insight for Bible translation

There is a Semitic idiom which occurs frequently* throughout the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments. It is literally translated to English as “in the eyes of X,” or, slightly less literally, “in the sight of X.” In English we normally express the meaning of that idiom with wordings such as “X was pleased with Y” or “Y pleased X”, or “Y liked X”.

1. Most literal

The first instance of the Semitic idiom is found in Gen. 6:8 where we are told in the most literal translations of the idiom that

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD (KJV)
But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD (NIV, TNIV, NASB, ESV, Alter)
Noah, however, found favor in the eyes of the Lord (HCSB)

2. Moderately literal

The NRSV and NET Bible move one step away from the most literal translation by translating the Hebrew for ‘eyes’ with English “sight,” the action that is done with the eyes:

But Noah found favor in the sight of the LORD (NRSV, NET)

In English we do not normally refer to doing anything “in the eyes of” anyone or even “in the sight of” anyone, whether we are referring to literal eyesight or cognition that is figuratively represented by eyesight. The wording “in the sight of” does come close to the English wording of doing something “in plain sight of” someone, but this wording refers to literal eyesight, not cognitive “eyesight” or consideration, which is the figurative usage of the Semitic idiom.

(UPDATE: See comment to this post by David Lang who points out some examples of “in the sight of” used in English. Further study is needed to determine how widely this expression is used by English speakers and whether it is a borrowing from literal versions of the Bible.)

3. Moderately idiomatic

Some translations move yet closer toward a natural English expression of the meaning of the Semitic idiom, as in:

Noah, however, had won the LORD’s favour (REB)
But Noah won Yahweh’s favour (NJB)
But Noah found favor with the LORD (NAB, NJPS, NLT)

4. Most idiomatic

Finally, the most natural translations of the Semitic idiom are found in these versions:

But the LORD was pleased with Noah. (TEV/GNB)
But the LORD was pleased with Noah (CEV, GW)
But Noah pleased the LORD (NCV)

What can you see (!) as the advantages and disadvantages of these four different degrees of literalness for translation of the Semitic idiom?

What audiences do you feel would these different degrees of literalness appeal to the most?

Which audiences do you think would understand the figurative meaning of the Semitic idiom from each degree of translation shown in the four categories?

————–

*Some other occurrences of this idiom are in Gen. 38:7, 10; 41:37; Ex. 5:21; 24:17; Lev. 10:19; Num. 20:12; Deut. 4:25; 6:18; 9:18; 12:25; 13:18; Judges 2:11; 1 Sam. 12:17; 26:24; 2 Sam. 11:27; 15:25; 1 Ki 3:10; 15:5, 11; 16:25; 2 Ki 3:18; 1 Chron. 13:4; 2 Chron. 21:6; 25:2; 28:1; 29:6; Prov. 17:8; Is. 49:5; Jer. 52:2; Zech. 8:6

New Testament examples are literally translated as “before the ___,” or “well-pleasing to ___,” but are sometimes translated as the Semitic idiom, “in the sight of”, e.g. Luke 1:6, 15; Acts 4:19; 7:20; 8:21; 24:16; Rom. 12:17; Gal. 3:11; 1 Tim. 2:3; James 1:27

24 Comments

  1. Peter Kirk
    Posted March 21, 2007 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    New Testament examples are literally “before the ___,” …

    Luke 1:15 in Greek is enopion, a word whose etymology is “in the eye of”, and so arguably “in the eyes of” is a literal translation. But the Greek word in fact just means “in front of”. It is found 94 times in the NT, but all but 24 of these occurrences are in Luke, Acts and Revelation; of the 23 references in the gospels, all but one are in Luke.

  2. David Lang
    Posted March 21, 2007 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Wayne,

    I’m not sure I would agree with your statement that “In English we do not normally refer to doing anything “in the eyes of” anyone or even “in the sight of” anyone, whether we are referring to literal eyesight or cognition that is figuratively represented by eyesight.”

    Don’t we use expressions like “He’s a hero in the eyes of his son,” or “In the eyes of her father, she would always be his little girl”?

    I would argue that we have a parallel idiom in English. It may be that this is an example of a Hebrew idiom entering English as a result of literal translations of the Bible, and I suppose it could be the case that the idiom is being used less frequently in English as the influence of the KJV wanes, but I doubt any English reader would stumble over the more literal renderings of this idiom.

