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La Bible traduite en français contemporain : étude des équivalents du participe grec dans sept traductions du récit de la passion dans les quatre évangiles : forme, signification et sens.

Doctoral thesis
Authors Elisabeth Bladh
Date of public defense 2003-11-21
Opponent at public defense Alain Verboomen
ISBN 91-85059-01-3
Publisher Akademitryck
Place of publication Edsbruk
Publication year 2003
Published at Department of Romance Languages
Language fr
Keywords Bible translation, Koine Greek, French, verbal aspect, aspectual, textual, anaphoric approach, Passion story, New Testament, participle, translation equivalence
Subject categories French language, Classical Greek language, New Testament exegesis, Other Humanities not elsewhere specified


This dissertation analyses seven modern Bible translations in French with respect to their renderings of Koine Greek participles. The sample consists of the Passion Story from the four Gospels (Matt 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24 and John 18-21), and is comprised of 603 Hellenistic participles in all. The participle forms are studied in six categories according to their syntactic function. The comparison focuses on differences in translation strategy, i.e. formal equivalence, omission and different kinds of transpositions, with special attention given to the choice of verb form. There is a discussion of the adequacy of contemporary, explicative theories of systemic differences between the passé simple/passé composé and the imparfait. A large number of examples are analysed in detail. The results of the survey show that the most prominent differences in translation strategies concern the predicative participle. Furthermore, this was the category that occurred most frequently in the sample. The Catholic scientific and literary translation La Bible de Jérusalem (1998) is the most literal of the seven versions. A high level of formal equivalence is also registered in the other scientific translation, La Traduction OEcuménique de la Bible (1988), even though application of this strategy outweighs the use of finite verbs, that is to say, the most common transposition. La Bible en français courant (1996) is the least literal: generally, it transposes the participle of the source text with a finite verb. This transposition is also very frequent in the literary La Bible de la Pléiade (1971). Most of the omissions are recorded in the recent literary La Bible, Nouvelle traduction (2001), which is shown to be the most divergent translation. Omissions are also frequent in the pastoral La Bible des moines de Maredsous (1968) and the liturgical La Traduction liturgique de la Bible (1977). When translated in conjunction with an element comprising a verb in one of the non-indicative moods (infinitive, imperative, participle and subjunctive), both the present and the aorist predicative participles are, to a large extent, rendered by a simple form, expressing non-accomplishment. However, the Bible de Jérusalem stands out with its greater use of compound present participles than any other version. When the predicative participle of the source text is transposed with a verb in the indicative mood, the passé simple is generally used to render the aorist; for the present participle, the imparfait is more frequent than the passé simple. Nevertheless, here too the passé simple accounts for a significant portion of the equivalents, especially in the two translations where transpositions formed by finite verbs are particularly important. There exist a few cases where some translators chose to use the passé simple/passé compose, while others chose the imparfait. The various details, tables and linguistic analyses in this dissertation provide a solid basis for accurately characterizing the various modern attempts made at reproduce this ancient text – a text so often translated, paraphrased, interpreted and deeply integrated in our cultural heritage.

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