Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Your Thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Somewhat banal to say "very interesting and enlightening " but it was actually both.
Just shows how an ignoramus like me can mouth off about this and that translation without having a clue about what I m talking about !
Lord, forgive me and help me keep my uniformed thoughts to myself.
Peace to all.

Jason Engel said...

I can think of various online forums where this video should be required viewing before participating in any debates about translation.

CarlHernz said...

This video is a great example of what I call the "scales-fallen-from-the-eyes" effect many single-language speakers go through when they learn (and are forced) to speak a new language for the first time. I had a missionary friend who went through the same thing when he learned that Spanish was never a word-for-word translation process upon being sent from Iowa to Central America.

While the video does not explain this, the reason for what this particular missionary experienced is the "fable" of formal equivalence vs. dynamic equivalence translation. As anyone who translates a living language for a living can testify, you never, ever translate a language choosing one manner or another. It is always a combination. The other model of formal or dynamic-only is impossible, would cause you to fail as a translator, and basically get you fired. This is why Bible versions actually consist of both techniques, despite the claims of the translators or their goals.

Another thing that happens is that translation committees often try to force their translation into a formal or dynamic mold which often results in peculiar or even dishonest renderings. While these people are scholars, many of them are neither native to the tongues or culturally associated with these languages. Some might claim that they don't need to live in the Holy Land to translate Hebrew, but would you trust the work of a Spanish teacher who had never been to Spain or Mexico? Bibles can sometimes beprime examples of academics being separated from reality.

Thus the lack of real-time experience with the culture, the people, the speakers and their descendents alive today translates to us when we debate the Bible using their arguments and things we have learned from listening to them.

It isn't that today's translators aren't worth trusting in, it's that we need to approach their work with the same critical thinking they ask us to apply to the Scriptures. As you can see in this video, such critical analysis of actual translations is limited if not non-existent.

rolf said...

Jason I agree, both Catholic and Protestant!

Anonymous said...

I've read quite a bit about translation and the video is a good overview of the issues involved. As he rightly points out, English speakers have an embarrassingly rich variety of resources for study. I use most major translations. Sometimes a rendering can be particularly rich and elegant in some of the more obscure translations. For example, the Recovery Version rendering of John 1:14 is "And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us (and we beheld His glory, glory as the only Begotten from the Father), full of grace and reality." A beautiful and resonant rendering in my opinion.

The unfortunate corollary topic is the scripture in Babylon. Translations are copyrightable, and can be enormously lucrative, and the profit motive has encouraged a multitude of translations that can provide doctrinal axe grinding and royalties, leading to an unfortunate number of translations that are, in my opinion, best left by the wayside. (At least one major evangelical translation is so far afield, I shudder to think people use it.)

As a general rule, I prefer the RSV/NRSV as a "base" to work from but am open to using a wide variety of translation resources. For example, reading The Unvarnished New Testament can bring a unique, fresh reading experience while time with the Septuigant (sp?) can open connections blurred when the major translations moved to the Masoretic texts.

While I appreciate the available resources, I cannot help but mourn a bit for lack of a common Bible.


citizen DAK said...

Excelente :)

His examples of rendering "love", so it wouldn't become nonsensical, are especially revealing.

A link to his book mentioned in the video:
"One Bible, Many Versions" by Dave Brunn

Javier said...

"'s that we need to approach their work with the same critical thinking they ask us to apply to the Scriptures".
I loved it, Carl.

CarlHernz said...

Royalties aside: Copyright laws do not create a marketable product. They prevent the marketing of intellectual property unless the owner of the property allows it.

Intellectual property only exists in a country or territory that recognizes that ownership of intellectual property exists. These laws are generally enforced not by the creator of the intellectual property but by the lawful authority.

Bibles created in the United States fall under copyright law not because religious groups wish to make money off them but because the federal government enforces laws against piracy. When anything the federal government considers intellectual property comes into existence, even if the creator of such property is unaware of the law, the right to copy the property is protected and governed by federal law. Property does not have to be marketed for commercial purposes to be considered property and it is theft regardless if the property is marketed or not. This type of theft is defined as piracy in the U.S. A person who breaks copyright laws faces federal penalties even if the copyright owner does not press charges.

So Bibles are not copyrighted in order to create a commercial property. Copyright law gives the owner the right to govern whether their property can be copied or not. This is why it is called "copyright" and not "market right." Creating intellectual property only grants the right to commercial advantage to the owner but does not make the property commercial. The reason Bible publishers usually produce usage rules is so that the federal government does not persecute those who quote from Bibles for piracy (which they could do if the right to copy text was not spelled out). Bibles can be copyrighted and given away for free if the owner wishes, and avoiding adding an official copyright does not keep the federal government from recognizing the Bible as intellectual property protected from copy by law.

Gerald de Belen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gerald de Belen said...

Perhaps the NRSV maxim rightly applies,
"As literal as possible, as free as necessary."

To me, this is the rule of thumb when it comes to translation in general.

Anonymous said...

A great clip. A great tool that supports the author's premise is: If you enter a single verse you can see the text in all translations on the site. Thus, for one of his examples regarding "kidneys" Psalm 139:13 you get: Not only can you see how the translators handled "kidney" but also how differently they handled "covered me" which is often translated as "knitted me" Lastly,you can see how an "old" translation doesn't match today's English. (a "rein" is a kidney in Elizabethan English and a means of controlling a horse in modern English). Bottom line to me is that "KJV only", "RSV only", "NABRE only" etc. does not enhance your Bible Study.

Dominic1752 said...

Hey...the NABRE is all that we need! If the NABRE was good enough for the Apostle Paul (The greatest American that ever lived) then it is good enough for me! ;)

Ed Rio said...

One thing for sure: I don't envy translators one bit, especially after watching the video.
Never did put much stock into the "word for word" claim. What little I know about other languages is that the sentence structure and rules can be very different. That translation method, if strictly adhered to, would make the Good Book unreadable.
I'm really enjoying The Jerusalem Bible study edition. It has a nice flow to it, the language is understandable, and the intros and notes are very helpful. Reading it, I know that God loves me, has given rules because it's what's best for me in the long run, and that I've got a long way to go. Oh, and that I'm not alone in all of the above. There probably are very few translations that that couldn't be said about.