Gangas & NWT

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    voltaire posted Sat, 14 Jan 2006 21:36:00 GMT(1/14/2006)

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    I heard an interesting program the other night that reminded me of the debates/questions that arise about the tanslation of the NWT. It has been asserted that since George Gangas was a speaker of modern Greek he was not qualified to translate Biblical Greek. The progam I heard is hosted by Milt Rosenberg on WGN 720 and the guests were two linguists from Illinois universities ( I can't recall their names). The show was about languages in general with guests calling in and speaking their language in attempt to stump the linguists. Milt would often ask his guests how well a modern speaker of a given language would be able to read older works in his/her language without some specialized studies. Interestly, Mordern speakers of Icelandic can read the old Norse Sagas with little help ( a few footnotes). Of course, English speakers can't get through Shakespeare without considerable explanation.

    The part that reminded me of Gangas was when Milt asked about whether or not a Greek could get much out of Homer. The linguist most familiar with Greek said that he probably wouldn't understand a great deal, but that it would be nearly impossible to test the proposition since the Greeks are very proud of their literary heritage. Anyone who went to school in Geece had many years of classical Greek training. Furthermore, Biblical Greek is still the liturgical language of the Greek Orthodox Church. Greeks grow up hearing it spoken in church, much as French and Italians would have heard Latin all through their youths several generations ago. So, unless he was homeschooled, Gangas very likely was better trained in ancient and Biblical Greek than Fred Franz.

    At any rate, when pointing out the qualifications ( or lack of same) of the translators of the NWT, you might remember that there were (most likely) two members who had some familiarity with Biblical Greek.

    M Narkissos posted Sat, 14 Jan 2006 22:19:00 GMT(1/14/2006)

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    It would be interesting to know more about Gangas' curriculum -- whether he had classical studies, how much he was in touch with the Greek Orthodox community etc.

    Anyway, with dozens of available English versions, concordances and dictionaries, it takes a minimal knowledge of the original languages to come up with a "new translation" -- what it is worth is another matter.

    M DaCheech posted Sat, 14 Jan 2006 22:19:00 GMT(1/14/2006)

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    Were all qualified in our own minds

    M greendawn posted Sat, 14 Jan 2006 22:38:00 GMT(1/14/2006)

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    Biblical Greek has nothing to do with Homeric Greek. It was Hellenistic Greek that was used to write the New Testament and that is much closer to Modern Greek. But even though Greek is a conservative language that didn't change greatly in the last 2000 years a modern Greek still needs to spend time to study Hellenistic Greek to be able to fully understand it.

    M sixsixsixtynine posted Sat, 14 Jan 2006 23:42:00 GMT(1/14/2006)

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    Of all the so-called "urban" or "gangsta" translations, I have

    always found the NWT to be the most accurate.

    Unlike Franz, Dr. Dre actually was a Greek scholar when

    he did this translation.

    nwbible2.jpg
    voltaire posted Sun, 15 Jan 2006 02:02:00 GMT(1/15/2006)

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    Greendawn,

    I wouldn't say that 'Biblical Greek has nothing to do with classical Greek', One scholar calls Hellenistic Greek 'the later vernacular Attic' and points out that foreign influences were 'not enough to change the essential Attic character' (A.T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research). I presume that Hellenitic Greek is far closer to Attic (Koinh) than to modern Greek. At any rate, Gangas would probably have studied classical Greek (early Hellenistic Greek if you will) and would have heard Hellenistic Greek from his youth on. He may well have studied Hellenistic Greek as well, perhaps Greek from all of the major periods.

    Until I heard the radio program, I had no idea that Greeks so routinely studied their ancient literary works. It was, therefore, a safe assumption to make that Gangas was no more qualified than you or I to translate Hellenistic Greek. I now assume otherwise unless someone has reason to believe that his schoolboy training was radically different than that of a normal Greek's.

    Of course, that doesn't mean that he was as qualified as someone trained at university/seminary, nor that he wasn't biased by his affiliation with the Watchtower Society. Also, the other members, besides Franz, were apparently untrained in Biblical languages. An added point would be that Gangas probably was entirely unacquainted with Hebrew or Aramaic. I'm not contentending that the committee as a whole was qualified, I'm just surprised that an additional member of the committee probably was at least somewhat familiar with Hellenistic (koinh) Greek, contrary to many what commentators have expressed or implied. I suppose it's good to be accurate, and honest, if we're ever in a debate.

    Consider the above a friendly 'heads up'.

