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This approach is called form criticism, and it was developed largely by German scholars in the early twentieth century. Among these scholars, whether they be German or English-speaking, one constantly hears German phrases.
The social setting is called the Sitz im Leben. When I was in the seminary learning about all this, I at first wondered why it should be necessary to use these German words; but then I learned that the German words are used because they are recognized as technical terms, and the English equivalents are not.
Students were expected to learn the terminology of the field, just as in any other field of study. Likewise, there were many Greek and Hebrew words to be learned. The professors often warned us students about the important semantic differences between various Greek and Hebrew words and their closest English equivalents.
Anyone who has been to a theological school knows very well how often points like this are emphasized by scholars. I mention this at the beginning of this book on Bible translation because I want the reader who has not been exposed to this kind of study to know how much is made of words and their precise usage in theological schools.
Ministers in training cannot go through three years of seminary without being impressed with the undeniable differences between Hebrew, Greek, and English, and with the delicate problems of translating many key words of the Bible into our language. It is not a simple and easy task.
Indeed, it is not fully possible, and that is why ministers are taught the biblical languages in seminary. It is easy to get carried away with fine distinctions. Scholars are often accused of losing their common sense in a multitude of hair-splitting distinctions, and of using foreign words and difficult terminology merely to impress the unlearned.
In some cases this undoubtedly happens. We also must be on guard against the elitist attitude taken by many in the Roman Catholic tradition, which in its extreme form caused the Roman Catholic Church to oppose the translation of the Bible into English in the first place.
But I want to suggest here that those who are not used to careful study of the Bible may easily fall into an opposite error: The Bible is a very important book, and it deserves our utmost care.
And if we believe that every word of the Bible is inspired by God, how can we be careless of these words? The translator must remember that this book was given to the Church and it belongs to her.
And this fact, this Sitz im Leben of the Bible as a whole, is not without some consequences for our methods of translation. The Bible in the Church And all the people gathered as one man into the square … and Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform … and Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood.
And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, Amen, Amen, lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. They read from the book, from the law of God, clearly 1 and they gave the sense, 2 so that the people understood the reading.
Jewish tradition says that this was the beginning of those translations into Aramaic called Targumsfree renderings of the Hebrew which were used by Jews in later times to explain the meaning of the archaic Hebrew text.
At a later time they did forget their mother tongue, but in the days of Nehemiah this had not yet come to pass. This passage therefore describes a situation which is very familiar to us as Christians. The people come together. The Scripture is read to them in portions, followed by explanatory comments.
But there are other ways: And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before his shearer is dumb, So he openeth not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: His generation who shall declare?
For his life is taken from the earth. Here is a situation which is also familiar to many of us. The man is alone and reading his Bible.College application essay writing service leave ap world history change over time essay welfare research paper thesis research paper about child abuse year proper heading for college essay business machiavelli virtu essay compare and contrast essay on the yellow wallpaper and story of an hour.
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