The most important thing to remember about any translation process is that it cannot be performed without interpretation.
This means, translation always carries the opinion of the translator.
When translating from one language into another language, such as Greek into English, there are at least three different tools that can be applied.
Translation is the process of converting a word of one language into the corresponding word in another language. This rarely works perfectly as there are concepts and ideas expressed by a word in a given language that cannot be adequately represented by a word in another language.
When I was cutting my Christian Teeth in the Southern Baptist Convention, I was taught – with no doubt what-so-ever – the KJB was a \”word for word translation.\” Imagine my dismay (and embarrassment of naivety) when years later, I learned differently. I discovered that there are ideas, expressions, and syntax in Hebrew and Greek that simply cannot be expressed word-for-word in English. In those instances, another tool is used: interpretation.
There are three reasons why transliteration is used:
- When there is no useful word in the target language that conveys the same meaning
- When repetitive interpretation would be too cumbersome for the literary context
- When the translator wants to hide the actual meaning of the word.
But did you know that baptize is a transliteration, not a translation, not an interpretation?
The interpretation or definition of the Greek \”baptizō\” (bap-tid\’-zo) is to make thoroughly wet. The appropriate translation is immersed. Therefore, John the Baptist was actually known as John the Immerser. When we realize that the traditionally correct method of baptism in the western (Catholic) church (Reformed or not) was sprinkling, then we understand why the transliteration was provided, and why its definition was obtained outside of scripture.
- to be ministered unto
Therefore, when you see transliteration without definition, you should consider that a huge red flag.
But what about 1 Timothy 3:13?
For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
If you consider the interlinear version of that passage, you will hardly recognize it. Word-for-word, it reads as follows [words added for clarity]:
those indeed well having served a standing for themselves good acquire and great confidence in [the] faith that [is] in Christ Jesus.
The KJV translators took such liberty with this section of scripture, that the Greek word for office (praxis) – which means \”a practice, deed or work\” – is not even found in this section.
- Using the surrounding context of scripture, discover how many apostles are mentioned or referred to in the New Testament.
- How has our doctrine of angels been influenced and/or established by transliteration?