The Challenge Of Bible Translation

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Rippon, Mar 5, 2006.

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  1. Rippon

    Rippon
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    Communicating God's Word To The World . General Editors Glen G.Scorgie , Mark L. Strauss , Steven M. Voth . I really appreciate this book . I picked it up in Jan. and finished it in the same month . I can't say that for a number of my books which I have yet to finish . I thought that I might make some brief quotations from several of the chapters in the days to come .

    Chapter one is by Moises Silva . It's called " Are Translators Traitors ? Some Personal Reflections ."

    All successful translations of literature ( for example , contempory German novels )
    sound natural , as though they had originally been written in English ...since the message communicates more clearly , one can argue that they are more accurate than literal renderings would be . ( Page 39 )

    ...translating clauses and sentences that cannot be rendered word-for-word and thus require restructuring would give students an entree into the genius ( i.e., the authentic character ) of the foreign tongue ... a nonliteral translation , precisely because it may give expression to the genius of the target language ... can do greater justice to that of the source language . ( page 43 )

    [ He quotes Martin Luther ] what is the point of needlessly adhering so scrupulously and stubbornly to words which one cannot understand anyway ? Whoever would speak German must not use Hebrew style . Rather he must see to it -- once he understands the Hebrew author -- that he concentrates on the sense of the text , asking himself , ' Pray tell , what do the Germans say in such a situation ? Once he has the German words to serve the purpose , let him drop the Hebrew words and express the meaning freely in the best German he knows . ( page 49 )

    It is worth noting that literal translations are often said to use the notion of " formal correspondence , " but in the case of poems ( or other styles that make heavy use of such formal constraints as alliteration , meter , and the rhyme ) , the distinctive form of the original gets lost . ( page 50 )

    [ March 05, 2006, 11:12 PM: Message edited by: Rippon ]
     
  2. Deacon

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    Changing translations once in a while helps you see things that you may have missed in the past.

    While traveling in my car for a few hours (something I detest) I listen to the NIV NT on tape.
    It usually sends me scurring back to my "regular" text (NAS) when I arrive home just to see if it agrees with what I heard.

    In his recent book, "The Five Books of Moses", David Alter translated the Pentatuch, attempting to "hebruize" the translation.

    As a reader of the NAS, I appreciate his reasoning.

    Rob
     
  3. Rippon

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    Rob what do you think of Luther's ideas on this subject ? Do they have any merit ?

    Are there passages in which the NIV rendering is superior to the way the NAS words a passage ? ( Do you use the pre-1995 version ? ) Do you ever look at the footnotes of the NET Bible ?
     
  4. Deacon

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    Interesting I’ve read Luther and don’t remember that.
    It sounds like him even through the translation though. ;)

    IMHO, there are benefits to considering every translation.
    Each individual translation provides another window into how a translator interprets the words God has given to us.
    “Standing on the shoulders” of those more learned than I… then study it out for myself.

    In places, a word for word, literal translation is possible; I other areas (such as in poetry, the use of idioms, and other foreign concepts) where the use of formal equivalence becomes necessary (every version uses FE to one extent or another). :eek:

    Personally, I want to be as close to the actual text as I can. Those that dislike paraphrase express a related feeling perhaps without knowing why.

    You write a good book review, you’ve interested me into looking into the book.
    Are you reading it for a class?

    Rob
     
  5. Rippon

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    No , I am not reading it for a class . I communicate with one of the authors and though I don't know the original languages either -- the whole subject is fascinating to me . And besides , on another forum that I'm on it became a big object of discussion .

    I wasn't writing a review . I am just quoting things of interest to me ; and trusting others will benefit as well .
     
  6. Rippon

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    Chapter 2 by Kenneth Barker . It's called " Bible Translation Philosophies with Special Reference To The New International Version . "

    Now Dr. Barker is no slouch when it comes to this entire issue . But I will quote some things which he cites from other authors such as the man who wrote the previous chapter , Moises Silva .

    Silva wrote : Translators who view their work as pure renderings rather than interpretations only delude themselves ; indeed , if they could achieve some kind of noninterpretative rendering , their work would be completely useless . ( page 51 )

    Barker cites Ephraim Speiser , a biblical scholar : a faithful translation is by no means the same thing as a literal rendering . ( page 52 )

    He cites the towering Ron Youngblood on page 56 : Word-for-word translations typically demonstrate great respect for the source language ... but often pay only lip service to the requirements of the target language ...
    When translators of Scripture insist on reproducing every lexical and grammatical element in their English renderings , the results are often grotesque .

