Possible Better Translation for "Satan" and "Devil"?

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Possible Better Translation for "Satan" and "Devil"?

Timchambers
An open question:

I'm wondering how as a translation we should handle the translations of the words "ha-satan" and "Santanas" which seems to be a loan word in Greek from the original Hebrew. the Greek
Diablolos" often translated "Devil" also seems to carry the same meaning.

It would seem at least in the places in the OEB where the greek term "the" or "ho"  or related articles are used (such as "ho santanas") we should at least use the term "the Satan". Thus in English matching the Greek.  Note: not sure if we are capitalizing the devil or satan but that is another issue.

But perhaps we go with a translation such as "The Accuser" or "The Slanderer" for "ha-satan" "Santanas" and "Diablolos"?

It seems slightly ambiguous if "Satan" as a term in Hebrew or Greek is a proper name or a title of sorts. Might not a better translation keep that ambiguity? And esp where the article "the" is used to keep that in the translation to English?

So maybe translating all the terms as "The Accuser" or "The Slanderer" might be best?

What do people think?

Here is some of what I found on those terms usage in the OT and NT:

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The Hebrew word satan [f'f] means "an adversary, one who resists." It is translated as "Satan" eighteen times in the Old Testament, fourteen of those occurrences being in Job 1-2, the others in 1 Chronicles 21:1 and Zechariah 3:1-2.

In Job and Zechariah the definite article precedes the noun (lit., "the satan" or "the accuser"). Thus some argue it should be a title, while in 1 Chronicles (no article) it should be a proper name. The word is used also of various persons in the Old Testament as "adversaries, " including David ( 1 Sam 29:4 ), Rezon of Damascus ( 1 Kings 11:23 1 Kings 11:25 ), and the angel of the Lord ( Numbers 22:22 Numbers 22:32 ).

""Satan" occurs thirty-six times in the New Testament, eighteen of that number in the Gospels and Acts. The Greek term satanas [Satana'"] is a loan word from the Hebrew Old Testament, and twenty-eight of the total occurrences are accompanied by the definite article."

The other common appellation for Satan in the New Testament is "the devil" (diabolos), not found in the Old Testament, but thirty-four times here, meaning one who is traducer, a slanderer.
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Re: Possible Better Translation for "Satan" and "Devil"?

Israel Rhoden
Im certainly not up to date with the current academic literature on this question. We see that the word/title has retained its form when it goes from greek into the first latin translation as well. We are then left to wonder why the early church thought it best to preserve this title in the form it was pronounced, rather than translate it by meaning.  This makes me think it is likely to be a technical term/title, not simply to be translated by meaning alone.

We do the same thing today when translating the bible, i.e. we translate baptiso as baptise, rather than to "dip", as we recognise it has a specific technical meaning.

Interestingly, were bible translators to switch to translate "Satan" by its meaning, rather than by its sound, it is suggesting we reverse the practice of the early church (some find the weight of tradition more important than others).

It would also then beg the question, should we translate other hebrew names in the old testament by meaning rather than by sound?

Do you have references from articles from reputable journals that provide support your view? I'd certainly be willing to put time into following up the literature on the matter.  
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Re: Possible Better Translation for "Satan" and "Devil"?

Timchambers
This post was updated on .
Here is a specific argument from scholars that is focused only on the references in the book of Job to Satan, the terms currently translated Satan, should be "the challenger" or "the accuser."

From  The commentaries by John Walton (Job (The NIV Application Commentary)) and Tremper Longman III (Job (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms)),
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"Both Walton and Longman point out that this is wrong. Walton prefers to use the term “Challenger” while Longman calls him the accuser. Not only is the accuser not Satan, but there is nothing particularly diabolical about the exchange. The accuser is not out to destroy mankind in general or Job in particular. Rather he is challenging the policy of reward and retribution.


"Walton summarizes his conclusions about the Challenger (p. 74 – Walton):

He is one of the “sons of God” (a member of the divine council)

He serves as a policy watchdog.

He uses the ambiguity of Job’s motives and concept of God to challenge God’s policies.

He does not act independently.

He is not inherently evil.

