Does Ambiguity challenge Dynamic Equivalencnce?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Van, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. Van

    Van
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    It seems that those who advocate Dynamic Equivalence sometimes take pot shots are those who advocate Formal or Optimal Equivalence. And the reverse also seems to occur.

    Lets examine this concern using John 1:9. Most modern translations have something like, The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.(ESV). By reading this translation, we understand that (1) the True light was not in the world, but is coming into the world; (2) that the true light "enlightens everyone" means causes everyone to grow in understanding; (3) and indirectly everyone "in" the "world" envisioned here by John is enlightened.

    But is this "literal" translation anywhere close to the mark? Probably not.

    Another of the common renderings is this: That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. (NKJV)

    As you can see this rendering is starkly different: (1) The true light is already in the world; (2) the true light gives light to everyone (but does not imply everyone understands and learns, the implication of "enlightened) and (3) indicates everyone coming into the world, i.e all mankind, is given light somehow by the true light.

    I will just mention but not attempt to explain the difficult grammar of this verse which allows either rendering to be seen as sound from a grammatical view. So the translators must look at the context here, and the context where John handles similar grammar and subject matter to arrive at their rendering.

    Which brings us to our topic: Some on the formal, word meaning for word meaning, side say by translating word for word the translator can "pass through" the ambiguity (in the mind of the translator) rather than picking one side or the other. The dynamic equivalence folks have as a primary goal to eliminate ambiguity and so will choose a side and present it as if it was gospel. This I believe is a cheap shot.

    All that needs to be done is present the clearest rendering of the translator's understanding, i.e. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. (NIV) and then footnote the alternate understanding prefaced by "or". This gives the reader the clearest understanding of the text from the translators perspective, yet allows the reader to be aware of a possible alternate rendering. For example the NET reads the same as the NIV, but has this footnote: Or “He was the true light, who gives light to everyone who comes into the world.”

    Bottom line this is a silly disparagement of Dynamic Equivalence.
     
    #1 Van, Aug 26, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 26, 2011
  2. JesusFan

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    Please remember that are NO strictly literally/Dynamic translations Bibles today, as there are differing shades of that!

    NASV closest to literal, NIV 2011/HCSB try to medaite between both camps, while NLT/RRSV closer to dynamic..

    ALL good, all word of God to us, just some more useful to read from, others to study from!
     
  3. Van

    Van
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    To equate optimal equivalence with dynamic equivalence, Jesusfan, is to deny the obvious. Please address the topic. How would you translate John 1:9 using a word meaning by word meaning method if you are not sure of the Greek grammar?
     
  4. JesusFan

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    [
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    Just curous, do you have ANY verses/passages in either Nasv/NIV/HCSB where the translators 'goofed up" any essential/major doctrines by their chooice of words and their meanings, even though used different transaltion philsophies?
     
  5. Van

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    What is the true light? Something that is true has fidelity to the original, so Jesus is truth in that He is the perfect image of God. Light is pure where darkness is evil, so true light would be God's revelation of Himself through Jesus. But Jesus was in the world of fallen mankind, and mankind had been made through Him, but mankind did not "know" Him. John had come to testify about the "true light," Jesus. Jesus came to His own, probably referring to the chosen of God, the children of the promise, but they did not receive Him.

    In summary, to a person with no ability to understand the underlying Greek, the alternate rendering provided by the NET footnote, appears to reflect the actual message,"He was the true light, who gives light to everyone who comes into the world.
     
    #5 Van, Aug 26, 2011
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  6. Van

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    Jesusfan, I have asked you several questions and have answered dozens of your questions. Why do you answer my on topic question with an off topic question? Are you trying to derail the thread?
     
  7. TCGreek

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    Well-tempered.
     
  8. Charles Meadows

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    Hmmm...

    Ipsissima vox instead of ipsissima verba?
     
  9. JesusFan

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    No, question went to heart of the OP...

    Regardless of translation theory used, any reputable modern version NOT word of God?

    Just saying that there are slight variances in the texts, and there are slight differences due to understanding of the contex/grammer/ etc!

    So in your example, both a lietrally and a dynamic could be correct, IF meaning intended was still intact!
     
  10. Rippon

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    What's the RRSV? Do mean the RSV? If so,then that's on the more form-driven side --that translation is the father of the ESV.

    The NLTse is dynamic and the RSV/ESV/NRSV are a couple of notches to the left where interlinears are noted to be on the extreme left.
     
  11. Rippon

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    JF didn't do any such thing.
     