    He quotes a 1992 report from the canadian Reformed Churches on page 59 . ... it was frequently our experience that very often when our initial reaction to an NIV translation was negative , further study and investigation convinced us that the NIV translators had taken into account all the factors involved and had actually rendered the best possible translation of the three versions [ among the NKV and NASB ]. Barker says that when a passage was deemed as too interpretive , upon closer examination it was often discovered that the NIV had produced a text that was accurate yet idiomatic .

    [ March 07, 2006, 03:02 AM: Message edited by: Rippon ]
     
  7. jshurley04

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    The NIV as a more accurate translation? That will twist some tails. I would personally not agree with the things that the NIV has changed, however I would also acknowledge that I have not studied the NIV as I have the KJV, NKJV, and NLT.
     
  8. Rippon

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    Chapter 3 ; " The Limits Of Functional Equivalence In Bible translation -- And Other Limits ,Too " by D.A.Carson .

    He takes issue with Tony Payne who is an advocate of the ESV and a critic of the NIV/TNIV . Payne objects to the NIV English rendering of sarx . Carson says that " Different translators will judge this matter differently . But Payne's sweeping judgements on this point are linguistically indefensible . " ( page 74 )

    Carson objects when Payne says it is better to have something simple , as the NIV seems to think , even if it is not what the original text actually says . Carson states that that " is to displace reasoned discussion about translation principles by manipulative rhetoric . " ( page 76 )

    Carson : ... " it has become necessary to warn against the reactionary wing that demonizes functional equivalence with occasionally insightful rhetoric , but is more often linguistically uninformed , is rarely balanced , and is sometimes shrill . " ( 77,78 )

    Hebrews 2:6 in the TNIV -- What are mere mortals that you are mindful of them , human beings that you care for them ?

    On page 88 Carson defends the TNIV rendering against those who say it obscures a Messanic theme there . " Scanning my commentaries on Hebrews ( I have about 40 of them ) , over three-quarters of them do not think that ' son of man ' here functions as a messianic title but simply as a gentilic , as in Psalm 8 ... it is not a matter of theological orthodoxy ... it is difficult to find legitimate reasons for condemning the TNIV rendering in such absolutist terms . "

    On pages 92 and 93 Carson states : " At its best , functional equivalence , far from jeopardizing good translations , is essential for fidelity in translation -- fidelity in conveying not only meaning but also tone , emotional impact , naturalness/awkwardness , and much more ."

    On page 103 he relates : " It is the student of Greek and Hebrew who has a mechanical view of language who will have most difficulty grasping these elementary points and who in the name of fidelity will defend more 'direct' translations , even when the result is largely incomprehensible to the target readers and hearers . "

    [ March 08, 2006, 03:35 AM: Message edited by: Rippon ]
     
  9. Deacon

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    You may appriciate this quote more than I do being on the foreign field.

    "... the Greek term for “repent” means “to change the mind” offers little difficulty to the [English] reader.

    In many languages, however, “to change the mind” means merely “to change one’s opinion,” which is a far cry from the radical change envisaged by the original Greek term.

    It is necessary, therefore, to add that the meaning of “repent” in Kekchi, a language of Guatemala, is brought out by the phrase “it pains my heart”; in Baouli, of the Ivory Coast, “it hurts so much I want to quit” is the proper equivalent; in Northern Sotho, of South Africa, one must say “it becomes untwisted,” and in Tzeltal, of Mexico, the correct expression is “my heart returns because of my sin.”

    The idiom “to beat the breast” needs no explanation for English readers, but translators working in many of the languages of Africa need to be warned that this idiom, when literally translated, may mean “to congratulate oneself” (the equivalent to the English “pat oneself on the back”)...

    [R.G. Bratcher & E. A. Nida (1993, c1961). UBS Handbook on the Gospel of Mark.]

    A literal translation does have it's limits.
    Many of the biblical idioms have become incorporated into the English language and do not fit into other cultures with such ease.

    Rob
     
  10. Rippon

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    I thought I would take a break from the usual posting . Today I will quote J.B. Phillips and his thoughts on Interpretation .

    That is why I have been reluctant to accept the suggestion that my translation is " interpretation " ! If the word interpretation is used in a bad sense , that is , if it means that a work is tendentious , or that there has been a manipulation of the words of New Testament Scripture to fit some private point of view , then I would still strongly repudiate the charge ! But " interpretation " can also mean transmitting meaning from one language to another , and skilled interpreters in world affairs do not intentionally inject any meaning of their own . In this sense I gladly accept the word interpretation to describe my work . For , as I see it , the translator's function is to understand as fully and deeply as possible what the New Testament writers had to say and then , after a process of what might be called reflective digestion , to write it down in the language of the people today . And here I must say that it is essential for the interpreter to know the language of both parties . He may be a first-class scholar in New Testament Greek and know the significance of every traditional crux , and yet be abysmally ignorant of how his contemporaries outside his scholastic world are thinking and feeling .
     
