider the formula fmla5 below; this has no satisfiers for the variable y. That is, there is no person that is admired by everybody. Taking a different open formula, fmla6 , we can verify that there is a person, namely Bruce, who is admired by both Julia and Bruce. Your Turn: Devise a new model based on m2 such that 27a comes out false in your model; similarly, devise a new model such that 27b comes out true.
We have been assuming that we already had a model, and wanted to check the truth of a sentence in the model. By contrast, model building tries to create a new model, given some set of sentences. If it succeeds, then we know that the set is consistent, since we have an existence proof of the model. One option is to treat our candidate set of sentences as assumptions, while leaving the goal unspecified. The following interaction shows how both [a, c1] and [a, c2] are consistent lists, since Mace succeeds in building a model for each of them, while [c1, c2] is inconsistent.
We can also use the model builder as an adjunct to the theorem prover. We can feed this same input to Mace4, and the model builder will try to find a counterexample, that is, to show that g does not follow from S. If g fails to follow from S , then Mace4 may well return with a counterexample faster than Prover9 concludes that it cannot find the required proof. Conversely, if g is provable from S , Mace4 may take a long time unsuccessfully trying to find a countermodel, and will eventually give up.
Let's consider a concrete scenario. Our assumptions are the list [ There is a woman that every man loves , Adam is a man , Eve is a woman ]. Our conclusion is Adam loves Eve. Can Mace4 find a model in which the premises are true but the conclusion is false? In the following code, we use MaceCommand which will let us inspect the model that has been built. So the answer is Yes: Mace4 found a countermodel in which there is some woman other than Eve that Adam loves.
But let's have a closer look at Mace4's model, converted to the format we use for valuations. The general form of this valuation should be familiar to you: it contains some individual constants and predicates, each with an appropriate kind of value. What might be puzzling is the C1. This is a "skolem constant" that the model builder introduces as a representative of the existential quantifier.
That is, when the model builder encountered the exists y part of a4 above, it knew that there is some individual b in the domain which satisfies the open formula in the body of a4. However, it doesn't know whether b is also the denotation of an individual constant anywhere else in its input, so it makes up a new name for b on the fly, namely C1.
Now, since our premises said nothing about the individual constants adam and eve , the model builder has decided there is no reason to treat them as denoting different entities, and they both get mapped to a. Moreover, we didn't specify that man and woman denote disjoint sets, so the model builder lets their denotations overlap. This illustrates quite dramatically the implicit knowledge that we bring to bear in interpreting our scenario, but which the model builder knows nothing about. So let's add a new assumption which makes the sets of men and women disjoint. The model builder still produces a countermodel, but this time it is more in accord with our intuitions about the situation:.
On reflection, we can see that there is nothing in our premises which says that Eve is the only woman in the domain of discourse, so the countermodel in fact is acceptable. If we wanted to rule it out, we would have to add a further assumption such as exists y. At the beginning of the chapter we briefly illustrated a method of building semantic representations on the basis of a syntactic parse, using the grammar framework developed in 9.
This time, rather than constructing an SQL query, we will build a logical form. One of our guiding ideas for designing such grammars is the Principle of Compositionality. Principle of Compositionality: The meaning of a whole is a function of the meanings of the parts and of the way they are syntactically combined.
We will assume that the semantically relevant parts of a complex expression are given by a theory of syntactic analysis. Within this chapter, we will take it for granted that expressions are parsed against a context-free grammar. However, this is not entailed by the Principle of Compositionality. Our goal now is integrate the construction of a semantic representation in a manner that can be smoothly with the process of parsing. In 29 , the sem value at the root node shows a semantic representation for the whole sentence, while the sem values at lower nodes show semantic representations for constituents of the sentence.
Since the values of sem have to be treated in special manner, they are distinguished from other feature values by being enclosed in angle brackets. So far, so good, but how do we write grammar rules which will give us this kind of result? Our approach will be similar to that adopted for the grammar sql0. However, in the present case we will use function application rather than string concatenation as the mode of composition. To be more specific, suppose we have a NP and VP constituents with appropriate values for their sem nodes.
Then the sem value of an S is handled by a rule like Observe that in the case where the value of sem is a variable, we omit the angle brackets. From this, we can conclude that? The VP rule says that the parent's semantics is the same as the head child's semantics. The two lexical rules provide non-logical constants to serve as the semantic values of Cyril and barks respectively. There is an additional piece of notation in the entry for barks which we will explain shortly.
This provides us with an invaluable tool for combining expressions of first-order logic as we assemble a meaning representation for an English sentence. In 3 , we pointed out that mathematical set notation was a helpful method of specifying properties P of words that we wanted to select from a document.
We illustrated this with 31 , which we glossed as "the set of all w such that w is an element of V the vocabulary and w has property P ". It turns out to be extremely useful to add something to first-order logic that will achieve the same effect. Since we are not trying to do set theory here, we just treat V as a unary predicate. The corresponding NLTK representation is given in 33c. A couple of English glosses for 33b are: "be an x such that x walks and x chews gum" or "have the property of walking and chewing gum".
This is illustrated in 34a and its translation 34b. To walk and chew-gum is hard. Here's a more official version of how abstracts are built:. But what we usually do with properties is attribute them to individuals. In 36 , 33b is predicated of the term gerald. Now 36 says that Gerald has the property of walking and chewing gum, which has the same meaning as The "reduction" of 36 to 37 is an extremely useful operation in simplifying semantic representations, and we shall use it a lot in the rest of this chapter.
