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Against the Theory of Dynamic Equivalence

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Bible Research > English Versions > Translation Methods > Dynamic Equivalence

Against the Theory of Dynamic Equivalence


by Michael Marlowe Revised and expanded, January 2012

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Introduction
Among Bible scholars there is a school which is always inquiring into the genres or rhetorical forms of speech represented in any given passage of the Bible, and also the social settings which are supposed to be connected with these forms. This approach is called form criticism, and it was developed largely by German scholars in the early twentieth century. Among these scholars, whether they be German or English speaking, one constantly hears German phrases. The social setting is called the Sitz im Leben. The oracle of salvation introduced by Fear not is the Heilszusage, and so on. When I was in the seminary learning about all this, I at first wondered why it should be necessary to use these German words; but then I learned that the German words are used because they are recognized as technical terms, and the English equivalents are not. Students were expected to learn the terminology of the field, just as in any other field of study. Likewise, there were many Greek and Hebrew words to be learned. These were the technical terms of the Bible itself. The professors often warned us students about the important semantic differences between various Greek and Hebrew words and their closest English equivalents. The Hebrew word ( torah), for instance, was not always equivalent to the Greek (nomos) or the English law, and the Hebrew ( nephesh) did not always refer to the soul, etc. Anyone who has been to a theological school knows very well how often points like this are emphasized by scholars. I mention this at the beginning of this book on Bible translation because I want the reader who has not been exposed to this kind of study to know how much is made of words and their precise usage in theological schools. Ministers in training cannot go through three years of seminary without being impressed with the undeniable differences between Hebrew, Greek, and English, and with the delicate problems of translating many key words of the Bible into our language. It is not a simple and easy task. Indeed, it is not fully possible, and that is why ministers are taught the biblical languages in seminary. It is easy to get carried away with fine distinctions. Scholars are often accused of losing their common sense in a multitude of hairsplitting distinctions, and of using foreign words and difficult terminology merely to impress the unlearned. In some cases this undoubtedly happens. We also must be on guard against the elitist attitude taken by many in the Roman Catholic tradition, which in its extreme form caused the Roman Catholic Church to oppose the translation of the Bible into English in the first place. But I want to suggest here that those who are not used to careful study of the Bible may easily fall into an opposite error: the error of despising many distinctions which really do make an important difference in our understanding of the Bible, despising the role of trained teachers in the Church, and generally failing to recognize the bad effects that arise from vague and loose words on any important subject. The Bible is a very important book, and it deserves our utmost care. And if we believe that every word of the Bible is inspired by God, how can we be careless of these words?

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I also mention form criticism, with its emphasis on the texts situation in life, for another reason: I believe that a translation of the Bible must take account of the sociological setting in which the Bible came to be, and in which it belongs: namely, the Church of Jesus Christ. The translator must remember that this book was given to the Church and it belongs to her. And this fact, this Sitz im Leben of the Bible as a whole, is not without some consequences for our methods of translation.

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1. The Bible in the Church


And all the people gathered as one man into the square and Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform and Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, Amen, Amen, lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. They read from the book, from the law of God, clearly 1 and they gave the sense, 2 so that the people understood the reading. Nehemiah 8:18 (ESV).

This passage from Nehemiah gives an account of the day when Ezra and his fellow ministers of the Word gathered the people together and began to teach them the contents of the Book of the Law of Moses. It says that they read from it distinctly, and that they caused the people to understand the meaning of the words. Jewish tradition says that this was the beginning of those translations into Aramaic called Targums, free renderings of the Hebrew which were used by Jews in later times to explain the meaning of the archaic Hebrew text. But it is unlikely that such a translation is referred to here, because farther on in the book we read of Nehemiahs indignation when he discovered that some of the children of the Jews who had married foreign women could not understand the Judean language. 3 Nehemiah was not inclined to provide a translation for such, but rather, turning to their fathers, he contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God (13:25) Hebrew was not forgotten by the Jews so quickly during their short captivity in Babylon. At a later time they did forget their mother tongue, but in the days of Nehemiah this had not yet come to pass. This passage therefore describes a situation which is very familiar to us as Christians. The people come together. The Scripture is read to them in portions, followed by explanatory comments. We would call it expository preaching. This is how most Christians in all ages have acquired a knowledge and an understanding of the Bible. But there are other ways:
And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, Go over and join this chariot. So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, Do you understand what you are reading? And he said, How can I, unless someone guides me? And he invited Philip to

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come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before his shearer is dumb, So he openeth not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: His generation who shall declare? For his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch said to Philip, About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else? Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. (Acts 8:2735.)

Here is a situation which is also familiar to many of us. The man is alone and reading his Bible. Probably he is reading the Septuagint version, because the passage cited from Isaiah 53:78 in Acts 8:3233 is according to that version. In any case, he is having a problem understanding the passage that he is reading. When Philip comes along he asks the man if he understands the passage, and the man readily admits that he is in need of help. It is for this purpose that the Lord has sent Philip to him, who explains the passage he is reading and several others besides. What do these two situations have in common? Both of them involve a Bible, an audience or reader, and a teacher appointed for the purpose of explaining the Bible. It is taken for granted that the Bible is not selfexplanatory, and that the common reader or hearer stands in need of a teacher. The prologue to Lukes Gospel states that it was written that you may have certainty concerning the things () you have been taught. The word translated you have been taught here (, katchths) pertains to a course of instruction in religious matters, , katchsis. The Gospel is thus presented not as a substitute for catechesis, but for the 4 further education and confirmation of one who has already been catechized. This is true of all the books of the New Testament, which were written, collected, and used for the edification of Christians. One scholar has briefly described the ecclesiastical setting of our New Testament in these terms:
When we remember how slowly the disciples assimilated the teaching of their Master, and what patient and careful labour it needed to perfect their faith, we shall realize the work which was involved in the instruction of new converts when the numbers of the Church were counted by thousands. And if this is true with regard to Jews, how much greater must have been the labour when the community included pure Gentiles, who had scarcely any knowledge of Jewish scriptures, and lacked the sound foundation of Jewish monotheism. The labour of watering was not less than the toil of planting. The instruction cannot have been confined to the discourse of the services, or the teaching of the apostle in person or by letter. Such a knowledge of the OT as St. Paul presupposes in Gentile converts (e.g. Rom. 7:1; 1 Cor. 6:16; 9:13; 10:1ff; Gal. 4:21ff) could only be the fruit of long and systematic instruction. This was the main work of men like Aquila and Apollos. There was a special gift of teaching, and a special class of men in the Christian Church who were called teachers from the exercise of this gift. Of the content of this teaching we can only say on a

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priori grounds that it must have embraced the historical facts on which Christianity is based, together with their doctrinal significance, and the practical rule of life directly grounded on the doctrine. A systematic instruction in the OT writings must have been necessary for Gentiles to understand the very frequent allusions to them and interpretations of them which occur in the Pauline Epistles (e.g. Rom. 9:6ff; 1 Cor. 10:111; 2 Cor. 3:715; Gal. 4:2131, cf. also 2 Tim. 3:16). This last passage shows how the doctrinal and hortatory elements are inextricably interwoven with instruction in a narrower sense. The historical facts of the OT and of Christs life are regarded as facts of doctrinal significance (e.g. Gal. 4:2131), and from doctrinal truths practical injunctions are drawn as their consequences (cf. the therefore in 1 Cor. 15:58, Eph. 4:17; Col. 3:5, 12). The instruction proceeded on the Jewish method of repeated oral teaching (cf. the word , Luke 1:4; Acts 18:25; 1 Cor. 14:19; Gal. 6:6). In the NT a convert was baptized as soon as he declared his belief in Christ (Acts 2:41 and often), but later the practice arose of deferring baptism until the convert had been instructed in the rudiments of the faith, and during this period he was called a catechumen (). The content of the teaching had for its kernel first and foremost sayings of the Lord which were remembered and treasured up by those who had known Him (cf. 1 Cor. 7:10, 12, 25; 9:14; 11:23; 14:37; 1 Thess. 4:2; 1 Tim. 5:18). These floating sayings were at an early date collected into a book of the oracles of the Lord (Papias ap. Eus. iii. 39), which was one of the main sources of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. To these sayings of Christ were added the divinely inspired teaching of the apostles and prophets. So there arose gradually a fixed body of teaching bearing the stamp of Christs authority (1 Tim. 6:3; 2 John 9) or the apostolic approval (Gal. 1:69; 1 Thess. 4:12; 2 Thess. 2:15; 2 Tim. 1:13; 2:2; 3:14; Titus 1:9). The danger arising from the free activity of the teacher was thus lessened by this firm and unalterable foundation of tradition, , the faith handed on from one to another (2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6; Rom. 6:17; 1 Cor. 15:3; 11:23; Luke 1:2), and guarded by each as a sacred deposit (, 1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:14; 2:2). This accredited teaching is also expressed by phrases such (Rom. 6:17), (2 Tim. 1:13; cf. 2 Tim. 2:2), (1 Tim. 4:6). The especial frequency of such expressions in the Pastoral Epistles illustrates the more stereotyped form which this teaching assumed when death and imprisonment were removing the apostles from personal contact with their churches. The frequent recurrence of isolated dicta with the introduction (1 Tim. 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:11; Titus 3:8), shows that such sayings were highly valued and carefully preserved. Finally, after the death of the apostles we have a specimen of the way in which their teachings were collected, in a work which has been preserved to us under the title The Teaching of the Lord through the 5 Twelve Apostles (Did. 1:1).

In addition to this teaching ministry in the Church we encounter several statements in the Bible declaring that the Bible cannot be rightly understood by those who lack the Spirit of God. In John 8:43 Jesus says to his questioners, Why do you not understand my speech ()? It is because you cannot hear my word (). The number of those who understood and accepted his teaching was so

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small that John says, no one receives his testimony (John 3:32). Paul declares, these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God connecting spiritual things with spiritual. (1 Cor. 2:1013, a passage which we will have more to say about below). In several places the Gospel writers mention that the words of Christ were not understood by his own disciples (Mark 6:52; 7:18; 9:32; Matt. 15:16; 16:11; Luke 9:45; 18:34; John 12:16; 16:18), or by his own family (Luke 2:50). Some things in the Bible require much patient reflection to be understood. In the writings of John we even find things that seem deliberately mystifying. In the eighth chapter of his Gospel, the whole point of the dialogue between Jesus and the Jews is to show how incapable they are of understanding his sayings. Over and over again they did not understand what he was talking about (John 8:27). When he says, the Truth shall set you free, they answer that they have never been slaves to any man. When he denies that they are sons of Abraham, they protest that they were not born of fornication (8:41). When he says if a man keep my word, he will never see death, they think that he is speaking of physical death (8:52). Because their minds are stuck on the level of this world (8:23), they take everything in a worldly literal sense, and they cannot understand his metaphorical language. They are unregenerate, born from below, and not of God (8:47). Many other passages make this same point in both the Old and the New Testament. The relationship, then, between the Bible and its intended readers is not simple and direct. It is conditioned by the readers relationship to Christ and to his Church. The Bible itself declares that it is not easy to be understood by all.

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2. The Bible apart from the Church


My own mind is my own church Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason Our observation that the Bible is a difficult book to those who are outside the church does not sit well with many people these days. On the contrary, they say, the Bible is really quite simple: it is all a matter of translation. The old literal method of translation, which makes for such hard reading, is to blame. But if we will only put the Bible in simpler and more idiomatic English it will need no explanation. People who are unfamiliar with church jargon might then read and understand it with ease. This is the basic presupposition of the method of translation called dynamic equivalence. The name of Eugene Nida, an American linguist, is usually mentioned in connection with this method of translation, because it was he who coined the phrase dynamic equivalence. He is generally regarded as the seminal theorist behind it. Nida was for more than thirty years (19461980) the Executive Secretary of the Translations Department of the American Bible Society, and during this time he published a number of books and articles explaining and promoting this approach. 1 But in fact there is little that can be called original in Nidas books. His contributions were more on the practical side than on the theoretical. He gathered up a number of ideas about language that were current among linguists in his time, he applied them to the task of Bible translation, and he presented these ideas in a very engaging and understandable way. He was essentially a popularizer of theoretical ideas and principles that might serve to bring some methodological discipline into the pioneering efforts of missionaries translating the Scriptures for remote, primitive tribes. 2 His books are packed with examples of translation problems drawn from the experience of missionary translators who were trying to put the Bible into the local languages of SouthAmerican and African tribes (most of which lacked even a system of writing at the time), and his examples show very plainly that if people were to have the Bible in these languages, in versions that were to be immediately intelligible to the uneducated, the only practical approach to the task was to use a paraphrastic method. Reading his books, one gets a vivid impression of how difficult the task is, and how wrong it is to think that an essentially literal translation could be produced in these languages in their present state of development. For our purposes, it is important to notice that Nida was not primarily concerned with English translations. He was preoccupied with the problems of translating the Bible into the tongues of primitive tribes who were at that time being reached for the first time by Christian missionaries, and with the need for new approaches to deal with the kind of linguistic constraints that made translations into these languages so difficult. This missionary orientation is conspicuous in Nidas writings on the subject.

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But it should also be noticed that in addition to the purely linguistic constraints that he discusses, Nida also imposes some constraints which are nonlinguistic in nature. These come from his philosophy of ministry, in particular his conception of the task of the missionary translator. Nida believed that these missionaries should be unaffiliated with churches, and not at all concerned with the planting of churches, or with the perpetuation of any tradition of biblical interpretation.
Our communication is primarily sowing the seed, not transplanting churches. It is lighting a spark, not establishing an institution. This does not mean that the communication of the full revelation of God is unconcerned with the church; but the indigenous church we are committed to, whether in central Africa or central Kansas, is not the church we have structured, but one raised up by the Spirit of God. It is not enough for us merely to indigenize our own structures, by trying to insist on the superficial criteria of selfgoverning, selfsupporting, and self propagating. Many churches have these characteristics but still do not fit within the society where they exist. The development of an indigenous church will always be the living response of people to the life demands of the message. The source of the information, unless he is a full participating member of the society in question, is never more than a catalyst, but as such he is nevertheless an indispensable factor in the divine process. 3

From this and other similar statements we can see that Nida was concerned with producing versions of the Bible which might even be useful outside the context of any established churchoutside of or prior to any teaching ministry, that is. Obviously, such a version could not be one which required explanations or any introductory preparation of the readers; the versions would have to be made as simple and idiomatic as possible not only because of the nature of the languages into which it is being translated, and not only because of the primitive cultural state of the people who spoke these languages, but because the teaching ministry of the Church was simply left out of the equation. Nida asserted that the real test of the translation is its intelligibility to the nonChristian, and he even maintained that there certainly must be something wrong with the translation if phrases in it are misunderstood by illiterates who have not been under the influence of the missionarys teaching. 4 The Bible is simply delivered into the midst of a society, in such a form that it may be immediately understood by the common people. Here Nida is making statements as a missiologist, not as a linguist; and he is using a particular philosophy of ministry as the basis for his philosophy of translation. The influence of this rather questionable missiology on translation theory is noticed by D.A. Carson, who also suggests that an institutional bias is at work:
A great deal of Bible translation work has been tied to missionary movements. This is less true, of course, where Bibles are being produced to meet the needs of established ecclesiastical bodies. Still, it is very largely true, and from a Christian perspective this is a good thing. What is perhaps overlooked is that this reality in turn influences the way translators think of their task. Translators commissioned by the National Council of the Churches of Christ to produce the NRSV will not see their role in exactly the same way as will translators struggling to produce the first New Testament for a remote tribe in Papua New Guinea, precisely

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because the envisioned readers are so different. I do not mean that the respective cultures of the two reader groups are very different. I mean that one translation effort is overtly and immediately interested in evangelism, and cannot think of its task apart from that goal, while the other serves a more established constituency. Internationally, however, a far greater proportion of translators immediately serve the missionary and evangelistic task than otherwise, and so the preponderance of thought and research and publication in the area is inevitably shaped to serve this large group. When we delve into this literature on Bible translation theory, and try to understand the way it works out in new Bibles, we are being influenced to think of the priorities of translation in a certain way. I wonder if Bible translation theory has been shifted a little too far in the direction of simplification and clarity (even when the source text is obscure), precisely because the unstated assumption is that the only evangelistic agent for the particular target group will be the Bible itself. Indeed, for all of its history the Wycliffe Bible Translators has adopted the policy of not sending out pastors or more traditional missionaries, of not setting up schools and hospitals and the like. Traditional missionary endeavor has been left to other organizations. This singleeyed commitment to Bible translation has been remarkably productive. However, it may slightly skew the vision of the translators themselves. We cannot help noting that when Paul established churches in highly diverse centers of the Roman Empire, he quickly appointed elders in every place. He did not simply distribute copies of the Septuagint. The New Testament that translators are putting into the vernacular frequently describes and mandates the tasks of pastors and teachers and evangelists. Of course, this does not rule out a place for specialized ministry, in this case the work of translation. But unless such work is coordinated with other work, it may take on a disproportionate importance. And it may establish a certain expectation of what all translations ought to be. 5

I would not minimize the problem by using the words little and slightly, as Carson does, because it must be said that many inaccuracies in the new versions are not so little, and the thinking behind them must be more than slightly wrong. Carson does not seem to be aware of how deeprooted the theoretical problems are. But I think he has caught sight of one of them here. In a passage we have quoted above, Nida said that establishing an institution is not the purpose of our communication. But this our cannot include pastors, because obviously the founding of churches is a primary concern of the missionary pastor. A pastor does not merely come to strike a spark and then depart. Nida is speaking as a representative of the American Bible Society, and perhaps for other similar parachurch organizations, such as the Wycliffe Bible Translators, whose interests and goals are not coextensive with those of the Church. They have their own agenda, and their own institutional interests. One Wycliffe official states that theological education has not typically been a part of the curriculum of Wycliffesponsored translators, who were not supposed to become too involved in local church affairs, and especially in its duties to teach, baptize, and theologize. 6 Nidas theories are designed to serve those interests and goals. The question is whether those institutionallydefined goals are fully compatible with the interests of the Church. It

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maynotbeinthebestinterestsofanyonetohurryforwardwithatranslationproject beforeanyonewhospeaksthelanguagehasacquiredadecenttheologicaleducation, or before anyone who does have such an education has learned the language well enough to do the translating. One translation consultant working in the Far East reports:
it has been the authors experience, while conducting training workshops for mothertongue translators in various countries, that the translators themselves generally do not understand why John the Baptist calledJesus a lamb. Those who are more awareofthe background ofthe Bible often guess that the point of similarityis gentleness, whichis not theintendedpointofsimilarityinthismetaphor.7

Fromthestandpointofaneducatedpastorthesituationdescribedheremustseem absurd. How can a translation do justice to theologically important details of the text,whenthetranslatorhimselfisignorantofbiblicaltheology,havingnoeducation in the subject? Native speakers of the language who can read English have been recruited to translate the Bible (from a simplified English version provided by the ABSorWycliffeconsultant)becausethenativespeakersarethebestjudgesofwhat willbeidiomaticandclearintheirlanguage.Buttheireducationissodeficientthat theyhavenoideawhyJohntheBaptistcalledJesustheLambofGod.Thisiswhat we have in translation projects set up by the missionary Bible translation agencies today, in accordance with their priorities and in line with Nidas view of missions. Naturally,thebooksandarticlesontranslationtheorythathavebeenpublishedby theseagenciesaredesignedtojustifythesemethods. Theproblemsherearemorethantheoretical.Atbottomtheyaretheological.They stem from a defective ecclesiology. We note that the most prominent advocates of dynamic equivalence come from Baptist and Anabaptist backgrounds, where a minimalist ecclesiology tends to downplay the role of ordained ministers and blur the distinction between churches and parachurch ministries. Nida himself was an American Baptist, of the moderate type, and he surrounded himself with like minded people. The Summer Institute of Linguistics, where Nida served as co director,hasbeencontrolledbyBaptistsfromthebeginning.TheyincludeKenneth Pike(whoservedwithNidaascodirector),JohnBeekman,andJohnCallow(authors ofTranslating the Word of God).CharlesR.Taber,NidascoauthorforthebookThe Theory and Practice of Translation, started out in the Grace Brethren church and endedupinaCampbellite association,whoserestorationmovementecclesiologyis morelikeanantiecclesiology.ThechieftranslatorsoftheMexicanSpanishVersin Popular (1966) and the Good News Bible, with whom Nida worked closely, were Baptists. The same is true of the chief translator of the Contemporary English Version.TheNewLivingTranslation isarevisionofaparaphrasedonebyaBaptist, KenTaylor.TheparaphrasewasmadepopularbyaBaptistevangelist,BillyGraham, andtherevisionwasdonebyeditorsintheBaptistdominatedpublishingcompany founded by Taylor. We are aware of the fact that not everyone involved in the productionandpromotionoftheseversionwasaBaptist,andthatsomeofthemost strident critics of these versions have also been Baptists, but nevertheless we do notice that the initiators and major figures in this movement are mostly Baptists. Probably this has something to do with the tendency of Baptists to become

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preoccupied with evangelism and numerical growth, often by the use of innovative but questionable methods. But we are also reminded of the populist streak in the Baptist heritage, which includes much preaching about the evils of clericalism, the futilityofheadknowledge,andthesufficiencyoftheBiblealone. The Bible alone in this modern Baptist context does not mean what the early Protestants meantbysola scriptura inthe sixteenth century.In the theologyofthe Reformerstheslogansola scriptura referredtotheirteachingthatonlytheScriptures could be relied upon as absolutely authoritative, as distinguished from the merely human traditions or inventions that had come to dominate religious life in the MiddleAges.ItwasnotanassertionoftheautonomyofthevernacularBible,with theimplicationthatcommentariesshouldberejectedassuperfluousprops,asone 8 modern missiologist puts it. It pertained only to the original text in Hebrew and Greek.OfcourseLutherandothersdidaimtoprovidevernaculartranslationswhich wouldfaithfullyrepresenttheoriginal,buttheirtranslationsoftheBibleincludeda good deal of explanatory material in prefaces and marginal notes. It is said that Tyndale once claimed that he would make the boy who drives the plough know Scripture better than his Popish adversaries did, 9 but to this end he supplied the ploughboys with prefaces and footnotes. His preface to the Epistle to the Romans (which was for the most part a translation of Luthers) was longer than the epistle itself! The makers of the Geneva Bible included thousands of explanatory marginal notes.TheseearlyversionswereinfactstudyBibles.LutherandCalvingavemuch of their time to writing commentaries, catechisms, and theological treatises. The BiblealoneideaofmodernAmericanevangelicalismderivesnotfromthevenerable Reformers ofthesixteenthcentury,butfrom Americansectariansandrevivalistsof the early nineteenth century, who discarded everything in the Protestant heritage thatwasnotcongenialtoAmericanlibertarianism,individualismandegalitarianism. David F. Wells describes the egalitarian mentality that prevailed among Baptists, Methodists,Campbellites, and othermovements thatbeganto reshape Christianity inAmericaafter1820:
Asthispsychologytookrootcertainpredictablecharacteristicsbegan toemerge.First,inallofthesemovements,thedistinctionbetweenclergy and laity was erased and with it the deference toward leaned opinion. LeadershipwasredefinedonthebasisofnewdemocraticassumptionsIn placeoftheoldrespectforlearning,whichtheclergyhadembodied,wasa new confidenceinpersonal intuitions oftheunlearned,untrainedperson aboutwhatisrightandtrue.Second,theabilitytojudgedoctrine,evento formulateit,wasthereforeassumedtobepartofacommonratherthana privileged inheritance, something thatinherentlybelongedtothepeople. It was nota matter for which great learning was necessary butforwhich commoninstinctsweresufficient.10

InthisindigenizationofChristianitytheassertionthatthemeaningoftheBibleis (or ought to be) clear to the common man was actually more important than any particular determination of the meaning. No matter how discordant the interpretations grew, the one thing that could not be questioned was the idea that therightinterpretationwasobvious.

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Within the subculture of a longestablished church it is possible to maintain the illusionthattheBibledoesnotneedtobeexplained,becausepeoplewhohavebeen raised in the church forget how many explanations they have absorbed over the years; but when the Bible is taken outside the church, the error of this notion becomes painfully obvious. At that point, the modern Bible alone idea, which insists that the common man can understand everything in the Bible without any help from an educated class of teachers, can be maintained only by the use of a highlyinterpretiveandsimplifiedBibleversion.Ifweweretofollowtheexampleof the early Protestants, we would solve the comprehension problem by placing explanatory notes in the margin, but this would only undermine the idea that no explanations are needed. We might then expect a movement in the direction of paraphrase wherever there is a reluctance to acknowledge the explanatory role of pastors,teachers,andinterpretivetraditioningeneral.However,iftheBibleisgoing to beseparatedfrom the church ministry and sent forth to speak for itself, wehad better be very careful about what is being presented as the Bible alone. If the translationisgrosslyinaccurateorbiased,itcannotgounchallenged.Ifwefindthat a body of theory has been designed to justify such treatment of the text, and its proponents deploy it in the defense of every bad and biased rendering, then that wholebodyoftheorycannotgounchallengedeither. Iwouldfirstofallchallengeoneofthetheological presuppositionsofthetheory: the idea that the Bible precedes the Church. This is an alluring idea for us Protestants, because it agrees with our idea that the Church is founded on the Scriptures, not the other way around, as in Catholicism; but in fact Nidas idea represents an extreme position which does not comport with other elements of Protestantecclesiology.Strictlyspeaking,theBibleaswehaveitdidnot precedethe Church. The Church was founded by the oral ministry of the prophets and the apostles, which is incorporated in theBible; but the writings which we have in the BibleintheirpresentformareaddressedtotheChurchasalreadyfounded.AsS.C. Carpenter says, S. Paul and others wrote their letters, and the Evangelists wrote their records, for the benefit of the Church or some part of it. They wrote as 11 Churchmen to Churchmen about things with which Churchmen are concerned. This is evident even ona superficiallevel, inthe formsofaddressused throughout theScriptures;anditistrueatmuchdeeperlevelsalso,inthemanythingsthatgo unspokenorunexplainedintheBible.ThereismuchintheScriptureswhichcannot be appreciated rightly or even understoodnot even in a dynamic equivalence versionwithoutpreparationofsomekind. Atthe firstverse of Genesis, onepopularstudyBiblenotes that the Bible begins withGod,notwithphilosophicarguments for Hisexistence. Thisis wellsaid. The ministry of Moses and the prophets was to Israel, not to modern agnostics, and so theirwritingstakemuchreligiouspreparationforgranted.Thefirstsentenceofthe BibleassumesthatthereaderbelievesinGod.InNewTestamenttimestheapostles enjoyed the advantage of what theologians have called the preparatio evangelica, preparation for the gospel. This groundwork was laid not only by the writings of the Old Testament and the influence of Judaism, but also by parallel religious developments of theancient Mediterranean world.To give justone example, when Paul arrived in Greece he did not have to teach anyone that after death a person

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might pass into a blessed afterlife. The idea of paradise was already familiar to the commonpeople,asanelementoftheirownreligiousculture.12 Thegreatquestionto be answered by Paul was, how could a person attain this blessedness? On many subjects the inquiring Greeks and others were asking the right questions, at least. The most serious communication problems that ministers have today are usually connected with a lack of such preparation. The good news of Gods mercy means nothing to impious people who feel no needfor it, and it is often misconstrued by the superficially religious, who take it for granted. This problem is not caused by churchjargoninBibleversions.Itmakesnodifferencewhetherwetranslate withforgivenessorremissionifthehearerdoesnotevenaccepttheideathatheis asinner.TheministryoftheLawthereforeisanecessarypreparationfortheministry of the gospel (Romans 3:20; 7:7). Although Pauls mission was to the Gentiles, his gospelwasmostreadilyreceivedbythoseGentileswhohadbeenpreparedtohearit by attending worship services in the synagogues of the Jews, as persons who fear God(Acts10:2,13:16,26,etc.). Evenwheresuchpreparationisnotlacking,Protestantshaveneversupposedthat people could be converted to Christ merely by giving them copies of the Bible. Everyone knows that the gospel must first be preached, and that people must be introduced to the Christian faith and the Bible by various summaries and explanations, whether they be written out in the form of catechisms, or conveyed from the pulpit, or included in editions of the Bible. The Protestant Reformation cameaboutthroughmuchmorethanthemerecirculationofcopiesoftheBible.The Church does not spring from the Scriptures in the simple manner that Nida envisions, and God did not intend for it to do so. The Bible is much more than a spark. It is not a rack of cartoonish tracts, to be picked up willynilly by mildly interestedindividualswhoareunwillingtogivetimeandefforttounderstandingit. ThefocusonindividualBiblereadingthatweseeinNidaandotherchampionsof dynamic equivalence does not even make much sense in the context of tribal missions. Private bookreading is rare enough among the common people even in civilized countries. It would be very unwise to make evangelism or discipleship dependmuchonindependentBiblereading.Astrongteachingministry,conducted byeducatedpastors,isabsolutelynecessary.Atheoryoftranslationthatassumesthe absence of this ministry is expecting us to eliminate the one thing that cannot be missing.Thereisnobiblicalwarrantorapostolicprecedentfortheideaofamerely literary mission; and as John Wesley said, The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion. In the days of the Apostles very few people could possess copies of the Scriptures,andmostwouldneverhaveheardtheScripturesreadwithoutateachers comments. There was no such thing as the Bible alone. Only in our era could a privateBiblereadingscenariobecomethefocusofattention,andpredictablyenough this is the focus in a publishing organization based in America, where a rampant spirit of individualism has been destroying all sense of community for the past century.Peopleare assumed to be readingtheBibleathome alone,intheir leisure time.AndsoofcoursetheideacomesthatthetranslationoftheBiblemustbemade freeofdifficulties,easilyunderstoodthroughout.Itshouldbeunambiguous,simple, and clear even to the firsttime reader who has not so much as set his foot in a church. But however much these versions may smooth the way for such a lonely

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readeronthesentencelevel,theycannotsolvethelargerquestionsofinterpretation whichmustpressuponthemindofanythoughtfulreader,suchasquestionaskedby the Ethiopian in Acts 8:34. After all the simplification that can be done by a translatorisdone,thereisstilltheneedofateacher.

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3. The Language of the Bible


Now as we have chiefly observed the sense, and labored always to restore it to all integrity, so have we most reverently kept the propriety of the words, considering that the Apostles who spake and wrote to the Gentiles in the Greek tongue, rather constrained them to the lively phrase of the Hebrew than enterprised far by mollifying their language to speak as the Gentiles did. And for this and other causes we have in many places reserved the Hebrew phrases, notwithstanding that they may seem somewhat hard in their ears that are not well practiced and also delight in the sweetsounding phrases of the Holy Scriptures. Preface to the Geneva Bible (1560).

So said the makers of the Geneva Bible in their preface. It is very interesting that the Puritans who gave us this version would find in Scripture itself their guidance for a method of translation. The Apostles themselves were translators, after all. They did not give us a complete translation of the Old Testament, choosing rather to use the familiar Septuagint in their ministry to the Greekspeaking nations; but in a number of places where they quote from the Old Testament they do not use the Septuagint, and give us their own rendering. From these examples we can see readily enough that the inspired authors of the New Testament favored literal translation, with Hebrew idioms and all carried straight over into Greek. 1 And why? Undoubtedly they believed that there was something significant in every word of the Scripture, as do some of us today. In any case, the Bible was certainly not written in idiomatic and colloquial Greek, as some defenders of dynamic equivalence have claimed. A truer estimate is made by E.C. Hoskyns:
The New Testament documents were, no doubt, written in a language intelligible to the generality of Greekspeaking people; yet to suppose that they emerged from the background of Greek thought and experience would be to misunderstand them completely. There is a strange and awkward element in the language which not only affects the meanings of words, not only disturbs the grammar and syntax, but lurks everywhere in a maze of literary allusions which no ordinary Greek man or woman could conceivably have understood or even detected. The truth is that behind these writings there lies an intractable Hebraic, Aramaic, Palestinian material. It is this foreign matter that complicates New Testament Greek The tension between the Jewish heritage and the Greek world vitally affects the language of the New Testament. 2

I do not think that the promoters of simple everyday language in Bible translation have any appreciation for the important conceptual differences which uncommon biblical phrases and words often serve to convey. In the Good News Bible at 2 Cor.12:2 we read, I know a certain Christian man. The expression in Christ is often rendered Christian in this version. But they are not really equivalent expressions. The phrase in Christ conveys a whole package of meaning. It implicitly teaches the relationship of the man to Christ, and emphasizes Christ himself over the man. It makes a metaphysical statement: the man is in Christ. They are in vital union

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with one another. 3 The man is not merely one of a category of people who go by the name of Christian as a descriptive adjective. This is important. It is not trivial. The language teaches us something that cannot be translated into banal newspaper language. This is the kind of thing that is always being discarded in dynamic equivalence, and the cumulative effect of so many changes like this is that it prevents us from entering fully into the concepts that are unique to the Scriptures. We are allowed to remain in the newspaperworld of twentyfirst century America, and this is not for our benefit. The Scriptures say in several places that God spoke his words through or by means of the prophets. For example, in Matthew 1:22 we read that the Lord spoke through the prophet, and in Hebrews 1:1, by means of the prophets. This manner of speaking is meaningful. It is not equivalent to the expression, God prophets spoke his message to our ancestors as in the s Contemporary English Version at Hebrews 1:1, or the Lord promise came true just s as the prophet had said at Matthew 1:22. These renderings do not convey to the reader the emphasis on God as the initiator and author of the prophetic message, and it does not convey the concept of mere instrumentality on the part of the prophets. The word through is a little preposition which carries a lot of meaning 4 here. But the literal translation was avoided by the CEV translators because they thought it too difficult. Barclay M. Newman explains, The use of through with persons or abstract nouns has been rejected by the CEV translators because doing something through someone is an extremely difficult linguistic concept for many people to process. 5 Indeed this manner of speaking may seem strange to someone who is unfamiliar with the concept of inspiration which it expresses, but in such a case would not this verse and several others like it, as literally translated, serve well as a means of explaining inspiration? A similar case is in John 3:21, But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God (RSV). In his commentary on John Gospel, Westcott explains that the phrase wrought in s God ( ) means that the works of a believer are produced in union with him, and therefore by his power. The order [of the Greek words] lays the emphasis on God: that it is in God, and not by the man own strength, they have s been wrought. 6 Compare this with the New Living Translation: But those who do what is right come to the light gladly, so everyone can see that they are doing what God wants. This is indeed simpler and more naturalsounding than any literal rendering could be; but the meaning of the Greek, as explained by Westcott, is completely hidden by it. Instead of the believer working with and through God ( ) to bear the fruit of righteousness, he simply does what God wants. Even worse is the rendering of Today New International Version: so that it may be seen s plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God in which the words sight of have been inserted quite arbitrarily. In both versions the distortion of meaning is caused by forcing the statement into something that sounds more idiomatic in everyday English. In the passage quoted from E.C. Hoskyns above, he mentions the presence of literary allusions in the Bible. In literary criticism, an allusion is an indirect

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reference to something written by another author, as distinguished from a direct quotation. One standard handbook of literary terms defines allusion as follows:
A figure of speech that makes brief, often casual reference to a historical or literary figure, event, or object. Biblical allusions are frequent in English literature Strictly speaking, allusion is always indirect. It attempts to tap the knowledge and memory of the reader and by so doing to secure a resonant emotional effect from the associations already existing in the reader mind The effectiveness of allusion depends on there being a s common body of knowledge shared by writer and reader. 7

It is perhaps misleading to talk about the allusions in the Bible as a literary phenomenon, however, because the allusions in the Bible are not just artistic literary touches to be appreciated by those who read the Bible as literature. In Edmund Spenser Faerie Queen and John Milton Paradise Lost there are many allusions to s s the epic literature of pagan antiquity, but these literary allusions do not carry the same religious significance as their allusions to the Bible. They did not believe the pagan myths and legends to which they allude. In the same manner some authors of the Victorian Era allude to the Bible without any serious religious purpose. Their allusions are merely literary. A more serious purpose is served by allusions when an author uses them to signal the tradition of thought to which he belongs, and within which he wants to be understood. In my reading on the subject of translation theory, I recently encountered a fine example of this kind of allusion in the second paragraph of Werner Winter essay The Impossibilities of Translation. 8 Winter begins: s
It seems to me that we may compare the work of a translator with that of an artist who is asked to create an exact replica of a marble statue, but who cannot secure any marble. He may find some other stone or some wood, or he may have to model in clay or work in bronze, or he may have to use a brush or a pencil and a sheet of paper. Whatever his material, if he is a good craftsman, his work may be good or even great; it may indeed surpass the original, but it will never be what he set out to produce, an exact replica of the original. In a nutshell, we seem to have here all the challenge and all the frustration that goes with our endeavors to do the ultimately impossible. We know from the outset that we are doomed to fail; but we have the chance, the great opportunity to fail in a manner that has its own splendor and its own promise.

The word splendor in the last sentence is certainly an allusion to the classic essay in translation theory by Jos Ortega y Gasset: the Misery and the Splendor of Translation. 9 Winter, who is writing for an audience of scholars who would be familiar with Ortega essay, effectively brings it to mind by using the unusual word s splendor in this context. We notice then how Winter essay takes up, confirms, s and develops the ideas about translation expressed earlier by Ortega. Allusions to Scripture in sermons often greatly deepen the meaning. An example of this kind of allusion may be seen in the first words of Charles Spurgeon sermon s Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats? which begins with the clause, An evil is in the

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professed camp of the Lord The word camp is used here instead of church because Spurgeon is comparing the Christian church to the camp of the Israelites before they came into possession of the Promised Land. In particular, he would bring to mind the story of the sin of Achan (Joshua 7), which brought a curse on the whole camp and prevented the Israelites from prevailing against their enemies as they were coming into the land. It was necessary to eliminate the sin in the camp before proceeding. For those who are familiar with the story, this is all brought to mind by the phrase evil in the camp. Communication like this can take place only in the context of a highly developed religious culture. As one Jewish historian has observed, after the rise of Puritanism in England a whole complex of images and metaphors which were understood and recognized could be invoked merely by the use of a partial biblical phrase, a sanctified word or two, and such phrases and words may even give to the thoughts expressed the stamp of divine authority. 10 Likewise C.S. Lewis observed, For three centuries, the Bible was so well known that hardly any word or phrase, except those which it shared with all English books whatever, could be borrowed without recognition. If you echoed the Bible everyone knew that you were echoing the Bible. And certain associations were called up in every reader s 11 mindsacred associations. The effect described here is not only literary, it is found in all communication that depends upon a shared culture. 12 The specifically Christian culture that Spurgeon depends upon is part of the heritage of all the European countries. If someone were translating Spurgeon sermon into German s and used Kirche or Gemeinde instead of Lager here, so as to make the meaning clear, he would not be making the meaning clear at all. There is no way of making Spurgeon meaning clear to a German reader who would not understand what is s meant by im Lager des Herrn. The elimination of such biblical allusions in Spurgeon s sermons would impoverish the meaning, not only of words and phrases here and there, but in general, by failing to convey any sense of the religious solidarity of the speaker with his audience. If an author assumes and depends upon a shared body of religious knowledge in his writing, then that is part of the meaning of his writing. This is what we find in the writings of the Apostles. They are immersed together with their readers in a religious culture. They speak as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11). Their language is thoroughly imbued with images and verbal reminiscences of the Old Testament. They habitually draw upon Scriptural models and patterns as they apply the Word of God to their situation. The modern reader of a modern translation can never be like one of the original readers if the translation fails to convey these allusions. Some of the allusions in the New Testament are so obvious that very little knowledge of the Old Testament is required to perceive their meaning. When John the Baptist says Behold the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36), this is an allusion to something in the Old Testament, and the meaning of it would have been clear to any Jew of the first century. It expresses the atoning purpose of God in Christ, by comparing him with the sacrificial lambs of the Mosaic Law. This does however require some knowledge of the Old Testament to be understood. The New Testament contains hundreds of such allusions to the Old Testament, some of them more obvious than others. Some depend upon just a word or two, when an unusual expression or combination of words serves to bring to the reader mind something s

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in the Old Testament. They often consist of verbal echoes that are muffled if not completely suppressed in English translations. When John the apostle says that (John 1:14) his use of the uncommon word suggests much more than the reader might suppose from the common English rendering dwelt among us. The word means tabernacled, and it has some 13 important Old Testament associations. To the original Greek readerswho would have been familiar with the traditional Greek version of the Old Testamentthis would probably have brought to mind how God had promised to tabernacle in the midst of his people ( Joel 3:17, Zechariah 2:10, Ezekiel 43:7, comp. in Revelation 7:15, 21:3). The allusion thus further emphasizes the divinity of Christ, which is one of John main purposes in the s Prologue. In Galatians 1:15 most scholars are likely to agree that there is an allusion to 14 Jeremiah 1:5. When Paul says that God set him apart even from the womb of his mother, and called him to preach among the Gentiles (or, nations), one is reminded of the word of the LORD to Jeremiah: Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you came forth from the womb I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet unto the nations. The allusion is signaled here by the use of the Hebraic expression from the womb ( , comp. or )in connection with being sent to the nations, and the effect of this allusion is to suggest that Paul conceived of his calling as being like the prophet Jeremiah But s. the allusion is weakened if the words that constitute the verbal link are not translated literally. In modern versions we have in Galatians 1:15 the renderings before I was born and from birth instead of from the womb. These renderings expresses the sense in a general way, but the very generality of them weakens the allusion, which depends upon distinct verbal cues. In many cases this loss is wholly unnecessary. Readers who are not very familiar with the Old Testament would of course fail to recognize the allusion in cases like this, and we admit that the literal rendering from the womb may seem rather odd or unusually graphic for modern Americans; but few readers will fail to see that it means from birth or from before birth, 15 and if the verbal correspondence with Jeremiah 1:5 is preserved, the allusion may be noticed in due time. Words that are unremarkable, bland and ordinary can never be very allusive. In order to be allusive, words must somehow stand out and point to a special context elsewhere. Translators who are more interested in making the text idiomatic for the reader than in preserving significant verbal connections like this have practically erased most of them from the New Testament in recent Bible versions. Consider Acts 5:30, which in the New Living Translation is rendered, The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by crucifying him. 16 Literally Peter words are, The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you killed s by hanging him on a tree. This expression as literally translated ought to give some pause to the reader. Why does Peter say hanging him on a tree ( ) instead of crucifying him? Anyone who has read Galatians will know where the unusual phrase comes from, and what it means. It is from Deuteronomy 21:2223, quoted in Galatians 3:1314, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse

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forus;foritiswritten,Cursediseveryonewhoishangedonatree. Seealso1Peter 2:24andActs13:29. AndsobythisphrasehanginghimonatreePeterevokesthe wholetheologyofthecross!Butapparentlythetranslatorsmissedit,orfoundthisto beunimportant. Byflatteningoutandsimplifyingthelanguagetheyhavecausedthe readertomissthisthoughtprovokingallusion. In 1 Peter 1:13 the expression girding up the loins of your mind was rendered prepare your minds for action in the 1978 New International Version, and with minds that are alert in the 2011 revision. Nida claims that this expression would surely be meaningless if rendered literally. 17 We grant that Peter use of the s peculiargirdinguptheloinsofyourmindmayatfirstsightseemclumsyandeven alittleweirdtomanypeople. ItcertainlyisnotidiomaticinEnglish. Butneitherwas it idiomatic in Greek. Peter deliberately uses this Hebraic expression as a way of bringing to his readers minds the words spoken to Israel concerning the Passover: andthusyoushalleatit,withyourloinsgirded,yourshoesonyourfeet,andyour staff in your hand (Exodus 12:11). This would have been one of the most familiar passagesoftheOldTestamenttoaJewlikePeter,becauseitwasrecitedeveryyearat the Passover holiday. One commentary on the Greek text here states that the 18 reference is unmistakable. But readers of the NIV (and most other modern versions as well) will miss it entirely. Instead of an accurately translated verbal allusion,theyaregivenanequivalentexpression. Someonemayask,WhatexactlyisgainedwhenweseeanallusiontothePassover here? Isn Peter main purpose here to exhort his readers to be prepared, and t s doesn tprepareyour mindsfor actionservethis purposewellenough,withoutan allusion to some ancient Jewish commemoration? In answer to this, we must concedethatthosewhohaveneveridentifiedwiththeIsraeliteswillgainlittle. But foraJewwhohasbeentaughttoidentifywiththem,19 andforallthosewhoareable to identify with Israel on that night, it can make a very great difference when an allusion invites them to do it. The effect of an allusion like thiswhen it is recognized as an allusionis to add a whole new dimension of meaning. The few wordsoftheallusionareinvestedwithallthehistoricalandreligiousassociationsof the passage alluded to, and so the amount of meaning gained by allusions can be verylarge. Wemightcompareasentencewithoutallusionstoahousebuiltupinthe usual way, with individual boards, bricks, and panels being fasten together on site. Thesepiecescorrespondtothewordsofasentenceunderconstruction. Butwhenan allusionisintroduced,theconstructiongoesmodular. Aprefabricatedlivingroom arrives on the truck, and at one stroke, a large and complex module of meaning is added to the sentence. The same meaning might perhaps be built on the constructionsite,butitwouldrequireseveralchaptersofadditionaltexttobuildit there,andthereisnoreasontodothatiftheprefabricatedunitalreadyexistsinthe reader smind,tobesummonedbyanallusion. Ofcoursethereadermusthavethe moduleinhishead,orelsetheallusionfails;butthewritersoftheNewTestament assume that their readers minds are stocked with the usual modules of popular HellenisticJudaism. Another allusion in 1 Peter which will be missed by readers of some modern versionsisin4:1219. Herethe1978NIVrenderstheGreekword inverse12as painfultrialinsteadofthemoreliteralfieryordeal,andinverse17theword

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is rendered family instead of house. These renderings are defensible enough in the immediate context, and we grant that some readers may be helped by a translationwhichexplainsthathouseoftenmeansfamilyinScripture,butitmay be doubted whether any considerable number of Biblereaders really need this explanation, and, as so often happens in paraphrastic renderings, the helpful interpretationherereallyhindersthereader sabilitytodiscernthecorrectmeaning. As Dennis Johnson points out, a proper application of the principle of context in wordstudies mustgive attention not only totheword immediateliterary context s but also to more distant literary contexts to which the author may be making 20 conscious allusion, and he convincingly shows that there is an allusion here to Malachi3:26,heislikearefiner sfireandheshallpurifythesonsofLevithat they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. The reader who is familiarwiththispassagefromMalachiwillcatchtheallusiontoitin1Peter4when thephrasesfieryordealandhouseofGodareinthetranslationbeforehim,but who would perceive it in the NIV? The phrase house of God may refer to the familyofGodinsomecontexts,thatistrue,buthereweseethatitisprobablyan allusiontotheTemple,withwhichtheChurchisbeingcompared. AnextremeexampleofthiserasureofallusionsisfoundinIsaiah31:5intheGood News Bible. Inthelastclauseofthisverse,IsaiahusestheHebrewverb,lit. pass over,whichoccurselsewhereonlyinthePassovernarrativeofExodus,chap. The 12. allusionmaybeseeninaliteralrendering:
Asbirdsflying,sowilltheLORD ofHostsdefendJerusalem; Defendingalsohewilldeliverit; Andpassingover,hewillmakeit escape.

WhenIsaiahsays thattheLord will cause Jerusalem toescape(thatistheproper meaning ofthe hiphil of )from destructionby passing overit, heisof course alluding to that great deliverance of the children of Israel, when he passed over theirhouseswhileslayingallthefirstbornoftheEgyptians,allowingthemtoescape from death. But apparently the translatoroftheGood News Bible regardedthis last clause as a mere repetition, adding nothing meaningful to the preceding one. Therefore, being warned by Nida that in most parts of the world receptors are often irked by what they regard as obnoxious repetition and tautology in Semitic poetic forms,and followinghiscounsel thatsynonymousexpressions inadjacent lines may bedeletedif they serveonly to impart emphasis, 21 he left out the whole clause:
Just as a bird hovers over its nest to protect its young, so I, the LORD Almighty,willprotectJerusalemanddefendit.

Thetranslatorsofsomeotherversionsusethewordspareinsteadofpassover for here, and translate the hiphil form of as rescue (RSV, NRSV, ESV), which is better than nothing, but still inadequate for the purpose of conveying the allusion. 22 The NIV gets bonus points here for putting the words pass over in quotationmarks,drawingthereader sattentiontotheallusion.

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In all of these examples of lost allusions, the loss is caused by a philosophy of translation which seeks to eliminate anything unusual in the diction. Because allusions depend upon relatively uncommon expressions that stand out from the immediate context and point to another, they are bound to suffer this fate in a versionthatsystematicallynormalizesthestyleanddiction. Thistendencytonormalizeanythingthatstraysfromthebeatenpathofeveryday language affects not only allusions, but all sorts of interesting linguistic features of thetext. InIsaiah57:15thereisastrikingexpressionintheHebrewtext:( shokeyn ad), lit. he who inhabits eternity, which theologians commonly point to as an expressionofGod stranscendence. Godisnotboundbytime,nordoeshelivewithin 23 time; rather, he transcends time and space. He inhabits eternity. D. Carson A. calls this memorable phrase one of Isaiah fine expressions that stretch the s 24 imaginationofreaders,astheyponderthetranscendenceofGod. Unfortunately, thereaderoftheNIVwillnotencounterIsaiah sexpressionhere. Insteadofhewho inhabitseternitytheNIVhasaratherunsatisfactoryandprosaicrendering,hewho lives forever. This is certainly easier to understand, but it is not equivalent to the original. It would be better to translate literally, and advise the reader that one should never expect that what is sublime, immense, and extraordinary in the originallanguagewillbeeasilyandimmediatelycomprehensibleinthetranslation.
25

In Mark 1:12 we find a typical example of the NIV tendency to turn what is s semantically sharp and colorful in the Greek text into something very bland in English:theSpiritsenthimoutintothedesert. HeretheGreek ,lit. pushedhimout,istranslatedassenthimout;butthisisunsatisfactory,because the Greek word carries a connotation of command and compulsion, which is why more literal versions try to express the meaning with drove him out (ESV), impelledhimtogoout(NASB),etc. OneoftheNIVtranslatorslaterrecalledthat thisexpressionwasthesubjectofirreverentlevityatthecommittee smeeting,with some of the editors facetiously wondering what kind of a car the Spirit used to driveJesusintothewilderness. 26 ButMark swordisnojoke. Commentatorshave often observed that it is a strong word, descriptive of our Lord sense of s urgency (Meyer) his intense preoccupation of mind (A. Bruce), and the B. 27 dynamisticworkingoftheSpiritinHim(F. Grant). C. Words that are normal and ordinary for the average modern reader inevitably convey only thoughts that are ordinary for such readers. But what if the things expressedintheoriginalarenotordinaryformodernAmericanreaders? RecentlywhilegivingalessononthetopicofmodestyIreferredto1Timothy2:9, wheretheGreektexthasthephrase . Thesearewordsthat ancient authors commonlyusedintheirteachingsaboutpersonalvirtues,andthey describeattitudesorstatesofmind,notmerely(orevenprimarily)outwardactions. The first noun here, , denotes a capacity to feel shame, in a good sense, as opposed to shamelessness or impudence. In modern English versions it is usually translatedmodesty, but bashfulnessmay sometimes be a more adequate way of expressing its connotations. John Wyclif shamefastness is nearly perfect, and s

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wouldstillbethebestrenderingifthatwordhadnotbecomeobsolete.28 Thesecond noun, , denotes an habitual selfregulation or moderation of desires and thoughts, as opposed to mania, selfindulgence and excess, and it is usually translated with sobriety or selfcontrol. My purpose in referring to these words wastoemphasizethatmodestyintheBibleisnotmerelyoutwardcompliancewith somedresscode,butastateofmindcharacterizedbyacapacityforshameandself inhibition,andthatthebiblicalauthorsconnectthiscultivatedsenseofshamewith virtue and honor, especially in the case of women. This is a commonplace of exegetical writings, and it needs to be emphasized, because it is so foreign to the 29 modernliberalethos thatdominatesoursociety. Mystudentsonthatoccasionhad copiesoftheNIVtranslation,andsoIaskedthemtoturntothatplace,expectingto findsomethingcloseenoughtobuildthelessonon. Buttomysurprise,Ifoundthat wastranslatedwithdecencyandpropriety. Evidentlythe translators feltthat these prissy words would be in some manner equivalentto the 30 original. Isupposetheyarethesort ofwordsthata modern Americanwouldfall backonwhenrecommendingclothingthatissuitableforChristians. Buttheydonot begin to convey the meaning of Paul words. People associate decency with s conformitytominimumstandardsofsocialbehavior,andproprietywiththingslike proper etiquette, but Paul speaks of something much more personal a virtuous sense of shame, coupled with selfcontrol. The problem here is not just about an archaic wordthatneedsto beupdated,it has to do with an ancient moral concept thathasno name in the modernidiom. Iamnot sure what shouldbe done in this case. Evenmodesty seems very inadequate. Perhaps we need toreclaim theword shamefastness. But there is no use pretending that decency will convey the meaning of . The inadequacy of colloquial modern English in this instance bringstomindanobservationofJ. Michaelis: D.
Somevirtuesaremoresedulouslyinculcatedbymoralistsandphilosophers whenthelanguagehasfitnamesforindicatingthem;whereastheyarebut superficiallytreatedof,or ratherneglected,innationswheresuchvirtues havenotsomuchasaname.31

Perhapsmostseriousofallisthenormalizingtreatmentthat (charis)receives in some modern versions. This word lies at the heart of the gospel message, and I thinkitisnoexaggerationtosaythatitstranslationandinterpretationiscrucialtoa true understandingof Biblical theology in general. Thefirst English versions of the New Testament translated it grace, and this English word has been used in most translations right up to the present day. In English dictionaries the range of meanings for the word in biblical and ecclesiastical contexts is given under the headingoftheologicalusages,asintheOxford Universal Dictionary:
6. Theol., etc. a. The free and unmerited favor of God b. The divine influencewhichoperatesinmentoregenerateandsanctify,andtoimpart strength to endure trial and resist temptation c. The condition of one whoisundersuchinfluenced. Anindividualvirtueorexcellence,divine initsorigin.

