Translator’s Notes 1: Eugene Boring on Udo Schnelle’s Theology of the New Testament

​This will be my first blog post in the category “translator’s notes”, which will involve compilations of relevant “translator’s notes” from existing translations, organized by translator and/or by volume. During my work as a translator, I have generally felt like I am figuring out things as I go, so I hope that the process of compiling these notes will prove beneficial to my own translation ability and that the result will also be a resource for future translators and other readers of German New Testament scholarship, who should be able to work through these notes as a unit or identify posts that discuss various terms by searching my blog, i.e., by using it as a dictionary of sorts. Today’s translator’s notes are taken from Eugene Boring’s excellent translation of Udo Schnelle’s Theology of the New Testament. Boring’s notes are conveniently set off in square brackets with his initials [… – MEB]. The material that is not in brackets is from Udo Schnelle.

Before turning to some of his most valuable notes on translation, let me begin by referencing some of Boring’s other valuable notes on content and literature: see 26n1 (meaning-formation), 28n6 (Jörn Rüsen on history), 30n16 (radical construction/constructivism), 746n223 (chronos and kairos).

Eugene Boring’s Notes on Translation

26n1 (Sinnbildung and Sinnwelt): [… I have generally rendered Sinnbildung by “meaning-formation,” but not its relation to Sinnwelt, usually translated “universe of meaning” or “symbolic universe.” – MEB]

27n5 (Geschichte/Historie: see here for my blog post on Schnelle’s use of these terms): Main text: How was history (Geschichte) made and how does research and writing about history (Historie) take place? Footnote 5: Regarding terminology: I use the German terms “Geschichte”/“geschichtlich” to refer to what happened, and “Historie”/“historisch” to indicate the ways in which historians attempt to determine what this was. “Historik” refers to the philosophical theory of history. Cf. H./W. Hedinger, “Historik”, in Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie (ed. Karfried Gründer et al.; Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1974). “Geschichte” is never directly available except as “Historie,” but nonetheless the two concepts and terms must be distinguished, because the questions posed from the point of view of philosophical theories of history are not simply identical with “what happened” as that was understood by people in the past. [The German language has two words for “history,” while English has but one. Many German authors, including some quoted by Schnelle, use the two words interchangeably. The nuances distinguished by Schnelle are sometimes difficult to preserve in English. Since the context usually makes clear which meaning is intended, I have generally rendered both words by history and its cognates, though sometimes using event or story for Geschichte to preserve the author’s nuance, or rendering geschichtlich by historic in contrast to historical. See note 2 in § 2.1 below. Here the original reads : “Wie entsteht Geschichte/Historie?” – MEB].

32n23 (Fiktion): “Fiction” is not here used in the popular sense of “unreal” or “untrue,” but is intended in the functional-communications sense, and thus approaches the original meaning of “fictio”: “construction,” “formation.” [Cf. the use of fabrication” in English. – MEB]

39n53 (Nachträglichkeit and Nachzeitigkeit): Eckart Reinmuth, “Neutestamentliche Historik,” TLZ 8 (2003): 47-55, uses the term Nachträglichkeit, “supplementary-character” that memory adds to the event in the process of remembering [Schnelle had used Nachzeitigkeit, translated posterity above. In grammar the term refers to the action of a subordinate clause that takes place later than the action of the main clause, e.g., “I know what you will do.” – MEB]

55n38 (Anschlussfähigkeit): [I have throughout translated Anschlussfähigkeit as “capacity for openness and integration” or “integrative capacity.” Schnelle uses this term to indicate early Christianity’s openness to ideas in its culture that had hermeneutical potential, and its capacity to integrate them into its developing theology without losing or compromising itself. – MEB]

99n106 (Gleichnis and Parabel): [German has two words for parable, usually not distinguished in English: Gleichnis, which might be rendered by “analogy,” and Parabel. Schnelle’s footnote here indicates that he uses Gleichnis in the nontechnical, comprehensive sense as the term for parabolic speech in general, but in the treatment of individual texts distinguishes the terms as follows: Gleichnis is used for familiar, usual experiences, everyday scenes, for the world as perceived and experienced by everyone, the world that follows the conventional order of things. Parabel is used for the particular, individual case; it does not focus on the usual, but the extraordinary, the unique. These nuances are usually clear from the context, so I have not attempted to maintain them in translation, and have generally translated both by parable/parabolic. – MEB]

150n274 (Gretchenfrage: see here for my blog post on this term): [To ask the “Gretchen question” is to ask about someone’s deepest religious or political convictions; from Goethe, Faust, I. – MEB]

162n314 (Pro-Existenz): [Pro-Existenz is a German theological term designating a life lived for others. Cf. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s portrayal of Jesus as the Man for Others. – MEB]

275n25 (grammatical gender and choosing English pronouns for the Spirit): [In German, as in Greek, the pronoun referring to the Spirit is determined by the grammatical gender of the word “Spirit” (neuter in Greek; masculine in German). English is not so structured, and so the choice of pronoun seems to communicate whether the Spirit is thought of in personal terms (he, she) or not (it) and thus cannot communicate the way the term is used in either Greek or German. English translations of the Bible and of theological works in German (and other languages) must make choices not necessary or meaningful in Greek or German. – MEB]

329n406: Main Text : Thus, terminologically, ἐκκλησία as the assembly of Christians in one location should be translated ‘congregation’ (Gemeinde), and when it means the worldwide group of Christians as a whole, it should be translated ‘church’ (Kirche). Note: Cf. Roloff, “ἐκκλησία,” 1:413. [This distinction is more important in Europe, where there is a long tradition of an establish church, than in North America and other English-speaking areas, where ‘church’ has always been used for the local congregation, for groups of congregations, for the denomination, and for the church as a whole. I have therefore not attempted to maintain this distinction consistently in the English translation. – MEB]

378n2 (Ereignis and Geschehen): Main Text: First, we must distinguish between the element of the act-event-story continuum (Ereignis, Geschehen, Geschichte). Note: [Schnelle makes a distinction between two German words that are both usually translated as event. I have used act for the smaller elements of which an event is composed. – MEB]

621n60 (Werke/Taten): The dual translation of ἔργαwith Werke/Taten (works/deeds) attempts to grasp the multilayered aspect of the term; recent commentaries on James 2:14-16 translate variously (Frankem;lle, Werke; Burchard and Popkes, Taten). [The translation generally renders Schnelle’s original “Werke/Taten as “works.” – MEB]

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