This is indeed true, subject to a slight complication that we will come to shortly. Just as 33b plays the role of a unary predicate, 38 works like a binary predicate: it can be applied directly to two arguments. We might try this:. Instead, we need to allow abstraction over variables of higher type. P angus. P x to each of these terms:. We pointed out earlier that the results of the application should be semantically equivalent. But if we let the free variable x in 39a fall inside the scope of the existential quantifier in 40a , then after reduction, the results will be different:.
What has gone wrong here? Clearly, we want to forbid the kind of variable "capture" shown in 41a. In order to deal with this problem, let's step back a moment. Does it matter what particular name we use for the variable bound by the existential quantifier in the function expression of 40a? The answer is No.
A Cp-Theory Problem Book
For example, exists x. P x and exists y. When we test for equality of VariableBinderExpression s in the logic module i. Suppose, as in the example discussed above, that x is free in a , and that f contains the subterm exists x. In this case, we produce an alphabetic variant of exists x. P x , say, exists z1. P z1 , and then carry on with the reduction.
As you work through examples like these in the following sections, you may find that the logical expressions which are returned have different variable names; for example you might see z14 in place of z1 in the above formula. This change in labeling is innocuous — in fact, it is just an illustration of alphabetic variants.
At the start of this section, we briefly described how to build a semantic representation for Cyril barks. You would be forgiven for thinking this was all too easy — surely there is a bit more to building compositional semantics. What about quantifiers, for instance?
Right, this is a crucial issue. For example, we want 42a to be given the logical form in 42b. How can this be accomplished? A dog barks. Let's make the assumption that our only operation for building complex semantic representations is function application. Then our problem is this: how do we give a semantic representation to the quantified NP s a dog so that it can be combined with bark to give the result in 42b? As a first step, let's make the subject's sem value act as the function expression rather than the argument.
This is sometimes called type-raising. Now we are looking for way of instantiating? We will take this to be the type of NP s in general. To illustrate further, a universally quantified NP will look like We are pretty much done now, except that we also want to carry out a further abstraction plus application for the process of combining the semantics of the determiner a , namely 43 , with the semantics of dog. Our next challenge is to deal with sentences containing transitive verbs, such as The output semantics that we want to build is exists x.
A significant constraint on possible solutions is to require that the semantic representation of a dog be independent of whether the NP acts as subject or object of the sentence. Some virtues are more sedulously inculcated by moralists and philosophers when the language has fit names for indicating them; whereas they are but superficially treated of, or rather neglected, in nations where such virtues have not so much as a name.
This word lies at the heart of the gospel message, and I think it is no exaggeration to say that its translation and interpretation is crucial to a true understanding of Biblical theology in general. The free and unmerited favor of God … b. The divine influence which operates in men to regenerate and sanctify, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation … c.
The condition of one who is under such influence … d. An individual virtue or excellence, divine in its origin. None of them is obsolete. But no. In their own field of study they understand the need for special terms quite well. We would not deny that the technical vocabulary of linguistics serves a good purpose, although for the uninitiated it must sometimes be more mystifying and anything found in Bible versions. Every discipline has its own technical vocabulary. Linguistics is no exception.
Most of the technical terms used by linguists arise in the course of their work and are easily understood by those who approach the subject sympathetically and without prejudice. The objection is sometimes made that the terminology, or jargon, of linguistics is unnecessarily complex. Why is the linguist so prone to the creation of new terms? The answer is that most of the everyday terms that are used with reference to language—many of which, incidentally, originated as technical terms of traditional grammar—are imprecise or ambiguous.
This is not to say that the linguist, like all specialists, may not be guilty at times of misplaced terminological pedantry. In principle, however, the specialized vocabulary of linguistics, if it is kept under control and properly used, serves to clarify, rather than to mystify. It eliminates a good deal of ambiguity and possible misunderstanding. We can accept this explanation. But how is it that linguists like Nida and Newman do not admit the need for a special religious vocabulary, even in the translation of a religious text?
It is hard to believe that persons with their training would not understand the advantages of a specialized religious vocabulary. We suspect that they are not really as obtuse as they seem to be. Nevertheless, the inadequacy is plain to see. The reader of these versions has not been required to enter into the conceptual framework of the Bible as it is expressed over and over again in its terminology and phraseology; he has been deprived of the opportunity to perceive the network of allusions and verbal associations which give the Bible such richness of meaning; and he is protected from exposure to anything very demanding or unusual.
The reader is left in his own familiar and everyday world of thinking. The whole idea is to present nothing to the reader which is strange. Nothing which requires a pause for reflection, orientation, and discovery. Nothing that stretches the imagination. Peterson goes beyond the acceptable bounds of dynamic equivalence in that he will often divest passages from their first-century Jewish context, so that Jesus, for example, sounds like a twentieth-century American.
Look at Mt 5. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. In Jn 2. In his book Toward a Science of Translating , he introduces the theory thus:. However, there are fundamentally two different types of equivalence: one which may be called formal and another which is primarily dynamic. Formal equivalence focuses attention on the message itself, in both form and content.
In such a translation one is concerned with such correspondences as poetry to poetry, sentence to sentence, and concept to concept. Viewed from this formal orientation, one is concerned that the message in the receptor language should match as closely as possible the different elements in the source language.
