Reliable Translations

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Gayla, Apr 16, 2004.

  1. Gayla

    Gayla
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    I have been wondering for some time . . .

    When you talk about God's Word in the KJV and other Reliable Translations, what is the criteria for determining a "Reliable Translation"? :confused:
     
  2. Phillip

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    Gayla, I haven't seen anybody answer, so I will make my feeble attempt and the scholars can come along and correct me.

    As for the Old Testament there is little doubt that we have accurately defined the manuscripts to where they are very, close to the originals.

    As for the New Testament there are at least two (actually more) major streams or test forms which have been formed into various compilations which certain scholars believe are as close to the originals as possible. Which one is the MOST accurate, ask ten scholars, get ten answers. For example, I believe I'm not speaking out of turn to say that Skan believes the most accurate (to the originals) is the TR that we now have. While other scholars feel it is the Alexandrian, because they date to a time closer to the originals.

    Now, here is the bottom line. These different compilations of old manuscripts are very close to each other, varying only in areas that do not have an effect on doctrine. There are a few verses here and there that were either added or deleted as time went on. We simply do not know which ones are the most accurate, but we can honestly say that these major ones contain the Word of God that is inerrant and complete.

    If you are KJVo, you will be disagreeing with me now, but that is okay, God never promised He would keep His Words in English language. Although, we know He did.

    Now, if you prefer one text form more than the others, then you have a choice of modern translations. The NKJV follows the test forms used by the KJV very accurately. Or, if you do not have a problem with other text forms, then you can use the NASB, ESV, etc.

    Remember, these issues only effect the New Testament.

    Now, the only thing left is the accuracy of the actual translation. For accurate translations, there are two extremes. Personally, I feel that this is more of a personal choice, because, either way, the same message survives. On one hand you have a "thought for thought" style of translation. The NIV adheres to this type of translation probably more than some. On the other hand you can have more of a "Word for Word" translation. This does NOT mean it is more or less accurate. These are simply ways to communicate the message. Often "Word for Word" translations are more difficult to read and do not carry over many of the (for lack of a better word) "emotional" aspects of the document. Greek is a difficult language to convert to English because it contains specific tenses or word styles that are not easily directly converted to English. In these cases, a thought for thought translation may work better.

    Scholars each have their opinions as to which of the major translations have the most accuracy. You can be assured, however, that if you are reading one of the "main-stream" and "accepted" translations, that it is going to be a reasonable facsimile, in the English langauge, of the manuscripts from which it is derived. These includes the KJV1769, NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV, ASV and probably the new Holman (can't recall the exact name).

    Remember, that "The Living Bible" as produced in the 70's is NOT a translation, but a paraphrase. I am not familiar enough to know the accuracy of the New Living Translation. I also understand the WEB Bible is accurate.

    ALL of these Bibles contain the complete "Word of God".

    I think most on this site will also agree that there ARE bad translations and those translations are usually identified by scholars very quickly. In today's world, with communication at the speed of light and boards such as this, I think we will find that bad translations will not go very far because the word will get out quickly what is good and what is bad.

    Obviously, translations made especially for Catholics or JW's are suspect right from the start. Although they may contain good translation, we must be wary that they may also contain doctrinal slanting.

    A good translation is NOT translated to support a doctrine we have grown to believe. It is the most accurate translation of what we believe are the best set of manuscripts that we have.

    If doctrine dictates the translators, it will be translated in error. The concept is to translate as accurately as possible without bias.

    This is the opinion of a non-educated (at least not in Bible history) lay-person who does not believe in the KJVo myth.

    You can rest assured that your KJV is a VERY good translation. But, so is my NKJV or ESV. [​IMG]
     
  3. Gayla

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    Thanks, Phillip.


    Anybody else?
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Scott J

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    I believe a translation should be formally translated more than dynamically equivalent. For that reason, I favor the NKJV, KJV, NASB, and a few others but not the NIV et al.

    As for source texts, all of those underlying today's versions have been critically analyzed by fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals for years. No reputable scholar has claimed that there is a doctrine or fundamental Bible teaching at risk with the TR, MT's, or CT's.

    The only one's who have attempted this have employed double standards and deceptive interpretations. They began with a bias and an agenda to support that bias. This is intellectual dishonest from the foundation on up.
     
  5. skanwmatos

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    Gayla, in my opinion there are three criteria which assist in determining the reliability of a translation.

