Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Translation of aionios or aionion.

Roger, you might remember some months ago we discussed on Skype a range of suitable, literal alternatives for the translation of aionion.  Some of these included age(s)-lasting, age(s)-during, pertaining to the age(s), belonging to the age(s), of the age(s), etc.
Your suggestion was to use 'age-lasting' and I agreed to standardise on that.

However I have had further thoughts on this and feel 'age-lasting' raises some unintended difficulties and can play into the hands of our 'everlasting' opponents, especially when translating passages like the final verses of Romans 16.

Rom16:25-27  Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, having been unvoiced during eternal (aionion) times;
but now has been made plain, and by the prophetic Scriptures, according to the commandment of the everlasting (aionion) God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith;
to God only wise be glory through Jesus Christ forever (into the aions). Amen.
I won't dwell on the stupidity of the plural 'eternal times' in verse 25 or the incorrect 'forever' in verse 27, but concentrate on the 'everlasting God' in verse 26.

Our opponents use this verse this way.  Because the 'aionion God' is known to be everlasting or eternal, then the Greek word 'aionion' must really mean 'everlasting or eternal'.  QED.
It's a bit like saying ... because the 'red' house is known to have a tiled roof, then the word 'red' must really mean 'tiled'.

If we decide to translate 'aionion' as age-lasting, our opponents then say that we are declaring God to be only lasting for the age or the ages, not everlasting or eternal, and so are in gross error in our translation.

If we translate 'aionion' as 'of the age' or 'of the ages' we avoid this problem as God becomes the 'God of the ages', which is true, but does not limit Him to the ages, just as when He is correctly termed the 'God of Roger' does not prevent Him from being the 'God of Barry' as well.

All this would be made easier if we translated 'aionion' as 'eonian', but although this is perhaps the most correct literal translation, it is probably too obscure for most ordinary people, and certainly the ones I hope will be reading the book.

So I am now suggesting that 'aionion life' or 'aionion punishment' or 'aionion wheelbarrow' be translated 'life of the age(s)' or 'punishment of the age(s)' or 'wheelbarrow of the age(s)'.

What do you think?  What do others think?  Barry

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