This means, for example, that the message in the receptor culture is constantly compared with the message in the source culture to determine standards of accuracy and correctness. Such a translation might be a rendering of some Medieval French text into English, intended for students of certain aspects of early French literature not requiring a knowledge of the original language of the text. Their needs call for a relatively close approximation to the structure of the early French text, both as to form e.
Such a translation would require numerous footnotes in order to make the text fully comprehensible. A gloss translation of this type is designed to permit the reader to identify himself as fully as possible with a person in the source-language context, and to understand as much as he can of the customs, manner of thought, and means of expression. In such a translation one is not so concerned with matching the receptor-language message with the source-language message, but with the dynamic relationship mentioned in Chapter 7 , that the relationship between receptor and message should be substantially the same as that which existed between the original receptors and the message.
A translation of dynamic equivalence aims at complete naturalness of expression, and tries to relate the receptor to modes of behavior relevant within the context of his own culture; it does not insist that he understand the cultural patterns of the source-language context in order to comprehend the message. Of course, there are varying degrees of such dynamic-equivalence translations. One of the modern English translations which, perhaps more than any other, seeks for equivalent effect is J.
In connection with this last paragraph, we would also notice what Nida said in an earlier book about the kind of interpretation conveyed in the example from Phillips. What do authorities in circumstances later than the original communication say that M [the message] ought to mean to R [the receptor], quite apart from what S [the source] may have intended? And the judges of the Supreme Court know quite well that their interpretations have for many years gone far beyond what the founding fathers intended—though not necessarily different from what some of them would have prescribed were they living today.
Peterson at least refrains from turning the original saying here into something specific to our culture, and merely generalizes the thought. We might call this de-culturation. It is a relatively unimportant instance, but in view of the fact that Nida himself chose to illustrate his theory with it, one can hardly claim that his theory rules out any kind of transculturation.
In contrast with formal-equivalence translations others are oriented toward dynamic equivalence. In such a translation the focus of attention is directed, not so much toward the source message, as toward the receptor response. Basically, the word natural is applicable to three areas of the communication process: for a natural rendering must fit 1 the receptor language and culture as a whole, 2 the context of the particular message, and 3 the receptor-language audience.
The conformance of a translation to the receptor language and culture as a whole is an essential ingredient in any stylistically acceptable rendering. Here Nida twice repeats his dictum that a dynamic translation must be adapted to the culture as a whole. If left unqualified, the practical implications of this principle are enormous. He writes:. No translation that attempts to bridge a wide cultural gap can hope to eliminate all traces of the foreign setting.
In The Theory and Practice of Translation , written by Nida and Charles Taber, we find more warnings against cultural transformations of the text that would involve major distortions or loss of meaning:. The best translation does not sound like a translation. Quite naturally one cannot and should not make the Bible sound as if it happened in the next town ten years ago, for the historical context of the Scriptures is important, and one cannot remake the Pharisees and Sadducees into present-day religious parties, nor does one want to, for one respects too much the historical setting of the incarnation.
A conscientious translator will want the closest natural equivalent. There are situations, however, in which culturally strange objects must be retained because of their symbolic values. For example, one cannot dispense with a term for sheep or lambs, for these animals figure so largely in the entire sacrificial system. Moreover, there are important analogies employed in the New Testament, e.
We may then contrast a linguistic translation, which is legitimate, and a cultural translation or adaptation, which is not. This is because we believe in the significance of the historical events and situations just as they occurred. It is the job of the pastor and teacher, not of the translator, to make the cultural adaptation. In an essay on lexicology published in he wrote:. Whatever we may personally think of structural analysis as divorced from meaning or of the influence of grammatical categories on thought processes, we must certainly admit the close relationship between language and culture.
Language cannot be properly treated except in terms of its status and function as a part, a process, and, to some degree, a model of culture, with a high degree of reciprocal reinforcement. The meanings of words and sentences can never be abstracted from their cultural setting and then conveyed in other languages without loss or change of meaning. Translations can make the meaning of the original accessible to people in other languages, but only if the reader understands that it is a translation he is reading, and that everything in the translation must be understood according to the context of the original work.
The reader cannot simply stay where he is in his own culture, and have the meaning transferred to him there. He must enter into the world of the text. In the previous chapter I gave several examples of distorted meanings to illustrate this point, and many more will be given below. A scholar might even dispute the genuineness of a text which does not contain such clear signs of agreement with the historical context. If it is not possible to convey the meaning of her words in language which is natural to modern American readers, then it follows that we must abandon that principle of translation.
For the sake of the meaning we must use language that is not natural for the receptors. And this is the way it has to be, not because of some mindless literalism, but because of the indissoluble connection between culture and semantics. The problem here is not even primarily verbal. The forty sons could not have been possible without multiple wives, a sign of great wealth. We know that the infant mortality rate in ancient times was more than 50 per cent, even among the wealthy. Sultan Murad III had one hundred and two children, but at the time of his death there were only twenty sons and twenty-seven daughters still living.
American readers who are unfamiliar with status symbols of the second millennium before Christ are likely to associate donkey-riding with poor hillbillies and other rural folk of low degree. Having many sons, by several wives, is not a sign of status in modern Western society. So it cannot be taken for granted that uneducated readers will intuitively understand that the purpose of the statement is to indicate how wealthy, blessed, and prominent this man was. Implicit in this statement is quite a bit of cultural information. It is not hard for a teacher to explicate it, but what can a translator do with this verse to make explanations unnecessary?
