Early Church Studies Quote of the Week – On Translation

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This week’s quote comes from Dave Black on translation (scroll to Jan 22nd 2011 at 8:50 AM), also found here:

No controversy has been more overworked these days than the one over modern Bible translations. It is thought a crowning virtue to be opinionated about what is the “best” translation. But no translation of the Bible is perfect. (This includes the ISV of course.) There is much artificial whipped-up enthusiasm among Christians today who have found the “perfect” translation that “finally gets it right.”. . .One of the distressing developments in our superficial church culture is a cheap familiarity with New Testament Greek. It is fashionable to give the impression that we (and we alone) know what the Greek really says. I have sometimes referred to this as “evangelical Greek” or, in my less sanctified moments, “philological voodoo.” There is no place in evangelical biblical scholarship for the frivolous approach by which we claim for ourselves an inerrant understanding of Scripture. None of us who has labored in the task of Bible translation is ever worthy to claim perfection for our product. That includes me, and it includes you.

I love reading Dave Black’s comments because he is speaking from a place of wisdom.

He is simply advocating humility in our approach as students of the scripture.

The goal is to strive to find the clearest and most approachable words while at the same time retaining faithfulness to the best originals we have.  As such, no one, not even the best trained experts (and it appears that is who Dave Black is speaking to), can claim ultimate precision when it comes to translation.

Language is always in flux, so any translation can miss the mark in any number of ways.  That is why we, as teachers, will always essentially be striving to explain the message of the Bible to our hearers in ways that they can readily hear, apprehend and live out among their peers.

At least, that is how I attempt to approach the task!