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Allofthesetheologicalsensesofthewordarequiteold,datingfromtheperiodof MiddleEnglish(c. 11501450),andarewellestablishedinourlanguage. Noneofthem isobsolete. Nevertheless,certainlinguistswhothinkthatreaderscannotunderstand what is meant by grace in the Bible have urged translators to use kindness and favorinstead,andsothatiswhatwefindintheGood News Bible,theGods Word version, and the New Living Translation. But the of God is much more than kindnessorfavor. AsJamesDunnsays,InPaul isnevermerelyanattitudeor disposition of God (God character as gracious); consistently it denotes something s much more dynamicthe wholly generous act of God. Like Spirit, with which it overlaps in meaning (cf. e. , [Rom] 6:14 and Gal 5:18), it denotes effective divine , g. power in the experience of men. 32 Again, Louis Berkhof says it ordinarily denotes theoperationofGodintheheartofman,affectedthroughtheagencyoftheHoly Spirit. 33 It is probably true that many nonChristian readers will not understand grace in this biblical sense, and will think that it means graciousness. We do think, however, that the biblical meaning of grace can be gathered easily enough fromthecontextinmanyplaces,evenifthereaderdoesnotmakeuseofanEnglish dictionary, or have the benefit of explanations. Substituting kindness for grace onlyensuresthatthereaderwillnot understandwhatthebiblicalauthorsmeanby . One gets the impression that the editors of the New Living Translation did not understanditeither:Acts4:33,God sgreatfavor wasuponthemall;11:23,hesaw the proof of God favor; Romans 1:5, given us the privilege and authority; 3:24, s God in his gracious kindness; 5:17, gracious gift of righteousness; 5:20, kindness becamemoreabundant,andsoon,throughouttheNewTestament. Wenoticethat in Romans 6:14 the word grace is used, but the translation ensures that the word willnotbeunderstoodasadivineinfluence:foryouarenolongersubjecttothelaw, which enslaves you to sin. Instead, you are free by God grace. This makes good s sensewithinthe frameworkofafalseinterpretationofPaul gospel,andapopular s one,tobesure;butitdifferssubstantiallyfromwhatPaulmeansby , Forsinshallnothavedominion overyou,foryouarenotunderlaw,butundergrace. By undergracehe meansnotfreedomorforgivenessbutaconditioninwhichoneissubjected () tothesanctifying influence ()oftheHolySpirit,whichbreaksthedominionof sin in the heart, more than the Law ever could. 34 The New Living Translation, by injecting the word free, and using the word grace in the sense of kindness, practicallyconvertsthisintotheoppositeofwhatPaulreallysaid. We should have thought that a longestablished English word which perfectly correspondstothemeaningoftheGreekwouldbecherishedbytranslators,evenif somereadersmightneedhelpunderstandingitstheologicalsense. Butno. Because the perfect word in this case is not sufficiently ordinary, and hence might not be understood by everyone, a more everyday word is used, as being the closest natural equivalent, though it obviously fails to convey the true meaning in many places. Our discussion of biblical words here might go on, to include remarks on the biblical senses of justification, righteousness, redemption, atonement, sanctification,

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covenant, gospel, repentance, and other key words that are handled with care in theological writings. These are all dismissed as gobbledygook by Barclay Newman in an argument on behalf of the Contemporary English Version. 35 Newman shows no awareness of what linguistic purpose is served by such terms, saying only that they are cherished by believers who grew up reading traditional Bible translations, as a sort of insiders jargon. He does not even acknowledge the possibility that these words are valued by people because they have special religious meanings which are not conveyed by the everyday, secular words that he prefers. Newman and other linguists of Nida school seem strangely obtuse in this matter, and seem to have no s understanding of the need for Christian terminology, although of course in their own field of study they understand the need for special terms quite well. We would not deny that the technical vocabulary of linguistics serves a good purpose, although for the uninitiated it must sometimes be more mystifying and anything found in Bible versions. Why, for instance, does Nida feel a need to use such a barbarous term as 36 extraorganismic in his discussion of semantics? It is hard for us to say, but Nida believes that this term has the advantage of providing a much more detailed and precise manner of describing the relationship of the communicative event to the total cultural context in which it occurs. The profusion of such terms in linguistics has led one linguist to explain:
Every discipline has its own technical vocabulary. Linguistics is no exception. Most of the technical terms used by linguists arise in the course of their work and are easily understood by those who approach the subject sympathetically and without prejudice. The objection is sometimes made that the terminology, or jargon, of linguistics is unnecessarily complex. Why is the linguist so prone to the creation of new terms? Why is he not content to talk about sounds, words and parts of speech, instead of inventing such new technical terms as phoneme, morpheme, and form class? The answer is that most of the everyday terms that are used with reference to languagemany of which, incidentally, originated as technical terms of traditional grammarare imprecise or ambiguous. This is not to say that the linguist, like all specialists, may not be guilty at times of misplaced terminological pedantry. In principle, however, the specialized vocabulary of linguistics, if it is kept under control and properly used, serves to clarify, rather than to mystify. It eliminates a good deal of ambiguity and possible misunderstanding. 37

We can accept this explanation. But how is it that linguists like Nida and Newman do not admit the need for a special religious vocabulary, even in the translation of a religious text? It is hard to believe that persons with their training would not understand the advantages of a specialized religious vocabulary. We suspect that they are not really as obtuse as they seem to be. Their failure to acknowledge the advantages of a special vocabulary is probably due to the fact that, in the context of their theorizing about Bible translations, it is just too inconvenient for a theory which is designed to support only paraphrastic common language versions. Nevertheless, the inadequacy is plain to see. A covenant is not merely an agreement. The word good does not have the same religious meaning as righteous. When we speak of repentance we mean more than feeling sorry. To think rightly about such things, it is necessary to call them by their right names. The

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versions that deliberately avoid Christian words like this can hardly express the Christian meaning of the Greek words. The reader of these versions has not been required to enter into the conceptual framework of the Bible as it is expressed over and over again in its terminology and phraseology; he has been deprived of the opportunity to perceive the network of allusions and verbal associations which give the Bible such richness of meaning; and he is protected from exposure to anything very demanding or unusual. The reader is left in his own familiar and everyday world of thinking. And this is the whole purposeand the explicitly stated purposeof those who are promoting dynamic equivalence in Bible translations. The whole idea is to present nothing to the reader which is strange. Nothing foreign or offensive. Nothing evocative. Nothing which requires a pause for reflection, orientation, and discovery. Nothing that stretches the 38 imagination. I submit that this theory of translation is not only unscriptural, but selfdefeating and perverse.

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4. Transculturation
Apologists for dynamic equivalence commonly make a distinction between it and transculturation, which involves an adaptation of the text not only to the language but also to the cultural and historical context of the modern reader. Robert Bratcher, the chief translator of the Good News Bible, makes this distinction while criticizing Eugene Peterson The Message: s
Peterson goes beyond the acceptable bounds of dynamic equivalence in that he will often divest passages from their firstcentury Jewish context, so that Jesus, for example, sounds like a twentiethcentury American. Look at Mt 5.4142: And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more titfortat stuff. Live generously. No longer are we in firstcentury Judea, where the Roman occupation troops had the right to require Jews to carry their packs. In Jn 2.4 the money changers in the Court of the Gentiles become loan sharks. Besides indulging in transculturation, Peterson at times pads the text with additional details for increased vividness and drama 1

It must be said, however, that Nida own explanation of the goals and s characteristics of a dynamic equivalence version makes this distinction somewhat questionable. In his book Toward a Science of Translating (1964), he introduces the theory thus:
Since there are, properly speaking, no such things as identical equivalents (Belloc, 1931a and b, p. 37), one must in translating seek to find the closest possible equivalent. However, there are fundamentally two different types of equivalence: one which may be called formal and another which is primarily dynamic. Formal equivalence focuses attention on the message itself, in both form and content. In such a translation one is concerned with such correspondences as poetry to poetry, sentence to sentence, and concept to concept. Viewed from this formal orientation, one is concerned that the message in the receptor language should match as closely as possible the different elements in the source language. This means, for example, that the message in the receptor culture is constantly compared with the message in the source culture to determine standards of accuracy and correctness. The type of translation which most completely typifies this structural equivalence might be called a gloss translation, in which the translator attempts to reproduce as literally and meaningfully as possible the form and content of the original. Such a translation might be a rendering of some Medieval French text into English, intended for students of certain aspects of early French literature not requiring a knowledge of the original language of the text. Their needs call for a relatively close approximation to the structure of the early French text, both as to form (e.g. syntax and idioms) and content (e.g. themes and concepts). Such a translation would

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require numerous comprehensible.

footnotes

in

order

to

make

the

text

fully

A gloss translation of this type is designed to permit the reader to identify himself as fully as possible with a person in the sourcelanguage context, and to understand as much as he can of the customs, manner of thought, and means of expression. For example, a phrase such as holy kiss (Romans 16:16) in a gloss translation would be rendered literally, and would probably be supplemented with a footnote explaining that this was a customary method of greeting in New Testament times. In contrast, a translation which attempts to produce a dynamic rather than a formal equivalence is based upon the principle of equivalent effect (Rieu and Phillips, 1954). In such a translation one is not so concerned with matching the receptorlanguage message with the source language message, but with the dynamic relationship (mentioned in Chapter 7), that the relationship between receptor and message should be substantially the same as that which existed between the original receptors and the message. A translation of dynamic equivalence aims at complete naturalness of expression, and tries to relate the receptor to modes of behavior relevant within the context of his own culture; it does not insist that he understand the cultural patterns of the sourcelanguage context in order to comprehend the message. Of course, there are varying degrees of such dynamicequivalence translations. One of the modern English translations which, perhaps more than any other, seeks for equivalent effect is J.B. Phillips rendering of the New Testament. In Romans 16:16 he quite naturally translates greet one another with a holy kiss as give one another a hearty handshake all around. (p. 159)

In connection with this last paragraph, we would also notice what Nida said in an earlier book about the kind of interpretation conveyed in the example from Phillips. In a chapter on Symbols and Their Meaning in Message and Mission (1960) Nida describes one type of meaning thus:
What do authorities in circumstances later than the original communication say that M [the message] ought to mean to R [the receptor], quite apart from what S [the source] may have intended? Here can be treated the exposition of the holy kiss and tongues in our presentday churches and the meaning of the Constitution of the United States for presentday American life. Few Biblical expositors interpret Paul admonition of the s holy kiss as immediately applicable to our congregations. And the judges of the Supreme Court know quite well that their interpretations have for many years gone far beyond what the founding fathers intendedthough not necessarily different from what some of them would have prescribed were they living today. (p. 85)

We would prefer to see the word significance used rather than meaning for this kind of pragmatic use or interpretation of the text, to avoid theoretical confusion. 2 But Nida does not make such a clear distinction, and regards the attempt to communicate this variety of meaning as a legitimate part of the translator task. s Although it may represent a degree of dynamic equivalence which some may not

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wish to attempt, he does not rule it out, but instead includes Phillips hearty handshake (as an equivalent for holy kiss) under the term dynamic equivalence as a good example of what the approach might entail in practice. And it is hard to see how this could be approved on the same principles that would rule out Peterson s takes unfair advantage of you (as an equivalent for forces you to go a mile). In fact it really seems to us that of these two, the former is more of a transcultural rendering than the latter. Peterson at least refrains from turning the original saying here into something specific to our culture, and merely generalizes the thought. We might call this deculturation. But the hearty handshake is unquestionably an instance of transculturation. It is a relatively unimportant instance, but in view of the fact that Nida himself chose to illustrate his theory with it, one can hardly claim that his theory rules out any kind of transculturation. And moreover, his description of the method goal even seems to require this kind of adjustment. It aims to relate the s receptor to modes of behavior relevant within the context of his own culture. Other statements in the same chapter show that this call for cultural accommodation is not a mere slip of words:
In contrast with formalequivalence translations others are oriented toward dynamic equivalence. In such a translation the focus of attention is directed, not so much toward the source message, as toward the receptor response. A dynamicequivalence (or DE) translation may be described as one concerning which a bilingual and bicultural person can justifiably say, That is just the way we would say it. since a DE translation is directed primarily toward equivalence of response rather than equivalence of form, it is important to define more fully the implications of the word natural as applied to such translations. Basically, the word natural is applicable to three areas of the communication process: for a natural rendering must fit (1) the receptor language and culture as a whole, (2) the context of the particular message, and (3) the receptorlanguage audience. The conformance of a translation to the receptor language and culture as a whole is an essential ingredient in any stylistically acceptable rendering. (pp. 1667.)

Here Nida twice repeats his dictum that a dynamic translation must be adapted to the culture as a whole. If left unqualified, the practical implications of this principle are enormous. But to be quite fair, we must hasten to add that Nida also warned against attempts to completely naturalize the text. He writes:
No translation that attempts to bridge a wide cultural gap can hope to eliminate all traces of the foreign setting. For example, in Bible translating it is quite impossible to remove such foreign objects as Pharisees, Sadducees, Solomon temple, cities of refuge, or such Biblical themes as s anointing, adulterous generation, living sacrifice, and Lamb of God, for these expressions are deeply imbedded in the very thought structure of the message. It is inevitable also that when source and receptor languages represent very different cultures there should be many basic themes and accounts which cannot be naturalized by the process of translating. (pp. 1678.)

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A key phrase here is all traces. The idea is that transculturation is theoretically desirable and should be carried to a certain point for the sake of dynamic equivalence,butunfortunately,noteverything canbenaturalizedforthemodern readerwithoutseriouslycompromisingthemeaningofthetext,andsothecultural accommodationcannotbeperfect.Aftergivingsomeexamples,Nidaleavesittothe wisdomoftranslatorstodiscernwhatotherforeignfeaturesofthetextshouldbe allowedtoremaininaBibleversion. In The Theory and Practice of Translation (1969), written by Nida and Charles Taber,wefindmorewarningsagainstculturaltransformationsofthetextthatwould involvemajordistortionsorlossofmeaning:
The best translation does not sound like a translation. Quite naturally onecannotandshouldnotmaketheBiblesoundasifithappenedinthe next town ten years ago, for the historical context of the Scriptures is important, and one cannot remake the Pharisees and Sadducees into presentday religious parties, nor does one want to, for one respects too much the historical setting of the incarnation. In other words, a good translationoftheBiblemustnotbeaculturaltranslation.Rather,itisa linguistic translation. Nevertheless, this does not mean that it should exhibitinitsgrammaticalandstylisticformsanytraceofawkwardnessor strangeness. That is to say, it should studiously avoid translationese formalfidelity,withresultingunfaithfulnesstothecontentandtheimpact ofthemessage.(pp.1213.) Aconscientioustranslatorwillwanttheclosestnaturalequivalent.Ithas beenargued,forexample,thatinpresentdayEnglishanaturalequivalent of demonpossessed would be mentally distressed. This might be regardedbysomeasanaturalequivalent,butitiscertainlynottheclosest equivalent. Moreover, mentally distressed is a cultural reinterpretation whichdoesnottakeseriouslytheculturaloutlookofthepeopleofBiblical times.(p.13.) There are situations, however, in which culturally strange objects must be retained because of their symbolic values. For example, one cannot dispensewithatermforsheeporlambs,fortheseanimalsfiguresolargely in the entire sacrificial system. Moreover, there are important analogies employed in the New Testament, e.g., Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God. Similarly, though crucifixion may not be known in the local culture, the useof someexpressionforcrossand crucifixionisessential, thoughit may be necessary to provide some fuller explanation in a glossary or marginalnote.(p.111.) Wemaythencontrastalinguistictranslation,whichislegitimate,anda culturaltranslationoradaptation,whichisnot.Thisisbecausewebelieve in the significance of the historical events and situations just as they occurred. It is the job of the pastor and teacher, not of the translator, to maketheculturaladaptation.(p.134.)

Probablythesestatementswerepromptedbycriticismreceivedfrompersonswho objected to Nida statement in Toward a Science of Translating that a Bible s translation should be adapted to the culture as a whole, and to his use of the Phillipsparaphraseasamodel.HeusesnowarenderingfromthePhillipsparaphrase

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as a bad example: He says the rendering in Luke 13:11, a woman who for eighteen years had been ill from some psychological cause ( , lit. having a spirit of infirmity) involves the introduction of information from some nontextual source, and especially from some other cultural milieu. It shows the introductionofculturalideaswhichareatleastabsent,ifnotforeign,totheculture ofthetext.(p.134.)Butthesecautionaryremarksarenotdifferentinkindfromthe oneshemadeconcerningforeignobjectsinhisearlierwork.Althoughathorough going application of the principles of dynamic equivalence actually requires transculturation,herecognizesthatingeneralthisisnotacceptable,andsohetries to define the limit of legitimate application of his principles by drawing a line betweenlinguisticandculturaladjustmentsofthetext. However,asNidahimselfrecognizedandevenemphasizedinsomeplaces,itisnot reallypossibletodrawalinebetweenlinguisticandculturalmatters.Inanessay onlexicologypublishedin1958hewrote:
Whatever we may personally think of structural analysis as divorced from meaning or of the influence of grammatical categories on thought processes, we must certainly admit the close relationship between languageandculture.Languagecannotbeproperlytreatedexceptinterms ofitsstatusandfunctionasapart,aprocess,and,tosomedegree,amodel of culture, with a high degree of reciprocal reinforcement. Though one may not wish to go all the way with Whorf, nevertheless, one cannot escapethefactthatlanguageseemstoprovidethegroovesforthoughtin thesamewaythatculturalpatternsconstitutethemoldsformoregeneral 3 modesofbehavior.

This means that in the realm of lexical semantics any attempt to enforce a theoretical distinction between linguistic and cultural matters is unrealistic and evenfallacious.Themeaningsofwordsandsentencescanneverbeabstractedfrom theirculturalsettingandthenconveyedinotherlanguageswithoutlossorchangeof meaning.Translationscanmakethemeaningoftheoriginalaccessibletopeoplein other languages, but only if the reader understands that it is a translation he is reading,andthateverythinginthetranslationmustbeunderstoodaccordingtothe context of the original work.The reader cannotsimply staywherehe is in his own culture, and have the meaning transferred to him there. He must enter into the world of the text. In the previous chapter I gave several examples of distorted meaningstoillustratethispoint,andmanymorewillbegivenbelow.Iwillalsoshow repeatedly that the demand for complete naturalness of expression (which continuestobecharacteristicofallversionsproducedunderthebannerofdynamic equivalence)constantlypushestheversionsinthedirectionofdeculturationifnot transculturation.Thishappensevenifthetranslatorsdonotintendforittohappen, because culture will always have an effect on what is considered natural in any language. Itseemsthatitwasnaturalenoughforawomantocallherhusbandherlordin thedaysofAbraham,forwefindinGenesis18:12thatSarahlaughedwithinherself, saying, After I am grown old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? The Hebrewwordtranslatedlordhereis ( adonai),andthisdefinitelymeanslord, master,orowner.Itisunlikelythatthisnounwouldhavebeenusedmerelyinthe

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sense husband without the implication that the husband was in some sense the owner or master of the wife. Someone might argue from the usage here that husband should be recognized as a separate sense of the word adonai, but the evidenceforthisisveryweak,andsotheKoehlerBaumgartnerLexicondoesnotgive 4 asenseofhusband forit,andlistsGenesis18:12underthesensemaster. Obviously this will not sit well with some modern readers, because it is politically incorrect when transferred to the modern context; but it is just the sort of thing we would expect in the context of ancient Hebrew society. A scholar might even dispute the genuinenessofatextwhichdoesnotcontainsuchclearsignsofagreementwiththe historical context. We could almost date the modern versions also, by their suitability in the modern context, when we findthatinseveral of them Sarah does not callAbrahamlord,butonlyhusband(RSV,NEB,JB,TEV,CEV,NCV,NRSV). Perhaps the translators of these versions feared that their readers would not understand that my lord is Sarah way of referring to her husband. Or perhaps s they were guided bythe ideathatthetextshould betranslated the waywewould say it, even if they thought readers would probably be able to understand what Sarah meant by my lord. But whatever reason might be given for it, this only illustrates how the culture determines what is natural to the language of a people. WegrantthataliteraltranslationofSarah swordsisnotnaturalinmodernEnglish. But her use of lord is meaningful, as Peter points out in 1 Peter 3:6. If it is not possibletoconveythemeaningofherwordsinlanguagewhichisnaturaltomodern Americanreaders,thenitfollowsthatwemustabandonthatprincipleoftranslation. For the sake of the meaning we must use language that is not natural for the receptors.Andthisisthewayithastobe,notbecauseofsomemindlessliteralism, butbecauseoftheindissolubleconnectionbetweencultureandsemantics. PeoplewhoarealreadyfamiliarwiththeBibleanditsbackgroundmaynotrealize theextentofthechangesthatwouldbenecessaryforaversionwhichreallyaspires tobedynamicallyequivalentforthosewhoarecompletelyignorantofthecultural setting.Theproblemhereisnotevenprimarilyverbal.Forinstance,inanoldversion ofJudges12:14wereadthatAbdonthesonofHilleljudgedIsraelforeightyears,and he had forty sons and thirty sons sons, that rode on threescore and ten ass colts. TheGood News Bible modernizesthislanguagebysayingthathehadfortysonsand thirtygrandsons,whorodeonseventydonkeys,butthemeaningofthiswillnotbe anyclearertomodernreadersiftheydonotknowthathavingmanysons,andriding about onadonkey,werestatussymbolsinIsraelatthattime.Thefortysons could nothavebeenpossiblewithoutmultiplewives,asignofgreatwealth.Weknowthat theinfantmortalityrateinancienttimeswasmorethan50percent,evenamongthe wealthy. Ludwig Khler informs us that Marcus Aurelius [Emperor of Rome] had thirteen children, but the majority of them died young. Sultan Murad III (157495) had one hundred and two children, but at the time of his death there were only twenty sons and twentyseven daughters still living. 5 Only when this kind of informationisprovidedcanthereaderreallyappreciatewhatthetextisdesignedto convey. American readers who are unfamiliar with status symbols of the second millennium before Christ are likely to associate donkeyriding with poor hillbillies andotherruralfolkoflowdegree.Havingmanysons,byseveralwives,isnotasign of status in modern Western society. So it cannot be taken for granted that uneducatedreaderswillintuitively understandthatthepurposeofthestatementis

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to indicate how wealthy, blessed, and prominent this man was. Implicit in this statement is quite a bit of cultural information. It is not hard for a teacher to explicate it, but what can a translator do with this verse to make explanations unnecessary? If any reference to the donkeys is retained, the reader needs to be broughtintoanancientsettingwhereridingonadonkeywasaluxury. Familiaritywithancientagricultureisnecessarytounderstandmanythingsinthe Bible.Asjustoneexampleofthis,considerthecomplexmetaphorusedinMicah4:11 13.
Andnowmanynationsareassembledagainstthee, Thatsay,Letherbedefiled,andletoureyeseeitsdesireuponZion. ButtheyknownotthethoughtsoftheLORD, Neitherunderstandtheyhiscounsel: Forhehathgatheredthemasthesheavestothethreshingfloor. Ariseandthresh,OdaughterofZion: ForIwillmakethinehorniron, AndIwillmakethyhoofsbrass: Andthoushaltbeatinpiecesmanypeoples: AndthoushaltdevotetheirgainuntotheLORD, AndtheirsubstanceuntotheLordofthewholeearth.

WhyisthedaughterofZion(Jerusalem)suddenlytransformedintoabeastwith hornsandhoofsinthispassage?Becauseinancienttimes,thesheavesoftheharvest were often threshed by driving oxen over them on the threshingfloor. Thus the nationswhoknownotGodshallbethreshed,asthewheatisbeatenfromthechaff by the hoof of the farmer ox. Now, this metaphor should be interpreted, and a s Christianpreacherwoulddowelltoexplainitinaspiritualsense,aftertheexample ofEdwardPusey:
Theveryimageofthe threshing impliesthatthisisnomeredestruction. Whilethestubbleisbeatenorbruisedtosmallpieces,andthechaffisfar morethanthewheat,andiscarriedoutofthefloor,thereyetremainsthe seedcorn.SointhegreatjudgmentsofGod,whilemostisrefuse,thereyet remainsover,whatisseveredfromthelostheapandwhollyconsecratedto Him.(The Minor Prophets,1885.)

Butthetranslation ofthepassagecannotandshouldnotbeadaptedtothelimitsof someone who does notknow anything aboutthreshing.Itisveryinstructivetosee how this passage is handled in some dynamic equivalence versions. In the New Living Translation,insteadofAriseand thresh (,)O daughter ofZion,weread Rise up and destroy the nations, O Jerusalem. In the Good News Bible we find, PeopleofJerusalem,goandpunishyourenemies!Iwillmakeyouasstrongasabull withironhorns LikewiseintheContemporaryEnglish Version,Smash them to pieces, Zion! I let you be like a bull . These loose translations depart from the ll threshingmetaphorintheHebrewtext,presumablybecausethetranslatorsfeltthat it would not be understood. Instead of a literal translation of ,thresh, which impliestheox,twoofthemsubstitutethefigureofarampagingbull.Althoughboth figuresinvolveananimalwithhornsandhoofs,themeaningisquitealtered.Andin the rendering of the New Living Translation we note how destroy the nations

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clasheswith theobservationmade by Pusey,thatthe veryimageof the threshing implies that this is no mere destruction, and practically excludes it. Thus readers andpreachersalikearepayingahighpriceforthispottageofequivalence,whichis reallynoequivalenceatall. The meaning of many expressions in the Hebrew Bible cannot be conveyed in ordinaryEnglishwithoutexplanations.OneliteraltranslationofJeremiah7:29reads,
Cutoffthinehair,O Jerusalem,andcastitaway, Andtakeupalamentationonthebareheights; FortheLORD hathrejectedandforsaken Thegenerationofhiswrath.(ERV)

Here the translators of the English Revised Version have done what they could. ThewordsO Jerusalem havebeenaddedtoexpresstheforceofthefemininesingular forms used in the sentence. These forms are used because Jeremiah is employing a common trope in which cities are figured as women (cp. 6:23). When he tells Jerusalemtocutoffherhairheispartlyalludingtoanancientmourningcustom a form of selfhumiliation practiced by women in extreme demonstrations of mourning, like the tearing of garments. 6 But a marginal note on thine hair indicates that a more literal rendering of the Hebrew word ( nezer) is crown, whichprovidesacluetoevenmoremeaning.Actuallytheprimarymeaningof is consecration,assymbolizedbyacrownorbytheuncuthairofonewhohasmadea Nazaritevow.WhenusedinreferencetothehairoftheNazarite,itdenotesthehair as a sign of consecration. 7 Onlyheredoesthewordseemtobeusedinreferenceto thelonghairofawoman.Theword shephayim bareheightsprobablyrefersto thebarrenandwindswepthillsoftheJudeanWildernesseastofJerusalem.Wenote thatthewordisusedhereforpoeticreasons,indicatingnotonlyadesolatelocation away from Zion, but also one which is bare, like the head of the mourner. 8 Even casualreadersofEnglishversionsmightdiscernthatthecomplexfigureusedhere,of adefiledandgrievingJerusalemcryingoutinwasteplaces,symbolizesthedesolation of the coming exile. But an English translation cannot convey all that Jeremiah meansbycutoffyournezer. Nida has said that the relationship between receptor and message should be substantially the same as that which existed between the original receptors and the message.Buthow,exactly,canthemessageofJeremiah 7:29besotranslated?Letustrytoimaginewhatcouldbe donetomakethisverseseemnaturaltoareaderliving now,inalocationlikeOhio.Thisreaderhasneverheard anyone speak to a whole city as if it were a woman. He doesnot,ofcourse,liveinJerusalem.Hehasneverheard ofa womancuttingher hairin mourning, andhe is not sure what a lamentation might involve. Does it mean crying? He doesn know a Nazarite from a Jebusite. t TherearenobarrenheightsinOhio.Andperhapshedoesnotaccepttheideathat God sometimes gets angry. I think this would describe the average person in my hometown.JusthowarewesupposedtomakethemessageofJeremiahhereseem

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natural to him and his culture, like something he hears every day, expressed just the way we would say it, while also seeing to it that there is an equivalent effect when he reads our translation? The impracticality of these goals should be obvious in this case. We can modernize the language somewhat, using your and has instead of thine and hath; and perhaps instead of take up a lamentation we could have sing a funeral song, as in the Good News Bible. But this does not bring us very far in the direction of Nida s goals. Our naive reader will only wonder what is meant by a funeral song. At the last funeral I attended we sang Jesus Loves Me, because it was the favorite song of the deceased; but this is not the kind of song that Jeremiah has in mind. Few people in America have ever heard anything like the ( kinah) to which Jeremiah refers, a heartrending elegy sung at funerals in ancient Israel. There is nothing even remotely equivalent to it in modern American culture. We cannot make this verse say things the way we would say them if it says things that we never have any occasion to say. How can a distortion or loss of meaning be avoided in the attempt to make all this seem natural to our reader, when it is inherently not natural to him or his culture? The New Living Translation makes things easier here with its weep alone on the mountains, but much of the meaning is lost in this paraphrastic rendering. Instead of the poetic bare heights we have mountains as if the barrenness of the location were not an important part of the meaning intended by Jeremiah. The articulate lamentation is reduced to mere weeping alone. This reduction of meaning is typical of the dynamic equivalence versions. While claiming to make the meaning accessible, they make much of it inaccessible. In theory, the purpose is to convey the meaning to everyone; but in practice, anything that requires an explanation for the average reader is simply eliminated. The hard truth is, there is no easy and familiar form of colloquial language that can express in English what Jeremiah says in the Hebrew. The use of familiar words like song, weep, and mountains only prevents readers from recognizing that Jeremiah is talking about something that is unfamiliar to themsomething outside their experience, which they must learn about. I do not think it is unrealistic to expect people to learn things about the ancient culture and geography of Israel while reading the Bible. Ordinary readers of the Bible will pick up items of knowledge like this from a properly translated and annotated text. The word lamentation will convey the meaning of kinah if readers infer its biblical meaning from other places in which the word is used, as in the Book of Lamentations. The very unusualness of the word will suggest to them that it refers to something unusual or even foreign to their experience, and will facilitate the linguistic process whereby English words acquire biblical senses in the mind of the reader. The meaning of nezer is more difficult to convey, but it can be explained in a footnote. The bare heights (shephayim) can be explained with a map and a picture. The advocates of easygoing dynamic equivalence will naturally scoff at this oldfashioned method, which requires the reader to avail himself of the help provided in the margin, and to learn through study. But the patronizing and reductionistic tendencies of their own method are

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much too obvious to be denied. Instead of providing an accurate translation which requires the reader to do some thinking and learning, they would keep their readers in perpetual tutelage. The impracticality of attempts at dynamic equivalence become even more obvious if we turn our attention to units of discourse larger than the sentence or paragraph. Readers of the Bible will find that in order to understand it one must give up any expectations that the narratives will be composed according to modern Western conventions. This is one of the common expectations of naive readers, and it generates many problems for them. Take, for example, the famous question about Cain wife. In Genesis 4:17 we read And Cain knew his wife, before the existence of s any woman (other than Eve) has been mentioned, and so the skeptic captiously asks, Where did Cain get his wife? The answer is simple (he married a sister), but many are temporarily baffled by the question, because they would have expected at least some mention of the fact that daughters were born to Adam and Eve before one is abruptly brought on the scene as Cain wife. The reader has to reckon not only with s the fact that the sons of Adam would have only their own sisters to marry, but he must also get used to the fact that the narrators of the Bible tend to omit things that we would certainly not omit if we had composed the stories. The difficulty felt by readers here arises from false expectations about the Bible literary form, and it s disappears only when it is recognized that the biblical writers felt no need to 9 s mention the birth of daughters, or to explain the existence of Cain wife. When these narratives were first written and compiled, they satisfied the expectations of an ancient Near Eastern audience; but nothing short of a rewriting of the Bible, after the manner of Sholem Asch The Apostle or Walter Wangerin The Book of God, s s could bring them into line with modern expectations. It is for this reason that works of biblical fiction like Asch and Wangerin have been written. They alone can s s satisfy the culturallydetermined expectations of modern readers. Modern readers who lack an education in literature sometimes fail to understand the Bible correctly because of a natural tendency to interpret things literally. I once attended an adult Biblestudy class at a Baptist church, led by a layman, who asserted that Sarah, the wife of Abraham, was a Hittite. He referred to Ezekiel 16:3, your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. This man was not an idiot. In fact he was a dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the local university. But his background was in engineering, and I suppose he must have had little exposure to literature, for it did not occur to him that the prophet was speaking metaphorically. Another convention of prophetic speech often misconstrued by the literalminded reader is hyperbolerhetorical exaggeration to make a point. A typical example is when Ezekiel says that God will make the land of Egypt an utter waste and desolation, from Migdol to Syene, as far as the border of Ethiopia; no foot of man shall pass through it, and no foot of beast shall pass through it; it shall be uninhabited forty years. (29:1011.) If we interpret this literally, we must say that it never happened. But that is not at all necessary. Bible commentaries usually explain it along these lines:
Forty yearsanswering to the forty years in which the Israelites, their former bondsmen, wandered in the wilderness. Jerome remarks the number forty is one often connected with affliction and judgment. The

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rains of the flood in forty days brought destruction on the world. Moses, Elias, and the Saviour fasted forty days. The interval between Egypt s overthrow by Nebuchadnezzar and the deliverance by Cyrus, was about forty years. The ideal forty years wildernessstate of social and political degradation, rather than a literal nonpassing of man or beast for that term, is mainly intended. 10

I am not aware of any Bible version that tries to prevent overly literal interpretions of this and many other verses, and I do not think it would be wise, because Christians disagree about what should be taken literally, and any attempt to steer people away from literal interpretations woud require quite a bit of tendentious paraphrasing. What can be done? If we want people to understand the Bible, we can hardly ignore this problem. But it cannot be solved by a translator. The only practical method of helping uneducated people to recognize the use of symbolic numbers and hyperbole in Scripture is to educate them about it. The New Testament presents similar problems for the uninitiated. In his preaching, Jesus often used exaggerated language to make his point, and the modern reader who is not used to this rhetorical technique must learn to recognize it. And all the writers of the New Testament assume that the reader is familiar with the Old Testament, or at least with some important elements of Jewish religion based on it. Paul argument in Galatians 3 is addressed to recentlyconverted Gentiles, but it s would not have made much sense to a reader who did not already know who Abraham was. Even the title Christ would be confusing to Greeks who knew nothing about the Old Testament, because the sense anointed one is a Hebraism introduced by the Septuagint, used only in Jewish Greek, and the custom of anointing kings was unknown outside of Judaism. In ordinary secular Greek the word was an adjective meaning to be used as an ointment, specifically a pharmaceutical ointment. So Jesus the Christ would have meant the ointment Jesus, if it meant anything at all to the heathen. But it seems that they commonly confused with , meaning benevolent, and understood it as a name. 11 Despite this, we do not find in the New Testament any explanation of the term, or any avoidance of it. The writers simply required readers to know what Christ means. The New Testament also assumes that the reader is familiar with many aspects of ancient Jewish culture that cannot be learned from the Old Testament. Luke use of s the phrase a sabbath day journey in Acts 1:12 assumes that the reader is familiar s with the Jewish custom of limiting travel on the Sabbath day to about two thirds of a mile (two thousand cubits, to be exact). 12 And the knowledge assumed by the writers consists of far more than isolated bits of information like this. Consider what the reader must know to understand Matthew 12:3841.
Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, Teacher, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet: for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall stand up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for

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they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, a greater than Jonah is here.

In order to fully understand these three sentences, readers must know who the scribes and Pharisees were, and what kind of sign they were asking for. They must know the story of Jonah, and of Christ death and resurrection. They must also know s the meaning of the phrases Son of Man, the judgment, adulterous generation, and heart of the earth the last two being understood as figures of speech. If I were giving an unhurried lesson on this passage, I would also like to explain that generation does not express all that is meant by here, because refers not only to a group of people born at about the same time, but also to people of a common origin and nature (something like brood or kindred). And I would think readers must have some explanation about how Old Testament stories present types of the Messiah, in order to understand why Christ focuses on the three days in the belly of the whale. Again, what can a dynamic equivalence version do to convey all this? I chose this last example (Matthew 12:3841) because Nida himself, in a sentence we have quoted above, mentioned the Pharisees and the adulterous generation concept as examples of foreign elements which cannot be converted into something more familiar to modern Americans without a loss of meaning. To say that they are deeply imbedded in the very thought structure of the message is a rather obscure way of putting it. A better way of describing this linguistic situation would be to say that these words have meaning within the context of firstcentury Judaism that they cannot retain when taken outside the whole interconnected system of people and ideas that constitutes the religious culture of the time. The phrase adulterous generation serves to invoke a concept developed in the writings of the prophets, that the people of Israel have violated the terms of their covenant with God like an adulterous wife, and have estranged themselves from the covenant, like the Gentiles who worship other gods. Jesus, who speaks as a prophet here, describes the that desires a sign in these terms because he is comparing them (unfavorably) to the heathen people of old Nineveh. One cannot convert adulterous into faithless, as in the New Living Translation, without losing important culturallyspecific content. The complex metaphorical concept represented by the phrase adulterous generation is a cultural specialty for which there is no readymade equivalent in other cultures and languages. Again, Nida recognizes this in the case of Pharisees and adulterous generation, in his short list of foreign objects. But the point I would make now is this: the same may be said for all of the things I mentioned in connection with Matthew 12:3841 above. None of the key words of the passage can retain their meaning outside the total context of people and ideas to which they belong. Acknowledging a few terms as exceptions really misrepresents the situation, because the meaning of words and sentences in a discourse like this cannot ordinarily be abstracted from the cultural context. The mind of the reader must become acculturated to the world of the Bible to get the meaning. Foreign objects that require some degree of linguistic acculturation are especially abundant in the words of Christ. In the dominical saying recorded in Matthew 11:11

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and Luke 7:28 we find the expression those born of women used in reference to humanity. This is a Hebraism, corresponding to the phrase used in Job 14:1, 15:14, and 25:4. The expression used in these places is not idiomatic in secular Greek or English, and doubtless many readers who are unfamiliar with idioms of Scripture will fail to perceive its import, but it is not merely another way of saying all who have ever lived, as the NLT translates it in the Gospels, or humanity, human, or who in all the earth, as we find it translated in Job. In Scripture the facts pertaining to the birth of a man are supposed to indicate his nature. Therefore is not just a pleonastic way of saying ,mankind. It refers to man according to his condition from birth, or even according to his inherited nature, which is often associated with weakness and impurity in Scripture. The meaning of born of woman includes the concept expressed elsewhere in Scripture by that which is born of flesh (John 3:6, compare 1:13) and born according to the flesh (Gal. 4:23, 29). 13 If we translate it simply as humanity, the most interesting part of the meaning is neglected and made completely invisible to the English reader. Someone may object that a more literal translation leaves the uninformed reader in no better position, because the background information must be supplied in either case. But it is only the promoters of the dynamic approach who claim to remove the need for such a learning process, by making the text immediately understandable to people of widely different cultures. We grant that a smoother path is made for the reader when awkward and foreignsounding expressions like those born of women and sons and sonssons are converted to something which flows better in our ears. But even small adjustments like this, which might seem to be only a matter of style to many, often leave out part of the meaning, or involve little transculturations which 14 distort the meaning in subtle ways. In Matthew 1:19 the New Living Translation describes Joseph as Mary fianc. But s the Greek text calls him her man, the usual way of referring to a woman husband. The Jews made no verbal distinction between a husband and a s fianc. In fact they would not even have understood what we mean by fianc. They observed a custom more accurately called betrothal, and they had no practical need for a verbal distinction between a husband and a fianc because the betrothal in itself established a state of marriage, and was legally binding. The only thing lacking in betrothal was the physical consummation of the marriage. The NLT use of fianc s here is anachronistic and misleading, because it implies that the relationship was like a modern engagement to be married. We see the same thing in Luke 2:5, where Mary is described as Joseph fiance. The word here denotes not a s modernstyle engagement but a state of betrothal. This is a good example of why it is impractical to try to translate the Bible into a form of English which is entirely natural for today readers while also accurately communicating the meaning and s content of the original biblical texts, as the version preface claims. A modern and s familiar style is suitable for modern and familiar ideas. But very often the ideas of the biblical text are not modern, and they are unfamiliar to modern people who have not received any prior instruction in the historical background of the text. It would be better to translate accurately as her husband and as betrothed, and to provide an explanation in a footnote.

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There are other places in this version where the marriage customs have been accidentallymodernizedthroughtheuseofmodernexpressions.InancientIsrael,a girlwasgiventoahusbandbyherfather,usuallywhenthegirlwasaboutsixteen years old; and so in the Hebrew text of Deuteronomy 7:3 Israelite fathers are instructed, You shall not give your daughter to [a Canaanite son, nor take his s] daughter for your son. But the NLT paraphrases this sentence, Do not let your daughtersandsonsmarrytheirsonsanddaughters,asifthefatherhadonlytolet asonordaughtermarry.Now,presumablytheNLTtranslatorshadtheHebrewtext in front of them and were able to read it, and yet they chose not to translate it literally. Why? Is it because they felt that modern readers would not be able to understand what is meant by giving your daughter? This seems unlikely, because weallknowwhatitmeanswhenafathergivesadaughterinmarriage,andweeven makefathersgothrougharitualisticgivingofthebrideinourweddingceremonies. The expression may be oldfashioned, but it is understood. It seems that the NLT translators avoided the literal rendering here because they wanted to use a more modernsounding and idiomatic expression. Do not let your daughters and sons marry is more idiomatic in modern English, to be sure, but there is a cultural reason why this is more idiomatic today: it reflects modern Western realities of courtship,engagement,andmarriage. The most important kind of cultural background information concerns items of mental culture, which often cannot be conveyed in quick explanations. Take for exampletheusageoftheword (truth)inJohn sGospel.Thishasbeenthe subjectofmanydiscussionsamongscholars,andnot allagreein theirconclusions; but one thing agreed upon by all is that John usage is anything but modern or s evencommoninitsday.WhenJohnquotesChristsaying Iam thetruth(14:6)heisnotjustusingsomeidiomaticGreekexpressionmeaningIam truthful. isnomoreidiomaticinGreekthanIamthetruthisin English.Intwoplaceswefind usedastheobjectof (dothetruth,in John3:21and1John1:6),apparentlyafterthepatternoftheHebrewexpression ,which means keep faith, i.e., act faithfully (Genesis 32:10, 47:29, Nehemiah s 9:33). 15 This may indicate that John bears connotations, at least, derived from the Hebrew equivalent .But the dualistic meaning attached to in Hellenistic philosophical writings eternal spiritual reality as opposed to the unsubstantial and temporary things of this world is clearly intended in most placeswherethewordisused.
MykingdomisnotofthisworldYousaythatIamaKing.ForthisIwas bornandforthisIhavecomeintotheworldtobearwitnesstotheTruth. EveryonewhoisoftheTruthhearsmyvoice.(John18:37)

The meaning of these pregnant words, concerning a spiritual kingdom, to which thosewhoareofthetruthbelong,cannotbeadequatelyconveyedbyanyEnglish translation if the reader is not familiar with the background of JewishHellenistic thought,inwhich truthand truerefertotherealmofpureand eternal reality, as distinct from this world of transient phenomena. 16 We have no word or any stock phrases that could evoke the Hellenistic concept of in moderncolloquialEnglish,becauseitismysticalandforeigntoanythingthatmight

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beexpressedinanordinaryconversation.FormostreadersoftheBible,wholackthis background,anexplanationisnecessary.Whatwefindinversionsthattrytomake explanations unnecessary, by use of equivalent expressions that are easily understood by everyone, is something rather different from the true meaning. For example,inJohn18:37theNew Living Translation has,Icametobringtruthtothe world.AllwholovethetruthrecognizethatwhatIsayistrue.Thisbanalityisthe closestnatural equivalentthat thetranslator couldfindin theconceptualscheme of uneducated modern peoplebut it is not equivalent to the original, and it will only interfere with a teacher efforts to convey what Jesus is really saying here. A s true understanding requires some study or instruction, in which the English word truthreceivesabiblicalsenseborrowedfrom initsHellenisticmilieu.Any Englishwordsusedforthispurposemustbeadaptedandbenttothemeaningofthe ancient Greek. There is no possibility of conveying the meaning in Common English. ItsometimeshappensthatthecommonEnglishrequirementworksindirectlyto avoidorsuppresscertainbiblicalattitudesandideas.InmostversionsoftheBibleit willbenoticedthatthepeopleofGodaresometimescalledthesaints.Thewords commonlytranslatedthusare inHebrew, inAramaic,and inGreek. When these words are used in referenceto people,they mean thepeople set apart and sanctified or consecrated to God. Our word saint began as sanct, borrowed fromLatin(sanctus,holyone),asanexactequivalentfortheoriginalwords.Butin the New Living Translation is translated with such phrases as the Lord s people (Psa. 34:9), and as his very own people (Rom. 1:7), God s children (Rom. 12:13), God people (Phil. 1:1), believers (Rom. 8:27) s Christians(Rom.15:25),andsoforth,inwhichthebasicideaofsanctification goes unexpressed.ThesameistrueoftheGood News Bible,andofthe2011revisionofthe New International Version. Clearly the reason for this is that modern Christians do not usually call themselves the saints or the sanctified ones. And a translation that adheres to habitsof common English must use words as they are commonly usedtoday. Butwhyisitthatwedonotwecallourselvesthesaintsorholyones?Probably becauseinourmodernchurchcultureitwouldbeseenaspresumptuous,orperhaps wejustdon tfeelthatwedeservethenameofsaints.Itisanamethatmakessome uncomfortable demands upon us. This same feeling, a thousand years ago, may be one reason why some began to reserve the term sanct for only the holiest Christians, so that saint came to have the ecclesiastical sense: persons who are formally recognized by the Church as having by their exceptional holiness of life attainedanexaltedstationinheaven(Oxford English Dictionary).Thehistoryofthis word illustrates the fact that ordinary language is not always to be accepted as theologically neutral. It is shaped by our culture, and it sometimes promotes a culturallydeterminedmentalitythatisincongruentwiththeteachingsoftheBible.

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5.GiantsandWindmills
InthefamousstoryofDon Quixote,a Spanish nobleman who has been reading legends about giantslayers, among other things, goes forth to live the life of romantic adventure. Coming upon some windmills on a plain, he sees them as giants, and attacks them. Onemight saythat the windmills were the closest thing to giants in his environment. But what a difference there is between giants and their closestequivalent!Still,hegoesfrom oneadventuretothenext,translating the stories he had read into real life, usingwhateverequivalentshecanfindaroundhim. I would describe Nida theory as Quixotic, in the sense that it leads to many s incongruous identifications. A translator should not be trying to bring the original messageintoapresentdaycontexttomakeitdirectlyrelevant,ifinfactitdoes not belong in the present. Cultural differences are not just an inconvenient barrier to conveying the message to modern people. The original message itself pertains to the original situation, and it cannot always be abstracted from its situation and transferred to another setting, as if the cultural context were just some accidental stagescenery.Theattempttonaturalizeatextthatcomesfromsolongago,andso faraway,isboundtocometogrief.Readersshouldinsteadbeconsciousofadistance between themselves and the original receptors of the biblical writings, because an awareness of the differences as well as the similarities is necessary for right interpretation and application. Whether they realize it or not, all Biblereaders are interpreters oftheBible,andtheymust takeintoconsiderationthehistoricalcontext. ThisisonemorereasonwhytheBibleshouldnotbenaturalizedinatranslation. I do not want to discourage the natural impulse of Christians to apply the teachings of the Bible to themselves personally, insofar as possible. This is actually very important, and I think most people do not do enough of it. But it must be recognizedthatnoteverythingintheBibleisequallyrelevantforeveryone. Consider, for example, Christ polemic against the Pharisees of his day. It s presupposes their dominance at the time, as the established authorities in a very legalisticreligiousregime.Inthiscontext,histeachingsoftenstandoutasrelatively liberal. Certainly many of hissayings were designed to promote an attitude more liberal than the prevailing one, concerning such things as sabbath observance and fasting. So an equivalent response in our own times would be for us to become moreliberalthanusual,andlesscarefulabouttheSabbath,fasting,prayervigils,and soforth.Butisthatreallyappropriateforus,whoarealreadysoliberal,andsomuch at ease in Zion? IfJesusweretoreturnnow,Idoubtthathisarraignmentagainstour

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generationwouldhavemuchtodowithexcessivetraditionalism,legalism,andworks righteousness.Heismorelikelytoconvictitofcomplacency:Rememberthenfrom what you have fallen, repent, and do the works you did at first! (Rev. 2:5). In our effete times, harping on the evils of legalism, and using the most rigorous or scrupulouspeopleasbadexamples,islikesparringwithshadows.Theopponentsare nowabsentandlargelyimaginary.WecannoteditScripturetosuitourideasofwhat needstobesaidtoday,ofcourse;andinanycase,differentthingsneedtobesaidto different people within the same cultural setting; but a proper interpretation and applicationofChrist spolemicagainst the Pharisees comeswhenthe reader knows just who the Pharisees were, what the religious culture of the Jews was like in the middle of the first century, and how radically different it was from the culture of today. The dynamic equivalence principle leads instead to the transformation of thePhariseesintotimelessbogeys,tobeequatedwithanyoneinthemodernChurch whowouldcriticizetheprevailingcomplacencyandlukewarmness.Orworsestill,it mayleadtoafacileequationofthePhariseeswithmoderndayJews whoaremore like modern Episcopalians than ancient Pharisees. Ultraobservant Jews who do resemblethePhariseesaretodayamarginalgroupwhichdoesnotrepresentmodern JudaismanymorethantheAmishrepresentChristianity,andtheydonotposeany threattotheChurch. David Burke, former Director of Translations for the American Bible Society, has warnedthatpoorlyinformedreadersarelikelytointerpretthepolemicagainstthe Jews in the New Testament as if Jews of all time are somehow implicated. 1 His concerniswellfounded,becauseformorethanfortyyearshisorganizationhasbeen promoting the idea that poorly informed readers should be able to read (and thus interpret) the Bible for themselves. How can the reader of a dynamic equivalence versionavoidequatingtheJewswhopersecutedtheearlyChurchwiththeJewsof theirowntimeandplace,whenthewholepurposeofthetranslationistoproducean equivalenteffectinthelanguage oftoday?Burke ssolutiontotheproblemisto eliminatethewordJewsfromBibletranslations,sothatthereaderwillnotthinkof modernJewswhereverJewsarecriticizedintheBible.HeboaststhatBibleversions producedbytheABS havebeenmost innovativeinthisregard,andcriticizesmore literalversions(specificallytheRSVandNRSV)fornotbeingsensitivetothisissue. ButBurkefailstorecognizethattheproblemiscreatedbydynamicequivalencein the first place. A version that preserves the forms of antiquity and does not try to forcetheBibleintomodernmoldsdoesnotinvitesuchanachronisticequations.But when Jesus and his apostles are disguised as modern Americans, the reader can hardlybeblamedforinterpretingthemasiftheywere. AnoutstandingexampleofinappropriatecontemporizationistheuseofIsraelis instead of Israelitesin the Living Bible (Exodus 9:4;12:34; 14:20;19:1;Judges 7:14; 1 Sam.14:21;Isaiah14:1,etc.).TheuseofIsraelisinthesecontextsequatestheancient peopleofIsraelwiththeoccupantsofthemoderndaystateofIsrael.
ButtheLORD willhavemercyontheIsraelis;theyarestillhisspecialones. He will bring them back to settle once again in the land of Israel. And manynationalitieswillcomeandjointhemthereandbetheirloyalallies. Thenationsoftheworldwillhelpthemtoreturn,andthosecomingtolive

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in their land will serve them. Those enslaving Israel will be enslaved Israelshallruleherenemies!(Living Bible,Isa.14:12)

Thisiscongenialtocertainliteralisticinterpretationsofprophecy,tobesure;butit involves the same kind of cultural foreshortening that would equate modernday JewswiththescribesandPhariseesofancientPalestine.Onthesameprinciple,one mightalsotranslate( KingofBabylon)asPresidentofIraq.Butsurelyitis better to translate the text in such a way that readers can sense the cultural and temporal gap that intervenes between the ancient civilizations and our own. Whateverispropertotheancientworldshouldnotbedomesticated. The general point made here is, not everyone should identify with the original receptors in all respects, because these original receptors were often addressed in situations radically different fromourown.Iftheshoe fits, we shouldbyall means wearit.Butinordertoknowwhetheritfitsornot,wemusthaveknowledgeofthe original cultural context. In Scripture there are many lessons that are always pertinent, for which the historical setting makes little difference. But very often it doesmakesomedifferencewhen, where, how, why,andto whom somethingissaid.

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6. The Criterion of Acceptability


I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable [] to God, which is your spiritual service [ ]. And be not conformed to this age [], but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may approve [ ] what is the will of Godgood and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:12)

In this passage the Apostle Paul implies that people whose minds are fashioned by the culture of the present are not acceptable to God, and that they will not discern or approve what is acceptable to him. But many Bibletranslation pundits of our time seem to have a higher view of the age. Some even advocate making the Word of God more acceptable to our age by toning down or eliminating things that might offend modern readers. In an article published in The Bible Translator, Arie de Kuiper and Barclay Newman inform us that literal renderings of Son of God and similar expressions in the New Testament are so offensive to Muslims that many refuse to read a text which contains them. In order to remove this hindrance to Biblereading among Muslims, they suggest the use of a functional translation, like God Servant wherever such a s rendering can be justified on exegetical grounds. In an effort to provide an exegetical justification for this rendering in the first three Gospels and in the Acts, they argue that in those books son of God is a Messianic title which expresses an adoptionist Christology, not the Christology of John Gospel or of the later Christian s confessions and creeds. Furthermore, they maintain that Jesus himself certainly did not call upon the people of his day to believe in him as the Son of God.
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How much does a person have to know or believe in order to become a Christian? Must one believe in the virgin birth, or in the bodily resurrection? Must one affirm that Jesus is the Son of God in the full sense of the later Christian confessions and creeds? Jesus himself certainly did not call upon the people of his day to believe in him as the Son of God his message was the proclamation of God Rule, not of himself as the Son s of God. A few observations about the content and the original setting of Mark will illustrate what we are trying to say. Although Mark does refer to Jesus as the Son of God, the meaning that he gives to this term is far different from what John calls upon his readers to believe about Jesussonship. One of the difficulties that we face is that Mark context, for example, is s changed as soon as we place it side by side with another Gospel. We immediately understand Son of God in Mark in the light of the meaning that it has in the other Gospel(s) to which it is joined in the NT collection. This is just as serious an error as taking a verse out of its context and interpreting it freely, without regard for its original contextual setting. It is in fact almost the same as the translator who wanted to remove a verse

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from Romans and place it in the Gospel of John, where he thought it was more fitting. Mark own context is not the NT setting, but its historical s context in the life of the Christian community to which Mark wrote, long before it became a part of the sacred collection. So then, if on the basis of Mark Gospel we say that a person must believe in Jesus as the Son of God s in the sense of any of the other Gospels, we are demanding of that person a faith that Mark own readers were not expected to have. s

It does not escape our notice that this involves the promotion of the unitarian Christology favored by liberals, along with the whole critical approach to the Bible that sets aside John Gospel as a spurious later development, among other things s ostensibly for the purpose of making Bibles less offensive to Muslim readers. One finds this same kind of advice in the writings of Nida. In From One Language to Another (1986) Nida and his coauthor Jan de Waard advise translators to take care that their translations are not only readable and intelligible, but also acceptable to prospective readers. This criterion of acceptability refers very broadly to the readiness with which people are happy to receive such a text and read it (p. 205). In an example of how this principle should be applied, they suggest that something which is offensive to the version constituency should be eliminated if s some additional reason can be given for its elimination:
Readability is simply a measure of the ease with which people can read a text. Intelligibility is a measure of the capacity of people to understand the text correctly, and acceptability is a measure of the readiness with which people are happy to receive such a text and read it. Acceptability of a text depends very largely upon the style, but for certain constituencies some texts of the Scriptures may be more acceptable than others. For example, in the Muslim world the Gospel of Matthew is generally more acceptable than the other Gospels. For one thing, it begins with a genealogy starting with Abraham, and it contains a number of references to fulfilled prophecy cited from the Old Testament. But for the Gospel of Mark, Muslim anathema is waiting at the first verse when the variant reading Jesus, the Son of God [sic] is put into the text. Since many scholars believe that there are strong reasons for not considering this text as original, such a stumbling block should not be introduced in the very first verse (Slomp, 1977, 14350), especially if the translation is being prepared primarily for an Islamic constituency.