If any reference to the donkeys is retained, the reader needs to be brought into an ancient setting where riding on a donkey was a luxury. Familiarity with ancient agriculture is necessary to understand many things in the Bible. As just one example of this, consider the complex metaphor used in Micah Because in ancient times, the sheaves of the harvest were often threshed by driving oxen over them on the threshingfloor.
Now, this metaphor should be interpreted, and a Christian preacher would do well to explain it in a spiritual sense, after the example of Edward Pusey:. While the stubble is beaten or bruised to small pieces, and the chaff is far more than the wheat, and is carried out of the floor, there yet remains the seed-corn. So in the great judgments of God, while most is refuse, there yet remains over, what is severed from the lost heap and wholly consecrated to Him. The Minor Prophets , But the translation of the passage cannot and should not be adapted to the limits of someone who does not know anything about threshing.
Although both figures involve an animal with horns and hoofs, the meaning is quite altered. The meaning of many expressions in the Hebrew Bible cannot be conveyed in ordinary English without explanations. One literal translation of Jeremiah reads,. Here the translators of the English Revised Version have done what they could. The words O Jerusalem have been added to express the force of the feminine singular forms used in the sentence.
These forms are used because Jeremiah is employing a common trope in which cities are figured as women cp. When he tells Jerusalem to cut off her hair he is partly alluding to an ancient mourning custom — a form of self-humiliation practiced by women in extreme demonstrations of mourning, like the tearing of garments. When used in reference to the hair of the Nazarite, it denotes the hair as a sign of consecration.
We note that the word is used here for poetic reasons, indicating not only a desolate location away from Zion, but also one which is bare , like the head of the mourner. This reader has never heard anyone speak to a whole city as if it were a woman. He does not, of course, live in Jerusalem. Does it mean crying? And perhaps he does not accept the idea that God sometimes gets angry. I think this would describe the average person in my home town. The impracticality of these goals should be obvious in this case.
There is nothing even remotely equivalent to it in modern American culture. While claiming to make the meaning accessible, they make much of it inaccessible. In theory, the purpose is to convey the meaning to everyone; but in practice, anything that requires an explanation for the average reader is simply eliminated. The hard truth is, there is no easy and familiar form of colloquial language that can express in English what Jeremiah says in the Hebrew.
I do not think it is unrealistic to expect people to learn things about the ancient culture and geography of Israel while reading the Bible. Ordinary readers of the Bible will pick up items of knowledge like this from a properly translated and annotated text. The very unusualness of the word will suggest to them that it refers to something unusual or even foreign to their experience, and will facilitate the linguistic process whereby English words acquire biblical senses in the mind of the reader. The meaning of nezer is more difficult to convey, but it can be explained in a footnote.
But the patronizing and reductionistic tendencies of their own method are much too obvious to be denied. Instead of providing an accurate translation which requires the reader to do some thinking and learning, they would keep their readers in perpetual tutelage. Readers of the Bible will find that in order to understand it one must give up any expectations that the narratives will be composed according to modern Western conventions. This is one of the common expectations of naive readers, and it generates many problems for them.
The reader has to reckon not only with the fact that the sons of Adam would have only their own sisters to marry, but he must also get used to the fact that the narrators of the Bible tend to omit things that we would certainly not omit if we had composed the stories. They alone can satisfy the culturally-determined expectations of modern readers. Modern readers who lack an education in literature sometimes fail to understand the Bible correctly because of a natural tendency to interpret things literally. I once attended an adult Bible-study class at a Baptist church, led by a layman, who asserted that Sarah, the wife of Abraham, was a Hittite.
In fact he was a dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the local university. But his background was in engineering, and I suppose he must have had little exposure to literature, for it did not occur to him that the prophet was speaking metaphorically. Another convention of prophetic speech often misconstrued by the literal-minded reader is hyperbole —rhetorical exaggeration to make a point. If we interpret this literally, we must say that it never happened. But that is not at all necessary. Bible commentaries usually explain it along these lines:.
Forty years—answering to the forty years in which the Israelites, their former bondsmen, wandered in the wilderness. Jerome remarks the number forty is one often connected with affliction and judgment. The rains of the flood in forty days brought destruction on the world. Moses, Elias, and the Saviour fasted forty days. I am not aware of any Bible version that tries to prevent overly literal interpretions of this and many other verses, and I do not think it would be wise, because Christians disagree about what should be taken literally, and any attempt to steer people away from literal interpretations woud require quite a bit of tendentious paraphrasing.
What can be done? If we want people to understand the Bible, we can hardly ignore this problem. But it cannot be solved by a translator. The only practical method of helping uneducated people to recognize the use of symbolic numbers and hyperbole in Scripture is to educate them about it. The New Testament presents similar problems for the uninitiated. In his preaching, Jesus often used exaggerated language to make his point, and the modern reader who is not used to this rhetorical technique must learn to recognize it.
And all the writers of the New Testament assume that the reader is familiar with the Old Testament, or at least with some important elements of Jewish religion based on it. The New Testament also assumes that the reader is familiar with many aspects of ancient Jewish culture that cannot be learned from the Old Testament.
Consider what the reader must know to understand Matthew Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, Teacher, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet: for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
The men of Nineveh shall stand up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, a greater than Jonah is here. A better way of describing this linguistic situation would be to say that these words have meaning within the context of first-century Judaism that they cannot retain when taken outside the whole interconnected system of people and ideas that constitutes the religious culture of the time.