    M TD posted Sun, 15 Jan 2006 04:11:00 GMT(1/15/2006)

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    Being a native Greek speaker is certainly does not qualify one to translate the NT, but a Greek speaker is nevertheless still miles and miles ahead when it comes to any of the ancient dialects (Attic, Koine, Ionic, etc.) than someone who doesn't understand a word of Greek.

    To illustrate, here's a verse of an English Christimas carol from the late 16th century::

    A crowne of thorns set on His head,

    And He was done on the Rood,

    And beaten till His body was bloody-red;

    Thus they beat Jesu, our debt to pay.

    Here's a piece from the King Arthur story from the late 14th century

    Now grete glorious God through grace of Himselven

    And the precious prayer of his pris Moder

    Sheld us fro shamesdeede and sinful workes

    And give us grace to guie and govern us here

    These may not be perfectly intelligible to modern English speakers, but modern English speakers are still miles ahead of someone who doesn't understand a word of English.

    Greek is far older than English, but the situation is similar. For example, here's 1 John 1:4 in Koine and Modern Greek

    Koine: kai tauta graphomen hemeis hina he xara hemon he peplerwmene

    Modern: kai tauta graphomen pros esas dia na henai pleres he xara sas

    Some things have changed; you don't see the reduplication of the stem in the perfect tense; the word order is slightly different; the personal pronouns and a few of the other words are different.

    But a modern Greek speaker can still muddle their way through Koine with no training at all, which is far more than we can say for someone who doesn't even know the alphabet.

    [Edited because Windows Greek language support does not work with the forum software]

    voltaire posted Sun, 15 Jan 2006 18:45:00 GMT(1/15/2006)

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    Thanks TD. Nice illustrations of the point I was making. And imagine if a Greek grew up hearing Koine spoken at church or had studied it for several years in school (although I don't know if children in Greece study Koine or Classical Greek, or both in school). I don't suppose anyone on this forum grew up in Greece?

    Leolaia posted Sun, 15 Jan 2006 19:04:00 GMT(1/15/2006)

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    It is well known among linguists that Modern Greek is much more conservative compared to ancient Greek dialects than Romance languages are to ancient Latin. Note, for instance, how MG preserves case distinctions lost in French or Italian. Of course, speaking a modern variety of Greek is a poor substitute for ancient koine Greek because it can easily mislead the translator in representing the nuances of the words and idioms....

    F MsMcDucket posted Sun, 15 Jan 2006 20:05:00 GMT(1/15/2006)

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    I have to admit what you all are talking about is "Greek" to me.

    Nina posted Sun, 15 Jan 2006 20:16:00 GMT(1/15/2006)

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    I have to admit what you all are talking about is "Greek" to me.

    It's probably "Greek" to most of them as well since I doubt that they are fluent in the language.

    Nina

    M TD posted Sun, 15 Jan 2006 23:08:00 GMT(1/15/2006)

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    Nina,

    KanenaV den einai eufradhV sta arcaia ellhnika. EkeineV oi dialectoi einai nekroV

    Auto einai to problhma.....

    M fjtoth posted Mon, 16 Jan 2006 11:43:00 GMT(1/16/2006)

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    TD,

    WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE!!! This is a public forum, and there may be children reading this thread.

    fjt

    F blondie posted Tue, 17 Jan 2006 02:35:00 GMT(1/17/2006)

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    One point, the WTS only translated the English NWT from the original manuscripts. The NWT is translated from English into all the other languages.

    He did translate the WTS publications into modern Greek.

    ***

    w01 11/15 p. 8 The New World Translation Appreciated by Millions Worldwide ***
    Already in 1961, translators began rendering the English text of the New World Translation into other languages

    It is possible that George Gangas translated the English text of the NWT into modern Greek.

    ***

    jv chap. 8 p. 94 Declaring the Good News Without Letup (1942-1975) ***
    Regarding his training in the school inaugurated at Brooklyn Bethel in 1942, George Gangas, a Greek translator at the time,

    The following is George Gangas WT-approved biography.

    ***

    w66 10/15 pp. 636-639 God Has Been Good and Merciful to Me

    As told by George D. Gangas

    I WAS born on February 17, 1896, in an insignificant town of Asia Minor named New Ephesus (Turkish: Koushadasi). It was located about eight miles from ancient Ephesus, where some 1,900 years ago the apostle Paul preached and wrote his first letter to the Corinthians.

    When I was about five or six years old, my father died. My mother was a devout, God-fearing woman. But she did not have access to the Bible and so did not know how to rear her children "in the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah." (Eph. 6:4) In fact, almost 95 percent of the Orthodox people did not have Bibles, nor did they ever see one. So, not having any guide to show me the right way to go, I pursued a careless life, bringing dishonor to God.

