Friday, July 1, 2011

Benefits of Idiomatic Translations

     Idiomatic translations are those that seek to convey the "meaning" of the words
in the Hebrew and Greek scriptures. They are sometimes called meaning based
translations. Notable examples of idiomatic translations are: the  Today's English
Version, New International Version, God's Word, New Living Translation,  
Today's New International Version, Holman Christian Standard Version,
and the New International Version 2011

     Idiomatic translations, like modified-literal ones, are useful in many ways but
I will only innumerate a few points that represent the whole.

     (1) Idiomatic translations are generally easier to read and comprehend than
the modified-literal ones. They use modern speech and tend to avoid the
awkward phrasing that sometimes characterizes the more literal versions.

     (2) Idiomatic translations often clarify ancient idioms for modern
readers. For example, the ASV, true to the form of the Hebrew text says
Yahweh gave the children of Israel "cleanness of teeth." (Amos 4:6) The
phrase is an idiom meaning, God has sent famine. The NIV 2011 interprets
it with the phrase "empty stomachs." An example of a N.T. idiom is the phrase
"the bosom of the Father." (Jno. 1:18) ASV. It means the closest intimacy,
fellowship, or relationship. The NIV 2011 explains the idiom to mean "closest

     (3) Idiomatic translations also serve as reasonably good commentaries
because they emphasize meaning. They sometimes explain words that would
be obscure to modern readers.

     (4) They also tend to avoid the use of archaic expressions, phrasing, and
word order that confuses the "average" reader.

     (5) They are generally easier to memorize because the translators ask,
"How do we say in English what we see in the Hebrew and Greek texts."


Copyright 2011

Some Benefits of Modified-Literal Translations

     In this post I would like to innumerate some benefits of modified-literal
translations  of  the  Bible. Examples  of  these  types of  translations are: the
King James Version, American Standard Version, New American 
Standard Version, New King James Version, and to a lesser extent
the Revised Standard Version and the New Revised Standard Version.
The most recent modified-literal translation of note is the English Standard 
Version. It stands between the Revised Standard and the New American 
Standard Versions in literal quality.

     There are several things about modified-literal translations that make them
very useful, but I will briefly discuss only a few points that are representative
of the whole.

     (1.) Modified-literal translations of the sacred scriptures are generally closer
in form to the original texts, and therefore make better study bibles. They
attempt to show the student what is going on in the Hebrew and Greek texts. 

     (2.) Modified-literal translations are generally built on the actual words of the
Hebrew and Greek texts. This is important to the person who believes the
words in the original texts were breathed out by God. ( 2 Tim. 3:16-17;
1 Cor. 2:10-13)

     (3.) Modified-literal translations do not take as many "liberties" with the text
as other  kinds of versions. As  a  result  they  allow  the  student to determine
what the text teaches based on the actual words that are used.

     (4.) Modified-literal translations are generally not as "wordy" as those that are
more idiomatic. They try to avoid supplying "unnecessary" words to the text.
They often attempt "word for word" equivalency, though such is not possible
one hundred percent of the time.

     (5.) Nothing replaces a knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, but not everyone
will or can learn the original languages of scripture. Therefore, the modified-
literal translations give the non linguist the best access to the form of the original.

Copyright 2011