    The first is the textual basis. I prefer bibles based on the Byzantine text type for I believe that text type is best attested to by both manuscript and historical evidence.

    The second criteria is the translational philosophy used by the translators. There are three primary philosophies evident in English bibles. The first (A) is form equivalence which simply means that the form of the Hebrew or Greek word is carried over into English whenever possible. (Nouns are translated as nouns, verbs as verbs, pronouns as pronouns, singulars as singular, plurals as plurals, masculines as masculines, etc.) That preserves, in my opinion, the concept of verbal inspiration better than the other philosophies. The second (B) translational philosophy is dynamic equivalence which means that the translators felt free to change the form of the words to better suit commonly used English grammatical standards. The third philosophy (C) is that of paraphrase which is nothing more than the translators opinion regarding the meaning of the verse not necessarily the actual wording of the verse.

    The third criteria is the translators themselves. In the case of bible translation the old saying "the more the merrier" applies. The larger the group the more likely they will come up with a reliable translation. Translations done by a single person, although often very good, are usually less reliable than those done by large committees simply because personal biases are less likely to influence the entire committee.
     
  6. Dr. Bob

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    Agree with your 3 criteria, Skan. Well stated.

    Don't think #1 (Byzantine/TR) is the best text type from manuscript or historical evidence, so I'd sub in for your view there.

    But the criteria are right on!
     
  7. skanwmatos

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    In what way do you believe the Alexandrian manuscript and historical evidence is superior to the Byzantine?
     
  8. Dr. Bob

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    Couple of reasons to prefer translations made from the Western Greek family of text-types:

    (1) The Western family of manuscripts is older, often hundreds of years closer to the originals.

    (2) The Western family of manuscripts does not have an "expansion of piety" (many added words or phrases the clutter the Byzantine texts by well-meaning monks, etc).

    (3) The Western family of manuscripts was kept miraculously preserved in a hostile Islamic environment in Egypt (just as were the Jews and even Jesus - Egypt was the place of preservation)
     
  9. skanwmatos

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    Well, the Western text type is not older. There are no Western text type manuscripts dated to the second century while there are Alexandrian and Byzantine type manuscripts which date as early as 150AD. These would include P75 and P90.
    I am not sure where you age getting your information but the Western text type is described by most scholars as texts which have "longer passages than is found in the other groups of texts, frequently augmented with glosses, additional details, and the original passages are replaced with longer paraphrases."

    Of the 4 text types, Alexandrian, Byzantine, Caesarean and Western, the Western shows the most evidence of conflation. Most scholars believe it to be a combination of Alexandrian and Byzantine readings. The Byzantine, on the other hand, exibits no evidence of either conflation or expansion in spite of the claims regarding Rabbula, Bishop of Edessa.
    The Western text type was preserved in Rome and Gaul. To the best of my knowledge no Western text manuscripts have ever been found in Egypt. In fact the only Western texts I know of found outside of Rome or Gaul were found in Syria.
     
  10. Dr. Bob

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    Of course I am talking about "western" in a general sense. Alexandrian, Western [formal] and Caesarean are usually lumped as "western" contrasted to Byzantine as "eastern".

    Sorry for the confusion.
     
  11. skanwmatos

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    Really? By whom? I have never seen them lumped together like that. I have seen the Caesarean text linked to the Byzantine text, but never anything else.

    So, what you meant was that the Alexandrian texts are older? What about P90?

    And don't exhibit that mythical "expansion of piety?" Hasn't the myth of the recension by Rabbula, Bishop of Edessa been pretty much put to rest?

    And that Egypt was the place of preservation even though only 5% of the extant manuscript evidence comes from Egypt?
     
  12. tinytim

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    During oour Bible History Class last week, the teacher put a map on the overhead, and he lumped them together. It was very informative.
    Dr. Bob, I like your egyptian preservation theory, is that yours or someone elses.
    Skan, I like your list. I too would like to know why you feel the Byzantine Texts are the best, since they are the latest.
     
  13. gb93433

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    In the list of dates I have for manuscripts I have P75 as third century, P90 as second century and P46 as second/third century.

