Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Col 3

The nuances of a word are a real puzzle for translators. One nuance may sound horrendous, and a generation later, the substitute offered by a "helpful" modern translation is the one that sounds horrendous. "Submit" (AV, ESV) and "be subject to," (RSV) with variations like "be in subjection to" (ASV) all have their nuances. We're talking about the translations the imperative of Col 3:18.

Which sounds more stringent to you, to be in subjection to, or to submit? The wife who wants a less stringent nuance may say "I'll be subject to my husband, but I won't submit to him," meaning she'll have an attitude of being subject to him at all times, but will not respond to a bare demand to submit. Or vice versa! The same wife may say "I'll submit to my husband, but I won't be subject to him," meaning that submissive behavior is fine for her, but it does not mean every detail is only by his orders. What is a translator to do? One thing not to do is be governed by the Zeitgeist. Whether the Zeitgeist wants a more or less stringent nuance is irrelevant. Besides, Afghanistan and Los Angeles have different angels of the Zeitgeist, in this case.

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