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Featured Do Bible Translators deliberately Mistranslate?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions & Translations' started by McCree79, Jan 15, 2018.

  1. McCree79

    McCree79 Well-Known Member
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    I thought this was a great Blog post by William Mounce.

    "I came across a blog post the other day that said the NIV translators deliberately mistranslate. While this is not my normal blog topic, I thought I would chime in. As I was the NT Chair of the ESV for ten years and am currently on the CBT, I have quite a lot of experience in translation committees.

    I can say quite honestly that I have never seen a translator "mistranslate" any verse in the Bible based on his or her beliefs. When a blogger uses words like "Deliberate Mistranslation," they are saying that translators “know” the verse means one thing, but that they choose to make it say something else. That simply is not true, at least not in my experience.

    As I read on the rather lengthy post, I quickly realized that the author had confused interpretation with deliberate mistranslation. Basically, it seems that wherever the blogger held a different interpretation of a verse, that the NIV had deliberately mistranslated. Apples and oranges.

    For example, the blogger said: “Ephesians 2:20–22 — The Greek says ‘you are being constructed into a habitation of God in spirit (en pneumati)’, but the NIV interprets this as ‘in the Spirit’ (i.e. the Holy Spirit) without textual warrant. [See BeDuhn, p. 151.] Throughout the epistles, the NIV shows a theological bias to translate ‘in spirit’ as “in the (Holy) Spirit” wherever possible.”

    One of the difficult points in translation is how to handle πνεῦμα. Since Greek was originally all capitals, the written form of the text simply does not give us a clue as to whether the author is speaking of "spirit" or "Spirit." You have to make a choice, and in this case they are mutually exclusive choices. But that is a far cry from saying it is a deliberate mistranslation.

    Or how about an example from a passage I am quite familiar with? The blogger wrote: “1 Timothy 3:2 — The RSV correctly reads ‘Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife.’ For some reason, the NIV has obscured the possibility of polygamy by changing it to ‘Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife.’”

    First of all, while Gene Getz makes a good case for the verse being a prohibition of polygamy (among other things), no translation or significant commentary takes this position. The Greek is notoriously obtuse. The prohibition is that the elder be "of one of woman man (μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα), or, "of one of wife husband." The text is far from clear as being a prohibition of polygamy. To make matters worst, the construction occurs nowhere else in Greek literature, so it is really difficult to know what it means. But "deliberate mistranslation? And I would add that a man who is "faithful" to his wife would, by definition, not be polygamous, so polygamy is certainly included within the now standard translation of the phrase.

    The only way you could show a deliberate mistranslation is to find a passage where there simply is no debate on the meaning of the passage, especially as reflected by the different translations, and then show the NIV taking an interpretive position that the Greek could not bear. But none of your examples fit in the blogger’s category.

    I enjoy debate. I enjoy the sharing of ideas, even if it means we don't agree. But I would never impugn a person’s motives since I couldn’t know them, and I would never accuse a person of deliberately mistranslating a text when all they are doing is the best they can in conveying the meaning of the Greek into English. Sure, there are going to be disagreements, but that is a far cry from intentional mistranslations.

    Let’s not mix apples and oranges."



    Sent from my SM-G935P using Tapatalk
     
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  2. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    There are instances where the translators choose one rendering over another based upon their understanding of the passage based upon the sources and taken into account genre/variants/context, so they had some differences, but not due to intentional bias!
     
  3. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    I don't think reputable Bible translators deliberately mistranslate -- as in we know this means X, but we will make it say Y (I'd wonder, though, about this being a possibility in something like the New World Translation by the Jehovah's Witnesses). No doubt, like any of us, a translator can be influenced by his or her presuppositions.

    As a matter of interest, Mounce appears to be replying to this blog post -- Deliberate Mistranslation in the New International Version (NIV).
     
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  4. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Though μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα may not appear in any Greek literature, I've thought that ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή appearing in the same letter to Timothy was similar enough to be helpful in interpreting (as in, probably unlikely he means polyandry in 1 Timothy 5:9).
     