None of the key words of the passage can retain their meaning outside the total context of people and ideas to which they belong. Acknowledging a few terms as exceptions really misrepresents the situation, because the meaning of words and sentences in a discourse like this cannot ordinarily be abstracted from the cultural context. The mind of the reader must become acculturated to the world of the Bible to get the meaning.
In Scripture the facts pertaining to the birth of a man are supposed to indicate his nature. Someone may object that a more literal translation leaves the uninformed reader in no better position, because the background information must be supplied in either case. But even small adjustments like this, which might seem to be only a matter of style to many, often leave out part of the meaning, or involve little transculturations which distort the meaning in subtle ways. The only thing lacking in betrothal was the physical consummation of the marriage.
A modern and familiar style is suitable for modern and familiar ideas. But very often the ideas of the biblical text are not modern, and they are unfamiliar to modern people who have not received any prior instruction in the historical background of the text. There are other places in this version where the marriage customs have been accidentally modernized through the use of modern expressions. Now, presumably the NLT translators had the Hebrew text in front of them and were able to read it, and yet they chose not to translate it literally. The expression may be old-fashioned, but it is understood.
It seems that the NLT translators avoided the literal rendering here because they wanted to use a more modern-sounding and idiomatic expression. The most important kind of cultural background information concerns items of mental culture, which often cannot be conveyed in quick explanations. For this I was born and for this I have come into the world—to bear witness to the Truth. Everyone who is of the Truth hears my voice. For most readers of the Bible, who lack this background, an explanation is necessary.
All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true. Any English words used for this purpose must be adapted and bent to the meaning of the ancient Greek. When these words are used in reference to people, they mean the people set apart and sanctified or consecrated to God. It is a name that makes some uncomfortable demands upon us. The history of this word illustrates the fact that ordinary language is not always to be accepted as theologically neutral. It is shaped by our culture, and it sometimes promotes a culturally-determined mentality that is incongruent with the teachings of the Bible.
In the famous story of Don Quixote , a Spanish nobleman who has been reading legends about giant-slayers, among other things, goes forth to live the life of romantic adventure. Coming upon some windmills on a plain, he sees them as giants, and attacks them. One might say that the windmills were the closest thing to giants in his environment. The original message itself pertains to the original situation, and it cannot always be abstracted from its situation and transferred to another setting, as if the cultural context were just some accidental stage-scenery.
Readers should instead be conscious of a distance between themselves and the original receptors of the biblical writings, because an awareness of the differences as well as the similarities is necessary for right interpretation and application. Whether they realize it or not, all Bible-readers are interpreters of the Bible, and they must take into consideration the historical context. I do not want to discourage the natural impulse of Christians to apply the teachings of the Bible to themselves personally, insofar as possible.
This is actually very important, and I think most people do not do enough of it. But it must be recognized that not everything in the Bible is equally relevant for everyone. It presupposes their dominance at the time, as the established authorities in a very legalistic religious regime. But is that really appropriate for us , who are already so liberal, and so much at ease in Zion? If Jesus were to return now, I doubt that his arraignment against our generation would have much to do with excessive traditionalism, legalism, and works-righteousness.
In our effete times, harping on the evils of legalism, and using the most rigorous or scrupulous people as bad examples, is like sparring with shadows. The opponents are now absent and largely imaginary. Or worse still, it may lead to a facile equation of the Pharisees with modern-day Jews — who are more like modern Episcopalians than ancient Pharisees.
Ultra-observant Jews who do resemble the Pharisees are today a marginal group which does not represent modern Judaism any more than the Amish represent Christianity, and they do not pose any threat to the Church. A version that preserves the forms of antiquity and does not try to force the Bible into modern molds does not invite such anachronistic equations. But when Jesus and his apostles are disguised as modern Americans, the reader can hardly be blamed for interpreting them as if they were.
But the Lord will have mercy on the Israelis; they are still his special ones. He will bring them back to settle once again in the land of Israel. And many nationalities will come and join them there and be their loyal allies. The nations of the world will help them to return, and those coming to live in their land will serve them. Those enslaving Israel will be enslaved—Israel shall rule her enemies!
Living Bible , Isa. Whatever is proper to the ancient world should not be domesticated. The general point made here is, not everyone should identify with the original receptors in all respects, because these original receptors were often addressed in situations radically different from our own. If the shoe fits, we should by all means wear it. But in order to know whether it fits or not, we must have knowledge of the original cultural context.
In Scripture there are many lessons that are always pertinent, for which the historical setting makes little difference. But very often it does make some difference when, where, how, why , and to whom something is said. Romans How much does a person have to know or believe in order to become a Christian? Must one affirm that Jesus is the Son of God in the full sense of the later Christian confessions and creeds? A few observations about the content and the original setting of Mark will illustrate what we are trying to say.
We immediately understand Son of God in Mark in the light of the meaning that it has in the other Gospel s to which it is joined in the NT collection. This is just as serious an error as taking a verse out of its context and interpreting it freely, without regard for its original contextual setting. It is in fact almost the same as the translator who wanted to remove a verse from Romans and place it in the Gospel of John, where he thought it was more fitting. One finds this same kind of advice in the writings of Nida. Readability is simply a measure of the ease with which people can read a text.
Intelligibility is a measure of the capacity of people to understand the text correctly, and acceptability is a measure of the readiness with which people are happy to receive such a text and read it. For example, in the Muslim world the Gospel of Matthew is generally more acceptable than the other Gospels.