Subsequently Nida published an article on Intelligibility and Acceptability in Bible Translating in which he again pointed out that a perfectly intelligible translation of the Scriptures may not be acceptable, and emphasized the need for paying greater attention to acceptability through increased concern for more satisfactory stylistic features, or stylistic appropriateness. 2 But here the main point seems to be that acceptability is improved by avoiding things that are ideologically offensive, or in some way objectionable on religious grounds. The primary reason for the elimination of Son of God is to avoid offending Muslims. The textcritical reason is secondary. 3 The goal of avoiding offense has led some translators to worry about how their translations will be perceived by Jews also. One senior member of the New Revised Standard Version committee has stated that a Jewish scholar was included on the

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committee so as to provide an assurance that the NRSV translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Christian Old Testament) would contain nothing offensive to our Jewish neighbors. 4 Of course there are many passages of the Old Testament that were especially designed to offend those who imagined that they are the chosen people of God merely because of their ethnicity, but we cannot suppose that the elimination of these are in view. Probably offensive in this context refers to distinctively Christian interpretations, which were in fact carefully excluded from the NRSV Old Testament. Unfortunately for these revisers and their readers, the principled exclusion of Christian interpretations necessarily involved the adoption of 5 an heretical Marcionite approach to the interpretation of the Bible as a whole, although it was not possible for them to remove Christian interpretations of the Old Testament from the New Testament, as Marcion did. Another controversial application of this principle may be seen in some recent Bible versions that aim to suppress the patriarchalism of the Bible for readers who would find it offensive. In preparation for the Inclusive Language Edition of the NIV published in Great Britain in 1996, the NIV Committee on Bible Translation adopted a policy statement which included the following paragraphs:
Authors of Biblical books, even while writing Scripture inspired by the Holy Spirit, unconsciously reflected in many ways, the particular cultures in which they wrote. Hence in the manner in which they articulate the Word of God, they sometimes offend modern sensibilities. At such times, translators can and may use nonoffending renderings so as not to hinder the message of the Spirit. The patriarchalism (like other social patterns) of the ancient cultures in which the Biblical books were composed is pervasively reflected in forms of expression that appear, in the modern context, to deny the common human dignity of all hearers and readers. For these forms, alternative modes of expression can and may be used, though care must be taken not 6 to distort the intent of the original text.

The NIV committee also explained in the Preface of this revision that their purpose was to mute the patriarchalism of the culture of the biblical writers through gender inclusive language, and claimed that this could be done without compromising the message of the Spirit (p. vii). It is to be noticed here how the NIV translators have turned the tables on St. Paul, by saying that he and the other authors of Scripture reflected (i.e. conformed to) the age, and that we enlightened modern people, being more spiritual, have good reason to be offended by the unfortunate cultural patriarchalism of the biblical text. An examination of the new inclusive edition of the NIV shows that most of the forms of expression that are thought to deny the common human dignity of all hearers and readers are perfectly ordinary expressions which use various words meaning man ( and in the Hebrew, and in the Greek) and masculine pronouns to express general truths. For instance, we find that in Psalm 1:1 the NIV committee has changed Blessed is the man [ ]who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked to Blessed are those who do not walk in the counsel of the wicked. Apparently the revisers feared that the Psalm focus on a man here would s be seen as sexist. In 2005 this committee also produced another revision of the NIV

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known as Todays New International Version (TNIV), in which the same principles were followed. In this revision they have changed the rendering brotherly love (, Romans 12:10) to loveremoving brotherly from the text. We also find that in Isaiah 19:16, where the prophet says (Egypt shall be like women, and shall tremble and fear), the revisers have changed the original NIV the Egyptians will be like women to the Egyptians will become s weaklings. We can only suppose this was designed to avoid giving offense to readers who might object to Isaiah use of a stereotype about women (similarly Jeremiah s 50:37, 51:30, and Nahum 3:13). Yet another inclusive language revision of the NIV was published in 2011, and in this latest edition we find the same kinds of neutered renderings that had been adopted in 1996 and 2005. Over a thousand occurrences of man and men were eliminated in these NIV revisions, along with several hundred fathers, brothers and sons. Nearly three thousand personal pronouns were neutralized. 7 In their efforts to avoid masculine pronouns, the revisers have sometimes used a clumsy that person instead of a he, and they have even resorted to using the colloquial singular theya substandard usage never before seen in a Bible version. Thus the 2011 revision of Psalm 1:13 reads, Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked ... That person is like a tree ... whatever they do prospers. Proverbs 14:7 now reads, Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips. All this squirming to avoid he is necessary to protect the dignity of female readers, they insist, although obviously this was no matter of concern for the biblical writers, and even in our culture there are very few people who would pretend to be offended by it. Just today I noticed in an Associated Press news article the following sentences:
[After suffering brain damage] a person who used to find his way to work just by instinct may come to rely on memorizing the route more formally. A patient who has trouble remembering what he sees may compensate by telling himself what he looking at, bringing in his verbal memory s 8 circuitry.

This usage of his, he and himself to refer back to antecedents like a person and a patient is quite normal, and it is familiar to everyone who reads the newspaper. The idea that it must be eliminated from a Bible version for the sake of the dignity of female readers is an idea that savours of fanaticism. It could only have arisen in an academic environment, under the influence of feminist ideology. Quite aside from the gender issue, there is something distinctly modern about a solicitude for human dignity in the translation of the Bible. 9 When the biblical authors speak of mankind in general they are so often contrasting us with God, and emphasizing our unworthiness, that man and men even acquire a negative connotation in Scripture. 10 What sort of dignity is gained by women who are now expressly included in the translation of adam in a passage like Isaiah 2:922? The whole point of it is to destroy any sense of human dignity. Those who want people to be used instead of man will only have to learn that people are sinful and have no claim to dignity before God. We notice however that the genderneutralized versions tone down this severe teaching about humanity also, by avoiding the words humanity, humans or people in contexts like this. The New Revised Standard

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Version (NRSV) uses the quaint mortals. The revised NIV and the New Living Translation add derogatory adjectives (e.g. mere humans in Isaiah 2:22) to avoid a contemptuous use of the word human itself. Some of the genderneutralized renderings that have appeared in recent Bible versions completely obscure the main point of the writer. In Psalm 133:1 the word brethren is used to express the spiritual kinship of Israelites gathered in Jerusalem; but the Contemporary English Version translates the verse, It is truly wonderful when relatives live together in peace. The problem is, relatives does not have the connotation of closeness or the extended religious sense that brothers has in such contexts. When is rendered relatives, the verse seems to be nothing but a comment about the importance of friendly relationships between cousins. The Good News Bible and Todays New International Version use God people here, s which is referentially more adequate, but fails to convey the kinship connotation. Again, the editors have ruled out brothers because they fear that it would be seen as a sexist expression; but there is no other word which can convey the full meaning of in English. Taken in isolation, some of these changes may be seen as naive attempts to make the text conform to the genderneutral style that is now expected in published books, merely because that is what many people now expect in books. It must be said, however, that this style does not really reflect what is normal in modern English, but has been arbitrarily imposed by editors for political reasons. Recently I found the following sentences in a book published in 1993: In common parlance, the term [ professional may mean nothing more than ] skilled. One might observe, for example, that a plumber did a tricky piece of repair work very professionally and 11 mean simply that he or she joined the pipes cleanly and successfully. Here, by a unflinching application of some academic inclusive language rule, the words or she have been added, in reference to a hypothetical plumber. The or she here is unnatural, obtrusive, irrelevant to the purpose of the sentence, and gives the impression that the author is determined to be politically correct, by plastering his prose with feminist bumperstickers, as one writer aptly puts it. 12 Some writers have tried to represent this sort of thing as an attempt to make the text more accurate in some sense. 13 This has led to some novel claims about the meaning of Hebrew and Greek words. It has been claimed, for instance, that the word (aner), which is the ordinary word for man as opposed to woman in Greek, has a genderneutral meaning in some contexts, and therefore it may be translated person instead of man. 14 Naturally, this questionable assertion about the meaning of the word in some contexts is promptly used to justify a gender neutral rendering in all but a few places. No one who knows Greek is likely to be fooled by this. It has also been claimed that the ordinary word for father in Hebrew ( )has the genderneutral sense of parent. 15 No one who knows Hebrew will find this claim plausible, or fail to see the motive behind it. We all recognize that such claims are designed to provide some justification for genderneutral renderings that are demanded for ideological reasons. Liberal scholars can make claims like this without fear of damaging their credibility among other liberal scholars, because they all wink at it. But the statements quoted above show that most of the NIV committee members were not prepared to sacrifice their credibility among the more honest

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scholars by taking this route. They affirm what we have observed above, that the usus loquendi of a society tends to reflect certain attitudes; and, according to their own explanation,their purpose wastosuppressthesigns ofpatriarchalism which offend modern sensibilities. This is honest enough, but it goes far beyond the commonsenseprinciplethatatranslationshouldbeintelligible.Itinvolvesatheory of translation which requires the elimination of expressions which are potentially offensiveorperhapssimplyunusualinthecommonspeechofthereceptors,sothat thetextpresentseverythingthewaywe wouldsayit.Thiswayofthinkingmaybe illustratedbytheargumentspresentedbyGrantOsborne,who,indefenseofgender neutral revisions, invokes several ideas belonging to dynamic equivalence theory (whichhecallsfunctionalequivalence):
Whether or not to use inclusive language in Bible translation is not a gender issue but a matter of translation theory. The true question is whetherformalequivalenceorfunctionalequivalence,asBibletranslation theories, produces the best translation for our day. Formal equivalence (sometimescalledliteral translation) believes that the original wording, grammar, and syntax should be retained so long as the resulting translation is understandable (KJV, NASB, and RSV are examples). Functionalequivalence(alsocalleddynamictranslation)believesthatthe textshouldhavethesameimpactonthemodernreaderthattheoriginal hadontheancientreader.Accordingtothisapproach,itisnottheoriginal terms butthemeaning of the whole thatisimportant,askingthequestion, HowwouldIsaiahorPaulsaythistoday togethismeaningacross?(the Good News Bible and NLT are examples; NIV and NRSV are sometimes literal,sometimesdynamic).Thefirstisawordforwordtranslationand the second a thoughtforthought translation. The use of inclusive pronouns in translations falls within the realm of dynamic translation theory. In the ancient world it was common to say man or he when speakingofallpeople.TheinfluenceoftheKJVhasmadeitcommonuntil recentyearstodothesame.Withinthelasttwodecades,however,thisis practicedlessandless,andthosewhohavenotgrownupinthechurchcan misunderstandsuchmaleorientedlanguage.(Youdohearitnowandthen innewscasts,butnormallybyoldercommentatorswhogrewupwiththe idiom.) Even if the inclusive he is retained in some stylebooks, it is impossibletodenythatitsoccurrenceisbecomingrarerorthatultimately itisonitswayoutinmodernlanguage.Abasicprincipleofalltranslation theory is to express the ancient text in the thoughts and idioms of the receptor language. Let us remember Paul principle in 1 Corinthians s 9:22IhavebecomeallthingstoallpeoplesothatbyallpossiblemeansI might save some (NIVI). This has become an important missiological mandate.It meansthat, inanyreceptorculturethatdoesnotopposethe gospel, the missionary/Christian must adapt to make the gospel proclamationaccessibletothepeople.Thetaskistobeculturallyrelevant without being culture bound. Whenever a detail within a culture is not inimicaltobiblicalChristianity,thechurchshouldadaptitsproclamation to that practice. Replacing man with people or he with they does not contradictthemeaningofthebiblicaltext,whileretainingthemcanbe,at worst, offensive and, at best, misleading to many modern people. The American Heritage Book of English Usage states,Itisundeniablethatlarge

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numbers of men and women are uncomfortable using constructions that have been criticized for being sexist. Since there is little to be gained by offendingpeopleinyouraudience,itmakessensetotrytoaccommodate atleastsomeoftheseconcerns.ItislikelythatPaultodaywouldnotuse suchunnecessarilyoffensivelanguageasman orhe whenitreferstomen and women. (For instance, see Psalm 32:1, Blessed is he whose transgressionisforgiven,whichPaulquotesinRomans4:7asBlessedare they whosetransgressionsareforgiven,NIV.)Thisisnotcapitulatingtoa feminist agenda but exercising evangelistic sensitivity toward those (including many evangelicals!) who can be offended by such. The difficultycomeswhenmen arebeingaddressedintheancientsetting,but men and women would be addressed in the modern setting. In many of thoseinstances,communicationisbetterservedbychangingthepronouns lestthemodernreadermistakenlythinkonlymalesarebeingaddressed.16

AsintheexamplesgivenabovefromDeKuiper,Newman,NidaandDeWaard,we see that Osborne does not apply the acceptability principle purely and simply, without bringing in other considerations to help justify the desired changes. He claims that using man as a translation for the corresponding Hebrew and Greek wordswouldbeatbest,misleadingtomanymodernpeople.Butthisclaimappears ratherweakwhenwelookathowmanisusedinthetext.Forexample:Blessedis themanwhodoesnotwalkinthecounseloftheungodly.Whocouldthinkthatthis verseissayingthatonly menareblessedforgodliness?ChangingthistoBlessedare those is certainly not necessary to prevent misunderstandings, or to make the gospel proclamation accessible. So in addition to these statements he brings in severalotherconceptsfromdynamicequivalencetheorytohelpjustifytherevision. Herewewishtonoticeinparticularthedemandfortransculturationthatisimplicit inthemissiologicalmandatetobeculturallyrelevant(i.e.conformedtothisage) andtheideathatanequivalentimpactmightbeachievedbyadaptingthetextto thoughtsofthereceptorlanguage.Thereismuchtodisagreewithhere.Butitcan hardlybedoubtedthathisquotationofthestylemanualthatsayslargenumbersof menandwomenareuncomfortableusingconstructionsthathavebeencriticizedfor beingsexistcomesclosesttotheactualthinkingoftheeditorswhohaveproduced genderneutralrevisionsoftheBible.InthecaseoftheNIVrevision,thetranslators ownexplanationsclearlyindicatethatitwasdonemainly(ifnotexclusively)forthis reason. Again, we observe that not all proponents of dynamic equivalence have spoken like this. Probably they realize that a translation theory that wants to eliminate things that are uncomfortable for modern people will not be accepted without qualms by responsible Christian teachers, and would even be rejected as intellectually dishonest by most nonChristians. The whole principle of acceptabilityisindeedveryquestionablefromamoralstandpoint,becauseitseems to promotewhat we would ordinarily calla fraud. The originalpreface oftheGood News Bible (1976)seemedtorejectthisprinciplewhenitclaimedthatthetranslators were guided by a contrary principle: Faithfulness in translation also includes a faithfulrepresentationoftheculturalandhistoricalfeaturesoftheoriginal,without anyattempttomodernizethetext,itsaid.Butwenotethatthewordswithoutany attempt to modernize the text are omitted in the revised preface to the second

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edition(1992).Clearlythetranslatorsdomodernizethetext,becausetheyareguided by Nida prescription: the conformance of a translation to the receptor language s and culture as a whole is an essential ingredient in any stylistically acceptable 17 rendering. Andalthoughtheydonotadmitit,thisprincipleisnotcompatiblewith afaithfulrepresentationoftheculturalandhistoricalfeaturesoftheoriginal.There can be no dynamic equivalence, as Nida defines it, without transculturation and modernization; and the acceptability principle is quite in keeping with this goal. After all, if the originaltextwas not offensive to its original audience,then doesn t dynamic equivalence require the translation to be inoffensive to the culture and ideology of its intended readers also? And if we balk at this, as being manipulative anddishonest,whatbecomesofthewholetheoryofdynamicequivalence? Inanycase,weareboundtomaintainourintegrity,andtheideasabouttheBible s relationship to culture that have brought us to these questions are clearly incompatiblewithahighview ofScripture. Surelywemustregistera protest when people are tinkering with the Bible to remove things that are offensive to other religionsortothesecularcultureofourtimes.

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7.DisintegrationofBiblicalConcepts
Language influences thought in several ways. When we have a word for some objectofthought,itfocusesandclarifiesthethought.Whenwedistinguishbetween thingsbymakingadistinctioninwords,itsharpensourperceptionofthedifference. Whenweusethesamewordfordifferentthings,ittendstokeepthemtogetherin themind.Thedevelopmentofmultiplemeaningsforoneword(calledpolysemy by linguists)usuallyreflectsatrainofconceptualassociations,andiscommonlyspoken of under the figure of a branching tree. Various meanings diverge from a primary root meaning which may contribute something to the extended meanings. We shouldbewareoftheetymologicalfallacy,inwhichthebranchesaremistakenfor theroot, 1 butbelowIwillarguethatpolysemydoessometimesestablishconceptual bridgesandconnectionsbetweenthings.WhenasinglewordisusedinScripturefor thingsthatwewouldordinarilydistinguishbytheuseofdifferentwords,weought toconsiderthepossibilitythattheoriginalwordsestablishorfacilitateaconceptual relationship that would be weakened if different words were used. A translator shouldnothastilyorunnecessarilyseparatewhatthebiblicallanguagesputtogether. The regular use of a certain English word to translate a certain Greek or Hebrew wordisdesirable,withinlimits,becauseitallowstheEnglishreadertoseetheverbal connectionsthatexistintheoriginal. The desirability of this has often been emphasized by biblical scholars who have writtenonthesubjectoftranslation.Forexample,GeorgeCampbell:
I admit that it is impossible, in translating out of one language into another, to find a distinction of words in one exactly correspondent to what obtains in the other, and so to preserve uniformity, in rendering everydifferentwordbyadifferentword,andthesamewordbythesame word. This is what neither propriety nor perspicuitywill admit. Therule, however,totranslateuniformly,whenitcanbedone,inaconsistencyboth withproprietyandperspicuity,isagoodrule,andoneofthesimplestand surest methods I know, of making us enter into the conceptions of the sacredwriters,andadopttheirveryturnofthinking.2

Topreventanymisunderstandingofmymeaninghere,Iwouldfirstemphasizethe limitsofthisconcordantapproachtotranslation. As Campbell says, it is not always possible to translate concordantly, using the sameEnglishwordforalloccurrencesofaHebreworGreekword.Forexample,both the Hebrew word ( kallah) and the Greek word (nymf) mean bride in somecontextsanddaughterinlawinothers,andwecannotconsistentlyuseonly oneEnglishequivalenttotranslatethesewordsineveryplace,ignoringthedemands ofthecontext,becausewedonothaveawordthatcanrefertoboth. 3 Sometimesit isimpossibletotranslateawordconcordantlyevenwithinthe samecontext, asfor exampleinRomans12:1314,wherePaulusesformsoftheword intwodifferent senses,pursue,andpersecute.Thewordplayherecannotbefullyreproducedin English. And it would be foolish to try to represent the Hebrew idiom T

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(meaningslowofanger)witharenderinglikelongofnostrilsinordertopreserve averbalidentitywithotheroccurrencesofT whereitmeanslongor whereit meansnostrils.Itismerelyanaccidentoflanguagethat canmeanangeror nostrils/nose or face, and this has no more semantic importance than the fact 4 that can mean either bride or daughterinlaw. However, it sometimes happens that the whole point of a verse may escape the notice of the reader when verbalconnectionsarebrokenintranslation.AnexampleofthisisinEphesians3:14 15, which in the KJV reads, For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. The point of the relative clause in verse 15 is more readily grasped when it is known that there is a play on words here. The word translated family () also means clan, ethnic group andfatherhood,beingderivedfromthewordtranslatedfatherinverse14(). 5 In ancient thinking, a family or ethnic group is constituted and defined by its fatherhood,andsothesamewordisusedforboth. One very important word in theGreek New Testament that cannot betranslated concordantlyinEnglishistheword (logos).ThiswordoccursoftenintheNew Testament (about 300 times), and it is translated several different ways in English versions.Inthegreatmajorityofcasesitistranslatedword,butitordinarilyrefers toasayingorstatementthatexpressesanideaoraseriesofconnectedthoughts, especially those which involve reasoning. Some of the connotations of may be seenfromthefactthatithasenteredtheEnglishlanguageaslogic,andaspartofthe words prologue, epilogue, and Decalogue (the ten statements inscribed on the tablesofthetestimony).Thesuffixlogy attheendofmanyEnglishwords(biology, theology, psychology, etc.) reflects the meaning treatise or reasoned discourse. mayalsorefertoacalculation(henceourwordlogistics),anaccounting,a particularreason,etc.Inatleast twoplaces intheNewTestament,itis usedin a specialmetaphysicalsense,referringtothepersonified ofGod(John1:1,14,and intheJohannineComma).Althoughitisusuallytranslatedword,itdoesnot have the sense that word usually has in English: a speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolizes and communicates a meaning without being divisible into smallerunitscapableofindependentuse.Thatitdoesnotrefertothemeresound of words, may be seen in John 8:43 Why do you not understand my speech []?Itisbecauseyoucannothearmy.The herereferstothemental concept expressed by the audible speech. Lattimore translates it reasoning in this place. Ironicallyenough,someversionsmisinterpretthissaying,byfailingtodistinguish the and the . TheRSV(followed by the ESV) doesthis, and tries to give point to the saying by interpreting hear as bear to hear. (Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.) The NEB effectivelyconveysthemeaningwith,Whydoyounotunderstandmylanguage?It is because my revelation is beyond your grasp. The NLT rendering provides an s outstandingexampleofhowmuchmeaningcanbelostinadynamicallyequivalent translation: Why can you understand what I am saying? It is because you are t unabletodoso!Here issimplyquashed,andthesayingisreducedtoanempty tautology,losingvirtuallyallofitsmeaning.6

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The semantic associations of are also inherited by words derived from it, such as the adjective (borrowed into English as logical). Because the word acquired spiritual significance through association with the Word of God, the derived adjective can mean spiritual in addition to reasonable. And thus in 1 Peter 2:2 the milk would be understood as spiritual milk, but also suggests a connection with the living and abiding of God which has just been mentioned. And hence we find in some English versions milk of the word (KJV, NKJV, NASB). It is not helpful to ask which of the alternative renderings gives the meaning; rather, what needs to be seen is that no English rendering can be entirely adequate, because we lack a word like which suggests both concepts, or invokes the same cluster of associations. As one scholar observes, in this context implies that the spiritual food the believers consume comes to them verbally 7 through the Word of God. Again, it is important to bear in mind that a word often has different meanings in different contexts. One should not try to find all of the senses of a word in every context where it occurs. But, as I hope to illustrate with this example, it sometimes happens that the sensedistinctions we would make for the purpose of English translation are not so distinct in the original word, which may represent a complex concept that combines ideas in ways that English does not. Consider the following sentence from Athanasiustreatise OntheIncarnation.
He did not merely create men as he did the irrational [] living creatures on the earth, but made them after his own image, imparting to them a share even of the power of his own Word []; in order that, possessing as it were certain reflections of the Word [], and being made rational [], they might be able to continue in blessedness, living the true and only real life of the saints in paradise. 8

This is not a mere play on words. Athanasius (who is among the least playful of authors) is linking ideas in a way already prepared by his language. He makes these connections quite naturally in his language because he has a set of terms that refer to reason, word, and the Logos of John Gospel. It is really almost inevitable that a s Greek theologian would connect the image of God with the Logos, and the Logos with rationality in particular. Anything created as a reflection of the divine Logos must first of all be logikos, rational. The tendency of the Greek language to combine these things is very evident here. But the connection fails in English, because we habitually make a linguistic distinction between the internal reasoning and the external speech, and so we have no word that refers to both. Someone might say that the Greek vocabulary lends itself to the confusion of two different things here, but from another point of view the Greek represents a concept that disintegrates in English. In any case, the translator who would bring the full meaning of this sentence across the language barrier has no choice but to override the restrictions of the English language and bring over the Greek words themselves, either in brackets or footnotes, to exhibit the chain of thinking. Despite the fact that these same words have already been adopted into English in several ways, expressing various meanings belonging to them, we still do not have a word that means both reason and word!

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English translators have always sensed the inadequacy of their language when faced with the problem of translating in the prologue of John Gospel. There is s no English equivalent for the metaphysical sense in which it is used there. In such cases it may be best simply to borrow the word in a transliterated form, as James Moffatt did in his Modern Speech version of the New Testament (The Logos existed in the very beginning ), and allow teachers to explain the meaning of it. It would not be the first time this word has been borrowed. If borrowing is ruled out, and the common English word continues to stand in the place of , then an explanation is needed to establish a particular biblical sense for word here. Explanations like this are often given in expository preaching. For example, Augustine in his Homilies (or Tractates) ontheGospelaccordingtoSt. John had to face the same problem in Latin as we do in English, because Latin also lacks an entirely adequate equivalent for . The Latin version uses Verbum ( word in John 1:1, but Augustine explains that Verbum here does not mean what it ) ordinarily means in Latin. The divine can be called a Verbum only if we understand that this Verbum is really more like a cogitatio (thought) or a consilium (purpose). It is like a word in the man himself which remains within (in ipso homine, quod manet intus), not the spoken word, but that which the sound signified, and was in the speaker as he thought of it (quodautemsignificavitsonus, et in cogitante est qui dixit). For you can have a word in your heart, as it were a design born in your mind, so that your mind brings forth the design; and the design is, so to speak, the offspring of your mind, the son of your heart (Situpoteshabere verbum in corde tuo, tamquam consilium natum in mente tua, ut mens tua pariat consilium,etinsitconsiliumquasiprolesmentistuae,quasifiliuscordistui). With this explanation he invests the common word Verbum with a special biblical meaning that reflects the meaning of in Hellenistic Greek, although he does not even mention the Greek word. Any preacher today could do the same with an English translation that represents with word. Instead of borrowing the Greek , the English word can be made serviceable (if not entirely adequate) by explanations or by contextual indications which give it a modified biblical meaning. For the purpose of biblical translation, it is unfortunate that in modern nonliterary English the words faith and faithfulness have divided up the senses that belong to the Greek word , and to the Hebrew word .The fact that these biblical words mean both faith and faithfulness (i.e. fidelity) obviously has great importance for an understanding of the Bible. In the languages of the Bible it is not easy or natural to speak of a faith without faithfulness, because the two concepts are bundled into one word, and, as Sanday and Headlam put it, the one sense rather suggests than excludes the other. 9 Dunn warns against the danger of treating the meanings of as though they were sharply distinct (or even polarized points), rather than a continuous spectrum where the meaning faith merges into the 10 meaning faithful but because we commonly use different words for these things, ; English readers are very prone to make this mistake. Here again it is necessary to teach people a biblical meaning for the English word. In the Bible, where the word faith stands for or ,it should ordinarily be understood in the theological sense of a conviction practically operative on the character and will, and thus

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opposed to the mere intellectual assent to religious truth (Oxford English Dictionary). The vocabulary of Biblical Hebrew includes several important words that resist translation. One prominent Old Testament scholar has complained that when we try to translate the ancient Hebrew text into modern English, we come up against the problem that the two languages belong to two worlds of life and thought. The undertones and overtones of each written wordall the associations it calls up to one who uses it familiarlyare necessarily wanting in the foreign word that replaces it, often with a very different set of associations. Therefore it is frequently impossible to find an English word with content adequate to the corresponding Hebrew term, and we must trust to the reader to put as much of the meaning as he 11 gathers from the context into the English equivalents. The word ( chesed), for instance, combines the concepts covenant obligation, loyalty, act of kindness and love in a way that no English word can match. It denotes a kind of dutiful love, connected with promises, family relations, and covenants; and also any action that is motivated by such love. When attributed to God, implies much mercy within the context of a covenant. The word thus has different shades of meaning in different places; but it is not as if it meant kindness in one place, mercy in another, and loyalty in another. It represents a complex concept which cannot be reduced to just one of these English nouns in any of its occurrences. The concept goes to pieces in English. The Hebrew word ( nephesh) refers to the soul of a human being, but its connotations are not nearly so ghostly as the English word are in modern usage. It s denotes the soul as embodied, and so it is used in reference to such primal bodily urges as the appetite, along with the deepest emotions. A man is what really s 12 motivates him, either spiritually or carnally. Being the name for an entity which causes a creature to be alive, it came also to be used in the sense of life itself, as a condition of the body; and by a synecdoche (the most important part standing for the whole) it acquired also the sense living being. (It is important to note that in the Bible, all animals have souls. The soul is what makes any creature alive. Man is not set apart from the beasts by the possession of a soul, he is set apart by being created in the image of God.) All of this is also true of the Greek word (psyche), which was used to translate in the Septuagint, and is used in all these senses in the Greek New Testament. Concerning the translation of the BAGD Lexicon rightly says, It is often impossible to draw hard and fast lines between the meanings of this manysided word (p. 893), because the different senses blend into one another, producing ambiguity, and the concept of the soul as an entity casts its shadow over all the various usages of and . As an example of this linguistic chemistry in action, consider the following words of Isaac to Esau in Genesis 27:4.
Prepare a savory dish for me, such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my may bless you before I die.

Syntactically, the phrase my here is functionally equivalent to the personal pronoun I, or to any other way of referring to oneself, but semantically it is not just another way of saying I, because in addition to serving the function of self reference, it refers to the soul. And this is generally true in cases where an expression

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with refers to persons. It is used in contexts where the fact that they are living is pertinent, where a matter of life and death is prominent, or where the most primal desires of the person are in view. In this context, both the carnal appetite and the impending death of Isaac have made a reference to his soul especially appropriate. Obviously it means more than I, and so the NIV that I may give you my blessing s 13 fails to express the whole meaning. The only way to convey the whole meaning in a case like this is to translate literally, that my soul may bless you, and to explain in a note that the word translated soul may also refer to the appetite. A more complex example is in Leviticus 17.
10 If any man of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that who eats blood and will cut it [i.e. the ] off from among its people. 11 For the of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it [i.e. the blood] for you on the altar to make atonement for your [ plural], for it is the blood that makes atonement by the .

This important text briefly sets forth a theology of the atonement. The first evidently refers to a person, but again, its function is not merely referential, it is used for the sake of its soul connotations. Moreover we note that the participle and pronouns connected with it are grammatically feminine, which gives the impression that it is the soul (a feminine noun) which eats and is cut off. In its second and fourth occurrences might seem at first to mean vitality or life, but in the intervening atonement for your it must be understood as souls or selves (the NRSV s atonement for your lives makes no sense), and this reacts upon the interpretation of the other occurrences, because the sentence clearly equates the of the sacrificial victim with the of its presenter, for the purpose of explaining how atonement is accomplished. If the word is translated three different ways in these two verses, the connections which are obviously being made in the mind of the author are dissolved. But that is exactly what happens in many English versions. Some versions give no indication that a soul is ever mentioned in this passage. The NLT renders it thus:
10 And I will turn against anyone, whether an Israelite or a foreigner living among you, who eats or drinks blood in any form. I will cut off such a person from the community. 11 For the life of any creature is in its blood. I have given you the blood so you can make atonement for your sins.

Observe here that not only is the soul missing, but also the altar, and any indication of the substitution of one life for another on the altar. The substitutionary idea was expressed in the original by verbal connections which are completely eliminated in the English translation. No version can entirely avoid this phenomenon of translation, in which the semantic connections of important words disintegrate in the passage from one language to another, but the problem becomes most acute in versions produced under the dynamic equivalence philosophy, which demands complete naturalness of expression in the receptor language. This demand is often incompatible with the requirements of an accurate translation. A translator must sometimes employ the

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principle of concordant rendering, even if it goes against the idiomatic grain of the receptor language, in order to preserve the meaning. Some have argued that soul is a misleading translation for because in popular usage it does not have the range of meaning that belongs to . But what is the alternative? If the translator gives several different renderings, according to his ideas of what the word means in each context, then the reader who relies upon his translation will never acquire the knowledge of the general concept that represents. Concepts without names are like souls without bodies. They become invisible. And furthermore, avoiding the word soul has the effect of leaving the naive reader concept of the soul s undisturbed by Scripture. So we cannot agree with Gerhard von Rad when he says, we should refrain from translating this term as soul wherever possible. 14 Rather, we should refrain from rendering it otherwise, and allow the context to indicate how soul must be understood. In this way the reader concept of the s soul will be shaped and informed by Scripture. Fortunately, the defects of our language are not so numerous and serious that we are unable to produce a serviceable, tolerably accurate translation of the Bible. But the linguistic capacity we do enjoy is often owed to the historic influence of Greek and Hebrew upon English, as mediated by literal translations of the Bible. The English word grace owes its range of meaning to the fact that for so many centuries it was used in English Bibles as a translation of , and in this way had acquired all the meanings of the Greek word. When such a process of linguistic preparation has occurred, it is foolish not to use the especially prepared words. Our ability to produce a fully adequate translation really depends upon them. One biblical concept that has suffered unnecessary disintegration in recent versions is the concept expressed in Scripture by the Hebrew word and the Greek word , traditionally rendered flesh in English versions. These words refer not only to flesh in the narrow sense, but to creatures made of flesh, humanity in distinction from God, and human nature in general. Often the words are used in a pejorative sense, emphasizing the mortality, corruptibility, and weakness (both physical and moral) of mankind. This usage is not confined to musty old Bibles, it is a recognized sense in common use. People do not assume that the flesh in a phrase like the world, the flesh, and the devil refers only to skin and muscle tissue, anymore than they would assume that the world refers simply to the planet earth. They understand that flesh in such a context refers to the impulses of the flesh, that is, the natural or instinctive desires of the body. But the NIV does not use flesh in that sense; it uses the word only where it is thought to refer to the material of the body. Elsewhere it offers, as translations of the word , such abstractions as sinful nature (Rom. 78, etc.), sinful mind (Rom. 8:7), human ancestry (Rom. 9:5), human standards (1 Cor. 1:26), and human decision (John 1:13). In some places the word is not translated at all (Rom. 4:1), or its place is filled with a mere pronoun (Matt. 24:22, Rom. 3:20, 1 Cor. 1:29, etc.). One of the NIV translators, Ronald Youngblood, has responded to criticism of its renderings thus:
To render the Greek word sarx by flesh virtually every time it appears does not require the services of a translator; all one needs is a dictionary (or, better yet, a computer). But to recognize that sarx has differing connotations in different contexts, that in addition to flesh it often

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means human standards or earthly descent or sinful nature or sexual impulse or person, etc., and therefore to translate sarx in a variety of ways, is to understand that translation is not only a mechanical, wordfor 15 word process but also a nuanced thoughtforthought procedure

We do not deny that the word has this range of meaning. Our point is, when the word is rendered in so many different ways, the reader cannot perceive how these things are associated and sometimes even identified in the Greek language. With regard to two of them Herman Ridderbos observes that it is an indication of the universality of sin, in that flesh on the one hand is a description of all that is man, and on the other of the sinful in man. 16 We might also observe that the same word is used for corruptibility, sinful tendencies, and biological descent, which suggests not only the universality but also the inheritability of the sinful nature. The whole matrix of semantic connections and connotations is destroyed when different words are used for the different aspects of this complex concept. Youngblood apparently believes that Hebrew and Greek readers are able to discern the intended meaning of the word in each context, but he does not seem to recognize that the context will in the very same way indicate the meaning to readers of English versions that translate consistently as flesh. Why should the defining effect of the immediate context be acknowledged for the one and not for the other? It is as if the constraints and indications of the immediate context are not really thought to be adequate. Readers are assumed to be incapable of inferring the meaning of the term from the context. But is there really any basis for the idea that readers cannot perceive what is meant by flesh in places where it means something more than the physical substance? In some places it quite obviously refers to unregenerate human nature in general (e.g. Galatians 5). More recently Douglas Moo has explained that members of the committee who revised the NIV in 2002 thought that the word flesh in contemporary English would either connote the meat on our bones or (where context rendered that particular meaning impossible) the sensual appetites, and especially sexual lust. 17 But the special association of the flesh with sensual desire is not just a quirk of contemporary English. The word also had this connotation in firstcentury Greek. 18 It is no coincidence that Paul in his list of works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19ff.) begins with three items associated with sensuality. Martin Luther complained that the Latin equivalent caro and the German das Fleisch were also commonly understood as referring either to meat or to lust in his day. 19 But notwithstanding this, Luther found such significance in the Bible use of flesh as a designation for s humanity and human nature, that he preferred to translate and literally as 20 Fleisch. The approach taken by Luther may be illustrated by comments in his Preface to the Epistle of Paul to the Romans.
To begin with we must have knowledge of the manner of speech and know what St. Paul means by the words, law, sin, grace, faith, righteousness, flesh, spirit, and so forth. Otherwise no reading of it has any value.

He goes on to define these key words for his readers. The difference between Luther and the translators of the NIV is that Luther had higher expectations of his

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readers, despite the fact that in his time illiteracy was much more of a problem than it is today. 21 He did not believe that a Bible version without explanatory notes and prefaces could convey the whole meaning while making all misunderstandings impossible. He expected readers of his translation to read his notes and prefaces, and he expected preachers to explain the Bible in their sermons also. But the NIV is shaped by much lower standards and expectations, as Moo explains:
A careful reader of the Bible would no doubt eventually acquire a sense of the significance of flesh in Romans. Yet, no matter what our hopes might be, how many readers of the Bible today are that careful? If one is translating for the wellread churchgoerthe person who goes to Bible studies where the Bible is really studiedthen flesh is probably the best rendering of sarx. But the unpalatable fact is that only a minority of Christians anymore fall into that categoryto say nothing of non Christians, who, we hope, will pick up and read the Bible. For many readers, then, translating Paul sarx as flesh would not effectively s communicate. Every indication is that the ability of people to read is steadily declining. If we are to hope for a Bible that an entire congregation can use, the readability of a more contextually nuanced translation such as the TNIV may be the best option. 22

Moo agrees that a concordant and literal translation of is probably best for the careful reader and for those who have received instruction, but he assumes that the majority of Christian readers will not be careful and will not receive instruction. So, careful readers are marginalized by the NIV, while the careless readers are treated as normal. But we do not share such low expectations. We object to the idea that the entire congregation should be using a Bible version adapted to the limitations of those who will not read it carefully, and who are expected to learn nothing from teachers. I wish to emphasize here that any discussion of what is thought to be best in a translation must inevitably bring under consideration pedagogic and ecclesiastical questions for which a biblical scholar may have no special qualifications or wisdom. There is no reason for us to think that Moo, for example, is a better judge of what people can understand, or of what reading level is best for a Bible version to be used by the whole congregation, or of how much explanation should be left to pastors and teachers. These are questions that lie outside his area of expertise. I assume that we are in agreement about the meaning of the word . At least I find nothing in Moo remarks which causes me to think otherwise. My disagreement with Moo is s about his assumptions concerning the readers of the English version, and what is best for a Christian congregation. Again, I would point out that he admits that concordant renderings will benefit careful readers in this case. The desirability of concordant renderings may also be seen when we consider the metaphorical relationship that often exists between different senses of the same word. In Hebrew the word ( shamayim) means both sky and heaven, and the same is true of the Greek word (ouranos). It is by a metaphorical extension of meaning that the word for sky came also to mean heaven, in the sense of God s dwellingplace. The metaphorical sense no doubt originated in the intuition that

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divinity must be above our world, because power and authority is naturally associated with being in a higher position. God is so high, he is above the clouds. This is a way of expressing the transcendence of God, and it contrasts with pantheistic conceptions that prefer an immanent worldspirit or nature deity. Scripture often uses variations of this God is high metaphor, and some events recorded in Scripture give sanction to it. At the Baptism of Christ, the heavens were opened. When he ascended into heaven, he quite literally went up into the sky. This must be understood as a symbolic action, as Bruce Metzger explains:
Though Jesus did not need to ascend in order to return to the immediate presence of God, the book of Acts relates that he did in fact ascend a certain distance into the sky, until a cloud received him out of sight (Acts 1:9). By such a dramatic rising from their midst, he taught his disciples that this was now the last time he would appear to them, and that henceforth they should not sit about waiting for another appearance, but should understand that the transitional period had come to an end. The didactic symbolism was both natural and appropriate. That the lesson was learned by the primitive church seems to be clear from the fact that the records of the early centuries indicate that his followers suddenly ceased to look for any manifestation of the risen Lord other than his second coming in glory.

23

This symbolism will seem natural and appropriate to people who ordinarily associate the transcendent realm of heaven with the sky above, and this association is facilitated by the linguistic fact that means both sky and heaven. But when a language requires us to use different words for these things, it works against the semantic association upon which the scriptural symbolism depends. Polysemy often lays the groundwork for symbolism, and it can play a large part in establishing mental associations that are taken for granted and seem only natural to members of a linguistic community. Although it may seem poetic, until recently no one thought it would be hard to understand if were translated heaven in places where it denotes the sky. But it seems that many Bible translators now think that heaven must be distinguished from the sky. Even the NASB reflects this, by giving two different renderings for the same word in Acts 1:1011, and the GoodNewsBible consistently avoids calling the sky heaven or the heavens even in poetic contexts (e.g. Psalm 19, the sky reveals God glory). What is lost when the sky can no longer be called the heavens in the s Bible? We lose the power of a scriptural metaphor, which sets the throne of the Most High God upon the stars, and also the symbolic meaning of Christ ascension. 24 s The teaching concerning death and resurrection is sometimes expressed in Scripture by extended senses for words meaning sleep and awake. In Daniel 12:2 we read, And many of those sleeping ( )in the dust of the earth shall awake ( ,)some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting abhorrence. The word translated sleeping here is an adjective derived from ( sleep, BDB Lexicon p. 445). The word translated awake is a form of ( awake, BDB p. 884). See also the use of these words in 2 Kings 4:31, Job 14:12, Psalm 13:3, Isaiah 26:19, and Jeremiah 51:39, 57. In the New Testament, see the use of the verbs (sleep, BAGD

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Lexicon p. 388) in Matt. 9:24 (= Mark 5:39, Luke 8:52), 1 Thes. 5:10; and and its cognates (sleep, BAGD p. 437) in Matt. 27:52; John 11:11, 13; Acts 7:60, 13:36, 1 Cor. 7:39, 11:30, 15:6, 18, 20, 51; 1 Thes. 4:14; and 2 Pet. 3:4. I would also point out the parallelism in Ephesians 5:14. Surely it means something that words which in their primary sense mean fall asleep are also used in reference to the death of the body. To say that one of the senses is fall asleep and the other is die is to miss the significance that derives from the connection of the senses. 25 For if the dead sleep, they will awake! As Louis Berkhof observes, it is likely that Scripture uses this expression in order to suggest to believers the comforting hope of the resurrection. 26 But the connection is lost in the NLT rendering of Daniel 12:2 (those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up), 2 Kings 4:31 (the child is still dead), Psalm 13:3 (I will die), 1 Thes. 5:10 (dead or alive), Matt. 27:52 (who had died), Acts 7:60, 13:36 (he died), and in all places where a word meaning sleep is used to speak of death in the epistles. 27 A memorable word used seven times in Jeremiah is ( hashekkem), lit. set out early. In what appears to be a bold anthropomorphism, Jeremiah represents God rising up early for the work of sending his prophets to Israel (7:13, 25; 11:7; 25:4; 29:19; 32:33; 35:14). Lexicographers from Gesenius on have supposed that in these places the word is used in an extended sense of doing with a sense of urgency or something similar, which is not unlikely. Less likely is the recent idea that it had also a sense repeatedly. 28 But however that may be, everyone acknowledges that the same word is used in the sense setting out early nearly everywhere else, so it surely must have connoted early morning activity in Jeremiah also. In the more literal versions of the Bible the word is consistently translated rising up early. In the less literal versions we have the weakened renderings repeatedly (NLT) and again and again (NIV) in Jeremiah. Persistently (RSV and ESV) is scarcely better. Why not use urgently or earnestly at least? We want a rendering that gives some indication of the word proper meaning. The rendering rising up early may not be the most s perspicuous one for literalminded readers of Jeremiah, but it certainly does indicate the primary meaning of the word, and there is really no compelling reason to think that it was not the only meaning of the word for the biblical authors. Why should it not be understood as a lively and metaphorical way of speaking in Jeremiah? When we compare English translations of James 1:3 and 1 Peter 1:7, we sometimes find diverse renderings of the word . In the Revised Standard Version, for instance, it is translated testing in James 1:3 and genuineness in 1 Peter 1:7. We do not object to the idea that there is a slight difference in the meaning of the word in these two places. However, the difference in meaning is certainly exaggerated in the English here, because the genuineness denoted by is that genuineness which is discovered or proven by testing. This does not need to be explained to anyone reading the Greek, because it is thesameword used in James 1:3, and it is very obvious that the two senses of the word are conceptually related. Therefore it is better to translate more concordantly as tested genuiness in 1 Peter 1:7 (ESV). Earlier in this book, under the heading of Transculturation, I discussed the semantic range of the words and . The primary meaning is brother, but

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in addition to referring to one who was born of the same mother and father, they may also refer to a member of a religious community, fellow countryman, neighbor, etc., and these various senses are enumerated in the lexicons. Here again the meaning has been extended metaphorically, and so the extended senses retain the connotation of the primary sense, brother. It certainly means something that a fellowChristian is called an in Scripture. Therefore, in order to preserve the meaning, a concordant rendering is desirable. We should translate it as brother in all places. If we avoid the word brother and use expressions like member of the church or fellowChristian when refers to someone who is not literally a brother, then the metaphorical meaning is lost. Apologists for dynamic equivalence typically ignore such considerations. Some have even denied, on a theoretical level, the reality of the linguistic phenomenon we have been talking about here. One new member of the NIV committee, Mark Strauss, has written:
First, Greek and Hebrews words (called lexemes), like words in any language, seldom have a single, allencompassing meaning, but rather a range of potential senses. This range of senses is called the lexeme s semantic range. The context and cotext in which the lexeme is used determines which sense is intended by the author. Most words do not have a single literal (core, basic) meaning, but rather a semantic range a range of potential senses which are actualized by the utterance in which they appear. Second, words normally have only one sense in any particular context. While there may be some interplay between senses in various contexts, these senses do not necessarily force their meanings on one other. James Barr speaks of illegitimate totality transfer, the fallacy of assuming that the whole of a lexeme semantic range is somehow s 29 contained in any single occurrence.

In an illustration of this, Strauss discusses various meanings of the Greek verb (do, practice, make, cause, give, etc), and belabors the rather obvious point that cannot always be translated the same way. And so he concludes:
The literal translator recognizes that often does not mean make, but still argues that, inasmuch as possible, the same English word should be used for each word in Hebrew and Greek. But what is the justification for this? If the goal of translation is meaning, then the correct question is not, Is makean adequate translation? but What is the meaning of in this context? and What English word, expression or idiom best captures this sense? It is irrelevant whether the same English word is used in any particular case, or even whether a whole English phrase or idiom is introduced. 30

The issue is thus framed by a refusal to acknowledge that the primary sense of a word commonly gives connotations to the extended senses. A semantically mercurial word like is offered as proof of this, as if it were typical. After a little specious reasoning we then come to a point where people are even claiming that member of the church is an entirely adequate translation for , and anyone who thinks

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that it must still connote brother when it refers to a member of the church is said to be guilty of a linguistic fallacy. We are not here ignoring the theoretical possibility that a wordmeaning which began as a metaphorical extension of the primary meaning may lose its metaphorical liveliness after generations of frequent use. There is such a thing as a dead metaphor, which has become merely referential in meaning, having lost its original connotations; or if not entirely dead, the metaphorical force may have become dormant. A good example of this would be the meaning of the verb ordinarily used for sin in the New Testament, , which in the Illiad of Homer sometimes has the concrete sense of miss the mark (i.e. in archery). Most philologists think this concrete sense is the original sense of the word, and that the meaning sin arose as a metaphorical extension of the more concrete meaning. But sin became the ordinary meaning of the word long before the writing of the New Testament, by which time the meaning miss the mark was archaic, and would probably never occur to readersunless of course they were reading Homer. And so the assertion often made in sermons, that the biblical word for sin meant literally miss the mark, is quite misleading. In the Bible sin denotes a turning away from God, a disobedient and corrupt state of mind, manifesting itself in attitudes and behaviors that are much more blameworthy than a mere failure to achieve one goals. To s define sin as a missing of the mark is deeply unbiblical, and the preacher who defines it thus merely on the basis of the history of the word is committing 31 a serious error of interpretation, by something akin to the etymological fallacy. But the same cannot be said of any statement that the primary meaning of is brother, because brother was the ordinary meaning of the word at the time that the New Testament was written. It is often hard to prove beyond any doubt what connotations a word had in ancient times. But it would be unwise to assume that the primary meaning of a word does not indicate its associative connotations when the primary meaning also happens to be the meaning that is most common. Strauss is so contrary to our way of thinking that he will not even tolerate footnotes that give the primary meanings of words. He objects to a footnote in the ESV, in which the translators indicate that the Greek word literally means flesh, though they have translated it as human being in the text. He says that with this footnote they promote a false and misleading view of language and translation. 32 Likewise he charges the translators of the NRSV with a fallacy when they give a footnote indicating that literally means brothers, though they have given the genderinclusive rendering brother and sisters in the text: This is a lexical fallacy. First, the Greek word is not brothers it is adelphoi. Second, adelphoi does not have a ; literal meaning, but a range of possible senses. 33 No one denies that Hebrew and Greek words usually have more than one sense, and that the context indicates which sense is meant. Anyone who is familiar with the languages knows that these senses often do not match up very well with English words. But theorists like Strauss and Nida fail to recognize the true extent of the problem. They assume that it can be solved by sharply segregating the senses and giving different renderings in different places. We, on the other hand, perceive that a

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variety in the rendering sometimes creates other problems which they do not acknowledge. When the senses of are severed from one another in the contextually nuanced translation, much of the meaning is lost. The same is true of and and many other words. English often does have the words needed to express these meanings, but not at the conversational Common Language level. Sometimes it is necessary to use borrowed words (e.g. Hades), and sometimes we must take advantage of the biblical senses acquired by English words through their usage in literal translations (brother, flesh, heart, know, sleep, and so forth). The earliest English versions established these senses by using literal equivalents for the primary sense of the words, and allowing the context to indicate the extended biblical senses.

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8. Semantic Minimalism
The best meaning is the least meaning Strauss emphasis on the range and diversity of the senses of words and his use of s the phrase illegitimate totality transfer reflect the influence of James Barr, whose critique of unsound philological practices in biblical studies has greatly influenced many scholars of our generation, especially in America. In his book The Semantics of Biblical Language (1961) Barr coined the phrase illegitimate totality transfer to describe a tendency which he had often noticed in theological writings.
A term may be used in a number of places. Let us take the example of church in the NT. If we ask, What is the meaning of in the NT? the answer given may be an adding or a compounding of , different statements about the made in various passages. Thus we might say (a) Church is the body of Christ (b) Church is the first the the instalment of the Kingdom of God (c) Church is the Bride of Christ the , and other such statements. The meaning of in the NTcould then be legitimately stated to be the totality of these relations. This is one sense of meaning But when we take an individual sentence, such as . The Church is the Body of Christ and ask what is meaningof Church , the the in this sentence, we are asking something different. The semantic indication given by Church is now something much less than NT the the conception of the Church The realization of this is of primary importance . in dealing with isolated or unusual cases; the obvious example is my in Matt. 16:18 (cf 18:17). In this case the TWNT article (K.L. Schmidt) gives separate treatment to the particular passages. The error that arises, when the meaningof a word (understood as the total series of relations in which it is used in the literature) is read into a particular case as its sense and implication there, may be called illegitimate totality transfer . We may briefly remark that this procedure has to be specially guarded against in the climate of presentday biblical theology, for this climate is very favorable to seeing the Bible as a whole and rather hostile to the suggestion that something is meant in one place which is really unreconcilable with what is said in another (the sort of suggestion which under literary criticism led to a fragmentation of the understanding of the Bible). There may be also some feeling that since Hebrew man or biblical man thought in totalities we should do the same as interpreters. But a moment thought should indicate that the habit of thinking about God or s man or sin as totalities is a different thing from obscuring the value of a word in a context by imposing upon it the totality of its uses. We may add that the small compass of the NT, both in literary bulk and in the duration of the period which produced it, adds a plausibility to the endeavor to take it as one piece, which could hardly be considered so likely for any literature of greater bulk and spread over a longer time. (pp. 21819)

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Barr book does not concern translations, it concerns theological writings which s tend (in his opinion) to base their assertions on mere linguistic fantasy (p. 44) through the use of speculative etymologies, and which tend to see wildly improbable significance in biblical words. In my opinion, some of his complaints were valid and 1 necessary. I would even say that Barr did not press his valid points far enough. But not all of them were valid. His writing on this subject is polemical in spirit, and he tends to overcorrect, and veer to questionable positions on the other side. Like Adolf Deissmann (with whom he has much in common), his views are distorted by an animus against systematic theology as such, which I do not share. Most important for the present discussion is the fact that he does not draw a line between the fantastic conceits of the etymologizing method, as he calls it, and the entirely reasonable idea that polysemy commonly establishes connotations. His attack on the misuse of the etymologizing method is strong and compelling; but his illegitimate totality transfer charge is not so convincing. (In the paragraphs quoted above he does not even explain why should not bring to mind a general conception of the Church in Matthew 16:18.) But my purpose here is not to offer an evaluation of Barr. I am only interested in how his illegitimate totality transfer concept has been used in the climate created by Nida influencea climate which differs substantially from s the one in which Barr raised his protest. Nida was of course interested in the implications for dynamic equivalence translations. In an article on Implications of Contemporary Linguistics for Biblical Scholarship Nida declared that the correct meaning of any term is that which contributes least to the total context:
This process of maximizing the context is fully in accord with the soundest principles of communication science. As has been clearly demonstrated by mathematical techniques in decoding, the correct meaning of any term is that which contributes least to the total context, or in other terms, that which fits the context most perfectly. In contrast to this, many biblical scholars want to read into every word in each of its occurrences all that can possibly be derived from all of its occurrences, and as a result they violate one of the fundamental principles of information theory. Perhaps this error is in some measure related to the false notion that when words are put together they always add their meanings one to another. The very opposite is generally the case. For example, green may denote a color, a lack of experience (he is green at the job), and unripe (green fruit); and house may indicate a dwelling, a construction for storing objects (warehouse), a lineage (the house of David), a legislative body and a business establishment; but in the combination green house the meanings of both green and house are restricted to only one each of these meanings. On the other hand, in the compound greenhouse the meanings of both green and house are somewhat different from what they are in green house. But in neither instance does one add all the meanings of green to all the meanings of house. In such instances there is a mutual restriction of meaning. Moreover, in combinations such as green house and greenhouse one must not attempt to see implied in the component parts all the related meanings which these terms have in other combinations. That is to say, words do not carry with them all the meanings which they may have in other sets of cooccurrences. Unfortunately, however, this is precisely what

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some students of the Bible would seem to imply by their treatments of meaning. For example, some persons would like to think that in every occurrence of the root dik, in such forms as dikaios, dikaioo, and dikaiosyne, all of the diverse meanings are in some way or other implicit. This would amount to saying that essentially there are no differences between the Matthean and Pauline uses, or that despite the differences all the related meanings are still to be found embedded in each usage. For the Greek root dik one might possibly argue for such a position, but surely with the Hebrew root kbd, which in different contexts may carry such widely diverse meanings as heavy, much, many, slow, dull, grievous, difficult, burdensome, wealth, riches, prestige, glory, honor, it would be folly to support such a syncretistic view of semantic structure. 2

It certainly would be foolish to try to roll together all the various meanings of words sharing the root ( which would include the verb ,the adjective ,and the noun )and to assert that the resulting mlange of meanings is intended whenever these words are used. But in fact no one is doing this, and it can have no relevance to questions of translation. More to the point would be some discussion of why, in the few places where the noun appears to have the meaning abundance or riches (maybe four times out of about two hundred occurrences), there can be no overtones of the usual meaning of honor or glory. Because it is not obviously contrary to the soundest principles of communication science to think that even in these contexts the meaning of would probably have this associative connotation, and therefore the meaning would probably be expressed more adequately with a combination, wealth that brings honor, or something similar. I can illustrate this point with the English word honor, which in certain contexts has a specialized sense, in relation to women, as in the following lines from Spenser Faerie Queene, Book IV, canto 1: s
For Amoret right fearefull was and faint, Lest she with blame her honor should attaint, That everie word did tremble as she spake, And everie looke was coy, and wondrous quaint.