  11. Rippon

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    Now back to The Challenge . Chapter 4 is by a good man by the name of Mark Strause : " Current Issues In The gender-Language Debate : A response To Vern Polythress And Wayne Grudem " . So hereafter you will know what P&G stand for .

    Because every language is different , when you gain one thing with a particular translation , you lose something else ... with reference to the present debate , by seeking to retain a masculine nuance you might lose ( or suppress ) an inclusive one . ( page 121 )

    ... the obscurity and consequent distortion of meaning that so often result from the wooden literness and linguistic naivete of the NASB and the NKJ ? ( 124 )

    P&g go so far as to admit that the whole book of romans may be better translated in the NIVI than the NIV . ( 125 )

    ... language always involves a measure of ambiguity and imprecision and every Bible version makes difficult interpretive decisions . ( also p.125 )

    P&G have the tail ( the pronoun ) wagging the dog 9 the antecedent ) . In beginning Greek we teach our students that a pronoun replaces a noun ( its antecedent ) and gets its meaning from that noun -- not vice-versa ! ( 128 )

    Grudem is here [ from a Grudem article ] applying an English ( biological ) gender system to Greek grammatical gender . ( 129 )

    English categories related to sex are being artificially imposed onto a very different Greek gender system . Grudem cannot imagine a greek speaker using autos without envisioning a male . But this is because grudem is thinking in English rather than in Greek ... To argue , as P&G do , that " he " is the correct translation while other renderings 9 such as plurals for singulars , second person for third , singular " they " for singular " he ," or passive constructions ) are distortions of the text is simplistic and naive . ( 130 )

    Gender systems around the world differ dramatically , making it impossible to reproduce the formal gender distinctions of Hebrew and Greek . ( 132 )

    The claim of political correctness can cut both ways ... I know of professors at conservative institutions who would endorse the TNIV if it weren't for the fear of losing their teaching postions ... But nothing I read in World magazine and other popular sources reflected anything but level 1 naivete : major confusion of form and meaning provoked by an ideologically motivated suspicion of feminism .

    [ March 10, 2006, 12:06 AM: Message edited by: Rippon ]
     
  12. DeclareHim

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    Thanks for sharing Rippon definetely sounds like a good book.
     
  13. Rippon

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    You are welcome DeclareHim .

    Chapter 5 is called " Translation As A Communal Task " . It was written by Herbert M. Wolf , now deceased . He deals with the way that the NIV, and now the TNIV , have improved the manner of communicating God's truth .The quotes will be few .

    On page 149 he discusses literary artistry . " Rhetorical devices such as inclusio , chiasm , symmetry , repetition , and refrains have been identified and utilized with good effect . "

    On page 150 he says that the book of Psalms " contains more examples of rhetorical flourishes than any other part of Scripture . " And that the book of Esther is " a literary masterpiece . Repetition and irony are highly developed as the story unfolds ... "

    On page 154 he gives specific examples which I can not take the time to develop , regarding the use of the word grace in the Bible . " When we hear the word 'grace ' today , we are so conditioned by Paul's use of grace in the New Testament that we fail to hear the broader nuance of ' favor . ' Grace has become a technical word almost limited to ' salvation by grace ' -- skewing the broader dimension of ' grace ' as ' favor ' . " The examples are interesting and points to KJV renderings which can be mistaken by modern readers in this area .
     
  14. Rippon

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    I'll skip to chapter 7 by Dick France .

    The " Wycliffe " translation is probably mostly not by Wycliffe himself , but the project was at the heart of his aim to restore the Bible's authority in the life of church and nation . It was based not on the original languages ( which were not available then in England ) but on the Latin Vulgate , which it translates so literally as tobe sometimes almost unintelligible to those who do not know Latin . A revised version , produced after Wycliffe's death , probably by his secretary John Purvey , shows more respect for English idiom ; the reviser's prologue states a remarkably modern-sounding aim : " to translate after the sentence and not only after the words ...; and if the letter may not be followed in the translating , let the sentence ever be whole and open [ plain ] . " ( page 180 )

