is It REALLY True That A version Can be "Good Greek" Bad English Though?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by JesusFan, Jul 29, 2011.

  1. JesusFan

    JesusFan
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    reading a review on 1901 ASV, and on the 1977 NASV Bibles...

    person commended both on their strict failthfulness/literalness to the he

    hebrew/greek texts BUT

    also said that there were intances where they would get 'A" for adhering to greek phrasing and sentence structuring, but 'F" for how it comnes across in English rendering for clarity and understanding?

    When does one 'sacrifice" literalness and adhering to original languages verbs/phrasing etc in oder to get a more understandable translation?
     
  2. David Lamb

    David Lamb
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    Surely if any version is bad English (or bad French, bad Urdu, or - unlike John of Japan's I'm sure - bad Japanese), then that version is a bad translation, no matter how good the Greek (and Hebrew and Aramaic) texts used. In other words, you cannot excuse bad use of the target language - English, Dutch, Tamil, Lithuanian, or whatever - by saying, "Ah, but the orinal language texts used are unsurpassed!"
     
    #2 David Lamb, Jul 29, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2011
  3. JesusFan

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    True!

    What about idea that IF following from greek to English "too much" in verbal use, word structuring etc can run into a real literal rendering but real hard to follow with in English!
     
  4. Paul Rittman

    Paul Rittman
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    Yes I certainly think the NASB is guilty of this, although this is to be expected in a translation that is so solidly committed to rendering the Greek literally.

    Look at a few examples from Eph 1:

    v. 9: He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him

    Don't know about you, but I don't recall the last time I used purpose as a verb.

    v. 12:to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

    I don't recall using "to the end that" to mean "so that" or "in order that" at any time in my life, nor do I recall reading that anywhere. Perhaps philosophers use that phrase, but again, it's not commonplace.

    v.19: {These are} in accordance with the working of the strength of His might

    makes grammatical sense, but rather awkward English.

    Now--is the above enough to make it a bad translation? Not at all. Given the purpose of the NASB, it does an admirable job. But the ESV, while still staying close to the literal wording (almost but not quite as much as the NASB), reads a bit more smoothly. However, the NASB does stick to a literal rendering more so than the ESV and others, and so it reproduces more accurately, the Greek grammar (as seen in v. 19), whereas other English translations will not render the Greek genitive with an "of.. clause," but will translate it into something a bit more fluid in the English. There are occasions where the ESV renders the exact grammatical construction in the Greek more closely than the NASB, but the NASB is still more likely to do this than any other modern translation.

    Is this enough to junk the NASB? Well you either see this or you don't. If you don't mind sentence constructions like the above, then the NASB really is for you. I've heard some say that they never found the NASB awkward at all, and if I felt like that, I would never have left it for the ESV.
     
  5. JesusFan

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    the NASV is my preferred version by far, but do have to admit that at times find myself digging out ole 1984 NIV bible to read the verses there!
     
  6. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    My version is bad Japanese (sometimes very bad!) until Uncle Miya gets ahold of it! Thank God for a Japanese partner. :thumbsup:

    What I do for the first draft is make a very literal translation to give us something to work with. However, I don't follow the Greek word order, since that is virtually impossible with Japanese, where the verb comes last. Then Uncle Miya and I work on putting it into good literary Japanese. In that process, there are times when he can't make any sense of my overly literal first draft. In that case we have to rework it from the original until he understands.

    I think what would make a version "good Greek, bad English" is following the Greek word order in English. Our language is so versatile that this is often possible without too much effort. However, though I believe the grammar forms of the original have meaning, I don't see much use in following the Greek word order.
     
  7. glfredrick

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    Perhaps the most accurate of all time is the ASV, forerunner of the NASB and NASB 95. It is almost word-for-word identical to the sentence structure of the Greek and the most un-readable (in English) text I've seen (apart from some horrid translations used by cults).

    My Greek profs called use of the ASV "cheating" and if we had a copy in our possession that indicated that we failed the course.

    So, is it a good or a bad translation? I'd say "good," in that it is perfect for its intended use -- to be THE most accurate translation, word-by-word, of the underlying Greek possible without being an interlinear version. I'd say "bad" if one is attempting to use it for the sake of sharing a biblical message with an unbeliever who may struggle with English grammar, which these days is probably over half the population or more!
     
  8. TCGreek

    TCGreek
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    What exactly is meant by "good greek"?
     
  9. Dr. Bob

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    While in preaching we used a KJV1769 revision, our profs in seminary all pushed the 1901ASV. It was hard to read since the vagueries of English as a receptor language to the far more exact/detailed Greek text made for some "wooden" sounding phrases.

    Still have my well-worn copy of the 1901ASV. But never could preach from it. "Good Greek" and "Bad English" is very accurately put.
     

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