Honor in this context means virginity. The word acquired this specialized meaning in relation to unmarried women because virginity was held to be especially honorable for them. But the general sense of honor is not so absent in these contexts that we may substitute virginity without a loss of meaning, because it means virginity as a condition of honor. Spenser even makes this connotation of the word stand out by the use of the antonym blame in the same line. This description of the meaning does not involve any fanciful etymologizing method, and it is the kind of observation that even the most cautious philologist would make. It is no illegitimate totality transfer when I merely point out that the connotations of the word result from the blending of the specialized with the basic meaning. I think we might need a term for the opposite error here, in which a community or continuum of meaning is arbitrarily broken into segments by analysis. Classical scholar Charles Martindale calls it the lexicographical fallacy because of its connection with the work of lexicographers, who often seem to be intent on distinguishing and listing as many senses as possible:

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Again the metaphrast [i.e. the literal translator] will try to avoid falling prey to what might be called the lexicographical fallacy. Latin dictionaries (in this they are like all dictionaries) habitually give the impression that many common Latin words have numerous distinct meanings; in fact, like most English words, most Latin words have one basiccoreofmeaning, butcanbeusedinmanycontexts.Apoettendsto use ordinary words in unfamiliar contexts, no poet more so than Virgil. Translators compete with each other in their efforts to conceal this fact from their readers by glossing over such abnormal usages. A couple of 3 examples

As for, and, I do not believe that Mattheanand Pauline usesindicatethatPaulandMatthewmeantsuchdifferentthingsbythemthatthey should be translated differently, or that it is illegitimate for us to expect a shared concept of righteousness to be implicit in the meaning of these words when we encounter them in the New Testament. These are not like the word greenthey are important religious terms. They refer not to physical objects but to ethical concepts, andtheirrelationshiptooneanotheristransparent.Wemayassumethat in the context of ancient Judaism and Christianity these words were packed with meaning, and that the three of them formed a selfconsistent and integrated set of conceptsfortheapostles.Inanycase, thedeterminationoftheirmeaningwillhave farreachingconsequencesfortheinterpretationoftheNewTestament, andImust saythatIamnotwillingtogivethisquestionovertotranslatorswhoareveryboldto inserttheirowncontextualinterpretations. Another path of influence for the same tendency has been the discussion of semanticanalysisina bookbyMoissSilva, oneofBarr sstudents.Ina chapteron DeterminingMeaningin hisbookBiblical Words and their Meaning (1983, revised 1994), Silva shows a tendency to treat words as if they had no fixed or ordinary meanings.
thecontextdoesnotmerelyhelpusunderstandmeaningitvirtually makes meaning. A standard introduction to linguistic science informs us thatamongthediversmeaningsawordpossesses, theonlyonethatwill emergeintoconsciousnessistheonedeterminedbythecontext.Allothers areabolished, extinguished, nonexistent.Thisistrueevenofwordswhose significanceappearstobefirmlyestablished. Dealing also with words that have multiple meanings, B. Siertsema asserts that the final interpretation afforded by the context is what actuallymattersincommunication.Sheaddsthatonlythosemeaningsare called up, activated,whichareatthatmomentintended bythespeaker orwriter.Theotheraspectsofmeaningsimplydonotoccurtous, neither tothespeakernortothehearer.(pp.13940)

TheimportancethatSilvaattachestotheimmediateliterarycontextmaybeseen inhisdiscussionofthelexicalambiguityinGalatians3:4.
A classic example of lexical ambiguity is Paul question in Galatians s 3:4, We may take the verb in its usual negative sense, Didyousuffersomanythingsinvain?Wemayalsotranslateit inaneutralsense, experience, inwhichcasethecontextwouldsuggest

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a positive idea, that is, the blessings brought about by the Spirit. This ambiguity illustrates dramatically how two valid principles of interpretation can be brought into conflict. On the one hand, we could insistonchoosingthepredominantmeaningoftheverb.Thatis, sinceall otherpassagesintheNewTestamentuse inmalam partem, and since, withveryfewexceptions, thesameholdstrueforHellenisticGreek in general, we should presume this negative sense unless the context prohibitsit.Ontheotherhand, theprincipleofcontextualinterpretation would lead us to emphasize that nothing in the immediate context suggestssufferingonthepartoftheGalatiansindeed, thatnowherein theletteristhereanexplicitreferencetosuchsuffering. We are then at an exegetical impasse; no resolution is perhaps possible. However, there is an additional consideration that may throw light on our problem. In 1953 the prominent linguist Martin Joos delivered a paper, Towards a First Theorem in Semantics. In it he suggested theruleofmaximumredundancy, Thebestmeaningistheleast meaning, astheexplicator sanddefininglexicographer sruleof thumb for deciding what a hapax legomenon [i.e. a word of unknown meaning, which occurs only once in a body of literature] most probably means: he defines it in such a fashion asto make it contribute least to the total message derivable from the passage where it is at home, rather than, e.g., defining it accordingtosomepresumedetymologyorsemantichistory. At first blush, this statement may appear strange or even unacceptable, forwetendtoassumethatanoddwordmusthavesomeoddsense, the odderthebetter.However, amoment sreflectionontheredundancyof natural language will persuade us that Joos Law is eminently s reasonable. Research into communication engineering has had considerable impactonourunderstandingoflanguage.Inparticular, wehavebecome awareoftheneed forredundancyincommunication.Whenanypieceof information is transmitted, considerable interference and distortion (noise) cannot be avoided; if the means of communication is one hundred percent efficient, the slightest interference will obliterate the information. In the course of a normal conversation, the hearer s reception is greatly distorted by a variety of causes: grammatical lapses on the part of speaker, less than perfect enunciation, physical noises in thesurroundings, momentarydaydreamingonthepartofthehearer.In thevastmajorityofcases, thehearersdoreceivetheinformationbecause ofthebuiltinredundancyofthelanguage.Suppose, forexample, thatwe hear a threesyllable word, but only understand the last two syllables terday; notonlyare we able toguessthat theword is yesterday, butwe make the guess without any awareness that we failed to hear the first syllable. Similarly, missing a complete word seldom bothers us because the sentence as awholenormally disclosesthat word. Even if wefailto hearacompletesentencewhenlisteningtoaspeech, weareunlikelyto miss anything that is not automatically deducible from the rest of the speech.

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JoosillustrateshispointbyreferringtoWebsters Thirds definitionof per contra, which includes the supportive quotation, the female is generallydrab, themale, percontra, brilliant.Assumingtheuserofthe dictionaryhasanadequategraspof theandisandgenerallyasdiscursiveEnglish, plusadequate backgroundsuchastheordinaryorthetechnicallybiologicaland culturalpairfemaleandmale, weimaginehimtobeinsecure possession of exactly two of these three: drab, per contra, brilliant. (That is, any two of the three!) Then the third is obvious and the solution is child play, both literally and s figuratively. It is literally child play, because as children we used precisely the s methodofmaximalredundancytolearnarespectablenumberofwords; indeed, that is the method that we continue to use when we are not consciouslythinkingaboutbuildingourvocabulary. NowwhileJoos sarticleaddressedtheproblemofhapax legomena and other words whose meaning may be unknown, the principle is readily applicabletopolysemy.Inthecaseof inGalatians3:4, onecould arguethat theneutralsenseexperience creates less disturbancein the passage than does suffer because the former is more redundantit is moresupportiveof, andmoreclearlysupportedby, thecontext.Suchan argument is reasonable and this author finds it quite persuasive. However, the principle must not be absolutized (Joos himself calls it a rule of thumb), nor can its application in Galatians 3:4beregarded as conclusive. These reservations do not imply that the context does not give us the meaning; rather, as previously emphasized, it is that we are not fully cognizant of the context. For example, it may be argued (perhaps on the basis of Acts 14:22) that the Galatians had indeed undergone serious tribulation, that their hope of avoiding persecution madethemsusceptibletotheJudaizers teachings(cf.Gal.6:12), andthat their conversations with Paul often dealt with this concern. If we therefore imagine that the subject was always in their mind, the sense suffer in Galatians 3:4 would not create a disturbance in the (broader) context. Our uncertainty then is based on our inability to identify that context.(pp.15356)

Again, we would not want to deny the fact that the context really does have a decisive effecton themeaning of words, and we would even admit that sometimes thisneedstobeemphasized.ButSilva sstatementthatthecontextvirtuallymakes meaning is extravagant. The additional consideration he introduces by an inappropriateapplicationofJoos sLawreallyamountstoadenialofthevalidityof the first principle, that the ordinary meaning of a word should be assumed in the absence of clear indications of a different meaning in the immediate context. A familiarwordisherebeingtreatedasifitwerehapaxawordoccurringonlyonce, whose meaning is unknown. But words are not just blanks that acquire their meaning from contexts on the fly. In our comprehension of language we are not usually like children guessing at the meaning of words. Words have persistent defaultmeaningsthatwewillthinkoffirstincontextswhichdonotclearlyindicate another meaning. 4 Joos Law is itself rather onesided, as may be seen in his s

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exampleofdeterminingthemeaningofper contrabecausethewordcontra would probably be associated with contrary by English readers, so that on the contrary would be the first meaning tried in the context. People often assign meanings to unfamiliar words by associating them with words that resemble them phonetically. Etymological inferences are probably used just as often as contextual clues in linguisticsituationslikethis.Intherealmofscholarlyinvestigationalsothisisquite proper and normal, as Barr says, the etymological recognition may be used in conjunction with the context to give a good semantic indication (Semantics, p. 158). Butevenif we grant thegeneral validity ofJoos rule ofthumb, it concerns s thedeterminationofthemeaningofwordswhichareunfamiliar tothereader, andit is not really applicable to the determination of meaning in ordinary cases of polysemy. An even less appropriate application of Joos Law is to be found in Nida s s discussionofCriteriaToBeUsedinJudgingTranslations.
The efficiency of a translation can be judged in terms of the maximal reception for the minimum effort of decoding. In a sense, efficiency is closelyrelatedtoJoos sfirstlawofsemantics(Joos, 1953), whichmaybe statedsimply:Thatmeaningisbestwhichaddsleasttothetotalmeaning ofthecontext.Inotherwords, themaximizingofredundancyreducesthe work of decoding. At the same time, redundancy should not be so increased that the noise factor of boredom cuts down efficiency. Perhaps thefactorofefficiencymayberestatedthus:Otherthingsbeingequal, the efficiency of the translation can be judged in terms of the maximal receptionfortheminimaleffortindecoding.Becauseofthediversitiesin linguistic form and cultural backgrounds, however, translations are more likely to be overloaded (and hence inefficient in terms of effort) than so redundantthatboredomresults.

Here it seems that the principle set forth by Joos for the determination of the meaningofhapax legomena inadeadlanguageismadeintoanoverarchingfirstlaw ofsemantics, whichisthensupposedtohavesomebearingontherepresentationof the meaning of ordinary wordsin a translation, for the sake of minimum effort of decoding.Butthelogicofallthisisnotveryclear.Joos slawisaheuristicrule, to be used in rare cases when the meaning is wholly unknown. Best in this context mustmeanmostprobable.ButinthecontextofNida sprescriptionsbestmeans easiest for the reader, quite apart from any determination of the meaning of the original. Howdid we getfrom one besttotheother?Nida does notseemtocare aboutthat, andleavesittohisreaderstofigureitout;theimportantthingisthathis advice concerning whatis bestshould beassociated somehow with afirst law of semantics. Many renderings that are found in modern versions exhibit a tendency to treat HebrewandGreekwordsasiftheyhadnopropermeaningatall, andtheyseemto representnothingmorethansomeone snotionofwhatthecontextwouldindicateif thespaceoccupiedbythewordhadbeenleftblank.Onefindsthistendencyevenin the more literal versions sometimes, when the translators are following the lead of liberal commentators and lexicographers. For instance, in Isaiah 48:10 the theologically importantword is now commonly renderedtried (RSV, ESV)or

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tested (NASB, NKJV) for no good reason. The New Living Translation simply repeatsthewordrefinedhere, asifthe weresemanticallyidenticaltothe earlierintheverse.Wegrantthatawordwiththissamemeaningisnaturalenough in the context if we were playing fill in the blank. But this word is quite common, and ineveryotherplace wheretheqal form of the wordoccurs itclearly means chose. Only here do we find it translated differently in some modern versions. The different rendering might be justifiable if chose were nonsensical herebutthatisnotthecase.5 Liberalcommentatorsandlexicographersjustifyitby saying that the word bears its later Aramaic meaning here, but this explanation becomes plausible only on the supposition that the chapter was not written by Isaiah. 6 We would not like to think that conservative translators are blindly following the lexicographical opinions of liberal scholars, without understanding whatroletheliberalhighercriticismhasplayedintheirphilology.7 Butwithoutthis criticalsuppositiontherenderingtestedcouldonlybepreferredbecauseitgetsrid ofsomethingunusual, andmaximizesthebanalityofthetranslation. Weshouldrejecttheideathatthebestmeaningistheleastmeaning.Itisnota principle that deserves any special status in the work of translation, exegesis, or lexicology. None of the authors quoted here have demonstrated that it has much validity apart from its usefulness as a heuristic rule of thumb to be used in special cases.

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9.UnnecessaryHelp
Several of the renderings discussed above may also be put in a large of class of paraphrasticrenderingswhichmaybedescribedasunnecessaryhelp.Forexample, the NIVs paraphrastic translation of in 1 Peter 4:1219. Obviously the NIV translators felt that they were helping the reader with this rendering. But did they suppose that ordinary readers of the Bible are so dense that they are incapable of understandingthatfieryordealherereferstopainfultrials? Manysimilarinstancesofunnecessaryhelpcouldbementioned.Forexample,in1 Corinthians2:1113Paulwrites:
fortheSpiritsearchesallthings,eventhedeepthingsofGod.Forwho amongmenknowsthethingsofaman,exceptthespiritoftheman,which isinhim?EvensothethingsofGodnooneknowsexcepttheSpiritofGod. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is fromGod,thatwemightknowthethingsfreelygiventousbyGod,which thingswealsospeak,notinwordstaughtbyhumanwisdom,butinthose taughtbytheSpirit,combiningspiritualthingswithspiritual.

The last clause here, , lit. matching spiritual thingstospiritual,lookslikeageneralmaximthekindofpithy,proverbialsaying thatPauloftenusestoclinchhisarguments.Itiscapableofwideapplication,asfor example in John Wesleys statement: I then search after and consider parallel passages of Scripture, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 1 But many translators have felt the need to make the statement more specific to the context. The New Living Translation, for example, has using the Spirits words to explain spiritual truths, and its marginal note reads, Or, explaining spiritual truths in spirituallanguage,orexplainingspiritualtruthstospiritualpeople.Thereareother interpretations which might just as well have been added to the note. But these differentinterpretations are not mutually exclusive, and itislikely that Paul would endorse them all as implications of his statement. Why are the translators not content with the general statement? Why not leave it at that, and let the reader discern the implications, the way Paul left his own readers? The urge to explain seemstogetthebetterofthem,whennoexplanationisneeded. Perhapsthemostcommonoccasionforexcessiveinterpretationisthetreatmentof genitive constructions, in which nouns modify other nouns in ways that are sometimes ambiguous.Inmany places we mustbe content to say that the genitive merely indicates a connection, the nature of which must be discerned from the context; but these genitive constructions are often analyzed too closely in translation. In2Thessalonians1:8wereadofthejudgmentthatiscominguponthosewhodo not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus ( ).Someone who demands to know if the meaningofthegenitivephrase here is subjective (i.e. the gospel preached by Jesus) or objective (the gospel about

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Jesus) may already be on the wrong track, because the question presupposes that Paulhimselfmadesuchadistinction,orwouldhavecaredaboutsuchadistinction. If in fact he never made such a distinction, it will only result in a distortion of his meaning if we import the idea that these are two different things. As one recent introduction to biblical interpretation points out, this is not a case of ambiguity where a choice between alternative interpretations is necessary, but a case of inexactness, wherethe one meaning is not precise. 2 Therendering of theGood News Bible here, those who do not obey the Good News about our Lord Jesus, overspecifiesthemeaningofthegenitive. InabookletpostedonthewebsiteoftheNIVspublisher, 3 GordonFeeandMark Strauss find fault with literal renderings of genitive constructions in several other versions,andmaintainthatthesemustbeinterpretedforthereaderasintheNIV:
Clarity can be compromised by consistently translating a Hebrew or Greek form with the same English form. One of the most problematic of theseistheGreekgenitivecase.BeginningGreekstudentsareoftentoldto translatethegenitivewiththeprepositionof,asinthephrasetheword of God (ho logos tou theou). Here tou theou (of God) is a genitive construction.Theproblemisthatwhilemanygenitiveconstructionsinthe New Testament can be translated with of + Noun, others cannot. Consider these translations of genitive constructions (in italics) in formal equivalentversions: youweresealedwiththeHolySpiritofpromise.(Eph.1:13NKJV) he[Christ]upholdstheuniversebythewordofhispower.(Heb.1:3ESV) Ipray...that youwillknow what isthe hopeofHiscalling. (Eph.1:18 NASB) While in many cases the preposition of is a perfectly acceptable translation, in these examples it results in an obscure or misleading translation. What, for example, does the Holy Spirit of promise mean? The meaning of this phrase is the Holy Spirit who was promised, or the promisedHolySpirit(TodaysNIV,NET,HCSB,NAB,ESV).Wehavehere whatgrammariansrefertoasanattributivegenitive.

Perhaps.Buthere,asveryoften,theinterpretationofferedbythetranslatorsmay notconveythetrueorentiremeaning.Despitethenumberofmodernversionsthat canbecitedforthisinterpretation,itisnottheonlyonefoundincommentaries.For theHolySpiritofpromisemightalsobeunderstoodtheHolySpiritwhomadethe promise, or who brings with him a promise of salvation, with an eye on the following verse. It was thus that Calvin, Beza, and F.F. Bruce understood it. 4 Or it could be taken in such a general or plenary sense that we may include both ideas, withChrysostom:Thusherealsohemakesthethingsalreadybestowedasuretoken of the promise of those which are yet to come. (Homily 2 on Ephesians.) Likewise Bengel:The HolySpiritwaspromisedbytheword;thereforewhentheHolySpirit was given,those who believedthe wordwere sealed; and those who have the Holy Spirit know that every promise will be fulfilled to them. (Gnomon of the New Testament.)

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FeeandStraussignoretheseotherinterpretations,andcontinue:
Similarly, in Hebrews 1:3 the ESVs word of his power is nonsensical (word that his power possesses?). This is another attributive genitive, meaninghispowerfulword(TodaysNIV,NET,HCSB,GNT,NRSV).The NASBs hope of His calling in Ephesians 1:18 seems to suggest that believershopetheywillbecalledbyGod.Butbelieversarealreadycalled! Thegenitiveheremeansthehopetowhichyouwerecalled(TodaysNIV, NRSV,ESV).

Word of his power may be understood as both a genitive of source and an attributivegenitive.Thewordproceeds from andsharesthe quality of hispower. This phrase is no more nonsensical than act of kindness. 5 If it is understood as being only an attributive genitive, it is no more difficult to understand than other attributivegenitivesinEnglish,suchasringofgold,mattersofimportance,men ofvalor,orpearlofgreatprice.Althoughsuchgenitivesarenotverycommonin English,andbelongmostlytoformalorpoeticregisters,theyarereadilyunderstood byordinarypeople.AfalseimpressionofunintelligibilityisgivenbyFeeandStrauss by removing the phrase from its context. As often happens in language, an interpretive blinkering effect comes into play when an unusual or irregular constructionisputunderamagnifyingglassandlookedattooclosely,althoughits 6 meaning is not unclear when it is encountered in the flow of the text. These attributive genitive constructions may be unusual, but they are by no means unintelligible in their contexts, and rules of English grammar do not require their elimination. Morever, the attributive genitive is not really equivalent to the more colloquial adjective + noun construction, because it places more emphasis on the quality. In English we sense that ring of gold puts more emphasis on the gold thangoldenringdoes.Thequalityisemphasizedbymakingitanoun.Wordofhis powerlikewiseemphasizesthepowermorethanpowerfulworddoes.Andthisis alsotrueofGreek,asnotedbythegrammarians.7 Regarding the hope of his calling in Ephesians 1:18, we doubt very much that it means the hope to which you were called, as Fee and Strauss confidently assert. Surely the genitive here is more naturally understood as a genitive of source or instrumental cause, the hope that comes with (or from) his calling, as H.A.W. Meyerexplains:Whatagreatandglorioushopeisgiventotheman,whomGodhas called to the kingdomof the Messiah, by means of that calling. So once again, we must say that the interpretation given in NIV is likely to be wrong, while the less helpful literal translationwhich is not in fact difficult to understand in its contextallowstheEnglishreadertointerpretthephraserightly. FeeandStraussconclude:
Consistent use of the preposition of to translate the genitive case represents a misguided attempt at literalism. Clarity in translation demands thatthetranslator considercarefullythemeaningofthetext in each particularcontext. In these examples readersmight be able to work outthemeaningofthegenitivebyreflectingonthesentence.Thewordof hispowerisperhapscomprehensible,butitisfarfromclear.

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Aswehaveshowninthesesameexamples,therepresentationoftheGreekgenitive with a corresponding genitive construction in the more literal English versions should not be dismissed as a mindless and misguided attempt at literalism, done merely for the sake of a formal correspondence. Rather, it is for the sake of the meaning thattheformispreservedintheseversions.FeeandStraussrecommendthe clarity of the NIV,and clarityiscertainlydesirablebutit is notmore important thanaccuracy. Wecouldcitemanyotherexamplesofthissametendency.Oneverynotableoneis the treatment of the phrase righteousness of God in Romans 1:17. Luther famouslytranslated it, die Gerechtigkeit, die vor Gott gilt, welche kommt aus Glauben the righteousness that is valid in the sight of God, which comes from faith,etc.,interpretingthegenitiveinanobjectivesense.Thisinterpretation,which seemsratherforced,reflectsLutherseagernesstointroducethedoctrineofimputed righteousness. Calvin explains it in the same way as Luther (Justitiam Dei accipio, qu apud Dei tribunal approbatur ItaketherighteousnessofGodto mean,that whichisapprovedbeforehistribunal),buthecautiouslyrefrainsfrominjectingthis interpretationdirectlyintothetextofhisLatintranslation,andgivesinsteadaliteral rendering, justitia Dei. The NIV translators, like Luther, prefer to give a particular interpretation arighteousnessfrom God butunlikeLuther,theyinterpretthe constructionasagenitiveofauthorororigin. 8 Thereareotherpossibilitiesaswell, such as understanding it as a subjective genitive denoting either a quality or an action of God. Commentators of the past two centuries have proposed an amazing varietyof interpretations, 9 and the exegesis isfurther complicated by the different meanings assigned to , which in Jewish Greek had acquired the sense of covenant faithfulness. 10 The NLT seems to be combining at least two interpretations with its highly paraphrastic rendering, how God makes us right in his sight. But now I would ask: why not simply accept the fact that the Greek genitive construction does not always demand such an exact and specific analysis? There is no goodreason to suppose that at this point Paul issaying anything more thanthata(covenantal)divinerighteousnessisrevealedinthegospel,asopposed to a merely human righteousness. The phrase itself does not express the specific ideaswefindinthetranslationsofLuther,theNIV,ortheNLT,andtheimmediate context does not require us to elaborate or constrain the meaning to any one of them.IfwewanttoknowmoreaboutthisrighteousnessofGod,wemustreadon! Not everything is said at once. 11 The Greek language does not lack the means for saying specifically a righteousness from God if that is what Paul had meant to express here. He might have written here (as in Philippians 3:9), but he did not. And when we get to 3:26, it appears that Paul means at least two differentthingsbythephraserighteousnessofGod toshowhisrighteousnessat thepresenttime,sothathemightbejustandthejustifieroftheonewhohasfaithin Jesus. So here, as in many other places, the dynamic translations seem to be presentingoverlyspecificinterpretations. In cases like this, where the meaning cannot be narrowed down without risk of eliminating part of the intended meaning, it is best to translate the Greek genitive construction with a correspondingly ambiguous English genitive. In Romans 1:17,

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should be translated either righteousness of God or Gods righteousness.12 In the same verse, the phrase (lit. from faith to faith) has received much analysis. The NIV interprets this rather cryptic saying as a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, sparing readers the burden of figuringitoutforthemselves.Buthere,asoften,thedifficultyintheliteralrendering isnotcreatedbythetranslators:itliesintheGreektext.Manyscholarsdofavorthe NIVs interpretation, but many do not. Some understand it quite differently, and othersprefertoleaveitanopenquestion.13

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10. Inadequate Marginal Notes


I want translations with copious footnotes, footnotes reaching up like skyscrapers to the top of this or that page so as to leave only the gleam of one textual line between commentary and eternity. I want such footnotes and the absolute literal sense, with no emasculation and no padding. Vladimir Nabokov 1

Theorists and translators of the dynamic equivalence school are not opposed in principle to the use of marginal notes. Nida has published an article on Marginal Helps for the Reader in The Bible Translator that covers all aspects of this subject, and recommends several different kinds of notes. 2 But the article shows that he is mainly interested in the possibility of using the margin to add explanations to a translation which already includes in itself a good deal of interpretation. His article is partly designed to justify this use of the margin in view of the fact that his employer (the American Bible Society) has stipulated that translations sponsored by the Society must not contain doctrinal notes. 3 The article concludes:
Marginal helps are not designed to add to the text. They are nothing more nor less than the inevitable means by which we permit the text to speak for itself in some degree equivalent to the manner in which it spoke to those who first received it. Helps which go beyond this are not justified, but those which make it possible for the Scriptures to speak their message clearly and effectively should have a place somewhere.

The reason for this strange manner of speaking, in which explanatory notes are said to permit the text to speak for itself, is to be found somewhere in the baggage of ideology that Nida brings to the subject, no doubt. Obviously the text is not speaking for itself when it is annotated, and we wonder why this could not be frankly admitted. Probably it reflects some embarrassment about the need for explanations, because every explanatory note is really a testimony to the failure of dynamic equivalence in the translation. In any case it seems rather pointless to worry about whether or not we should say the marginal notes add to the text when so much interpretation has already been worked into the text itselfand that is our main concern here. We would emphasize the need for marginal notes to indicate interpretations which are at variance with the interpretations embodied in the text. In his article, Nida says that such notes should not be given in versions designed for people who are receiving the Scriptures in their language for the first time, because they have no interest in and little appreciation of the problems of alternative readings and renderings (p. 3) and do not understand the use of footnotes. This seems rather patronizing, and it ignores the possibility that the version will be used not only for private reading but also for instruction, by pastors and teachers who are likely to take an interest in these matters. But that does not concern him, because the more proficient translators have incorporated into the text itself the type of information which is required for intelligibility (p. 4). In

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editions prepared for the average reading public he does recommend some few notes for noteworthy instances of differences of rendering. The determination of what is noteworthy he leaves to the translators. Of course the problem here is that these translators may not be very eager to flag their own interpretations as possibly wrong, by mentioning interpretations contrary to their own in the margin. Our complaint is that the versions are defective in this matter, because many noteworthy differences of interpretation are not mentioned in the notes of highly interpretive versions. It is generally admitted by proponents of dynamic equivalence that interpretive renderings can be risky, because they tend to foreclose interpretive options that may be more correct. The standard reply to objections based on this consideration is to point out that the translator can always use marginal notes to indicate other possibilities. In one book coauthored by Nida and Jan de Waard, they write:
The use of marginal notes (textual, exegetical, historical, and cultural), glossaries, references, indices, and concordances can all be of help, but rarely do they suffice to correct the meaning of an otherwise misleading term. Rather than incorporate obscure, ambiguous, and potentially misleading expressions into the text of a translation, it is far better to provide receptors with a meaningful equivalent in the text and possible alternatives in the margin, including, if necessary, literal renderings if this will help the reader understand better the significance of the original. (From One Language to Another, p. 34)

And again:
Most ambiguities in the original text are due to our own ignorance of the cultural and historical backgrounds of the text. It is unfair to the original writer and to the receptors to reproduce as ambiguities all those passages which may be interpreted in more than one way the translator places a very heavy burden on the receptor to determine which of two or more meanings may be involved. The average reader is usually much less capable of making correct judgments about such alternative meanings than is the translator, who can make use of the best scholarly judgments on ambiguous passages. Accordingly, the translator should place in the text the best attested interpretation and provide in marginal notes the appropriate alternatives. (p. 39)

Presumably the absence of a marginal note would indicate that the translator is so sure of his interpretation that he does not think any other representation of the meaning is worth mentioning. If this is the case, we must conclude that many dynamic translators have a higher opinion of their exegetical skill than they should. Nida unwittingly illustrates this in his remarks on the expression righteousness of God in Romans 1:17, which we have discussed above. Despite the fact that Paul himself practically explains the expression in a double sense (that he might be just and the justifier), Nida maintains that a translation must prevent readers from interpreting this as a statement about God own personal character. He claims that s misunderstandings of this phrase cannot be prevented by an informed clergy,

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because he believes that too many clergymen are uninformed, and cannot be relied upon to give the correct interpretation.
Some church leaders have felt that translations should not attempt to bridge any languageculture gaps but should stick to more or less literal renderings of the biblical text. Any needed explanations would then be taken care of by an informed clergy, who could instruct people as to the correct interpretation. In general, however, such an approach has been woefully inadequate. In Romans 1:17 practically all laymen and many of the clergy understand the phrase the righteousness of God to be a statement about God own personal character rather than a reference to what God s does, either in righting wrong or in putting people right with himself. (p. 34)

This is one of Nida favorite examples. In an earlier work he wrote: s


When a high percentage of people misunderstand a rendering, it cannot be regarded as a legitimate translation. For example, in Romans 1:17 most traditional translations have the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, and most readers naturally assume that this is a reference to God own personal righteousness. Most scholars are agreed, however, that s this is not God own righteousness, but the process by which God puts s men right with himself (cf. Today English Version). It is the act of s justification (to use a technical, and generally misunderstood word) and not the character of righteousness. But a translation which insists on rendering the Greek literally as the righteousness of God is simply violating the meaning for the sake of preserving a formal grammatical correspondence. 4

We would not want to defend translations which are violating the meaning for the sake of preserving a formal grammatical correspondence, of course, but Nida s argument here is unfair, because it misrepresents the motives of the translator. The literal translation is designed to preserve as much of the exegetical potential of the original as possiblemaking the entire or correct meaning accessible to readers. It is not given merely for the sake of preserving a formal correspondence, but for the sake of the meaning. The translation itself is not violating the meaning when it does not make misinterpretations impossible. But the overly interpretive translation which misinterprets or gives only half the meaning does not do justice to the original. We notice that the Good News Bible (which Nida calls Todays English Version) does not have a marginal note for in Romans 1:17. Nor does the New Living Translation, or the NIV. In choosing between alternatives the translator would do well to make use of the best scholarly judgments, as Nida says, but this is easier said than done. Scholars have argued with one another about the meaning of nearly everything in the Bible. In the past century, especially, it seems that every scholar tries to make his mark by inventing new interpretations. In these circumstances the ability of translators and editors to sort out the best scholarly judgments can hardly be taken for granted. One can usually find scholarly support for interpretations found in paraphrastic translations, but they are very often questionable, and represent only one side of a longstanding disagreement between scholars. Sometimes they represent fads of interpretation that prevail only for a generation or two. Moreover, the best scholarly

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minds in every generation are those who are able to see both sides of a question, who are able to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty, and who suspend judgment when the resolution of some issue is not absolutely necessary. This attitude, which leads the scholar to keep saying on the one hand but on the other hand, etc., can be rather frustrating for laymen who are looking for simple and fast answers to everything, but scholarship does not naturally produce simple and fast answers. Let us see what some prominent scholars say about the in Romans 1:17. In his commentary James Dunn translates it the righteousness of God and explains:
is a good example of the need to penetrate through Paul Greek s language in order to understand it in the light of his Jewish background and training God is righteous when he fulfills the obligations he took upon himself to be Israel God, that is, to rescue Israel and punish Israel s s enemies (e.g. Exod 9:27; 1 Sam 12:7; Dan 9:16; Mic 6:5)righteousness as covenant faithfulness (3:35, 25; 10:3; also 9:6 and 15:8). It is clearly this concept of God righteousness which Paul takes over here; the s righteousness of God being his way of explicating the power of God for salvation (v. 16; cf. Gyllenberg, 41; Hill, 156; NEB catches only one side of it with the translation God way of righting wrong). It is with this sense s that the phrase provides a key to his exposition in Romans (3:5, 2122, 25 26; 10:3), as elsewhere in his theology (2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9). This understanding of Paul language largely removes two issues which have s troubled Christian theology for centuries. (1) is the righteousness of God subjective genitive or objective genitive; is it an attitude of God or something he does? Seen as God meeting of the claims of his covenant s relationship, the answer is not a strict eitheror, but bothand, with the emphasis on the latter. 5

Now if Dunn is right, and the phrase means covenant faithfulness, then it does refer to a quality of God character, as revealed in his saving purpose and action. For s faithfulness is certainly a quality or attribute. Ernst Ksemann, writing in 1979, says that this interpretation now seems to be predominant, and he quite properly says it is a variation of the older idea of righteousness as a divine quality. 6 The increasing dominance of this interpretation in recent decades is probably why the TNIV revision of the NIV changed a righteousness from God to the righteousness of God. In a recent article the Pauline scholar N.T. Wright describes the situation that the translator faces with regard to :
For Paul, soaked in the Hebrew scriptures both in their original version and in their Greek translation, the word resonated loudly with the hymns and prophecies of ancient Israel, celebrating the fact that Israel God was s faithful to his ancient promises and therefore would deliver his people from their enemies. We just do not have a single word, or even a single phrase, which will convey all that Paul meant when he wrote dikaiosyne. The best the translator can do is to set up signposts pointing in more or less the right direction, and encourage readers to read on and glimpse the larger picture within which the words will flesh themselves out and reveal more of the freight they had all along been carrying. 7

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Perhaps Nida is thinking of an earlier consensus. But if we consult the old standard commentary on Romans by Sanday and Headlam (circa 1900) we find remarks similar to Dunn s:
For some time past it has seemed to be almost an accepted exegetical tradition that the righteousness of God means here a righteousness of which God is the author and man the recipient, a righteousness not so much of God as from God, i.e. a state or condition of righteousness bestowed by God upon man. But quite recently two protests have been raised against this view. There can be little doubt that the protest is justified; not so much that the current view is wrong as that it is partial and incomplete. The righteousness of God is a great and comprehensive idea which embraces in its range both God and man; and in this fundamental passage of the Epistle neither side must be lost sight of. the very cogency of the arguments on both sides is enough to show that the two views which we have set over against each other are not mutually exclusive but rather inclusive. The righteousness of which the Apostle is speaking not only proceeds from God but is the righteousness of God Himself: it is this, however, not as inherent in the Divine Essence but as going forth and embracing the personalities of men. It is righteousness active and energizing 8

Likewise Benjamin Jowett comments:


Viewing these words by the light of later controversy, interpreters have asked whether the righteousness here spoken of, is to be regarded as subjective or objective, inherent or imputed, as revealed by God or accepted by man. These are the afterthoughtsof theology, which have no real place in the interpretation of Scripture. We cannot define what is not defined by the Apostle himself. But if, leaving later controversies, we try to gather from the connexion itself a more precise meaning, another uncertainty remains. For the righteousness of God may either mean that righteousness which existed always in the Divine nature, once hidden but now revealed; or may be regarded as consisting in the very revelation of the Gospel itself, in the world and in the heart of man. The first step to a right consideration of the question, is to place ourselves within the circle of the Apostle thoughts and language. The expression [the s righteousness of God] was familiar to the Israelite, who, without any reference to St. Paul distinction of faith and works, used it in a double s sense for an attribute of God and the fulfilment of the Divine law. Compare James, i. 20.: [for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God]. Rom. x. 3.: , , [For being ignorant of God righteousness, and seeking to s establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God]. The law, the fulfilment of the law, and the Divine Author of the law, pass into each other; the mind is carried on imperceptibly from one to the other. The language of all religion, consisting as it must in mediation between God and man, or in the manifestation of God in man, is full of these and similar ambiguities, which we should only gain a false clearness

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by attempting to remove. Such expressions in the phraseology of philosophy necessarily involve subject and object, a human soul in which they are made conscious, a Divine Being from whom they proceed, and to whom they have reference. It is generally confusing to ask to which of these they belong. 9

Here we see that toleration of ambiguity which is typical of scholarly interpretation. In this case the scholars even insist upon the ambiguity. We do not find here any support for Nidas demand for a simple and onesided interpretation. Instead, there is a refusal to comply with such demands. Nida seems to have a wrong impression of the best scholarly judgments on this particular question: the best judgment seems to be that the meaning of the phrase is irreducibly ambiguous. In his showcase example Nida is recommending what the scholars call one side of the meaning, a partial and incomplete interpretation, and a false clearness. I could go on to discuss the similar of treatment of in James 1:20 and other places, but I fear that I have already overtaxed the patience of my readers by dwelling upon a subtle exegetical question at such length. I feel it is necessary, however, to give a true impression of how much careful thought scholars have given to questions of interpretation which dynamic translators have suppressed and glossed over for the ease of their readers. Those who are familiar with the literature in which these questions are explored will also see readily enough that simplified translations like the Good News Bible and the New Living Translation cannot adequately represent the opinions of scholars, because the opinions of scholars are not simple. Nidas argument that alternative interpretations can be given in the margin had better not be just a way of dismissing legitimate concerns about this method of translation. Translators had better be careful to do it. But we find time and again that they do not provide such marginal notes, even where the most questionable interpretations are foisted into the text. In the very nature of the case, one might suppose that translations of this type would include more footnotes than the literal versions, in order to ensure that interpretive options and nuances are not suppressed. But an examination of the versions reveals an opposite tendency: the dynamic versions tend to have far fewer footnotes than the literal ones. Editions of the Good News for Modern Man New Testament published between 1966 and 1976 had no footnotes at all. Some editions included an appendix of Other Readings and Renderings at the back of the volume, but this only seems to show how reluctant the editors were to put notes in the margins. The extent of the difference between versions in this regard can be illustrated by the number of footnotes in Job, a poetic book that is particularly rich in ambiguous lines. The following table gives the total number of footnotes in seven of todays most widelyused versions. NASB NKJV RSV ESV NIV TEV NLT 474 247 127 103 102 84 31

We observe that one of the most literal versions, the NASB, has more than fifteen times as many notes as the NLT in the Book of Job. The correlation is not proportional, but in general we find that the more dynamic a version is, the fewer

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footnotes it contains. What is the reason for this correlation? I think a clue is given by Nida and de Waard in the same book quoted above, when they state that for private devotional reading of the Scriptures people normally prefer a text which is not encumbered with numerous references and footnotes (p. 18). It would be more accurate to say, however, that the editors of the more paraphrastic versions have in view a class of readers who do not want their minds encumbered with the tricky details, alternative renderings, and nuances that might have been provided in the margin. The details and alternatives that are commonly neglected in the translation of Job are not trivial. For example, in 13:15 we find the rendering God might kill me, but I cannot wait in the NLT, without a footnote, and Ive lost all hope, so what if God kills me? in the Good News Bible; whereas other versions have Though he slay me, I will hope in him (NASB, ESV), Though he slay me, yet will I trust him (KJV, NKJV), or something similar. Who will say that this is unimportant? The translators could not have been ignorant of it, and clearly a footnote here is in order. 10 Searching through issues of The Bible Translator (a journal edited by Nida) I found one article which explains that in a dynamic equivalence version it is not practical to give more literal renderings in the margin because the number of footnotes that would be required to do this consistently would be overwhelming.
When RSV makes some adjustments from the Hebrew text for the sake of clarity or explication, a literal rendering of the Hebrew is sometimes provided. Since GNB is a dynamic equivalent translation, such adjustments are made in just about every sentence. Footnotes of this type would consequently be too extensive for practical purposes. 11

Another advises against the inclusion of many notes in a dynamic equivalence version because the notes which give more literal renderings will collectively defeat the purpose of the whole translation.
Similar questions arise with text which is not necessarily figurative but which has traditionally been translated formally, and which translators are unhappy to lose by translating any other way. They feel that they will at least be accused of dropping familiar verses or expressions, or of giving a different meaning, or of changing the Bible; at worst they may fear that the translation will be rejected. So they pepper the pages with footnotes containing the earlier literal translation of expressions and sentences, and even whole verses which they have in fact restructured beautifully to bring out the meaning. Such notes of course bring the whole background of the translation project into question. 12

By background here the author apparently means the background of translation theory. The concern is that a margin that gives too many alternative interpretations and literal renderings will only damage the credibility of the translation. We find then three basic reasons for the absence of marginal notes. It is said that: (1) people who use the version will not appreciate the notes, and so they are useless; (2) the systematic inclusion of notes such as we find in the RSV, giving more literal renderings when the translators have hazarded interpretations, would require a note

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on nearly every verse; and (3) the presentation of many notes like this would tend to invite criticism of the whole translation. These reasons combine to prevent the margin from compensating for inadequate or wrong interpretations in the text. In Acts 19:21 it says (lit. Paul was settled in the spirit) and many commentators say that this should be understood as a statement that Pauls momentous decision to go to Jerusalem was made by the influence of the Holy 13 Spirit. But the NIV has interpreted as referring only to Pauls own spirit or mind, and so it says that Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, without any mention of his spirit or the Spirit. Up until the revision of 2011 there was no footnote here informing readers of the other interpretation. Yet in 20:22 the same version translates as compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, without giving a footnote indicating the possibility that merely refers to Pauls mind, as they have interpreted it in 19:21. A version should translate them alike, one would think, but in any case a footnote is certainly appropriate. Perhaps the NIV committee did not think it would matter much either way to laymen, who have no interest in and little appreciation of the problems of alternative readings and renderings, as Nida put it. But I actually had to deal with this question once, many years ago, after a guest speaker at my church asserted that Paul should not have gone to Jerusalem, because God never sent him there. This speaker was not using the NIV, but he referred to the Darby version, which says, Paul purposed in his spirit to go to Jerusalem in Acts 19:21, and bound in my spirit in 20:22 (emphasis added). Afterwards one of the leading men of the congregation strongly objected to this teaching, and sought my opinion. I remember that a copy of the NASB served me well on that occasion; but what if we had only the NIV to consult? With its interpretive renderings, and without the necessary footnotes, it would not have been very helpful, to say the least. When interpretive translators fail to indicate viable alternatives in the margin, they sometimes cause serious difficulties for teachers, even for those who are well versed in Scripture. I once visited an adult Bible class being taught by a young seminary trained pastor, in which one woman asked a question about Hebrews 11:26, which says that Moses counted the reproach of Christ ( ) greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. Unfortunately everyone there was using the NIV, which states that Moses regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, and she wanted to know how a determination to suffer for the sake of Christ could be attributed to Moses (even before the ministry of the prophets), and why the Old Testament failed to mention this motive in its account of Moses. The pastor was caught flatfooted by this excellent question, and began to stumble. He looked at me hopefully, but I could give no help, because I had never heard such a statement being quoted as Scripture, and I had no better version of the Bible with me to jog my memory of the verse. If Hebrews 11:26 had been quoted in a more literal form, I might have explained the reproach of Christ in the way that I have always understood it; but I could not explain the NIVs disgrace for the sake of Christ. As happens far too often in modern versions, the NIV here imposes a very questionable interpretation on the text, currently favored in some circles, without providing readers with a note giving the more literal rendering, or in any way indicating the more likely traditional interpretation of the phrase. 14 In its defense,

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one might argue that it is just possible to interpret the simple genitive construction in this way, if we suppose that the author was being somewhat lax in his style; but it cannot be said that the Greek genitive ever expresses for the sake of. For that, a prepositional phrase is required, like with the accusative. The simple genitive construction is here more naturally understood as the same reproach that fell upon Christ, and this meaning is not hard to discern from a literal rendering like the reproach of Christ in this context. The question raised by the woman in my friends Bible class would not have been raised if it were not for the helpful NIV rendering, which made the true sense of the phrase virtually inaccessible to the class; and it would not have been hard to answer if a less interpretive rendering were given in the margin. Now I admit that experiences like this do not happen every day, but in my line of work a version that causes such embarrassment more than once a year does not exactly commend itself. And we cannot always be carrying a stack of Bibles and reference works around with us. So a minister needs to have a version that can be relied upon for all practical purposes. Sometimes we find in modern versions dynamic renderings that are exegetically impossible, without any alternative renderings given in the margin. An example of this is Matthew 12:33 in the NIV, Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. The Greek verb translated make here is an imperative (), and so it cannot be interpreted as if it were merely posing a hypothetical condition, meaning if you make then. The Greek imperative cannot function like that. It is difficult to imagine how a group of conscientious scholars could have decided to put this in the 15 text without a marginal note. The rendering usually found in more literal versions Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad is indeed not very helpful, and likely to be misunderstood; but at least it allows a teacher to bring out the meaning clearly and deftly by explaining the word make in the sense of consider. The NIVs very loose rendering, on the other hand, is so unlike the Greek that it cannot even be used as a starting point for the explanation of the verse. It is necessary to reject the whole sentence as a mistranslation, and offer in its place a rendering quite unlike it in form. Again, this would not be so bad if the version had included a footnote that could be used as the basis for the explanation. All of which goes to show how empty is Nidas statement that a translator can always provide in marginal notes the appropriate alternatives. The whole ethos of dynamic equivalence frowns at the kind of carefulness that would supply details and alternatives in the margin, while encouraging translators to take unprecedented liberties with the text. In this chapter I have argued that a more frequent use of marginal notes, indicating alternative renderings, would be an improvement to these interpretive versions. But a better solution to this whole problem would be to refrain from using needlessly interpretive renderings in the first place. These versions have got the relationship of text to margin backwards. The text should try to present to the reader what the original writer actually wrote, with as little interpretation as possible; and the margin

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should provide the interpretations that the translator thinks are necessary for a right understanding of the text. We acknowledge the need for interpretation in many places where literal renderings leave the meaning uncertain; but as one old writer has said: No doubt it is better to deal faithfully and truly with the Scripture, and leave the difficulty as we find it, than to force the text, and impose our own conjectures upon it. 16

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11. Needless Limitations of the Vocabulary


In one of the examples cited above, I used the word reproach to translate the Greek . This English word, reproach, is today rarely heard in conversation. In colloquial speech its use is practically confined to the phrase above reproach, and the word has a distinctly literary if not biblical flavor to it. For some time now, many translators who adhere to principles of dynamic equivalence have been avoiding words like this, because they suppose that words rarely used in conversation are liable to be misunderstood. Therefore instead of reproach, we see disgrace in several modern versions, in places like Hebrews 11:26 and 13:13. But the word disgrace does not have quite the same meaning as reproach. The two words are very close in meaning, but disgrace implies some fault, giving sufficient cause for dishonor, whereas reproach does not. Reproach has reference to public reputation only. A righteous man might be said to suffer reproach (e.g. by public insults and ridicule for his unpopular views), but we do not speak of a man s disgrace without implying that his reputation is deserved. This illustrates one of the great advantages of the English language: its relatively large stock of words, which puts at our disposal many synonyms that enable us to make such fine distinctions. If, however, we choose to artificially limit this vocabulary, using only those words which are commonly used in conversation, our ability to express ourselves is greatly diminished. Translators who avoid words rarely used in conversation, though they are generally understood by English speakers, are limiting their own ability to convey shades of meaning in the original, and for no good reason. It is not necessary to limit the vocabulary of a Bible version to words that are commonly used in conversation, because, as Robert Bratcher acknowledges, even a common language version must present the text in the style of written, not spoken, English and any theorist who would demand such an artificially restricted vocabulary is overlooking the fact that people can understand more words than they themselves ordinarily use. 1 The distinction drawn here between language use and comprehension is recognized by the common language advocate William Wonderly, who speaks of it as a difference between producer and consumer language; but Wonderly still maintains that a translator should try to confine himself to the producer vocabulary. He writes:
The degree to which a writer will keep within the producer level will also depend upon the purpose of the reading material itself. Since the primary purpose of a Bible translation is to communicate basic information, the surest way to accomplish this is to keep as nearly as possible within the producer language; on the other hand, when one is dealing with literature whose main purpose is to give the reader added experience and to raise his level of reading ability and use of the language, he will naturally introduce words and expressions that will serve this purpose, while still keeping within the bounds of tolerance of the horizon of difficulty of the intended readers. 2

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We note that as nearly as possible provides a loophole big enough to make this statement practically meaningless if an objection is raised against it, but there are a number of problems with it. For one thing, it assumes that whatever is basic in the Bible must have some special affinity with what is basic in the daily vocabulary of the reader. This is not at all likely to be true. But the main problem is, it smuggles in the idea that the very nature of a Bible translation is such that it has this primary purpose to communicate basic information. I have already pointed out, in a previous chapter, that we have catechisms and other literature especially designed to serve this purpose, not to mention oral instruction, which is the usual means of conveying basic information about Christianity and the teachings of the Bible. For it is obvious enough that the communication of basic information is not usually the primary purpose of the biblical text. In fact the purpose of the text often has little to do with information, and when it does aim primarily to convey information, it usually assumes that the reader already has a knowledge of basic information, and 3 deals with things that can in no way be called basic for uninitiated modern readers. Hence the need for instruction. It is totally impractical to imagine that the purpose of conveying basic information could be better served by setting aside all the literature that has been written for that purpose, and inducing people to read entire Bibles instead. Because very few people will ever do that. And it will only lead to an alteration or reduction of the meaning of the biblical text if it is forced to serve a primary purpose that is foreign to its own nature. As for literature whose main purpose is to give the reader added experience and to raise his level of reading ability and use of the language, this can hardly be called the purpose of anything in the Bible. It is a purpose that can only be assigned to a translation quite aside from the purpose of the original. Against all of this, we would maintain that the entire purpose of a translation is to present accurately in another language what was said in the original. If this requires words and expressions that the reader does not use every day, then so be it. As Vern Poythress says,
we can distinguish between active and passive language competence. Active and passive competence have to do with language production and reception, respectively. Active competence means ability to produce sentences and use vocabulary and grammatical constructions of particular types. Passive competence means ability to understand sentences and vocabulary and grammatical constructions, when other people present such pieces of language to someone eye or ear. Passive competence is the s broader category. People can recognize vocabulary items that they never use in their own speech. They can read and understand sentences that they themselves would never think of producing. In Bible translation, passive competence on the part of potential readers is the important factor. The translators must consider whether readers will understand what the translators write, not primarily whether readers use the very same language in their own speech. Constructions that are less common, but still natural and intelligible, can safely be employed in communication. And then the conclusion follows: these less common constructions need to be employed whenever their employment results in greater accuracy. 4

I think every Greek scholar will agree that the word in Acts 7:38, Rom. 3:2, Heb. 5:12, and 1 Pet. 4:11 means oracles, and that if the writers had meant simply

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words, as we find it rendered in the NIV, they would have written or instead. The meaning of as distinct from these other words can be expressed precisely in English if we are willing to make use of the word oracles, and so that is what we have in most English versions. But evidently the editors of the NIV rejected this traditional rendering as being too unusual for their readers, and so they are left with no means of expressing the special sense of . In Acts 9:22 it seems impossible to express the meaning of concisely in English without using either the word confounded or discomfited. Both words combine the sense defeat with throw into confusion, and that is just what the Greek word means here. Paul confounded the Jews of Damascus with his powerful arguments. The rendering confounded goes back to Wycliffe, and its fitness is so obvious that it was used by all subsequent translators up to the twentieth century. It continues to be used in several recent versions. If it is rejected now as being too unusual for the modern reader, what equivalent can be found in common English? We end up with such renderings as the NIV baffled and the CEV confused, s s which express only half the meaning; or the NEB silenced, or such paraphrastic s treatments as the NLT the Jews in Damascus couldn refute his proofs, which s t expresses only the other half of the meaning. This is what happens when translators are prevented from using all the resources of the language. When the range of words allowed in a translation decreases, inaccuracy must increase. In this connection, we are told that the use of archaic language in the older Bible versions presents problems for many people, and this is true to some extent. I once met a man who had been reading the KJV Bible nearly every day for more than 30 years, but he did not know that meat in that version means food. We can do without confusion like that. And who today would want to keep the unfortunate superfluity of naughtiness in James 1:21? But in my experience as a teacher, archaic words and expressions are much less of a problem than some would have us believe, and I think we need to make a distinction between obsolete words that are not understood and archaic words that are just oldfashioned sounding. As Richard Weymouth points out in the Preface to his New Testament in Modern Speech, there may be good reasons for retaining antiquated words that are not obsolete:
But again, a modern translation does this imply that no words or phrases in any degree antiquated are to be admitted? Not so, for great numbers of such words and phrases are still in constant use. To be antiquated is not the same thing as to be obsolete or even obsolescent, and without at least a tinge of antiquity it is scarcely possible that there should be that dignity of style that befits the sacred themes with which the Evangelists and Apostles deal. 5

Likewise R.C. Trench, in speaking of words which, while they are felt by our people to be old and unusual, are yet perfectly understood by them, by wise and simple, educated and uneducated alike, writes:
These, shedding round the sacred volume the reverence of age, removing it from the ignoble associations which will often cleave to the language of the day, should on no account be touched, but rather thankfully accepted and

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carefully preserved. The dignity resulting from archaisms, in Bishop Horsley words, is not to be too readily given up. For, indeed, it is good s that the phraseology of Scripture should not be exactly that of our common life; that it should be removed from the vulgarities, and even the familiarities, of this; just as there is a sense of fitness which dictates that the architecture of a church should be different from that of a house. 6

Dynamic equivalence proponents tend to neglect this distinction between archaic and obsolete words, and their rejection of archaic words seems to be based more on stylistic preferences than any requirements of intelligibility. One Bible publisher explains, Words like behold and shallare no longer commonly used. Most people don speak that way, just as most people don use t t thee and thou. We certainly know what they mean, but the formality they convey isn standard for us any t longer. 7 Here formality or dignity of style is itself being rejected as undesirable in a Bible version, quite aside from any considerations of intelligibility. Likewise Nida is eager to get rid of anything that seems formal and oldfashioned. He pays no attention to the difference of intelligibility between archaic and obsolete words, and calls words that are merely oldfashioned dead terms of a previous age.
Users of the King James Version are sufficiently familiar with problems of antiquated words. Terms such as anon, begat, wax (old) are either no longer used or are fast passing out of use. All languages are strewn with such fossil words, but a book such as the Bible, which has a living message for people of the present day, should not depend for its meaning upon dead terms of a previous age. 8

This rhetoric pushes beyond the commonsense point that the translation should be intelligible, to suggest that archaic words are unacceptable because a living message for people of the present day should not seem to be old. But why? Obviously the Bible is very old, from a a previous age, and in fact ancient. There is not much hope of understanding it if we come to it with a hatred of things that seem old. And I do not think ordinary people have this attitude. Rather, it seems that most people are intrigued by things that are very old, and value them highly just because they are old. If we go to the bookstore and look at the currently popular novels on the shelves there, we find that most of them are set in some previous age. The same is true of the most popular movies. Why does Star Wars have princesses, men in armor, sword fights, wizards, and medieval costumes? There is a kind of mysterious archetypical glory on things that are ancient. There is a tendency to associate a modern style with things that are light and ephemeral, and the archaic style with things that are weighty, permanent and sure. Certainly the Bible associates eternity with high antiquity. Daniel calls the true God the Ancient of Days (7:9, 13, 22). John says that his message concerns that which was from the beginning (1 John 1:1). Whatever is eternal must be very ancient. It was there at the beginning of all things. So we would not agree with the basic idea that Nida is trying to promote, and would even call it unbiblical. The word of God is both living and abiding (1 Peter 1:23). There is something deeply inappropriate about changing every twenty years the words of the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of change, or of the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

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We do not argue for the retention of any obsolete words in English versions. We will not defend anon as a translation for , because this word (which was used only twice in the King James version) is not only archaic, but clearly obsolete. Not many people know that it means immediately. However, it is not true that people have difficulty with the word begat in the genealogies. This is easily recognized as the past tense of beget, a word that is by no means obsolete. Modern versions usually have was the father of instead, for purely stylistic reasons; but it so happens that begat (or its rival begot) is a more accurate translation of . If begat and begot are refused because they seem obtrusively quaint, then the verb fathered is available. There is no problem of intelligibility with any of these words. The real issue here is whether a modern and colloquial style is so important that accuracy should be sacrificed for its sake. Is the purpose of accurate translation met when Hebrew and Greek words for which the dynamic translator can find no modernsounding equivalent are left untranslated? This has been the case with the Hebrew interjections and (behold, lo), and the corresponding in the New Testament, in many recent versions. A translator who cannot bear to use any biblicalsounding word like behold sometimes ventures to use see or look as an equivalent, but with results that are even less natural to spoken English than behold. For example, the NIV in Matthew 24:15 reads See, I have told you, and in 26:45, Look, the hour is near. Is Jesus pointing to a clock here? When there is nothing to look at or see with the eyes, Englishspeaking people do not naturally use the words look and see as emphasizing interjections, in the same way that the biblical authors use and . The NIV translators evidently felt the oddity of using see and look like this in most places, but having ruled out behold, they found no way of conveying the meaning at all; and so they simply left the Greek and Hebrew words untranslated in hundreds of places (e.g., 1 Sam. 30:3, Luke 1:48). We grant that, all other things being equal, it is usually good to use words of the common sort, rather than needlessly archaic ones. But translators should not reject words that are understood by virtually everyone just because they are not currently popular in colloquial speech. A translator who needlessly hobbles himself with such a stylistic principle will often 9 find that he simply cannot express the meaning. Sometimes the advocates of dynamic equivalence exaggerate the supposed need for common language so much that it seems they think ordinary people are stupid. For instance, Nida in one of his books explained that in Psalm 23 the oldfashioned rendering, The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, was unacceptable because many persons understand this traditional rendering to mean: The Lord is my 10 shepherd whom I shall not want. This is the kind of ridiculous misunderstanding that many people fall into when the language of colloquial speech is not used, we are told. But perhaps we are entitled to a higher opinion of people intelligence. As s for those few who really do have such problems, we wonder if it would be wise to encourage them to think they could understand much of anything in the Bible without constant help from teachers.

