DIGGING DEEP – 3 (Bible Translations) by Abidan Paul Shah
Recap from last week:
- 2 Major views of Translation: Formal Equivalent (literal/word-for-word); Functional Equivalent (idiomatic/meaning-based/dynamic)
- Range of translation: Highly Literal, Modified Literal, Idiomatic, and Unduly Free
- No translation is strictly one or the other (except maybe the Unduly Free). They frequently overlap, some more than others.
Difference between FORM and MEANING (From Dave Brunn’s book One Bible, Many Versions):
- FORM includes letters, words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, etc.
- MEANING includes concepts or thoughts from the forms
“For genuine translation to take place, 2 things must happen: The meaning must remain the same, and the form must change (at least to some degree). If either of these two things does not happen, we have not translated.” (Brunn)
How to translate words?
- “Words” are important. They are the building block of any language, the starting point of form.
- “Full meaning of most words does not transfer directly between two languages. Meaning should be viewed as an area and not a precise point.” (Brunn)
- Usually, there is only a partial overlap of meanings between corresponding words between two languages.
- A Greek word has a range of meanings and the most appropriate has to be picked in translation.
- Many times translations are not as accurate or consistent as they should’ve been.
Case in point: Logos (Taken from Dave Brunn’s book One Bible, Many Versions)
- Logos has more meanings than just “word”
John 1:1 (NKJV) “In the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God, and the logos was God.”
Acts 1:1 (NKJV) “The former logos I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach.”
Romans 14:12 (NKJV) “So then each of us shall give logos of himself to God.”
1 Corinthians 1:18 (NKJV) “For the logos of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
1 Corinthians 2:1 (NKJV) “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of logos or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.”
1 Corinthians 2:4 (NKJV) “And my logos and my preaching were not with persuasive logos of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”
Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV) “Let no corrupt logos proceed out of your mouth…”
1 Timothy 1:15 (NKJV) “This is a faithful logos and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV) “…always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a logos for the hope that is in you…”
Acts 20:24 (NKJV) “But of no logos; nor do I count my life dear to myself…”
Matthew 5:32 (NKJV) “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for the logos of sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery…”
- Logos is more than just a “single” word
Galatians 5:14 (NKJV) For all the law is fulfilled in one logos, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Check the interesting rendering here by NASB)
John 19:7-8 (NKJV) The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.” Therefore, when Pilate heard that logos, he was the more afraid.”
- Guidelines for best translation of logos:
- Literal translations use “word” most of the time for logos since it is the one that corresponds the most.
- Idiomatic translations use the meaning that fits the context the most.
How about Revelation 22 18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
– Check Matthew 25:19; I Corinthians 15:2; Philippians 4:15; and Hebrews 4:13 (Logos is missing in the KJV translation because the translators were going for meaning rather than form.)