Word Order and Translation – 4 Macc 11:12

I’ve been steadily comparing a variety of translations of 4 Maccabees as I’ve worked through the book, including the NRSV, Charles’ Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Charlesworth’s Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, and David de Silva’s translation for his commentary on 4 Macc in the Septuagint Commentary Series.

What caught my eye today was the distinct difference between the NRSV and the Charles translation in relation to understanding the significance of word order at 4 Maccabees 11:12:

Καλάς, ἔλεγεν, ἄκων, ὦ τύραννε, χάριτας ἡμῖν χαρίζῃ διὰ γενναιοτέρων πόνων ἐπιδείξασθαι παρέχων τὴν εἰς τὸν νόμον ἡμῶν καρτερίαν.

NRSV: [H]e said, “Tyrant, they are splendid favors that you grant us against your will, because through these noble sufferings you give us an opportunity to show our endurance for the law.”

APOT: ‘Glorious, O tyrant, glorious against thy will are the boons that thou bestowest on me, enabling me to show my fidelity to the Law through yet more honourable tortures.

Granted, the Charles’ translation is archaic, but it still quite good.

My translation:

“Glorious!”, he said, “O Tyrant, The favors you have been forced to bestow on us are glorious, because through these honorable sufferings, you provided us the opportunity to show our endurance for the law.”

2 thoughts on “Word Order and Translation – 4 Macc 11:12

  1. Two comments:
    (1) ἄκων, it seems to me, needs underscoring as much as does καλὰς; I’d put it as a parenthetical comment: “– not as you intend–“;
    (2) γενναιοτέρων πόνων: I’m not altogether sure, but γενναῖος may not be so much a marker of nobility here as rather of goodness in its kind: “first-rate”; that would be akin to its usage in the celebrated phrase from Plato’s Republic, γενναῖον ψεῦδος, which is not properly Englished as a “noble lie” but rather as “a whopper of a lie” (the “lie” that all citizens are brothes and sisters sprung from a common mother).

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