    Though I think this idiom is still alive and well in English, it may be perceived as more “poetic” language than simply saying “X was pleased with Y.” It could then be argued that a less poetic rendering better captures the “tone” of the original or somehow reads more naturally.

    Personally, I’m pretty open to every one of these renderings. I think each has its advantages. I would just caution that we can’t summarily dismiss “in the eyes of” as a valid English expression . . . at least not yet.

  3. Wayne Leman
    Posted March 21, 2007 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, David, for bringing up these examples. As I was mentally preparing for this post, I thought of idioms which have come into English from the KJV, such as “I escaped by the skin of my teeth.”

    It is possible that “in the sight of” is a Semiticism borrowed from the Bible.

    And, of course, it is possible that I overstated the case that it is not a natural English expression. I appreciate being corrected whenever I do misstate something. The blog format is good for that, isn’t it?

  4. John Radcliffe
    Posted March 21, 2007 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Does the Hebrew idiom *itself* imply that God “was pleased” with Noah (group 4 renderings), or that Noah had “won” (see group 3) some sort of competition? Or is it simply saying that God “looked on” Noah favourably: i.e. that “God was pleased (for whatever reason) to act in way that was favourable to Noah”. Now we might conclude from the wider context (e.g. v9b) that it was because of how Noah acted, but that’s not quite the same as claiming that v8 says that.

    I’ll come clean. I have a problem with how some translations (how can I put it?) allow the context to “colour” the rendering of “un-coloured” words. Another example comes from the discussion of Genesis 1:28 that you linked to a couple of days ago. Does the Hebrew verb there imply more than simply “move”? If not, is it legitimate to render it (e.g.) “crawled”. That might be how *we* would describe how the creatures moved (although I wouldn’t say that about elephants, snakes or kangaroos!), but is it what the Hebrew says?

    Personally, I’d prefer bland to interpolated every time.

  5. Wayne Leman
    Posted March 21, 2007 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    John asked:

    Does the Hebrew idiom *itself* imply that God “was pleased” with Noah (group 4 renderings), or that Noah had “won” (see group 3) some sort of competition? Or is it simply saying that God “looked on” Noah favourably: i.e. that “God was pleased (for whatever reason) to act in way that was favourable to Noah”.

    The Hebrew idiom means that God was pleased with Noah. There is no idea of a competition.

  6. anonymous
    Posted March 21, 2007 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Actually, I agree with the spirit of John Radcliffe’s comments. The interpretation that Wayne gives is certainly a valid interpretation; but it is not the only valid interpretation; both medieval and modern commentators have extracted other interpretations from this phrase.

    It is dangerous to make negative statements (e.g., there is no concept of X in this verse); not only does it presume more understanding of ancient languages than we have, but it also shuts off understanding to a variety of ancient, medieval, and modern exegesis. In Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and Judaism, understanding the history of how a verse has been understood is a primary theological study.

    Quoting this verse literally allows Wayne’s interpretation, but does not exclude other interpretations. We can certainly argue about which is the best interpretation, and even about how other commentators have understood the verse, but the point it that we don’t close out discussion.

    For that reason, I prefer the more literal quotation.

  7. Wayne Leman
    Posted March 21, 2007 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    The interpretation that Wayne gives is certainly a valid interpretation; but it is not the only valid interpretation; both medieval and modern commentators have extracted other interpretations from this phrase.

    What are some other valid interpretations of the Hebraic idiom?

  8. anonymous
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    What are some other valid interpretations of the Hebraic idiom?

    (It is not entirely clear it is an idiom, although I personally believe it is.)

    You need to start by acknowledging the most obvious feature of the verse — the anagram נח and חן. Note also the echo of the verb in v. 6: נחם.

    You also need to reference the apparent reasons listed in v.9 and v.7:1. Notice the reasons are different, in one case Noah is righteous (although only blameless “in his age”, as Rashi famously noted.) and in the other God says He has judged Noah “for you alone have I found righteous.” We need to distinguish between three cases:

    (a) Noah being righteous
    (b) Noah being righteous, but only by the standards of his age, not in the sense of the righteousness of Abraham (not only in the sense of the the drunk-naked incident of Genesis 9:20-26, but also in the sense that unlike Abraham who pleaded for mercy on the citizen of Sodom and Gomorrah.)
    (c) Noah being judged righteous by God

    Thus, among the Jewish interpreters, the prophet Ezekiel (14:14,20) adopts interpretation (a); Rashi and Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 108a adopt interpretation (b); Nachmanides adopts interpretation (c).

