How about Dynamic Equivalence to avoid Confusion?

Here’s the grind: for Scripture reading, I read Luke 19:1-10, for a colleague of mine.  I used the NIV ’84.

But later I checked the ESV and didn’t like what I read:

He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2And there was a man named Zacchaeus. (bold added)

Why begin a new section with the pronoun He instead of its  referent Jesus, which is back in 18:42).  At times the ESV avoids this sort of ambiguity (see 11:37).

So the ESV leaves the listener to ask, Who is this He?

Therefore translators need to think public reading when undertaking their task.  Again, since it’s a new section—taking the dynamic approach and going with Jesus—is the way to go:

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus… (Luke 19:1, NIV, bold added)

In taking the Dynamic Equivalent approach to the Greek εἰσελθὼν, which is the aorist active participle, nominative singular masculine, of εἰσέρχομαι, the NIV avoids both the ambiguity and confusion of the ESV.

And since a participle is a verbal adjective, Luke expects us to trace εἰσελθὼν back to its referent, in this case ὁ Ἰησοῦς, nominative singular masculine (notice the agreement between the participle and its referent).

Next, I shall tackle misleading footnotes…

This entry was posted in Bible Translations, Biblical Greek, ESV and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to How about Dynamic Equivalence to avoid Confusion?

  1. Dan says:

    So are you leaning BACK to the NIV? Wasn’t the ESV going to be your main translation?

  2. TC,
    I agree that Jesus should be added in certain spots as you mention here for clarity, so good point.

    But I do not think your explanation of the participle is right though. Participles are not just verbal adjectives, but also, and more often, adverbs. If εἰσελθὼν was modifying ὁ Ἰησοῦς back in 18.42 then it should not be translated as a verb, but as a adjective something like “Jesus who entered” or “Jesus the one who entered”. While the lack of an article on εἰσελθὼν does not require a adverbial reading it makes it less likely, especially when the distance between εἰσελθὼν and Ἰησοῦς is considered. Participles can have distant head verbs, but that is almost exclusively true of adverbial participles used to extend and expand a verbal thought. I think it is much more likely that εἰσελθὼν is adverbially modifying the following verb διήρχετο, expressing sequence with the aorist participle, rendering a translation such as “And after entering, Jesus passed through Jericho.” It is interesting that the NIV switches the finite verb and participle, instead of ‘entering’ and ‘passed’ like the Greek. it has ‘entered’ and ‘passing’. Any thoughts?

  3. Gary Zimmerli says:

    There is a time and place for ambiguity. That particular instance is not the time nor place.

  4. T.C. R says:


    Good question. 😀


    Yeah, I should have dug a bit deeper and realize the writing style of Luke here. It’s been a while since I read Luke. The NIV treats the participle as attendant here. I also called up my former Greek prof. and he argues for the attendant as well. Thanks for keeping me honest on this one. 😉


    I’m with you.

  5. Lance Ponder says:

    Good grief. If you’re going to rip into some detail, at least pick something that makes some tangible difference to understanding. Is there really a problem figuring out that verse means Jesus?

  6. T.C. R says:


    In a way, I think the NLT is great for public reading, especially in a setting where people aren’t too familiar with church lingo. 😉

    Well, the NLT appears to make things up because heavy dynamic approach.

  7. Pingback: February 2011 Biblical Studies Carnival | A Fistful of Farthings

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