    The following is from:

    From http://www.skypoint.com/~waltzmn/ManuscriptsPapyri.html#P90

    P90
    Location/Catalog Number

    Oxford, Ashmolean Museum. Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 3523
    Contents

    Portions of John 18:36-19:7
    Date/Scribe

    Dated paleographically to the second century (making it, after P52, perhaps the oldest surviving New Testament papyrus). The script is considered similar to the "unknown gospel," P. Egerton 2.
    Description and Text-type

    P90 contains only a part of a single leaf, about 15 cm. tall and nowhere more than six cm. wide. It appears that we have the entire height of the leaf, but only a portion of its width, with thirteen or fewer characters surviving on each line (24 lines visible on the recto, 23 on the verso). Even the surviving characters are often illegible. (So much so that, of the eleven readings noted in NA27, eight are marked vid.) The manuscript appears to have originally has about twenty characters per line, meaning that even the best-preserved lines are missing a third of their text, and most are missing half or more. The hand is generally clear but not polished.

    Because the manuscript is so newly-discovered, it has not been classified according to any of the standard classification schemes. It does not appear to contain any noteworthy variants. The following table shows its rate of agreement with some key manuscripts in the variants cited in NA27:


    MS Agreements Percent Agreement
    P66 5/11 45%
    Aleph 7/11 64%
    A 1/11 9%
    B 3/11 27%
    Dsup 3/11 27%
    K 2/11 18%
    L 6/11 55%
    Q 2/11 18%
    1 3/11 27%

    With such small samples, our percentages of agreement obviously don't mean much. But it will be clear that P90 is not Byzantine; it appears to be an Alexandrian witness of some kind. Comfort listed it as closest to P66 (based probably on some relatively unusual readings they share), but his bias toward early papyri is well-known; in fact it looks closer to Aleph. Its lack of kinship with B is noteworthy.
     
  14. Phillip

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    Although, Dr. Bob does not need backing from someone who is not a Greek scholar such as myself, but I have read a lot of books on the origin of the available manuscripts in the last few months; after becoming very interested in the subject.

    It appears that many good scholars do lump the Alexandrian documents together with the Western, in general.

    The climate of Alexandria is excellent for saving documents (and I use the term "document" loosely in defining the copy method of the time) as compared to northern areas. In fact, some scholars think that Alexandrian documents may actually be a little older than first tested, and some of the Byzantine documents, later, simply because of the scientific methods of dating along with the preservation of the Alexandrian climate can make dating somewhat skewed...leaving scholars to use other "historical methods" to determine dates of manuscripts which may be more accurate when comparing the documents (in whatever form) to secular documents using the same "text types" and "scientific physical evidence" from the time. (Text type, ink compositions, base compositions, engraving methods and their base compositions, etc.)

    It is often thought that many of these documents were also kept by Jewish Christians (not all, but some) who were staying away from the Roman rule of Israel (proper) and along with their gentile brother's in Christ maintained very meticulous care of their manuscripts.

    As Dr. Bob said regarding his theory of the Muslim world, it just makes sense, but it also appears to be accurate when compared to historical aspects of the area and also that of the people who copied and maintained these documents.

    This can be a further problem with Byzantine types that may have been "added to" by well-meaning scribes, who did this for the good of the church---but, did not do such for secular documents, causing comparison of those particular types, for dating purposes, to contain a greater margin of error than those from Alexandria which may (or may not, but probably do) "track" more closely to secular styles.

    There is also seems to be a consensus among many scholars that the Byzantine text forms have a certain style which appeared only in documents after a certain time period, along with a style that appears in other church documents which were more or less under the control of primarily Catholic groups and therefore evolved into a style of their own.

    The Alexandrian manuscripts appear to be more concise, more to the point with less (how to say it?) -- a style of "formal church writing" that appears in documents of the same age, from the different areas.

    More than a few scholars indicate that the Byzantine documents were often copied by "document mills" where lots of mistakes and lot of additions tended to occur. Documents were printed in, what today, may be considered a mass production form, leading to more errors, due to the methods of manual copying. Often copies were used to make copies rather than a "control" manuscript to base all manuscripts on. This can be seen by examining the many manuscripts.

    Remember, these are NOT major changes which change doctrine. God did make His promise to maintain His Word and He has faithfully kept to that promise by the fact that we have multitudes of manuscripts which contain essentially the very same "Word of God".

    This is not my scholarship, but the scholarship of many a respected scholar who have great credentials and experience in this field.

    This also agrees with the "marketing" theory that is said to have taken place when the NKJV was written based on the TR in order to obtain the huge, but sagging KJV market which has recently been surpassed by the NIV. Now, this is my opinion based on my experience in marketing. From a strictly secular marketing point of view, I see the NKJV as becoming a real contender in the KJV groups of the future. It is occuring very much like that of other versions of the KJV (the Cambridge, Oxford and earlier changes). There was a lot of rebellion in the beginning which finally turned into acceptance as people began to realize that the book was really easier to read and they justified the changes based on what the authors said and "marketed" when the revisions were produced.

