Did God Inspire "Words" or "Thoughts"

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Dr. Bob, Jul 2, 2003.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    Formal Equivalence emphasizes the actual words (in all their form, jots and titles, gender, case)

    Dynamic Equivalence focuses on the meaning or thought (idioms, phrases)

    Many are "in between" these views. Where are you?
     
  2. USN2Pulpit

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    Is there not room for both? I know that the translators of the CSB attempted to preserve the word-for-word equivalancy while conveying the thought in context as well.

    That is the difficulty of translating from a different language. I have fun with it in normal conversation with my hispanic friends (or they have fun with me).

    As for which way I'd lean, I guess I'd lean toward the dynamic equivalence side, but I don't see that one has to be abandoned for the other. I figure if I study both, I'll be okay.
     
  3. aefting

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    I think it was Charles Hodge who, commenting on this passage, said the Holy Spirit communicates or explains spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. The answer to your question is that God inspired or breathed-out both the message and the words used to communicate that message. Both are important.

    As to the FE/DE debate, Leland Ryken has an excellent new book, The Word of God in English, in which he defends the “essentially literal” translation philosophy behind the ESV and explains why it is superior to a DE philosophy. I think Ryken makes a very strong case. It is worth a read if you are interested in the debate.

    Andy
     
  4. Harald

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    I have read Ryken's book, and I liked it and agreed with most of what he said. It is an informing book in many respects.

    Now as to the initial question I am in favour of FE, and am anti DE, especially when DE is taken as the guiding philosophy for a Bible translation (project). But when I say I am pro FE it does not mean like as Forever Settled In Heaven would misrepresent it. FE does not mean that the English renderings must look like gibberish or be unintelligible. As I understand it FE is concerned with both form and meaning/sense/nuances etc. It seeks to cut interpretitive rendering to a minimum. DE is overly interpretitive, sometimes so much that it makes all interpretation superfluous for the reader because it gives a fixed interpretation upon an ambiguos passage. I think Ryken also took up this problem. At least I recall Robert L Thomas does in his writings criticizing DE.

    Harald
     
  5. Forever settled in heaven

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    well, God inspired BOTH ... in the HEBREW, ARAMAIC, n GREEK!

    he didn't inspire the English forms or the Urdu forms, mind u. so there's no need for FEs to try n pretend that He did.

    the more i hear some of the extreme FE views here, the more i see the coherence of DE n the less i'm inclined to be "in between."

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Refreshed

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    I am a strong FE supporter because taking DE as a philosophy behind a translation tends to inject too much interpretation.

    Jason
     
  7. Terry_Herrington

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    I believe that a good DE translation, like the NIV, is superior to the FE's in general.

    That is why the DE's are more popular today. They get the message across much better.
     
  8. TomVols

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    Since God inspired the words, we should be as close as possible. Sometimes that will result in a direct word-for-word, sometimes that will result in thought-for-thought. However, the former is to be preferred when possible given the parameters of our English language.
     
  9. Dr. Bob

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    IF God gave "xyz" words to Paul or Moses et al, wouldn't the most accurate translation of the words into a receptor language be to find exactly the same words?

    I don't "think" abstractly, I "think" in words. That is probably why I am attracted to the Formal Equivalence position.

    Does anyone NOT "think" in words?
     
  10. Forever settled in heaven

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    in Hebrew or Greek ...

    um, in English? that's if English or Urdu or whichever receptor language happens to be the same as Hebrew/Greek.

    true ... i don't think "abstractly" either. but i think in English, not Heb/Gk.

    i doubt it, not in "higher level" thinking, anyways.

    i agree that words--every one of them, due to verbal inspiration--r important. it's just that they're NOT supposed to be translated formally.

    yes, sometimes a translation looks like a gloss (e.g. in word order, conjunctions, tense, etc.), but that's coincidental rather than the rule.
     
  11. Pastor Larry

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    Not necessarily because languages are not one for one equivalents. Simply memorizing equivalent words does not equal good translation. Structure, grammar, idiom, etc. all must be communicated. To illustrate by a modern language example (that I have shared before): When I was in Brazil for three months I learned a little Portuguese. Attempting to practice, I wanted to ask a teenager how old they were. So I carefully thought through teh words and translated word for word "How old are you?" They looked at me blankly, confused. I asked again, thinking maybe my pronunciation was bad. They looked the same -- confused. A missionary standing nearby came over and I asked him to help me out. I told him what I wanted and what I said. He laughed and said I asked it wrong. What I should have asked (translated literally) is "How many years do you have?"

    If I translated word for word either way, the meaning is lost. Dynamic equivalence is absolutely necessary in some cases.

    I talked in another thread about the idiom of "minding your Ps and Qs." How does that translate into another language?? Or how about "Raining cats and dogs"? It doesn't translate well becuase of language.

    Jokes are often this way. Something that is hilarious in English because of a word play or association bombs in another language.

    So the short answer to your question is "No, not always."

    My response is that DE does not ask one to think without words. It simply attempts to communicate clearly, without ambiguity. That is, after all, the only reason we communicate ... we men that is. Some women I know just talk to hear themselves talk (Send angry responses to Bob Griffin; he tempted me beyond my ability to say no). Come to think of there are some preachers like that however ... but in seriousity, we communicate hoping to be clearly understood. That is what DE helps with, in many cases. However, it should not be overused.

    The bottom line is that words are servants, not masters. They exist for the sake of the thoughts behind them. If we get the words but not the meaning, then we have not communicated at all. The meaning is what is most important.
     
