Monday, 26 March 2012

That "other" word

A while ago a friend of mine asked me what the Biblical Greek word for "other" was. I was doing my first semester of Biblical Greek and I had learnt very early on that the word ἄλλος means "other" or "another", so I passed that word on. In my second semester of Biblical Greek I learned that there is another word for "other", that one is ἕτεροςI didn't really know what the big deal was over this word, until I got my hands on The Kingdom Interlinear TranslationI've always wanted an interlinear Bible, but I don't want this one, in this post I show you one reason why.

Below is a bunch of Greek text. Right now you don't have to understand it, I just want you to look for two pattens, you can even use your browsers find/search function to do so. I want you to see if you can find ἄλλος or ἕτερος (the two "other" words) in the below text. I should also point out that Greek uses grammatical case endings, which means the last few letters can change, while still retaining the same meaning. So for these two words, just do a search for ἄλλ or ἕτερ
ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, τὰ ὁρατὰ καὶ τὰἀόρατα, εἴτε θρόνοι εἴτε κυριότητες εἴτε ἀρχαὶ εἴτε ἐξουσίαι: τὰ πάντα δι' αὐτοῦκαὶ εἰς αὐτὸν ἔκτισται, καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν πρὸ πάντων καὶ τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν. καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ τοῦ σώματος, τῆς ἐκκλησίας: ὅς ἐστιν ἀρχή, πρωτότοκοςἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, ἵνα γένηται ἐν πᾶσιν αὐτὸς πρωτεύων, ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ εὐδόκησεν πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα κατοικῆσαι καὶ δι' αὐτοῦ ἀποκαταλλάξαι τὰ πάντα εἰς αὐτόν, εἰρηνοποιήσας διὰ τοῦ αἵματοςτοῦ σταυροῦ αὐτοῦ, [δι' αὐτοῦ] εἴτε τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς εἴτε τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.
How did you go? If you got ἀποκαταλλάξαι for the ἄλλ search and nothing for the ἕτερ one, then so did I. (FYI, ἀποκαταλλάξαι means "to reconcile", which isn't quite what I wanted us to look for). My point is that the above text doesn't have the word "other" or "another" in it.

The above Greek text comes from Colossians 1:16-20. (If you don't like the text I copied, you can always look it up yourselfas there are countless other Biblical Greek text sites online.) The issue I have is that The Kingdom Interlinear Translation, in both the 1969 and 1985 versions, the word "other" is added five times in Colossians 1:16-20, have a look (click to enlarge):
page 896 of the 1969 Kingdom Interlinear Translation
page 880 of the 1985 Kingdom Interlinear Translation
For those who didn't click the text in the left column says:
because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him. Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist, and he is the head of the body, the congregation. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that he might become the one who is first in all things; because [God] saw good for all fullness to dwell in him, and through him to reconcile again to himself all [other] things by making peace through the blood [he shed] on the torture stake, no matter whether they are the things upon the earth or the things in the heavens.
Did you notice all those [others]? They aren't there on the left hand column but are put there on the right. The brackets indicate that the translators have inserted that word into the text. From the 1985 forward on page 6 it explains the use of brackets:
BRACKETS: In the English readings (interlinear and main), brackets occur. These denote that the word or words enclosed have been inserted by the translators to make some application that is shown by the Greek word or to show something that is understood along with the Greek word because of its grammatical form. For example, the Greek definite article for "the" may be used just by itself to denote a person. But this article may be in the feminine gender, and according to the context it applies to a woman. Accordingly, for the enlightenment of the reader who is not familiar with Greek, the word "woman" is inserted enclosed in brackets in the English reading.
If you did click, you may have also noticed that an asterisk has been added in the 1985 version that wasn't in the 1969 version. The footnote says: 16* All [other], as in Luke 11:41, 42. It seems the basis for adding "other" is from Luke 11:41-42. Again, the Greek text on the left doesn't indicate "other" should be added, even though it appears on the right side (click to enlarge):
page 323 of the 1985 Kingdom Interlinear Translation
For "other" to be inserted, it must imply some comparison; something extra or an alternative between two (or more) things. In Luke 11:41, Jesus doesn't mean that if the Pharisees give to the poor then everything else will be clean, instead Jesus means that if  the Pharisee give to the poor then everything (including giving to the poor) will be clean. In Luke 11:42 the insertion of "other" implies that mint and rue are vegetables, but they are not. If λάχανον was translated to say "herb", which is a valid translation, then the insertion of "other" is justifiable (which is what the NIV1984 and NIV11 does). I find it very strange for these examples in Luke to support the meaning of "other" being implicit in Colossians 1:16-20.

Later, in Philippians 2:9 "other" has been added, this time with no footnote. The 1969 version doesn't even put brackets around "other" on the right hand column (click to enlarge):
page 885 of the 1969 Kingdom Interlinear Tranlastion
page 869 of the 1985 Kingdom Interlinear Translation
With this Philippians text, I don't know why the word "other" was inserted in verse 9 and then not in verses 10-11 to say:
so that in the name of Jesus every [other] knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every [other] tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
If the translators are going to remove the extent of πᾶς, πᾶσα or πᾶν (every) in Phil 2:9 why not do it consistently in Phil 2:10-11 or in Col 1:18 that directly follow the other verses that were changed? Perhaps with Col 1:16-20 and Phil 2:9, the translators do not want to claim that Jesus is God...

The implicit "other" was maybe added, not because the text itself demands it, but because it is just an obvious fact that Jesus didn't create all things, and that everything isn't held together by him. But even The Kingdom Interlinear Translation doesn't consistently say this. It's translation of John 1:3 states: "All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence." Have a look (click to enlarge):
page 401 of the 1985 Kingdom Interlinear Translation
The "him" in this verse is called "the Word" who turns out to be Jesus. The "apart from" (χωρίς) bit does not have the meaning of "except", but rather "without".

I might later blog about the translation of John 1:1, but for now, in verse 3 this translation states that everything came into existence by Jesus and that nothing came into existence without him. Kinda (exactly?) like what Colossians 1:16-20 says - when you remove the added "others". This interlinear doesn't seem very consistent theologically or grammatically.

No major English translation has ever added "other" in Colossians 1:16-20 (see Col 1:17 as an example) or to Philippians 2:9 (and less importantly in Luke 11:41). Either for the past 400 years, generations of English translators have not been understanding the context of theses verses, or The Kingdom Interlinear Translation is wrong.


Post a Comment