Monday, September 14, 2009

More thoughts on translations?

Scot McKnight has been running a series on Translation Tribalism as it seems as if as we divide into our tribes we opt for the translation of that tribe (i.e. young reformed types and their use of the ESV). He stated something today that reminded me of my seminary days.

And another point: preachers and teachers, whether they like the formal or not, always explain the text in dynamic ways. All of this is connected to purpose of both translator and reader -- which I'll address in another post. (See here)
I remember in seminary where a lot of students and profs would read out of the New American Standard Bible (as did a lot of local preachers). Often, however, when they read a passage that seemed particularly wooden, they would explain it in more common, understood language that would almost always echo what the NIV had down. I valued the NASB at the time (especially when comparing my own translation), but I read and taught from the NIV because, to me, it was the most readable translation available.
I still feel that way and I really enjoyed the TNIV as well. Bill Mounce posted some thoughts on the the ESV and the TNIV and he did so in a way that defended his translation of choice (the one he worked on: ESV) but did not denigrate the TNIV.

Let me go on the record as saying I was disappointed to see the death of the TNIV. It was a magnificent and artfully crafted work that consistently held to its translation guidelines. And part of its beauty was that it was not colloquial. It has a beautiful style that transcends many subcultures and one that doesn’t mind ending a few sentences with prepositions. (See here)
I like and respect both of these men I they both write really good blogs (and commentaries as well!)


Doug Richey said...

It is agrivating when you encounter individuals who only see/recognize 'one' translation. They overlook so many important issues in adopting this perspective.

In terms of the practice of preachers, I think we overlook the distinction between translation and interpretation. I prefer a solid literal translation because it provides a text that is as close to the original that makes sense in english. As I work through the text with my people, I will make observations and provide explanations that may seem like I am using a text that was produced by the dynamic equivalence approach to translation (sometimes even a paraphrase). As this occurs, people using a good literal translation recognize the points where I diverge. Other times I will call particular attention to the 'explanation.' I think this, however, is the responsibility of preachers, teachers, commentators,etc... That is, they are to interpret the text of scripture. So when we come across a text that uses the masculine and the text indicates it ought to be taken as an inclusive pronoun, then I will say 'men and women, etc...'

Translators have a different responsibility. They are to produce a text that translates the original in a way that provides the reader with an intelligible text in his/her language. The reader ought to be confident that the translator has left as much interpretation to the reader as possible. He can't be confident of this when the translators begin to take more and more liberty in interpretation.

Obviously, even those translators that work according to word-for-word-literal approach have to make decisions that move into the land of interpretation. However, at least they're sensitive to this and try as much as possible to leave interpretation to the reader.

Thanks for your comments on this and take care.

billy v said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Doug.

north church said...

Was there a veiled shot at me in there Bill? I am offended!

billy v said...

Not at all, northchurch. Blame Scot McKnight, he made me think about it.