He cannot confidently be identified with Satan in the New Testament."
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2012/11/06/the-accuser-is-not-satan-rjs/
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Re: Possible Better Translation for "Satan" and "Devil"?

Timchambers
This post was updated on .
And here is a discussion from this Hebrew Bible and Semitic Studies teacher and Scholar for Logos software
http://michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/who-is-this-lunatic/
https://www.logos.com/academic/bio/heiser

Here is what he says that speaks mostly to the word "Satan" in Job, but also elsewhere:
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Although English Bibles continue the practice of capitalizing the word “satan” in passages like Job 1 and 2, those passage do not have a specific individual in mind — that is, “satan” in these passages should *not* be understood as a proper personal name. Here is a video presentation of the material that follows in case you’d rather watch (I also run a search through the OT for what I’m talking about).

The reason for this is straightforward. In biblical Hebrew, the definite article (the word “the) is a single letter (heh). Hebrew prefixes (attaches) the definite article to a noun (or participle to make it a substantive) so that, like all languages that have definite articles, the noun is made specific. Biblical Hebrew does not, however, put the definite article (the word “the”) on proper personal nouns (personal names).

Without exception, the word “satan” in Job occurs *with* the article. This indicates quite clearly that “satan” is *not* a personal name. It is generic, and means “the adversary”. The word can be used of human beings (1 Sam 29:4 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] ; 2 Sam 19:23 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] ; 1 Kings 5:18 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] ; 1 Kings 11:14 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] ). All of these examples have “satan” without the article, but the referent is a human being, not a divine being, so we don’t have “Satan” here either.

In terms of statistics, the noun “satan” occurs 27 times in the Hebrew Bible, ten times *without* the article.
Of these ten, seven refer to human beings and two refer to the Angel of Yahweh for sure....This would mean there are ZERO verses in the OT that have a personal name “satan”, and ZERO references to Satan as a cosmic evil entity as in the NT.

Basically, “the satan” in Job is an officer of the divine council (sort of like a prosecutor). His job is to “run to and fro throughout the earth” to see who is and who is not obeying Yahweh. When he finds someone who isn’t and is therefore under Yahweh’s wrath, he “accuses” that person.
http://michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/2010/02/the-absence-of-satan-in-the-old-testament/

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Re: Possible Better Translation for "Satan" and "Devil"?

Timchambers
This same author makes a simliar argument here:
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In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word satan is not a proper personal name.  This is because it is nearly always paired with the definite article in Hebrew (the word “the”). Like English, Hebrew does not permit the definite article to be paired with a proper personal name (I don’t call myself, “the Mike”). The common noun satan paired with the definite article means “the adversary” — not “Satan” as in the proper name of the Devil.  This is why some English Bibles have “the Adversary” in passages like Job 1:6 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] and not “Satan”.2

There are only a handful of places in the Hebrew Bible where satan is not preceded by the definite article. 1 Chron 21:1 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] is one of them, and so many interpreters see this is a rare instance of the being known as Satan in the Old Testament. If this is the case, though, we have a blatant contradiction. There is a better solution.

The only other place in the Old Testament where satan lacks the definite article and the term is used of a divine figure is Numbers 22:22 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] , where we read that the Angel of Yahweh stood in the way of Balaam and his donkey “as an adversary (satan).” The Angel was opposing Balaam; he was a divinely-appointed adversary.

This connection between the word satan and the Angel of Yahweh is crucial to understanding the discrepancy between 1 Chronicles 21:1 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] and 2 Samuel 24:1 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] . In both accounts the Angel is present as the one who dispenses God’s judgment upon David (1 Chron 21:14-15 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] ; 2 Sam 24:15-16 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] ). Since God and the Angel of the Lord were frequently identified with each other in the Old Testament (e.g., Exod 3; Judges 6), the best solution seems to be that we don’t have Satan, God’s cosmic enemy, in the Chronicles passage. Rather, we have two writers both referring to God—one using “Yahweh” and the other referring to Yahweh in human form, the Angel (cp. Joshua 5:13-15 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] ) in another adversarial role.
http://michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/2010/02/the-absence-of-satan-in-the-old-testament/