    Thus , even the relatively conservative New International Version , regarded by some as veering toward literalism , while it lists as its first concern " the accuracy of the translatin and its fidelity to the thought of the biblical writers " ( notice " thought ," not words ) also affirms that " faithful communication of the meaning of the writers of the Bible demands frequent modifications in sentence structure and constant regard for the contextual meanings of words . " ( page 192 )

    But the Bble , or most of it , was not written in a special " holy " language . The Hebrew prophets spoke in vigorous contemporary idioms , and the New Testament writers used " market Greek . " A trnslation that will do justice to the intention of the original writers must put intelligibility before the maintenance of traditional language that no longer communicates effectively . ( page 193 )

    [ March 15, 2006, 01:13 AM: Message edited by: Rippon ]
     
  15. Plain Old Bill

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    There are all sorts of resources on the net to learn NT greek and OT hebrew for free in case anybody is interested.
    That does sound like a book worth reading thanks for sharing.
    Do any of these fellas talk about the ESV?
     
  16. Rippon

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    Hi Plain Old Bill . In chapter 3 , D.A.Carson discusses the ESV more than the other authors in the book . He really takes issue with the chief advocates of the same -- P&G . He feels they use some unfair criteria in aiming their guns at the TNIV . I am on Carson's side . But I also like the ESV . It really isn't that much different than the TNIV despite what some prominent ESV'ers have said . I have done a lot of comparisons with a number of versions . One handicap of the ESV is its awkward English . I mean this is the 21st century . Just to sound like the KJV is not that admirable of a goal . Even the NRSV produced about a dozen years before the release of the ESV is slightly more up-to-date in language . But the ESV is better on that score than the NASU and certainly the NKJ .
     
  17. Rippon

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    I really haven't been giving more than a glimpse into the substance of these chapters . But I will continue on . I will be skipping chapters now and then .

    Chapter 10 is by John Stek . It is called : " The New International Version : How It Came To Be . " It details the history of its development .

    On page 243 it mentions the NASB . " ...the supposed great strength of this version was in fact its major weakness . It was founded on unsound linguistic assumptions concerning how languages differ from each other in communicating meaning . And it resulted in an artificial English style that aggravated the very features that had rendered the ASV unattractive to most readers . "

    On page 258 Stek says regarding the RSV " ... it was produced by scholars who stood in the Charles Briggs higher-critical tradition of biblical scholarship rather than in the confessional tradition of Benjamin Warfield ( ' what Scripture says ' ). These two men are mentioned here because they epitomized the Liberalism-Fundamentalism conflict that raged in the mainline churches in America during the first three decades of the twentieth century , a conflict that cast a long shadow throughout that century . "
     
  18. Rippon

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    Moving on to chapter 14 by Steven M. Voth . " Justice And /Or Righteousness ; A Contextualized Analysis Of Sedeq In The KJV ( English ) And RVR ( Spanish ) "

    On page 326 Voth says : One cannot , of course , limit oneself to ' dictionary meanings ' of words ... it is necessary to look at the sum total of the contexts in which a given word is used in order to arrive at a more accurate meaning or meanings of a particular lexical unit .

    On page 328 ... there is no single meaning for the word sedeq . It is quite impossible to reduce the term to a linear , flat , one-dimensional meaning .

    Let me first underscore again that all translation is interpretation . For translation to take place , a given text must be understood . Understanding implies interpretation -- which means that translation choices indeed have a direct bearing on theology and " theologizing .
    " ( 339 )
     
  19. Rippon

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    Okay , this will be my last installment from this 18 chapter book . Chapter 15 is by Andreas J. Kostenberger ( he knows a thing or three ) . His chapter is : " Translating John's Gospel : Challenges And Opportunities " .

    First , on page 357 he discusses the adversive kai . " The NRSv , HCSB , and ESV get mixed reviews in the present spot check . One wonders if a commitment to a formal equivalence approach in translation has ... misled -- the translators of the NASB and NKJV to translate kai with ' and ' even when the conjunction demonstrably conveys an adversative force in the Johannine context . "

    On page 358 he charges Wayne Grudem with " sheer populism , reflecting naivete concerning the types of tradeoffs needing to be made in the ' inevitable and impossible task ' of (Bible)translation .

    At the end of the chapter ,on page 360 he summarizes his spotchecks re 13 passages . He compares 9 English translations and the TNIV gets 1st place , NIV and ISV tie for 2nd , and the NLT 3rd place .
     
  20. Forever settled in heaven

    Forever settled in heaven
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    yep, anytime u get Mk Strauss, Silva, Carson, Kostenberger, hey, u got quality stuff!

    always judge a bk by its cover!! :D
     
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