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Featured Books on Translation

Discussion in 'Bible Versions & Translations' started by John of Japan, Jun 22, 2022.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Back in 2020 I posted a thread with reviews of books about translation that I thought might be used for textbooks. Here it is: Textbooks on Translating

    Without going over that territory anew, I thought I'd do a thread on books about translation, Bible translation in particular. Feel free to post about your favorite (or otherwise) books on translation.

    I'll start out by listing the books by the famous Eugene Nida that I have. The book that is the most interesting to me is his autobiography of his ministry, Fascinated by Language (Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publ. Co., 2003). There are a ton of great stories in this book. Check this one out:

    "But one of the missionaries in northern Congo completely denied the existence of tones despite the fact that in a sample list of words he mispronounced fully 90% of them. Nevertheless, he argued that in preaching he no doubt used the tones correctly because the local people enjoyed so much listening to his sermons. Members of the congregation did enjoy the sermons enormously. After church services when the missionary spoke, many in the congregation huddled in the native quarters of the mission and howled in laughter at his many mistakes. In fact, this was the high point of the week's entertainment and some mistakes became prime examples of what not to say" (p. 13).
     
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  2. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    In preparation of downsizing my home in a year or two I’ve gone through my book collection and whittled it down to a favorite 700,
    I’ve given 12 boxes to my church and still have 4 boxes waiting their fate (I’ve even tossed quite a few in the trash - eeek).
    You can’t believe how hard it is to burn them…. I tried.

    I’ve kept a few that you’ve suggested over the years.
    I’ve even got the one you wrote! (and one by your son digitally).
    I’ve got quite a few others that have been reviewed over the years.

    And even as I try to get rid of my collection…. I order more (it’s an addiction)

    My only book by Eugene Nina is “God’s Word in Man’s Language” (1952).

    I’m eager to see what books are suggested.

    Rob
     
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  3. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    I know your feelings about this. When we moved back from Japan 8 years ago, we had to downsize, and I got rid of a lot of books. Occasionally I'll wonder, "Where is that book? Oh, yeah, garbage in Japan."

    I'm honored that you have my book. I hope it was a blessing.
     
  4. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Another biographical book about Nida (I'll get back to his own books) is Let the Words be Written, by Philip Stine, a close friend of Nida. It's not a complete biography, but an examination of Nida's ministry. It makes for fascinating reading!

    One cannot understand the modern world of Bible translation without understanding Nida. His theories are used and applied in Bible translation efforts all over the world. Furthermore, it is not a stretch to say that his early works inspired the creation of the scholarly secular discipline called translation studies. While very few secular translators use his theories, he did cause translators to think in a scholarly way, and produce theories they liked better than his.

    Well, folks, I just figured out that I did a thread on books about Bible translation back in 2019. You can see it here: Books on Bible Translation. So I'll try to keep this thread to books I've gotten since then, and secular books.

    Anyway, Stine's book is very clear that Nida followed existentialism/neo-orthodoxy. Stine wrote:
    "Nida drew on the existentialist philosophers, particularly Ludwig Wittgenstein, who held that the meaning of any word is a matter of what we do with our language. Knowing the meaning of a word can involve knowing to what objects (if any) it refers, recognizing whether the word is slang or figurative language, knowing what part of speech it is, and also being aware of its connotative values. Essentially, then, to oversimplify somewhat, the meaning of a word stems from its use. Functional equivalence as an approach to translation depends on this idea" (Philip Stine, Let the Words Be Written, 143-144).

    As a corollary to that, Nida opposed verbal inspiration, pointing out that verbal inspiration often leads to a literal method. Stine wrote, "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" (p. 59).

    All in all, though, this is a fascinating book, well written and full of great stories about Bible translating.
     
  5. JesusFan

    JesusFan Well-Known Member

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    How about the Bible in translation, by Bruce Metzger?
     
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  6. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Along this line, here is a thread I did years ago about the modern secular theories of translation: New Translation Theories

    If you study Nida and then these theories, you'll see that secular translators have gone beyond Nida.
     
  7. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    The Bible in Translation, by Bruce Metzger (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001. For books on the history of translation, Metzger can't be beat. This is definitely one to buy--well written, very informative, very scholarly.