    Ancient Christian commentators also comment on this passage. Note, in particular the striking words of John Chrysostom (349-407):

    This Noah, “found favor in the eyes of the Lord God.” He “found favor,” but “in the eyes of God”; not simply “he found favor” but “in the eyes of the Lord God.” This is said in order to show us that he had a single purpose, that is, to be praised by that eye that never sleeps or rests. He had no care for human glory or scorn or irreverence. (Homilies on Genesis).

    Could he possibly more explicit on the importance of the phrasing? And of course Chrysostom is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, and to a lesser decree in Catholicism and Anglicanism. Also, see the discussion from Augustine’s City of God, chapter 26 and Chrysostom’s later discussion in Homilies on John.

    Other interpretations are possible, of course — as random examples, see the Christian interpreters Skinner 1910 (Noah’s obedience to the command to build the ark was commendable) or Wenham 1987 (Noah’s prayers were granted).

    Now, I don’t mean to argue for any of these interpretations (although personally, I find Nachmanides most interesting.) But if you interpret this phrase taking out the “eyes of”, you render these ancient, medieval, and modern interpretations inaccessible.

  9. Wayne Leman
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    Anon., thanks for responding so quickly. However, I don’t understand how your response is relevant to the question of the interpretation of Hebrew “in the eyes of”, as it appears throughout the Hebrew Bible. Obviously, I’m missing something. What is it? In my post I’m not concerned with Gen. 6:8, per se, but, rather with the Hebrew for “in the sight of” wherever it occurs in the Hebrew Bible. Now, there are a few places where it is clear from the context that that the Hebrew is referring to actual eyesight and spectators right there in the scene being narrated. I’m not referring to shoe passages and in my list of other exx. at the bottom of the post, I deliberately ommitted those exx.

    As you probably know, in other exx. of the wording in question throughout the Hebrew Bible, the person in whose eyes there was favor is often not YHWH/God. So there is surely some meaning to the words “in the eyes of” that is separable from God.

    So, I have the two questions:

    1. What am I missing that allows me to understand the point you are making?

    2. What other interpretations of “in the eyes of” are there which have been suggested by various commentators? I may have missed it in your reply, but I have looked more than once and I don’t think you answered that question.

  10. Wayne Leman
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    “shoe” = “those” in my preceding comment. Sorry, but I didn’t realize I had my Type-O font on again. I’ll be glad when they get a Unicode version of that font up. I hope it is more reliable than my Type-O legacy font.

    :-)

  11. anonymous
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 3:36 am | Permalink

    The “idiom” you are referring to is a mere single word in Hebrew: עיני. And even at that, it appears with different vowelizations and different prefixes in the examples you gave.

    You assert that עיני is sometimes an idiom and sometimes not, but you have not provided any general rule for interpreting when it is an idiom and when it is meant “literally”, and neither have you given evidence that it is a common idiom as opposed to multiple idioms.

    Indeed, several of the examples you cite can refer to actual sight. For example, consider Numbers 20:12. I don’t understand why you do not read this as possibly referring to actual sight. God is asking why Aaron and Moses did not obey his precise orders and thus visibly sanctify God in front of the entire people Israel. (Notice, for instance, the NJPS translation adopts this interpretation.)

    But you discuss one verse at length: Genesis 6:8. To keep the discussion manageable, I limited my response to that. If we discuss other verses, the number of alternative interpretations will magnify considerably.

    Now, to answer your questions:

    What am I missing that allows me to understand the point you are making?

    I cannot parse this question. However, if you are asking: “What am I missing that would allow me to understand the point you are making?” then my response is that you appear to be missing my point.

    And what is my point? My point is simply that other commentators have interpreted this verse differently than you. That does not make your interpretation wrong; but

    (a) literal translations allow both your interpretation and their interpretations; and
    (b) “idiomatic translations” do not allow these multiple interpretations.

    What other interpretations of “in the eyes of” are there which have been suggested by various commentators?

    The commentators have suggested that “finding favor in the eyes of” is a different character than simply “finding favor.” Examples discussed above include:

    (a) Noah was righteous
    (b) Noah was judged righteous
    (c) Noah was righteous for his time
    (d) Noah was obedient
    (e) Noah had his prayers granted
    (f) Noah was “viewed” continuously without pause and found favor

    Now admittedly, these distinctions are subtle, but they are still distinct. Similarly, some are allegorical [Hebrew: remez; Latin: sensus allegoricus] or homiletic [Hebrew: derash; Latin: sensus tropologicus] rather than “plain meaning” [Hebrew: peshat; Latin: sensus literalis] but that does not make them invalid. (Indeed, the Hebrew and Latin phrases refer to classic Jewish and Catholic forms of interpretation respectively.)

