DIGGING DEEP – 1 (Bible Translations) by Abidan Paul Shah
Total number of all the Bible translations in the world: Not Sure.
Old Testament: Samaritan Pentateuch, Aramaic Targums, and the Septuagint.
New Testament: Syriac, Coptic, Latin, Ethiopic, Gothic, Armenian, Georgian, Arabic, Slavonic, English, etc.
Total number of English Bible translations: According to one estimation, there are 900 and another as many as 1400. This includes translations as well as paraphrases, revisions, and partial translations.
Original Languages of the Bible: 98.5% of the OT was written in Hebrew. Parts of the OT were in Aramaic: Genesis 31:47; Jeremiah 10:11; Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; and Daniel 2:4b-7:28. Also, Jesus more than likely spoke Aramaic based on evidence of inscriptions, Aramaic words in the Gospels, Aramaic papyri evidence, etc. But, the New Testament was written in Koine Greek.
Translations are still the Word of God – translations are also inspired and inerrant to the extent they represent the original text. We believe that the original words are not isolated entities. They come together to make propositions. Hence, as long as the translations are true to the original text, they are just as much the Word of God as the original text.
Difference between the translations of the Quran and the translations of the Bible: In Islam, only the Arabic Quran is considered to be authoritative. This is the language in which it was given and the translations involve interpretation, which can be distorted. School kids are told to memorize the Quran in Arabic even in countries where Arabic is not the main language. Recitation of the Quran has to be in Arabic. Why is this? In Muslim theology there are 2 key words that are important to understand: wahy and ilham. Wahy is the pure revelation of God. It exists in heaven and everything else, including translations, is just interpretation or rendition. Ilham is God revealing his knowledge into the mind of the person. This is similar to the Biblical doctrine of inspiration. Under wahy, there is no such thing as the “original message” or “context” or the “true words” of the prophet Mohammed; the Quran is the word of God.
A good example to explain the difference between the Quran translations and the Bible translations: From Rodney Decker, “Verbal-Plenary Inspiration and Translation” – The International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Sévres, Paris, has the official International Prototype Kilogram. It is the standard against which all kilogram measures are established. But, my weight measures are still accurate.
2 Timothy 3 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Peter 1:21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
Major points to remember:
- There is no perfect or ultimate English Bible translation.
- There is no such thing as a word-for-word translation.
- There is no such thing as consistent formal equivalent translation.
- The best translation is the “modified literal.” “Modified” represents the real situation and “literal” represents the ideal goal. (Dave Brunn) In other words, “modified” acknowledges that the translators have to modify in order to reflect the best meaning. Literal is the goal of the translation.
- Translations carry the same authority as the original text, to the extent that they reflect the original text.
- Translations have to be constantly updated.
Couple of examples:
(Taken from Dave Brunn’s book – “One Bible, Many Versions: Are All Translations Created Equal?”)
Jeremiah 48:4 בְּנֵ֥י שָׁאֽוֹן׃ = sons of roar, crash, noise
NKJV – “Those who fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon because of exhaustion. But a fire shall come out of Heshbon, a flame from the midst of Sihon, and shall devour the brow of Moab, the crown of the head of the sons of tumult.”
HCSB – “Those who flee will stand exhausted in Heshbon’s shadow because fire has come out from Heshbon and a flame from within Sihon. It will devour Moab’s forehead and the skull of the noisemakers.”
NIV – “In the shadow of Heshbon the fugitives stand helpless, for a fire has gone out from Heshbon, a blaze from the midst of Sihon; it burns the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of the noisy boasters.”
NASB – “In the shadow of Heshbon the fugitives stand without strength; For a fire has gone forth from Heshbon and a flame from the midst of Sihon, and it has devoured the forehead of Moab and the scalps of the riotous revelers.”
Romans 3:20 σὰρξ = Flesh, physical body; human nature, earthly descent, human being, person, man, earthly life, etc.
NKJV – Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
ESV – For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since zthrough the law comes knowledge of sin.
HCSB – For no one will be justified in His sight by the works of the law, because the knowledge of sin comes through the law.
NLT – For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
Message – Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.
NET – For no one is declared righteous before him23 by the works of the law,24 for through the law comes25 the knowledge of sin.
NIV – Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
NASB – because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.