    Nevertheless, in my early years I attended church and was a choir boy, singing hymns. From these hymns and from the religious education I received in school, I learned the church’s teaching about the twofold destiny of mankind: good people go straight to heaven at death; bad ones to hellfire. I still remember a hymn sung to Mary begging her to deliver us from eternal torment. That doctrine was embedded into my heart, and I was certain of the existence of such a place for the wicked. After all, the Orthodox Church taught it, and I believed that my church taught right doctrines, the word "orthodox" itself meaning "right opinion (orthos, right or true; doxa, opinion)."

    Since I was a bad young man I knew for sure that someday I would land in hell to be burned forever. But here is the strange thing: although I knew I would go there someday, I would not reform. What I could not explain was, What satisfaction does God get by tormenting billions of people forever? I had learned that God is good, but I asked myself, Where was his goodness if he tormented people eternally?

    When I was eleven years old I left New Ephesus and went to the island of Chios, where for three years I attended a business school. Then World War I broke out. I left Chios and went to Athens, where I suffered the worst famine in my life, for Greece had been blockaded and nothing could come in. From there I went to Paris, and after the end of the war I came to Marseilles to wait for a ship that was going to the United States.

    One evening while in Marseilles I saw members of the Salvation Army singing in the street. Not knowing what kind of people they were, I followed them to their place of meeting and found out they were a religious organization. Once more the thought about hell came to my mind, and I asked the preacher about it. His answer was the same as I had learned in the Orthodox Church.

    CHANGING

    PERSONALITY

    Finally, I arrived in the United States in 1920. One day as I was working at a lunch counter in Marietta, Ohio, a man came in and began speaking about the Bible. Others listened, and I did too. I immediately perceived that he was talking altogether differently from other religious people. What he said made sense.

    He told us that at death one does not go to heaven or to hellfire but to the grave. I took issue with him; so he handed me his Bible and said, "Read there." He pointed to John 3:13. I read it, then reread it. Each time it read, "No man has ascended into heaven." I was so surprised that I did not know what to say.

    Seeing that he could answer my questions by using the Bible, I said to myself, "Let me ask him about hellfire." So I said to him: "What do you people believe about hellfire? Does it exist or not?" "Listen," he said, "suppose you were married and you had a child who was the worst child in the world. Would you, as a father, have the nerve to put that child in the fire and hear him screaming?" I answered: "I can’t even think of such a thing." He responded: "If you, being bad, cannot do such a thing to your child, why do you attribute such a devilish act to God, who is love?" That clinched it!

    This man, who was one of the Bible Students, as Jehovah’s witnesses were called in those days, went on to explain from the Bible what the word "hell" means. My delight and curiosity reached its apex, and I asked him how and where he learned these things. I asked him to bring me a book that had stories about Abraham, Joseph and other Bible characters, not knowing that these true stories were in the Bible itself. In a few days he brought me a Bible and the Bible-study aid The Divine Plan of the Ages. That night I read until past midnight!

    The next day as I was making coffee where I worked my mind was revolving around what I had read the previous night. I must have made some mistake, because I heard customers saying, "That young man acts strangely today. Something must have happened to him." They were right! Something was taking place in me. I was undergoing a change in my life. I was emerging from gross darkness into a marvelous light. I was turning my back on an old system and looking to a new one, which I could not yet completely explain.

    CRAVING

    FOR ASSOCIATION

    The study of the book together with the Bible generated in me such joy and such desires that I asked the one who brought me these truths if there were people like him in Marietta. He said no, and that I should go to Wheeling, West Virginia. There I would also find others who spoke my language, Greek, and who would help answer my questions. So a few days later I went to Wheeling and was employed as a dishwasher at a restaurant.

    In a short time news reached my older brother that I was crazy. He visited me in the restaurant and found me peeling potatoes. He said: "Come with me and I will pay you more. You will be like a boss. I will make you a partner and we will make a lot of money." But I did not accept, for the goodness of God and the understanding of what his kingdom is and what it will accomplish made such an impression on me and developed in my heart such joy and love for Jehovah that, although I came to America for the purpose of making money, that desire vanished.

    Not long afterward I symbolized my dedication by water baptism. During all this time I did not fail to attend meetings to study the Bible, even though I did not understand English. However, those who were dedicated to do God’s will and who spoke the Greek language helped me.

