In La Bible Du Semeur (BDS, French translation) there is a curious translation of John 3:5. It reads:
Vraiment, je te l’assure, reprit Jésus, à moins de naître d’eau, c’est-à-dire d’Esprit, personne ne peut entrer dans le royaume de Dieu.
“Really! I assure you”, continued Jesus, “unless born of water, that is to say of Spirit, a person cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” *
In Jn. 3:5b ex hydatos kai pneumatos/ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ πνεύματος is usually translated “of water and Spirit” under the assumption that the conjunction kai means “and.” This is true of other French translations such as Nouvelle Edition de Genève (NEG1979), Louis Segond (LG), and Louis Segond 21 (LG21) where the translators opted for d’eau et d’Esprit. I was curious as to why the BDS translators decided to provide such an interpretive translation (all translation are interpretive, but this is more so). This is the footnote they provided:
En grec, la conjonction traduite habituellement par et peut aussi avoir le sens de c’est-à-dire. Jésus semble se référer à la prophétie d’Ez 36.25-27 où la purification par l’eau est une image de l’œuvre de l’Esprit. Autre traduction: naître d’eau et d’Esprit.
In Greek, the conjunction is usually translated and though it can also have the sense of that is to say. Jesus seems to refer to the prophecy of Ezekiel 36:25-27 where the purification of the water is an image of the work of the Spirit. Other translation: born of water and of the Spirit. *
In other words, the BDS translators understood kai to mean “even,” “of water, even of Spirit.” Their rational is that it seems that Jesus’ words are adopted from Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NASB):
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”
What do you say? First, do you think Jn 3:5 is echoing Ezek. 36:25-27? Second, would it be better to provide a simple translation or one that points the reader to intertextual echoes that the translator may find present? I don’t mind this translation since it provides a clarifying note.
* Pardon my French translation, since I am a novice. If there are any errors please let me know.