    For example, I repeat Chrysostom’s homiletic discussion:

    This Noah, “found favor in the eyes of the Lord God.” He “found favor,” but “in the eyes of God”; not simply “he found favor” but “in the eyes of the Lord God.” This is said in order to show us that he had a single purpose, that is, to be praised by that eye that never sleeps or rests.

    Please read this quote carefully, and you will notice he is quite explicit on the difference.

    Since Chrysostom is such an important teacher in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, I think one should consider carefully before adopting a translation that makes his writings unintelligible.

  12. anonymous
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 4:14 am | Permalink

    On rereading my previous post, it seems I put my point too strongly. I wish to qualify my previous remarks:

    (a) Every translation is perforce an interpretation to some degree. The exact range of interpretations cannot remain the same across translations.

    (b) However, some translations are more interpretive than others.

    (c) The study of interpretations of the Bible is separate from the study of the Bible. While the study of interpretations may be less popular among Evangelical Protestants, it is particularly important to Jews, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox.

    (d) It is important to note that just as a translation may remove ambiguities, it may also introduce ambiguities. For example, I can criticize the “literal” translations for Genesis 6:8 for suggesting an interpretation that God possesses (anthropomorphically) a physical set of eyeballs. This anthropomorphic error is not unknown, for example, there is ample evidence, from discussion both among rabbinic sources and from the Church fathers (Justin Martyr, Origen, Basil the Great, Arnobious of Sicca) that some Jews in antiquity interpreted God anthropomorphically. This may have been partially due to ambiguity in the leading Pentateuch translation of the time, Targum Onkelos. Christian anthropomorphic interpretations are even more common, since Jesus is believed to have been simultaneously human and divine. (Thus we see the rather amazing debate on the gender of pronouns used to refer to God.)

    (e) However, even the study of mistaken interpretations of Scripture is interesting. For example, medieval Jews argued that quotations in the Gospel of Matthew was based on ambiguities that were not in the original Hebrew, but introduced in the Septuagint. A number of Jews have argued that Christians have corrupted the Greek Septuagint to conform the Gospels. In response, some Christians argued that the Jews had corrupted Hebrew to suppress Christianity. (This debate continues to this very day.) In any case, it is clear that the Septuagint and Hebrew text that we have today have different meanings in places.

    (f) The study of translations is a valid field of inquiry in its own right, which is why today we see translations of translations — translations of the Targums and Septuagint and Peshita and Vulgate, for example — appearing in English.

    (g) In conclusion, I cannot say that “idiomatic translations” have a lower value than literal translations. However, I do think that it is incumbent on those advocating “idiomatic translations” to explain their limitations to their readers.

  13. Wayne Leman
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 5:10 am | Permalink

    Anon. concluded:

    However, I do think that it is incumbent on those advocating “idiomatic translations” to explain their limitations to their readers.

    I agree. And I have tried to do that, altho it is clear that I have not done so enough or clearly enough. I have often pointed out that a more literal translation allows us to appreciate the specific linguistic and rhetorical forms used in a text. A more idiomatic translation allows for quicker access to the rhetorical, figurative, and propositional meanings intended by an author. There is value in both.

    One of my biggest concerns is not so much with literalness of translation, per se, but with translation that does not follow the grammar or lexicon of any language, either the source language or the target language. The translation is in a Middle Earth region where someone has to learn the language spoken there. It’s a burden but not an impossible burden to overcome. I personally prefer any Bible translation to follow the grammar and lexicon of its own language, regardless of the degree of literalness or idiomaticity. The ISV is one of the first Bible transltions I have worked with which, on the whole, uses grammatical English, but the ISV also has a high degree of literalness, closeness to the forms of the biblical languages. So one can appreciate the genre, rhythms, parallelism, assonance, etc., literary devices which were employed by the original authors. And yet the reader doesn’t stumble as much as they do reading versions such as the ESV or NASB which have rather bad English, overall.

