Tuesday, January 11, 2005

JB16597 - Jason #23: John 8:58 

(16597) - Jason #23: [Tue Jan 11, 2005 10:18 am ](John 8:58)

Dear Rob,

It has now been two-and-a-half months since my last posting on this subject, which concluded my answer to all of your arguments to date. I am satisfied that I have made my position clear, and demonstrated its validity. You started to make a reply on Nov. 14th, but then turned you attention to other things and have not seen fit to return to the debate. That is your prerogative and, frankly, the character of the Nov. 14th message did not promise any new advance in the discussion. I think we have exhausted the subject. I cannot unilaterally open the forum to the site members, but if you agree that can occur now as far as I am concerned. Otherwise, I think I have fulfilled my commitment to participate on this site, and I will be signing off.

In your message of Nov. 14th (Rob #22, Message 15992), you accuse me of changing my position. I have not changed my position. I have clarified it. As I stated before, the drive to be as simple as possible in my book sometimes led me to over-generalizations which I have been able to refine in a forum such as this where the discussion gets more technical. If one says "Automobiles are a leading contributor to the destruction of the ozone layer," and then clarifies by saying "The internal combustion engines of those automobiles that have them are a leading contributor to the destruction of the ozone layer," that is not "changing positions," but clarifying what one means by being more exact. My clarification of 'broken-syntax' is a clarification, not a change of position, because it tightens up the sense in which I was saying that the inversion of standard English word order was in itself a defect of translation. I have never changed to saying it was not a defect. I have continued to maintain, as I did in my book, that it is itself a defect distinct from the issue of verbal tense. It is a defect because the isolated be-verb cannot, as a rule, stand at the end of a sentence with its predicate complement relocated to a position in front of it. To write an English sentence with this inverted order is 'fractured' or 'mangled' syntax. It appears to me that you have confused two separate issues I addressed in my book: (1) whether the inverted word order is a defect of translation, and (2) whether the defect is sufficient in itself to indicate theological bias in the translation. My answer to the first is, and always has been, YES. My answer to the second is, and always has been, NOT NECESSARILY (because habituation to the traditional translation can cause translators to not notice the defect in it, and so not consciously choose the inverted word order, but follow it as 'normal' from tradition or habituation).

So while you try to detect slight variations in how I have expressed myself on this point, you have not been able to refute my basic point, which is that the be-verb cannot ordinarily be positioned at the end of an English sentence this way. I think you are still not coming to terms with the distinction between the uses of the English be-verb and the uses of other English verbs. I do not mean to fault you by pointing out this lack of distinction because in my book I also fail to make it explicit, as you rightfully pointed out very early in our exchange. You quote my on-line clarification that makes it explicit, but can only remark that this "represented a considerably different, more nuanced argument" than that found in my book. You then go on to say you never complained about me developing my argument in this way, of course in this very post complaining precisely that, apparently because of the way I faulted the course of your argument in my last set of postings from October. That's an understandable reaction, and we can leave it to our readers to decide whose criticism of the other has greater validity (they probably both do to some degree).

Now since your last message does not answer any of my arguments and does not advance any of your own, and since you have not, shall we say, felt compelled to put together anything further on this subject, isn't it safe to say that we have pretty much said it all, that we each consider our arguments fully stated, and we can leave it to our readers to judge? I am willing to leave it at that.

best wishes,
Jason B.

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