On Translation…

Timothy Ward offers an interesting note on translations. In his book Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God, he states

“To give an example what largely distinguishes the recent English Standard Version from the New International Version, and against which many have pitted it, is only the greater willingness of the ESV translators to sacrifice naturalness of expression in English, in order to follow as closely as possible the Greek sentence structure. It is certainly not a virtue in translation to be content only to translate the overall ‘thought,’ without striving to reflect as much as possible of the structure and vocabulary usage of the original. Yet neither ought a translation to be praised too highly  if it regularly turns Greek sentences, which would have sounded quite natural to a Greek-speaking audience, into stilted bits of English no native speaker of the language would ever utter, simply in order to reflect details in the original that may well not be meaning bearing in any sense, but are simply features of Greek linguistic style. There is, in other words, more than one kind of accuracy in translation, and every translation constantly has to make a choice about where to make sacrifices.” – p. 91, n. 50

A little long, but insightful.

Αυτω η δοξα,


3 thoughts on “On Translation…

  1. I guess I am not only one blogging late at night. That sounds like a good reason to appreciate both methods of translation. I have a primary translation that I use for reading, study and to teach from (TNIV), but I also use various translations when I study. I need to remember to include the NET bible more often, I always forget to reference it.

  2. Robert: I agree. I am not either/or when it comes to translations–I like to read bibles rendered according to both “literal” and “thought-for-thought” philosophies. I refer primarily to HCSB, NRSV, ESV, and NIV when studying; NLT for reading. And, I refer to the NET for study and reading.

    Stan: Ward’s book is full of quotable material. When I get the review finished, I will have several poignant thoughts from the book included.

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