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12.NeedlessLimitationsoftheGrammar
The ability of translators to express the meaning of the original is hindered not onlybylimitationsofthevocabularybutalsobyrestrictionsofEnglishgrammar.The restricteduseoftheEnglishgenitive,whichIhavediscussedatsomelengthalready in chapter 9, is an example of this tendency. Another obvious example is the reluctance of some modern versions to employ the thirdperson imperative, as in Revelation2:7,Hewhohasanear,lethimhearwhattheSpiritsaystothechurches. Inthissentencelethimheardoesnot,ofcourse,meanallowhimtohear.When let is placed at the beginning of the clause like this, it is not the verb; it is an auxiliarywordusedwiththethirdpersonimperativeverbthatfollows.Itsfunctionis modal. The imperative force belongs to the verb (in this case hear) not to the auxiliary let. No one is being addressed in the second person in this statement, eitherexpresslyorbyimplication.Itisacommand,givenindirectly,inwhichtheone who is being commanded is referred to in the third person. In our language, this mannerofspeakinghasanespeciallyauthoritativeandimpersonalconnotation;we would associate it with something like a royal edict. It is not often used in casual conversation. At home I do not say, Whoever left the door open, let him shut it. InsteadI say, Whoever left the door open shouldgoshutit. In linewiththis less formalmannerofspeaking,then,theNew Living Translation avoidstheformalityof thethirdpersonimperativeandtransformsRevelation2:7intoastatementaboutthe obligationsofthelisteners:AnyonewhoiswillingtohearshouldlistentotheSpirit andunderstandwhattheSpiritissayingtothechurches.Theformalityandforceof thesayingisscaleddownconsiderablyhere.Itcanbecalledtheclosestequivalent onlyifweareworkingundertheassumptionthatitmustbeanequivalentexpression indailyhouseholdtalk;butthetroubleis,Revelation2:7isnothouseholdtalk:itisa command issued from heaven. The connotations of a royal edict are quite appropriatehere,becauseinfactitis aroyaledict. In defense of the NLT rendering it might be claimed that some people whohave neverheardanyoneuseathirdpersonimperativeinconversationwillthinkthatlet himhearinthiscontextmeansallowhimtohear,andsotherenderingpreventsa misunderstanding. But I think that is hardly likely. This construction is not rare in Scripture: Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour (Ephesians 4:28); He that hath ears to hear, let him hear (Matt. 11:15); If any man will come after me, let him deny himself (Matt. 16:24); whoever reads, let him understand(Matt.24:15);letnotthatmanthinkthatheshallreceiveanythingof the Lord (James 1:7); Let not then your good beevil spoken of (Rom. 14:16); Let notyourheartbetroubled,neitherletitbeafraid(John14:27);lethimgloryinthe Lord (1Cor. 1:31); let her be covered (1Cor. 11:6); let him be accursed (1Cor. 16:22);andsoforth.Itjustisn ttruethatpeoplefailtounderstandthethirdperson imperativesintheserenderings.IntheNLTwestillreadinGenesis1:3,Lettherebe light.InHebrewtheverbhereisajussive,whichhasthesamefunctionasourthird personimperativewithlet.Thecommandisnotaddressedtoanysecondperson,it is rather a performative speech act in which the light is indirectly commanded to

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be.AsPaulsays,hecalleththethingsthatarenot,asthoughtheywere(Romans 4:17),andthusthelightissummonedintobeingbythewordofhiscommand.Thisis notdifficult.NoonewillthinkthatGodistellingsomeonetoallowlighttoshine. Nevertheless,wefindinmodernversionssomereallydesperateattemptstoavoid thethirdpersonimperative.InGalatians6:17Paulsays,Letnomantroubleme,but theNLTsays,don tletanyonetroubleme asifthesentencecontainedasecond personimperativeofletasthemainverb.Thisrenderingisobviouslywrong,andI canonlysupposethatitisherebecausesomeeditorwasgoingthroughthetextand tryingtoeliminateletnotexpressionsforstylisticreasons. The restriction of English grammar even causes some confusion about this in Daniel Wallace Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. In a section on prohibitive s imperatives, Wallace translates 1Timothy 5:16 Do no let the church be burdened. Hedoesrecognize,however,thatinsuchanEnglishsentencetheletcanonlymean allow, and so he explains that this is not the sense of the Greek: In English this looks as if the author is saying don permit the church to be burdened. But the I t Greek is stronger: it is as if he is saying order the church not to be burdened. 1 I Strangely,hegivesthereadernoideaofwhatisreallywrongwiththerendering.Itis notthattheGreekisstronger,itisjustthattheGreekverb beburdened is a passive imperative in the third person, and there is nothing in the Greek that correspondsinmeaningwiththeactive second-person imperative letthatwehave inthemistakenEnglishrendering.Alltheconfusionisdispelled,however,ifweonly translate it correctly:put the auxiliarylet in its proper position and leave out the dowhichmakesitintoaverb.Letnotthechurchbeburdened.Thereisnoneed to paraphrase it as Wallace does in his explanation. I suppose that Wallace has avoidedletnotthechurchbeburdenedasarenderingbecauseitseemsstiltedor archaicsounding,andhewantstogiverenderingsinmoderncolloquialstyle,soas tohelptranslatorswhoaredoingthesame.Butthisrestrictionistotallyunnecessary; andevidentlyhecannotfindanotherwaytoexpressthesenseaccuratelyinEnglish translation. Theselfimposed restriction even prevents him fromgivinga clear and accurateexplanationofthegrammaticalfactshere.Itisimpossibleforuseventotalk about a thirdperson imperative without using the English construction that has alwaysexpresseditinthepast. LikewisetheHebrewjussivetense(seeGesenius Hebrew Grammar,48)expresses a command or plea in the second or third person, with an imperative and not a permissive sense. Here again the English equivalent is an expression beginning withtheauxiliary let,asinGenesis1:3,Lettherebelight,orExodus20:19,Letnot God speak to us. But the meaning of the jussive in Exodus 20:19 cannot be represented with the NLT don let God speak or do not let God speak to s t us(NRSV,ESV),becausetheserenderingsinjectanideaofallowing ornot allowing something(asifGodrequiredMoses permissiontospeak!)whichisnotpresentin theHebrew. At this point a theorist of Nida school may protest that not all languages are s capable of expressing thirdperson imperatives and jussivesaccurately, and so their eliminationisjustifiableintheory.Theyshouldsay,rather,thatitisjustifiablewhen it is necessary.For itis notjustifiable when alanguagedoeshavethe equivalentof thirdpersonimperativesorjussivesinitsgrammar.2

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One important characteristic of modern dynamic equivalence versions is their tendency to restrict hypotaxis in general. Hypotaxis (from hypotassein, to arrange under) includes all methods of syntactic subordination or embedding: it is most often seen in the use of relative phrases and subordinate clauses. For example, the EpistleofPaulto the Romans begins with an elaborately hypotacticsalutationthat includesseveralsubordinateclauses:
Paul,aservantofJesusChrist,calledto be anapostle,separateduntothe gospelofGod,2whichhepromisedaforethroughhisprophetsintheholy scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David accordingtotheflesh,4whowasdeclared[Gr.determined]to be theSonof God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead; even Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we received grace and apostleship, unto obedience of faith among all the nations, for hisname ssake;6amongwhomareyealsocalledto be JesusChrist s:7To allthatareinRome,belovedofGod,calledto be saints:Gracetoyouand peacefromGodourFatherandtheLordJesusChrist.

This rendering, from the American Standard Version, does not perfectly express everythingintheoriginal,butitdoesmirrorthestructureoftheGreekverywell.The oppositetendencyofmoderndynamicequivalenceversionsisseeninthefollowing renderingfromtheCommon English Bible:
FromPaul, aslave of ChristJesus,calledtobe an apostleandsetapart forGod sgoodnews.GodpromisedthisgoodnewsabouthisSonaheadof time through his prophets in the holy scriptures. His Son was descended from David. He was publicly identified as God Son with power through s hisresurrectionfromthedead,whichwasbasedontheSpiritofholiness. This Son is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we have received God s graceandourappointmenttobeapostles.ThiswastobringallGentilesto faithfulobedienceforhisname ssake.YouwhoarecalledbyJesusChrist arealsoincludedamongtheseGentiles.TothoseinRomewhoaredearly lovedbyGodandcalledtobeGod speople.Gracetoyouandpeacefrom GodourFatherandtheLordJesusChrist.

MuchofthehypotaxisoftheoriginalGreekiseliminatedhere,bysplittingupthe longandcomplexGreeksentence and converting several ofits relativeclauses into shortandgrammatically simplesentences. Wemaysuppose this was done because the version editors believed that ordinary readers are not able to take in all the s thoughtsoftheauthorwhentheyareexpressedinsuchalongandcomplexsentence as we have in the original. And so we are given this series of disjointed sentences instead.Buttheproblemhereisnotjustthatshortsentencescanmakeforchoppy reading,asonewritersays.3 TheCEBrenderingisnotonlyinferiorinpointofstyle; italsofallsshortasanexpressionofthethinkingoftheauthor,becauseiteliminates the subordinating and coordinating connections that indicate what relationship thosethoughtshaveinthemindoftheauthor.LelandRykenexplains:
WhataretheeffectsofassumingthatBiblereaderscanhandleonlyshort sentences?Themostobviousqualitythatisatoncediminishedistheunity andcoherenceofawriter slineofthought.Alsolostistheabilitytoshow the subordination of parts of a writer thought to the whole. With s

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subordinationremovedfromsight,allthoughtsbecomecoordinate,placed on the same plane even when the writer clearly placed them into a hierarchyofprimaryandsecondary.Thisnecessarilyresultsinadistortion 4 ofthenuancesofanauthor sintendedmeaning.

It goes somewhatbeyondnuances, however, whenwecansee in themore literal translation of Romans 1:17 why Paul says that Christ was declared (ASV) or determined(ASVmargin)SonofGod.Thewordhereis,whichordinarily means determined or appointed, as may be seen from the usage of the word in Acts 2:23, 10:42, 11:29, 17:26, and 17:31. Some liberal scholars have wrongly imagined that this indicates an adoptionist Christology, in which Jesus was thought to becometheSonofGodathisresurrection,ratherthanbeingtheincarnationofthe 5 Sonwhohasexistedfromalleternity. Butthisisnotanisolatedpropositioninthe Greek, it is only a clause in a larger sentence; and when the sentence is read as a whole, it may be seen that the true reason for the use of here is really rhetorical. Thethought ofGod sdesignatinghimcomes asanechoor instanceof the calling and setting apart theme of the sentence as a wholean idea which appears at the beginning and end of the salutation. When the Greek sentence is translatedasasinglesentenceinEnglish,thereadercanreadilyseetheconnection ofthethoughts, because these thoughtsare closelyassociatedby beingincludedin onesentence.Wemayalsonotethatwithintheframeworkofthissentencetheword obedience in obedience of faith resonates with the servant (or slave) at the beginning,andthephrasecalledtobesaintsisparalleltoaccordingtotheSpiritof holiness. Such connection or association of ideas is one of the functions of hypotaxis. It facilitates a combination of related ideas within a unifying syntactic structure. But when the components of the sentence are dissolved and set forth as independent propositions, as in the Common English Bible, itis not easy tosee the purpose of the individual statements in this context, because the disjointed syntax failstobringthemtogether.OneonlyseesPaulsayingseveralunrelatedthingsabout thisandthat.

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13.AFalseViewofLinguisticDevelopment
One should not underestimate the abilities of ordinary people to learn words, or newmeaningsforexistingwords.Thiswasbroughthometomeinaninterestingway recently, when one of my children asked me to get a thing of pop at the grocery store. Without even thinking about it, I knew that he meant a twolitre bottle, becausenotlongagoIhadheardmywifecasuallyrefertooneofthoselargebottles asa thing of pop.My son had immediately picked up the usage,and hecorrectly perceivedthatthiswasherwayofindicatingalarge bottle,asdistinguishedfromthe smalleronesweusuallythinkofwhenwesaybottle.Sonowinmyfamilytheword thing has acquired a new and highly specific sense when referring to liquid containers. By the age of eight all my children knew the usual English words for liquid containers in our house: cups, glasses, mugs, bottles, cans, cartons, jugs, canteens,pitchers,etc.Theirknowledgeofwhatthesewordsspecificallyrefertowas gained without effort, merely by example and inference, without anyone stating definitions. One word they all knew by the age of five was ark, as in Noah Ark. I don s t remembereverbeingaskedwhatanarkis.Itwasjustacceptedasthenameofthat huge vessel that Noah built. The word is not common in speech, and, like tabernacle, it is one of those biblical words that people must learn from the contextsinwhichitisused.Butthisisnodifferentfrommyson slearningthatwhen hismothersaysathingofpopshemeansatwolitrebottleit is no trouble at all. Anditturnsoutthatthisunusualwordarkisworthlearning,becauseitrepresents anunusual Hebrew word: ( teivah), whichmeans notreallya boat but a box like containerorvessel. Interestinglyenough,thisHebrewword occursinonlyone otherplaceintheBible:intheinfancynarrativeofMoses,wherehismotherbuilds anarktofloathimontheNile.LikeasecondNoah,Mosesisthuspreservedfrom deathbymeansofanarkonthewater.ProbablyMosesusedtheword here,in the story of his own deliverance, with Noah ark in mind. Of course this allusion, s like all the others mentioned above, is lost in some modern versions, because they willnotusesuchanunusualwordasark. Itistruethatsomewordsthatchildrenmayheareverydayneedtobeexplainedto them.RecentlyIfoundthatmysons(whoare11and9yearsold)didnotknowthe meaningofthewordallegiance,despitethefactthattheyhadrecitedthepledgeof allegiance hundreds of times at school and at Boy Scouts. The meanings of the words republic and indivisible were also unclear to them. They told me that no one had ever explained to them what these words meant. Words like this need explanation because they refer to concepts rather than objects. Republic even requires a little history lesson to be understood; but the word often appears in newspapers and magazines, and it is really indispensable for any worthwhile discussion of political history and ideology. I would expect any decent school to teach its students the meaningof this word by the ninthgrade. The case is similar with conceptual terms like righteousness and redemption in the Bible. Children should not be expected to just pick up the meaning of these words without

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instruction. But I would expect any Christian Education program to provide such instruction for children before they reach the age of 15, and I would not expect childrenyoungerthanthattodoanyindependentBiblereading.Inanycase,trying toexplainChristiantheologywithouttheuseofsuchwordsisliketryingtoexplain Americanpoliticalideologywhileavoidingthewordrepublic.Wedonotgetvery farintothesubjectbeforetheneedforsuchtermsbecomesobvious. Anotherfalsenotionpromotedbycommon languageadvocatesisthat wordsof Latinoriginmustbeavoided.Wegettheimpressionthattheythinkthesewordsdo notreallybelongintheEnglishlanguage.TheyclaimthatwordsderivedfromLatin aresomehowexotic,undulyformal,andlacktheforceofnativeAngloSaxonwords. This assertion isusually made withoutargument,asifitwereselfevident.Butis it really true? It is not hard to find examples which seem to support this idea. We would not argue that fraternal is equal to brotherly in expressive force, or that paternal has the same power as fatherly, but the greater meaningfulness of brotherly and fatherly does not come from any inherent virtue of AngloSaxon words; it arises from the fact that these words are charged with metaphorical meaning, drawn from their cognates brother and father in our language. Conversely, the Latinderived fraternal and paternal are weaker in meaning because they are etymologically and morphologically remote from brother and father. 1 Asineveryotherlanguage,Englishwordsderiveconnotativepowerfrom their associations. But many Latinderived words also have associations in our language. Consider the word disciple (from the Latin discipulus, meaning pupil, apprentice).IsthisjustafancyLatinatewayofsayingfollower?Weratherthink thatdiscipleisthestrongerword,moredefiniteinmeaning.Afollowerdoesnot alwaysknowhisleaderpersonally,ornecessarilylearnmuchfromhim;buttheword disciple suggests a closer relationship, and also conveys the idea that the relationshipisthatofalearnerwithhisteacher.Probablytheworddisciplehasthis stronger meaning in English because it is less common, being especially associated with the Bible and religion, and having acquired from its biblical usage all the meaningoftheGreek.BelowIwillelaboratemoreonthispoint,andargue that the most common words in a language do not usually have more meaning or force than uncommon words, but less. Here I am only concerned with the unreasonableprejudiceagainstEnglishwordsinheritedfromLatin. Barclay Newman, translator of the Contemporary English Version, informs his readersthatthewordgracewhichwehavedefendedabovecomesfromtheLatin word gratia, and that the expression grace of God did not enter the English languageuntilA.D.1175. 2 Theassumption hereseemstobethatwordsorphrases unattested in English before the twelfth century are somehow illegitimate. He complains that grace, like most of the other words he finds objectionable (e.g. righteousness and repentance), was brought into English versions from the Latin Bible by John Wycliffe a Latin scholar who knew little Greek. And so we are urgedtorejecttheword,becauseitcamefromLatin.Butonthesameprinciplewe willhavetoeliminatethewordfaith fromourBibleversionsalso,becausethisword came into our language during the same period, and from the same source. Surely the word grace, after eight centuries of use in Englishspeaking churches, and a

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million choruses of Amazing Grace, has a place no less secure than faith in the Englishlanguagebynow. The AngloSaxon primitivism that would exclude such words is engaged in what R.C.Trenchhascalledafutileandmischievousattempttoignorethefullrightsof theLatinelementofthelanguage,3 andanextravagantattempttoputunderban wordsofLatinorGreekderivation,wheretherearenot,asveryoftentherecouldnot 4 be, sufficient equivalents for them in the homelier portion of our language. It brings to mind the patriotic encomiums to Tyndale found in some nineteenth century British authors, who praise his New Testament for its pure Saxon vocabulary,drawnfromthewellofEnglishundefiled,andsoon. 5 Statementslike this are so far from the truth, they can only be understood as expressions of the Frenchhating blood and soil romanticism of their authors. They seriously misrepresent not onlyTyndale svocabulary,butalso the verynature andhistoryof the English language. The truth is, from the fourteenth century onward it has not beenpossibleforaspeakerofEnglishtoavoidLatinderivedwords.ModernEnglish isnotmerelyadevelopmentofOldEnglishinwhichafewexpendableinkhornterms havebeenborrowedfromLatinalongtheway.ItistheoutcomeofahybridofOld English and Old French formedinthecenturiesfollowing the Normanconquestof Britain,inwhichmuchofthevocabularyofOldFrenchwasthoroughlynaturalized. TheLatinbasedFrenchwordscametotheBritishIslesinsuchafloodthatprobably morethan half the words of ModernEnglish canbe traced to them. Not onlythat, but many native AngloSaxon words have acquired meanings from their Latin equivalents. An example of this is the word thing. Originally in AngloSaxon a thing was an assembly, but under the steady and pervasive influence of Latin during the Middle Ages it gradually acquired all the senses of its Latin equivalent, 6 res,andfinallyitsoldAngloSaxonmeaningbecameobsolete. Ithasbeenestimated thatModernEnglishhasappropriatedafullquarteroftheLatinvocabulary,besides what it has gained by transferring Latin meanings to native words. 7 This momentous change in the language might be forgotten, but it cannot be reversed. We cannot go back to a pure Saxon vocabulary by avoiding Latin derivatives, because Latinate words have displaced much of the old AngloSaxon vocabulary. There is nothing foreign about Latinate words that have been in our language continuously for 800 years; but many of the AngloSaxon equivalents, if they ever existed,havebecomeasforeigntousasGerman.Thismaybeillustratedbythefate oftheOldEnglishwordforsavior.Thatwordwashlend (comp.Germanheiland), and in AngloSaxon translations of scripture hlend was alsoused to represent the nameofJesus.ButbythetimeofWycliffethisfamiliarSaxonwordhadbeenpushed aside by the French sauveour, descended from the Latin salvator. A descendant of thewordhlend didsurvivetheNormaninvasion,withamorerestrictedmeaning, intheformofourwordhealer;butthesenseofsaviorhasbeentakenfromitand given to the adopted French word. And this is how it went with many common AngloSaxon words during the Middle English period. The AngloSaxon words for faith, geleafa and treow, are the ancestorsof ourwords belief and truth, but themodernwordsdonothavethesamesemanticrangeastheirancestors,because faith has taken over part of theirmeaning. Wearenow far beyond thepoint when anyonemightrefrainfromtheuseofLatinderivedwords,whichlongagobecamean integralpartofourlanguage.8 Andifitwerepossible,itwouldstillnotbedesirable,

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because the great versatility and precisionof the Englishlanguageismostlydue to thisinfusionofLatinvocabulary;asoneGermangrammarianhassaid:TheBlending of the Germanic [AngloSaxon] with the Romance [Latin and French] imparts to Englishingeneralarichnessofexpressionforallshadesofthought,possessedbyno 9 othermodernlanguage. Even in languages which have not undergone the kind of transformation that English went through in the Middle Ages, the borrowing of words from other languagesisnotuncommon.InfacttheHebrewword( ark),mentionedabove, is probably a loanword from Egyptian (see the etymology in the Koehler Baumgartnerlexicon).IntheGreekNewTestament,wefindanumberofloanwords fromHebrewandAramaic.ManyGreekwordsenteredtheLatinlanguagebymeans 10 of Jerome Latin translations and revisions of the Bible. s All the European languageshaveborrowedwordsfromHebrew,Greek,andLatin;andmanyofthese borrowedwords are now household words in our language: the words Christ and BibleareanglicizedGreek( and),AmenisHebrew(,)andthese words came into our languagethrough ecclesiasticalLatin (Christus, Biblia, Amen). We have also borrowed many idioms from the Biblical languages. The expression answered and said may be called a Hebraism; but in fact we find the expression andwyrde ond cw (answered and said) in the very earliest AngloSaxon prose composition, King Alfred Preface to his Translation of Gregory Pastoral Care, s s writtenaround890A.D. Theideathatwordsandidiomsborrowedlongagofromthe ancientlanguagesshouldnotbeusedinaBibleversionisunreasonable;itinvolvesa false view of language development, and it ignores the fact that many words have enteredourlanguagebymeansofBibletranslationsinthepast. When the translators of theearly Englishversions could findnoexactequivalent for the original words, they did not settle for the closest natural equivalent, but instead borrowed words from Greek and Latin, or coined brand new words in English. Among the many words that Wycliffe introduced (mostly from Latin and French) were female, childbearing, affliction, consume, horror, problem, zealous, contradiction, glory, treasure, liquid, mystery, interpretation, doctrine, argument, adoption, liberty, crime, conscience, and quiet. Tyndale introduced Passover, scapegoat, atonement, 11beautiful, brokenhearted, busybody, and ungodly. 12 The same is true of idioms. Most peopledonotrealizehowmanyHebrewidiomshavebecomenaturalizedinEnglish bymeansofliteralrenderingsinBibleversions.OnestudyofTyndale sversionofthe Pentateuch concludes that his procedure was to reproduce literally such Semitic idiomsasapprovedthemselvestohimaseasilyunderstoodandmorevigorousthan paraphrase. 13 B.F. Westcott observes that Tyndale felt, by a happy instinct, the potential affinity between Hebrew and English idioms, and enriched our language and thought forever with the characteristics of the Semitic mind. 14 As Gerald Hammond says, the Renaissance Bible translator saw half of his task as reshaping EnglishsothatitcouldadaptitselftoHebraicidiom.15

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14.TheShallownessofOrdinaryLanguage
Nothingismorecharacteristicoflife inthemodernage than itsshallowness.For manywhohaveturnedtoChristinrecentyears,thefirstpromptingoftheSpiritwas anoverwhelmingsenseofthesheeremptinessandsuperficialityoftheirlives.They come to a church looking for something deep and permanent enough to give meaningtotheirlives.Butatthesametimemanychurcheshavefallenvictimtothe shallownessofourage,andwhatvisitorstoooftenfindinthem,insteadofdepth,is aninaneandfaddishpopChristianity.SeekersmayevenfindthattheveryWordof Godhasbeenrenderedinsipidandshallowbyourmoderntranslators. Dynamic equivalence versions seem to have a genius for trivialization that prevailsevenagainstsomebasicprinciplesoftheirmethod.Anexampleofthisisthe use of happy instead of blessed as a translation for and in the contextofblessings.J.B.Phillipsusedthisrenderingfor inthebeatitudesof the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:312), though he used the more appropriate fortunate in some other places. His happy has been copied by the Good News Bible and the New Century Version. In the latter we find the ludicrous rendering, ThosewhoaresadnowarehappyforMatt.5:4.ThetranslatorsoftheKingJames version used happy in the old sense of fortunate in a few places where these words refer to the enjoyment of favorable circumstances, but presumably the poor readers of the Good News Bible and New Century Version will understand happy only in its ordinary modern sense, as denoting an emotion. Clearly in the beatitudesreferstosomethingmorespiritualinnature ablessedstateofbeing under divine favor. 1 Nevertheless, it seems that Phillips and the others preferred happytoblessedherejustbecauseitsoundsmorecolloquialandcontemporary. Blessed is one of those stilted and oldfashioned words that the modernizing translatorsshun,asbelongingtothestainedglassvocabularyofyesteryear.Modern youngsters and nonChristians just don say that people are blessed. So we have t happyinstead. In front of me is a recentlypublished book called A Users Guide to Bible Translations, whose author strongly recommends the use of dynamic equivalence versions,whichhecallsmeaningdrivenversions.2 Hewrites:
As well as keeping the general vocabulary short and sharp to promote readingease,therearealsospecificwordsthatreadersareunlikelytomeet outsidethecontext oftheBible. Take,forexample, JohntheBaptist who came preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin (Mk 1:4).Hereseveralwordsarestrungtogether,someorevenallofwhichmay not make sense to a new Bible reader, repentance being the hardest. Three meaningdriven versions each tackle the word repentance in Mark 1:4inadifferentway: TEV Johnpreaching,Turnawayfromyoursinsandbebaptized andGodwillforgiveyoursins. CEV

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Johntoldeveryone,TurnbacktoGodandbe baptized!Thenyoursinswillbeforgiven. NLT John.preachedthatpeopleshouldbebaptizedto showthattheyhadturnedtoGodtoreceive forgivenessfortheirsins. Repentance is not a word in everyday use. It carries the specific theological meaning of (1) turning away from sin and (2) turning toward God.TheTEVhighlightsonlytheformer;theCEVonlythelatter.TheNLT capturesboth,butatthecostofproducingalongandwordysentence.

This writersaid to be a Baptist minister in England on the back cover of the bookseems to think that the Greek word traditionally translated Repentance ()intheNewTestamentmeansnothingotherthanturningawayfromsin, and turning toward God. But this technical definition leaves out the remorse, the sorrow for sin, the hearty determination to change, that are also denoted by the word. Thayer in his Lexicon explains that denotes the change of mind of those whohave begun toabhor their errors andmisdeeds,andhave determinedto enteruponabettercourseoflife,sothatitembracesboththerecognitionofsinand sorrow for it and hearty amendment, the tokens and effects of which are good deeds. (2nd ed., p. 406.) All of this is implicit in our word repentance. 3 We are aware of the fact that this stern old word, so charged with religious meaning and emotional depth, is rarely heard outside of church. But the claim that it may not make sense to Bible readers is implausible. The same writer also states that the wordsin may not be understood properly(p.46), and worries that salvation may alsobetoohardforsomereaderstounderstand,becauseitisalongwordwithan abstractmeaning(p.69). IntheNew Living Translations renderingofMark1:4wenoticealsothattoshow that they had turned to God construes the repentance connected with John s baptismasapreviousorcontemporaneousactiontobeshownbythebaptism.This isapparentlythetranslator sattempttoexplainwhatismeantby baptism of repentance in the original. But Scripture itself does not explain the relationship of baptism to repentance in this way. The genitive construction used here does not specify the relationship. 4 But this same baptism of repentance is elsewherecalledabaptismunto orfor repentance( )inMatthew3:11,and fromthiswemaygatherthatthebaptismofrepentanceisthesacredinauguration or pledge of a lifelong repentance, as Luther said, 5 and not the seal upon a completedact,asothershaverepresentedit.ForthisreasonThayerandothershave explainedthegenitivephrase inMark1:4asabaptismbindingits subjectstorepentance.Predictablyenough,theNew Living Translation notonlygets thiswrong,butalsoglossesovertheexpressioninMatthew3:11,whereithasbaptize those who turn from their sins and turn to God instead of baptize unto repentance. And it does this without a marginal note. We would expect someone with a theological education to notice how the New Living Translation pushes a particularviewofrepentanceandbaptismherewithitsparaphrasticrenderings;but theonlyproblemthatourGuide seesisalongandwordysentence.

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How could such faults escape the notice of a minister who is focusing on the rendering of the New Living Translation here for the purpose of discussing its merits and shortcomings? What has happened to theological education in England, that the only problem he would see here is that the rendering is long and wordy in comparison with the other versions he quotes? One gets the impression that advocates of dynamic equivalence are so enamored with the idea that everything should be recast in some simple and colloquial way, that they fail to see even the most obvious problems in versions that attempt it. Quite aside from any theological qualms we may have about the wording used in modern versions, we often sense that the everyday language that replaces the richer vocabulary traditionally used in Bible translations makes the text mean less than it should. Nida himself has observed that it is a basic principle of semantics that the greater the area of meaning and the more frequent [sic] a term occurs the less it actually signifies in any given context. 6 Words like blessedness, grief, remorse and sorrow are rarely used in conversation, but they cannot be replaced with everyday expressions like be happy or feel bad without trivializing the thoughts and feelings that the sacred authors want to convey. We feel sorry about small things that are soon forgotten; but remorse denotes a deeper and more enduring emotion. This is practically a law of language words and expressions that are common in everyday speech are associated with things that happen every day; but for things that do not happen every day, we require other words. If those who claim that everyday English needs to be used in order for the text to be understandable were really consistent, they would not use words like sorrow or remorse, as does the New Living Translation in 2 Corinthians 7:9. The error of the everyday language principle becomes evident, however, when it is actually adhered to and consistently put into practice, as in the CEV.
NLT the pain caused you to have remorse and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. CEV God used your hurt feelings to make you turn back to him when God make you feel sorry enough to turn to him and be saved, you don have t anything to feel bad about.

It is not only the discriminating littrateur who will feel that something is wrong with the CEV here. By using such expressions as hurt feelings and feel bad the translators have substituted paltry and commonplace emotions for those that are great and rare. They have trivialized it, and have violated a wellestablished rule of language. One cannot use such ordinary household expressions in reference to powerful spiritual convictions and awakenings. One might as well replace the expression they were cut to the heart in Acts 2:37 with their feelings were hurt. This would be ridiculous, but the rendering of the CEV there is not far different: its says, they were very upset.

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Professor Ryken of Wheaton College, in his valuable book The Word of God in English, 7 criticizes many renderings like this from the standpoint of a literary critic, and he very aptly describes them under such headings as Impoverishment of language, How to lower the Bible voltage, and The importance of getting the s tone right. But I wonder how many of his readers understand what is really at stake in matters of style and tone. The difference here is not just a superficial matter of form, without consequences for the content of the message. A real distortion of meaning occurs when everyday household language is used to describe extraordinary things. When we speak of hurt feelings and being upset we are referring to relatively minor agitations the average teenage girl gets upset and has hurt feelings several times a month but these words cannot refer to the kind of anguish that can change a man life. s Ryken emphasizes the fact that the style of the Bible in its original languages is largely poetic. The Psalms are all written in poetic style. The Prophetic books are mostly poetry. Job and the Song of Solomon are poetry. There are also some long poetic portions in the books that are mostly prose, such as the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy chapter 32. In the New Testament, the sayings and discourses of Christ often exhibit poetic features, especially the parallelism of clauses which is the distinguishing mark of Hebrew poetry. There is good reason to think that most of his preaching was delivered in this rhetorical form, which was associated with 8 inspiration and prophetic speech. Nida not only acknowledges this, he even states that the Jews placed high value on the poetic language of the prophets, and felt that its very distinctiveness marked it as somehow inspired. Among the Jews, he says, something in poetic form achieved greater authority because of its distinctive vocabulary, structure, and rhythm. 9 Evidently the prophets also felt that formal and poetic language was most suitable for the communication of the Word of God, or else they would not have spoken as they did. This feeling is by no means confined to Israelite prophets and their Jewish readers. People throughout the world have connected inspiration with impressive, unusual, and even mysterious language. The speech of sages and oracles is expected to be figurative. The book of Proverbs is full of figures, wordplays and other clever and interesting turns of phrase, in line with the conventions of wisdom literature. And it is a universal tendency of human beings to associate authority with a formal and impressive style of language. As a linguist Nida surely knows this, but as an apologist for the Good News Bible he is constrained to minimize the importance of any stylistic considerations.
Some people object to Bible translations that reflect the type of language used in newspapers Some people mistakenly assume that if the Bible is inspired by God, then it should not sound like normal language. 10

If he were speaking as a disinterested linguist here, Nida would not be trying to downplay the common association of authority and inspiration with impressive forms of speech, by dismissing it as a mistake. It is not the part of a linguist to reject as mistaken any common linguistic tendency or expectation. He and his followers know full well that it is not only some people who would expect divine revelations and commands to be more impressive than the newspaper. They are

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aware of the fact that much of the Bible is poetic, and that most of the prose sections are written in an elevated style. They must also know how unlikely it is that common language versions will ever command the same respect as versions that imitate the formal style of the original. But the high place occupied by demands for naturalness and common language in their hierarchy of concerns really dictates a simple conversational style in all circumstances. The versions most favored by Nida, the Good News Bible and the Contemporary English Version, do not even rise to the stylistic level of most newspaper articles. The tendency in these versions is to reduce the text to a uniformly bland, prosaic, and even childish manner of speaking throughout the Bible. Nida has even said that poetic effects should be deliberately eliminated in translations done for most persons in the Western world, because he believes that most will associate poetic forms of writing with idle and fanciful thoughts that are not relevant to the practical events of men daily lives. s
for most persons in the Western world, presenting the prophetic utterances of the Old Testament in poetic form, as the closest formal equivalence, often results in serious lack of appreciation for the urgency of the prophet message, which was put into poetic form in order to enhance s its impact and to make the form more readily remembered. Such poetic forms are often interpreted by persons in the Western world as implying a lack of urgency, because poetic forms have become associated with communications which are overestheticized [sic] and hence not relevant to the practical events of men daily lives. 11 s

The idea here is that the common man will not feel that the prophetic message is relevant if the prophets do not use the kind of language that he hears and uses every day. The Guide to Bible Translations quoted above tries to forestall objections to such an antiliterary attitude by portraying as bombastic any diction that rises above the kindergarten level:
Consider the following: The domesticated feline situated herself in a stationary and recumbent position on the diminutive floorboard covering. This is an unnecessarily longwinded way of saying, The cat sat on the mat. Long, polysyllabic words are harder to understand than short words with just one or two syllables. 12

But this parody of officialese does not illustrate what the author thinks it does. It does not demonstrate that polysyllabic words are especially hard to understand. In fact they are not hard to understand. The word refrigerator is not more difficult to understand than ice box. The words electricity, unsympathetic, congratulations, and elementary are not hard to understand, though each of them has five syllables. There is no necessary connection between the number of syllables in a word and the ability of people to understand it. The simple truth is, the words that people do not understand are the words that they have not learned. What the example really demonstrates is the semantic cloudiness that results from the deliberate avoidance of familiar words, and from the unnecessary use of definitions or abstract and general terms in their place. It also illustrates rather comically the pretentiousness of trying very hard to sound learned or official in one speech when s

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simpler words would serve the purpose of communication much better. This might be a warning to us, that we should not use vague abstract words and periphrastic expressions when concrete and precise equivalents are available in our language. But it gives us no reason to avoid righteousness as a translation for , repentance for , and salvation for . These English words are exact equivalents for the Greek words. Their degree of abstraction mirrors that of the Greek words precisely. These terms will seem foggy and indefinite in meaning only to people who have not spent much time reading the Bible. Before I put our Guide to Bible Translations back on the shelf, I would add one more example that illustrates what is wrong with its advice.
One further example will again demonstrate the difference between form driven and meaningdriven translations. In John 15:9, Jesus gives his disciples a command: Remain in my love. This is how the Greek is translated by the NIV and the NLT. The NRSV, ESV and NASB follow the AV/KJV and have the very similar Abide in my love. Perhaps surprisingly, the creators of the CEV say this was the most difficult phrase to translate meaningfully in the entirety of their translation project. As rendered in most formdriven translations, it is not natural English. What does it mean to remain in someone love? A husband going s off to fight a war does not say to the wife he is leaving behind, Now remain in my love, won you darling? The Greek carries a twoway t meaning: we should continually remember a person love for us and we s should maintain our love for them. The CEV captures the reciprocal nature of Jesus command in its translation: Remain faithful to my love for you. (p. 80.)

Here we see the hermeneutical consequences of the demand for ordinary language. For it does not even occur to the Guide that Jesus is not talking about ordinary love in an ordinary way. He assumes that Jesus is saying something that we might say, and tries to understand the expression (lit. abide in the love that is mine) in terms of what a man might say to his wife. But the of God in Christ is not the same as human love. Like , the divine denotes a lifegiving power that flows from the throne of grace. It is the life of the vine, the bond of the vital union with Christ. It is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). It moves us and constrains us (2 Cor. 5:14). To abide in this divine love is to remain under its influence, to be mindful of it at all times, to keep receiving it by faith, in an attitude of entire dependence. The fruit of this love is grateful obedience, and love for others. 13 In connection with this, it is also to be observed that the verb (imperative of ) does not mean simply remain here, but rather remain living or dwell. The traditional English translation abide is designed to capture the latter sense. The use of the more colloquial remain to represent in most modern language versions fails to indicate connotations of that are highly important for the understanding of Christ sayings in John s s 14 Gospel. One must read John Gospel and epistles, and the epistles of Paul, in order to learn s what is meant by and in these writings. But the literal versions at least make it possible for a reader to do this. The observation that abide in my love is

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not natural English, as the Guide complains, is the kind of observation that will first indicate to the reader that there is something unusual about this love. But unfortunately, the meaningdriven CEV only illustrates how much damage can be done to the meaning of the text when we bring the wrong questions to it. The wrong question in this case is, how would we say this? When Christ says abide in my love, he is saying something that we cannot say. This is the kind of exegetical shallowness that one often finds in modern versions of the Bible. The ordinary language requirement constantly drives the interpretation down to a mundane level, where the biblical authors are forced to say only the things that we might say in our ordinary lives. Another example of this exegetical shallowness may be seen in the translation of John 2:4. Here Christ responds to the request implicit in Mary observation they s have no wine by saying to her, , literally what (pertains) to me and to you, woman? The words here are a literal reproduction of the Hebrew idiom T meaning what do we have between us (as in Judges 11:12 and 1 Kings 17:18) or what do we have in common? (as in 2 Sam. 16:10 and 2 Kings 3:13), and it must be said that this is not very polite. Someone who uses this expression is saying, in effect, that he does not have anything in common with the person to whom it is said, or does not want to have anything to do with him, his concerns, or his requests. The use of O woman as a form of address is not in itself impolite, but it is a strangely impersonal way for a son to address his own mother. Jesus is definitely putting some distance between himself and Mary here, and between his concerns and hers. 15 After this statement we would not expect him to do anything about the wine at the feast, but on the contrary, he immediately afterwards provides wine for the wedding guests, by a miracle which John calls a sign. What is going on here? Although Jesus appears to treat Mary with contempt if this story is read merely as the record of an ordinary human interaction, Augustine in his exposition of it points out that the purpose of Christ saying cannot be understood at that level. We cannot s suppose that it was designed merely to show a gratuitous disrespect for his mother. And so he observes, Certi sacramenti gratia, videtur matrem non agnoscere procul dubio, fratres, latet ibi aliquid.Certainly it is for the sake of a mystery that he appears not to acknowledge his mother beyond a doubt, brethren, something is hidden in it.
Why, then, said the Son to the mother, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come? Our Lord Jesus Christ was both God and man. According as he was God, he had not a mother; according as he was man, he had. She was the mother, then, of his flesh, of his humanity, of the weakness which for our sakes he took upon him. But the miracle which he was about to do, he was about to do according to his divine nature, not according to his weakness; according to that wherein he was God, not according to that wherein he was born weak. 16

In short, he speaks thus as God. This serves one of the primary purposes of John s Gospel, to emphasize the divinity of Christ. Though according to the flesh he is her son, he must now be shown to be her Lord. Furthermore, his answer to Mary is designed to indicate that he makes the water into wine on his own initiative and for

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symbolicalreasonsofhisown,whichhavenothingtodowiththeordinarydesirefor wineataweddingfeast.HisinteractionwithMarycannot be understood in terms of normal human attitudes and motives when itisaccuratelytranslated. Hisabnormal way of speaking to his mother, as if she were a stranger to him, signifies that his agendahaslittletodowithhermundaneconcernaboutthewinerunningout.But thedynamicversionstrytomakeitintosomethingthatwillbeseenasinoffensive and normal. The primary concern of the dynamic equivalence translators is that Jesusshould bepresented asa wellmanneredson, speaking politelytohis mother. AndsowehaveintheTNIVmotherinsteadof woman,andtheNLTeliminates the rebuff by falsely translating it How does that concern you and me? This transforms the saying into a gentle and polite one, which fulfills conventional expectations,butithappenstobetheexactopposite ofwhathesaid.Thedynamic translators who came up with these renderings were clearly more interested in making Jesus sound normal and polite to modern readers than in conveying the intimationofdivinitythatwefindintheoriginal. Iamnot unawareof thenegativeeffectthatChrist sreply hasonsomereaders. I oncehadaconversationwithayoungwomanwhoassertedthatJesusmustnothave been sinless, because he evidently sinned against his mother in speaking thus. She happened to be nominally Catholic, and I suppose she must have thought more of MarythanofJesusinordertocometothatconclusion.ButIthinktheproblemhere stems not so much from Roman Catholic Mariology as from ordinary feminine demandsforpoliteness whicharereallyforeigntothepurposeofthenarrative.The narrativedeliberatelyviolatestheordinaryexpectationsofthosewhowouldseeJesus as merely human. Indeed, no man ever spoke like this man (John 7:46). But like the Jews in chapter 8 of John Gospel, this poor woman could not escape the s mundanesphereofinterpretation.HerlowlevelresponsetoChrist swordsfastened ontheirimpolitenessasahumanutterance,andshecouldnotseebeyondthattothe realmeaning.

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15. AnIndescribableSomethingMore
Inanessaypublishedin1534,JohnCalvinasked:
WhoseesnotthatthereismuchforceinsuchHebraismsasthefollowing? BlesstheLord,Omysoul, MysouldothmagnifytheLord, Sayto my soul, I am thy salvation. (Psalm ciii. 1; civ. 1; Luke i. 46.) An indescribable something more is expressed than if it were said without addition,BlesstheLord;ImagnifytheLord,Saytome,Iamthysalvation!1

It is sometimes hard for us to say what is lost in loose translations, though we intuitively sense that something is missing. As Calvin says, one feels that an indescribable something more is expressed in theHebrew idioms. When My soul doth magnify the Lord in Mary Magnificat (Luke 1:46) is reduced to Oh, how I s praise the Lord, as it is in the New Living Translation, something has definitely dropped out. The NLT has tried to make the expression emphatic by adding Oh how, but it fails to convey the full force of Mary praise. By my soul she means s that vital essence which causes her to live, from which the deepest feelings and impulses of her heart originate. We have discussed the meaning of the Hebrew expression mysoulabove,andthefactthattheNIVinsomeplacesinterprets itasjustanotherwayofsayingI.WearegladtoseethatinPsalm103:1,104:1,and Luke 1: 46 the NIV gives a literal reproduction of the phrase. But the NLT consistently eliminates everyone soul. In Psalm 103 and 104 we find Praise the s Lord,Itellmyself!Whodoesnotseetheinadequacyofthis?Thedistortionandloss of meaning is great, though it may be hard to describe to someone who does not acknowledgeit. JosephAddison,thefamousEnglishpoetandliterarycritic,speaksofthepeculiar ForceandEnergyoftheHebrewidiomsinScripture:
ThereisacertainColdnessandIndifferenceinthePhrasesofourEuropean Languages, when they are compared with the Oriental Forms of Speech; andithappensveryluckily, thattheHebrew Idioms runintotheEnglish Tongue with a particular Grace and Beauty. Our Language has received innumerable Elegancies and Improvements, from that Infusion of Hebraisms, which are derived to it out of the Poetical Passages in Holy Writ.TheygiveaForceandEnergytoourExpressions,warmandanimate our Language, and convey our Thoughts in more ardent and intense Phrases, than any that are to be met with in our own Tongue. There is somethingsopathetickinthiskindofDiction,thatitoftensetstheMind inaFlame,andmakesourHeartsburnwithinus.Howcoldanddeaddoes aPrayerappear,thatiscomposedinthemostElegantandPoliteFormsof Speech,whicharenaturaltoourTongue,whenitisnotheightenedbythat SolemnityofPhrase,whichmaybedrawnfromtheSacredWritings.2

Therhetoricalforceandpathos oftheHebrewidiomsthatAddisonspeaksofhere canbeillustratedwith1Sam.30:34.

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KJV:SoDavidandhismencame tothecity,and,behold,itwas burnedwithfire;andtheir wives,andtheirsons,andtheir daughters,weretakencaptives. ThenDavidandthepeoplethat werewithhimlifteduptheir voiceandwept,untiltheyhad nomorepowertoweep.

NIV:WhenDavidandhis mencametoZiklag,they founditdestroyedbyfire andtheirwivesandsons anddaughterstaken captive.SoDavidandhis menweptalouduntilthey hadnostrengthleftto weep.

Thebeholdaddssomethingthatcanhardlybedescribed.Itcausesustostopand behold theruinedcitywithDavidandhismen.Itsomehowbringsusintothescene. The pleonastic burned with fire has a peculiar force that destroyed by fire does not.ThefailureoftheNIVtoputamarkofpunctuationafterfirecausesustoglide throughthesentenceinsteadofpausing,tobeappalledatwhathadhappened.The literallifteduptheirvoiceandweptoftheKJVfarsurpassestheNIV sweptaloud inpatheticforce.ThisiswhathappenswhenthetextispurgedofitsHebrewidioms: itissystematicallyweakened.Anyonecanseethattheeffectisfarfromequivalent toaliteraltranslationoftheHebrew. What principle of translation is responsible for this systematic weakening of the text? It is the illconceived notion that everything must be reduced to the prosaic conversationalstyleofCommonEnglish justthewaywewouldsayit. The way we would say it in colloquial English tends to reflect the Stoic temper and values of our AngloSaxon culture. There is a preference for cool understatement, matteroffact objectivity, and calmness among Teutonic peoples, whichisnotsharedbypeopleoftheMiddleEasternandMediterraneanculturesin whichtheBibleoriginated.TheBiblereflectstheir habitualwayoftalkingandtheir experience of things. The ardent and intense phrases that Addison notices in the styleofthebiblicalauthorsarenotjustawayofspeaking,butawayofexperiencing life. It has often been observed that the contents of the Bible do not usually take the form of a theological treatise. There are some portions that do resemble a treatise (e.g. the Epistle to the Romans), but for the most part it presents its message in storiesandimages.Themessageisincarnated asitwere,inveryconcreteandspecific ways. 3 Attributes, attitudes and actions of God are usually expressed anthropomorphically. We do not find in the Bible a statement about God s omniscience, but we do read that the eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good (Proverbs 15:3). We would strongly agree with anyone who says this means that God is omniscient. However, there is an indescribable something more in the Bible way of expressing this truth. s Omniscience belongs to the intellectual realm of theological abstraction, but the eyes of the LORD are very real to us. Likewise the Good News Bible general s statement You know everything I do is not really equivalent to You know my sittingdownandmyrisingupinPsalm139:2.Atranslatormustresistthistendency toputthingsinabstractandgeneralterms,andshouldalwaystrytoexpressthings inthesameconcreteandparticularwaythattheoriginaltextdoes.

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InGenesis45,theagedJacobhearsthathissonJosephisalive,andsays,Iwillgo andseehimbeforeIdie.ThenGodspeakstohiminanightvision,saying,Iwillgo down with thee into Egypt, and I will also surely bring thee up again; and Joseph shallputhishanduponthineeyes(46:4).Thereissomethingdeeplypoignantabout the last sentence, with its picture of Joseph closing the eyes of his deceased father withhishand.ThisisnotatiredclichinHebrew,itisunusual. 4 Thereferenceto hiseyesrecallsJacob searlierstatement,IwillseehimbeforeIdie.Itisnotthat Jacobwishedfordeath,orthatGodneededtobringupthesubjectofdeathforsome reason. Jacob knew that he would die before many more years would pass. But he longed to be reunited permanently with his son, and never separated again, until death.TheimageofJosephclosinghiseyelidsisdesignedtoreassureJacobthatthis hopewillbefulfilled,andsothesayingissweettohim.Aneffectishereproducedby theperfectconcretenessofthepromise,aswearetransportedintothescene.God s promise is not couched in vague, general, and abstract terms; it is expressed concretely and set before the mind eye in a picture. This is one of the secrets of s reallyeffectivecommunication.
Alldescriptionandnarrative,andingeneralallwritingthatseekstomake people, not only understand, but also feel, depends upon the choice of words that appealto the imagination. Such words are concrete.Concrete wordsarethosethatstirtheimaginationbyspecificsuggestionsofsound, motion,color,touch,taste.Inshort,theyarewordsofphysicalsensations. Bysuchwordsalonewecanmakeourreaderssympathizewithourfeeling; for these words alone will stir him to imagine himself in the scene. The specific mention of the physical details that roused in us pleasure, pain, contentment,horror,orexultation,istheonlysurewaytorouseinothers thesameemotion.Wereachtheemotionsbyappealingtotheimagination throughwordsofsensation.Thuswhatiscalledforceorvividnessofstyle dependsuponthechoiceofconcretewords.5

Formostpeople,whoarenotespeciallyskillfulcommunicators,thewaywewould say it is unimaginative and dull. But the writer who knows how to make an impressionprefersthenameofthespeciestothatofthegenus,andthenameofthe classtothatofthespecies;heisalwaysurgedforwardtowardstheindividualandthe actual;hisminddoesnotlagintheregionofabstractionsandformulas,butpresses pastthegeneralterm,orabstraction,orlaw,totheimageortheexample,andinto thetangible,glowing,sensibleworldoffact.6 Too often, however, we find that dynamic equivalence translations enforce the bland and banal habits of common speech, by substituting generalities for the concrete and specific images of the Bible. In the New Living Translation, the last sentenceofGenesis46:4reads,ButyouwilldieinEgyptwithJosephatyourside. Theimagehasbeenstrippedofitsdetails,andhaslostitsvividness.Wefindsimilar renderingsintheGood News Bible andContemporary English Version.Probablythe translators of these versions believed that some of their readers would not understandamoreliteralrenderingofthisunusualstatement,andsotheyaimedlow andgaveonlythegistofit,ingeneralterms.Itishardtoexplainwhatexactlyislost in the translation, and we donot doubt that various elements ofmodern linguistic theorycouldbeusedtojustifythistreatmentofthetext,butallthelinguisticsin

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theworldcannothidethefactthatsomethinghasbeenlost,andinfactthismethod of representing the text was practiced long before the invention of modern linguistics.OftheseversionswemaysaywhatMaxMargolishassaidconcerningthe paraphrastic Targums of late antiquity: Thus in deference to the ordinary intelligencewhichmaytakeafigureofspeechliterallyallthepoetryoftheoriginalis sacrificed,and theelevated style ofthesacredwritersisreducedtocommonplace. Forthetranslatorsweredistrustfulofthecomprehensionofthecommonpeople.7

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16. A Science Falsely So Called


O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called, which some professing have erred concerning the faith. (I Timothy 6:20, KJV)

Science as a rendering of gnosis in 1 Tim. 6:20 may not be as obsolete as some modern people think. Tyndale used this rendering because he perceived that Paul was referring not to knowledge in general, but to a formal system of teachings which pretended to confer knowledge a system now commonly known by the name of gnosticism. Many people in ancient times were fascinated by speculative philosophies like this, especially if they were couched in enough mumbojumbo to give them an air of profundity and authority. Our modern science is supposed to be different, being founded on an empirical method, in which directly observable facts replace mythopoetic speculation; but some things that vaunt themselves as science in our time are not much more empirical than ancient gnosticism. During the twentieth century many academic disciplines reinvented themselves as sciences. Political philosophy gave birth to political science. Epistemology (the philosophy of knowledge) was narrowed down and refashioned as cognitive psychology. Philology (the study of languages) gave rise to linguistics. Faith in science was so great that in 1929 Leonard Bloomfield said, I believe that in the near futurein the next few generations, let us saylinguistics will be one of the main sectors of scientific advance, and that in this sector science will then win through to 1 In these new scientific the understanding and control of human conduct. disciplines the study of human qualities and behaviors was supposed to be based on observable phenomena, and pursued with modern scientific methods. But in some cases, the new sciences turned out to be less helpful than their predecessors, and certainly less helpful than the physical sciences after which they had been modeled. One prominent American sociologist, Robert Nisbet, has said that after World War II the social sciences came to be dominated by people promoting liberal ideology under the guise of science, and have been characterized by scientific posturing and a pretentious and unconvincing scientism ever since. 2 My own experience as a college student in the 70 tends to confirm Nisbet estimate of the social sciences. s s Fields like sociology are so thoroughly infected with political ideology that undergraduates are not likely to hear anything that is not calculated to serve some political purpose.

