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by Leland Ryken

Of the many Bible translations available today, are some better than others? If so, what criteria can we use to determine what makes a good translation? Leland Ryken introduces readers to the central issues in this debate and presents several reasons why essentially literal-word-for-word-translations are superior to dynamic equivalent-thought-for-thought-translations.

You don't have to be a Bible scholar to recognize the need for a quality Bible translation. We all want to know that the Bible we read, study, and memorize is faithful to the original. Dr. Ryken tackles this issue and breaks it down in this concise, logical, and straightforward book, giving readers a valuable tool for selecting a Bible translation.

Download Choosing a Bible: Understanding Bible Translation Differences epub
ISBN: 1581347308
ISBN13: 978-1581347302
Category: Bibles
Subcategory: Bible Study & Reference
Author: Leland Ryken
Language: English
Publisher: Crossway (May 16, 2005)
Pages: 32 pages
ePUB size: 1751 kb
FB2 size: 1441 kb
Rating: 4.8
Votes: 274
Other Formats: mobi lrf doc lit

This short but very precise examination of the methodologies used by various translators of the Bible into English should be read by everyone interested in the subject. Ryken clearly explains the differences between a literal translation {used in the King James Version and later tranlations such as the Revised Standard Version and the English Standard Version} and the "Dynamic Equivalence" method with a far more paraphrastic approach.

Leland Ryken is highly critcal of the latter method and points out that the liberties taken with the translation of the Scriptures are not ones we would ever subject our own writing to. He asks how, after writing a careful essay, one would feel if an editor did the following:

" * changed words that were deemed old-fashioned or difficult into more contemporary and colloquial language;
* changed a metaphor to direct statement because of an assumption that your audience could not handle figurative language;
* changed a statement that the editor feared would not be immediately understandable to match what the editor believed that you intended with your statement;
* eliminated a word that the editor regarded as a technical theological term and replaced it with a plain non-technical term;
* consistently turned your carefully crafted, longer sentences into short,choppy sentences because the editor assumed that your audience could not handle a sentence as long as what you had written;
* reduced the level of vocabulary to a seventh-grade level;
* changed your gender references to match the editor's ideas on gender language."

This, Ryken feels, is the equivalent of what those translators using dynamic equivalence do to the Scriptures.

However, he goes on to quote a number of examples of verses where the actual meaning of a specific verse is changed in its impact depending upon what type of meaning the translater decides to impose, for Ryken feels that dynamic equivalence is in fact a blend of translation and interpretation.

There is no doubt but that the essay does make a strong case in favour of a literal approach to the translation of the Bible. Not everyone will necessarily agree with Ryken but his arguments are cogent enough to make an examination of them worthwhile.
After reading this short booklet you may not share the strong views of the author, but you cannot help but desire to know more about the "words" of God instead of the "interpretations" of man. I am by no means opposed to the newer translations that are much easier to read (NCV, The Message, etc.), but I have told my students for years that they should treat them as commentaries and not as translations. Now, I have an excellent book that I can recommend to them. In a thirty minute (or less) window of time you can learn the basics of the arguments for word-for-word (as much as possible) translations of the Bible.

I created a video summary of this book titled Choosing a Bible - Video Book Summary that can be found at the most popular video site on the Internet. The video is too long to post here. In it, I summarize the arguments of the author and do point out a weakness or two in his arguments. For example, the author suggests that if you use the essentially literal translations (word-for-word), you do not have to correct the translation during sermon and lesson delivery. Well, since the KJV is included in the essentially literal group, this statement is completely wrong. Because I want my hearers to understand the Word of God and because we use KJV almost exlusively in our church, I am continually teaching the church about words in the KJV that no longer mean what they meant then. In most cases, it is not an issue of improper translation as much as aged translation.

Additionally, when you study any Bible, you have to remember that the translators have to choose how words should be translated based on context. Many of the arguments of the author can be applied to essentially literal translations just as they can to dynamic equivalent translations. For example, the author says that translations like the NIV translate the interpreted thought of the author into modern meaning and this removes the actually words of the Bible. Well, by the same token, the ESV and NKJV (as examples) have words that the translator thought were right based on context. However, they make these decisions based on their theology or lack thereof - there is no question of this. For this reason, while those who are responsible for teaching and preaching the Word of God absolutely must study deeper than the "words" of the translators of any version.

These issues states, I still agree with the general argument of the author. To me, essentially literal translations are translations of the Word of God and dynamic equivalent translations are interpretations of the Word of God. Stated differently, I treat essentially literal translations as Bibles and dynamic equivalent translations as commentaries. By the way, I have all of the Bibles the author references in this book in my library and use them all frequently. I simply treat The Message, the NCV and the NIV as commentaries rather than Biblss.
Good information, but I do wish there was more to it.
I really enjoyed this book. It is fairly short but very informative.
This is a persuasive argument against the more liberally-translated Bibles of the past 50 years. He makes some good points and doesn't really stray into fundamentalist ranting. I think he makes a good argument that the translation should not become a commentary, and that commentaries can be used as supplements to debate the meanings.

The name of the book is really not very representative of the content. It is not really an overview, but a position statement advocating literal Bibles over liberal Bibles.
Love this. I've been an NASB reader all my life. The ESV is my second choice. The words of Scripture are important. They are inspired by God. Read NIV for interpretation if you need it but stick with the essentially literal translations.
Great short book that describes the differences between various popular English translations of the Bible and what those differences mean to the reader. If you are unfamiliar with the literal vs dynamic equivalence issues, (and even if you know the discussion well), I highly recommend this little book as a good primer and review of the importance of translator intent. Do you want a Bible? Or do you want a commentary? Your answer matters when you are shopping for spiritual guidance.
Sometimes most of us just pick up a translation without understanding the translation philosophy. In other words, what methods do translation committees use to translate the Bible? This book is in favor of the English Standard Version, and rightly so. It is not a book that smashes other translations, but I highly recommend this short book to any serious Bible student.