מְתֻרְגְּמָן (me⋅tur⋅ge⋅MĀN) is Hebrew for “translator.” The articles in this series illustrate how a knowledge of the Gospels’ Semitic background can provide a deeper understanding of Jesus’ words and influence the translation process. For more articles in this series, click here.
A translator must understand and interpret all the linguistic signals in his source, and use those signals in a way that is both natural in the target language and congruent to the original text. Every language has particular ways of putting a story together, and the more a translator knows about each language’s construction system, the better translation he will provide.
In Hebrew events are joined together by -ְו (ve–, “and”), while in English we generally prefer not to have a conjunction. Hebrew also carefully distinguishes word order to signal the structure of the story. This can be very significant for a translator, and for Gospel research.
Knowledge of the different ways of joining stories in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic can help us understand the history and relationships of the Synoptic Gospels. The three synoptic writers use different linguistic methods to glue their stories together. None of these is purely Greek, and all show Semitic influence. Matthew shows a specifically Aramaic influence, and in this article we will see how he uses an Aramaic conjunction as the glue to hold stories together.