Genesis 1:1 has long been translated as "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Is this the correct way to render it? How do we respond to those who would say otherwise? Is there only one correct way of translating the Bible, or are there multiple ways?
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.
An important necessity of good communication is that it be understood without difficulty. If the words that we use are not immediately understood by the one we are communicating with, it will be like they were attempting to carry on a conversation with a foreigner, in the foreigner’s language. All of this is vitally important if we intend to have effective communication.
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?
What is the fight for the truth worth if the person misrepresents (alters by adding to or removing from) God's Word (Revelation 22:18-19) when the textual reading or the translation does not favor the theological position of a textual scholar or the Bible translator/publisher or an interpreter or a Christian reader. Do we prefer outright lies in the translations? Would Jesus want that?
William D. Mounce is a scholar of New Testament Greek. He is the son of noted scholar Robert H. Mounce. He is the President of BiblicalTraining, a non-profit organization offering educational resources for discipleship in the local church. Bill is the founder and President of BiblicalTraining.org, serves on the Committee for Bible Translation (which is responsible for the NIV translation of the Bible), he was the chief translator for the English Standard Version (ESV) and has written the best-selling biblical Greek textbook, Basics of Biblical Greek, and many other Greek resources.
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 →