2021-03-04

Need Help — to translate a German passage

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by Neil Godfrey

If you took an interest in my previous post on the John the Baptist passage in Josephus’s Antiquities and know German reasonably well, are you able to translate the passage below for me, please? No Google or machine translations, please — I have those easily enough. What I am looking for is a confident rendering of the tone and accurate nuances of meaning of the passage.

The original can be found in note 24 at https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=KMTIX-nJwusC&hl=en&pg=GBS.PA364

Die Echtheit der Josephusstelle ist nur selten angefochten worden (auch Volkmar setzt sie ohne weiteres voraus ; gegen dieselbe : J . Chr . K . v . Hofmann , Die heil . Schrift Neuen Testaments , VII . Thl . 3 . Abth . Der Brief Jakobi 1876 , S . 4 f . ) Zu ihren Gunsten spricht allerdings, dass die Motive für die Gefangensetzung und Hinrichtung des Täuters so ganz anders angegeben werden als in den Evangelien. Da aber Josephus an anderen Stellen sicher von christlicher Hand interpolirt worden ist, so darf man auch hier nicht allzusehr auf die Echtheit vertrauen. Bedenken erweckt namentlich das günstige Urtheil über Johannes, der doch nur nach gewissen Seiten hin dem Josephus sympathisch sein konnte, nämlich als Asket und Moralprediger, aber nicht als der das Volk mächtig aufregende Prophet des kommenden Messias.

My reason for seeking such a translation is to compare it with the following passage that appears in a substantially revised version of the work. (Obviously the opening sentences are quite different but it is the tone and nuance of the remainder that interests me.)

The passage of Josephus was known to Origen (c. Cels. I, 47). Eusebius quotes it in full (HE i 11, 4-6; DE ix 5, 15). Its genuineness is rarely disputed. In its favour is the fact that the motives for the imprisonment and execution of the Baptist are entirely different from the Gospel version. But since the text of Josephus has certainly been retouched by Christian scribes in other passages, the theory of an interpolation cannot be absolutely excluded. Suspicion is aroused by the favourable verdict on John, but against this it should be borne in mind that as an ascetic and moral preacher, he might have been viewed sympathetically by Josephus.

I had expected to continue another section of Rivka Nir’s chapter today but I got sidetracked trying to track down several German references in one of her footnotes. Once I have key passages from those collated I’ll post them here with comment.

If you don’t want to post a translation publicly in the comments feel free to email me one: neilgodfrey1 [at]  gmail.com

Many thanks.

 

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6 thoughts on “Need Help — to translate a German passage”

  1. Hi Neil, pls find my translation below. Just to mention a few words that are written differently in German: “des Täuters” in “des Täufers”, “interpolirt” in “interpoliert”, “allzusehr” in “allzu sehr”, “Urtheil” in “Urteil”.
    Comparing the two, for me tone and nuance of the remainder are almost the same. Hope that helps.
    Best, Charles

    The authenticity of the Josephus passage has only seldom been disputed (also Volkmar assumes it without further ado; against it: J. Chr. K. v. Hofmann, Die heil. Schrift Neuen Testaments, VII. Thl. 3. Abt. Der Brief Jakobi 1876, p. 4 f.).
    In their favor, however, is the fact that the motives for the imprisonment and execution of the Baptist are given in a completely different way than in the Gospels.
    But since Josephus was certainly interpolated by Christians (a Christian hand) in other places, one should not trust too much in the authenticity here either.
    The favorable judgment on John raises concerns in particular, who could only sympathize with Josephus in certain respects, namely as an ascetic and moral preacher, but not as the prophet of the coming Messiah who was powerfully exciting to the people.

  2. Neil,

    Here is my rendition:

    The genuineness of the passage in Josephus is but rarely disputed (even Volkmar assumes it without more ado; but against this: J. Chr. K. v. Hofmann Die hil. Schrift Neuen Testaments, 7 Thl. 3 Abth. Der Brief Jakobi, 1876, p. 4 f.). In its favor is the fact that the motive given for the Baptist’s imprisonment and execution is completely different than in the Gospels. Yet since Josephus has clearly been interpolated in other places, one must not be altogether trusting of the genuineness of this passage. In particular, misgivings are aroused by the favorable judgment of John, who could only have been sympathetic to Josephus on one side, that is as an ascetic and preacher of morals, but not as a prophet of the Messiah, powerfully agitating the people.

    I made use of the 1885 English translation, which sets off on the wrong foot with “vindicated” instead of “disputed” but is salvageable in other respects. As late as 1920 it seems the revised German edition only adds the initial sentence, leaving the wording of the rest of this footnote unchanged. By leaving off the last clause, the revised English translation does seem to try to leave us with the impression that there is very little reason to doubt the authenticity, while the original German seems to be saying nearly the opposite.

    In your transcription of the German, Täuters should be Täufers.

  3. Abiout the first lines:

    Die Echtheit der Josephusstelle ist nur selten angefochten worden (auch Volkmar setzt sie ohne weiteres voraus ; gegen dieselbe : J . Chr . K . v . Hofmann , Die heil . Schrift Neuen Testaments , VII . Thl . 3 . Abth . Der Brief Jakobi 1876 , S . 4 f . )

    The authenticity of the passage of Josephus has hardly ever been challenged (even Volkmar does not hesitate accepting it. Against the same […])

    To sum it up, no mention of Eusebius and Origen, but allusions to some 19th century scholarship.

    The middle part of the quotation is faithful enough.

    However, the final sentence is entirely missing:

    […] aber nicht als der das Volk mächtig aufregende Prophet des
    kommenden Messias.

    […] but not as the powerfully demagogical prophet of the coming messiah.

    This final line is essential for the argument.

  4. Thank you very much for the responses — including those who responded on Facebook and via email.

    I will try to piece together a post that addresses the passage here and related ones in a day or two.

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