In his post "On Translation and Explanation," Joel M. Hoffman takes the TNIV and the Message bible translations to task for "explanation" but "not a translation." Then Peter Kirk defends the TNIV and takes Joel to task for his explanation about the "original text."
The point of issue is whether Matthew the gospel writer means "a man" (which Joel says is the real "translation") or "a human being" or "people" (which Joel says is the seeming "explanation" of the TNIV and the Message respectively).
Peter suggests that Joel is seeing the original as meaning "only male human beings, not female ones"; Gary Zimmerli had also suggested the gender question in his comment here, saying "I think the [TNIV] translators don’t want to leave the door open to the idea that a woman may be less valuable."
The discussion is around Matthew 12, especially verses 10-12, especially in TNIV.
TWO TRANSLATOR'S BRILLIANT WORDPLAY TRANSLATIONS
Below, you'll see how two brilliant translators work here. The issues of whether the speakers, writers, translators, listeners, and readers get it should be clear. What there is to get is how gods and humans are in contrast; and how humans and sheep are in contrast. The larger context of the wordplay is something that both Joel and Peter have overlooked. Matthew is emphasizing and is having Jesus emphasize who he is, as a human.
First, Ann Nyland translates [my italics added]:
10 There was a person who had a withered hand!...
11 This was Jesus' response.
"Let's say one of you [persons] had a sheep.... "
12 "Isn't a person worth more than a sheep?... "
13 Then he said to the person,...In a footnote, Nyland also says [her italics below]:
...ἄνθρωπος, anthropos, is the word for human, humanity, person. Grammatically, it is the common gender and not the masculine.Both Nyland's translation and her explanation are just fine, don't you think? [Note: she elides the word in v 11, as my bracket above notes]. Her translation doesn't have to explain, and Matthew's Greek doesn't either.
Second, then, I'm bringing up Matthew here because, very likely, he's also translating. His Greek plays with words.
The fact is that we do not know what Jesus said in Hebrew Aramaic. Matthew translates that to Greek. Our best guess is that Jesus was referring to himself as בר אנש (bar 'anash). So Matthew, in 12.8, makes that ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (which gets readers thinking perhaps of the aramaic of Daniel 7.13 or of its Greek translation in the Septuagint or both).
Matthew wastes little ink before getting right into wordplay as he introduces a story about Jesus and as he translates a story-parable Jesus tells within the story. You don't even have to read Greek to see the repetition of the word ἄνθρωπος, anthropos:
8 Κύριος γάρ ἐστιν τοῦ σαββάτου ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.
9 Καὶ μεταβὰς ἐκεῖθεν ἦλθεν εἰς τὴν συναγωγὴν αὐτῶν.
10 Καὶ ἰδού, ἄνθρωπος ἦν τὴν χεῖρα ἔχων ξηράν· καὶ ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτόν, λέγοντες,
Εἰ ἔξεστιν τοῖς σάββασιν θεραπεύειν;
ἵνα κατηγορήσωσιν αὐτοῦ.
11Ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς,
Τίς ἔσται ἐξ ὑμῶν ἄνθρωπος, ὃς ἕξει πρόβατον ἕν, καὶ ἐὰν ἐμπέσῃ τοῦτο τοῖς σάββασιν εἰς βόθυνον, οὐχὶ κρατήσει αὐτὸ καὶ ἐγερεῖ;
12 Πόσῳ οὖν διαφέρει ἄνθρωπος προβάτου. Ὥστε ἔξεστιν τοῖς σάββασιν καλῶς ποιεῖν.
13 Τότε λέγει τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ,
At this point, we're curious to see how Nyland translated verse 8, aren't we? Well, it's masterful! She is translating Matthew translating Jesus, as follows:Ἔκτεινον τὴν χεῖρά σου. Καὶ ἐξέτεινεν, καὶ ἀποκατεστάθη ὑγιὴς ὡς ἡ ἄλλη.
Nyland also offers a wonderful explanations in a footnote. Here they are:8 "... The Human Being is the Master of the Sabbath!"
ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ho huios tou anthropou, meaning a person associated with humanity, a translation of bar nasha, an Aramaic periphrasis for "person," would be read word for word as "one associated with humanity" (as non-gender specific language and "humanity" in the singular. However, bar nasha means one associated with people", "a person", "the person", "humanity", "the representative person".
υἱὸς, huios, with a noun refers to a member of a class of people, and should not be translated as "son/child of". The Benai Israel, translated in the KJV as "children/sons of Israel" should be translated as "members of the class of people called Israel" = "Israelites". The expression is also Greek, and found as early as Homer. Note also that ἄνθρωπος, anthropos, is the word for human, humanity, person. Grammatically, it is the common gender and not the masculine.What are your thoughts about how Matthew translates Jesus and how Ann Nyland translates Matthew?