Denial of the Inequality of Languages


Although the field of linguistics (the science of language) might at first sight seem to be an unpromising one for ideological agendas, this field also has its share of them. Those who take courses in linguistics will first of all be taught that a linguist must never make any value judgments about languages and dialects. 3 If one were to say, for example, that classical Greek is a more precise language than Hebrew, and hence better for scientific purposes, or that modern English is better than Romanian

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in some other respect, a professor of linguistics would not let it go unpunished. Students are not allowed to say things like that, because they involve value judgments. They are supposed to think (or at least say) that all languages are equal. But obviously this principle is itself a value judgment, and has nothing to do with science. It is an ideological fiction, designed to discourage cultural chauvinism and classconscious attitudes of superiority. As such, it may help to put students in the proper frame of mind for disinterested inquiry and learning, but it may also interfere with their ability to say or think things that are true. The notion that all languages are in some way equal has functioned as a sort of axiom in linguistics since the beginning of the twentieth century, but leading linguists have always expressed this idea as a potential rather than an actual equality. Franz Boas is usually mentioned as the one who first emphasized the idea of linguistic equality, but in his book The Mind of Primitive Man he described the lack of abstract or general terms in some American Indian languages as a hindrance to communicating even such simple propositions as the eye is the organ of sight. He maintained, reasonably enough, that it is conceivable that this problem would be overcome by adaptations to the language as it is moulded by a new state of culture in which such terms are needed. But he did not deny that, in their present state, it was not easy to express abstract ideas in many primitive languages, and he reports that his experimental efforts to form the necessary expressions for that purpose were 4 perceived as unidiomatic by native speakers of the language. The same distinction between the actual and the potential is implicit in Edward Sapir statement, All s languages are set to do all the symbolic and expressive work that language is good for, either actually or potentially. 5 But the lesser linguists who have followed in this line of thinking have tended to neglect the distinction between the actual state of a language and its potential for adaptation. The assertion of equality became absolute, unrealistic, and even blatantly counterfactual. By 1922 one prominent linguist, Otto Jespersen, was already complaining:
The common belief of linguists that one form or one expression is just as good as another, provided they are both found in actual use, and that each language is to be considered a perfect vehicle for the thoughts of the nation speaking it, is in some ways the exact counterpart of the conviction of the Manchester school of economics that everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds if only no artificial hindrances are put in the way of free exchange, for demand and supply will regulate everything better than any Government would be able to. Just as economists were blind to the numerous cases in which actual wants, even crying wants, were not satisfied, so also linguists were deaf to those instances which are, however, obvious to whoever has once turned his attention to them, in which the very structure of a language calls forth misunderstandings in everyday conversation, and in which, consequently, a word has to be repeated or modified or expanded or defined in order to call forth the idea intended by the speaker: he took his stickno, not John but his own; or: s, I mean you in the plural, or, you all, or you girls No language is perfect, but if we admit this truth (or truism), we must also admit by implication that it is not unreasonable to investigate the relative value of different languages or of different details in languages. 6

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By the middle of the twentieth century it had become even more necessary to raise a protest against ideological dogmatism. Recently one American linguist, Dell H. Hymes, described the situation in the 1950 s:
When I entered linguistics, the rightness of the equality of all languages was so certain that it was believed, and argued, that one can express anything in any language, translate anything into any language, that all languages are equally complex. Not that one had evidence. The statements were simply consistent with, elaborations of, an insurgent and triumphant world view. Every translator knows that there are things which can be done in one language that cannot be done in another. It is only if one divorces meaning from form that one can claim that there is completeness of translation. Given pages enough and time, that meaning, that effect that takes one line in the original can be explained. But still the meaning is not the same. Meaning is partly a matter of means. Elaboration, explanation substitute or insert the meaning of a different genre. What is funny or trenchant or compelling in the sound profile of a single line is not as a disquisition. The hearer or reader is changed into a student of a text, no longer an active participant in immediate recognition. 7

Like Sapir, Hymes only maintains that there is a potential for equality between languages (e.g. any language has the potential to become a language in which scientific medicine is practiced), but observes that what we really have is an actual inequality. It would be better for linguists to say that all varieties are deserving of respect and study, without claiming that they are equal in what communities can do with them. Although those who call attention to actual lack of equivalence may be stigmatized by linguists who believe that claims of actual equality are necessary to promote respect for other languages, Hymes points out that when such false claims are refuted by common experience, it may cast doubt on the call for respect. Nida also has made use of the potential concept to defend the idea that languages are to be regarded as equal. When it is pointed out that primitive languages lack the necessary vocabulary for the expression of abstract ideas, he replies that all languages are basically open systems and they all have the potentiality for the creation and use of generic vocabulary. Language is primarily an open system, with the capacity for an unlimited amount of modification and change, to cope with constantly new circumstances and concepts, he says. 8 This open system concept of language, with its distinction between the potential and the actual, really amounts to nothing more than the trivial observation that over centuries any language might change and develop new capabilities. But if equality depends upon change, then this concept is really inimical to Nida theory of translation. The theory of dynamic s equivalence is built on the idea that languages are actually equal for the purpose of expressing anything that is worth translating in the Bible, and it explicitly rejects the idea that in a translation the receptor language may have to be supplemented or otherwise improved to convey the meaning of the original. R.C. Trench observes that it took centuries after the introduction of Christianity for the Germanic languages to become really adequate vehicles for expressing the truths of the Bible.

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No doubt in whatever human tongue God may please to make his will to be known, his thoughts will transcend our speech. Wherever the sons of heaven are married to the daughters of earth,Divine thoughts to human words,the inequality of the union, the fact that, whatever richest blessings it may bring with it, it is still a marriage of disparagement, will make itself plainly to appear. We shall have this treasure, if I may repeat the image, in earthen vessels still. At the same time, one vessel may be of far finer, another of far coarser, earth. Thus, where a language for long centuries has been the organ and vehicle of Divine truth, there will be in it words which will have grown and expanded into some meetness for the task to which they have been put. Long set apart for sacred uses, for the designation of holy persons or things, there will float a certain sanctity round them. Life and death, good and evil, sin and repentance, heaven and hell, with all the mysteries of each, will have found utterances not wholly inadequate to them. But how different will it be in a language now for the first time brought into the service of Divine truth. Here all will be by comparison slight and superficial, common and profane. For the most solemn, the most sacred, the augustest mysteries of our redemption, words will have to be employed which have little, if any thing, of solemn or sacred or august about them,words which have sometimes almost to be picked out of the mire, in the hope that they may be cleansed, may little by little be filled with a higher sense, a holier meaning, than any which before their adoption into this sacred service they knew. And so no doubt they will at last; heathen Ostarawill become Christian Easter; suonaand suntaand sculd, words touching once but the outer circumference of life in the old German heathendom, will severally as Shne [atonement] and Snde [transgression] and Schuld [guilt], touch the centre and core of the Christian life of men. Hriuwa, which meant so little, will become Reue [repentance], which means so much; galauba, Glaube [faith]; not to speak of innumerable other words, to which the same or a yet more wonderful transfiguration will arrive. 9

Moreover, it is not true that primitive languages lack only the vocabulary that is needed for talking about such abstract ideas as faith and repentance. Some also lack the ability to embed subordinate clauses in sentencesa grammatical resource necessary for the clear and exact expression of complex ideas. 10 This difference may also be noticed between colloquial and literary registers of a single language. The hypotactic or periodic sentence structurewhich has semantic functions that I have already discussed in chapter 12is common in literature and in elevated style; but it is rarely used in popular speech, as Jespersen observes: Popular speech often prefers coordination (parataxis), where a more refined literary style prefers subordination (hypotaxis) by means of a relative clause. 11 The truth is, languages are closely adapted to the mental culture of societies in which they are used, they differ greatly in their powers of expression, and the differences between literary and vulgar forms of the same language are not unimportant. There are many things that cannot be transferred from one language to another, or from literary to vulgar forms of the same language, without the need for explanations. The meaning of some words and expressions can never be fully appreciated by people who do not belong to the culture in which they are used. Moreover, a language not only reflects but also reinforces the mentality of its culture;

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it not only conveys thoughts from one mind to another, but also serves as a channel or instrument of thought, which tends to shape thinking along the contours of the culture. (I explain this aspect of language more fully in another article.) A science of translation cannot afford to ignore these things.

Reductionistic Tendencies
In the 1950 and 1960 the field of linguistics was dominated by thinkers who were s s more interested in emphasizing things which all languages had in common. Language per se, and its universal characteristics, was the focus of research. The most dominant figure in linguistics at that time was Noam Chomsky, who formulated his theories of language in deliberate opposition to behaviorist and cultural environmental accounts. One historian writes:
In the background [of Chomsky theory] there was an assumption that s communication among people is possible, even between people who do not share each other language, because there are certain formal s similarities in all languages. Psycholinguistics sought to relate these formal similarities in languages to the structure of the mind and brain . Chomsky himself went on to elaborate what he identified as a Cartesian theory of language, a theory that presupposes the existence of universal, innate grammatical structures. The result was a concrete research programme for linguistics, to search out the grammatical universals and to trace how they underlie actual languages. This strongly stimulated the development of the field, though many researchers in linguistics with a psychological orientation soon questioned both the logic and the empirical content of Chomsky programme. 12 s

It was during this time that Eugene Nida published his book Toward a Science of Translating. Nida aimed to make Bible translating more scientific by using principles of this universalistic linguistics. In his book, Nida explains human language in much the same way that a modern physicist understands atoms and molecules. He theorizes that people generate sentences by unconsciously transforming and combining basic psycholinguistic elements called kernels, which he defines thus:
kernel: A sentence pattern which is basic to the structure of a language, and which is characterized by (a) the simplest possible form, in which objects are represented by nouns, events by verbs, and abstracts by adjectives, adverbs, or special verbs (according to the genius of the language), (b) the least ambiguous expression of all relations, and (c) the explicit inclusion of all information. Each language has only 612 types of kernels. Kernels are discovered in a surface structure by back transformation; they are converted into a surface structure by transformation. (glossary, p. 203.)

The importance of kernels for translation theory is explained on page 39, in this manner:

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Now if we examine carefully what we have done in order to state the relationships between words in ways that are the clearest and least ambiguous,wesoondiscoverthatwehavesimplyrecasttheexpressionsso that events are expressed asverbs,objects as nouns, abstracts (quantities andqualities)asadjectivesoradverbs.Theonlyothertermsarerelationals, i.e.,theprepositionsandconjunctions. These restructured expressions are basically what many linguists call kernels;thatistosay,theyarethebasicstructuralelementsoutofwhich thelanguagebuildsitselaboratesurfacestructures.Infact,oneofthemost important insights coming from transformational grammar is the fact thatinalllanguagestherearehalfadozentoadozenbasicstructuresout ofwhichallthemoreelaborateformationsareconstructedbymeansofso called transformations. In contrast, backtransformation, then, is the analyticprocessofreducingthesurfacestructuretoitsunderlyingkernels. From the standpoint of the translator, however, what is even more important than the existence of kernels in all languages is the fact that languagesagreefarmoreonthelevelofthekernelsthanonthelevelofthe moreelaboratestructures.Thismeansthatifonecanreducegrammatical structures to the kernel level, they can be transferred more readily and with a minimum of distortion. This is one justification for the claim that thethreestageprocessoftranslationispreferable(seeFigure6).

This same theoryabout kernels and transformations is found in Mildred Larson s MeaningBased Translation, where it is explained with different terms. Larson calls thekernelspropositions,andsaysthat(inthemind,somehow)thesepropositions are first associated in a deep structure or semantic structure. This deep structure,asdescribedbyLarson,consistsofanetworkofsemanticunits,butshe representsitasmerelyalistofpropositions,andsaysthatinsemanticstructurethe onlyordering is chronological.Thepropositions included in the deep structure are then transformed and linked together somehow on their way to the form in which sentences are actually spoken or written, which she calls the surface structure.Larsondescribesthistheoryasanassumptionofherbook.13 Again, this account of language was invented by Chomsky, and it is known as generativeortransformationallinguistics.Heandhisfollowershavepresentedit asbeinginsomesensescientific,butitisnotbasedonempiricalobservations.Itis speculative. The elementary kernels to which everything is reduced, and upon which everything is based, are only figments of the kind of grammatical analysis

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peculiar to generative grammar. And despite the use of the kernel metaphor, in whichthesepostulatedentitiesarecomparedtophysicalobjects,theyarenotatall likephysicalobjects,whoseexistencecanbeobservedordemonstrated.Theyreferto unobservableprocessesofthesubconsciousmind.Theexistenceofthesekernels can nomorebeprovenbyempiricalmethodsthancantheons ofgnosticism.Sohere weareintherealmofunverifiablespeculations,notempiricalscience.Nordoesthis theory have much explanatory power. The reductionistic account of language put forthhereisquiteincapableofexplaininghowhumanlanguageworkstocreateand conveycomplexthoughtsandfeelings.ItbringstomindthelinesinGoethe sFaust about logicians who have tried to analyze human thought by reducing it to a few mechanicalprocesses.
Intruththesubtlewebofthought Isliketheweaver sfabricwrought: Onetreadlemovesathousandlines, Swiftdarttheshuttlestoandfro, Unseenthethreadstogetherflow, Athousandknotsonestrokecombines. Thenforwardstepsyoursagetoshow, Andprovetoyou,itmustbeso; Thefirstbeingso,andsothesecond, Thethirdandfourthdeducedwesee; Andiftherewerenofirstandsecond, Northirdnorfourthwouldeverbe. This,scholarsofallcountriesprize, Yet mongthemselvesnoweaversrise. Hewhowouldknowandtreatofaughtalive, Seeksfirstthelivingspiritthencetodrive: Thenarethelifelessfragmentsinhishand, Thereonlyfails,alas!thespiritband.14

What Goethe calls the spiritband (geistige Band) of the original web of thought (Gedankenfabrik) cannot survive all the methodical dismemberment it must suffer when reduced to a series of syllogisms, nor can it survive the similar treatment it receivesinNida sscienceoftranslation.

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17.HalfBakedIdeas
AsatheoristNidawaseclectic.HehasbeendescribedasabasicallyBloomfieldian linguist, but as we have seen above, he also borrowed from Chomsky, whose ideas were not compatible with Bloomfield And I have found that the treatment of s. fundamentalissuesisperfunctoryandshallowintheworksofNida.Hisassumptions arenotclearlypresentedasassumptions thatis,theyarenotdistinguishedfrom findings or conclusions based on facts and analysis. His terms are not adequately defined. The process of thought is fast and loose, without a satisfactory analysis or discussion of basic concepts. There is a quality of cavalier spontaneity to his work, andonegetstheimpressionthatheisoftenwingingit. Nida statement, Anything that can be said in one language can be said in s anotherisoftenquoted,sometimeswithoutitscontinuationunlesstheformisan essentialelementofthemessage. 1 Obviouslyitisatheoreticalstatementwithfar reachingimplications.Butifonegoestothesource,inthefirstchapterofThe Theory and Practice of Translation, one finds that this statement is made very arbitrarily, without any attempt to support it. It appears to have no more substance than a slogan. In the discussion that follows it, Nida also seems to have little regard for theoreticalclarityoreventherequirementsoflogic.Iwillreproducethesectionand offersomecommentsonit.
Anything that can be said in one language can be said in another, unless the form is an essential element of the message. Fortheaveragepersonthepotentialandactualequivalenceoflanguages isperhapsthemostdebatedpointabouttranslation.Hedoesnotseehow people who have no snow can understand a passage in the Bible that speaks about white as snow. If the people do not know snow, how can theyhaveawordforit?Andiftheydonothaveawordforit,thenhowcan theBiblebetranslated? Theanswertothisquestionisboth complexand varied.Inthefirstplace,manypeoplehaveawordforsnow,evenifthey have not themselves experienced it, for they have heard about the phenomenon. Second, in other instances, people do not know snow, but they do have frost and they speak about the two with the same term. Third, many languages have equivalent idioms, e.g., white as egret feathers, or white as fungus (if there is an especially white form of fungus);ortheymayuseanonmetaphortoexpresstheconceptwhiteas snow,suchasvery,verywhite.Thepointisthatsnowasanobjectisnot crucialtothemessage. Somepersonsmayobject,however,andinsistthatunlessonehasaword for snow, the translation is not adequate, for anything which does not communicatetheprecisemeaningoftheoriginalisadistortion.Ofcourse nocommunication,evenwithinasinglelanguage,iseverabsolute(forno two people ever understand words in exactly the same manner), and we certainlycannotexpectaperfectmatchbetweenlanguages.Infact,wedo not have such a match even in translating from Hebrew or Greek into

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English,withallitswealthofvocabulary(morethanamillionwordsifone includes all the technical terminology). When the Hebrew word hesed is translatedintoEnglishaslovingkindness,orascovenantlove,thereis muchleftunsaid,forthisHebrewtermimpliesawholesocialstructureof mutual loyalty and support between the tribal chief and his followers, a relationship quite strange to us and almost unthinkable to many people. Similarly,whentheGospelofJohnusestheGreekwordlogos,Word,in the prologue, there simply is no English word (and certainly not Word itself)whichcandojusticeto thevarietyandrichnessofmeaningof this Greekterm. It must be said, however, that if the form in which a message is expressedisanessentialelementofitssignificance,thereisaverydistinct limitation in communicating this significance from one language to another. It is usually impossibleto reproduce this type of meaning. For example,inthethirdchapterofJohn,Jesusspeaksofthewindandofthe Spirit.InGreekasingleword,pneuma,isusedwithbothmeanings.This resultsinaverysignificantplayonwords,butitcannotbereproducedin English.Thebestwecandoundersuchcircumstancesistouseamarginal note to call the attention of the reader to the fact that in the source languageoneandthesamewordhasbothmeanings. Inasimilarway,wecannotreproducetherhythmofHebrewpoetry,the acrosticfeaturesofmanypoems,andthefrequentintentionalalliteration. At this point, languages just do not correspond, and so we must be preparedtosacrificecertainformalnicetiesforthesakeofthecontent. To preserve the content of the message the form must be changed. If all languages differ in form (and this is the essence of their being differentlanguages),thenquitenaturallytheformsmustbealteredifone istopreservethecontent.Forexample,inMark1:4,theGreekemploysa nominalconstruction,baptismofrepentance,buttranslatedliterallyinto English the resulting phrase really does not convey the meaning of the original.Theaveragepersonissimplyunabletodescribeclearlywhatisthe relationship between baptism and repentance. Moreover, in a high percentage oflanguages,termswhichexpressevents(andbothbaptism andrepentanceareevents, not objects) areexpressed more naturally as verbs,ratherthanasnouns.EventhisGreeknounexpressionisreallyonly anominalization(oradaptation)ofwhatoccursinActs2:38 inverbalform, namely, repent and be baptized. In languages which either require that sucheventsbe expressedas verbs ornormally use verb rather thannoun phrases, it is not only right, but essential, that the nominal form of this Greekphrasebechangedintoacorrespondingverbalexpression.

My purpose now is to observe the manner in which ideas are laid out and developed,andtocontrastthiswithwhatascholarwouldordinarilyexpecttoseein atheoreticaltreatise. Firstweobservethatthepassageisobviouslynotintendedtobeacontributionto theoretical linguistics. It is written for translators, as a work of practical guidance, anditassumesthatthereaderisignorantofsomebasicconcepts.Nidabeginswitha commentabout the views of the average person, asif hispurpose were merely to

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correct a common layman mistake. Readers who are not linguists will get the s impression that the actual equivalence of languages is not an issue debated by linguists, but an academic linguist would certainly notice the word anything in the clause,anythingthatcanbesaidinonelanguagecanbesaidinanother,andwould knowthatamonglinguiststhisiscontroversial,tosaytheleast.Mostwouldrejectit as an exaggeration, if by another Nida means an idiomatic translation into any dialect of any language whatsoever, without the aid of explanations. 2 A more defensible idea is expressed by Edward Sapir when he asserts that as far as the grammar isconcerned,anygivenlanguagehassuchaformalcompletenessthatno matterwhatanyspeakerofitmaydesiretocommunicatethelanguageisprepared todohiswork,butthatimprovementsmustsometimesbemadeinthevocabulary togiveadequateexpressiontosomethoughts. 3 Certainlynobiblicalscholarwould agreethatatranslationcanbyitselfconveythefullmeaningofapoeticandreligious text from one language to another, without the need for commentary. If every exception to the anything in the first clause is supposed to be included in the categoryofexceptionswhereformisanessentialelement,thenwemustask,what ismeantbyformhere? Aswereadon,wefindinthesecondparagraphthatheseemstoretreatfromthe extreme position that he appeared to take at first, by conceding that some words cannotbeadequatelytranslated.(Theexampleshegivescanhardlybeplacedinthe category where form is somehow responsible for the untranslatable semantic content.) And so it appears that by anything he might mean nothing more than whatiscalledcrucialtothemessageattheendofthefirstparagraph.Understood thus, however, the statement becomes empirically vacuous, and untestable. It expressesnothingmorethanapresumptionthatwhateverisreallyimportantinthe Biblecanbeconveyedinthetranslationsomehow.Sotheneverythingdependsupon what we decide is important, and apparently Nida does not think the meaning of chesed orlogos isreallyimportantorcrucialtothemessage. Hethengoesontodiscusscaseswhereheattributesmeaningtoform,andinhis discussionofpneuma welearnthatthisincludesthesignificanceofametaphorical comparisonwhenithappenstoexploit the ambiguityofa word.But inwhatsense can this be called a contribution of the form? And why does he put scare quotes around the word meaning in this context, as if to imply that the significance of thecomparisoncouldnotproperlybespokenofasbeingpartofthemeaningofthe text?Again,weraisetheoreticalquestionsthatwouldinterestlinguists,butheisnot really addressing such theoretical issues. We begin to suspect that attributing meaning to form is just his hasty way of dealing with anything that cannot be expressedintranslation.Butifthisisthecase,thenhissentenceAnythingthatcan be said in one language can be said in another, unless the form is an essential elementofthemessageamountstothetautological,Anythingthatcanbesaidin onelanguagecanbesaidinanother,unless it cant. Thenwehavethesentence,Ifalllanguagesdifferinform(andthisistheessence oftheirbeingdifferentlanguages),thenquitenaturallytheformsmustbealteredif oneistopreservethecontent,inwhichwemustinferthatcontentisanotherway of referring to what he has called the message or the meaning. Or perhaps not. Why the shift in terminology? It seems we are being asked to make a distinction

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between form and meaning now. But as a linguist Nida knew that linguistic forms are themselves meaningful, and cannot be contrasted with meaning. In Toward a Science of Translating he gives an entire chapter to the discussion of the meaning that belongs to grammatical constructions or linguistic forms, a kind of grammatical meaning that he calls Linguistic Meaning. On the other hand, in chapter 8 of the same work he tried to make this distinction between form and content:
Messages differ primarily in the degree to which content or form is the dominant consideration. Of course, the content of a message can never be completely abstracted from the form, and form is nothing apart from content; but in some messages the content is of primary consideration, and in others the form must be given a higher priority. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, despite certain important stylistic qualities, the importance of the message far exceeds considerations of form. (p. 156.)

With regard to messages he insists upon making a distinction between form and content even after saying that they cannot ultimately be separated. Apparently he concedes that the message is inseparable from the meaning of the text, and because form is always meaningful, we cannot say that the message is unaffected by the form. Nevertheless, he wants to suggest that there is a distinction between form and content that somehow acquires legitimacy under considerations that increase with the importance of the message. So it seems that the word message is now equated with content, and refers to something less than the full meaning of the text or perhaps something more. But we cannot quite put our finger on what difference Nida has in mind, because he is not defining his key terms. We observe also that the use of the terms content and form suggests an analogy, in which linguistic units are likened to containers of meaningful substance. There is a kind of implicit metaphor at work when we speak of language in this way. Analogies like this are often very helpful in teaching and learning, and so we are ready to entertain them, and they gain a certain plausibility on that account alone. But when doing intellectual work of this kind, one must be wary of arguments based upon analogies and metaphors, because they are often deceptive. As Sapir said: Of all students of human behavior, the linguist should by the very nature of his subject matter be the least taken in by the forms of his own speech. 4 As an illustration of the form vs. content distinction he wants to draw, Nida begins to discuss the meaning of the Greek phrase normally rendered baptism of repentance. He claims that this rendering does not convey the meaning of the original, but that repent and be baptized does. But for those who know Greek this does not seem to be a reasonable statement, and so we require a strong argument. Obviously there is a difference in meaning between preached, Repent and be baptized and (and preaching a baptism of repentance). Are we to infer that according to Nida this difference in meaning does not involve a difference in content? If so, what makes content differ from meaning? As a way out of these conundrums one might suggest that content be defined only as the general idea and not necessarily the precise meaning, but he does not

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say this. Later, on page 9, he says that baptism of repentance is a transform of repent and be baptized, and on page 52 he says that it reduces to a set of kernels that is equivalent to the expression repent and be baptized. So perhaps by content here he means the sum of the kernels, as an uncoordinated heap of little concepts. But he does not say that either. If he does not want to make any distinction between his terms meaning and content, then shall we say that the semantic difference is due to a difference in form? If so, what becomes of the distinction between form and content? These questions must be answered before Nida s discussion can make sense on a theoretical level, but he does not address them at all. Regarding the claim that baptism and repentance are events, not objects, and that therefore it is somehow essential to transform the nouns into verbs to express the meaning, we observe that it involves a sort of fallacy in which nouns are associated only with objectsignoring the fact that in addition to referring to objects, nouns also may refer to places, ideas, and conditions. Repentance and baptism are obviously not physical objects, but that does not mean that it is somehow wrong to refer to them with nouns. The word baptism in itself does not refer to a specific onetime event experienced by a single person, but to a religious rite or ordinance, and it is necessary to use the noun baptism if we want to talk about the rite or ordinance. It is also necessary to use the noun if we want to qualify the whole class of events that it denotes, with an adjective or other modifying phrase. That is what is going on in the phrase baptism of repentanceit is not just any baptism, it is a baptism that especially pertains to repentance. As for the word repentance, it is not merely a nominalization of an event, it refers to a condition which is not reducible to an event, hence the use of a noun instead of a verb. All of this meaning falls away in the transformation that Nida proposes. The meaning cannot really be separated from the syntactic form, because the nominal form enables us to express a concept that the corresponding verbs cannot express in themselves. To a linguist, the importance of the form to the meaning here should be obvious enough. Yet Nida is using this as an example of how unimportant the form is to the content. 5 In this same paragraph, we also notice that in Nida opinion a translation does s not convey the meaning of the original if the reader is unable to describe clearly what is the relationship between the two nouns in the genitive phrase. But obviously the original text itself does not make this clear, because it is not the purpose of the author to make it clear just now. So Nida is really faulting the author, not merely the translation. We also notice the rhetorical stridency of his last sentence, where he declares that it is not only right, but essential to abide by whatever is thought to be normal in a language. This pulpitpounding is out of place in a scientific treatise. As a work of linguistic theory, therefore, we must say that this discussion is very inadequate, especially if it is supposed to be received as authoritative. The author imposes very much on his readers with an air of authority, but his ideas are half baked. He seeks to make a strong impression with exaggerations, but neglects to define his terms in such a way that his statements become fully clear, testable and falsifiable, or even logically coherent. He eludes theoretical problems through vagueness, verbal shifts and other rhetorical devices, and fails to interact appropriately with scholarly literature. He surreptitiously introduces false

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dichotomies by implication. On close examination his examples backfire and cast doubt upon his analysis. The casual presentation of ideas here is more like an informal essay than a serious work of theoretical scholarship. If the book purported to be a serious theoretical treatise, its author would not be allowed to get away with such a careless discussion without having dealt more adequately with the same issues elsewhere. But I have not been able to find a more careful and rigorous treatment of the same issues in other works of Nida and his school. I do notice that in an article published many years later, in 1995, Nida seems to have given up his earlier attempts to draw distinctions between linguistic form and content. He writes: One thing is clear: the old distinctions about form versus content and literal versus free are no longer valid since they imply quite false 6 dichotomies. But even this is problematic. He speaks of the old distinctions without mentioning that the form versus content distinction was his distinction, and we have good reason to doubt that he was ever really serious about it. And although we must agree that Nida attempt to associate meaning with content s while distinguishing form and content is untenable, because it does amount to a false dichotomy, in which meaning is set against form, we do not agree that literal versus free involves any illicit dichotomization, because free and literal have always been understood as relative terms that indicate the positions of translations on an unbroken continuum. There is no dichotomization in this, only a gradation. It does not take much thought to see this difference. But once again, Nida is seen to be a careless thinker. His attempt to make a distinction between form and content in language is really nothing more than an attempt to insinuate the idea that form is not important to the meaning, without saying it so plainly that the idea will be rejected immediately by informed readers. He needs this idea for his argument, because he must somehow associate formal equivalence with meaninglessness in order to set it over against dynamic equivalence or functional equivalence. But the attempt fails, because despite all his theorizing it remains only too plain that a formal equivalence is often needed to preserve the meaning which belongs to the form, and thus a true functional equivalence actually requires a formal equivalence. If the receptor language into which we are translating lacks grammatical forms which correspond closely to those of the original language, we are faced with the same problem that presents itself when the vocabulary is inadequate: it may not be possible to bring the meaning across without distortion. If a language is incapable of using nouns to talk about events and conditions, it may not be possible to express the meaning of baptism of repentance accurately and concisely in that language, because a successful transfer depends upon both lexical and grammatical equivalence.

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18. Recent Developments in Linguistics


The history of theoretical linguistics does not inspire much confidence in the field as a science. The field is highly speculative, and intellectually turbulent. There have been many conflicts about basic theoretical problems between 1920 and the present day. At present it seems that the basic ways of thinking about language that Nida and his followers had taken for granted are coming to be seen as obsolete. In his writings on translation Nida liked to represent language as a kind of vessel or code which somehow carried thoughts from one mind to another. Hence the form versus content dichotomy, and his frequent use of the terms coding and decoding in connection with messages. The model served well enough to describe what happens in some very simple linguistic events, in a culturally sterile laboratory of theory. But it cannot serve very well as a model of language in general. The trouble with the code analogy is, it implies that the whole meaning intended by a speaker or writer is encoded and decoded without relying much upon a shared body of knowledge, beliefs, presuppositions, expectations, and so forth. Language does not normally convey culturallydisembodied messages from one mind to another. It is more like a system of activating signals that invoke, vivify, combine, and modify various elements of a preexisting and shared body of knowledge. It is not possible to encode the elaborately ramified message of the Bible in such a way that it might be decoded by those who lack the cultural knowledge that it presupposes. Trying to accomplish this in a translation is like trying to transplant a fullgrown tree by cutting it off at the roots and sticking it into the ground in another place. It is strange that such obvious things need to be stated. But this is the result of the abstract approach to language that Nida represents, which focuses on universal theories and models. As I point out in another essay, 1 after 1940 the trajectory of American linguistics has followed this path, after sharply separating itself from anthropological, psychological, historical, and literary studies. Edward Sapir had resisted efforts along this line, and at Yale he opposed the creation of a Department of Linguistics because saw the study of language as an activity which should be pursued by scholars with extensive training in other disciplines. Sapir had emphasized the particularity of languages and the need to study them in their cultural contexts. Language is primarily a cultural or social product and must be understood as such. 2 Verbal communication within the context of a developed culture takes much for granted, and is highly efficient: Generally speaking, the smaller the circle and the more complex the understandings already arrived at within it, the more economical can the act of communication afford to become. A single word passed between members of an intimate group, in spite of its apparent vagueness and ambiguity, may constitute a far more precise communication than volumes of carefully prepared correspondence interchanged between two governments. 3 Of some relevance here is Edward T. Hall distinction between high s context and low context cultures, and the communication styles that pertain to each. 4 Public communication in our culturally shallow and deracinated society tends

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to be low context, requiring little cultural conditioning to be understood. But the Bible has the communication style of a very high context culture. Nida, as a follower of Bloomfield and Chomsky, tried to analyze linguistic communication as if it were all low context, and his program of translation is an attempt to transform the Bible into a low context document. Outside of America, linguists have never been very supportive of the approach taken by Nida. European linguists have always placed much more emphasis on the connection of language to culture. And some linguists who have written in English on the subject of Bible translation in recent years have begun to show some awareness of what is really involved in Biblical interpretation. ErnstAugust Gutt, for instance, has written several articles on this subject, in which he takes advantage of a new development in linguistics known as relevance theory to promote more adequate ideas about translation.
We all know from everyday experience that reading literature not written especially for us or eavesdropping on conversations between people whose background we do not share usually causes comprehension problems. This, then, being the case, how can one overcome these problems in Bible translation? No doubt, the first and possibly most important step is that we, as Bible translators, fully acknowledge the existence of this problem. We need to lay aside the misconception that the meaning of biblical texts can be successfully communicated regardless of the receptors background knowledge. As I have tried to point out in my book Translation and Relevance (2000) and other writings, this idea is rooted in the code model paradigm, which lacks an adequate understanding of the inferential nature of communication and of the crucial role played by contextual information. Secondly, Bible translators need to understand the true extent of contextual difference between original and target audiences and the magnitude of the communication problems they cause. Though context is referred to in translation literature, the vast amount of information it often involves has generally been seriously underestimated. For example, the opening verse of the epistle to the Hebrews (1,1) in the Revised Standard Version reads: In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets (polymeroos kai polytropoos palai ho theos lalesas tois patrasin en tois prophetais) With the original readers, the Greek word prophetais (by the prophets) would access presumably large encyclopedic entries, full of information about the events of the history of Israel and of the prophets, such as Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others. With all this information accessible in the minds of the audience, the expressions polymeroos (on many occasions) and polytropos (in many ways) would encourage the readers to recall a range of events from different times that illustrated the different ways in which God spoke through the prophets. Thus with a very few words, the author evoked in his readers minds a wealth of information spanning Old Testament history, for example, the giving of the law at Mount Sinai, God communications with Israel during the wanderings s through the wilderness, the miracle of the fire coming down on Mount Horeb, and the visions God gave through Ezekiel.

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At the same time, the author here leaves much to the audience: he gives no guidance as to any particular incidents they should consider. In relevancetheoretic terms, this is a clear example of weak communication: the author activates a wide range of information, but leaves to the readers which particular instances to recall Moses, Elijah, and Samuel, for example, or Abraham, Daniel, Amos and Jeremiah any selection satisfying the terms polymeroos and polytropos would do. Thus there would be a rich set of weakly implicated assumptions, that is, weak implicatures. Typically, codemodel based accounts of and approaches to Bible translation have little, if any, recognition of weaker implicatures. Bible translation literature dealing with this particular passage, for example, does not usually address the existence of all this information nor how the translator might succeed in conveying it to the receptors.5

I ought to mention that although Gutt writes in English, he is a German, who received his degrees at the University of London, and perhaps it says something about the present situation that we quote a person of this background to indicate the existence of serious intellectual opposition to theories of dynamic equivalence. But the cultural emphasis of Gutt is quickly gaining ground among American linguists. Relevance Theory in itself will not bring any improvement, because it is just another abstract theory of how language works, and its ideas might even be used to support the worst abuses of dynamic equivalence. But it does firmly set aside the code model. Biblical scholars have always emphasized the importance of background knowledge, and have never felt a need for any formal theory of communication to justify this emphasis. To them it is perfectly obvious that the biblical text cannot be fully understood by those who have not studied the language and religious culture of the authors. A theory of translation that pretends to make exegetical comment unnecessary would be seen as simply foolish and irrelevant. But a formal linguistic theory that recognizes this fact is at least a welcome corrective to the more naive ideas that have been promoted in the field of translation theory after Nida. One biblical scholar, C. John Collins, has therefore criticized Nida simplistic code model s of communication along the same lines as Gutt:
Consider what place a text has in an act of communication. It is far too simple to say that we have a speaker, an audience, and a message that connects them. Rather, we should see that the speaker and audience have a picture of the world that to some extent they share between them: that picture includes, for example, knowledge, beliefs, values, experiences, language, and rhetorical conventions. For example, I am writing this essay in English, and I assume that you know what I mean by the Hebrew Bible. A text is a means by which the speaker (or author) operates on that shared picture of the world to produce some effect (the message) in the audience; perhaps by adding new things for them to know, or by correcting things that they thought they knew; or by drawing on some part of it (such as their experience of God love) in order for them to act upon it; or by s evoking some aspect of it for celebration or mourning; or even by radically revising their orientation to the world (their worldview). The authors and their audiences also share linguistic and literary conventions, which

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indicate how to interpret the text; for example, everyone who is competent in American English knows what to expect when a narrative begins with once upon a time. For an audience to interpret a text properly, they must cooperate with the author as he has expressed himself in his text. (In terms used by the linguists, the message includes such things as illocutionary force, implicatures, and so on. 6 )

Evidently Collins has been reading about the recent contributions of relevance theory to theoretical linguistics, which emphasizes the wealth of implicatures (things implied or taken for granted by the author, which must be understood by the reader to get the meaning) in almost any communicative act. Not everyone in the wide field of linguistics appreciates this new emphasis on the importance of shared background in communication. Translation theorists who have always sat at the feet of Nida can be expected to resist any fundamental change in their theoretical orientation. But we hope it will eventually dawn upon them that a translator can never succeed in conveying what the author of the epistle to the Hebrews meant by the prophets if the reader is not acquainted with the prophetic writings. Nor can a translation make readers understand why the New Testament begins with a genealogy, in which our Lord is introduced as a son of Abraham, if they are ignorant of the Old Testament. There is no magical science of translation that can make this historical and cultural preparation for the gospel unnecessary.

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19.The Overworked Translator


There are innumerable small inaccuracies in modern translations that appear to have arisen by a general lack of carefulness. But I suspect that, as translators are pushed out of the habit of giving literal renderings, and are expected to give more attention to stylistic matters, the work just becomes too complex and difficult for many of them to handle. There is certainly an increase in the demands put upon translators when they are expected to make everything not only accurate but also fluent and clear to every reader. Probably many of them are not skillful enough in English, or are not given enough time to do the job well. It is like a business owner asking his accountant to answer the phone, which rings every 30 seconds. We should not be surprised to find a number of errors in the account books at the end of the day. In Hebrews 3:12 the Greek reads, , , . Literally this says, Take care, brethren, that there will not be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in apostasy from the Living God. We would expect a careful scholar to notice here the emphatic expression in any one of you ( ). This is not the same as saying in you ( ). The readers are urged, collectively, to take care that no one in their congregation, insofar as they can prevent it, should have such an unbelieving heart as to apostatize. And so in the following verse it continues, encourage one another lest any of you be hardened. Evidently the purpose here is not to urge self examination, but to enjoin the brethren to care for one anothers souls. 1 But the NLT says Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. Thus the focus is turned inward, with each caring for himself. The RSV and ESV also distort the sense in this direction by adding you in the last clause: Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. This is an error. I do not doubt that the RSV translators knew the difference between and . It only goes to show that even the most competent scholars will produce slipshod work when they are distracted and burdened by stylistic requirements. It is sometimes not easy, even for the most expert scholar, to give an accurate translation while making sure the style is fluent and clear. In the present case, the problem originated with a feeling that the last phrase must be made more fluent in English than a literal rendering would permit. The literal rendering in the ASV (in falling away ) was thought to be too awkward. 2 Therefore the translators made a limited use of the dynamic approach to translation, recasting the phrase and adding you, mainly for the sake of a fluent and clear expression; but in the process of making this little stylistic adjustment at the end, it escaped their notice that the meaning of the whole sentence was retroactively altered by it. The ESV revisers have in many places improved the accuracy of the RSV, but they failed to correct the inaccuracy here.

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One of the editors of the New Revised Standard Version has said that the peculiar stylistic requirement under which they labored, of insuring that the language was properly inclusive, involved the translators in problems which were often extremely difficult and very timeconsuming, since the resulting text had to sound like 3 normal English. The basic problem was, they were being required to produce a translation in a style which is not normal in English, and which seriously interfered with their ability to produce an accurate translation of the Hebrew and Greek. He reports that three members of the committee, representing both the Old Testament and New Testament sections, resigned with the complaint that an inordinate amount of time was being spent on matters that seemed to them essentially trivial rather than on issues of substantial scholarly concern. 4 Another editor of the version reports that the Old Testament committee worked hours on their attempt to produce a stylistically acceptable translation of a single verse, Genesis 9:6, without 5 using the word man. The result of their hours of work on this verse was, Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person blood be shed; for in his s own image God made humankind. Yet even this awkward rendering was condemned as sexist by one constituency that the editors had hoped to please, because of its use of the pronoun his in reference to God. 6 In order to achieve the degree of inclusiveness that was desired by the editors, it was finally necessary for a small committee of inclusive language commissars to go over the whole version before its publication. Afterwards one of the translators reported that when members of the full committee became aware of the extent of these changes, many were outraged, feeling that much of their own work on the translation over the years had been irresponsibly gutted. 7 Needless to say, we are more inclined to sympathize with the translators who were trying to make an accurate translation, than with the editors who imposed such vexatious and essentially political requirements of English style. This unfortunate episode may also be seen as another instance of the Criterion of Acceptability at work, whose theoretical problems we have fully examined in a previous chapter. Here we simply note that the stylistic requirements imposed by the editors created such difficulties for the committee of scholars that some of them were not even willing to continue the work.

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20.The Editorial Sausage Factory


In the case of stylistscholar teams, the usual process of translating should be reversed. Rather than having a scholar prepare a somewhat literal translation which is then revised by a stylist, it is the stylist who should prepare the first draft, but only on the basis of extensive preliminary discussions with the biblical scholar. Only later is the text gone over carefully by the scholar and various options discussed. Eugene Nida, From One Language to Another (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1986), p. 192.

An old saying goes, Laws are like sausages it is best not to see them being made. The same thing could be said about some versions of the Bible. People who know how they were made are not likely to have much respect for them. It should be made known to readers of some modern versions that not everything in them can be attributed to the biblical scholars who are employed by the publisher as members of the translation team. People tend to assume that the scholars were the actual translators of the version, and that they are responsible for whatever is finally published. We have this picture of several expert scholars sitting around a table and hammering out the version together, over a period of years, with very learned discussions, followed by voting. And when all is finished, people imagine that the manuscript goes straight from the scholars conference table to the printer. This is a substantially true picture of how some versions in the past came into being. The King James Version, the English Revised Version, and the Revised Standard Version were created by such a confidenceinspiring process. But in the case of many modern versions, the picture is substantially false. The more usual procedure now is for a publisher to enlist various scholars as reviewers or consultants who send suggestions for portions of a version that is being revised by the publisher editorial s staff. The scholars never sit down at a table together, and there is no voting. It is really the editors who create the version, although they are usually not scholars of any great reputation. The rationale for this way of doing things was provided by Nida in his book The Theory and Practice of Translation (Leiden: Brill, 1969), in which he states that too much knowledge of the subject matter of the Bible is undesirable in a translator (p. 99), because theologically trained persons have special problems in learning how to translate for a level other than the one on which they habitually operate (p. 100). So it is better for the first draft to be produced by a stylist who has some grasp of the source language but is not a scholar in it, and afterwards a real scholar can review it, bringing to the attention of the stylist errors of various kinds (p. 103). He claims that experience has shown that it is much easier to achieve the proper combination of accuracy and adequate style in this manner than in the more traditional approach in which the scholar translated and the stylist corrected (p. 103). The stylist should not have too much acquaintance with the traditional forms of the Scriptures. If he knows the Bible too well, he is likely to be deceived by his very familiarity with the text and thus let many things slip past which really do not make sense (p. 157). Moreover, the final draft should be submitted to a stylist who is not a Christian, or

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atleastwhoisnotfamiliarwiththeBible(p.104).Inanappendixtothesamebook, Nida admits that not all reviewers will give as much time to this work as they should(p.185),butheseemsmoreinterestedinemphasizingthattheirroleshould be limited: From time to time the reviewers may be called together to discuss a specific agenda covering points on which the translators need guidance, but they should not meet as a committee to discuss in detail all that the translators have done. It should be emphasized that their function is supplementary and advisory. They do not constitute a committee of censors. (pp. 17980.) And again: In some projectsthe reviewershave insistedonmeetingtogetherasa committeeandgoing overthewholedraftversebyverse.Thisisrarelyadesirableapproach.Notonlycan suchacommitteespendendlesshoursdebatingoverdetails,buttheendresultsare rarelyasgood asthe work of the translators which wasthebasisof the discussion. Thereviewersandtheconsultativegroup1 shouldrememberthatitisnottheirwork tobecensors.(p.186.) Now, it is certainly true that a committee of scholars is likely to produce a more literalversion,andonethatrequiresmorefromthereader.Butweobservehere,how the corrections that might have been made by a committee of careful scholars are disparaged as censorship, and how their deliberations are dismissed as nitpicking endlesshoursdebatingoverdetails. Under this kind of arrangement, where scholars are merely asked to make suggestions bymail,onecanneverbesurewhetheratanygivenpointthetranslation reallyrepresents the consensus of scholarly opinion,oreventheopinionofanyone who was paid to review the version for accuracy. The first draft and the final decisions are made not by scholars, but by people who do not have too much knowledgeoftheBibletoproducethekindofdynamicequivalencethatisdesired bythepublisher. English versions that have been produced by such a process include some well known ones, including the New Living Translation, the Good News Bible, the ContemporaryEnglishVersion,andtheNewCenturyVersion.Thepublishersofthese versionshavebeenlessthanfrankaboutitintheirprefacesandintheiradvertising, andforobviousreasons.Theywouldnotwantthepublictoseetheirsausagefactory inoperation.TheBibleversionthatemergesfromthisprocessisnotevenprimarily the work of professional scholars. The publishers have even rejected the whole conceptthataBibletranslationshouldbemadebyprofessionalscholars.

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21.DynamicTheology
InanotherpassageofFaust,Goethegivesusascenefullofirony,asFaustsitsdown totranslateapassageoftheNewTestament.
Ourspiritsyearntowardrevelation Thatnowhereglowsmorefair,moreexcellent, ThanhereintheNewTestament. ToopenthefundamentaltextI mmoved, Withhonestfeeling,onceforall, Toturnthesacred,blestoriginal IntomyGermanwellbeloved. Heopensavolumeandapplieshimselftoit. Tiswritten:InthebeginningwastheWord! HerenowI mbalked!Who llputmeinaccord? Itisimpossible,theWord sohightoprize, Imusttranslateitotherwise IfIamrightlybytheSpirittaught. Tiswritten:InthebeginningwastheThought! Considerwellthatline,thefirstyousee, Thatyourpenmaynotwritetoohastily! IsitthenThought thatworks,creative,hourbyhour? Thusshoulditstand:InthebeginningwasthePower! YetevenwhileIwritethisword,Ifalter, Forsomethingwarnsme,thistooIshallalter. TheSpirit shelpingme!IseenowwhatIneed Andwriteassured:InthebeginningwastheDeed!1

As we noted above, the word in the prologue of John Gospel presents a s problemfortranslators.Faustbeginstotackletheproblemsincerelyenough,butin the end he wanders far from the meaning of the Greek word, and sees in it only a reflectionofhisownruminationsontheneedtoturnawayfrommerewordstothe essence of things, and to deeds. The irony is that he imagines the Spirit is helping him,butwhatspiritisreallypresent? Intheroomwith himisMephistopheles,the demontowhomhewillturnforhelpattheperilofhissoul. A translator must indeed be careful. Weighty theological lessons sometimes depend upon having a strictly accurate translation of the Bible. A good example of this may be seenwhenwecompareBibleversions at Genesis 50:20.Hereas Joseph comfortshisbrethrenhemakesastatementfulloftheologicalimplications.TheESV givesusaliteralrenderingoftheverse:Asforyou,youmeantevilagainstme,but God meantit forgood, tobring it about that manypeople should bekept alive,as theyaretoday.Thisistrulyaninterestingstatement,oftenquotedbytheologiansin thecontextofexplainingthesovereigntyandprovidenceofGodbehindeventhose

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events which seem to be evil. As John Calvin explains in his Genesis commentary here,
The selling of Joseph was a crimedetestable for its crueltyand perfidy; yet he was not sold except by the decree of heaven. For neither did God merely remain at rest, and by conniving for a time, let loose the reins of human malice, in order that afterwards he might make use of this occasion; but,at his ownwill, he appointedthe order of acting which he intended to be fixed and certain. Thus we may say with truth and propriety,thatJosephwassoldbythewickedconsentofhisbrethren,and bythesecretprovidenceofGod.

Yet what does the user of the New Living Translation read here? As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil. He brought me to the highpositionIhavetodaysoIcouldsavethelivesofmanypeople.Herethereare several things that might be pointed out which vitiate the theology implicit in Joseph words. We wonder how the phrase As far as I am concerned can be s justifiedhere,becauseitcorrespondstonothingintheHebrewtextanditmakesthe statement merely an opinion rather than a statement of fact. This in itself is an important change in the meaning of the verse. We notice that the phrase He brought me to the high position I have today has been inserted. So instead of the baldstatementthatGodplannedtheharmfulactionofthebrothersforthegoodof many(thisisevenclearerintheHebrewthanintheliteralEnglish),agoodthingis inserted, namely Joseph prosperity, as the thing that God used as the means of s saving people.Wesee thatsoI could savethelives of manypeopleattributesthe goodoutcometothewillofJosephratherthanattributingittothewillofGodalone, asintheHebrew.ButwenoticeespeciallytheparaphrasticrenderingGodturned. Gone from the verse is the mysterious secret providence of God, expressed in the words God meant it, which required Calvin explanation, and in its place we see s thattheNewLivingTranslation hassubstitutedtheideathatGodafterwardsturned evil actions to his use. So in at least four ways in this one little verse the use of dynamic equivalence has obscured an important theological lesson which shines through in the literal rendering. Probably the NLT translator believed that he was helping the reader to understand the verse with these adjustments, but for all the good intentions we may attribute to the translator we perceive in this officious meddlingwiththetextthehandofsomeonewhoisattemptingtochangenotonly the verbal form but the very teaching of the verse into something that is easier to understandandaccept.2 It is often said by advocates of dynamic equivalence that all translation is interpretation or all good translation involves interpretation. 3 This statement is true;yetitisdishonest,ifitisdesignedtodistractattentionfromthefactthatsome translationsaremoreinterpretivethanothers.Likemostthingsinlife,itisamatter ofdegree,andthedifferenceindegreecanbeimportant.Ifadoctorwhowantedto do elective surgery on a patient knew that the patient health would probably be s ruinedbyit,hecouldnotescaperesponsibilitybyshrugginghisshouldersandsaying well, all surgery involves risks. Some surgery carries little risk, some is very risky. Some isabsolutely necessary to save the patient life;some is purelyoptional, and s doesnotimprovethehealthofthepatientatall.Andthesameistrueoftranslations. Someinterpretationisnecessary,andsomeisnot.TakeforinstancePhilippians2:13,

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which inthe Greek reads, .Atranslationthatinvolvesverylittleinterpretationis,foritisGod who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (ESV). The interpretationhereissoobviousandsominimalthatprobablythetranslatorwasnot even aware of having interpreted the verse, but it does involve some assumptions andsomeobligatoryinterpretation:forinstance,itassumesthatby Paulmeans God and nota god,andthat by he meansinrather than among.But now comparethiswiththemuchmoreinterpretiveandriskiertranslationoftheCommon EnglishBible: Godistheonewhoenablesyoubothtowantandtoactuallyliveout his good purposes. Here has been interpreted, who enables you. Thisiscertainlymoreinterpretive,anditisalsohighlyqestionable,becausetheverb does not mean enable. It means be operative, be at work, put forth power(Thayer),beatwork,operate,beeffective(BAGD).H.C.G.Mouleobserves that the Greek word has a certain intensity about it, worketh effectually. 4 The translation neglects to convey what the text actually says (who works effectually) andoffersinsteadanotionofhowGodmightbesaidtoworkintheheartandlifeof thebelieverifhisworkingwerenotreallyeffectual.Evidentlythetranslatorreasoned thatGodmustbeatworkinthebelieverindirectlyandnoneffectuallybyenabling him to want and to do this or that, rather than simply causing him to want or do these things, although that is by no means what the text says. The interpretation injected here goes beyond what is necessary for a grammatical and understandable Englishsentence. InconnectionwiththisinterpretationwenotewhatCalvinwritesontheverse:
It is God that worketh. This is the true engine for bringing down all haughtiness thistheswordforputtinganendtoallpride,whenweare taughtthatweareutterlynothing,andcandonothing,exceptthroughthe graceofGodalone.Imeansupernaturalgrace,whichcomesforthfromthe spiritofregeneration.For,consideredasmen,wealreadyare,andliveand moveinGod.(Acts17:28.)ButPaulreasonshereastoakindofmovement different from that universal one. Let us now observe how much he ascribestoGod, and how muchhe leaves to us.There are,inany action, twoprincipaldepartments theinclination,andthepowertocarryitinto effect.BothoftheseheascribeswhollytoGod;whatmoreremainstousas a ground of glorying? Nor is there any reason to doubt that this division hasthesameforceasifPaulhadexpressedthewholeinasingleword;for theinclinationisthegroundwork;theaccomplishmentofitisthesummit ofthebuildingbroughttoacompletion.Hehasalsoexpressedmuchmore thanifhehadsaidthatGodistheAuthorofthebeginningandoftheend. For in that case sophists would have alleged, by way of cavil, that somethingbetweenthetwowaslefttomen.Butasitis,whatwilltheyfind that is in any degree peculiar to us? They toil hard in their schools to reconcile with the grace of God freewill of such a nature, I mean, as they conceive of which might be capable of turning itself by its own movement, and might have a peculiar and separate power, by which it might cooperatewith thegraceofGod.Idonotdisputeastothename, butastothethingitself.Inorder,therefore,thatfreewillmayharmonize with grace, they divide in such a manner, that God restores in us a free

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choice, that we may have it in our power to will aright. Thus they acknowledge to have received from God the power of willing aright, but assigntomanagoodinclination.Paul,however,declaresthistobeawork of God, without any reservation. For he does not say that our hearts are simplyturnedorstirredup,orthattheinfirmityofagoodwillishelped, butthatagoodinclinationiswhollytheworkofGod.

Perhaps not everyone will agree with all that Calvin says here. But it must be admitted that it requires no torturing of the text. The same cannot be said for the Arminian gloss of the Common English Bible, which pointedly excludes Calvin s thoughts,byplayingfastandloosewiththewordsoftheApostle.Thismanipulation of the text in translation is not excusable on the grounds that all translation is interpretation. Someone might object to our criticism by saying that the method of dynamic equivalence itself cannot be blamed for misinterpretations. It is the fault of the translator, notthe theory, because thetranslator mustunderstandthe originaltext beforehecanrecastitinequivalentEnglishexpressions.Yetdoesitsurpriseanyone thatwhensomuchemphasisisplacedupontheeaseofthereader,wefindnotonly easy language but also easy theology? Moreover, it is an impractical theory which requires the translator to interpret the text so thoroughly while avoiding interpretations that flow naturally from his own intellectual presuppositions. It expects something that we cannot reasonably expect from a human being. In his bookTheTextoftheOldTestament,ErnstWrthweinemphasizestheimportanceof takingapsychologicallyrealisticviewofBibleversions:
For a long period the versions were approached rather naively and used directly for textual criticism on the uncritical assumption that the base from which they were translated could be readily determined. But the matter is not that simple. Anyone who translates also interprets: the translation is not simply a rendering of the underlying text but also an expressionofthetranslator sunderstandingofit.Andeverytranslatorisa child of his own time and of his own culture. Consequently every translation must be understood and appreciated as an intellectual achievementinitsownright.Thisisespeciallytrueoftheversionsofthe Bible which were produced to meet the practical needs of a community. Most versions of the Bible have been the work of anonymous translators (usuallyofmanytranslators)whohavegivenconcreteexpressionintheir work to the intellectual assumptions of their age and their culture, the religious and other opinions which they adhere to or respect, the prejudices and concerns which they adopt consciously or unconsciously, theireducation,theirabilitytoexpressthemselves,theconceptualrangeof the language they are translating into, and many other factors. We must thereforedistinguishbetweenwhatcomesfromtheoriginaltextandwhat isaddedbythetranslatoraformidabletasktoaccomplishbeforewecan usetheversionsforpurposesoftextualcriticism.5

HereWrthweinisspeakingofancientversionsoftheOldTestament,suchasthe Greek Septuagint, the Aramaic Targums, and the Latin Vulgate; but what he says concerningtheseancientversionsmustalsobesaidaboutmodernEnglishversions.

