Random Readings 14-05-2007

So, it has been several weeks since my most recent Random Readings post. I feel a little guilty. Alas, life happens and some things fall through the cracks. In this case life is registering for fall courses, preparing to move to a new area, searching for a job, Mother’s Day, and the list could go on. Regardless, I am now ready to give my thoughts on Translating Truth.

Translating Truth. I picked up this book at the ETS Meeting Mandy and I attended. Actually, I should clarify, Dr. Snyder picked it up, skimmed it, and told me it was worth reading. It was worth reading, but not for the reasons one might expect. The book is basically a polemic against dynamic equivalence translations. Now, I’m not going to use the CEV or NLT to teach an in depth Bible study or seminary course. But, all translator are traitors – and that doesn’t exclude the ESV. The book has decent content, and I agree with much of what was said (“translators need to leave interpretation up to the reader as much as possible” is one such example). What some of the authors of the book (there were five, and I only skimmed the last two) seem to have forgotten is that they themselves have not produced a perfect translation (in this case the ESV). If they had written a book on finding a good translation, it would have been better. As it stands the book is trying to defend (via a strong offense) word-for-word translations against dynamic translations. I see no need for such a war. Some people will use the NIV, fine – that’s good. Sure, it plays with more things than a word-for-word translation normally does, but fine. Others will use something like the ESV, NRSV, or NASB for Bible study because of the fact that they play less (but they still play!).

At this point I think I should point out that I quite like the ESV. It’s actually my translation of choice. I think they have balls (they are the only translation I know of, aside from the JPS, that was brave enough to put a period in Daniel 9.25 where there is an atnach. I say brave because such a choice of punctuation pretty much destroys the whole “69 weeks of Daniel, and then the 70th week is the tribulation” argument that is so often recited in the circles I walk. In addition they were willing to go with the reading of the LXX and DSS over the MT in some places – and in some instances that decision has brought up some interesting theological issues (the nations being divided according to the number of the sons of god, as opposed to the sons of Israel in Deuteronomy 32.8 is one such example). I also noticed, in my completely unscientific survey that they capitalize son and messiah less than the NASB. I’ve been told it is quite similar to the NRSV, and that seems to be an opinion that has some support.

But, enough of my rambling. Translating Truth would have been much better if they simply talked about translating the Bible and the various theories and ways of doing it. They could have even been biased towards word-for-word translation theory without waging a way against dynamic equivalence. It would have made for a more educational read. Nevertheless, it was a good thing for me to read because it reminded me that sometimes I need to read and learn from those with whom I disagree.

Coming Up:

  • Help at Any Cost by Maia Szalavitz. This book was on sale at a Borders Mandy and I happened to stop by about three weeks ago. It deals with the “troubled-teen industry” and specifically goes after the ways it hurts kids (as opposed to helping them). I thought it might be a nice change of pace from my recent readings. So, I’m going to dive into it. I doubt I’ll have it finished by this weekend because of my schedule this week, but hopefully by the following weekend I’ll have read it and be ready to give some coherent thoughts.
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One thought on “Random Readings 14-05-2007

  1. Even better, the ESV translates Dan 9:26 as “an anointed one” rather than the NIV’s “the Anointed One” or (YHWH forbid) the HCSB’s “the Messiah.”

    I still have problems with the ESV, but it isn’t nearly the Evangelical toady that some of the other translations are.

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