translation technique

A Loose Translation Within Scripture?

There are a number of places in the Gospels where the words of Jesus or someone else are reported in Hebrew or Aramaic, followed by a gloss in Greek (which is usually translated into English for English-reading audiences).  Thus “Immanuel” is glossed “God with us” in Matthew 1:23, and “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani” as “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” in Matthew 27:46.  But in one case the supplied translation adds a few words: in Mark 5:41, Jesus says to the dead girl, “Talitha koum!” which is translated as “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”  A rudimentary knowledge of Aramaic quickly indicates that talitha is “little girl” and koum (qum) is “get up!” but where did “I say to you” come from?  This has long made me scratch my head, but now I have a theory.  (Nerd alert!) (more…)


Dilemma: Capitalizing God or not?

In English translations, it was popular for a while to capitalize pronouns and nouns referring to God.  This has not always been the case (the 1611 King James Bible did not capitalize pronouns for God), and is decreasingly the case in modern versions.  Of course, the original Hebrew text does not have a distinction between capital and lower-case letters, and the original Greek text did not (although the distinction was introduced by the 9th C, yet without, I think, capitalizing nouns or pronouns referring to God).  So on the one hand, it may feel that the contemporary trend in English translations to de-capitalize pronouns relating to God is a decrease in reverence, but on the other hand it is merely the end of a relatively brief trend in Bible formats.  Capitalizing words that refer to God, while recognized as reverent, also has the disadvantage of forcing disambiguation of nouns or pronouns that might be ambiguous in the original (as to whether the referent is God or not).  This forced choice evokes frequent (and frequently heated) discussion wherever the word “Spirit” occurs.  So I see advantages on both sides of the capitalization debate, although I might be slightly leaning away from the tendency to capitalize every reference to God (which is more familiar to me from my first post-conversion Bible, which is also the Bible I have read most from) to the capitalization only of the noun “God” itself when it refers to the living Creator.