October 15, 2012

Is a "direct translation" possible?

A friend, cleaning out her home office, found an article she thought I might be interested in. It's titled

We Really Do Need Another Bible Translation

The author calls for a "direct translation" of the Bible. This is in contrast with the recent "functional equivalence" translations so popular at the time (way back in 2001). Thirteen years later, we are flooded with new and updated translations--but they're almost all Functional Equivalence! NLT, NIV, TEV/Good News Bible, CEV, the Message, and many others are born from this method. Functional Equivalence translations are certainly easier to read, but they are also, understandably, less faithful to the original text.

Direct translation is possible, and necessary.

The article made excellent supporting points. His strongest argument was in the arena of metaphors. Biblical metaphors require thought and unwrapping. And they are repeated throughout the Bible, gaining strength and importance with each repetition. (Similar to when you repost something on Facebook.)

My favorite example is that the Bible uses "walk" as a metaphor for "life". Ephesians 5:15 "how you walk" (direct translation) versus "how you live" (functional equivalence). Colossians 4:5 "walk in wisdom" versus "conduct yourselves with wisdom". This metaphor is not only repeated throughout the Bible, it also creates vital connections which only a direct translation can maintain:
  • Christianity was first known as "the way" (or "the path"). (See Acts 9:2, 19:9, 19:23.) So "how you walk" is connected with "the way".
  • Paul instructs Christians to "walk by the Spirit" and later to "keep in step with the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16, 25). The Spirit is our guide, "walking" with us down this "way/path" of life, and we are to "walk" as he "walks".
This metaphor alone reinforces the fact that Christianity is a way of life. We don't behave as Christians when we want to. We are Christians. Following Christ is our lifestyle.

Oh, and now I know what to call the RAW Bible - a "direct translation".

Read "We Really Do Need Another Bible Translation" here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2001/october22/5.28.html

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