I have been considering two closely related questions:
a) Is the so-called ‘Passion Translation’ New Testament actually translated at all, or is it derived from English versions?
b) Does Brian Simmons, who says he is the ‘translator’, lack elementary competence in Greek?
In this post I consider a second example of a mistake in transliteration. Yesterday, I asked how Simmons could have transliterated ἑώρακα (heōraka) in John 1.34 as ophesthe. Today I consider the implications of his transliterating ἐξηγέομαι (exēgēomai) as hexegeomai, as if the first epsilon had a rough breathing ἑ rather than a smooth breathing ἐ . Although this may seem like a relatively minor error, in comparison with the one I examined yesterday, I would like to ask whether it is an error that somebody who has elementary competence in Greek could plausibly make?
Θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο. [NA 28]
Θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακε πώποτε· ὁ μονογενὴς υἱὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρός, ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο. [BGNT (Byzantine Greek New Testament)]
No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. [NASB]
No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. [NKJV]
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. [ESV]
In his 2015 edition of John: Eternal Love, Brian Simmons renders this verse of holy scripture as:
I desist from making any remarks about this text, except that to say that it can hardly be said to be faithful to the original. The matter at hand is footnote ‘a’:
ἐξηγήσατο is the third person singular aorist middle indicative of ἐξηγέομαι, ‘I tell, report, describe’, ‘I expound’. It is quite acceptable to refer to it by its lexical form:
But it should be transliterated as:
There are two mistakes here. First, the ‘ēta’, η, should be transliterated in such a way as to distinguish it from the two occurrences of epsilon, ε. The usual way to do so (Society for Biblical Literature, also American Library Association-Library of Congress) is to use short e, ‘e’, for epsilon, ε, and long e, e macron, ‘ē’ for ēta, η.
It is not good enough to represent two entirely different Greek letters by the same English letter. It is not even that Simmons is unable to do this, since in John 11.33:
Ἰησοῦς οὖν ὡς εἶδεν αὐτὴν κλαίουσαν καὶ τοὺς συνελθόντας αὐτῇ Ἰουδαίους κλαίοντας, ἐνεβριμήσατο τῷ πνεύματι καὶ ἐτάραξεν ἑαυτὸν [NA 28]
When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, [NASB]
he transliterates ἐνεβριμήσατο correctly with enebrimēsato:
In passing, it also seems unprofessional to use the lexical form in John 1.18, but here to transliterate the word in the form it takes in the scriptural text.
The more significant mistake that Simmons has made is to transliterate ἐξηγέομαι with an ‘h’ before the first ‘e’ as if the first ε had a rough breathing, ἑ, rather than a smooth one, ἐ.
ἐξηγέομαι is formed from ἡγέομαι (‘to lead’, ‘to think’) and the preposition ἐκ (‘from’, ‘out of’), which takes the form ἐξ before a vowel. Such verbs are very common in Greek. Here are a few, with the number of occurrences in the New Testament in brackets: 1
ἐξέρχομαι (218) ‘I go out’
έκβάλλω (81) ‘I drive out’
ἐκπορεύομαι (33) ‘I go out’
ἐκχέω (27) ‘I pour out’
ἐκλέγομαι (22) ‘I choose, select’
ἐξίστημι (17) ‘I am amazed, astonished’
ἐκτείνω (16) ‘ I stretch out’
ἐκπλήσσομαι (13) ‘I am amazed, overwhelmed’
ἐξαποστέλλω (13) ‘I send out, send away’
ἐξάγω (12) ‘I lead out, bring out’
and there are many more that occur less frequently.
Whatever form these verbs are in, whether it’s first person or third, singular or plural, aorist or future, active or passive, indicative or subjunctive, such verbs always have a smooth breathing. They can’t have a rough breathing. I think everybody who has even a little elementary Greek knows that. So how could someone who is translating:
Θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς θεὸς [/υἱὸς] ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο
write this footnote:
with ἐξηγήσατο transliterated as hexegeomai?
We all make mistakes, as I said in my last post, and especially me. So I may perhaps be wrong, but I just find it hard to see how someone who has even elementary competence in Greek could make this particular mistake. And if, as is claimed on the ‘Passion Translation’ FAQs (‘What is the Passion Translation and who is behind it?’) all the footnotes have been
evaluated by respected scholars and editors
why have these ‘respected scholars and editors’ not noticed 2
the rather glaring error?
- Warren C. Trenchard, Complete Vocabulary Guide to the Greek New Testament, Revised Edition (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998) p. 128 ff. ↩
- As of today, 5 December 2017, the mistake has still not been corrected in the online edition at Bible Gateway, despite my having pointed it out to author and publisher on 13 November this year: