Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Judeans and the scholars version

There is always a bit of complexity in trying to figure out what the best way is to handle the translation of Hoi Ioudaioi. A common literal translation is "The Jews". The problem with "The Jews" is that Judaism is seen primarily as a religion or ethnicity not a nationality. One someone uses the term "Italian American" what they mean is an American of Italian descent. They don't mean a person with dual citizenship. When someone uses the term "Catholic Americans" they mean an American who is a member of the Catholic church. "The Catholics" means the religious group. When Romans use the term Ioudaioi they were thinking of the people of Judea, or the religion of the people of Judea (the sacrificial cult from Jerusalem). A reasonable and literal translation of that term is "The Judeans".

The scholars version does precisely this, it translates the word literally. It doesn't tie it to a current day religion but rather to an ancient province. To avoid some of the anti-Semitic leanings of Acts and John translation like the CEV and the NLT typically use terms like "Jewish leaders" which is not justified by the text nor likely accurate. Their heart is in the right place since these verses are quite harmful in the current day. But I think the way the SV handles this accomplishes the same task is more accurate and more faithful.

Anyone agree or disagree?

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