Jason BeDuhn has written a beautiful easy to understand book comparing various English Bible translations of the New Testament Greek scriptures. Even for the novice his reasoning and assessment of Jason BeDuhn. Written with the student and interested public in mind, Truth in Translation aims to explain what is involved and what is at stake in Bible translation.
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After defining New Testament translation bias, the author uses selected passages from nine well-known English versions as examples of translation bias. This is equally true between New Testament Greek and modern English.
Therefore, every translation must make some accommodation to the differences between two languages. In the case of the New Testament, the translation is biased if those accommodations are used to promote a particular doctrinal viewpoint. For example, the Greek used in the original New Testament manuscripts did not use lower case letters, whereas English uses both upper and lower case letters. The original manuscripts autographs therefore did not make a distinction between "God" and "god," or between "Spirit" and "spirit.
Bias can also be introduced when difficult Greek sentences are interpreted for the English reader or when English words are added which are not found in the Greek text. It is well worth reading. BeDuhn has done an outstanding job of explaining and illustrating translation bias in the New Testament. However, this book will certainly polarize ones of Jehovah's Witnesses and evangelical Christians. BeDuhn makes a number of favorable comments regarding the New World Translation 's handling of specific verses in contrast to the same verses in Bibles favored by evangelical Protestants.
As a result, evangelical Protestants will often, without merit be suspicious of Truth in Translation. On the other hand, considering what Truth in Translation also says about the New World Translation in areas of its weakness, the Watch Tower Society will need to proceed cautiously when quoting Truth in Translation. In that appendix he essentially denies the most prominent feature of the New World Translation 's Greek Scriptures when he disputes the appropriateness of using Jehovah in the New Testament.
We will consider that subject in the Appendix comments. He also stumbles on his own bias in several places. I will comment on that where it is appropriate. I think it is fair to say this. On a first level, the translation principles BeDuhn describes are objective and are of extreme value. His academic qualifications demand that he be taken seriously. All of us from any theological persuasion need to carefully consider what he has to say regarding these translation principles.
On a second level, BeDuhn chooses a number of passages to use as illustrations. We need to pay careful attention to what the author says on this second level because he can teach us a great deal. This is where the theoretical meets the everyday application in the English New Testament translation we use. Nonetheless, because this second level involves considerably more subjective material, all of us as readers have the responsibility of cautiously weighing his comments before reaching our final conclusion.
Another set of samples might yield some different configurations of results. But the selection of passages has not been arbitrary.
It has been driven mostly by an idea of where one is most likely to find bias, namely, those passages which are frequently cited as having great theological importance, the verses that are claimed as key foundations for the commitments of the belief held by the very people making the translations. Choosing precisely those passages where theology has most at stake might seem deliberately provocative and controversial.
But that is exactly where bias is most likely to interfere with translation. Biblical passages that make statements about the nature and character of Jesus or the Holy Spirit are much more likely to have beliefs read into them than are passages that mention what Jesus and his disciples had for lunch. Finally, there is a third level in which BeDuhn is merely reflecting his own belief. As a reader, we are free to accept, modify or reject his point of view, but there is still much he can teach each of us in this final area also.
May I suggest that Truth in Translation is a superb book. If both opponents and proponents of the New World Translation would apply the author's principles to their own translation selection, we would all reap the benefit of reading Bibles which better reflect the intended message of the New Testament authors.
Our website www. As such, our site is not a forum for discussing theology or even Bible translations. Based on this claim, the New World Translation is their vehicle for introducing Jehovah into the Greek Scriptures times. For that reason, we have been drawn into this debate on New Testament translation bias because many of BeDuhn's examples are taken from the New World Translation.
On what basis do they make such charges? Charges of inaccuracy and bias are based upon the fact that a translation has deviated from some norm of what the translation should be. So what is the norm? It seems that for many the norm is the King James Version of the Bible. If a translation differs from the standard , clearly it must be wrong. But the fact that the general public does not have access to a valid norm does not mean that one does not exist.
In fact there is such a norm that is available to anyone who is willing to take the trouble to learn how to use it: the original Greek New Testament. By claiming to be a translation , an English Bible is being put forward as an accurate communication of the meaning of the original text. The important thing in judgments of accuracy is that the translators have found English words and phrases that correspond to the known meaning of the Greek, and put them together into English sentences that dutifully follow what the Greek syntax communicates.
Accuracy in Bible translation has nothing to do with majority votes; it has to do with letting the biblical authors speak, regardless of where their words might lead. Accurate, unbiased translations are based on 1 linguistic content, 2 literary context, and 3 historical and cultural environment. This chapter gives a brief history of the New Testament as a written document and the composition of translation committees. Chapter 2: The Work of Translation. According to this chapter, the processes of translation includes "Formal Equivalence," "Dynamic Equivalence" and "Paraphrase.