For one thing, it begins with a genealogy starting with Abraham, and it contains a number of references to fulfilled prophecy cited from the Old Testament. Since many scholars believe that there are strong reasons for not considering this text as original, such a stumbling block should not be introduced in the very first verse Slomp, , , especially if the translation is being prepared primarily for an Islamic constituency. The text-critical reason is secondary. One might expect advice like this to be received most readily by translators working under the auspices of the liberal-dominated United Bible Societies.
He also claims that the Arabic word for son ibn can only be understood in this biological sense, and never metaphorically. If such terms cannot be avoided here, and in other places, what is the point of avoiding them elsewhere? Acceptibility is improved only for the moment, by a device which will eventually be seen as misleading, if the reader goes on to learn Trinitarian interpretations of the New Testament. Whatever their professed motives may be, the organizations that support this missionary tactic are sowing seeds of discord and heresy in the Church.
Unfortunately for these revisers and their readers, the principled exclusion of Christian interpretations necessarily involved the adoption of an heretical Marcionite approach to the interpretation of the Bible as a whole, 7 although it was not possible for them to remove Christian interpretations of the Old Testament from the New Testament, as Marcion did. Authors of Biblical books, even while writing Scripture inspired by the Holy Spirit, unconsciously reflected in many ways, the particular cultures in which they wrote.
Hence in the manner in which they articulate the Word of God, they sometimes offend modern sensibilities. At such times, translators can and may use non-offending renderings so as not to hinder the message of the Spirit. The patriarchalism like other social patterns of the ancient cultures in which the Biblical books were composed is pervasively reflected in forms of expression that appear, in the modern context, to deny the common human dignity of all hearers and readers.
For these forms, alternative modes of expression can and may be used, though care must be taken not to distort the intent of the original text. It is to be noticed here how the NIV translators have turned the tables on St. That person is like a tree Just today I noticed in an Associated Press news article the following sentences:. The idea that it must be eliminated from a Bible version for the sake of the dignity of female readers is an idea that savours of fanaticism.
It could only have arisen in an academic environment, under the influence of feminist ideology. The whole point of it is to destroy any sense of human dignity. Some of the gender-neutralized renderings that have appeared in recent Bible versions completely obscure the main point of the writer. Taken in isolation, some of these changes may be seen as naive attempts to make the text conform to the gender-neutral style that is now expected in published books, merely because that is what many people now expect in books. It must be said, however, that this style does not really reflect what is normal in modern English, but has been arbitrarily imposed by editors for political reasons.
No one who knows Greek is likely to be fooled by this. We all recognize that such claims are designed to provide some justification for gender-neutral renderings that are demanded for ideological reasons. Liberal scholars can make claims like this without fear of damaging their credibility among other liberal scholars, because they all wink at it.
But the statements quoted above show that most of the NIV committee members were not prepared to sacrifice their credibility among the more honest scholars by taking this route.
About This Item
Whether or not to use inclusive language in Bible translation is not a gender issue but a matter of translation theory. The influence of the KJV has made it common until recent years to do the same. Within the last two decades, however, this is practiced less and less, and those who have not grown up in the church can misunderstand such male-oriented language. You do hear it now and then in newscasts, but normally by older commentators who grew up with the idiom.
Even if the inclusive he is retained in some stylebooks, it is impossible to deny that its occurrence is becoming rarer or that ultimately it is on its way out in modern language. A basic principle of all translation theory is to express the ancient text in the thoughts and idioms of the receptor language.
This has become an important missiological mandate. The task is to be culturally relevant without being culture bound. Whenever a detail within a culture is not inimical to biblical Christianity, the church should adapt its proclamation to that practice. Replacing man with people or he with they does not contradict the meaning of the biblical text, while retaining them can be, at worst, offensive and, at best, misleading to many modern people.
Since there is little to be gained by offending people in your audience, it makes sense … to try to accommodate at least some of these concerns. This is not capitulating to a feminist agenda but exercising evangelistic sensitivity toward those including many evangelicals! In many of those instances, communication is better served by changing the pronouns lest the modern reader mistakenly think only males are being addressed. Language influences thought in several ways. When we have a word for some object of thought, it focuses and clarifies the thought. When we distinguish between things by making a distinction in words, it sharpens our perception of the difference.
When we use the same word for different things, it tends to keep them together in the mind. The development of multiple meanings for one word called polysemy by linguists usually reflects a train of conceptual associations, and is commonly spoken of under the figure of a branching tree.
When a single word is used in Scripture for things that we would ordinarily distinguish by the use of different words, we ought to consider the possibility that the original words establish or facilitate a conceptual relationship that would be weakened if different words were used. A translator should not hastily or unnecessarily separate what the biblical languages put together. The regular use of a certain English word to translate a certain Greek or Hebrew word is desirable, within limits, because it allows the English reader to see the verbal connections that exist in the original.
The desirability of this has often been emphasized by biblical scholars who have written on the subject of translation. For example, George Campbell:. I admit that it is impossible, in translating out of one language into another, to find a distinction of words in one exactly correspondent to what obtains in the other, and so to preserve uniformity, in rendering every different word by a different word, and the same word by the same word. This is what neither propriety nor perspicuity will admit. The rule, however, to translate uniformly, when it can be done, in a consistency both with propriety and perspicuity, is a good rule, and one of the simplest and surest methods I know, of making us enter into the conceptions of the sacred writers, and adopt their very turn of thinking.