    This is an excellent book on the history of translation in general, and the English Bible in particular. The first chapter is about ancient versions for the Jews, so the Septuagint and the Targums are explored. The second chapter is about ancient versions of the NT, and I'm pretty sure there are some in there you have never heard of, such as the Sogdian version, a Middle Iranian language! Then there is the Nubian version, an ancient country between Egypt and Ethiopia.

    The main portion of the book is about the history of English languages. (The ancient version section only goes to p. 51.) However, it is a survey rather than a complete history. Still, it is very informative about some rare versions, such as Taverner's Bible (1539), or Julia E. Smith's Bible (1876).
     
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  8. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Metzger's other book on the history of Bible translation is The Early Versions of the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977). At 460 pages, this is an awesome resource on the subject.

    In Part One, Metzger informs on the well-known ancient versions, such as the Peshitta and other Syriac versions, and the Old Latin along with the Vulgate. The major sections are the Syriac, Coptic,Armenian, Georgian, Ethiopic versions. Part Two is about the early Western versions: The Latin Versions, The Gothic Version, the Old Church Slavonic Version, and Minor Western Versions (Anglo-Saxon, Old High German).

    My favorite section is that on the Gothic Version. Ulphilas, the missionary translator, one of my favorite all time missionaries. He was definitely not a dynamic equivalence translator: "The Gothic Version of the Gospels is severely literal" (p. 382; the Gospels and some scraps are all that are extant)--kind of an ancient Young's Literal Translation. Yet, "Since the use of Ulfilas' version can be traced among the Goths of both countries [Spain & Italy], it must have been the vernacular Bible of a large portion of Europe" (p. 377).

    I love one story about Ulphilas, which is nevertheless not told by Metzger, in which the translator decided not to translate Kings and Chronicles, lest the warlike Goths learn to make war even better!
     
    #8 John of Japan, Jun 24, 2022
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2022
  9. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    I'd like to interject a couple of blessings here in the area of Bible translation, if nobody minds. First of all, the labor is done on our Lifeline Japanese NT after many years of translation, revision (with my dear friend Uncle Miya), editing and proofreading. It's not perfect (no surprise there ;)), and will be revised. However, it has been sent to the printer, and a few 1000 copies should be printed in the next few months. In the meantime, the team has started on the OT: Genesis, Psalms, Proverbs, Obadiah.

    The second blessing is that two of my students in our MA in Bible Translation (along with our linguistics prof and a young lady from a different school) are currently doing their internship, and have started work on a Bible translation for a people group that is terribly persecuted in their home country so that many have fled here to the US. There are many thousands of them in our area. I'm supervising the effort, but they are doing the work. The team is currently working on learning the language, and back-translating a verse a day from the language into Greek. They have also started a children's Bible club, and seen two children saved so far. Contrary to some other groups, we believe that a Bible translation team should be involved from the start in evangelism and discipleship.

    All of this is thrilling to an old translator and Greek teacher!
     
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  10. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Anthony Pym, Exploring Translation Theories (New York: Routledge, 2010).

    Routledge is the premier publisher of secular books on translation. This book is one of their best, in my humble but correct opinion (as my son likes to say). Pym is a brilliant scholar, "Director of postgraduate programs in Translation and Intercultural Studies at Rovira i Virgili University in Tarragona, Spain," according to the author's blurb on the back. I love his writing.

    This book will stretch you, but when you are done you should have a much better grasp of secular translation studies, and therefore of modern Bible translation theory. It discusses everything from the theories of linguists like Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf (and their theories), Noam Chomsky, and Ernst August Gutt, to translators such as Nida and Venuti.

    Along the way you'll find a good explanation of such things as what equivalence is and is not, what is wrong with Derrida's post-modern deconstructionism, and what theories such as Skopos and Polysystem are.
     
  11. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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  12. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    I have Brunn's book and have read it. I do thank 37818 for mentioning it.

    I respect the author for being a Bible translator for an unreached people group. I don't oppose the book--it's useful to a certain degree. However, the reader should know that Brunn is almost completely on the side of dynamic (functional) equivalence (DE). Having said that, a number of factual errors and errors of translation in his book make be think he doesn't really understand Nida's theory or some other aspects of translation. (He only quotes Nida's briefly; his name only occurs four times in the index.)