    Personally, although they have an uphill struggle, looking from an entirely secular point of view of marketing and sales, the NKJV is an excellent way to obtain a new "protected" (copyrighted) translation that will most likely eventually be found acceptable by new generations of KJVo or KJV preferred.

    Mark my words that as time goes on the NKJV will gain acceptance among the KJV crowd and just as the KJV's finally accepted the Cambridge and the Oxford translations, they will eventually accept the NKJV, simply because common "street language" does indeed change and it was important that the KJV had to evolve or get left behind as its earlier version's language became more archaic and less common; especially to the average reader, who is NOT a scholar.

    This is based entirely on a secular marketing and business point of view and may have little to do with actual accuracy of the translation. Although, let me make it clear that it must be a reasonably good translation or scholars would have destroyed it by now.

    Watch as acceptance grows over the next ten years by the KJV crowd. I have personally seen groups who will not accept the NIV accept the NKJV because they feel it is just a newer version of what they feel is the same TR as the KJV. Although most are so weak in their understanding they don't even realize it only effects the NT.

    As pointed out, however, the Alexandrian texts appear to have become somewhat more accepted as being closer to the originals than the TR by a large number of very good scholars.

    Just something to think about.

    Note: I am not degrading ANY translation, only stating the thoughts of scholars and my views of the secular marketing issues that are in actual control of the market-place. I do believe God can and does have His hand in the spreading of His Word, but we must be careful what is God and what is an excellent marketing and promotional company. And, just because exceptional marketing is behind something does not make it either good OR bad. The Mormons have some of the best marketing agencies in the world working on their material. Notice their subtle change from getting your free Book of Mormon, to obtaining a free King James Bible. Don't think for a minute that it was not a significant, well-planned and powerful marketing ploy.
     
  15. Dr. Bob

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    Just need to get Jack Chick to make the switch and write another mini-theology book about God's NEW revelation in the NEWKJV!

    Good post.
     
  16. skanwmatos

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    If your Bible History Class teacher was saying by "lumping them all together" that there is a proven stemma connecting them, then you might want to consider dropping that class before he gives you any more misleading information.
     
  17. skanwmatos

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    Every reputable scholar I have ever read considers the Western text to be a combination of the Byzantine and Alexandrian text types. But no scholar I know of refers to the Alexandrian texts as "Western."
    Do you have any evidence to support your charge of "adding to" the Byzantine text by Byzantine scribes? If so bring it forth and you will go down in history, for up to this point no textual scholar has any evidence except mere speculation.
    It is well known that Byzantine manuscripts come from Byzantium and that Byzantium was, for the most part, Catholic until 860 when the Rome/Byzantine churches began their split, which resulted in the Great Schism of 1054. Are you saying, as do the Ruckmanites, that who did the copying makes the copies untenable? Then what do you do with the Masoretic Hebrew text? It was copied by Jewish scribes exclusively!
    Nonsense! A purely subjective assertion.
    This has been completely disproven. Except for a few small "family" relationships which have been established, the bulk of the Byzantine-era documents are not closely-related in any genealogical sense. Might I suggest a little informative reading? Kirsopp Lake, R. P. Blake, and Silva New, "The Caesarean Text of the Gospel of Mark," Harvard Theological Review 21 [1928].
    A position which is changing as newer and better scholars come on the scene who are not willing to swallow the previous theories without evidence or even examination. A careful look at UBS/4 will tell you that Alexandrian readings are on the wane and Byzantine reading are being added.
     
  18. gb93433

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    Who are these new scholars? What are their names? The UBS has been revised recently. Some of the students where I went to seminary have worked with the UBS 4 committee and have done some evaluation and the committee has made some changes. Of course SWBTS doesn’t do that anymore. They don’t teach the course anymore so it has gone by the wayside at that school.
     
  19. Gayla

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    Wow, I had lost track of this and just thought about it this evening.
    I've got some reading to do . . .
     
  20. DeclareHim

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    I believe a reliable translation is one that tries its very best to accurately translate the Bible from the original languages to English. I believe many reliable translations are: NASB,NKJV,ESV,ISV,KJV,RSV,ASV,WEB. I know I left a couple out but these are ones that just popped into my head.
     

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