He’s Right, There’s No Such Thing As A Literal Translation

There are just translations that are faithful to their source and translations that are not.  So he’s right when he writes

A few days ago, I came across a blog post which was making a valid point about the differences in meaning of two Greek words which are usually translated “go” in English. The post made an interesting point, but I did have one significant problem which rather distracted from what would, otherwise, have been a good read.

“Go therefore” from Matthew 28:19. “πορεύω poreuō” literally translates as “to pursue on a journey”, “continue with commitment” and “become an adherent”.

My problem is with the word “literally”. The Cambridge dictionary gives the primary definition of literally as:

using the real or original meaning of a word or a phrase.

The problem with this is that in the example above we have three “literal” English meanings of one Greek phrase, all with different senses. Does poreuo mean “pursue on a journey”, “continue with commitment” or “become an adherent”? These are all very different concepts; there is a link between them, but they are not “literally” the same.

Etc.  Right.

About Jim

I am a Pastor, and Lecturer in Church History and Biblical Studies at Ming Hua Theological College.
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