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Our Translated Gospels

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  • Our Translated Gospels

    See here; the same OP requests apply to this new thread.

    I just received, via INTERLIBRARY LOAN, a copy of Our Translated Gospels: Some of the Evidence (New York and London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1936), by Charles Cutler Torrey, [then] Professor of Semitic Languages in Yale University.

    I have found Torrey's work to be very interesting, so I have decided to share as much of it as I can via threads here at TWeb. In this thread, in posts that follow, I propose to present excerpts from the Preface and Introduction to Torrey's Our Translated Gospels.
    PREFACE

    The material of our Four Gospels is all Palestinian, and the language in which it was originally written is Aramaic, then the principle language of the land; with the exception of the first two chapters of Luke, which were composed in Hebrew. Each of the first two Gospels, Mark and Matthew, was rendered into Greek very soon after it was put forth. The Gospel of John was translated considerably later, probably at Ephesus. (The translator added, in Greek, chapter 21) Luke made in Palestine, very likely during the two years of Paul's imprisonment at imprisonment at Caesarea (Acts 24:27), a collection of Semitic documents relating to the life and work of Jesus, arranged them very skillfully, and then rendered the whole into the Greek that is our Third Gospel.

    The proof of these facts in multiform, and of very large amount. The present volume can give merely "some of the evidence," in fact only that small but very important part which can be seen and understood by the layman who knows neither Greek nor any Semitic language. The main purpose is to present the most striking of mistranslation in our Greek; for these, when they can be demonstrated, are of the greatest significance. The critical notes appended to my translation, The Four Gospels (Harpers, 1933), had in large part this same purpose, but were much too brief and obscure, not showing clearly the form of the supposed error; also, in some of the most important passages, they were made useless to the ordinary reader by referring to discussions in publications generally inaccessible to him.

    To be continued...
    Last edited by John Reece; 04-28-2014, 08:36 PM.

  • #2
    Translation errors? How many did the book examine?
    The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

    [T]he truth Im after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
      Translation errors? How many did the book examine?
      Thanks for the question, Truthseeker.

      It would be too tedious to attempt to count all the errors discussed in the book.

      After the the sixty page Preface and Introduction, there follows a 162 page examination of errors that are organized into the following categories:

      Chapter I AMBIGUITY OF THE ARAMAIC TEXT: 53 pages consisting of commentary and analysis of 10 exhibits that include respectively 4 to 6 different bible verses each.

      Chapter II QUESTIONS MISUNDERSTOOD AS DECLARATIONS: 10 pages consisting of commentary and analysis of 2 exhibits that include 7 bible verses.

      Chapter III THE REDUNDANT "AND": 10 pages consisting of commentary and analysis of more bible verses that I care to count (8 + many more embedded in paragraphs of extensive commentary).

      Chapter IV THE REFLEXIVE PRONOUN AND ITS SUBSTITUTE: 8 pages consisting of commentary and analysis of an exhibit that includes 8 bible verses.

      Chapter V LUKE AND THE PALESTINIAN DIALECT: 9 pages consisting of commentary and analysis of an exhibit that includes 7 bible verses.

      Chapter VI WRONG VOCALIZATION OF THE ARAMAIC: 24 pages consisting of commentary and analysis of 4 exhibits that include 4 to 6 bible verses each per exhibit.

      Chapter VII CONFUSION OF הוּא with הֲוָה : six pages consisting of commentary and analysis of an exhibit that includes 6 bible verses.

      Chapter VIII SLIGHT CORRUPTION OF THE ARAMAIC TEXT: 20 pages consisting of commentary and analysis of two exhibits that include 9 bible verses.

      Chapter IX ALEPH INSERTED OR OMITTED: 9 pages consisting of commentary and analysis of 1 exhibit that includes 6 bible verses.

      Chapter X WAW OR YODH INSERTED OR OMITTED: 9 pages consisting of commentary and analysis of 2 exhibits that include 6 bible verses.

      Chapter XI LOST PORTIONS OF THE ORIGINAL TEXT: 4 pages of commentary and analysis of about 4 OT bible verses and 6 NT bible verses.

      P.S.: I see that Torrey has answered your question in my next post below.
      Last edited by John Reece; 04-29-2014, 09:05 AM.

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      • #4
        Continued from last post above ↑

        Continuation of excerpts from Our Translated Gospels: Some of the Evidence, by Charles Cutler Torrey:
        Explanatory notes, made as untechnical as possible, accompany the passages considered. The reader is thus provided with a brief commentary on about 140 of the readings in the Four Gospels which have been the most difficult of interpretation. As he sees clearness brought out of obscurity and sense substituted for nonsense, and this only with the strictly conventional method universally recognized and necessary in the criticism of any ancient and frequently copied work, he can form his own idea as to the probable origin of our received text.

        To be continued...
        Last edited by John Reece; 04-29-2014, 10:14 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Continued from last post above ↑

          Continuation of excerpts from Our Translated Gospels: Some of the Evidence, by Charles Cutler Torrey:
          The Gospels as completed and published, in their present extent and form, are all of considerably earlier date than has commonly been supposed. The latest of them can be only a little later than the middle of the century. At the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis in New York City, in December 1934, I challenged my New Testament colleagues to designate even one passage, from any of the Four Gospels, giving clear evidence of a date later than 50 A.D., or of origin outside Palestine. The challenge was not met, nor can it be, for there is no such passage.

          The conclusion, from the evidence presented in this volume, that the Greek of our Gospels is the result of translation, is inescapable. If, for instance, the Gospel of John (in which the proof of mistranslation is even more striking than in the other Gospels) is not here shown to have been composed and published in the Aramaic language, then it is only fair to say that there is no such thing as proving translation from internal evidence. But every scholar knows that such proof is rendered with certainty in countless cases. How? by the method, precisely, which is used here; there is no other. Numerous translations from Semitic into Greek, in the complete absence of even a word of the original text, have been demonstrated and accepted as such in recent years; generally after the writing had been pronounced "unquestionably Greek" by generations of excellent scholars. In no such case has evidence been presented even remotely approaching that which is afforded in the Gospels. According to the standard deemed satisfactory in these instances, each of our Gospels is now shown, many times over, to be a close rendering from a Semitic original. Indeed, I think it would be difficult to find anywhere, in translation from any language, more perfect proof than is offered here.

          To be continued...
          Last edited by John Reece; 04-30-2014, 08:57 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Continued from last post above ↑

            Continuation of excerpts from Our Translated Gospels: Some of the Evidence, by Charles Cutler Torrey:
            The restoration of the original Semitic text in the very words employed by the evangelist, or (in the case of Luke) by his sources, is ordinarily sure where the Greek is plainly corrupt. But there is no claim of infallibility, conjectures must stand on their own merits, and occasionally it will be found necessary to correct or improve them. There are in this volume a few instances of such improvement over the verbal form conjectured in my Four Gospels, as well as two or three cases not there recognized; see especially the notes on Mt. 5:32 and Jn. 5:34. Perhaps the most important revision of a former conjecture is in the verses Jn. 10:7 f.; see Exhibit XIX, B. Very possibly other cases of mistranslation will eventually be discovered , though their number will, I think, be very small.

            We can generally be sure of our text, from the beginning of Mt. to the end of John. We encounter no such hopeless problems, at any point, as those which confront us continually in the O.T. The corruption is a matter of single words, not of whole passages. The very few lacunae of which there is evidence can be filled with practical certainty; see Chapter XI. Otherwise in the O.T. When the Hebrew text of 1 Sam 13:1 tells us, with a straight face: "Saul was one year old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem"; or when we read, in our best witness to the original Hebrew of 2 Chron. 35:19 f. (namely 1 Esdr. 1:21 f.), the result of an obvious lacuna, that the story of pious King Josiah was written in the record "of the worst sinners and most impious of men,"* we have in the one case nothing whatever to guide us; in the other, it is only possible to make a precarious guess. The Gospels have suffered no unrecognizable loss. Mk. and Mt. were carefully copied, rendered with admirable faithfulness into Greek almost immediately (for the reason which will be given), and thereafter the text was as ably watched over as was humanly possible. As soon as the Greek John appeared, the Four were combined in a Tetraevangelium, the "Gospel of the Several" (authors).
            *Our Hebrew avoids the libel by excising the whole passage; the LXX, both by omitting and substituting a long passage from 2 Kings.

            To be continued...
            Last edited by John Reece; 05-01-2014, 08:59 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Um, is he arguing that all four were written down in Aramaic (presumably) and then translated? Wouldn't a native Aramaic (presumably) speaker be prone to making the same errors if they wrote in Greek? How would he differentiate from textual translation if so?

