Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Perfect Translation of the English Bible

     Many people are so wedded to the awkward and archaic language of the King
James Version of the Bible, that any deviation from it is considered treason. The King
James Version is "good," but it is not perfect. There are words in the KJV that have
changed their meaning since it was published  more  than  400 years ago. There  are
words  and  phrases  that  are  not  correctly translated in the KJV, and there is a
definite Calvinistic influence in certain passages. Nevertheless, many people believe
the KJV is a perfect translation. The fact is, there is no perfect translation of the
scriptures. Translators are not supernaturally guided by the Holy Spirit in their work.
They do their work based on their academic training and theological presuppositions.
To some extent, all translations reflect the training and theology of the translators. This
is unavoidable because all translation involves interpretation. Translators must determine
what words mean in order to choose the most accurate words or phrases in the receptor
language to represent the words or phrases in the source language.  

     All translations of the Bible have problems. Some, like the KJV are influenced by
Calvinism. (Acts 2:47; Acts 3:19; Acts 13:48). Others, like the New King James Version
are monuments to tradition. The use of such words as "baptize," "church," "saint," and
"bishop" reflect loyalty to tradition rather than accuracy.  The English Standard Version
contains several passages that display loyalty  to  tradition  instead  of  linguistic
accuracy.  "Propitiation" (1 John 2:2), "hell"  (Matthew 16:18), "brothers" (Romans 1:13).
The New American Standard Bible, though generally a  modified  literal  version,  reflects
a  premillennial   bias   in   several  passages.  "As"  (Isaiah 2:2;  Micah 4:1),  "will  reign"
(Revelation 5:10), and "they came to life" (Revelation 20:4). The 1984 edition of The New
International Version, and to a lesser extent the 2011 edition, suffers   from  the  tendency
to  leave  important  "connectives"  and  "inferential  particles" untranslated because of its
emphasis on readability and English style. (cf. John chapters 6-8)

     Many  instances  of  translation  shortcomings  can  be  multiplied  from all
translations, including  the  American  Standard  Version,  Revised  Standard  Version,
New Revised Standard Version, etc. But  we  must ask, "Does  the  fact  that  a
translation  has  'errors' and  other weaknesses disqualify the whole?" If so, no 
translation is worthy of use!

     A person can learn God's plan of salvation from the KJV, NKJV, ASV, RSV,
NASB, NIV (1984 and 2011 editions), NRSV and the ESV if he diligently studies
them. There is no "perfect" translation of the scriptures. Jesus and the apostles
quoted the Septuagint, which is a translation of the Hebrew and Aramaic scriptures
even though it likewise is imperfect.

Copyright 2014
                                                                                                                       R Daly


No comments:

Post a Comment