DIGGING DEEP – 2 (Bible Translations) by Abidan Paul Shah
Recap from last week:
- Translations are still the Word of God. They’re also inspired and inerrant to the extent that they represent the original text.
- Understand the difference between Wahy and Ilham (direct revelation vs. inspiration of the Holy Spirit)
- There is no perfect or ultimate English Bible translation or word-for-word translation.
- The best translation is the “modified literal.” “Modified” represents the real situation and “literal” represents the ideal goal. (Taken from Dave Brunn’s book One Bible, Many Versions: Are All Translations Created Equal?) I lean more towards the literal side of things.
How Translation Works:
2 Major Views of Translation:
- Formal Equivalent: It is also known as “literal” or “word-for-word” translation. It tries to preserve the form in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek writing. This is with regards to both word and grammar.
- Functional Equivalent: It is also known as “idiomatic” or “meaning-based” translation. Some have even called it dynamic. It tries to focus on the meaning, naturalness, and clarity.
The matter is more complicated than that. The following is a better Range of Translation, as taken from John Beekman and John Callow’s book, Translating the Word of God.)
A. Highly Literal – The focus is on both words and word orders. For e.g. Interlinears.
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Actual – Joshua 1:9 (BHS) הֲלֹ֤וא צִוִּיתִ֨יךָ֙ חֲזַ֣ק וֶאֱמָ֔ץ אַֽל־תַּעֲרֹ֖ץ וְאַל־תֵּחָ֑ת כִּ֤י עִמְּךָ֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ בְּכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר תֵּלֵֽךְ׃ פ
Literal Translation – ?·not I-instructed·you be-steadfast-you ! and·be-resolute-you ! must-not-be you-are-being-terrified and·must-not-be you-are-being-dismayed that with·you Yahweh· Elohim-of·you in·all which you-are-going
John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
Actual – ὅσοι δὲ ἔλαβον αὐτόν, ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τέκνα θεοῦ γενέσθαι, τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ,
Literal Translation – as many as but received him he gives to them right children of God to be becoming to the ones believing into the name of him.
B. Modified Literal Translation – It focuses on words and is willing to modify the word order to make sense. For e.g. NKJV, NASB, ESV
C. Idiomatic Translation – It focuses much more on sounding natural and clear. For e.g. NLT, God’s Word, etc.
Joshua 1:9 “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
John 1:12 “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.”
D. Unduly Free – It changes the wording and word order, historical setting, and original context to suit the present audience. For e.g. Cotton Patch Version
Important point to remember: No translation is strictly one or the other (except maybe the Unduly Free). They frequently overlap, some more than others.
Example: Job 19:27
Hebrew – “which I I-shall-perceive for·me and·eyes-of·me they-see and·not alien-one they-are-exhausted kidneys-of·me in·bosom-of·me.”
NKJV – “Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”
ESV – “Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!”
NIV – “I will see Him myself; my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger. My heart longs within me.”
NLT – “I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!”
MESSAGE – “see God myself, with my very own eyes. Oh, how I long for that day!”
KJV – “Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”