    1. He says that "the Bible does not give instructions on how to translate a written message from one language to another" (p. 20). Technically he is correct; however, the Bible does translate words or phrases many times, and always literally.

    2. He writes, "In response to the rise in popularity of dynamic equivalence translation, the antithetical term 'formal equivalence' was coined" (p. 40). He is dead wrong about this and should know better. Nida himself coined the term, and used it many times in his first explanation of his theory, Toward a Science of Translating (1964). In fact, in this book Nida has a whole section on formal equivalence (pp. 170-175).

    3. Brunn never deals with "reader response," a very important concept in DE.

    4. In Ch. 2, Brunn says about "form," "The form includes the letters words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and so on" (pp. 37-38). I suspect from this that Brunn never took Greek or Hebrew, because "paragraph" is never an issue when discussing the form of those languages. The original mss never had paragraph breaks in either language. Advocates of more literal methods therefore never discuss paragraph breaks, but put them where appropriate in the target language.

    4. In Ch. 2, "Form and Meaning," Brunn spends a lot of space in discussing idioms, and why they should not usually be translated literally. This is a standard ploy by DE advocates to supposedly prove why literal translation is a bad idea. However, every translator, literal or DE, knows what an idiom is and translates accordingly--by meaning rather than literally. (He cites "spill the beans" and "let the cat out of the bag" on p. 41, for example.)

    For the record, an idiom is “A set expression in which two or more words are syntactically related, but with a meaning like that of a single lexical unit: e.g. ‘spill the beans’ in Someone has spilled the beans about the bank raid, or ‘put one’s foot in it’ in Her husband can never make a speech without putting his foot in it.”
    P. H. Matthews, Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press: 2007), 183.

    5. On pp. 74 on, he discusses logos (λόγος) and its translation as if the many ways the word is used in Greek proves DE. Note that I said "used in Greek" rather than "translated." The truth is that its usage is very complicated, and anyone who knows Greek will admit that. So the fact that it is rendered with many different English words proves nothing except that it has a complicated lexical meaning.

    6. Surprisingly (to me, anyway), though he is ostensibly a linguist, he makes a basic error on grammar on p. 76, writing, "The most basic meaning of 'word' in English is the smallest grammatical unit that can stand alone." Well, a word is a lexical unit, but may or may not be a "grammatical unit." In an inflected language (one with infixes that change in grammatical form), this may be true, but if there are no infixes then the word is not a grammatical unit but just a lexical unit.

    7. Of all authors, he quotes Strong's concordance in discussing the lexical meaning of logos (p. 78). As a professional in the area of translating, he should know (but apparently does not) that Strong's is way out of date, due to papyri discoveries after its writing.

    8. On p. 113, he criticizes several more literal versions for supposedly omitting the phrase eis aphedrona (εἰς ἀφεδρῶνα, "into a latrine" in Matthew 15:17 & Mark 7:19), and simply saying "eliminated." What he did not realize is that "eliminated" is an appropriate equivalent in English: a medical term for "going #2" if you will. See this page: Definition of ELIMINATE

    9. Brunn actually takes the position on p. 128 that the coin taken out of the fish's mouth by Peter was "probably" a Hebrew sekel (shekel), not a Greek stater (στατήρ) as Matthew clearly puts it (Matthew 17:27). So he says, "When Matthew used the word stater here, he was employing dynamic equivalence, or meaning-based, translation principles." This is his most egregious error, because Matthew was not translating, he was writing inspired Scripture!! For the life of me, I can't understand Brunn's usage of this passage to make his point. He is simply speculating, and thus appears to be saying the Bible is not accurate here! The truth is, Israel was inundated at that point in history with Greek culture, and a Greek coin would have been useful anywhere.

    I could spend a lot more time on Brunn's book, but I'm sure you get the point by now.

    Afterthought: Brunn's education is not given in the author's blurb on the back of the book--very strange. A book like this almost always gives the author's education. There's nothing about it on his Amazon page, either. Google all I know how to do, I've not discovered his education. The Ethnos 360 (formerly New Tribes) has nothing either.
     
