Is it Monday already?
Sorry for the lack of posts this weekend, my friends, and the lack of discussion from your humble blogger, but I have been rather busy and when not busy, rather worn out.
See, last Tuesday, a friend of mine called and asked if we could bring a mutual friends’ belongings to him. A few months ago, I posted on this friend of ours and have updated the story since, but it is a tragic one. He since was able to get out of the hospital and move to his mothers in Falls Church, Va. His mother is a real piece of work. She allowed this young man to suffer numerous kinds of abuse as he grew up while positioning herself as the one shouldering the burden. I won’t get into the life that he was forced to lead or the life that he tried to get out of; however, when he was placed on SSI, his mother suddenly wanted him to live with her. Now that he is not getting any better, she is shipping him off to live with his grandmother in the Dominican Republic. Now, I am not sure about you, but the first place that I think of when I think of mental health care is the Dominican Republic.
His family that had begged him to come to Falls Church quickly abandoned him once he was there and literally stuck him in an attic which has played havoc on any hopes of recovery for this young man.
Anyway, he is readying himself to move to Florida before the transition to the Dominican Republic and had nothing. He was borrowing clothes and asking for donation just to have something to wear. He had no belongings. So his friend asked me to take the stuff out there this weekend. I agreed. This young man, a good friend in my time of need, needed something and who was I to deny that.
Our plan was to leave about 3 Saturday morning. I laid down about 11:30 Friday night and awoke to a call at 1:30 telling me that my driving partner was on his way. (Not an imposition. I told him to do so if he could not sleep). So, we left my house about 2:15 that morning with my 6 year old daughter in tow.
We made good time and arrived at his house at 8 that morning. We unload his stuff, a lot of stuff, and left. Our young friend was drugged up and unable to speak much. His mind was vacant. And his mother was telling us that she was ready for me to move so that she could get on with her life.
So we left about 8:30 that morning form his house and went to DC for just a small visit. It would be my second and my daughter’s first. Once there, we turned around and I arrived back home about 4. I then had to rush and get ready and then attend a dinner event and finally slipped into bed about midnight.
Work the next morning, went to the Sunday School picnic, left there about 2 come home and slept until 6 and then did my level best not to do anything until bedtime. So you see, dear reader, I am exhaustive, mentally, physically, and emotionally. And I am back at work for another long week.
But thank God that He was there each step of the way. I drove the entire time and was fine throughout. He encouraged me and kept my mind clear and given me peace and hope. I had a great time yesterday at the Picnic, even walked in the woods a bit.
Well, on to the real news….
Theophilus and Bible Translation – Should names/titles be translated?
First, allow me to state that I am new to Bible Translation, having only worked in this area for some two years. I still hope to be new some 60 years from now.
Here is a question that is on my mind. Granted, I have not yet begun Luke-Acts, but this is still something that is useful for other uses.
Luke-Acts (I presume these books written by the same author to the same ‘person’) is addressed to one by the name of Theophilus. Would it be implausible to translate the ‘name’ directly to it’s base meaning instead of mere transliteration?
It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
εδοξεν καμοι παρηκολουθηκοτι ανωθεν πασιν ακριβως καθεξης σοι γραψαι κρατιστε θεοφιλε
It can be translated as ‘friend of God’ or ‘beloved of God’, or as Robertson suggests, ‘God-lover’. It is my opinion, and I owe much of that opinion to Peter Doble’s book, the Paradox of Salvation, that Luke-Acts was written with a central theologia crucis in mind. Could the addressee be a part of that plan?
From Wikipedia comes this possible suggestion as to who Theophilus was:
A growing belief points to Theophilus ben Ananus, High Priest of the Temple in Jerusalem from 37–41 A.D. In this tradition Theophilus would have been both a kohen and a Sadducee. That would make him the son of Annas and brother-in-law of Caiaphas, raised in the Jewish Temple. Adherents claim that Luke’s Gospel was targeted at Sadducee readers. This might explain a few features of Luke. He begins the story with an account of Zacharias the righteous priest who had a Temple vision of an angel (1:5-25). Luke quickly moves to account Mary‘s purification (niddah), Jesus‘ Temple redemption (pidyon ha-ben) rituals (2:21-39), and then to Jesus Temple teaching when he was twelve (2:46). He makes no mention of Caiaphas’ role in Jesus’ crucifixion and emphasizes Jesus’ literal resurrection (24:39), including an ascension into heaven as a realm of spiritual existence (24:52; Acts 1:1). Luke also seems to stress Jesus’ arguments with the Sadducees on points like legal grounds for divorce, the existence of angels, spirits, and an afterlife (Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead). If this was the case then Luke is trying to use Jesus’ rebuttals and teachings to break down Theophilus’ Sadducean philosophy. One could also look at Luke’s Gospel as an allegorical (רֶמֶז remez) reference to Jesus as “the man called the Branch” prophesied in Zechariah 3:8; 6:12-13, who is the ultimate high priest foreshadowed by the Levitical priesthood.
And it could be, and let’s say it was (I don’t believe it, but…). That Theophilus is long dead, and yet the audience for Luke-Acts remains. Would be it acceptable to translated Theophilus to ‘Friend/Beloved of God’?
Really, I guess no matter what, the audience to Luke-Acts remains, so shouldn’t the addressee be the present community, that of the Friends of God? Or, incase of the Church, the Beloved of God?
To be fair, to follow that line, should we then discard other names as addressee’s? I wouldn’t so, since Timothy and Titus and others are recognized as actually existing people or places, etc… Theophilus, since I don’t buy the above suggestion, does not fall into that category.
I would recommend translating in this case the name to the base meaning, and not attempting a mere translation.
I can see Luke saying, “O Friend of God, let me tell you more about the things that happened after Jesus did begin to do and teach.”