              "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


              "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

              My Personal Blog

              My Novella blog (Current Novella Begins on 7/25/14)

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Teallaura View Post
                Um, is he arguing that all four were written down in Aramaic (presumably) and then translated?

                Wouldn't a native Aramaic (presumably) speaker be prone to making the same errors if they wrote in Greek? How would he differentiate from textual translation if so?
                Excellent questions.

                However, as I ponder them my wife reminds me that if I do not get away from my computer immediately I will be late for a cancer treatment.

                Later...

                Comment


                • #9
                  No problem at all - my questions will keep.

                  Hope all goes well in your treatment.

                  "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


                  "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

                  My Personal Blog

                  My Novella blog (Current Novella Begins on 7/25/14)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Teallaura View Post
                    No problem at all - my questions will keep.

                    Hope all goes well in your treatment.
                    Thanks.

                    I hope your questions will keep until I finish the book .

                    I had never seen the book until I received the library copy that I am now transcribing, so I'm not yet ready to pass judgment on it, having read so little of it.

                    I am not an advocate of Torrey's work, beyond the fact that I find him very interesting to read.

                    Whether or not he is right about what he says is for readers to decide for themselves.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Fair enough!

                      "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


                      "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

                      My Personal Blog

                      My Novella blog (Current Novella Begins on 7/25/14)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You get well so that you finish this thread! Just kidding. Do get well!
                        The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

                        [T]he truth Im after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
                          You get well so that you finish this thread! Just kidding. Do get well!
                          Thanks!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Continued from last post above ↑

                            Continuation of excerpts from Our Translated Gospels: Some of the Evidence, by Charles Cutler Torrey:
                            The following Introduction attempts to give some account of the conditions under which the Gospels were composed; throwing extremely important light on the Jewish Messianic doctrine of the time; showing also why the Gospels were written early, why in Aramaic, and why Mark and Matthew were so promptly rendered into Greek. Some aspects of the critical problem are also considered.

                            The question is frequently asked: Why, if the Gospels are of such early date, do we not find them used in the Pauline writings? The answer is not difficult. Paul, as we see from his own words (Gal. 1:11 f., 16-19; 2:6) would have been the last man on earth to say, or to believe, or to give others reasons for believing, that he was indebted for his "gospel" to any human being, much less to mere writings. These documents, moreover, were definitely intended for men who did not believe on the Nazarene. It is easy to see why Paul may have preferred to leave their use to others, while going his own way. He did not need them, and certainly could not be expected to quote from them.

                            Another very natural query concerns the total disappearance of this Aramaic literature, and again the reason for the fact is hardly obscure. Literature disappears very rapidly when it is no longer wanted. Only in disregard of history could any one be surprised at the loss of the far more voluminous extra-canonical Jewish literature in Hebrew and Aramaic belonging to pre-Christian time. As for the Christian documents, we may imagine with what eagerness (See Introduction, 3, latter part) and thoroughness these arch-heretical and dangerous writings would have been destroyed, all through the land, by the Jews, who had the authority and the might to do this. The Romans under Titus doubtless did more, like the Greeks in the Maccabean time (I Macc. 1:56-58). And when the Christians cut loose from the Jews, they had no further use for the language of their enemies.

                            To be continued...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Continued from last post above ↑

                              Continuation of excerpts from Our Translated Gospels: Some of the Evidence, by Charles Cutler Torrey:
                              INTRODUCTION

                              1. The Messianic Expectation

                              The earliest Christian writings all aim to present the man of Nazareth as the divine leader, the Messiah, predicted in the Hebrew scriptures. As regards doctrine, the Four Gospels claim to represent the faith of Israel unchanged. Addressed, as without exception they are, to the Jewish people familiar with the sacred writings, they hold fast to the word of God. Their rallying-cry is "fulfillment," and there they rest their case.

                              That which the Jews had been awaiting was by no means the restoration of the monarchy, as is often supposed. The essential meaning of "the restoration of Israel" was the final establishment of God's chosen people in its rightful position of spiritual leadership, a supremacy gladly acknowledged throughout the wide world, as pictured especially in Second Isaiah. The height of material prosperity, and universal authority, were of course included in the picture, but the political element was never prominent. The Jews were not such simple folk as to suppose that the eternal plan of the God of the whole earth could be realized by the reestablishment of the Hebrew state, with a Jewish king on the throne in Jerusalem.

                              To be continued...

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