  12. TomVols

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    Moises Silva once wrote that it was no shame in literal translations having to wrestle with a sentence or phrase if the author also did so. However, this is not to impugn the work of DE which should make clear what is clear. At the same time, DE should not sand down the smooth spots, nor should literal translations take glory in potentially confusing renderings.
     
  13. Van

    Van
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    In summary, to a person with no ability to understand the underlying Greek, the alternate rendering provided by the NET footnote, appears to reflect the actual message,"He was the true light, who gives light to everyone who comes into the world.”

    But if this is so obvious, why do the majority of modern translations connect "coming" with the "true Light" as opposed to "everyone?"

    First we have the argument from harmony, John refers to the light coming into the world in at least two other places, John 3:19 and John 12:46. This argument is not very strong, since we have many examples where the text has been corrupted by copiest efforts to make one verse read like another. But it certainly allows consideration that John might have meant the Light rather than everyone.

    The next argument for connecting coming with the Light is based on grammar. A variant renders coming in agreement with Light creating a "periphrastic participle with an imperfect tense" which matches Johannine construction, i.e. 1:28, 2:6, 3:23, 10:40, 11:1, 18:18 and 25. What this says to me, not knowing anything of Greek, is that the variant construction should be strongly considered because it is very like John's writing.

    Now we must turn to the apparent flaws in my "unlearned" logic for adopting the footnoted rendering which connects coming with everyone.

    First I said Jesus was already in the world, so it seemed awkward to refer to Jesus coming in the future! Another way to view it is the inauguration of the public ministry of Christ. Using this idea, then the true Light was coming, and John the Baptist was the Light's forerunner.

    Next, Jesus was in the world (among mankind) and for sure mankind had been made through the Word, and mankind did not "know" Him. So this fits just as neatly with the majority view.

    Next, to try to argue for the footnoted rendering we must adopt something like the "inner light" of the Quakers, rather than the gospel light of His public ministry.

    Which brings my analysis back to the majority view, which is "the true light, which gives light to everyone was coming into the world."

    God Bless
     
    #13 Van, Aug 26, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 26, 2011
  14. Van

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    Reply to Rippon

    Here is what Jesusfan said: NASV closest to literal, NIV 2011/HCSB try to medaite between both camps, while NLT/RRSV closer to dynamic..

    Note that the NIV, a self proclaimed dynamic equivalence translation is grouped with the HCSB which is a self proclaimed optimal equivalence translation. Putting those two very different approaches in the same group was what I was kicking about.
     
  15. Van

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    Reply to Meadows:

    Without jumping into the abyss, I believe God wants us to treat God's word that we have as His very word, as opposed to picking and choosing the parts that match our theology. I accept it as authoritative, my issue is in understanding its message which I frequently miss according to my Calvinist brothers.
     
  16. Rippon

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    The NIV is not "a self-proclaimed dynamic equivalent translation" Van. A very good place to say such a thing would be in its Preface and it does no such thing. Nor does it describe itself in such a fashion in any of its literature.

    The HSCB is described as using optimal equivalence in its literature and Preface --but in reality it is as close to the 2011 NIV as can be aside from the NET Bible. The 2011 NIV and HCSB are kissing cousins. The latter being only slightly more literal. But both occupy a place on the very small patch of mediating translation ground.
     
  17. Van

    Van
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    Reply to TomVols

    Not sure why DE would feel the need to sand down smooth spots, but I agree with Silva that literal translations should not create confusion. One of the ways, in my opinion, is to improve the concordance by translating the same word meaning using the same word or words, so the English only reader could see the original author pounding away, using the same word, as in 1 Corinthians 13:8-11.
     
  18. Rippon

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    It doesn't sand away smooth spots. It is charged with sanding down the rough spots. That's very different. It's said that the NLTse is weakest in the Psalms on that account yet superior in the Gospels because of its translation philosophy.
     
  19. Van

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    Mine does Rippon, they have "striven for more than a word for word" translation. Their goal was faithful translation of the meaning of the original writers. As far as sanding smooth spots, read the quote from TomVols. I was just gently ribbing him.

    As far as HCSB being only slightly to the left of the NIV, please start a thread I that topic and I will provide evidence that disputes your assertion.
     
    #19 Van, Aug 26, 2011
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  20. Rippon

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    "Mine does Rippon" is unclear. Please use complete sentences.

    Never does the Preface or literature of the NIV use the expression of dynamic equivalence to describe its translation philosophy. That's a fact.

    The ESV and HCSB have stiven for more than a word-for-word correspondence because it is impossible for any true translation to have a successuful word-for-word transfer of meaning.

    But you are right in that the NIV's goal has been to have a faithful translation of the meaning of the original authors of Holy Writ.
     

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