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AndifitisespeciallytrueoftheversionsoftheBiblewhichwereproducedtomeet the practical needs of a community i.e., versions like the Targums, which have their contemporary readers very much in mind, and which aim to make the text highlyaccessibleandpertinentto them thenit isalsoespeciallytrue of modern Englishversionsthatareofthissamecharacter.Thiswarningabouttheuseofhighly interpretiveversionsdoesnotloseitsrelevancewhentheversionsaremodern,andit pertains just as much to simple questions about the meaning of the Greek and Hebrew words as it does to the specialized textcritical research of scholars like Wrthwein. Scholarsnevertrust dynamic translations,becausetheyknowfromexperiencethe strength of the tendencies which lead even learned men to accommodate any admiredauthortotheirownmentality.AtonetimetheprestigeofAristotlewassuch thatphilosophers, at least,could hardlybe trusted toquote him accurately! In 1813 one complained how easy it is for a translator of Aristotle (in consequence of the unparalleled brevity which he sometimes effects) to accommodate the sense of the original, by the help of paraphrastical clauses, expressed in the phraseology of modern science, to every progressive step in the history of human knowledge. In truth, there is not one philosopher of antiquity, whose opinions, when they are statedinanytermsbuthisown,aretobereceivedwithsogreatdistrust. 6 Thisis evenmoretrueofSt.Paul,whoserapidstylegivesmanyoccasionstointerpreters. We might as well notice here the role that Nida theories have played in recent s controversies about missionary contextualization of the Christian religion, reconceptualizations of biblical theology according to the worldview and thought formsofvariouscultures.Inthe1970 sCharlesKraftofFullerTheologicalSeminary evenusedthephrasedynamicequivalenceinreferencetothis,urgingthecreation ofdynamicequivalencechurchesinwhichprinciplesofdynamictheologywould allow the development of indigenous ethnotheologies. 7 Various things which are being done under the banner of contextualization and ethnotheology are clearly syncretistic.Forexample,missionariesmayexplaintheefficacyofprayerinlinewith Voodooconceptsaboutmagicalutterances,orJesuscouldbedescribedasbeingthe son of the most powerful deity already being worshiped by a tribe. Contextualizations like this are now common on the mission field, even among missionaries associated with reputedly conservative mission agencies such as the WycliffeBibleTranslators.8 This kind of thinking is not confined to missionary theorists and translators in primitiveplaces.RecentlyoneofNida sdiscipleswrote:
I have studied how a number of theologians and preachers discuss the move from timeboundtext to timeless theological truths. Ihave noticed that a model that has not been as widely used or influential in hermeneutical circles as I think it should be is the process of Bible translationknownasdynamicequivalence(orfunctionalequivalence).The heart of dynamic equivalence translation theory is the attempt to create thesameimpactinthereceptorlanguageofthosewhoarehearingthetext nowaswascreatedintheoriginalaudienceofthetext.Inordertodothis, EugeneNidaandothershavedevelopedacomplexmodeloftranslational theory.Irecognizethat thistheoryhas bothshortcomingsandstrengths,

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and that it is the subject of considerable debate, in which I have been a participant.Theintricaciesofthatdebatearenotmyconcernhere,though IwillsaythatvirtuallyalldebateoverBibletranslationtheorytodaytakes asitsstartingpointNida sdynamicequivalence,whichtriestomovefrom one language and contextan ancient and sacred oneto a modern language and context. My contention is that this is the task not only of translation,butalsooftheologyitself,andthattheprocedureofonemay wellbeessentiallytheprocedureoftheother. I will try to summarize the theory. The notion is that one must first determinethekernelorheartofwhatisbeingsaidintheoriginaltext.In translation theory this is applied to the sentence, but I think that the notion can be and often is extended to larger units, including larger theological units. This requires a process of differentiating the essential fromtheephemeral,theenduringfromthecontingent,thepertinentfrom theimpertinent.Thenonemustputthiskernelintotheequivalentformof expressioninthereceptorlanguagetoday stheologicallanguagesothat ithasthesameeffectonthepresentreceiverasitdidonthefirsthearer. Wemayhavetoreturntohowweformulateourtheologyineachdayand age,andwithvarious receptorgroupsinmind,butthat seemsconsistent withhowtheoriginalgospelmessagewaspresented;withinacontext,but withoutlosingitschristologicalcenter.9

ItmightbearguedthatthisgoesbeyondwhatNidahimselfhadinmindforBible versions, but there are many programmatic statements in favor of cultural contextualization in Nida spublished works, withextensivediscussionofexamples, anditisdifficulttosaywherehemightdrawthelinebetweendynamicequivalence andcontextualization.Inhisbookshemixesthesethingstogethersomuchthatitis sometimes hard to tell which of the two subjects is under discussion. In any case Nida himself clearly wished to convey the idea that dynamic equivalence and contextualizationareintrinsicallyrelated,beingtwoaspectsofthesameprincipleof immediate equivalent effect in communication, and so it is not unfair for us to connect these things also. At bottom they are related, and our attitude toward contextualization will have implications for our evaluation of dynamic equivalence. The root of both is the idea that everything important in the Bible can be so thoroughly naturalized that it does not seem to be foreign to the language and culture into which it is introduced, and that if there is anything that cannot be so naturalized, it must not be essential to the message or pertinent to modern readersoftheBible. Inthepursuitofcontemporaryrelevance,theBibletranslatorhadbetterbewareof whatspiritishelpinghim.

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22.TheBibleforChildren
Much of the support for paraphrastic Bible versions has been due to the desire of some to provide a version which children might be able to understand.Thisiswellmeant,butIthinkitshould beobvioustoanyonewhoisreallyfamiliarwiththe Bible that it was not written for children. Let us be realistic. We have always had catechisms and Bible story books for the children, and anyone who has been involved in teaching the children knows very well that these supply more than enough material for young minds; and they are far better suited for theeducationofchildrenthananysimplifiedversion oftheBiblecanbe.Thereisonlysomuchonecando with the Bible to make it clear or interesting to children, and in the end a selection of passages is goingtobemadeanywaywhich,ifitisagoodselection,willdifferlittlefromthe selectionintheoldBibleStorybooks.IrememberthatwhenIwasachildinSunday schoolwedidhavecopiesoftheGoodNewsforModernManNewTestamenton hand(IstillhavethecopythatwaspresentedtomeonepromotionSunday),butI also remember that we did not use it. The catechism took up all of our time. The truth is, there is nogoodreasonwhythe Bible shouldbe adaptedforthis purpose. Andthereisadangerinit.Thedangeris,the Bible simplified for children will become the Bible of adults.IhaveseenGoodNewsBiblesinthepewsofmainlinechurches. The American Bible Society had removed the cartoons for this pew bible edition. AndthenthereisthecaseoftheLivingBible,whichKenTaylororiginallymeantfor children,andyetBillyGrahamquicklymadeitintooneofthemostpopularversions foradults.Thiswasboundtohappen,giventhementallazinessofsomanypeople, bothinthepewandinthepulpit. The publishers of the dynamic equivalence versions have at any rate been very aggressive in promoting these versions as if they were suitable for everyone, young andold,ChristianornonChristian.TheNew Living Translation nowismakingmuch headwayinourchurchesasaversionforthewholecongregation,beingusedinthe pulpit and in Bible study classes. I wonder how superficial the preaching and teaching must be in such churches, where this simplified version is thought to be adequate or necessary. What if a man who has been under such a steady diet of pablumhappenstoopenanexegeticalcommentaryandreadtherethecommentsof ascholar,orvisitsachurchwheretheBibleisexplainedinsomedetail?Hewillnot belonginseeingwhatafalseimpressionhasbeengivenbyhiseasyreadingversion. Itisnotatallashewasledtosuppose.ThemainideasoftheBibleareindeedsimple enough,in any version;butitisveryfarfrombeingtruethateveryverseoftheBible issimple.Moreover,ifhereadsanymoderatelydetailedtreatiseoftheologyhewill findthatthegreattheologiansofProtestantismhabituallycallattentiontolinguistic

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detailsthataresimplyabsentfromhisBibleversion.IfamanknowstheBibleonly throughsuchaversion,andhasbeenencouragedtothinkthatitisjustasaccurate as any other, how well has he been served? He has been treated like a child or a simpleton. Is it any wonder that many educated people scoff at Christianity when evenourBibleshavebeensodumbeddownthattheyoffernothingabovethelevelof a tenyearold child? Is it any wonder that we have such problems getting the interestofthemen(whooughttobethespiritualleadersoftheirhouseholds)when everythingisdesignedforchildren?Inregardstothis,perhapsthewordsoftheold Scottishpreacher,JamesStalker,bearrepeating.
Not unfrequentlyministersareexhorted to cultivateextremesimplicity in theirpreaching. Everything ought,wearetold, tobe brought downto thecomprehensionofthemostignoranthearer,andevenofchildren.Far beitfrommetodepreciatetheplaceofthesimplestinthecongregation;it isoneofthebestfeaturesoftheChurchinthepresentdaythatitcaresfor the lambs. I dealt with this subject, not unsympathetically I hope, in a formerlecture.Butdonot ask us to be always speakingtochildren orto beginners.IstheBiblealwayssimple?IsJobsimple,orIsaiah?IstheEpistle totheRomanssimple,orGalatians?Thiscryforsimplicityisthreefourths intellectual laziness; and that Church is doomed in which there is not supplied meat for men as well as milk for babes.We owe the Gospelnot onlytothebarbarianbutalsototheGreek.Notonlytotheunwisebutalso tothewise.1

Stalker counsel here is to preachers, who in their sermons must engage the s attention of grown men and educated people as well as the simple. He takes it for grantedthatthereaderwillagreewithhimthattheBibleitselfisnotalwayssimple, andisitselfmeatformen.

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23.BibleBabel
ForthenwillIrestoretothepeoplesapurelanguage, ThattheymayallcalluponthenameoftheLORD, Toservehimwithoneaccord.(Zephaniah3:9)

Inthelate1950 sF.F.BrucewroteabookonthehistoryofEnglishBibleversionsin which he expressed some appreciation of versions in modern English that had 1 appeared up to that time, saying, may their number go on increasing! And increase they did! This was before the great proliferation of versions that began in the1960 s,andbeforetheappearanceofanyofthemodernversionsthatarenowto befoundontheshelvesofChristianbookstores.Inanenlargededitionofhisbook publishedin1978wedetectanoteofconcern,however,whenBrucecomplainsthat thenumberofnewtranslationsoftheBiblekeepsonincreasingtoapointwhereit becomes more and more difficult to keep up with them all. 2 In 1991 D.A. Carson observedthatfromthepublicationoftheRSVBible[in1952]tothepresent,twenty nineEnglishversionsoftheentireBiblehaveappeared,plusanadditionaltwentysix English renderings of the New Testament. 3 And yet they continue to increase. Turning out new versions and revisions of the Bible has become an established industry, with interests of its own, and we can no longer extend a magnanimous welcometoeverythingthattheBiblepublishingindustrychurnsout. The problem lies not only the number of versions, but also in their mutability. Publishers are continually making changes in their versions, so that they do not remain the same for more than a dozen years or so. The situation with the NIV is typical. Its NewTestamentwas originally publishedin1973. Changes were madein 1978, and in 1984. By 1997 the people who control the NIV were revising it with inclusivelanguage.Apparentlytheythoughtthisrevisionwouldbeacceptedinthe same way that the previous revisions had been. As it turned out, however, many church leaders objected to this last revision as frivolous, and as a capitulation to politicalcorrectness.TheNIVisnotreallyownedbyapublisher.Itisownedbya nonprofitorganizationcalledBiblica,formerlycalledtheInternationalBibleSociety. ButthisorganizationhasaverycloserelationshipwithZondervanPublishers,andit was reported that Zondervan executives had requested the revision. 4 The pressure broughtagainsttheprojectbyministryleaderspreventedtherevisionfromreplacing the1984NIVimmediately,butZondervangotwhatitaskedforanyway,becausethe revision was published under another name: Todays New International Version (publishedin2002).Theversionwasmarketed asbeingonethatwasadaptedtothe language of consumers between eighteen and thirtyfour years old. Prior to this, Zondervan had also caused the International Bible Society to produce a New International Readers Version (1995) adapted to the language of children. Then in 2011the1984NIVwassupercededbyaneweditionwhichwasreallyarevisionofthe TNIV.SoonegenerationhasseenatleastfivedifferentNewInternationalversions being published in America. But there is more: if we include the British editions

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(which are not identical to the American editions), there are at least seven New International versions. This instability and variety within the NIV brand itself is not in line with the intentions of the original NIV committee. When they began work on the version in 1967 they stated their goals in a document which emphasized the importance of having one version in common use.
Only with one version in common use in our churches will Bible memorization flourish, will those in the pew follow in their own Bibles the reading of Scripture and comments on individual Scriptures from the pulpit, will unison readings be possible, will Bible Teachers be able to interpret with maximum success the Biblical text word by word and phrase by phrase to their students, and will the Word be implanted indelibly upon the minds of Christians as they hear and read again and again the words of the Bible in the same phraseology. We acknowledge freely that there are benefits to be derived by the individual as he refers to other translations in his study of the Bible, but this could still be done in situations in which a common Bible was in general use. 5

The prospects for one version in common use are not good. Although the NIV brand has become the bestselling one in America (according to statistics compiled by the Christian Booksellers Association), it has never been the one most often read by people who do much Biblereading. That honor still belongs to the King James Versiona version which has not changed in hundreds of years. In 1998 the Barna Research Group found that among Americans who read the Bible during a typical week, not including when they are at church the King James Version is more likely to be the Bible read during the week than is the NIV by a 5:1 ratio. 6 This might seem incredible to some people in the Bible business, but it agrees with my own observations over the years. For whatever reason, people who use the KJV tend to know their Bibles much better than those who use the NIV, despite the fact that the NIV (in any of its forms) is much easier to understand. I have also met people who say that although they sometimes use the NIV for casual reading, they prefer to use the KJV for memorization. And I do not know anyone who uses the NIV for word by word and phrase by phrase exposition. People who study the Bible closely have generally preferred the New American Standard or the New King James Version over the NIV. For those who do not care so much about literal accuracy, the New Living Translation is now being used by many congregations that had formerly used the NIV. In 1998 the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention launched a translation project of its own. At that time Paige Patterson, the President of the SBC, was asked to comment on the situation. His reply indicated the failure of the NIV translators hopes: If the Sunday School Board did something really good, there s enough dissatisfaction with the NIV that it might sell, and he added, We have over translated and we have ruined Bible memorization and congregational reading. We have translation pandemonium out there. How it going to work out, I don know. s t 7 When the New Testament of this new version (the Holman Christian Standard Bible) appeared in 2001, its preface explained that there was a need for the version because Each generation needs a fresh translation of the Bible in its own language.

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By fresh they mean something completely new, as opposed to revisions of translations from previous generations. If the editors believe this, then thirty years from now they will have to say that their own version is obsolete. By then it will have reached its generational expiration date. Also in 2001 the English Standard Version (a revision of the RSV) appeared, under the marketing rubric Truth. Unchanged. Six years later a revised edition appeared, with 360 changes. The situation reached a high point of absurdity in 2003 when the New Century Version (the least accurate one of all) soared to the top of the sales charts in an edition called Revolve, bringing the Bible to teen girls in a format they re comfortable with. Designed to resemble the celebrity gossip magazines sold at supermarket checkouts, this edition shows them that the Bible is fun and applicable to life today. In the meantimewhat has happened to the Holy Bible? It has become a piece of merchandise. Bible publishing has become like the popular music industry, in which the songs are given only so much air time before they are replaced by newer ones. The Bible racks at the Christian bookstore have become like the toothpaste aisle at the grocery storeten brand names, with several new and improved formulas, available in four varieties each. The resemblance is not accidental. In both cases the same principles of product development and brand marketing are in operation. Regarding the contribution of dynamic equivalence to this situation, we will not say that Nida is responsible for the Revolve edition. We might connect it with the emphasis on cultural relevance and formal accommodation that figure so prominently in his theories, but even if the publisher of such an edition presented it as an application of dynamic equivalence, we should rather see it as something wholly inspired by commercial interests. Nevertheless, the philosophy of dynamic equivalence has obviously contributed to the current flood of popular versions and editions, not only by directly inspiring many of them, but also by subverting the traditional view that continuity and uniformity are important in the ministry of the Word. Under the new regime of dynamic equivalence, there can be no continuity or uniformity in Bible versions, and no standard translation. Only a succession of versions erected on the shifting sand of what each generation seems to want. The theory of dynamic equivalence actually demands multiple versions and frequent revisions. Nida has said, because languages are constantly changing, no translation can retain its value for very long. 8 And because people differ so much in their linguistic preferences and capacities, Nida maintained that every language ought to have several different Bible versions designed for different constituencies. In Toward a Science of Translating (1964) he wrote:
The ability to decode a particular type of message is constantly in process of change, not only as the result of an increase in general education, but especially through specific acquaintance with the particular type of message. For example, at first a new reader of the Scriptures is obviously confronted with a very heavy communication load, but as he becomes familiar with certain words and combinations of words, the communication load is reduced. Obviously, then, the communication load

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is not a fixed characteristic of a message in and of itself, but is always relative to the specific receptors who are in the process of decoding it. Because of this shift in communication load, we are faced with two alternatives: (1) changing the receptors, i.e. giving them more experience, and (2) changing the form of the message, i.e. providing different forms of the message for different grades of receptors. In the past the tendency was to insist on educating the receptors to the level of being able to decode the message. At present, however, in the production of all literature aimed at the masses the usual practice is to prepare different grades of the same message, so that people at different levels of experience may be able to decode at a rate acceptable to them. The American Bible Society, for example, is sponsoring three translations of the Bible into Spanish: one is of a traditional type, aimed at the present Evangelical constituency; another is of a more contemporary and sophisticated character, directed to the welleducated but nonchurch constituency; and a third is in very simple Spanish, intended especially for the new literate, who has usually had a minimum of contact with Protestant churches. Communist propagandists, it may be noted, have engaged in a similar scaling of translations of Lenin and Marx, making important adaptations for various grades of background and educational experience. If the communication load is generally too low for the receptor, both in style and content, the message will appear insipid and boring. The failure of Laubach The Inspired Letters (a translation of the New Testament s Epistles from Romans through Jude) is largely due to this fact. It is possible, of course, to combine a low formal communication load with a relatively high semantic load (especially by the inclusion of allusions) and to produce thus a very acceptable piece of literature or translation. The KingsleyWilliams translation of the New Testament in Plain English is an example of a translation which purposely employs a limited vocabulary and simple grammatical constructions, but in which the semantic content is not watered down or artificially restricted. In the field of literature, Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Poo, and, in contemporary cartoon strips, Pogo and Peanuts, provide examples of quite low formal communication loads combined with high semantic loads. On the highest level, the power of Jesusteaching by means of parables exemplifies this combination of low formal communication load with superbly challenging semantic content. It is possible to produce a very acceptable translation while combining high formal and semantic communication loads, as has been done in the New Testament of the New English Biblean outstanding work of translation. From time to time any good literary production must of necessity pierce the upper limit of ready decodability; but again it must also drop below this limit in order to adjust to the periodicity which is a part of all normal human activity. A really successful translation, judged in terms of the response of the audience for which it is designed, must provide a challenge as well as information. This challenge must lie not merely in difficulty in decoding, but in newness of formnew ways of rendering old truths, new insights into traditional interpretations, and new words in fresh combinations. (pp. 1434.)

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Decoding ability in any language involves at least four principal levels: (1) the capacity of children, whose vocabulary and cultural experience are limited; (2) the doublestandard capacity of new literates, who can decode oral messages with facility but whose ability to decode written messages is limited; (3) the capacity of the average literate adult, who can handle both oral and written messages with relative ease; and (4) the unusually high capacity of specialists (doctors, theologians, philosophers, scientists, etc.), when they are decoding messages within their own area of specialization. Obviously a translation designed for children cannot be the same as one prepared for specialists, nor can a translation for children be the same as one for a newly literate adult. Prospective audiences differ not only in decoding ability, but perhaps even more in their interests. For example, a translation designed to stimulate reading for pleasure will be quite different from one intended for a person anxious to learn how to assemble a complicated machine. (p. 158.)

Likewise in The Theory and Practice of Translation (1969) he wrote:


The priority of the audience over the forms of the language means essentially that one must attach greater importance to the forms understood and accepted by the audience for which a translation is designed than to the forms which may possess a longer linguistic tradition or have greater literary prestige. In applying this principle of priority it is necessary to distinguish between two different sets of situations: (1) those in which the language in question has a long literary tradition and in which the Scriptures have existed for some time and (2) those in which the language has no literary tradition and in which the Scriptures have either not been translated or are not so set in their form as to pose serious problems for revisers. As will be seen in Chapter 7, in which the basic problems of style are considered for languages with a long literary tradition and a well established traditional text of the Bible, it is usually necessary to have three types of Scriptures: (1) a translation which will reflect the traditional usage and be used in the churches, largely for liturgical purposes (this may be called an ecclesiastical translation), (2) a translation in the presentday literary language, so as to communicate to the welleducated constituency, and (3) a translation in the common or popular language, which is known to and used by the common people, and which is at the same time acceptable as a standard for published materials. (p. 31)

I have quoted so extensively from Toward a Science of Translating here because I want the reader to notice not only what is said but also what is not said by Nida in his discussion of the subject. The thing missing is any admission of the fact that meaning is lost in the versions that have a low communication load. By communication load Nida does not mean the total amount of information conveyed by the translation, but rather the rate at which information is conveyed, as he explains very carefully in the same chapter. To put it very simply and in my own terms, he maintains that the amount of information can be made equivalent by paraphrastic expansion of the translation. A low communication load conveys the same information at a low rate by extending its length. The only downside is, a

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version that does this will appear insipid and boring to educated people. In the passage quoted from The Theory and Practice of Translation he sends us to chapter 7 for an explanation of the need for three types of Scriptures. But there we find that the only reason for this is that different classes of people tend to prefer different styles of writing. It is only a matter of taste. (No explanation is given for the threefold division, but this seems rather arbitrary. Human beings do not just naturally fall into three classes. Why not four or five?) The reason for a traditional ecclesiastical translation is not explained, and we get the impression that it is merely a concession to the benighted people who insist upon having one. Another theorist of Nida s school, William Wonderly, sees no good reason why common language versions like the Good News Bible should not completely displace the more literal Church translations. He attributes the preference for more literal versions within the Church to a spirit of mindless traditionalism: common language translations are indeed excellent for church use, he says, wherever there is not a heavy pressure for the use 9 of a version which is hallowed by church tradition. Of course the Church translation is the one that causes serious problems for revisers, as Nida complains, because people will not allow it to be changed lightly; but by the same token it is the one most diligently read and studied by Christians. Nida never acknowledges any legitimate place for tradition, gives no attention to the question of exegetical accuracy, sees no value in theological terms, and, indeed, he completely ignores all of the considerations I have raised in this book. Even the literary translations are to be judged purely in terms of the response of the audience. Nida constantly focuses on the need for versions in common or popular language. The very notion of a common language becomes rather problematic, however, when we find that Nida believes that no word ever has precisely the same meaning twice.
If the problem of describing the area covered by a particular linguistic symbol is difficult, the assigning of boundaries is even more so. The basic reason is that no word ever has precisely the same meaning twice, for each speech event is in a sense unique, involving participants who are constantly changing and referents which are never fixed. Bloomfield (1933, p. 407) describes this problem by saying that every utterance of a speech form involves a minute semantic innovation. If this is soand from both a theoretical and a practical point of view we must admit this to be a factit means that, in some measure at least, the boundaries of a term are being altered constantly. At the same time, of course, no two persons have exactly the same boundaries to words. That is to say, for precisely the same referent one person my use one linguistic symbol and another person a different symbol. The interminable arguments about terminology provide ample evidence that the boundaries of terms are not identical for all members of a speech community. Of course, there is a wide measure of agreement in the use of words; otherwise, human society could not function. Nevertheless, there are significant differences of word boundaries between semantic areas. (Toward a Science of Translating, p. 48)

He further states that no two persons ever mean exactly the same thing by the use of the same language symbols.

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In any discussion of communication and meaning, one must recognize at the start, each source and each receptor differs from all others, not only in the way the formal aspects of the language are handled, but also in the manner in which symbols are used to designate certain referents. If, as is obviously true, each person employs language on the basis of his background and no two individuals ever have precisely the same background, then it is also obvious that no two persons ever mean exactly the same thing by the use of the same language symbols. (ibid., p. 51)

Here we see the foundations of our modern Bible Babel. For there is almost nothing that cannot be defended in one way or another, on the grounds that it may be convenient or pleasing to some hypothetical group of peoplewhose limitations are just accepted, rather than challenged and expanded by teaching. There is something plausible about Nidas idea that different versions are appropriate for different sociological groups and also for different levels of knowledge within each group. It puts us in mind of the textbooks designed for different grades in school. Obviously a secondgrade text should be much simpler than a sixthgrade text. But in an educational setting like this, the texts are not translations of the same material in some other language, nor are they ever presented as such. (We note that Nida must go to the Communist propagandists to find a precedent for this questionable practice.) It is not just the verbal form of the material that changes from grade to grade, but also the content. There is no pretense of equality or equivalence. The subject matter becomes more challenging and complex. So the situation is not really comparable. And in fact a gradation of translations is not a viable option for congregational ministry. We do have Sunday school grades, youth ministries, smallgroup Bible studies, and new member classes; but the adult members of the congregation cannot be divided into grades, like students in a school, and given different versions of the Bible that are adapted to their level of biblical knowledge. Although their knowledge is unequal, they must be treated as one bodya sociological unitand the teachers must help everyone to understand the Bible through an accurate translation, rightly dividing the word of Truth. Nida never did acknowledge the need for such a painstaking ministry of the Word. We even find in his books such disparaging remarks concerning the role of teachers as this:
in some instances Christian scholars have a certain professionalism about their task and feel that to make the Bible too clear would be to eliminate their distinctive function as chief expositors and explainers of the message. In fact, when one committee was asked to adopt some translations which were in perfectly clear, understandable language, the reactions of its members were, But if all the laymen can understand the Bible, what will the preachers have to do? (The Theory and Practice of Translation, p. 101.)

An ecclesiastical setting is in view here, but Nida goes out of his way to deny any place for an ecclesiastical translation in it. Instead, he explains that some teachers do not want to use the new paraphrastic versions for teaching purposes in the church because they are selfish obscurantists, who do not want their jobs eliminated by

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translators who make the Bible too clear. He tries to establish this slander with an anecdote (which he no doubt heard from one of the translators he had trained) in which certain perfectly clear and understandable renderings were rejected by a church committee. We have no way of knowing what the perfectly clear and understandable renderings were in this case, but considering all the problems we have seen in English versions produced according to Nidas recommendations, we can well imagine what sort of renderings were being rejected. Frankly, we find it hard to believe that any Christian could have said But if all the laymen can understand the Bible, what will the preachers have to do?unless perhaps it were a joke, designed to make the translator of the rejected version feel better. But again, Nida presents it in all seriousness as the real reason why so many teachers prefer to use a more literal ecclesiastical version in ministry. Regarding the use of an ecclesiastical translation for liturgical purposes, we find that Nida does not understand why it should be so. Elsewhere he argues that a version used for such a purpose must not be traditional, but should instead be especially dynamic and easy to understand:
The priority of the heard form of language over the purely written forms is particularly important for translations of the Bible. In the first place, the Holy Scriptures are often used liturgically, and this means that many more people will hear the Scriptures read than will read them for themselves. Second, the Scriptures are often read aloud to groups as means of group instruction If a translation is relatively literal (i.e.. a formal correspondence translation), it is likely to be overloaded to the point that the listener cannot understand as rapidly as the reader speaks. This is particularly true in the case of expository materials. For this reason it is not only legitimate, but also necessary, to see that the rate at which new information is communicated in the translation will not be too fast for the average listener. (Theory and Practice of Translation, pp. 2830.)

Now as for the use of the Bible in study groups, it will not be necessary for me to describe to those who have much experience of it the problems which arise from different people having different versions in front of them. We all know what happens. Someone reads a passage out loud, and others follow along in their own Bibles, in whatever version they may be, and the differences between the versions sometimes give rise to difficult questions. This problem is not severe when the different versions are all essentially literal, having only minor differences which are easily taken in stride. But I have often had to explain to people why so many dynamic renderings are incorrect. I have been involved for many years in group Bible studies, at which various versions were being used, among them the King James, the New American Standard, the New International, the English Standard Version, and others, all of which can be read together without much trouble. But when such a version as the New Living Translation is read, it is quite impossible for people to follow along in other versions. They soon lose track and look up from their Bibles in confusion. I have seen this several times in recent Bible study meetings. A dynamic equivalence version can only be used very extensively if everyone uses it. But this is out of the question. Nor is it even possible, because these versions come and go, and keep changing. The people who use them also come and go. They will

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buy their own Bibles, of course, and they will choose between versions for their own private reading; but a teacher must use a version that is not always going its own peculiar way. Even if I enjoyed some paraphrastic version, and wanted to use it in ministry, I know it would not be practical to use it much in the context of a Bible study. There is no way around it: a version that is used in common must be a relatively literal one. There is really no need for dumbing down the Bible in the context of the worship service, where a sermon is delivered for the very purpose of explaining the Word of God. Nor is there any reason for it in the context of a Sunday school or Bible study group, in which someone who is able to teach is doing it, as a workman who does not need to be ashamed. In the circumstances of our society, where so many Bible versions are competing, it is not enough for us evaluate them only according to the individual effect each may have in isolation from the others, because they do not really exist in isolation. They must also be evaluated according to the total effect produced by their presence together in society. If one effect of adding yet another dynamic version to the mix is to worsen the confusion experienced by laymen, then we cannot just ignore this problem. The confusion is in fact one of the effects of the version. But as a theorist Nida does ignore the problem, because in his theory the individual readers and the versions appear not in their realworld social context but only in an unreal theoretical state of isolation. Thus, the practical realities of ministry, and indeed social realities in general, are left out of account. Although our problem is not acknowledged by Nida, it is a real problem that arises every day for many people who are trying to teach or learn what the Bible says about all sorts of things. Recently I happened to read the daily Billy Graham column that appears in my local newspaper, which gives brief answers to questions about Christian teachings. The question today was, Did people in Old Testament times go to heaven when they died? In his answer Graham says yes, and to prove it he quotes the familiar words of King David in Psalm 23 words of hope and confidence in Gods promise of eternal life. He wrote, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23:4,6). This precious Psalm should be stored in the heart of every Christian. But what I have in mind here is a situation where the reader of Grahams column turns to the passage in the Bible he has at home. If that happens to be an edition of the New American Bible (NAB) published between 1970 and 2011, he will find: Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil, for you are at my side And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come. Likewise in the Revised English Bible he will read, Even were I to walk through a valley of deepest darkness I should fear no harm and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD throughout years to come. And now in the 2011 revision of the NIV we find in verse 4 the darkest valley. It will be noticed that in this rendering there is no reference to death or the life beyond. So what will the reader make of this? The very words which Graham depends upon for his point are altered so that the point cannot be made. It appears now that even the final words of the twentythird Psalm cannot be quoted without fear of contradiction. In verse 4 the translators have interpreted the Hebrew word ( vocalized tsalmaveth in the Masoretic text) in a weakened sense, so that

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valley of the shadow of death becomes only a dark valley. This is defensible if we accept a different vocalization of the word (tsalmuth), but the opinion of the translators here was certainly influenced by the common liberal view that the writers of the Old Testament did not look forward to any life beyond the grave, in stark 10 contradiction to Grahams view of the matter. And it is for the same reason that they have interpreted the final phrase ( lit. to length of days) rather minimally as for years to come instead of forever more. 11 On the other hand, the traditional translation cited by Graham assumes that the Psalmist has in view not only this life but also the life to come. Although I believe the traditional rendering of these words is better, that is not my point just now. The point is, the newspaper readers who want to know which representation of the meaning is more correct have no way of settling the matter independently. The difference cannot even be explained without reference to the Hebrew and without bringing in some important hermeneutical questions as well. In the end the layman will have to rely upon a teacher or commentator to explain the options and recommend one or the other. So Nidas attempt to eliminate the role of the teacher must ultimately fail, not only in the context of the Church but also in society at large. A really adequate theory of translation would not be blind to this. In addition to breaking society up and dissolving it into individuals, even the stages of the average persons education are isolated from one another in Nidas theory. Superficially this does not appear to be the case, because in one paragraph quoted above, Nida states that The ability to decode a particular type of message is constantly in process of change, not only as the result of an increase in general education, but especially through specific acquaintance with the particular type of message. He then speaks of the desirability of having different grades of the same message (Toward a Science of Translating, p. 143). Further on he acknowledges the fact that Obviously a translation designed for children cannot be the same as one prepared for specialists, nor can a translation for children be the same as one for a newly literate adult (p. 158). We have compared this to educational methods. But we find in his works no recognition of the need to move from one grade to the next, nor any explanation of why a literate adult should not be using a version prepared for children. He even avoids saying this outright in his discussion of grades. The reason is, he will not admit on a theoretical level that there must be a loss of meaning in any dynamic equivalence version. Obviously there can be no equivalence if the different grades of versions are not even theoretically equivalent, and so they must be regarded as equivalent. But how can that be? Only if equivalence is defined purely in terms of the response of the audience, so that one is not so concerned with matching the receptorlanguage message with the sourcelanguage message, but with the dynamic relationship (p. 159). I would emphasize this point because I think most people looking at this range of versions from a commonsense standpoint will assume that in Nidas scheme of things the different grades are provided so that people can begin with something easy and progress to something more accurate. But that is precisely what he cannot say, and does not say. He cannot admit a difference in accuracy. Indeed he is compelled to redefine accuracy, so that it means nothing other than a Nidaesque equivalence:

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Actually, one cannot speak of accuracy apart from comprehension by the receptor, for there is no way of treating accuracy except in terms of the extent to which the message gets across (or should presumably get across) to the intended receptor. Accuracy is meaningless, if treated in isolation from actual decoding by individuals for which the message is intended. Accordingly, what may be accurate for one set of receptors may be inaccurate for another, for the level and manner of comprehension may be different for the two groups. Furthermore, comprehension itself must be analyzed in terms of comprehending the significance of a message as related to its possible settings, i.e. the original setting of the communication and the setting in which the receptors themselves exist. (p. 183)

Thus the whole concept of accuracy becomes as slippery and subjective as everything else in this body of theory. It may be thought that Nida has a point here, in saying that the accuracy of a translation must be measured by the receptors comprehension of it. But his point has validity only after we have accepted the assumption implicit in the phrase decoding by individuals for which the message is intended. The thing in view here is not translation into languages, such as German, French, English, etc., but translation into the infinitely variable idiolects of individuals. If this is the goal of translation, then it follows that accuracy can only be defined with reference to decoding by individuals, as Nida says. But if the goal of the translation is to transfer the meaning from one language to another, and the language of the receptor is defined not as his personal idiolect but as the language of his country, then we are able to speak of accuracy in a more objective way. The national language is everywhere a matter of public record. It is taught in schools, and described in dictionaries and grammars. It is embodied in the literature of the nation. When judged by that fixed standard, accuracy is not a subjective and personal matter. If an English version uses the word grace as an equivalent for the Greek , and someone does not understand the meaning of the word grace, he might after all look it up in the dictionary. It is in fact an accurate English translation of whether he understands it or not. This is how accuracy has always been understood in the past. Within the framework of Nidas theory, from the standpoint of his individualized view of language, it might indeed be said that if a man does not understand the word grace, then the word is not part of his language. But we would insist that it is part of his language, if his language is English. We note also that Nida propounds a rather novel view of comprehension when he states that comprehension itself must be analyzed in terms of comprehending the significance of a message as related to its possible settings. A related assertion is made in The Theory and Practice of Translation, where he says concerning intelligibility that it is not to be measured merely in terms of whether the words are understandable and the sentences grammatically constructed, but in terms of the total impact the message has on the one who receives it. (p. 22.) By these statements he apparently means that the receptors comprehension includes his understanding of the contemporary relevance of the text, or what may be called its significance for modern times, and even the intelligibility of the translation cannot be measured without somehow factoring in such intangible and invisible effects as the total impact on the receptors, both ancient and modern. The translator is thus made

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responsible for knowing what is really unknowable, and presenting the text so that its (divinely intended?) transcultural applications may be comprehended by everyone straight off the page of the version. According to Nida, any talk of accuracy is meaningless apart from this definition of comprehension. Is it necessary for us to point out that these definitions are outlandish, and that they place impossible demands upon the translation? For what version has ever done this, or ever could do such things? There is something fantastic and even megalomaniacal about Nida vision of the role of translators and translations, in s which the whole process of religious education and spiritual development is taken up into versions produced by omnicompetent translators. Nida refusal to admit the need for education is not strange when the theory is s really understood. Linguistic education, at least, must be excluded on a theoretical level if all languages, dialects and idiolects are to be regarded as equal. In chapter 16 of this book I traced the origin of this concept, pointed out its unscientific nature, and emphasized the fact that among the more careful linguists it is nothing more than an assertion of potential equality. But Nida theory depends upon the idea of an s absolute and actual equality, not only between different languages, but also between different dialects and registers of the same language. This concept arose as an absolutist development of the linguistic equality notion, and it gained currency among American linguists around 1930. An early example is in Leonard Bloomfield s Language (New York, 1933), an introduction to linguistics which was used as the standard textbook on the subject in American universities for many years. Bloomfield writes:
For the native speaker of substandard or dialectical English, the acquisition of standard English is a real problem, akin to that of speaking a foreign language. To be told that one habits are due to ignorance or s carelessness and are not English, is by no means helpful. Our schools sin greatly in this regard. The nonstandard speaker has the task of replacing some of his forms (e.g. I seen it) by others (I saw it) which are current among people who enjoy greater privilege. An unrealistic attitudesay, of humilityis bound to impede his progress. The unequal distribution of privilege which injured him in childhood, is a fault of the society in which he lives. Without embarrassment, he should try to substitute standard forms which he knows from actual hearing, for those which he knows to be substandard. In the beginning he runs a risk of using hyperurbanisms; such as Ihavesawit (arising from the proportion I seenit:Isawit=Ihaveseenit : x). At a later stage, he is likely to climb into a region of stilted verbiage and overinvolved syntax, in his effort to escape from plain dialect; he should rather take pride in simplicity of speech and view it as an advantage that he gains from his nonstandard background. (p. 499)

The presence of an ideology here is plain to see. We find value judgments about several things. Instead of just stating the fact that in English we have a formal and traditional variety called standard English, and describing its history, features and purposes in an objective way, Bloomfield rather dismissively characterizes it as a form of language current among people who enjoy greater privilege, and expresses disapproval of this whole sociolinguistic system of things, on ideological and even

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moral grounds. He would like to encourage the substandard speaker to take pride in his nonstandard colloquial language, while actually pitying him for his linguistic disability. He expresses the view that we cannot expect people to become proficient in standard English, and he even compares acquisition of standard English to speaking a foreign language. People will only make themselves ridiculous, like incompetent foreigners, by trying too hard. The whole situation is somehow a a fault of the society, in which educators sin greatly, and so forth. This may appear very noble and democratic in spirit, but the alleged problem is certainly overstated, and we are left with the impression that Standard English serves no other purpose than to make uneducated people feel inferior. Bloomfield should have explained that traditional standards of language serve important cultural and linguistic purposes. We might compare Standard English with a uniform system of federal law which makes it possible for people of different states to make enforceable contracts across state lines. Without such a code of law, the welfare of the whole country will suffer. Likewise the promotion of a common language will have cultural benefits, and there can be no common language without traditional standards. Even when we recognize that the established forms of a language are purely and simply a matter of custom, and ultimately arbitrary, that should not lead us to think that formal standards are dispensable. They are both arbitrary and indispensable. Law and order is as necessary in language as it is in the political and economic realms. It promotes continuity and community. When there are no standards held in common, the linguistic community deteriorates, and everything 12 that depends upon our ability to communicate ideas declines. The decomposition of the national language not only separates contemporaries from one another, but also the generations. If we might use again the analogy between language and law, the point is well made by Edmund Burke in his ReflectionsontheRevolutioninFrance (1790):
But one of the first and most leading principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated, is lest the temporary possessors and liferenters in it, unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors, or of what is due to their posterity, should act as if they were the entire masters; that they should not think it amongst their rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inheritance, by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society; hazarding to leave to those who come after them, a ruin instead of a habitationand teaching these successors as little to respect their contrivances, as they had themselves respected the institutions of their forefathers. By this unprincipled facility of changing the State as often, and as much, and in as many ways as there are floating fancies or fashions, the whole chain and continuity of the commonwealth would be broken. No one generation could link with the other. Men would become little better than the flies of a summer.

We have only to change one word to make the application: substitute Language for State. And it brings to mind the claim made in one Bible version preface s quoted above, that Each generation needs a fresh translation of the Bible in its own language. The language referred to here is presumably a form of colloquial English that lasts only one generation. But it took centuries for the words grace,

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righteousness, repent, faith, blessed, and Christ to accumulate all the connotations that make them so meaningful to Christians. Will these words now be unceremoniously ditched and forgotten by a vain generation that prefers the common language of the moment? That would be to cut off the entail, and commit waste on the inheritance of our Christian language. The only Common Language that is adequate for speaking of these things is the one we have in common with our fathers.

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24. PowerPoint Midrash


Until recently most people who attend church were not even aware of the existence of most of these new versions. But in the past ten years, many preachers in the evangelical churches have been using canned sermon series that come with Power Point slides, and these slides often use dynamic equivalence versions for Scripture quotations. In this they are following the example of Rick Warren, author of the wildly popular Purpose Driven line of commercial products. I have seen some renderings on these slides which almost make me despair, they are so bad. (Some of the examples I have used in this book first came to my attention in this way.) But people in the congregation who are not very familiar with the Bible will have no idea how inaccurate those renderings are. Just twenty years ago it was normal for people in most evangelical churches to bring their Bibles to church. Their pastors would ask them to open their Bibles to the passages quoted in the sermon, and would even wait for them to find the place. It might have been unnecessary when the point being made was very simple, but there are several good reasons for it. First, as Tyndale observed, I had perceived by experience, how that it was impossible to stablish the lay people in any truth, except the scripture were plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue, that they might see the process, order, and meaning of the text. 1 People are much more likely to understand a verse if they look at the context of the verse in their Bibles. Second, it keeps their attention from wandering. Third, many people learn better when they both hear and see the words. Fourth, it encourages them to make use of their own Bibles. And last but not least, it keeps the preacher honest. But unfortunately it seems that the Power Point slides are bringing an end to this excellent Scottish 2 fashion, of keeping a Bible in hand during the sermon, as John Broadus called it. Recently I was listening to a sermon in which the preacher wanted to quote a verse from a paraphrastic translation to make his point, but, not having a slide for it, he felt the need to say, Dont turn to it in your Bibles, just listen to this! Whatever his reason was for saying this, I think we are in trouble when people are being told not to open their Bibles. In another sermon I recently heard, the preacher put the following passage from the NewLivingTranslation on the screen:
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David ancient home. He s traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiance, who was obviously pregnant by this time. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn. (Luke 2:1 7)

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Now, of all the things that might be said about this passage, the preacher chose to focus on the supposed lack of hospitality shown by the innkeepera person not mentioned in the narrative. The preacher introduced this character by referring to the melodramatic form the narrative usually assumes in a Christmas pageant, in which the innkeeper behaves rudely; but he pointed out that there is a scriptural basis for it in the word obviously before pregnant. The innkeeper must have noticed Mary condition, he said, because it was obvious. The rest of the sermon s was a lesson on the obligation to show hospitality to those in need, especially now during the Christmas season. It was a good sermon on that subject. However, I noticed that the one word that the preacher used as the basis of his whole exposition was a word that had been added gratuitously by the translation, without any warrant in the original. And in fact the sermon removed attention from the narrative focus s on Christ, whose lowly birth in a stable represents the amazing condescension of our God. Blaming it on the innkeeper misses the point. This method of handling Scripture resembles the ancient midrash of Jewish expositors, in which the biblical narrative is embellished by the invention of characters and incidents that are more convenient for the expositor moralizing s than the narrative itself. Usually some verbal detail of the text is exploited to provide an ostensible basis for the midrash, but, as this example illustrates, the midrashic interpretation was often tangential or even irrelevant to the purpose of the biblical passage that was used as a springboard. In late antiquity, the Aramaic translations of the Bible commonly used in the synagogues (called Targums) tended to reflect and facilitate the most popular midrashic treatments of Scripture, by adding words that gave the traditional midrash a stronger basis in the text. This is precisely what the editors of the NewLiving Translation have done in this case. Or rather, this is what Ken Taylor did in the LivingBible, and his rendering was retained by the editors of the NLT revision. Taylor inserted obviously here to suggest that someone observation of Mary condition was pertinent, as in the s s Christmas pageant version of the story. So the preacher inferences from the s translation were natural enough. Would a more literal version have prevented this? Perhaps not. I think true exposition of the Scriptures depends almost entirely upon the wisdom of the preacher, and a competent preacher does not depend upon any Bible version. He ought to be in the habit of applying himself to the original. But if he does depend upon versions, he would not be wise to put his trust in dynamic equivalence. In one respect the example just cited is unusual, in that seven consecutive verses were put on the screen. It is more usual to see only one at a time, and I think the dynamic versions are often used because they lend themselves to this kind of atomistic quotation. The modern expositor, instead of having to quote a complex thirtyword sentence for the sake of just one phrase, can now find a dynamic version that chops the sentence up into three bitesized pieces of only ten words each. The fragmentation of the original sentence can do wonders for the interpretation and application of its pieces. There is no more messy context to get bogged down in. One can even search in a variety of paraphrastic translations for favorite words and phrases one would like to emphasize, using a computer to find

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them,asWarrendidforhisPurposeDrivenbooks.Thebeautyofusingacomputer program for this kind of work is that the searchresults window will even rip the versesoutoftheircontextsforyou.Justselect,copyandpastethepiecesyouneedon aslide,andyouarereadytoproveanything.Thisatomistictreatmentofthewords ofScriptureisalsoverymuchinthespiritofancientJewishmidrash.Peoplewhodo not compare the preacher remarks with a decent Bible translation, and have only s theversesofaTargum dangledbeforetheireyes,willbenonethewiser.

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25.LossofAuthority
How can you say that the Law of the LORD is with us? (Jeremiah8:8) ItwasnocoincidencethatthefirstEnglishBiblewasproducedinatimeofcrisis, theperiodknownastheGreatSchism (13781417)duringwhichrival popesstrove for supremacy over Western Christendom. There was a pope in Rome, and one in Avignon. In 1409 a third pope was elected by cardinals meeting at Pisa. Christians everywherebegantowonderhowthePopecouldbeseenastheultimateauthorityin the Catholic Church when there are three of them, all duly elected by cardinals, excommunicatingoneanother.Inthemidstofthiscrisisofauthority,JohnWycliffe steppedforwardwithaBible,anddeclaredthatScripturealoneshouldberegarded astheultimateauthority,andthestandardagainstwhichallteachingsandpractices weretobejudged.HetranslatedtheBibleintoEnglishsothatevenlaymenmightbe able to read what is written in God Law, as opposed to the canon law of the s Romanhierarchy. A century later Martin Luther renewed this teaching of Wycliffe, and ever since, evangelicalProtestantshaveemphasizedthesupremeauthorityoftheBible.In1849 oneprominentevangelicalministerintheChurchofEnglandwrote:
IwouldtoGodtheeyesofthelaityofthiscountryweremoreopenon this subject. I would to God they would learn to weigh sermons, books, opinions, and ministers, in the scales of the Bible, and to value all accordingtotheirconformitytotheword.IwouldtoGodtheywouldsee thatitmatterslittlewho saysathing,whetherhebeFatherorReformer, Bishop or Archbishop, Priest or Deacon, Archdeacon or Dean. The only questionis,IsthethingsaidScriptural?Ifitis,itoughttobereceivedand believed. If it is not, it ought to be refused and cast aside. I fear the consequences of that servile acceptance of everything which the parson says,whichissocommonamongmanyEnglishlaymen.Ifearlesttheybe ledtheyknownotwhither,liketheblindedSyrians,andawakesomeday tofindthemselvesinthepowerofRome.Oh!ThatmeninEnglandwould only remember for what the Bible was given them! I tell English laymen that it isnonsensetosay,as some do, thatitis presumptuous tojudge a minister steachingbytheword.Whenonedoctrineisproclaimedinone parish,andanotherinanother,peoplemustreadandjudgeforthemselves. Bothdoctrinescannotberight,andbothoughttobetriedbytheword.I charge them above all things, never to suppose that any true minister of theGospelwilldislikehispeoplemeasuringallheteachesbytheBible.1

The minister was J.C. Ryle, who went on to become a bishop himself. Unfortunately, his views were not shared by many bishops in the Anglican church, but I wish to point out that when Ryle thinks of for what the Bible was given he thinks of an authoritative standard by which all things are weighed, judged, and tried.IwonderhowmanyevangelicalstodaythinkoftheirEnglishversionsinthese terms.

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TodayweareinthemidstofacrisisofauthoritythatgoesdeeperthantheGreat SchismofthePapacy.NowwehaveaschismoftheBibleitself.Theclashofversions has provided more than enough excuse for unstable modern people to reject teachingsoftheBiblehereandthere.Asone liberalscholarobservedlongago,the multiplication of versions in itself tends to subvert, in the popular mind, the idea thatthetextisverballyinspired.
The work which a translation does unconsciously is often the most far reaching. We wish to emphasize the importance of these considerations. The partisans of a verbal inspiration are right in maintaining that their view has been shaken in the public confidence by no other argument so muchasbytheappearanceoftheRevisedVersionin other words.Itcalled theattentionofallpatentlytothefactthatnoversionwasauthorizedby canonseitherofthehumanorthedivine.Howsignificantastepthisnew insightwasintheswiftforwardmovementofthelasttwentyyearswehave failed to appreciate. It was really a popular emancipation from that literalism which could hold its ground only where there was but one translation of the Bible. Yet this result was no purpose of the English revisers. In a like unconsciousness these recent translators are surely achieving.2

Itisbecomingarealproblemforpastorsandteachers.OnecollegecourseItookin EnglishliteraturedealtwiththetranslationsoftheBible,andawomanintheclass gaveapresentationonthesubject,inwhichsheobserved:Myhusbandkeepssaying the Bible teaches this and that, but now that I know how many different versions therehavebeen,Icansay,which Bible?Sheratherlikedtheideathattheversions disagree. That was in a secular academic setting thirty years ago, but the attitude may now be found in the churches. Not long ago in one Bible study meeting at a Presbyterian church I had occasion to mention the authority of the Bible, and one woman there immediately piped up: Yes, but what version? And whose interpretation?Itwasaverygoodquestion,but,likePilatewhenheaskedwhatis truth? shedidnot wantan answer. She askedthequestion because shethought it wasunanswerable.ManypeoplewhoprofesstobeChristianstodaydonotwantan authoritativetext,orindeedanyauthorityoverthem. InevangelicalchurchesthedeclineoftheBible sauthorityisnotsignaledbydirect challenges like this, but there has been a real decline of interest in the Bible as an authoritative text.TheemphasisisnowshiftedfromwhattheBibleteachestohowit makespeoplefeel. Probablyeveryonewhohasbeenraisedinan evangelical church has heard at one time or another the encouragement to read the Bible thatgoessomethinglikethis:Whydoyounot read your Bible? If someone sent you a love letter, would you leave it unread? Well, the Bible is God love letter to you, and so on. I s havenotused thisexhortationmyselfbecause, asidefromthefactthatitisoffputtingtomen and appeals only to women, it is simply false.