    From Wheeling a few of us moved to Beech Bottom, a very small town. There we formed a small congregation that steadily increased. We made a thorough study of the Bible and came to love and relish the things we were learning so much that after the regular study we would have another informal study on various subjects. We would not waste time. It seemed we were not learning fast enough. We talked and talked about the goodness of our God.

    Jehovah’s mercy and goodness to me made such an impression on me and stirred in me such love for the brothers that I prayed to God and asked him to permit me other disappointments, but not to permit me to miss any meetings with the brothers. Jehovah faithfully granted me this request, because over these forty-five years that I have enjoyed his mercy and goodness, I have been regular in attending meetings.

    To me, meeting with the brothers is one of life’s greatest pleasures and a source of encouragement. I love to be at the Kingdom Hall among the first, and leave among the last, if possible. I feel an inward joy when talking with God’s people. When I am among them I feel at home with my family, in a spiritual paradise. Also, at meetings I feel Jehovah’s spirit in a greater measure. And as soon as the meeting is over I like to talk with the newly interested people. As the compass always points to the north, just so my innermost thought and desire is to attend the meetings. I fully appreciate the inspired statement of the psalmist: ‘What I look for is to dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life.’—Ps. 27:4.

    SERVING AT BETHEL

    God’s goodwill was further manifested to me when, one day in 1928, I received a letter from the Watch Tower Society asking me to come to the Bethel headquarters at Brooklyn, New York, and serve as a translator. I could hardly believe it. I, a translator? I was then in the restaurant business! But I recalled that Noah had not been a boatbuilder. And did Moses know how to erect tabernacles? Both of them learned. I would do the same.

    In Bethel I tasted to a greater degree Jehovah’s mercy and goodness. What a joy to find myself in the midst of some 200 (now over 800) brothers and sisters in the faith! What gladness and delight I felt, and still enjoy, to sit down with them at meals three times a day, and each morning to discuss a portion of the Bible!

    In Bethel I was helped to mature and develop the fruits of God’s spirit. I recall the time I gave my first six-minute talk. I was not confident in myself so I wrote it down. But when I got up to give it, audience fear gripped me and I stuttered and muttered, losing my thoughts. Then I resorted to reading from the manuscript. But my hands were trembling so much that the lines were jumping up and down! The Devil tried to discourage me by putting into my mind the thought that I was no good, that I had better quit. He tried hard for several days. I struggled, and Jehovah, being merciful, helped me thwart Satan’s attacks. From then on I learned the lesson—never, never quit.

    Anything I say about Bethel falls short of what I feel for it in my heart. Year by year my appreciation for it increases, and day after day I thank Jehovah for tolerating me all these years. Bethel to me is the center of Jehovah’s visible organization in operation. The thought that I am employed at the headquarters of this visible organization fills my heart with joy and gratitude. In Bethel I associate with brothers and sisters who have been and still are an example to me in their devotion and dedication to Jehovah. Over these long years I have seen young brothers who did not know much when they first came, but after seven or eight years of faithful service they were made overseers and later were used as circuit and district servants. If it were in my power, I would cry out in a loud voice to all young brothers, Come to Bethel and taste Jehovah’s loving-kindness and goodness! With all the experience I have gained over the thirty-eight years of my service in Bethel, I can truthfully say that it is the best place on earth for enhancing the capabilities of ministers to Jehovah’s praise.

    Here at Bethel I also learned to speak Spanish. When I saw that the territory in which I was assigned to preach was mostly Spanish, I got a grammar book, and with the help of our literature and by listening to the way the Spanish people pronounced words, I learned Spanish! Many are the studies I have held in the homes of these humble people.

    From boyhood I had an inferiority complex. I could not face people and talk with them. But what a difference now! By Jehovah’s help I can stand before large audiences and talk an hour. This change was effected by a study of the Scriptures and with the help of God’s spirit.

    God’s goodness, which helped me to change my former bad personality, impels me now wherever I am to divulge the knowledge He gave me, that others, too, might see that Jehovah is good. God’s Word contains sayings of everlasting life. (John 6:68) I love life and I want my brothers also to gain life. I consider, along with the apostle Paul, that all other things are "loss on account of the excelling value of the knowledge of Christ Jesus." (Phil. 3:8) Yes, all other things will soon be shaken to their destruction, with the exception of the kingdom of God and its interests.—Heb. 12:27, 28.

    When I look back over these forty-five years that I have served Jehovah by his undeserved kindness, I fully agree with Moses’ words to Israel: "Jehovah your God is a merciful God." (Deut. 4:31) And also with the words of the inspired psalmist: "You, O Jehovah, are good and ready to forgive." (Ps. 86:5) Yes, Jehovah has been good and merciful to me.

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