UNTIL THE MIDDLE OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, all major English Bible translations were based on the premise that the goal of Bible translation is to take the reader as close as possible to the words that the biblical authors actually wrote.
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.
The Search for the Best Translation. It is a daunting task for the new Bible student to walk into a store for the purpose of purchasing a Bible. Immediately, he is met with shelves upon shelves of more than 150+ different English translation choices: NIV, TNIV, ESV, NASB, NRSV, CEV, CSB, NLT, and on and on.
One of the challenges you have in being a lone translator is remembering your lexical (word) choices. Any give Hebrew or Greek word has 2-10 different terms in the lexicon and many times 2-4 are very close synonyms with a little difference in the sense.
Each committee disagreed with other committees. Within each committee, each translator likely disagrees with other translators. This is evident from the differences in the translations. Where does this leave the Bible reader?
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.
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.
Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV) 11 Send out your bread on the waters, for in many days you will find it. 2 Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what disaster may happen on earth. (Heb. shalach) does not mean to throw out or scatter but to “send,” to... Continue Reading →
Dynamic equivalent (interpretive) translations are very much guilty of over translating the words of the original text, which might be better expressed as going beyond the words of the authors.
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.