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Anyone who begins to read the Bible from the first page will find out soon enough that it is anything but a love letter. It is more like a combinationhistorybookandcodeoflaw;and even the prophetic books which do contain some few passages which might be compared to love letters (e.g. Hosea 2:19) are in general muchmorelikeareadingoftheRiotActthana Valentine.Thereisagoodreasonforthis.ThecanonofScripturewasshapedbythe purposeofprovidinganauthoritativeTorah andDiatheke forthepeopleofGod.The overarching purpose is to disclose the will of God, and to provide instruction in righteousness, as indicated by Paul: whatever was written in former days was writtenforourinstruction(Romans15:4)andAllscriptureisgivenbyinspirationof God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,thatthemanofGodmaybecomplete(2Tim.3:16). This is obvious enough to those who have studied it. The Bible is mostly an anthologyofbooksthataredesignedtoinstruct,warnandexhort.Thewholeideaof thecanon wastosetapartacollectionofauthoritative books.Manyedifyingbooks havebeenwritten,andcontinuetobewritten;butthe canonicalbooksofthe New Testament were first separated from the general run of Christian literature and identifiedasScripture sothattheymightserveasatouchstoneforjudgingdoctrine. Theywerenotselectedwithanyothereffectinmind.Butevidentlymostpeopledo notcaremuchforauthority,doctrine,orinstructioninrighteousness;theycannotbe inducedtoreadtheBibleifitispresentedinthoseterms.Mostpeoplewouldmuch rather enjoy a narcissistic emotional experience of the kind provided by romantic movies and sentimental songs, and so the Bible is presented as something which mightalsoprovidesuchanexperience. This has certainly had an effect on how the Bible is translated in some recent versions.ItmaybeseenmostclearlyinthegushinglanguageoftheLiving Bible and New Living Translation (e.g.Romans1:7,dearfriendsGodlovesyoudearly,andhe has called you to be his very own people). One suspects also that the heavy emphasisonthesupposedneedforcommonlanguageislargelycausedbyadesire tomakethewholetoneofthebiblicaltextlessformalandmoreintimate,letussay, if not exactly sentimental. The idea here seems to be that, if Jesus is not precisely yourlover,hemightatleasttalklikeyourfamiliarfriend.Ihopeitisclearfromwhat IhavewrittenearlierthatIamnotinsensitivetoemotionaleffectsofstyle.Mymain pointinchapter15wasthatthecommonlanguageversionsavoidthepoeticdiction ofScripturethatsetsthemindinaflame,andmakesourheartsburnwithinus,as Addison describes it. The noble thoughts that breathe, and words that burn are very importantto the purposes ofthe Bible. However, one cannot makeup for the loss of truly noble and impressive language by an application of cheap semantic perfume, sprinkling words like marvelous and dearly here and there to sweeten thestyle.IdonotthinkIamaloneinsayingthattheeffectofthisuponmeisnottoo pleasant:Ifinditsmarmyandsomewhatnauseating.Inanycase,theBibleisnota love letter. It is intended to be received as authoritative Torah (instruction). It is

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Godwhospeaks.AgenerationwhichtriestotranslatethevoiceoftheAlmightyinto thecasualtalkoffriendsandneighborshaslostallsenseofthisBook sauthority. The tendency of our times is to magnify the value of spontaneous feelings and subjectiveimpressions,whilebelittlingtheneedforcarefulstudyandlearning.The triumph of this subjective approach to everything is nearly complete. The text has become just another medium to be used for stimulating emotions, and the whole questionofitsobjectiveaccuracyandauthoritydoesnotevenarise. Knowledge and even rational thought become less and less important in this atmosphere, and so language as a vehicle of thinking and instruction degenerates. Robert Nisbet in his book Twilight of Authority has described the linguistic tendenciesofourageverywell:
Asthereareagesofgrowthinlanguage,soarethereagesofdeclineand sterility.Twilightageshaveanumberoflinguistictraitsincommon.There isakindofretreatfromthedisciplinesandcomplexitiesoflanguage.Often it is more than retreat; it is actual repudiation of language and of the modes of thought which are inseparable from language of high order. Corruptions abound, along with cultivations of feeling and emotion in whichlanguage, assuch,isregardedwithdisdain,as apositivebarrierto expressionofwhatisimportant.Thedisciplineoflanguagecomestoseem littlemorethansterilecoercion.Undertheguiseofsearchforthesimple andtheuniversal,orthecolloquial,thereisalmostasabotageoflanguage s authority.Idonotquestionthatsomethingakintosabotageoftheoldis to be found in the linguistically creative ages, for language grows and prospersonwhatitcastsasideaswellasonwhatisadded.Butescapefrom theoldorsterileinthecreativeagesisinvariablysetinthelargerpattern of quest for new structures, words, phrases, metaphors, and other meanings. In the twilight periods, castingaside becomes its own justification.Insuchagesthereiscommonlyaturningtothechild,tothe noble savage, to the barbarian, to the demented, to all those for whom languageinanyrichsense is yettobeachievedortowhom itisinsome manner denied. An emphasis grows, even in literature and philosophy, upon the special kinds of wisdom which are thought to lie in the preliterateorsemiliterate.3

The growing use of dynamic equivalence versions in common language, along withthewholebodyoftheorythatseekstolegitimizeit,maybeseenasjustanother manifestationofthesetendencies.IndeedNisbet sparagraphheremightevenserve asasummaryofallthatIhavesaidaboutdynamicequivalenceinthisbook.Thereis the retreat from the disciplines and complexities of language, there is a repudiation of modes of thought which are inseparable from language of high order,alongwithcultivationsoffeelingandemotion.Thereisthesearchforthe simpleandtheuniversal,orthecolloquial.Thecastingasideoftheoldbecomes its own justification. There is a turning to the child and to the semiliterate. Nida theoretical writings begin to look like a mere epiphenomenon of the anti s authoritarianZeitgeist describedbyNisbet.ThisiswhattheBiblebeginstolooklike whenitisstrippedofitsauthority. OnefollowerofNidaexemplifiestheturningtothechildinamostexplicitway. On his blog he argues that Bible versions must be done in our mother tongue

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English,whichhedefinesasthekindofEnglishthatusesthelinguisticformsand expressionsthatyoulearnedatyourmother sknee. Bibleversionswhicharenot written in our mother tongue English typically impact us cognitively, and not emotively nor volitionally, he claims. So nothing but mother tongue English will do,becausewhenwespeakorwritetosomeoneelseforthepurposeoftryingto get them tofeelsomethingorchangetheirattitudeorbehaviororworshipGod moreintimately,weusenatural(mothertongue)Englishsyntax,lexicon,discourse flow,andrhetorictoimpactoneanotherwithmorethanjustourcognitivefaculties. 4 HemaintainsthatyouwillhavetodosomethingaboutwhatyoureadifyourBible is in English that uses the linguistic forms and expressions of your mother tongue, the English that you learned at your mother knee, because this is your English, s yourheartlanguage,andyoumustgetyourheartwarmedbyhearingGod sWord written in language that speaks most directly to your mind and heart, since it was 5 yourfirstlanguage. Althoughthis writerdescribeshimself asalinguist,hisargumentismuchmore sentimental than scientific, and his assertions do not square with my own observations about language, feelings, and behavior. I have observed that even children (especially boys) tend to ignore their mother tongue. A real change of s attitude andbehavioris generally brought about by other means(Prov. 22:15). And grownmendonotchangetheirbehaviorbygettingtheirheartwarmed. Farmore importanttoreformationoflifeandspiritualgrowthisabeliefintheauthorityofthe speaker, feelings of respect and admiration, an awakened sense of duty, fear of shame,andsoforth. Anditisnoteventruethatpeoplearetouchedbybanalforms of language, or that we use such language when trying to motivate people. Ordinarylanguage goes inone earandout the other. 6 Butattentionis gainedand emotions are stirred up by eloquent speakers (like the prophets) when they use languagethatisunusuallyformalandvergesonthepoetic,asAristotleinhisArt of Rhetoric observes, 7 because impressiveness depends largely on deviations from the idiom of ordinary talk. As an illustration of this, I give below one of my favorite passagesfromtheOldTestament,Deuteronomy26:510,intwoversions,andIinvite thereadertojudgewhichismoreimpressive.
Literalversion(ESV) AwanderingArameanwasmy father. Andhewentdowninto Egyptandsojournedthere,fewin number,andtherehebecamea nation,great,mighty,andpopulous. AndtheEgyptianstreatedus harshlyandhumiliatedusandlaid onushardlabor. Thenwecriedto theLORD,theGodofourfathers, andtheLORD heardourvoiceand sawouraffliction,ourtoil,andour oppression. AndtheLORD brought usoutofEgyptwithamightyhand andanoutstretchedarm,withgreat deedsofterror,withsignsand Mother sKneeversion(CEV) Myancestorwashomeless,an ArameanwhowenttoliveinEgypt. Therewereonlyafewinhisfamily then,buttheybecamegreatand powerful,anationofmanypeople. 6TheEgyptianswerecruelandhad nopityonus. Theymistreatedour peopleandforcedusintoslavery. 7 Wecalledoutforhelptoyou,the LORD Godofourancestors. You heardourcries;youknewwewere introubleandabused. 8Thenyou terrifiedtheEgyptianswithyour mightymiraclesandrescuedus fromEgypt. 9Youbroughtushere

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wonders. Andhebroughtus intothisplaceandgaveus thisland,alandflowingwith milkandhoney. Andbehold, nowIbringthefirstofthe fruitoftheground,which you,OLORD,havegivenme.

andgaveusthislandrich withmilkandhoney. 10Now, LORD,Ibringtoyouthebest ofthecropsthatyouhave givenme.

We are not evaluating these according to the criterion of easy intelligibility just now. Ifthatwerethemainissue,theCEVclearlyhassomeadvantages,becausethe mainpurposeofitstranslators was to make iteasy. Rather,weareaskingwhichof the two is most impressive. And I do not think anyone could say that the CEV is more impressiveorheart warming thantheESV here. Isthephrasemyancestor was homeless, an Aramean more emotive than a wandering Aramean was my father? I think not. I would point out in particular the difference between you terrified the Egyptians with your mighty miracles and rescued us from Egypt and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders. The latter is certainly more impressive. In fact every sentence of the ESV is more impressive. Why is that? Becauseithaspoeticqualities. IntheESV,thefirstsentenceacquirespoeticforceby the use of inverted syntax. A stately rhythmic quality runs through the whole passage. The diction is in a register definitely higher than ordinary talk. It has imagery and metaphors. For instance, there is the striking imagery of the mighty hand and outstretched arm. This is the rhetorical high point of the passage. Anyonereadingitaloudwouldcertainlyslowdownandraisehisvoiceatthispoint. It has real impact. It stirs up a feeling of overwhelming triumph and admiration. Thenwehavethewordswithgreatdeedsofterror,withsignsandwonders. These words have the cumulative force of hammer blows. But the effect of it is entirely eliminated in the weak and prosaic rendering of the CEV. There are several other thingswecouldmentionalso,suchastheCEV sprosaicrichinsteadofflowing, and crops instead of fruit of the ground. Any literary critic would notice these differences, and pronounce in favor of the ESV. Presumably the CEV translators thought their own paraphrastic rendering would be easier to understand. Perhaps theybelievedthattheintelligibilityofthesentenceintheeighthversewasimproved byrecastingitintwoclauseswiththeverbsterrifiedandrescued. Thiswouldalso be in keeping with Nida rule that it is grammatically more natural to express s actions with verbs. But the effect is much weaker than the literal rendering of the ESV. I find the same kind of thing over and over again, in every chapter, and in nearly every verse of this version. Emotional impact is the very thing it lacks most conspicuously. WehaveturnedasideherefromthemainpointIwishedtomakeinthischapter, however, which is that a loss of authority happens when the Bible is presented mainly as an instrument for emotional stimulation. The emotive qualities of the Biblecantakecareofthemselvesquitewellinaliteraltranslation,withoutbeingthe focus of a translator misguided efforts. And they will not be the center of a s translator attention if he is properly focused on the main purpose of the Bible, s whichistoprovidethepeopleofGodwithatranslationofadivinerevelationandan

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authoritative canon of teachings. The cognitive function of language observed in traditional criteria of accuracy cannot take a back seat while subjective emotive considerations drive the translation, if indeed this Book is being taken seriously as theWordofGod. Emotionalstimulation(ifthatiswhatthereaderreallyneeds)can alwaysbesuppliedbydevotionalbooksandsermons. ButthisBookalonecanserve as the ultimate authority for all things in the church. It should be translated with that principal objective in view, with especial care for accuracy. And we should especiallydisapproveofanylossordistortionofmeaningthatcanbedefendedonly byunsubstantialandsentimentalnotionsaboutheartlanguage,oranysuchthing. ToughmindeddemandsforprecisionandaccuracywillprevailwhenevertheBible is seen primarily as an authority. Regarding the work of John Wycliffe and his followers,F. Brucesays: F.
The earlier Wycliffite version is an extremely literal rendering of the Latin original. Professor Margaret Deanesly suggests that this version was made in accordance with Wycliffe conception of the Bible as the s codification of God law, something that ought to take the place of s contemporarycanonlawasthebasisofchurchorderandauthority. Inthe formulationoflawverbalaccuracyisoftheutmostimportance. Whilemen oflearningcouldstillusetheLatinBibleastheirlawbook,thelesslearned clericsandthelayleadersofJohnofGaunt santiclericalpartywouldhave at their disposal a strictly literal rendering of that lawbook. Besides, if recoursewerehadtothestandardglossesorcommentariesonthebiblical text,inwhicheachindividualwordwasannotated,therelevanceofthese glossestotheEnglishtranslationwouldbemoreapparentifthetranslation correspondedtotheVulgatewordforword. 8

Intheformulationoflawverbalaccuracyisoftheutmostimportancegoestothe heartofthematterhere. TheBibleregardedasacanonicalbookhastheforceoflaw, even in its nonlegal portions, because it is regarded as normativenot only for churchorderandauthority,butforallmatterspertainingtoChristianteaching,faith and practice. A translation to be used for proof, in accordance with this normative purposeoftheBible,cannotbeaparaphrastictranslation;itmustbeaversionthat faithfully represents every word of the original. One eighteenthcentury scholar, JamesMacknight,expresseditthus:
Theauthorissensiblethataliteraltranslationofthescriptures,suchashe hathattempted,cannotbesoelegantasoneinwhichmorelibertyistaken. But, as a free translation is in reality a paraphrase, rather than a translation,aversionofthescriptures,formedonthatplan,nevercanhave the authority in determining matters of faith and practice, which a translation of writings, acknowledged to be inspired, ought to have; and this seems to be the reason, why most of the learned men, who have translatedthescriptures,havepreferredtheliteral,tothefreemethod. In endeavouring, therefore, to make this translation as literal as possible, consistently with the genius of the English language, the author is sufficiently justified by the nature of the writings translated, and by the exampleofthosewhohavegonebeforehiminthelikeundertaking.9

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Theologians like to emphasize that the authority and inspiration of Scripture pertainonlytotheoriginaltextinHebrewandGreek,andnottoanytranslation. An English version of the Bible cannot be canonized and treated as fully equivalent to theoriginals. Butasapracticalmatter,thereisreallynousetalkingabouttheBible s authority if you are not going to give your people a reliable translation. If the versionsdisagreesharply,howisanyonetoknowwhattheWordofGodreallysays? One of Nida favorite concepts is functional equivalence. The translation, he s says, must use expressions that have the same communicative function in the receptorlanguageastheoriginalwordsdid,althoughtheymaybequitedifferentin form. But Nida sfocus ismyopicand narrowlylinguistic,dealingonly withisolated phrases. Hedoesnotapplytheconceptoffunctionalequivalencetotheversionasa whole. We should ask what sort of translation is really functionally equivalent to the canonical books of the Bible in the original languages, for persons with a high viewofScripture. Canamodernisticdynamicversionthatremainsinprintforless than twentyyears everserve the canonicalanddogmaticfunctions ofanabsolutely authoritative book? What are we to say about a whole group of such ephemeral translations, which not only disappear within a generation, but also compete and disagreewithoneanotherwhiletheyareinprint?Obviouslynoneofthemcanreally function as the Word of God. They all fail miserably of the venerableness which appropriately belongs to a book of God. 10 It should not be necessary to point out that a translation that has been revised five times in the space of forty years has practicallydisqualifieditself. Werequiresomethingmoresacredthanthat. Whatwe haveinmindissomethingliketheancientversioncelebratedintheLetter of Aristeas (second century B. . in which the following account is given of the version C ), s reception:
Whentheworkwascompleted,DemetriuscollectedtogethertheJewish populationintheplacewherethetranslationhadbeenmade,andreadit overtoall, inthepresenceofthetranslatorsAfter thebooks hadbeen read, the priests and the elders of the translators and the Jewish communityandtheleadersofthepeoplestoodupandsaid,thatsinceso excellentandsacredandaccurateatranslationhadbeenmade[ ],itwasonlyrightthatitshould remain as it was and no alteration should be made in it. And when the whole company expressed their approval, they bade them pronounce a curseinaccordancewiththeircustomuponanyonewhoshouldmakeany alterationeitherbyaddinganythingorchanginginanywaywhateverany ofthewordswhichhadbeenwrittenormakinganyomission. Thiswasa verywiseprecautiontoensurethatthebookmightbepreservedforallthe futuretimeunchanged.11

NowwegrantthatAristeas probablygivesmorelegendthanhistoryhere,butwe must credit theauthorwith knowingwhatit meansto have anauthoritative book! And we notice that he correlates authority with , exactness. The aura of canonicityisgainedbythetranslationbyvirtueofitsliteralaccuracy. LikewisePhilo of Alexandria explains in his treatise On the Life of Moses (first century A. . that D ) only such a literal translation, in which there is an exact and consistent wordfor wordcorrespondence,couldtrulyrepresentthesacredtext:

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And yet who is there who does not know that every language, and the Greeklanguageaboveallothers,isrichinavarietyofwords,andthatitis possibletovaryasentenceandtoparaphrasethesameidea,soastosetit forth in a great variety of manners, adapting many different forms of expressiontoitatdifferenttimes. Butthis,theysay,didnothappenatall in the case of this translation of the Law, but that, in every case, exactly corresponding Greek words were employed to translate literally the appropriateChaldaic words[ ' , ],beingadaptedwithexceedingproprietytothe matterswhichweretobeexplained;forjustasIsupposethethingswhich areprovedingeometryandlogicdonotadmitanyvarietyofexplanation, but the proposition which was set forth from the beginning remains unaltered, in like manner I conceive did these men find words precisely andliterallycorrespondingtothethings,whichwordswerealone,orinthe greatest possible degree, destined to explain with clearness and force the matterswhichitwasdesiredtoreveal.12

If these statements overestimate the literal accuracy of the Septuagint, the exaggerationonlyunderlinesthefactthatinancienttimesaversionwouldbeseenas reliableandauthoritativeonlyifitwerethoughttobealiteraltranslation. Wehave herethemostancienttheoryoftranslation,inwhichtheidealversionisdescribed. ItistruethatinthefirstcenturysomeratherparaphrasticAramaicrenderingsofthe biblicalbooksalsobegantodevelopbyaprocessoforaltradition,butthesehadto be memorized, because the Aramaicspeaking rabbis would not even allow such inferior substitutes for the original to exist as written texts. Eventually they were written down, and the least paraphrastic of them (Targum Onkelos) acquired authoritativestatusamongtheJewsoflatertimes,butonlyaftertherabbisbeganto saythatthisparticularversionoftheTorah hadbeengiventoMosesbyGodhimself onmountSinai. Idonotsaythatanyoneshouldacceptsuchextravagantclaims,but the perennial tendency to invest approved versions with nearcanonical authority arises from an urgent theological need to present in other languages the Word of Godinallitsauthority;andIwillventuretosaythatitisjustifiabletoauthorizea versionformostpracticalpurposes,whentheversionissufficientlyliteral. Whenan English translation is so servile to the original Hebrew and Greek that its readers must learn a biblical dialect of Englishin which the meanings of English words are enriched or modified by the Hebrew and Greek words that they representit mayevenbesaidthatthereadersareonthevergeoflearningtheoriginallanguage. People today who have a high view of Scripture quite naturally think along the samelinesasthosewhosoveneratedtheScripturesinancienttimes. Itisgenerally recognizedthatlinguisticlearningisindispensableforunderstandingtheScriptures, and despite the claims of our modern Targumists, the most understandable translationsareusuallydeemedtheleastaccurate. Sopeoplearequitewillingtoput up with difficulties, for the sake of accuracy, and they will put considerable effort into understanding a really accurate form of the text. They accept the fact that ministersareappointedtohelpthemunderstandandapplythetextcorrectly;butit is far better in their eyes to have a reliable translation that requires study, than to haveaneasyparaphrasethatisnot reliable. ThisistheattitudeexpressedbyLeland Ryken:

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Havinghadaquarterofacenturytoponderthematter,Ihaveconcluded thatthecriterionofreadability,whenofferedasacriterionbyitself,should be met with the utmost resistance. To put it bluntly, what good is readability if a translation does not accurately render what the Bible actually says? If a translation gains readability by departing from the original, readabilityisharmful.Itis,afterall,thetruthofthe Bible thatwewant.13

I do not see how anyone with a high view of Scripture can disagree with that statement, in principle. But there is a need for the principled and deliberate resistance that Ryken enjoins, because we are continually bombarded with the marketing propaganda issued by publishers who promise to make biblereading easier for the beginner. There is no wonder if ease and pleasure have found their advocates,asSamuelJohnsonobserved,inaneffeteagewhenparaphrasticliberties have been almost universally admitted. Our age does not need more of the same. Whatweneedisanattempttojustifyorrevivetheancientseverity.14 Wemightmollifythisbygrantingthatthemostliteralrenderingisnotalwaysthe bestoneforallreaders.Butpeoplewhousethemostreadilyunderstandableversions mustalsounderstandthatmanyaccommodationshavebeenmadefortheirsakein these versions, and they cannot have it both ways. Most people understand this intuitively. In any case, the new dynamic equivalence versions will never be acceptedasauthoritativebyeducatedpeople.Anyintelligentpersonwhotakeseven an hour to compare versions will realize soon enough that the text has been simplifiedandextensivelyprocessedinthesenewversions,andwillalsonoticethat theirinterpretationsfrequently disagreewithoneanother whichisreallyfatalto any claims of accuracy that have been made for them. Although they are easy to understand, they are just as easily dismissed as illegitimate. In short, they lack authority.TheywerenoteventranslatedwiththeauthorityoftheBibleinview.Even inmattersofstyletheyseemtoavoidgivingpeopletheimpressionthattheBibleis an authoritative book, by avoiding the kind of formal and dignified style that everyoneassociateswithauthority. Consequently, these version cannot be used effectively in ministries that emphasize the authority of the Bible. If a minister is going to use the Bible as an authority,byquotingittoprovehisassertionsinthepulpit,hehadbetterseetoit thattheversionhequotesisnotsomefunbuteasilydismissedparaphrase.Ifhefeels aneedtosay,Don tturntoitinyourBibles,justlistentothis,hehadbetternotbe tryingtoprovesomethingthatrequiresbiblicalsupport.

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26.ALowViewofInspiration
Biblical authority is closely connected with the concept of plenary inspiration. Historyshowsthatthesethingscannotbeseparated.Thosewhobelievethatthetext is fully inspired will insist upon its authority, asthe very Word of God. Those who think it is onlypartly inspiredhavealreadyputthemselves aboveit.Soweneed to askwhatviewofinspiration(ifany)isimpliedindynamicequivalence. Nida himself addressed this question in one place, and he observed that the ideology of dynamic equivalence is especially congenial to the socalled neo orthodoxviewofinspirationandauthority.
Onemustrecognize,however,thatneoorthodoxtheologyhasgivenanew perspective to the doctrine of divine inspiration. For the most part, it conceivesofinspirationprimarilyintermsoftheresponseofthereceptor, and places less emphasis on what happened to the source at the time of writing. An oversimplified statement of this new view is reflected in the oftenquotedexpression,TheScripturesareinspiredbecausetheyinspire me. Such a concept of inspiration means, however, that attention is inevitablyshiftedfromthedetailsofwordingintheoriginaltothemeans by which the same message can be effectively communicated to present day readers. Those who espouse the traditional, orthodox view of inspirationquitenaturallyfocusattentiononthepresumedreadingsofthe autographs. The result is that, directly or indirectly, they often tend to favor quite close, literal renderings as the best way of preserving the inspirationofthewriterbytheHolySpirit.Ontheotherhand,thosewho holdtheneoorthodoxview,orwhohavebeeninfluencedbyit,tendtobe freer in their translating; as they see it, since the original document inspireditsreadersbecauseitspokemeaningfullytothem,onlyanequally meaningful translation can have this same power to inspire presentday receptors.1

The truth of this can be illustrated with statements from several translators. James Moffatt,forinstance,saysthathisattemptstogivethemeaninginmodernEnglish were made easier by the fact that he is "freed from the influence of the theory of verbalinspiration"(PrefacetotheNewTestament,1913).J.B.Phillipswrites:
But before I begin my testimony as a translator I must make a few reservations. First, although I believe in the true inspiration of the New Testament and its obvious power to change human lives in this or any othercentury,IshouldliketomakeitquiteclearthatIcouldnotpossibly hold to the extreme fundamentalist position of socalled verbal inspiration. This theory is bound to break down sooner or later in the worldoftranslation.Thereareover1,100knownhumanlanguages,andit was during a brief spell of work for the British and Foreign Bible Society thatIlearnedoftheattemptstotranslatetheBible,oratleastpartsofit, intonearlyallofthesedifferenttongues.Ilearnedoftheextremeingenuity whichthetranslatormustusetoconveysenseandtruthwherewordfor

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wordtransmissionisoutofthequestion.Youcannottalktotribeswholive without ever seeing navigable water of our possessing an anchor for the soul.YoucannotspeaktotheEskimosoftheLambofGodwhichtaketh awaythesinoftheworld,orofChristbeingthetrueVineandofus,his disciples, being the branches! Such examples could, literally, be multiplied many thousands of times. Yet I have found, when addressing meetingsinthiscountryandinAmerica,thattherestillsurvivesaminority who passionately believe in verbal inspiration. It appears that they have neverseriouslythoughtthattherearemillionsforwhomChristdiedwho would find a wordforword translation of the New Testament, even if it were possible,frequentlymeaningless. Any man whohassense aswell as faithisboundtoconcludethatitisthetruths whichareinspiredandnot thewords,whicharemerelythevehiclesoftruth.2

Thelogicofthisargumentisnotentirelycleartous.ButevidentlyPhillipstakesit forgrantedthatanyonewhobelievesinverbalinspirationmustbeinfavorofliteral translation.Strangely,heseemstothinkthatGodcouldnothaveinspiredanything thatisnotimmediatelyintelligibletoEskimos. Robert Bratcherwho was Nida protg at the American Bible Society, and the s principal translator of the Good News Biblehas some bitter words for those who thinkthatthewordsoftheBibleareinspired:
Onlywillfulignoranceorintellectualdishonestycanaccountfortheclaim that the Bible is inerrant and infallible. To qualify this absurd claim by adding with respect to the autographs is a bit of sophistry, a specious attempttojustifyapatenterrorNotruthloving,Godrespecting,Christ honoringbelievershouldbeguiltyofsuchheresy.ToinvesttheBiblewith thequalitiesofinerrancyandinfallibilityistoidolatrizeit,totransformit intoafalseGodNooneseriouslyclaimsthatallthewordsoftheBible are the very words of God. If someone does so it is only because that personisnotwillingthoroughlytoexploreitsimplicationsEvenwords spokenbyJesusinAramaicinthethirtiesofthefirstcenturyandpreserved inwritinginGreek35to50yearslaterdonotnecessarilywieldcompelling or authentic authority over us today. The locus of scriptural authority is notthewordsthemselves.ItisJesusChristasTHEWordofGodwhoisthe authorityforustobeandtodo.3

It does not surprise us that Bratcher thinks no one seriously claims that all the wordsoftheBiblearetheverywordsofGod.Hisworkasaresearcherandtranslator at the liberaldominated American Bible Society would not have brought him into regularcontactwithanyonewhoespousesthisview. Dr.WilliamHull,whowasaprofessorandDeanofthegraduateschoolatSouthern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, noticed the theological implications of dynamic equivalence in remarks delivered to a meeting of the Association of BaptistProfessorsofReligion(ofwhichhewasPresident)onFebruary23,1968:
with the passing of the torch to younger hands, one notes a growing impatiencetogobeyondthetiredcautionsofanearliereraWecannot worry forever with the millennium, or verbal inspiration, or the Scofield Bible.Foranincreasingnumberofrestlessspirits,itistimetomoveon

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What are the implications of widespread SBC [Southern Baptist Convention] acceptance of the TEV [Today English Version]? To begin s with, we have here the employment of a much more daring translation theorythanthatadoptedbytheRSVOfcourse,SouthernBaptistsdonot yet realize all of this Shout it not from the housetops, but the TEV is clearlyincompatiblewithtraditionalnotionsofverbalinspiration,andthe theologies built thereon. It could be that Southern Baptists will embrace the TEV with their hearts before they grasp the implications with their heads.4

Hullseemstorelishthethoughtthatoldviewsofinspirationwillbeoverthrownby gradualsubversion,astheimplicationsofNida snewtheoriesoftranslationsecretly underminethetiredcautionsofanearlierera.Inhisview,notonlythetraditional notions of verbal inspiration, but also the theologies built thereon are made obsoletebydynamicequivalence. Whatcouldbeplainer?Icould add otherexamples.ButIthinkthisisenoughto establish the point. And I think it throws some light on the question of why the translators of the Contemporary English Version found the Bible way of talking s aboutinspirationsoextremelydifficultthatitcouldnotbetranslatedliterally.5 Nida protests that It would be quite wrong to assume that all those who emphasize fully meaningful translations necessarily hold to a neoorthodox view of inspiration;forthosewhohavecombinedorthodoxtheologywithdeepevangelistic or missionary convictions have been equally concerned with the need for making translationsentirelymeaningful. 6 Nida suseofthewordmeaningfulhereisvery misleading, because our main objection to dynamic versions is that they fail to representthemeaning.Butleavingthatmain point ononesideforthemoment,we gatherthathemeansthatsomepersonswhohaveadvocatedtheuseofidiomatic ormodernEnglishversionshavealsoheldtotheorthodoxviewofinspiration.That we freely concede.We think of WilliamF. Beck, for example,whose version of the NewTestamentisparaphrasticbutwhoseopinionsoninspirationseemimpeccable. But Beck version swarms with errors of interpretation, and we can only suppose s thathewasunabletodistinguishbetweenhisinterpretationsandtheactualwordsof Truth. The same is true of Kenneth Taylor, whose Living Bible is a monument of evangelical audacity. We also observe that not everyone who has favored literal translationbelievesinverbalinspiration.Someofthetranslatorsoftheexceedingly literalAmerican Standard Version (1901)didnotbelieveinverbalinspiration.7 Evena nonChristianmightfavoraliteraltranslationoftheNewTestamentsimplybecause heneedsanaccuratetranslationofitforacademicpurposes.Nevertheless,itremains truethatthosewhoespousethetraditional,orthodoxviewofinspirationtendto favor quite close, literal renderings as the best way of preserving the inspiration of the writer by the Holy Spirit, as Nida says, and it is surely significant that he describedthe neoorthodox opinion in termsthatlink it with his own theory(the responseofthereceptorbeingthereallyimportantthing).Theideologicalaffinities are clear enough, the connection is enthusiastically asserted by people who are promotingthetheory,andthewidespreadrejectionoforthodoxviewsofinspiration doeshelpexplainwhysomanytranslatorsandeditorsinourgenerationhavecared

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so little about accuracy or traditional exegesis, while professing to make the real meaningoftheBiblecleartothemasses.

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27. True Believers


In this work I have interacted chiefly with the writings of Nida and his coauthors. It may be said that in focusing on them I am behind the times, and criticizing ideas which have already lost their ascendancy in the field of academic translation theory. A catalogue of Books on Translation Theory and Practice presented online by the United Bible Societies describes The Theory and Practice of Translation by Nida and Taber as a book Of historical interest, as a reflection of an influential perspective on Bible translation from the 1950 s80 and with many insights of contemporary s, 1 s pertinence. A recent book about Nida influence published by the American Bible Society says that Nida theory and model of translation relied on several related s assumptions. First, all languages have equal value Second, Nida assumes that 2 anything that can be said in one language can be said in another So it is recognized that he relied upon questionable assumptions, as I have argued above. Theorists have moved on, and much of the literature of the field in the past twenty years really amounts to a reaction against Nida, especially his universalist assumptions about language. It is not hard to find theoretical linguists who sharply disagree with important elements of dynamic equivalence theory. I have myself emphasized this in the chapter on Recent Developments in Linguistics. But the influence of this theory continues to be very strong in popularlevel works, whose authors seem to be unaware of what is happening in the field and usually it is the most questionable aspects of the theory that are being invoked to defend renderings found in modern Bible versions. Recent developments in translation theory go in several directions, and some only amplify the worst ideas in Nida. It would be an understatement to describe Nida as influential in the training of missionary translators at the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL). For four decades, instructors there have been True Believers. SIL authors John Beekman and John Callow, in their Translating the Word of God (1974), follow Nida very closely. They want a translation that faithfully transmits the message of the original, 3 but the goal of clarity and ease of understanding is so emphasized that it becomes an overriding concern. Beekman even endorsed the idea that The Living Bible should serve as a model for translation projects around the world. 4 We get an idea of what applications of the method Beekman recommended from the companion volume prepared by one of his students, Mildred Larson. In this book, A Manual for Problem Solving in Bible Translation (Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1975) translators are taught to refashion James 2:24 a man is justified by works and not by faith alone as a man is justified by faith shown by his works and he is not justified by faith alone. (p. 34) This of course represents an attempt to explain James statement in such a way that it does not seem to be contradicting the teaching of Paul, in his epistles to the Romans and Galatians. As a teacher I approve of the effort to explain James and Paul in ways that show their essential agreement; but I think most people would agree that this is the duty of teachers with formal training in theology, not of translators, and I am not at all satisfied with the solution proposed by Larson. Justified by faith shown by his works does not really harmonize with Paul s

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teaching. A better solution would be justified by the kind of genuine faith that produces good works, or something similar. But an explanatory paraphrase like this belongs in the margin, not the text. The Geneva Bible note in this place explains that by faith only James means a false, barren and dead faith. This, by the way, is not really an exception to the rule that in the New Testament denotes more than a mere intellectual assent, because James is speaking of an empty pretension of faith, and thus modifies the word: What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but have not works? can that faith save him? (2:14, in which we understand the definite article preceding as having the demonstrative force of that.) The old saying, Faith alone justifies, but the faith which justifies is not alone is one that every Protestant teacher should know; 5 and we must also teach that in the epistles of Paul, does not refer to an idle faith that bears no fruit. Such explanations are probably best given not only in the margin but also in introductions to the epistles. It is a great mistake on the part of Nida followers to think that such explanations can s be made unnecessary, in versions designed for the uneducated, without doctrinal 6 note or comment. One has to wonder what sort of things the missionary translators have presented as the Word of God in the many tribal languages of Africa. A single heretic armed with this theory could do much damage. I once received a letter from a native pastor in Africa, who wrote of a nightmare created in his church by a version done by an organization called United Bible Societies. He did not describe the problem in detail, but I have seen enough of modern translation theory to know what is possible. Even wellmeaning people who are apparently orthodox in their theology will make mistakes that tend to support heterodox teachings at times. One must have an education in historical theology to be aware of the implications that have been drawn from different interpretations of phrases here and there in the Bible. The crash course in communication theory that people receive at places like SIL does not make them competent interpreters of the Bible. Larson MeaningBased Translation has been used as an introductory textbook at s SIL since 1984. 7 This book is not as technical and theoretical as Nida writings, and s it uses terminology preferred by Beekman and Callow, but it largely takes for granted the rightness of Nida ideas, and their appropriateness for Bible translation. 8 The s book often relies on the Chomskian concept that a covert deep structure or semantic structure exists somewhere beneath the overt surface structure of language. Larson describes the building up of the surface structure as a process in which there is a skewing of the constituent deep elements, which the translator must disassemble and set right again before attempting to translate. Reversal of the skewing results in a disintegration of complex sentences into a series of very short and simple sentences, in which all passive verbs are converted to active forms, all nouns which do not refer to physical objects are converted to verbs, and so on. This is said to be an intermediate phase of the translation process. The translator is supposed to go on to recombine the parts in ways that are natural for the receptors. But if the receptor language does not have syntactic and lexical resources comparable to those used in the surface structure of the original, or if the use of comparable constructions and words in that language is not natural enough for the intended readers, the parts are never reskewed and reassembled. Like Nida, Larson focuses

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almost exclusively upon methods of making the text easily understood by people who have little education and little experience of language outside the habits of daily speech. She does express in two or three places the idea that the translator should keep in mind the educational level of the intended audience, but she only does this to emphasize the importance of making the Bible easy for newly literate people to understand. For example:
One of the main concerns of the translator who is translating for indigenous minority cultures is the educational level of the audience for whom he is translating. If the translation is to be read by people with the level of primary education, the vocabulary chosen must be vocabulary which would be understood by those people. If, however, the translation will be used primarily by people who have a secondary education there will be a great deal of additional vocabulary which might be used. For example, more educated persons tend to have borrowed more words from other languages and use these as part of their own language. Persons with less education would probably not understand many of these borrowed words. (p. 148) Technical terminology may also have special connotative value for those who use them. [sic] Sometimes people will use more technical or more formal vocabulary in order to impress the audience with their own level of education or status in the community. The use of technical terms can be a way of speaking which will eliminate some people from understanding because they are not acquainted with the technical terminology. The translator must carefully keep in mind who the audience is for whom he is translating and not use vocabulary which is so technical that it will not be understood. A medical bulletin translated for doctors might use words like incision, lesion, tonsillectomy, and optometrist. The same information translated for rural people with less education might use cut, wound, have tonsils out, and eye doctor, respectively. (p. 149)

Here it is said that the translator must use simple vocabulary for people with little education, but might use more advanced vocabulary for the better educated. There is no suggestion that the translator should take full advantage of the readers linguistic abilities. Common sense tells us that this should be done, because it makes for greater accuracy. Obviously the richer and more precise vocabulary of educated people has its advantages. But this is never mentioned by Larson, probably because it is incompatible with the notion of linguistic equality. After Nida example, she s explains the use of technical terms only by the elitist motives that might lead someone to use them, and shows no awareness of what communicative purposes they are designed to serve among educated people. She is committed to the idea that Anything which can be said in one language can be said in another (p. 12), and, like Nida, she presses this idea beyond reasonable limits by adding that the language of the translation must not only be intelligible but also perfectly natural and ordinary for the readers. She does notice a fundamental problem:
If the source language text originates from a highly technical society, it may be much more difficult to translate it into the language of a nontechnical society. For example, to translate the Hebrew Scriptures into the languages of Papua New Guinea or the languages of the Amazon of South America, there will be many problems in vocabulary having to do

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with such things as priest, temple, sacrifice, and synagogue. When the cultures are similar, there is less difficulty in translating. This is because both languages will probably have terms that are more or less equivalent for the various aspects of the culture. When the cultures are very different, it is often very difficult to find equivalent lexical items. (p. 150)

But this downplays the problem that confronts the missionary translator. For jungle languages, it is more than difficult, it is often impossible to find words that can be called equivalent to the words of the original texts, because the words do not exist in the jungle languages. How can we translate a text that often mentions wine into the language of a people that is unfamiliar with intoxicating beverages? Before the arrival of European explorers in the eighteenth century, many indigenous cultures knew nothing about such drinks. I do not see how the word wine could be translated into the language of such a culture with any reasonable expectation of semantic equivalence. One must have at least a secondhand knowledge of the substance. Actually, one needs firsthand knowledge of it to fully understand any talk about this particular substance, but such knowledge has practically destroyed many indigenous cultures. In the more elaborate languages of civilized countries we are not so constrained by culture and personal experience, because we have acquired specific words for many things that are quite foreign to us, on account of our education. We are able to talk about shamans, komodo dragons, and cannibals without ever having encountered them. But the jungle languages are disadvantaged in this respect, because they cannot talk about things from other cultures with such precision. Sometimes they lack words that are necessary to talk about them even in the vaguest terms. In the face of such problems, clinging to some politically correct fantasy about how anything which can be said in one language can be said in another is useless. One must recognize at some point the need for education, and the development of a vocabulary that is suitable for the subjects of the foreign text. Larson ignores the fact that for bookless indigenous minority cultures any kind of education necessarily involves a transition to a more advanced state of culture, with corresponding linguistic developments. No doubt she shares Nida sectarian vision s of an indigenous Christianity that will fit in the jungle. But this vision is unbiblical and unrealistic. Christianity is emphatically not indigenous to the jungle culture. It is itself a kind of culture, which must be introduced from outside. If it is well and truly planted, it does not seek to fit in, it refashions and transforms everything around it. It is the very nature of the Church to be universal, transformative, and pointedly nonindigenous. Its purpose is to gather a holy people together into the one, indivisible body of Christ. So for any jungle culture, the arrival of Christian missionaries portends great cultural changes; and with the beginning of literacy these changes have already begun. The language will also be changed. Literacy by itself will either transform these languages or kill them. A language that cannot grow, develop, and adapt itself to the educational culture of the civilized world will only be abandoned by those who are being educated. The languages of Papua New Guinea are often mentioned by Larson. This country, on an island just north of Australia, is said to have 830 languages. The territory covered by many of them is not much larger than an average township in America, and I am told that these are not dialects but separate languages, whose speakers

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cannot understand one another. A missionary informs me that the clannishness of many of these tribes is beyond measure, and the fact that neighboring tribes cannot understand their speech has been a point of savage pride. But it can hardly be doubted what the future holds for these 830 proud languages. The place is crawling with missionaries, and a PidginEnglish has already established itself as the lingua franca of the island. I wonder if Larson and her colleagues at SIL have considered this whole situation carefully enough. A broader and longer view might suggest that the goal of producing an idiomatic Bible translation for each of the 830 languages is ill conceived. Larson, like her teachers, is always assuming that difficulties of comprehension are due to an insensitive use of language, and can be solved by condescending linguistic adjustments on the part of the author or translator. I find in her chapter on Information Load a particularly clear example of the failure to see the true nature of communication problems. She writes:
Notice the following example. Two texts about the turbine are given. The second is easier to read than the first. The information load is not as "heavy" in the second. (Example from Barnwell 1980: 123):
A. The steam turbine obtains its motive power from the change of momentum of a jet of steam flowing over a curved vane. The steam jet, in moving over the curved surface of the blade, exerts a pressure on the blade owing to its centrifugal force. This centrifugal pressure is exerted normal to the blade surface and acts along the whole length of the blade. The resultant combination of these centrifugal pressures, plus the effect of changes of velocity, is the motive force on the blade. (from E. H. Lewitt: Thermodynamics Applied to Heat Engines) B. The principle of the turbine is extremely simple. If the lid of a kettle is wedged down, when the water boils, a jet of steam will issue from the spout. If this jet is projected against the blades of a fan or any sort of wheel shaped like the old fashioned waterwheel, it will, obviously, drive it round. In the power station, steam is generated in huge boilers, and very often a temperature as high as 850 degrees Fahrenheit at a pressure of sometimes 1,000 lbs. per sq. in. is built up before the steam is released from the boiler to the turbine jets. The turbine comprises two parts, the rotor or moving part, and the stator or fixed portion. Instead of a single nozzle with one jet, there are a large number of nozzles ... (from: How and Why it Works, published by Odhams)

As can be seen by studying the above examples, highly technical words make understanding more difficult. Relating the new information to something familiar makes it easier to understand. Long sentences and complicated grammatical constructions make it harder for the reader to follow what is being said. There are many factors which are involved in the information load of a particular text. The translator needs to be familiar with these in order to make a translation which will be easily understood by the receptor language audience. (p. 478)

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These two texts are obviously intended for different kinds of readers, and are giving different information. The first, in which technical words make understanding more difficult, is written for people who have some education in physics, and it is trying to explain one aspect of the physics of a machine. For this purpose the technical terms are really indispensable, and in fact these terms are relating the new information to something familiar for the intended readers. It is not the technical terms themselves, but the ignorance of their meaning, which will prevent uneducated readers from understanding what is being said. It would be pointless to try to explain the physics of this machine to someone who has no background in physics, and there is no reason for us to think that the information load is heavier for the intended readers of the first text than it is for the intended readers of the second. The second contains much information; but it is written for people who have no education in physics, and nothing in it is comparable to the information in the first. The author does not try to explain why the fan moves, which is the whole subject of the first text; he only says that the steam jet will obviously drive it round, without offering any explanation of how that happens. Larson says that the examples illustrate how long sentences and complicated grammatical constructions make it harder for the reader, but in fact the second text has, on average, longer sentences than the first, and it also has the more complex sentences. This is not hard to see. How did Larson analysis of the differences here go so completely wrong? It was s her hasty assumption, in line with theories of dynamic equivalence, that the difficulties are attributable to the linguistic form. Her theoretical prepossessions have so distorted her perception of the facts that she even mentions long sentences as being one reason for the difficulty of the first text. But it is really the subject of the first text that makes it hard for laymen, not any of the things that she mentions. And I think the same is true for most problems that uneducated people encounter while reading the Bible. The usual problem is a lack of the kind of preparation that the original text assumes. In the same chapter, we are pleased to find the following paragraph, which points the way to the only practical method of dealing with most problems of comprehension:
All meaning is culturally conditioned. The receptor language readers will interpret the message in terms of their own culture. They cannot draw on the experiences of the source text writer, but only on their own. The translator must make it possible for the reader to understand the message in light of the source text background. To do this he must supply, at some point, the information needed. Some can be woven into the translation, when appropriate, but much of this background will need to be given in introductions, notes, or glossaries. (p. 480, emphasis added.)

Nearly all the difficulties that Nida and his followers try to resolve with paraphrastic renderings can be dealt with more effectively and more safely in this traditional fashion. We suspect that Larson mentions it here as a last resort, to be avoided as much as possible; but it should be the primary method. A wellwritten introduction can supply the needs of the reader far better than any theory of translation.

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Theories can be very helpful. They serve as tools for thinking and enable us to organize knowledge. But the excessive love of theories is dangerous, especially when they are new. It is not unusual to see highly intellectual people enthralled by them. When we notice how it distorts their perception of things, we say their minds are captive to a theory. This is what I see in works written by adherents of this school. They are long on theory, and short of common sense. For the sake of the theory, they magnify the importance of things that do not even exist (deep structures and kernels, Biblereaders who are baffled by the words grace and righteousness) and ignore obvious facts of language, culture, and education. A theory designed under the assumption that the readers are extremely ignorant and can receive no help from teachers may of course be useful where that assumption is true. But it is rarely true, and so this cannot be accepted as a comprehensive theory, or one that is adequate for guiding the work of translation in civilized countries.

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28. Conclusion
This work uses many examples, in which I criticize specific renderings of the so called dynamic equivalence versions, but my argument has not merely been that a theory that generates so many bad renderings must be wrong. I aimed to deal with the theory itself, on a deep theoretical level, not merely to criticize its practical results. The examples are intended to illustrate aspects of the theory and the methods that it prescribes. I would emphasize this here, because a naive defense of the theory might claim that the bad renderings I have brought under discussion are only a consequence of misapplications of the theory. I contend that they are not random misapplications of the theory, they are illustrations of the theory in action. When renderings like this have been pointed out in the past, the theory has been invoked to justify them ex post facto. They are quite in keeping with the theory. My task, therefore, has been to criticize the theory itself, by examining the theoretical statements upon which everything depends. Under close examination the theory is found to be an organon of interrelated fallacies. It acquires the appearance of science by its use of linguists jargon, and by its technical treatment of superficial and minor questions, but it is not really based upon linguistic science. It is based upon a reductionistic bible alone orientation to missionary work, and upon ideas that are fundamental to modern liberalismchiefly individualism and egalitarianism. It is modernistic in spirit, explicitly anti traditional, and anticlerical to the core. Borrowing the words of Hymes, we might say that the predominance of ideas associated with dynamic equivalence in the field of translation theory is mostly due to the fact that they are simply consistent with, elaborations of, an insurgent and triumphant world view. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that support for this theory is strongest in the most liberal circles, and weakest among conservative Christians. In Europe the theory has been associated with American evangelicals, and in chapter two I also drew a connection between it and modern American evangelicalism; but it is deeply contrary to conservative principles and instincts. Here and there I have indicated on what grounds a theoreticallyminded person might justify the ancient severity of literal translation. I do not aspire to build up any grand theory of translation that would receive respect from professional linguists. That is a task for one of their own. But in this area no progress will be made by those who do not move well beyond the sort of elementary speechcentered linguistics that one finds in Nida, which is totally incapable of dealing with the issues raised in this book. Progress will depend upon the development of a sophisticated literary linguistics that is able to account for linguistic effects pertaining to a body of canonical literature. The traditional, essentially literal Bible translation is surely one of the best established genres of world literature, and it does not require any theoretical defense. Descriptive linguists might spend some time trying to understand how such versions function in Christianity, by observing how they are used by preachers, teachers, and

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authors. But scientific linguistics is not now in any position to be prescribing methods of biblical translation for the Church, and probably never will be. Even if all this is granted, we may still be asked to accept simplified versions as being useful for various purposes. I have made arguments against this in chapters 22 and 23, but I do not deny that paraphrases can be useful if they are presented with modesty, and used in full awareness of their typical inadequacies. For example, in their exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Sanday and Headlam give a loose paraphrase of the text to explicate some aspects of it. In my opinion their paraphrase is often wrong, but I do not object to their use of this method, as long as everyone understands that it is merely a convenient way of presenting interpretations. If someone were to extract this paraphrase from their commentary and set it forth as an authoritative translation, it would not be acceptable. The paraphrase of Paul Epistles done by F.F. Bruce is acceptable because in his s introduction he clearly explains its purpose and its limitations:
It is of course difficult to say where translation ends and paraphrase begins; much depends on one definition of the two words. But frequently s the criticism has been urged against certain recent versions of the New Testament that in places they are not translations but paraphrases. Well, this one is a paraphrase. One feature of such a work probably is that the paraphrast includes much more of his own interpretation and exposition than a translator would deem proper. Where my own interpretation and exposition are incorporated in this paraphrase, they are based on careful consideration of the text; and I have tried not to represent Paul as saying anything which he did not intend to say. 1

Such a disarming caveat makes most criticism needless. Here we find no attempt to confuse the public with quibbles about every translation is an interpretation, no overblown claims of equivalence, no onesided polemic against more literal translations. Bruce is far from claiming that his paraphrase is more accurate than a literal version. In fact he recommends the highly literal English Revised Version of 1881, as a version which reproduces most accurately the nuances of Greek grammar and follows the idiom of the original as closely as possible without doing excessive violence to English literary usage, 2 and he even prints it next to his paraphrase in parallel columns. The whole ideology of dynamic equivalence is absent here, and perhaps implicitly rejected. One only needs to quote Bruce Introduction to remind s people that according to his own description it is an interpretive paraphrase, and not what we should call a translation. As for the Phillips paraphrase, I can remember sermons in the 1970 when the preacher would quote some words from it, but this s was always done more or less as a bit of fun, and it was perceived as somewhat rakish, without anyone thinking that the paraphrase was more accurate as a translation. If a preacher quoted from it too extensively or too seriously, that would not have gone over very well. The situation is quite different now. Our generation has seen a general decline in standards of formality and seriousness. Worship services in the burgeoning mega churches are like rock music concerts, where anything very formal, religious, or educational seems out of place. In this context, it was almost inevitable that

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paraphrastic versions like the New Living Translation would supplant the more accurate translations. The seeker sensitive movement is being pushed forward by people who care nothing about accuracy, and so claims of accuracy seem strangely irrelevant herebut the new versions are being recommended by persons who insist upon calling them accurate, equivalent, etc., according to the rhetoric of dynamic equivalence. When laymen hear such claims, they have no idea how the words accuracy and equivalence have been defined by Nida, and so these claims can only mislead and confuse people. ErnstAugust Gutt makes this point in one article, although he believes that there is a place for the lowresemblance versions if they 3 are called something other than translations. The whole controversy about Bible versions would lose much of its urgency if the publishers and promoters of paraphrastic versions would stop trying to mislead people with claims of accuracy, and practice more truth in advertising. When the publishers of the Living Bible asserted that Scholars, pastors and laymen have paid tribute to its accuracy and 4 fluency, they could not expect such a misleading statement to go unchallenged. The same is true of other versions, whose publishers have been less than completely honest in their advertising. It is only too clear that Nida concepts are being used as s a fig leaf to hide the real motives that are at work here. For the publishing companies, the true motive is of course the profit motive. I was most impressed by this fact while reading publishing industry trade journals in the years following the publication of the TNIV, a revision of the NIV that appeared in 2002. In its press releases the publisher pretends to have evangelical motives, and describes itself as the leading Christian communications company in the world. 5 But these articles revealed an utterly shameless pursuit of filthy lucre. A common theme of the articles was their strategy of bypassing uncooperative church leaders, while appealing directly to the felt needs of consumers in the 18 to 34yearold age group in youthmarket venues, with innovative marketing techniques. In particular, I noticed the alarming contempt for pastoral leadership that came to light in the remarks of Zondervan Vice President of Bible Marketing, who was heartened by the s thought that young people are more sophisticated and understand the complexities of life, so when a leader of the previous generation comes out against the TNIV, they are more likely to think for themselves. 6 One article explained that Zondervan is hoping to do an endrun around church leaders who disapprove of the version, and quoted its vice president of sales and marketing: We targeting key gatekeepers re such as the leaders of local chapters of campus Bible studies and parachurch organizations. 7 Another officer of the same corporation dismissed all criticism with the remark, These people who are making these judgments are not linguists. 8 May God save us from men who would drive a wedge between the generations in the Church, so as to make consumers of our young people. But just as their ancient counterparts made the Court of the Gentiles a marketplace (John 2:1416), these hustlers have found a ready market for their merchandise in the outer courts of the Church, where a brand of popevangelicalism that almost excludes discipleship or any serious learning prevails; and neither the sellers nor the buyers of the new versions have much interest in maintaining the level of accuracy that is appropriate for Scripture.

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I began this book with the thesis that the Bible belongs to the Church. But a corrupted church will naturally lead to a corrupted Bible, because its leaders will not be faithful in the stewardship of the written Word. Conversely, a corrupted Bible is a 9 sign of a corrupted church. We see this all around us today. Yet I maintain that this stewardship cannot be delegated to another institution, and that a large part of the current problem about versions is due to the fact that, in the past fifty years, parachurch organizations and publishing companies have usurped this stewardship, and have taken control of the Bible. The translation of the Bible is now being controlled by interests and agendas that are far different from the original purposes of its authors, and the theory of dynamic equivalence is being used to justify all of this. Which versions should we use? I have been asked that question many times. So I will offer some recommendations here. Obviously I am advocating the use of the more literal and traditional translations in ministry. First of all I must say that the King James Version is more accurate and hence a more reliable basis of teaching than most versions published in recent years. The greater accuracy made possible by scholarly research over the past four centuries is indeed considerable, and ought to have led to a generally higher level of accuracy in English versions; but this scholarly advantage has been so contravened by the paraphrastic tendencies of modern translators that the overall accuracy of their versions is really lower. Still, the problem of obsolete words cannot be overlooked. Some revisions of the KJV published during the nineteenth century replaced the most troublesome obsolete words with more modern language, without altering the meaning. The revision published by Noah Webster is one of these. The editors of the New Scofield Reference Bible (1967) did a good job of replacing obsolete words. This edition is available in most Christian bookstores, and although I have some reservations about its notes, I can recommend its revised text to anyone who wishes to use a minimal revision of the KJV. The New King James Version of 1982 is a much more thorough revision, and it often represents opinions of modern scholars about the meanings of Hebrew and Greek words, but it is rather cautious in this respect, usually retaining interpretations of the KJV that are supportable. The American Standard Version of 1901 is a highly literal revision of the KJV that represents the consensus of scholarly opinion about the meaning of the text and about the correct manuscript readings. Its language is somewhat archaic (without being obsolete), and its literal method sometimes makes for difficult reading, but in my opinion it continues to be the most reliable version available. The New American Standard Bible of 1971 is a mostly literal revision of the ASV that replaces its archaic language with more modern language, and represents more recent opinions about the meanings of words and expressions. I must say that it is less accurate than the ASV, but it is certainly good enough for most purposes, and easier to understand. The Revised Standard Version of 1952 is at a much lower level of accuracy, and presents interpretations that are associated with liberal hermeneutics. A revision of the RSV known as the English Standard Version, published in 2001, improves its accuracy and eliminates most of the liberal bias. It is generally acceptable for use in ministry, although it does require some correction. Much more could be said about these versions, but I would recommend any of them except the RSV for use in ministry. The New International Version, as I have indicated several times in this book, often falls below the level of accuracy that is necessary for

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serious teaching, and I would recommend it only for the most casual purposes. The New Living Translation of 1996 should not be used by ministers at all. The Message by Eugene Peterson is a mockery of Scripture that should not be used for any purpose, either at church or at home. Those who wish to learn more about these and many 10 other versions can find detailed reviews that I have published on the internet. Christians must stop listening to the siren song of experts who, with seductive promises and misrepresentations, have lured us into this confusion. New and improved Bible versions should be viewed with suspicion, especially when they promise to make things easier. None of the modern versions mentioned in the previous paragraph are as difficult for us as the King James Version was for our ancestors. Yet it seems that our forefathers were better off a hundred years ago, before all these new versions came along. Explaining an obscure expression here and there in the KJV was a small thing, compared to all the trouble and uncertainty that the new versions have brought upon us. It also seems that our forefathers were better people than we are. They did not expect everything to be so easy; but we, being lazy, have corrupted our way through love of ease and pleasure. If that does not change, there is no hope for us. Church leaders must be more diligent in their guardianship of the Word. This means acquiring the ability to compare versions with the original text, and telling people what to receive and what not to receive under the name of Holy Scripture. Criticism may not be easy or pleasant, but at the present time it is necessary. Competence in this area will never be gained by people who continue to indulge egalitarian delusions and spurn head knowledge. I would not give any encouragement to the oafish and nasty criticism of modern versions that we have seen from King James Only fundamentalists, which does more harm than good; but it was no less foolish, or harmful, for evangelicals to think that the Bible could be entrusted to secular publishers or parachurch Bible Societies, and that we could accept one version after another from these sources without scrutiny. Discernment is always in order, and it is the responsibility of the Churcha divine institution established by Jesus Christto determine such matters. We are told to preserve knowledge (Malachi 2:7), prove all things (1 Thess. 5:21), hold fast the form of sound words (2 Tim. 1:13), the faithful word as it has been taught (Titus 1:9). We are not peddlers of God word (2 Cor. 2:17), but stewards of the mysteries of God, who will s be held responsible for our stewardship (1 Cor. 4:12).

Michael Marlowe January, 2012

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Notes

Bible Research > English Versions > Translation Methods > Dynamic Equivalence

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