Theological Bias in Translation

Theological bias has a negative connotation as something to be avoided, and in general, I think it is. But I do not think it would be realistic to argue that Bible translation can be done without theological bias. It is not simply a matter of whether the translator has a theological agenda or not; there are passages in which all the choices of wording necessarily reflect theological positions. Furthermore, if we are going to be completely objective, even orthodoxy is a bias. That is, it is by definition an opinion that inclines or prejudices the translator toward a particular choice of wording when his choices all have theological implications.

Review of Bill Mounce’s Article Literal Translations and Paraphrases

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, 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.

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.


Our primary purpose is to give the Bible readers what God said by way of his human authors, not what a translator thinks God meant in its place.—Truth Matters! Our primary goal is to be accurate and faithful to the original text. The meaning of a word is the responsibility of the interpreter (i.e., reader), not the translator.—Translating Truth!

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