Hey all! Today begins Translation Tuesdays, starting with 1 John 1-7. I’m excited for this series; it should last until the end of April, when my class is finally over and we turn in our translation notebooks. I hope we can learn more about scripture together! Here’s to remembering to post and actually getting my homework done! Don’t you just love it when you can do two things at once? But enough of that. Onward, my dear readers!
The Translation Notebook
Part of my grade is being something I’m not very often—organized. We weren’t given much to go on except “a notebook,” so being me, I went to the campus bookstore the next day and picked up a plain jane spiral notebook. (Don’t go to your campus bookstore without an arm and a leg for cash…)
I even color-coded! The Greek is in pink, my final translation is in blue, and the NRSV text is purple. I made the verse numbers orange and I’m using green to write the assignments. (Hey, I finally found a use for my mountain of pens!) I’m hoping that maybe, once we’ve translated and corrected everything, I’ll be able to transcribe everything in a nicer notebook to keep. A good way to memorize 1 John, yeah?
I have a newfound respect for Bible translators. This first assignment wasn’t too bad—not a lot of new words or odd constructions—but I still struggled. Like in verse five, the Greek reads, “Καὶ ἔστιν αὕτη ἡ ἀγγελία ἣν ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀναγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ θεὸς φῶς ἐστιν καὶ σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία.”
This verse is one of my favorites in the New Testament, but boy is it confusing in Greek! I’m okay up until “ὁ θεὸς φῶς ἐστιν,” and then it gets really weird. Greek is odd because it doesn’t matter what order the words are in as much as what case the words are in. So “σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία” literally reads, “darkness in him not is nothing.” (As best as I can tell anyway.)
But this is where you get one of those cool Greek emphasis things going on, so what it’s really saying is, “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.” (NRSV) “οὐδεμία” can mean nothing, but it’s really a giant underscore yelling, “No darkness, period. ” Language nerd happiness!
The same thing happens in verse four, which in the NRSV reads, ‘We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” The English doesn’t translate “ἡμεῖς,” which I think is there for emphasis. As if the verse were saying, “Yes, we are writing these things—us the apostles.” With all the false prophets going around, I can see why they’d write this way. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see if I got it right in class today.
Thanks for reading everyone! I hope that was an informative, fun post for you all! Tell me what you think. What would you like to see in Translation Tuesdays? Also, here’s a Pronunciation Guide for the Greek; I think we are using the Erasmian pronunciation in my class. Have a great week—1 John and I will see you next Tuesday!
In His Sacred Heart,