I’m in John 1.14-18 today, and working through some language commentaries. There is a great illustration of the perils of translation in vs. 16. The ESV reads: For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
So Mrs. Excellent Translator, how are you going to translate the phrase from his fullness we have all received? What does it even mean, right?
Everyone knows that fullness is a recognized technical term that expresses the totality of all the divine attributes of God. (What? You don’t?) After all Col 1.19 says: For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.
Seems pretty easy and obvious doesn’t it? Here is how one language group understood this phrase after reading it in their own language: We got what he stuffed himself on! Doh! Not exactly the meaning that John was getting at, if I do say so myself. Thus the perils of translating one language from another. Sometimes one really has to work to find a close parallel, or something in the language that represents what the original author said in the original language.