Thursday, April 14, 2011

An Illogical Objection to a Version of the Bible

     Most of our English versions of the sacred scriptures were translated
from the Hebrew and Greek texts by people who are highly trained experts
in their respective disciplines. They not only know the intricate details of the
source  languages, but  they  know  the  target  languages  well, otherwise
the translation process would be impossible.

     Translators are not miraculously guided by the Holy Spirit in their work.
Therefore,  their  work  sometimes  reflects  the  imperfections  of  human
tradition,  thinking,  and  training.  This  is  why  translations  often  need
revision. There is not a perfect translation of the scriptures in existence.
But, this does not mean that a person cannot learn what God wants them
to do in order to be saved from sin. God's plan of salvation can be learned
by studying most English translations.

     There are a number of reasons why people choose particular translations
as their primary Bibles.  Some choose modified-literal translations because
they are close to the original texts in form. Most modified-literal Bibles are
not idiomatic in their approach to the translation process. Modified-literal
Bibles are good for study purposes, but they  are  not  good  for extended
periods of  reading. Most of them tend to be awkward in style, archaic in
phraseology, and cumbersome in sentence structure. The American 
Standard Version is a perfect example of each of the foregoing elements.
It is very faithful to the Hebrew and Greek form, but it is not good, idiomatic,
readable English in many places. Notice the ASV's rendering of Luke 9:17,
"And they ate, and were all filled: and there was taken up that which remained
over to them of broken pieces, twelve baskets." The ASV is nearly word for
word and true to the form (word order of the Greek text). But, it is not good
readable English. It is called biblish, that is, artificial translation English in a
form never spoken as a common dialect. The NIV 2011 translates the same
passage in this way, "They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked
up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over." Faithful to the text,
precise, and expressed in clear modern English.

     A fellow preacher objected to the NIV on the following basis, "It's
too easily understood. It doesn't sound like the Bible ought to sound.
Furthermore, a Bible like that will make my work as an expositor
unnecessary." His objection to the NIV is an illogical objection. It
makes no sense. God wants his word translated in a way that people
can understand it! According to the preacher, God's word should be
extremely difficult, archaic, and unnatural. (Eph. 3:3-4) He also fails to
understand that there will always be a place for the expositor of the word.
His role is to explain the text in harmony with the immediate and remote
contexts; to define key words; and to make application to his life and to
the lives of others.

     If one objects to the NIV and other translations, let it be on the basis
that they do not accurately convey the meaning of the original texts of
scripture. The Hebrew and Greek texts are the standard, not someone's
personal likes and dislikes.No matter whose they are, illogical objections
will remain illogical objections!

Copyright 2011