As Campbell says, it is not always possible to translate concordantly, using the same English word for all occurrences of a Hebrew or Greek word. This word occurs often in the New Testament about times , and it is translated several different ways in English versions. The suffix logy at the end of many English words biology, theology, psychology , etc. It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. It is because my revelation is beyond your grasp. It is because you are unable to do so! Again, it is important to bear in mind that a word often has different meanings in different contexts.
One should not try to find all of the senses of a word in every context where it occurs. But, as I hope to illustrate with this example, it sometimes happens that the sense-distinctions we would make for the purpose of English translation are not so distinct in the original word, which may represent a complex concept that combines ideas in ways that English does not. This is not a mere play on words.
Athanasius who is among the least playful of authors is linking ideas in a way already prepared by his language. It is really almost inevitable that a Greek theologian would connect the image of God with the Logos , and the Logos with rationality in particular. Anything created as a reflection of the divine Logos must first of all be logikos , rational. The tendency of the Greek language to combine these things is very evident here. But the connection fails in English, because we habitually make a linguistic distinction between the internal reasoning and the external speech, and so we have no word that refers to both.
In any case, the translator who would bring the full meaning of this sentence across the language barrier has no choice but to override the restrictions of the English language and bring over the Greek words themselves, either in brackets or footnotes, to exhibit the chain of thinking. Despite the fact that these same words have already been adopted into English in several ways, expressing various meanings belonging to them, we still do not have a word that means both reason and word!
There is no English equivalent for the metaphysical sense in which it is used there. It would not be the first time this word has been borrowed. Explanations like this are often given in expository preaching. The fact that these biblical words mean both faith and faithfulness i. Here again it is necessary to teach people a biblical meaning for the English word. The vocabulary of Biblical Hebrew includes several important words that resist translation. It denotes a kind of dutiful love, connected with promises, family relations, and covenants; and also any action that is motivated by such love.
It represents a complex concept which cannot be reduced to just one of these English nouns in any of its occurrences. It denotes the soul as embodied , and so it is used in reference to such primal bodily urges as the appetite, along with the deepest emotions. The soul is what makes any creature alive.
Man is not set apart from the beasts by the possession of a soul, he is set apart by being created in the image of God. As an example of this linguistic chemistry in action, consider the following words of Isaac to Esau in Genesis It is used in contexts where the fact that they are living is pertinent, where a matter of life and death is prominent, or where the most primal desires of the person are in view. In this context, both the carnal appetite and the impending death of Isaac have made a reference to his soul especially appropriate. This important text briefly sets forth a theology of the atonement.
Moreover we note that the participle and pronouns connected with it are grammatically feminine, which gives the impression that it is the soul a feminine noun which eats and is cut off. If the word is translated three different ways in these two verses, the connections which are obviously being made in the mind of the author are dissolved.
But that is exactly what happens in many English versions. The NLT renders it thus:. I will cut off such a person from the community. I have given you the blood so you can make atonement for your sins. The substitutionary idea was expressed in the original by verbal connections which are completely eliminated in the English translation.
This demand is often incompatible with the requirements of an accurate translation. A translator must sometimes employ the principle of concordant rendering, even if it goes against the idiomatic grain of the receptor language, in order to preserve the meaning. But what is the alternative? Concepts without names are like souls without bodies. They become invisible. Fortunately, the defects of our language are not so numerous and serious that we are unable to produce a serviceable, tolerably accurate translation of the Bible. But the linguistic capacity we do enjoy is often owed to the historic influence of Greek and Hebrew upon English, as mediated by literal translations of the Bible.
When such a process of linguistic preparation has occurred, it is foolish not to use the especially prepared words. Our ability to produce a fully adequate translation really depends upon them. Often the words are used in a pejorative sense, emphasizing the mortality, corruptibility, and weakness both physical and moral of mankind. This usage is not confined to musty old Bibles, it is a recognized sense in common use. In some places the word is not translated at all Rom.
We do not deny that the word has this range of meaning. Our point is, when the word is rendered in so many different ways, the reader cannot perceive how these things are associated and sometimes even identified in the Greek language. The whole matrix of semantic connections and connotations is destroyed when different words are used for the different aspects of this complex concept.
Why should the defining effect of the immediate context be acknowledged for the one and not for the other? It is as if the constraints and indications of the immediate context are not really thought to be adequate. Readers are assumed to be incapable of inferring the meaning of the term from the context. In some places it quite obviously refers to unregenerate human nature in general e.
Galatians 5. To begin with we must have knowledge of the manner of speech and know what St. Paul means by the words, law, sin, grace, faith, righteousness, flesh, spirit, and so forth. Otherwise no reading of it has any value. He goes on to define these key words for his readers. The difference between Luther and the translators of the NIV is that Luther had higher expectations of his readers, despite the fact that in his time illiteracy was much more of a problem than it is today. He expected readers of his translation to read his notes and prefaces, and he expected preachers to explain the Bible in their sermons also.
But the NIV is shaped by much lower standards and expectations, as Moo explains:. Yet, no matter what our hopes might be, how many readers of the Bible today are that careful? But the unpalatable fact is that only a minority of Christians anymore fall into that category—to say nothing of non-Christians, who, we hope, will pick up and read the Bible. If we are to hope for a Bible that an entire congregation can use, the readability of a more contextually nuanced translation such as the TNIV may be the best option.