Chapter 3: Major English Translations. However, to maintain uniformity with other pages on our website, we have altered this to NWT without further notation. Chapter 4: Bowing to Bias. This chapter states the necessity of an accurate definition of Greek words as the foundation for trustworthy English translation. The Greek word proskuneo is used as the example. In Jesus' time, proskuneo meant to prostrate one's self before another of higher rank or one who might grant a request.
In that context, the translation is to do obedience. Therefore, in the Gospels when individuals are prostrating themselves before Jesus, the use of the Greek word proskuneo is merely stating that they were on their knees in supplication. The verb proskuneo is used fifty-eight times in the New Testament. When the King James translation was made, the word picked to best convey the meaning of the Greek word was "worship.
It could be used for the attitude of reverence given to God, but also for the act of prostration. The word was also used as a form of address to people of high status, in the form "your worship.
But modern English is not King James English, and the range of the meaning for the word "worship" has narrowed considerably. Today, we use it only for religious veneration of God, so it no longer covers all of the uses for the Greek verb proskuneo , or of the English word in the day of King James. For this reason, it is necessary that modern translations find appropriate terms to accurately convey precisely what is implied by the use of proskuneo in the various passages where it appears.
If they fail to do this, and cling to the old English word "worship" without acknowledging its shift of meaning since the days of King James, they mislead their readers into thinking that every greeting, kiss, or prostration in the Bible is an act of worship directed to a god.
BeDuhn then gives examples where proskuneo is used in the Gospels while pleading before man Matthew These verses are translated in most versions as "prostrated himself before," "fell on his knees," and "fell down before.
He says,. But in other passages, translations revert to the KJV's "worship" inappropriately. They do so primarily because the gesture of prostration is directed to Jesus, and in that circumstance they translate differently under the pressure of theological bias. BeDuhn does not take us to verses in which "worship" is directed toward "God" because they are not part of his discussion. However, from his previous comments, we could assume that he would not find fault with that use of the word "worship" because it was directed to a god or God.
We will come back to this later. Rendering a single Greek word into more than one English alternative is not necessarily inaccurate in and of itself. Since Greek words such as proskuneo have a range of possible meanings, it is not practical to insist that a Greek word always be translated the same way.
But in our exploration of this issue, we can see how theological bias has been the determining context for the choices made by all of the translations except the NAB and NWT. There are passages where many translators have interpreted the gesture referred to by the Greek term proskuneo as implying "worship.
I am not going to enter into a debate over interpretation. It is always possible that the interpretation of the significance of the gesture may be correct. But the simple translation "prostrate," or "do homage," or "do obeisance" is certainly correct. So the question is raised, why depart from a certain, accurate translation to a questionable, possibly inaccurate one?
The answer is that, when this occurs, the translators seem to feel the need to add to the New Testament support for the idea that Jesus was recognized to be God. But the presence of such an idea cannot be supported by selectively translating a word one way when it refers to Jesus and another way when it refers to someone else.
They might argue that the context of belief surrounding Jesus implies that the gesture is more than "obeisance" or "homage. We cannot uniformly translate proskuneo with the English word worship. Few would disapprove when used of God. No one would approved when used of man. And, the opinion would be divided when used of Jesus. Behind the debate regarding the present-day English word worship is the notion that the being before whom the homage is performed is deity.
Thus, there is an element of motive in the present day English word worship. The one worshiping is doing obeisance while at the same time expressing recognition of the divine.
But we cannot see motivation unless there is some other observable act such as giving praise which verifies it. There is an immediate solution to this translation dilemma raised by motive. Both sides of the theological debate should always translate the word proskuneo as doing obeisance.
In this way, the word will always be used to describe an observable physical act.
Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament
Jason BeDuhn has written a beautiful easy to understand book comparing various English Bible translations of the New Testament Greek scriptures. Even for the novice his reasoning and assessment of Jason David BeDuhn. Written with the student and interested public in mind, Truth in Translation aims to explain what is involved and what is at stake in Bible translation. It begins with brief treatments of the background to the Bible and its translation, the various approaches to translation, and the specific origins of nine translation versions in wide use in the English-speaking world today. It then proceeds to compare those versions on nine points of translation, ranging from individual terms, to difficult passages, to whole categories of grammar.
Truth in Translation : Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament
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After defining New Testament translation bias, the author uses selected passages from nine well-known English versions as examples of translation bias. This is equally true between New Testament Greek and modern English. Therefore, every translation must make some accommodation to the differences between two languages. In the case of the New Testament, the translation is biased if those accommodations are used to promote a particular doctrinal viewpoint. For example, the Greek used in the original New Testament manuscripts did not use lower case letters, whereas English uses both upper and lower case letters. The original manuscripts autographs therefore did not make a distinction between "God" and "god," or between "Spirit" and "spirit.