  12. gb93433

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    I think there is another thing one must take into account and that is the impact the words have in a given culture. We may try to translate word for word but how does one translate in a word for word situation the impact of that word with its accepted meaning in another culture. I think often we may forget that. For example if someone ran over a dog and it was killed, we would never say a dog was murdered. We would never say it passed away either. We might say it was killed.

    In the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek there are words used to convey meaning that we don't always have in English, nor can the English speaking person understand. For example an English person would not really understand a middle voice. So there must be interpretation. To accurately translate one must consider the reader and the origin of the letter. Both have a context that is very diferent.

    Another good example both in the OT and NT are words "woman of him" is used. We would not translate that way even though that is what the text says. We would translate it "wife". How would you accurately translate to an English speaking person that it is a phrase that is Jewish in origin to even translate it with greater accuracy?

    I don't see translation very simplistic. We must take into account all of the historical context and the present context of the reader to accurately translate.
     
  13. Artimaeus

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    Agreed, in "some" cases. The problem with DE is when it is a broad policy for an entire volume rather than an occasional, rare, unavoidable but, necessay tool in translation.


    The problem is that neither you, nor I, know what that meaning is. All we have is the words, we don't have the thoughts. The purpose of translation is to say what the person in the other language wrote. I acknowledge the difficult position between trying to translate and not interpret. It takes skill which I do not possess. If you CAN translate it exactly as it is, then, why not do so.

    Example: Matt 5:18 (jot a
    Hebrew = yodh, a particular letter of the alphabet
    Greek = iota, a particular letter of the alphabet
    KJV = jot
    NASB = the smallest letter
    NIV = the smallest letter

    What did Jesus say? (not, what did he mean by the passage?) He said, (in English) "one i". How does it not do justice to the translation to say what Jesus said?

    I actually want to know if He said, "It is raing cats and dogs", and then I want you to tell me what that meant. I don't want you to say that He said it was raingin hard because, that isn't what he would have said. I need to know (as close as you can) what He said before we can have an intelligent conversation about what He meant. To loosely paraphrase a radio commercial (ironic, isn't it?) Thoughts are your automobile and words are your wheels.
     
  14. Askjo

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    The inspiration refers to the Scriptures (words, NOT thoughts.)

    DE is dangerous because DE ignores God's warnings (Rev. 22:18-19; Prov 30:5-6; Jer.26:2; Deut. 4:2; Ezek 3:10-11); DE twisted God's words such as Romans 3:25 in the KJV "blood" == TEV "death", Isaiah 1:18 in KJV "snow" == UBS "coconut"; DE is based on half-truths!
     
  15. Askjo

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    Nida, one of 3 editors of the UBS, supports DE because he said that bible is not absolute, perfect truth. Nida denies the blood atonement.

    snow == coconut
    blood == death

    Are they DE? Yes, but are they same meanings or made-up?

    Do you make up what God's Word actually said?
     
  16. Pastor Larry

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    I beg to differ ... in teh words you have the thoughts. There is no difference between them.

    I differ again ... The purpose of translation is to communicate. If the literal translation does not communicate (as I showed above), it makes no difference what was said. It is not understood.

    What he said is what he meant. That is not the issue. The issue is how do we convey what his words mean in English.

    He didn't say anything in English, most certainly not 'one i.' What he said was in Aramaic.

    Because the world we live in does not understand what jots and tittles are. When you say that, you have just lost the meaning on everybody. This thread illustrates it perfectly becuase you have people arguing that he was talking about individual letters. That was not what he was talking about. The Hebrew text is missing individual letters and words in many places.

    This is a false dichotomy. If I tell you what he said and then I have to explain what he meant, that is a step that was unnecessary in what he said. You have effectively added to it. That is not what translation is for.

    In the bottom line, a judicious use of DE is what I believe is appropriate. We do not need a wholesale use of it. There is no reason for it.
     
  17. Pastor Larry

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    There is no difference. The words of Scripture convey the thoughts. To make a dichotomy is fundamentally incoherent.

    Don't see anything in these verses about DE. This is yet again an attempt to distort Scripture to make it say something it doesn't say ... and you complain about DE while doing this. How ironic is that ...

    Don't have the TEV so I can't comment on this one. All the texts seem to say "haimati" so it should translate very easily.

    What is the UBS??? The UBS is the United Bible Society who puts out a Greek text. It makes no sense as you are using it here. I have surveyed all the major versions including the RSV and NRSV and don't see any reference to coconut. The only thing I can conclude is that you are passing along incorrect information that you did not verify before citing it.

    Your complaints against it are based on complete untruths.
     
  18. Askjo

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    The inspired words of Scripture are the written words of God, not thoughts of God. How would you use DE by reading God's thoughts, not words? The Word of God is the written Word, not the written thoughts.

    DE is what you want to play with the word of God. DE is what you want to make up what the written Word of God said.
     
  19. Pastor Larry

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    You are out of touch. You don't even get it for some reason. It is impossible to have thoughts without words. You just can't do it. When you see words on a page, you are seeing the verbalization of thoughts. This is so basic, it is hard to miss it.

    I don't play with the word of God. And I don't "want" DE. DE is a necessary part of translation. The KJV uses it in a number of places. It has nothing to do with making up the word of God. That is poor rhetoric to disagree with something that your version of the Bible uses.
     
  20. Dr. Bob

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    Pastor Larry - Even the KJV uses DE sometimes? God forbid! :rolleyes:
     

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