Theological Basis for Translation Method?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by John of Japan, May 24, 2016.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Do you think a theological basis for a particular translation method can be determined? If so, what is that basis? Why should I translate word-for-word or with a free method or with dynamic equivalence or something in between?
     
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  2. Yeshua1

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    A lot of that would depend on just how the person viewed the scriptures in general, for if one held to infallibility/inerrancy of the Bible, then would be hard pressed to be really into making a DE version, as evry word would be assumed to be placed in the original texts by the Lord Himself, and so should seek to have the closest to that wording as possible...
     
  3. TCassidy

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    John, I prefer a literal, verbal and formal equivalence type translation. (Verbal = word for word where possible and Formal = the word form - IE verb, adverb, noun, pronoun, singular, plural, tense, etc - whenever possible.)

    Of course, all translation is, by definition, interpretation, but as I believe in verbal as well as plenary inspiration I think it is important to maintain the verbal/formal character of the original when possible.

    Also, of course there are some things, especially idioms, that do no translate well and in those few cases some degree of dynamic equivalency is necessary to avoid the translation being unintelligible. (See "God forbid" in the KJV for example.)

    So, yes, I think a person's position on inspiration will have an effect on their philosophy of translation. A primarily dynamic equivalent translation will be preferred by those who believe only in the Dynamic or Conceptual Theory of inspiration, IE conceptual (the idea, or thought, or concept is inspired) rather than verbal (the very words are inspired).

    Those who hold to a verbal, plenary inspiration position will prefer the former.
     
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  4. John of Japan

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    But one should take a position on inerrancy based on his theology, should he not? If so, then does that not give him a basis for a method of Bible translation? I think you are saying that in your post when you say that "every word would be assumed to be placed in the original texts by the Lord Himself." That statement seems to present a theology of verbal inspiration. Is that your position?
     
  5. John of Japan

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    As I think this through here is the difficulty: translating every word of the original is certainly possible to a large degree, except except the target language doesn't have a form the original language has, such as the Greek article. Many Asian or tribal languages do not have an article. However, translating the grammatical forms becomes problematic if the target language doesn't have the same form. So I'm sure you'll agree that compromises in the area of grammar are often necessary.
    I certainly agree.
    To me, translating idioms is a separate problem from a general translation method. Advocates of both literal and DE methods describe how to do it in a similar way, when they actually deal with the problem of idioms in their writings (which is seldom).

    About the problem, that is a case where an idiom was used to translate a non-idiom, Μὴ γένοιτο, "may it not be," as you know. It has often puzzled me that the KJV translators did it in that seeming unnecessary way. At any rate, this is a rendering that I don't consider to be DE per se, but a regular free rendering.

    “Free translation is usually taken to concentrate on conveying the meaning of the ST disregarding the formal or structural aspects of the ST” (Key Terms in Translation Studies, by Giuseppe Palumbo, 2009, 49).

    I agree in general. But then what do we make of theological conservatives who defend DE such as D. A. Carson or even the GARBC Greek scholar Rod Decker (RIP)?

    By the way, are you familiar with the Bible Faculty Summit? Check it out: http://biblefacultysummit.org/. It will be at Maranatha this year. I think you would enjoy it and perhaps see some old friends and make new ones. My son and I are both planning to present papers.
     
  6. John of Japan

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  7. Greektim

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    You can actually hold the exact opposite with infallibility/inerrancy of the Bible. Or to say it another way, neither infallibility nor inerrancy demand a formal equivalent translation. If your reasoning was to be carried through, that of "seek[ing] to have the closest to that working as possible", then you must use the same amount of words in the same word order and everything. But you could argue just as vehemently that the meaning that is tied in the nuance of the words and idioms and syntax and word order and etc. is far more important than a translation trying to represent the base text down to the minutiae that you seem to desire.

    And if we use the NT as an example of how it translates the OT, you have a variety. You have some formal equivalence, some functional/dynamic, and even some paraphrasing. I think that trumps all of the discussion. How did the NT authors translate?
     
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  8. TCassidy

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    Absolutely. Literal where literal will work, and whatever compromise is necessary to intelligible translation where required.

    I have heard it described both ways. If we look back at earlier English translations we find the term "God forbid" is used in most of them. I remember reading in a book that was left behind with the rest of my theological library when I moved to Texas (Translating for King James edited from the notes hand written by John Bois by Ward Allen maybe?) that the term "may it never be" lacked the force of "God forbid!" A commentator said that in early 17th century English the difference was similar to "no" verses "ABSOLUTELY NOT!" :)
    I love Don Carson dearly, but occasionally disagree with him. :) (My uncle, Ken Kantzer, was Dean of Faculty at Trinity when Don Carson was hired for TEDS' faculty.)

    Thanks for the link. My schedule is pretty full this summer but I will see what I can work out. It would be great to meet you face to face. Maybe we can convince Dr. Bob to come too. :)
     
  9. Yeshua1

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    Yes, that the Holy Spirit inspired each author of the bible in the originals down to the very words chosen by him to use...

    I do NOT hold that he dictated through them, but that he allowed them to record down and write it as they perceived it being, but also that He made sure everything put down was perfect accord with what God desired it to be...
     
