Wednesday, June 10, 2009

translating Light of the World

Traditionally John 8:12 and Matthew 5:14 are translated from Greek into English as follows:

"I am the light of the world"


"You are the light of the world."

But why does John translate (from Hebrew Aramaic into Greek) Jesus as saying

Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου (from John 8)?

Why does Matthew translate him as saying

Ὑμεῖς ἐστε τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου (from Matthew 5)?

In Hebrew Aramaic are "light" and "world" animate and personal? Doesn't linking these nouns with personal pronouns such as "I" and "you" create some interesting havoc?

And what if gender is introduced in the pronoun? Suzanne posts an introduction.

But how different is what Aeschylus writes (from what John and Matthew write for Jesus) when the Chorus, in the work called the Persians (918-931), say the following?

ὀτοτοῖ, βασιλεῦ, στρατιᾶς ἀγαθῆς
καὶ περσονόμου τιμῆς μεγάλης,
κόσμου τ’ ἀνδρῶν,
οὓς νῦν δαίμων ἐπέκειρεν.
γᾶ δ’ αἰάζει τὰν ἐγγαίαν
ἥβαν Ξέρξᾳ κταμέναν Ἅιδου
σάκτορι Περσᾶν. ᾁδοβάται γὰρ
πολλοὶ φῶτες, χώρας ἄνθος,
τοξοδάμαντες, πάνυ ταρφύς τις
μυριὰς ἀνδρῶν, ἐξέφθινται.
αἰαῖ αἰαῖ κεδνᾶς ἀλκᾶς.
Ἀσία δὲ χθών, βασιλεῦ γαίας,
αἰνῶς αἰνῶς
ἐπὶ γόνυ κέκλιται.

And why does Robert Potter in 1777 render that into English as follows?

O thou afflicted monarch, once the lord
Of marshall'd armies, of the lustre beam'd
From glory's ray o'er Persia, of her sons
The pride, the grace, whom ruin now hath sunk
In blood! The unpeopled land laments her youth
By Xerxes led to slaughter, till the realms
Of death are gorged with Persians; for the flower
Of all the realm, thousands, whose dreadful bows
With arrowy shower annoy'd the foe, are fall'n.

And why does Herbert Weir Smyth translate that so differently also in 1922?

Alas, my king, for our noble army, for the high honor of Persia's rule, and for the splendor of the men now cut off by Fate! The land bewails her native youth, slaughtered for Xerxes, who has crowded Hades with Persian slain. Many warriors, masters of the bow, our country's pride, a great multitude of men, have perished. Alas, alas, for our trusty defence! The land of Asia, the leading power of the earth, has piteously, yes piteously, been bowed to her knees.

Is κόσμου τ’ ἀνδρῶν better "world of men [i.e., not women]" or "glory's ray o'er Persia, of her sons" or "the splendor of the men"? Is "it" the inanimate quality or possession of man?

Is πολλοὶ φῶτες better "much light" or isn't it more "the realm" of men and not women, "a great multitude of men"?

What do bible writers using Greek mean when they talk of the Kosmos? Don't they also aware of the pseudo-Aristotle's theological cosmology, On the Kosmos (aka De Mundo)?

And might Matthew be familiar with Aristotle's Eudemian Ethics (1235b)?

For things advantageous for a healthy body we pronounce good for the body absolutely, but things good for a sick body not—for example doses of medicine and surgical operations; and likewise also the things pleasant for a healthy and perfect body are pleasant for the body absolutely, for example to live in the light and not in the dark, although the reverse is the case for a man with ophthalmia. (translated by H. Rackham, 1935)

τούτου δὲ διωρισμένου ληπτέον ὑπόθεσιν ἑτέραν. τῶν γὰρ ἀγαθῶν τὰ μὲν ἁπλῶς ἐστιν ἀγαθά, τὰ δὲ τινί, ἁπλῶς δὲ οὔ. καὶ τὰ αὐτὰ ἁπλῶς ἀγαθὰ καὶ ἁπλῶς ἡδέα. τὰ μὲν γὰρ τῷ ὑγιαίνοντί φαμεν σώματι συμφέροντα ἁπλῶς εἶναι σώματι ἀγαθά, τὰ δὲ τῷ κάμνοντι οὔ, οἷον φαρμακείας καὶ τομάς. ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ ἡδέα ἁπλῶς σώματι τὰ τῷ ὑγιαίνοντι καὶ ὁλοκλήρῳ, οἷον τὸ ἐν τῷ φωτὶ ὁρᾶν καὶ οὐ τὸ ἐν τῷ σκότει· καίτοι τῷ ὀφθαλμιῶντι ἐναντίως.

How can Jesus, John, and Matthew get away with personalizing and feminizing the categories of inanimate and of masculinity?

No comments: