“Essentially Literal” Advocates

A fellow biblioblogger writes:

In his recent review of Leland Ryken’s new book, Tim Challies shows his lack of knowledge in how translation works. He says:

“ wants Christians to have before them a Bible that accurately conveys the words that God has spoken—not a paraphrase of those words, not an interpretation of them, but simply a translation that, as much as possible, takes the exact words of the original and carries them over to English. One would think that this would not be difficult to come by, but the modern history of English Bible translation shows few versions that adhere to this philosophy.”

Italics and bold text are mine. Listen to what Challies is saying—it shouldn’t be difficult? It is, in fact, impossible. No translation can live up to these standards. That just simply isn’t how words, and therefore translation, works.

Words live their lives in between modernism and postmodernism it seems. For example, you can’t say that a word means (A). Just given a simple word, it is, in a sense, meaningless without a referent. However, we can’t go full out deconstructionism and say that a word means whatever we want either. While a word has no one definition (A), it has a range of possible meanings (A) to n. As an example, take the english word “board.” What does it mean? A plank of wood? A group of people who supervise something? The side of a ship? A circuit board? What if I said I served on a board of directors? Or that a I stepped on the nail that was sticking out of a board? Here, we know what each use of the word “board” refers too, because we have a given context for each word. But notice that this is true of every word in the sentence; they each have a range of meaning that we derive from the context of the other words with their own ranges of meaning.

Read the rest here:

“Essentially Literal” Advocates Still Don’t Get It « KATAGRAPHAIS.

Just one comment from me – Not saying that people should not have preferences, or that one style works better for some than others – but it gets me that people claim that only one style of bible translation is the one true style, the style to rule all others. Seems like for once, I agree with Billy Graham.

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7 Replies to ““Essentially Literal” Advocates”

  1. but it gets me that people claim that only one style of bible translation is the one true style

    I think that there may be lots of successful English versions, but (1) translating is more than just creating an English version (as I describe briefly here); and (2) even if there are lots of successful English versions, I don’t think that means that every English version is successful.

    (Incidentally, I have my own take take on Dr. Ryken’s book.)

    1. I completely agree, of course, but add that because one style has been successful, doesn’t mean that the style is somehow proved to be inspired.

      1. Exactly. (By “successful” I meant “accurate,” not “best selling.”)

        There are lots of fine compilations of English words out there with the title “Bible” on the cover, but some of them are better categorized as “creative writing” than as “translation.”

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