  5. Jerome

    Jerome Well-Known Member
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    The preface of Beza and Calvin's Bible de Genève (1563) warned of such:

    gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k108678p/f9.item.r=testament.zoom

    "Satan a trouué autant de translateurs qu’il y a d’esprits legers & oultrecuidez qui manient les Escriptures..."

    "Satan has as many translators as there are frivolous and impudent minds that handle the Scriptures..."
     
  6. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    I don't believe legitimate translators deliberately mistranslate Scripture, but I do believe our translations are often a product of compromise (within a committee) and none are beyond the influence of held belief, opinion, and presupposition. This isn't a negative, just something I believe inherit in translation.
     
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  7. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    Which is why we will always have certain sections being translated that seems to support calvinism, and others translate same passage in a way that gives free will a legit rendering.
     
  8. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    It is not possible (imo) for anyone to approach serious work in translation without bias as seen in the KJV by the use of transliteration to facilitate already established common practice.

    In the political correctness, gender equality, other social aspects of the targeted audience, there must be in some manner the occasional selection of words, the order of placement, and the strength of definition that push the translation of that specific verse or even passage.

    This has long been troubling to me, and perhaps even that of the earliest translators who worked even from original languages making copies of letters and gospel accounts, when is it appropriate to not consider the life and times of the original writing when attempting to construct a faithful modern translation while keeping the current trends at bay.

    For example:
    A news headline might read, “Texas Rangers slaughter the Indians.”
    In modern terms it is about baseball.
    150 years ago, it would be about a massacre.
     
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  9. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    As Baptists, we have been taught that the word Baptism was transliterated from the word Baptizo.
    Apparently Baptizo only means immersion - wherein baptism can mean to immerse, sprinkle or pour.

    Was this transliteration a deliberate mistranslation in order to stay within Anglican Church doctrine?
     
  10. Jerome

    Jerome Well-Known Member
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    Huh? Just what exactly are you talk about?
     
  11. Jerome

    Jerome Well-Known Member
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    Huh? Isn't baptism used in virtually every English translation, including your Southern Baptist Convention's HCSB?
     
  12. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    Shhhh,

    Don’t let Jerome know.

    :)
     
  13. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    I offer the following considerations.

    1. It was not a transliteration on the part of the King James translators. "Baptism" had entered the English language long before this. If I'm reading Dictionary.com correctly, possibly 350 years earlier.
    (Wycliffe used it in his translation in 1382)

    2. It is not a mis-translation, even if it is not the translation preferred by some folks.

    3. It can be considered "deliberate" in the sense that it follows the rules prepared by Bishop Richard Bancroft: "The old ecclesiastical words to be kept..."

    4. If by "to stay within Anglican Church doctrine" you mean sprinkling or pouring, I'm not sure that it is an established fact that Anglicans were sprinkling or pouring as their preferred practice at this time (though I've often read people claim this was the reason). Consider from this Book of Common Prayer printed in 1605:
    (In fairness, there was a provision of pouring water on sickly babies.)
     
  14. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    I am reminded that (unless I have information wrong) King James went his whole life and never took a bath.

    So, could it be he was never immersed?
     
  15. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    It was a mistranslated by the Kjv team , as their church of England theology forced them to not adapt the way that it was used as Immersion, but to transliterate it over as Baptism.
     
  16. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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  17. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    What was Iconist doing there?
     
  18. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    Baptizing a baby. :Laugh
     
  19. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Yeshua1, this is misinformation we've been fed for years, as long as I can remember. It was not a transliteration on the part of the King James translators. "Baptism" had been in the English language for many years before 1611. It is not a mis-translation, even if it is not the translation preferred by some folks. The preferred practice of Anglicans around the time of hte translation was immersion (dipping), based on what the Book of Common Prayer said.

    See my post # 13 above for more details and some links.
     
  20. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    They still could and should have translated it as immersed though.
     
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