An Intro Re Modern Bible Translations

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Rippon, Jan 2, 2008.

  1. Rippon

    Rippon
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    I received a Christmas gift of "The Timeless Writings Of C.S. Lewis" . He is not normally my cup of tea . But he had some insightful things to say every now and then .

    He wrote an introduction to J.B. Phillips translation of the epistles back in 1947 . Here are some of his more cogent points .

    Dozens of sincerely pious people in the sixteenth century shuddered at the idea of turning the time-honoured Latin of the Vulgate into our common and ( as they thought ) 'barbarous' English . a sacred truth seemed to them to have lost its sanctity when it was stripped of the polysyllabic Latin , long heard at Mass and at Hours , and put into 'language such as men do use' -- language steeped in all the commonplace associations of the nursery , the inn , the stable , and the street . The answer then was the same as the answer now . The only kind of sanctity which Scripture can lose ( or , at least , New Testament scripture ) by being modernized is an accidental kind which it never had for its writers or its earliest readers . The New Testament in the original Greek is not a work of literary art : it is not written in a solemn , ecclesiastical language , it is written in the sort of Greek which was spoken over the Eastern Mediterranean after Greek had become an international language and therefore lost its real beauty and subtlety . In it we see Greek used by people who have no real feeling for Greek words because Greek words are not the words they spoke when they were children . It is a sort of 'basic' Greek ; a language without roots in the soil , a utilitarian , commercial and administrative language . Does this shock us ? It ought not to , except as the Incarnation itself ought to shock us . The same divine humility which decreed that God should become a baby at a peasant-woman's breast , and later an arrested field-preacher in the hands of the Roman police , decreed also that He should be preached in a vulgar , prosaic and unliterary language ... When we expect that it should have come before the world in all the beauty that we now feel in the Authorized Version we are as wide of the mark as the Jews were in expecting that the Messiah would come as a great earthly king .
     
  2. Rippon

    Rippon
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    Continued ...

    ... the Authorized Version has ceased to be a good ( that is , a clear ) translation . It is no longer modern English : the meanings of words have changed . The same antique glamour which has made it ( in the superficial sense ) so 'beautiful' , so 'sacred' , so 'comforting' , and so 'inspiring' , has also made it in many places unintelligible . Thus where St. Paul says 'I know nothing against myself,' it translates 'I know nothing by myself.' That was a good translation ( though even then rather old-fashioned ) in the sixteenth century : to the modern reader it means either nothing , or somthing quite different from what St. Paul said . The truth is that if we are to have translation at all we must have periodical re-translation . There is no such thing as translating a book into another language once and for all , for a language is a changing thing . If your son is to have clothes it is no good buying him a suit once and for all : he will grow out of it and have to be re-clothed .
    And finally , though it may seem a sour parodox -- we must sometimes get away from the Authorized Version , if for no other reason , simply because it is so beautiful and so solemn . Beauty exalts , but beauty also lulls . Early associations endear but they also confuse . Through that beautiful solemnity the transporting or horrifying realities of which the Book tells may come to us blunted and disarmed and we may only sigh with tranquil veneration when we ought to be burning with shame or struck dumb with terror or carried out of ourselves by ravishing hopes and adorations ...
    We ought therefore to welcome all new translations ( when they are made by sound scholars ) and most certainly those who are approaching the Bible for the first time will be wise not to begin with the Authorized Version -- except perhaps for the historical books of the Old Testament where its archaisms suit the saga-like material well enough .
     
  3. Logos1560

    Logos1560
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    The KJV translators updated some of the words in the pre-1611 English Bibles of which it was a revision. The KJV made many of the same type changes or revisions in the text of one or more of the pre-1611 English Bibles that some later English translations have made in the KJV.
     

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