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Bible Translations

Bible Translations

Bible Translations

This from Fee and Stuart “Reading the Bible for all it’s worth” (p.34-35)

Original Language: The language that one is translating from; in our case, Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek

Receptor Language: The language that one is translating into; in our case, English

Historical distance: This has to do with the difference that exist between the original language and the receptor language, both in matters of words, grammar, and idiom, as well as in matters of culture and history.

Theory of translation: This has to do with the degree to which one is willing to go in order to bridge the gap between the two languages. For example, should lamp be translated “flashlight” or “torch” in cultures where these serve the purpose a lamp one did? Or should one translate it “lamp” and let the reader bridge the gap for himself or herself? Should holy kiss be translated “the handshake of Christian love” in cultures where kissing is offensive?


Definition of Fee and Stuart's terms combined with C. Michael Patton (Parchment and Pen blog site)

* Formal Equivalence: Translations that seek to translate word for word (although this is really impossible). Examples: NAS, KJV, ASV, ESV. Less readable, but better for study in contemporary languages. Why? Because they will usually attempt to make fewer interpretive decisions on any text that can be understood in many ways. This allows the reader to struggle through the options.
Literal The attempt to translate by keeping as close as possible to the exact words and phrasing in the original language, yet still make sense of the receptor language. A literal translation will keep the historical distance intact at all points.

* Dynamic Equivalence: Translations that seek to translate thought for thought. Examples: NIV, TNIV, NRSV, etc. Not quite as good for deep study, but usually better for reading and memorization. Dynamic equivalence translations make good pulpit or teaching Bibles.
Dynamic Equivalent The attempt to translate words, idioms, and grammatical constructions of the original language into precise equivalents in the receptor language. Such a translation keeps historical distance on all historical and most factual matters, but "updates" matters of language, grammar and style.

Free The attempt to translate the ideas from one language to another, with less concern about using the exact words of the original. A free translation tries to eliminate as much of the historical distance as possible.

* Paraphrase: Translations that seek to use common language and idioms to get the basic point across in a very readable way. Examples: Message, Philip’s Translation, NLT, GNB, etc. While paraphrases are not good for study or memorization, they are very readable and cause you to read the text differently than you normally would. In this respect, they have great value.