Review of Jason BeDuhn.  TRUTH IN TRANSLATION: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament

Theological bias exists in every Bible translation to some degree. In many cases, sad to say it is more than a translation tool but it has been done with a theological agenda. For example, when you translate John 8:58 "Before Abraham was I AM," you are going beyond the role of translator and dipping your toe into the world of the interpreter. There are other cases when translations have rendered highly theological charged verses correctly even though it went against their theology. It is not the goal of the translator to tweak the theological scales to strengthen the defense of a particular theological view regardless of that doctrinal position. Translate God's Word accurately and faithfully and if it strengthens the doctrinal view, fine, if not, fine.

Bible Translation Theory

It is not necessary for everyone to know translation theory to the point of a scholarly level, nor is it even necessary for pastors and teachers to know everything about translation theory. However, it is necessary for pastors, teachers, and churchgoers around the world at the beginning of the twenty-first century to know something about translation theory, for two reasons.

Can Our Bible Translations Be Trusted?

Even though there has been a serious decline in Christianity over the past 70 years, the Bible is still the bestselling book throughout the world. In fact, it seems that since 1960 there have been dozens of new translations over the years.

Function Vs. Form – a False Dichotomy

The reader needs and deserves to know what the passage actually says, even if it is difficult to understand. A contextual interpretation that ignores or deviates from the Original Language does not provide that, and since this kind of interpretation is a basic element of Dynamic Equivalent / Functional Equivalent translation, there is little or no “equivalency” to the OL in these passages at all. So on this score, the distinction between DE/FE translations and literal translations truly is a false dichotomy. The real distinction is between translations whose philosophies permit this kind of contextual interpretation in place of literal translation and translations that formally correspond to the OL as much as possible.

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