In this post, all I really want to do is to show how two Bible translators try to open up meanings around names. In the next post, (to be named "translating Peter") I'll attempt to get at how a Bible writer is translating, is naming, and is opening up meanings (and I'll aim for opening up meanings by my own translation of his translation).
In this post, the two translators featured are Willis Barnstone and Ann Nyland. Remember, Barnstone and Nyland are both trying to translate so that the words and the names in the New Testament do not close down meanings. Barnstone is after restoring the Jewish meanings lost in Christianized transliterated names. And Nyland is trying to open up the Greek words and names to meanings in the sources prior to the New Testament.
Let's take a look at Barnstone's then Nyland's respective translations of what we name as "verses" of the "Bible" in the "gospel" of "Matthew": "Matthew 16:15-19." And let's also consider their footnotes on these verses. In Barnstone's translation, he's trying to show where the text became christianized, something his second footnote gets at. In Nyland's translation, she's attempting to get at the meaning of the Greek name for an Aramaic name but how the Greek name contrasts in meaning with another Greek word the writer of the Greek text uses. Reproduced below is what the two translators do and say (as each is concerned about the practices of earlier English translators around the names).
15But you, who do you say I am?------------
16Kefa, called Shimon Kefa, “You are the mashiah, the anointed, the son of the living God.”
17Yeshua answered him, saying,
You are blessed, Shimon bar Yonah.130
It was not flesh and blood that revealed to you this vision,
But my father who is in the skies.
18And I tell you that you are Kefa the rock
And upon this rock I will build my church, 131
And the gates of Gei Hinnom will not overpower it.
130. Barjonah, son of Jonah from the Greek Βαριωνᾶ (Bariona), from the Hebrew יוֹנָה בר (bar yonah). Some have suggested a secondary derivation from the Hebrew יוחנן בר (bar yohanan).
131. The Greek words ἐκκλησία (ekklesia) and συναγωγή (synagogue) mean an “assembly,” “gathering,” or “congregation,” and both words can refer to “synagogue.” However, ekklesia (except in the Septuagint Greek version of the Hebrew Bible) is normally translated church, while synagogue is the common word for “synagogue.” Here, in Yeshua’s prophecy, the intentional futurity of “I will build my church” is contrasted with the old Jewish tradition represented by Gei Hinnom, the Hebrew word for “hell.” Yeshua’s dramatic message is that he will build on a rock the new church that will overcome the old synagogue, and that Christian heaven will overcome Jewish hell. In his lifetime there was no Christian church, and Yeshua preached in the synagogues. For the observant Jew to say that he would “build a church” is an anachronism, revealing not his voice but that of churchmen many decades later when a Christian church as a building and institution did exist. The superimposition of later terminology, theology, and history on the figures of Yeshua and his followers remains the essential dilemma of the New Testament.
15 “But you – who do you say I am?” he asked.
16 Simon Peter answered, “You’re the Anointed One, the Son of the living God.”
17 “You are a blessed person, Simon Bar-Jonah!” Jesus exclaimed. “This wasn’t revealed to you by human beings but by my Father in the heavenly places. 18 I certainly say that you are Peter, the stone, and I will build my assembly upon me, the rock,1 and Hades’ gates will not triumph in an encounter with my assembly!
1 In the Greek, the “this” refers to Jesus, not Peter. He is playing on words. “Peter,” ὁ πέτρος, ho petros, is the Greek word for “stone” and ἡ πέτρα, he petra, is the Greek word for a rock, or shelf or ledge of rock, cliff or boulder, used in “upon this rock (πέτρα, petra, not πέτρος, petros, Peter) I will build my church”. They are two completely different Greek words. See use in Eur. Medea, 28-9; Eur. Andr. 537; Soph. OT, 334ff. However, some (dating to back [sic] Tertullian in the third century) argue that the two words here have the same meaning. Much earlier than Tertullian, the Shepherd of Hermas states that Jesus is the rock.