  14. Wayne Leman
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    Anon. explained:

    The commentators have suggested that “finding favor in the eyes of” is a different character than simply “finding favor.” Examples discussed above include:

    (a) Noah was righteous
    (b) Noah was judged righteous
    (c) Noah was righteous for his time
    (d) Noah was obedient
    (e) Noah had his prayers granted
    (f) Noah was “viewed” continuously without pause and found favor

    OK, thanks, Anon., I’m not sure that I understand your point any better but I definitely appreciate the effort you put into it. I don’t think the fault is yours, and I’m not sure that any fault needs to be assigned anywhere.

    By looking at your a-f I don’t understand how those alternatives have much, if anything, to do with what leads to the English translation of “in the sight of”.

    I can see that I should have blogged about several examples where “in the sight of” occurs with the meaning that concerns me, so that we could try to pull out the semantic components that are common to them all.

    I have no problem with there being different interpretations. One of my favorite subjects in theological school was hermeneutics. I have continued to study this discipline about interpretation. My son-in-law attends a Jewish grad school and has helped introduce me further to different rabbinical schools of interpretation. I had already been somewhat familiar with them, but I have more interest in them now that our son-in-law is doing his graduate studies at that school.

    I would still like to see if we can describe more of the semantic options for what “in the eyes/sight of” might mean. And I’m fine with it meaning different things in different contexts. But I still get the strong impression that in the majority of cases that I listed at the bottom of the post (and there were many exx. that I didn’t list, to try to be concise and because some exx. simply weren’t semantically the same as these) there is some kind of semantic of rhetorical unity. It’s that unity, in spite of some differences that might exist, that I would like to explore. I want to learn through interaction over this topic.

  15. anonymous
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    The translation is in a Middle Earth region where someone has to learn the language spoken there.

    Well, as a bible translator, you will be pleased to know that the Bible has been translated into Quenya (high-Elvish in the Lord of the Rings) and even into the Tengwar script. Here is a sample. And of course, Tolkien himself was the stylist for Jonah in the Jerusalem Bible.

  16. anonymous
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    By looking at your a-f I don’t understand how those alternatives have much, if anything, to do with what leads to the English translation of “in the sight of”.

    Well, the point is that some interpreters feel “finding favor in the sight of God” is different than “finding favor with God.” In rabbinic exegesis, there is a principle that every word in the Bible has a meaning, so if an apparently extraneous word or grammatical form is used, there is a distinction being made.

    Similarly, Chrysostom is making a distinction.

    Now, one can certainly question how these commentators derive these meanings (and frankly their reasoning is often complicated and sometimes incredible), but that is a different question — all I was trying to show was that some commentators made a distinction.

    A standard Rabbinic bible is published with multiple medieval commentaries — which usually argue with each other in an intense debate that spans centuries. I have not seen so many instances of Christian Bibles with multiple commentaries, but I have seen parallel bibles, which date back at least to Origen’s third-century Hexapla right up to the latest offerings from Zondervan, Oxford, and others listed on the right-hand side of this blog.

  17. Suzanne McCarthy
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    I regret that I deleted myself but I did briefly post a link to a Klingon Bible. Maybe I found myself reluctant to look so frivolous, but there it is.

    As I said the rationale was quite persuasive.

  18. anonymous
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Regrettably, the Klingon bible was translated from an incomplete English version, as opposed, for example, to the Esperanto version which was translated from original languages.

  19. Wayne Leman
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Anon. clarified:

    Well, the point is that some interpreters feel “finding favor in the sight of God” is different than “finding favor with God.”

    OK, I understand now, Anon., altho my brain finds it difficult to think of situations where finding “favor in the sight of God” would have a different meaning from “finding favor with God”. Can you think of any that could help illustrate the difference?

    In rabbinic exegesis, there is a principle that every word in the Bible has a meaning, so if an apparently extraneous word or grammatical form is used, there is a distinction being made.

    This is the same as traditional conservative Protestant exegesis, including that today of Poythress and Grudem.

    And I don’t believe in taking out the meaning of any forms in the biblical language texts, either.

    That is not the intent of translating the figurative meaning of biblical idioms. As you probably know, the meaning of an idiom is not composed of the sum of the meaning of its parts. Rather, an idiom has a meaning as a lexical unit, and that unit is the entire idiom.

    In English if we say “It’s raining cats and dogs,” the meaning of “cats” and the meaning of “dogs” is not part of the meaning of the idiom.

    Translating the figurative meaning of idioms is an attempt to translate the meaning of the original idiom more accurately to users of a translation than can be done translating that idiom literally. This, of course, is based on the description of idioms in the preceding paragraph.

    I hope none of this gets your goat. If it does, don’t have a cow about it.

    :-)

  20. anonymous
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    my brain finds it difficult to think of situations where finding “favor in the sight of God” would have a different meaning from “finding favor with God”. Can you think of any that could help illustrate the difference?

    It is unnatural to do this in English rather than Hebrew, but it is not hard to come up with examples. Chrysostom gave one above. Here is another.

    Consider the formula used in Genesis 1:4 and elsewhere: And God saw the light, that it was good …. This suggests a special process of judgment — in the first step God “sees” an object and secondly, the object is declared “good.” Now what does “good” mean with regard to people? Well, in the case of Noah 6:8, we find information in the next verse — Noah is righteous and blameless. Righteous is a legal term as used in Exodus 23:7, Deuteronomy 25:1, and Proverbs 17:15. Blameless is used for a sacrificial animal without blemish (Exodus 12:5, Leviticus 1:3,10). As applied to “people”, a blameless one enjoys God’s fellowship, according to Psalms 15 and 101:6.

    Therefore, according to this interpretation, the act of of God “seeing” refers to Divine judgment and the second part of the phrase refers to God’s either (a) final judgment or (b) transformation into an approved state. Thus we can read 6:8 as

    God saw (judged) Noah and gave him favor (acquitted him).

    or

    God saw (judged) Noah and transformed him to be favorable (blameless).

    Now I don’t wish to defend the plausibility of either of these interpretations. Rather, I simply give them as examples of distinctions that can be drawn.

    Now you also point out that idioms in English do not always yield insights (your raining cats and dogs example). This is true of ordinary speech, but less true of careful writing. For example, in careful poetic writing, such as Milton, extensive idioms are used and each one has meaning when read both literally and idiomatically. Indeed, the two meanings complement each other.

    So, assuming that the Hebrew Bible is carefully written, it is valid to evaluate it in this way.

    However, if this approach makes you uncomfortable, then I can explain it in a different way. It is not necessarily the case that the Hebrew idiom “in the sight of God” means the same thing as the English idiom “in God’s viewpoint”. So, we can ask, what does the Hebrew idiom mean? Now as historical linguist may have a particular of trying to solve this question, but this type of exegesis is an alternative way of solving this question.

  21. Peter Kirk
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Anon wrote:

    You assert that עיני is sometimes an idiom and sometimes not, but you have not provided any general rule for interpreting when it is an idiom and when it is meant “literally”, …

    Indeed, several of the examples you cite can refer to actual sight. For example, consider Numbers 20:12. I don’t understand why you do not read this as possibly referring to actual sight. …

    I don’t think Wayne has ever denied that the idiom can refer to actual sight. But there is I think only one Bible passage where “in the eye of” can be considered literally (although even here as a parable): Matthew 7:3-5, and its parallel Luke 6:41-42. In every other place “in the eye of” is an idiomatic metaphor or metonymy for “in the sight of”. And that surely is Wayne’s point. The distinction between literal and metaphorical sight is a secondary issue. But perhaps this gives a third meaning something like “in the opinion or judgment of”.

  22. Peter Kirk
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne, the Klingon Bible you linked to is clearly not the best such work. Machine translation between related human languages works very poorly, so what are the chances that it can produce a good result for translation from a human language to an alien one?

    But there is a project under way here for what should be a much better translation. The Gospel of Mark has been translated from the original Greek by Nick Nicholas, and Jonah I believe from the Hebrew, by the Hebraist (and Unicode expert) Seqram, alias Mark Shoulson. Sadly (for the translation, but not for Nick and Mark themselves!) the translators are not mother tongue speakers of Klingon, and so the translation is unlikely to be fully natural.

  23. Suzanne McCarthy
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Peter,

    Thanks for the note on Klingon. I have never been interested in it, so I missed realizing that this is one of the projects of Nick and Mark, who are, as you mention Unicode experts. This helps a few pieces to fall into place. I really appreciate Nick’s pages on Unicode Greek.

  24. Jack
    Posted April 10, 2007 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I know that this is a bit late, but I didn’t see any LXX mentioned. Why I think this is important is that it shows us how the Jewish people of antiquity translated the Torah into Greek. An English translation of Gen 6.8 is ‘But Noe found grace before the Lord God.’ Just wanting to throw in that monkey wrench!


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