Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Anchoress + the Knox Bible

Reader Chad sent me an interesting link to Patheos and First Things blogger Elizabeth Scalia and her review of the Knox Bible.  It is definitely worth reading.  It was a reminder to me, at least, that there is a place for dynamic-equivalence translations.  As I refer back to Knox's On Englishing the Bible, it becomes very clear that Knox would have been a proponent of that style of translation.  I wonder what he would have thought about translations like the Jerusalem or New Jerusalem Bibles? Or how about the NLT?

At the end of her review Elizabeth mentions how she just opened to a particular verse of the Song of Songs in the Knox translation and:

Yes, I read it and I wept. Not in fear, not in despair, but in consolation at the reminder, rendered so beautifully by Knox, that the world has resided in the madness of sin and shadow since Eden, but we are never abandoned, and need never be afraid.

 It is always good to remember how powerful the Holy Scriptures can be, even in a non-formal translation.  Like I said, check it out.

6 comments:

Colleague said...

I am increasingly an advocate of dynamic translations as they are really a model and source of Christian targumim.

Biblical Catholic said...

I am strongly opposed to the dynamic equivalent school of translation. I had a long comment explaining why written, but then the stupid Macbook touchpad made me lose it, so I'm not going to re-write the whole thing...

I will just say that, I have done translation work in the past myself, in 2005-2007 I translated an entire textbook in Algebraic Geometry from French into English...and if I had used the same principles as some of these 'dynamic equivalent' translations I would have failed my French class. If you aren't at least attempting to preserve the original words as much as possible, you aren't translating, you're just paraphrasing.

CJA Mayo said...

If the touchpad made you delete it, isn't it possible to Control + X (or Command + Z or whatever it is in Macintosh) to get it back? Yet another reason to switch to Windows, or at least to FOSS Linux, and not that...thing...called OS X.

I agree, with the caveat, "I am most strongly opposed to...", and that all translation is paraphrase, but that it should be the intention of the translator to keep paraphrase to a minimum.

Biblical Catholic said...

I use Windows, Mac and Linux.....depending on what computer I am using...

Biblical Catholic said...

Anyway, Knox puts it best in the first essay in 'On English the Bible' (even though I would say that I generally disagree with his entire philosophy) that what is in dispute is not so much the words, but how to put the words together into a coherent, and properly grammatical, English sentence, and that the goal should be to try to preserve as much of the original wording as possible.

I also strongly support keeping the same idioms as much as possible, if necessary add a footnote explaining the idiom. For example, I prefer the RSV's 'Adam knew his wife Eve' to the NABRE's 'Adam had intercourse with his wife Eve'.....yes, to 'know' or to 'lie with' means 'have intercourse with', but the original used a euphemism for a reason, the euphemism should be preserved in translation. Don't translate 'what the idiom means' just give the idiom, because there might be a reason why the Biblical author use that idiom which isn't immediately clear....

Anonymous said...

Is Biblical Catholic saying that an idiom is the same thing as a euphemism?

Surely what is needed for idioms, whenever possible, is the use of a comparable English idiom. But often that will not be possible, so compromise is necessary. In some cases that means an overly literal translation; in other cases it means simply translating the underlying meaning of the idiom into plain English. You lose something either way, so I don't see any reason to insist that only one method is correct.

Having said that, when literal translations of idioms have become hallowed by time, I'm inclined to say, leave them be. But I'm not dogmatic about it and I welcome new efforts to translate these terms.

But what I hate most is any translation that reduces the Bible, in tone and style, to something comparable to USA Today. And too many do.