So, careful readers are marginalized by the NIV, while the careless readers are treated as normal. But we do not share such low expectations. We object to the idea that the entire congregation should be using a Bible version adapted to the limitations of those who will not read it carefully, and who are expected to learn nothing from teachers. I wish to emphasize here that any discussion of what is thought to be best in a translation must inevitably bring under consideration pedagogic and ecclesiastical questions for which a biblical scholar may have no special qualifications or wisdom.
There is no reason for us to think that Moo, for example, is a better judge of what people can understand, or of what reading level is best for a Bible version to be used by the whole congregation, or of how much explanation should be left to pastors and teachers. These are questions that lie outside his area of expertise. My disagreement with Moo is about his assumptions concerning the readers of the English version, and what is best for a Christian congregation.
Again, I would point out that he admits that concordant renderings will benefit careful readers in this case. The desirability of concordant renderings may also be seen when we consider the metaphorical relationship that often exists between different senses of the same word. God is so high, he is above the clouds. This is a way of expressing the transcendence of God, and it contrasts with pantheistic conceptions that prefer an immanent world-spirit or nature deity. This must be understood as a symbolic action, as Bruce Metzger explains:. Though Jesus did not need to ascend in order to return to the immediate presence of God, the book of Acts relates that he did in fact ascend a certain distance into the sky, until a cloud received him out of sight Acts By such a dramatic rising from their midst, he taught his disciples that this was now the last time he would appear to them, and that henceforth they should not sit about waiting for another appearance, but should understand that the transitional period had come to an end.
The didactic symbolism was both natural and appropriate. That the lesson was learned by the primitive church seems to be clear from the fact that the records of the early centuries indicate that his followers suddenly ceased to look for any manifestation of the risen Lord other than his second coming in glory. Polysemy often lays the groundwork for symbolism, and it can play a large part in establishing mental associations that are taken for granted and seem only natural to members of a linguistic community.
See also the use of these words in 2 Kings , Job , Psalm , Isaiah , and Jeremiah , I would also point out the parallelism in Ephesians Why should it not be understood as a lively and metaphorical way of speaking in Jeremiah? We do not object to the idea that there is a slight difference in the meaning of the word in these two places. This does not need to be explained to anyone reading the Greek, because it is the same word used in James , and it is very obvious that the two senses of the word are conceptually related. Therefore, in order to preserve the meaning, a concordant rendering is desirable.
We should translate it as brother in all places.
Against the Theory of Dynamic Equivalence
Some have even denied, on a theoretical level, the reality of the linguistic phenomenon we have been talking about here. First, Greek and Hebrews words called lexemes , like words in any language, seldom have a single, all-encompassing meaning, but rather a range of potential senses. The context and co-text in which the lexeme is used determines which sense is intended by the author.
Most words do not have a single literal core, basic meaning, but rather a semantic range — a range of potential senses which are actualized by the utterance in which they appear. Second, words normally have only one sense in any particular context. And so he concludes:. But what is the justification for this? The issue is thus framed by a refusal to acknowledge that the primary sense of a word commonly gives connotations to the extended senses. We are not here ignoring the theoretical possibility that a word-meaning which began as a metaphorical extension of the primary meaning may lose its metaphorical liveliness after generations of frequent use.
It is often hard to prove beyond any doubt what connotations a word had in ancient times. But it would be unwise to assume that the primary meaning of a word does not indicate its associative connotations when the primary meaning also happens to be the meaning that is most common. Strauss is so contrary to our way of thinking that he will not even tolerate footnotes that give the primary meanings of words.
Second, adelphoi does not have a literal meaning, but a range of possible senses. No one denies that Hebrew and Greek words usually have more than one sense, and that the context indicates which sense is meant. Anyone who is familiar with the languages knows that these senses often do not match up very well with English words. But theorists like Strauss and Nida fail to recognize the true extent of the problem. They assume that it can be solved by sharply segregating the senses and giving different renderings in different places.
We, on the other hand, perceive that a variety in the rendering sometimes creates other problems which they do not acknowledge. Sometimes it is necessary to use borrowed words e. The earliest English versions established these senses by using literal equivalents for the primary sense of the words, and allowing the context to indicate the extended biblical senses. A term may be used in a number of places.
Schmidt gives separate treatment to the particular passages. There may be also some feeling that since Hebrew man or biblical man thought in totalities we should do the same as interpreters. We may add that the small compass of the NT, both in literary bulk and in the duration of the period which produced it, adds a plausibility to the endeavor to take it as one piece, which could hardly be considered so likely for any literature of greater bulk and spread over a longer time.
In my opinion, some of his complaints were valid and necessary. I would even say that Barr did not press his valid points far enough. His writing on this subject is polemical in spirit, and he tends to overcorrect, and veer to questionable positions on the other side. Like Adolf Deissmann with whom he has much in common , his views are distorted by an animus against systematic theology as such, which I do not share.
But my purpose here is not to offer an evaluation of Barr. This process of maximizing the context is fully in accord with the soundest principles of communication science. As has been clearly demonstrated by mathematical techniques in decoding, the correct meaning of any term is that which contributes least to the total context, or in other terms, that which fits the context most perfectly. In contrast to this, many biblical scholars want to read into every word in each of its occurrences all that can possibly be derived from all of its occurrences, and as a result they violate one of the fundamental principles of information theory.