  10. Yeshua1

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    Think that the Apostles were 'alloweds" to use some discernment in just how to read the NT theology back into the old, as the Holy spirit for example connected jesus to being called out of Egypt just as isreal was in the wilderness, but we would abd cannot claim to be able to translate and read into it the same way that they were able to, as that was under inspiration from/of God Himself!

    And my position is to translate wherever possible as close to word for word as possible, but also to allow for at times more dynamic renderings in order to make say a common saying of the times apply to us today...
     
  11. TCassidy

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    I don't think anyone on this forum is advocating that position, are they? And that's certainly not what Yeshua1 is advocating, if I understand him correctly.

    But do we know that? Are NT references to OT scriptures translations of the Hebrew text into Greek or a quotation of the Greek translation(s) of the OT (and I realize that only moves the discussion back a century or so but there is a point to be made, stay with me).

    And if the NT was quoting from the LXX (one of several Greek translations of the OT) which Hebrew text underlies the Greek OT translation? If we look at the most commonly used Greek translation of the OT at that time we see that the Greek OT more closely follows the Vorlage text than any Masoretic text we presently have. :)
     
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  12. John of Japan

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    Let me run this thought by you, then. Just recently I was noticing some differences how the Bible translates itself. Siloam ("outflow) translated "sent" in John 9:7 and Abbadon (Hebrew for destruction) in Rev. 9:7 is translated by Appolyon, meaning "Destroyer." All of the other words translated for us directly in the NT are literal, but these two seem a little free. So maybe that's were we can find exegetical basis for adapting the grammar in the target language when needed.
    Good history lesson. Thanks!

    My objections to calling "God forbid" a DE translation are: (1) DE did not exist as a translation method until the 1960s, and (2) the goal of DE is reader response, and I don't think the KJV translators were aiming at response, but rather impact.
    Very cool. His Exegetical Fallacies was a great help to me.

    I hope you can make it. Dr. Bob would enjoy it too, him being a fellow Maranatha grad, right? :cool:
     
  13. banana

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    I always wondered why the English bibles don't use the LXX more.
     
  14. TCassidy

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    Good point!
    Yes, calling it DE would be an anachronistic use of the term, which Dr. Carson would chastise us for. :D

    You know Dr. Bob want liberal, don't you? He no longer wears his bow ties! :D :D :D
     
  15. John of Japan

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    Very few English translations have used the LXX for their OT source text, though I know of a Japanese one by Catholics and liberal Protestants that did. The thing is, for centuries there have been many English speakers who could translate from Hebrew, so why do a double translation, source language to language to target language? Double translations always decrease accuracy.

    Having said that, there are cases on mission fields where the missionary may not know the original languages and the nationals do, so the translation is done from an English version because there is no other way to get the Word of God into that language.
     
  16. John of Japan

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    Well, he chastises us for a bunch of other stuff, so....

    Gasp! God forbid! Eek
     
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  17. Greektim

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    This is a separate issue of interpretation, but let's just say I disagree. Not only do we see the apostles read the OT christologically, and not onlyd do we have the same Spirit in us, we also see the early church do the same as well. Thus Acts 15 is not just Luke theologizing from Amos but recording what and how the early church exegeted the OT. So I follow that standard. And Jesus pretty much tells us to read the OT that way anyhow.

    This is for TCass as well.

    I took your view to an absurdity that I know you don't hold. But then what is your plumb line? It seems arbitrary. Who is to say what is "wherever possible" and "word for word as possible"? And that is my point. I find the emphasis on the text is its meaning and message NOT the text itself. Therefore, there is no theological guideline to sustain a "word for word as possible" standard.
     
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  18. John of Japan

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    That hardly seems fair.Cautious

    This is why defining terms is so important in this discussion. Your definition of word-for-word may be different from Yeshua1's, and both may be different from mine. So, what do you mean by "word for word"?
    Does this mean you see no connection between a theological stance of verbal inspiration and any translation method? Eugene Nida thought there was. His defender, Philip Stine, wrote:

    "Nida's approach...appeared to challenge the view of Scripture that many translators from conservative theological backgrounds had always held (and many Bible translators came from such backgrounds). Most Bible translators and church leaders would affirm that in some way God provides the ultimate source of the Bible. But many also hold a view of how the Bible expresses that divine source, a view that connects the divine source with actual words and forms. They see God directing in some way the writing and canonization process. For translators who believe that not only were the thoughts of the Bible inspired by God through the Holy Spirit, but also the words themselves, a translation approach such as Nida's contradicts their theology because it puts a premium on the message rather than the form" (Let the Words be Written. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2004, p. 59).

    Again from Stine: "In the translation studies perspective of Bassnett and Lefevere, the Jerome model rests on a particular conviction about the nature of the Bible itself. This conviction, also held by many later translators, asserted that God had inspired the words, idioms, and grammar of Scriptures, so translators should retain these words, idioms and grammar to the maximum degree possible" (p. 159).
     
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  19. Greektim

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    The absurdity was just to make a point. I also agree that terms need to be defined. But the definition is the heart of the matter, isn't it? I guess when it comes down to it, I see value in both formal and functional equivalent translations. I see the never-ending debate on this topic, especially from a theological point of view, to be unnecessary and fruitless.
     
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  20. Rippon

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    I have told you several times that though it wasn't called that in the distant past the practice was indeed employed in Bible translation centuries ago. Martin Luther, among others, used it.
    A distinction wthout a difference.
     

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