    #13 John of Japan, Jun 27, 2022 at 10:28 AM
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2022 at 10:59 AM
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  13. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    F. F. Bruce, History of the Bible in English. New York: Oxford, 1978.

    This one's a little long in the tooth (old!), but is a great book on the history of English translations. F. F. Bruce is a well-known scholar, and so this book is a great resource and an interesting read. Obviously, since it was published in 1978 it doesn't include the more recent versions. The original NIV is one of the last versions mentioned (but only briefly).

    Along the way the reader learns about some interesting but rare Bibles such as the Polychrome Bible (p. 170). This odd but interesting liberal effort was based on the documentary hypothesis, according to which the Torah was not written by Moses, but by four different authors. So this Bible has a different color for each supposed author. You may have read about this as the JEDP theory. Bruce rightly dismisses it: "But, apart from the merits or otherwise of that particular documentary hypothesis, it is not really part of a translator's business to incorporate source-critical theories into his work, especially when his version is intended for the general public."

    Another odd version is The Documents of the New Testament, by G. W. Wade (1934). This version is "arranged in what the translator believed to be their chronological order, with historical and critical introductions and notes" (p. 73). This foreshadows the Chronological Bible that you can buy nowadays, but is a very much expanded version (much like the Amplified Bible).

    Side note: the first genuine Chronological Bible was edited by Ed Reese in 1977. You may have some trouble wrapping your head around this, but at the time he was a professor at Hyles-Anderson College! He left there before too long, though, and later ended his career at Crown College in Tennessee. He also produced a series of short biographies of Christian leaders that were a blessing to read. Reese (1928-2015) was a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and a good man, whatever the later criticisms of Hyles-Anderson were.
     
    #14 John of Japan, Jun 28, 2022 at 8:49 AM
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2022 at 8:57 AM
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  14. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    The Translation Studies Reader, 2nd ed., ed. by Lawrence Venuti. New York: Routledge, 2004.

    This 502 page reader is chock full of interesting essays and articles about translation. There is Jerome's "Letter to Pammachius," an article by Schleiermacher the philosopher, something by Eugene Nida, an article by deconstructionist French philosopher Jacques Derrida, an essay on how to translate movie subtitles, and much, much more.
     
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  15. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    If you are ever going to be a translator in the secular world, a very needful book is The Translator's Handbook, by Morry Sofer. I have the 3rd edition (Rockville, MD: Schreiber Publ. Inc., 1999). This is a resource book, giving addresses of organizations, and information about how to be successful in translation work, accreditation, periodicals, dictionaries, etc. There is a also glossary of secular translation terms that I like. Caveat: a lot of this is not that helpful to the Bible translator, who works under a Bible Society or a mission board.

    If I were going to do secular translation work, I would buy the latest edition, which is the 8th rev. ed., copyright 2013. But for now, I have a bunch of other books I'd like to get. The school just approved a purchase for me of a new Greek textbook. (Nice to have someone to buy books for you. :Cool) Can't wait to get it! This one is by Bearing Precious Seed Global translation consultant Steve Combs, an interesting guy. The title is, The Translator's Greek Grammar of the Textus Receptus. Should be fun. :Geek
     
    #16 John of Japan, Jun 28, 2022 at 3:19 PM
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2022 at 3:26 PM
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  16. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member
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    Seriously, is the Koine Greek Grammar of the TR somehow different from that of the Byzantine or even the critical text, except for various solecisms that might appear in any of them?
     
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  17. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    I’ll pass on a secret.
    I use the search engine Microsoft BING
    If you use it daily they give you reward points that you can use for Amazon gift certificates… I get about $5 to $10 each month. Generally I let the gift cards add up and get a pricey book that otherwise I’d never purchase. Next on my wish list is Emanuel Tov’s Hebrew Textual Criticism (4th edition) due out in November.
    By that time I’ll get the cost down to around $15!
    It’s like having somebody buy books for you!

    Rob
     
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  18. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    I honestly cannot see why it would be. The TR, MT and CT are the same texts except for the variants. The CT having over all the most differences, it might.
     
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  19. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    I love it! :Thumbsup
     
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