[sword-devel] Red Letter text

Paul Gear sword-devel@crosswire.org
Tue, 25 Jan 2000 17:23:05 +1000

Michael Paul Johnson wrote:

>  At 09:52 PM 1/24/00 +0000, you wrote:
>> Isn't the solution to have a tag that is understood to mean "these
>> are the
>> words of Jesus", as opposed to "this is in red". And then to allow
>> users to
>> display the text inside the "words of Jesus" tags however they
>> please.
> My thoughts, exactly.

That is certainly the right way to do it technically, but i think the
debate here is whether it is _advisable_ or not.  That is, whether it is
a good thing to highlight the words of Jesus (or anyone in Scripture,
for that matter) in some special way.  I've already given my reasons why
i think it isn't.

I forgot one reason before: because it is likely that most of the
"quotations" (no pun intended ;-) in the New Testament (particularly in
the Gospels and Acts) are translated (from Aramaic to Greek), we are not
really in a position to claim that we have their actual words, which is
what a quote is supposed to indicate.  Obviously, this applies to all
quotes, not just those of Jesus.

>> Surely quotation marks are only a similar mark put in to indicate a
>> translators ideas about the original, and we are not arguing that
>> they are
>> blasphemous or anything?
> You would be amazed what people argue about with Bible translators. (I
> know... being the most publicly accessible English Bible translator on
> the Internet). Quotation marks are a consequence of translation.
> Proper English demands them. Translation is required by the Great
> Commission. (How else are we going to spread the Gospel to ALL
> nations?) I really don't think God would ask us to do something
> blasphemous.

I would agree that quotation marks are not blasphemous, but they are
like several other features of modern Bible translations: verse
numberings, punctuation and capitalization, spaces between words (!).
None of these were present in the originals and therefore cannot be
relied upon.  However, because they appear in modern English literature,
people expect them to appear in the Bible.

That would be no problem, except that (less-educated) people start
treating them as infallible.  Now, that said, i've never seen anyone in
a home Bible study argue about anything like where a comma appears, but
i'm sure it's happened.

I'm certainly happy to have all these features (quotes, verse numbers,
punctuation, etc.) in my Bible, but i would like to see a disclaimer
which stated that they are not to be viewed on the same level as the
text itself.  Then again, we probably should have more disclaimers which
say that the text itself is a translation and reflects the translators'
biases as well...  I guess there's no substitute for good teaching in
the local church.

"He must become greater; i must become less." - John 3:30