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Translation procedures

Translation procedures, strategies and methods
by Mahmoud Ordudari
Translating culture-specific concepts (CSCs) in general and allusions in
particular seem to be one of the most challenging tasks to be performed
by a translator; in other words, allusions are potential problems of the
translation process due to the fact that allusions have particular
connotations and implications in the source language (SL) and the
foreign culture (FC) but not necessarily in the TL and the domestic
culture. There are some procedures and strategies for rendering CSCs
and allusions respectively.
The present paper aims at scrutinizing whether there exists any point of
similarity between these procedures and strategies and to identify which
of these procedures and strategies seem to be more effective than the
Keywords: Allusion, culture-specific concept, proper name, SL, TL.
1. Introduction
ranslation typically has been used to transfer written or spoken SL texts to
equivalent written or spoken TL texts. In general, the purpose of translation is to
reproduce various kinds of texts—including religious, literary, scientific, and
philosophical texts—in another language and thus making them available to wider
If language were just a classification for a set of general or universal concepts, it
would be easy to translate from an SL to a TL; furthermore, under the circumstance
the process of learning an L2 would be much easier than it actually is. In this regard
Culler (1976) believes that languages are not nomenclatures and the concepts of
one language may differ radically from those of another, since each language
articulates or organizes the world differently, and languages do not simply name
categories; they articulate their own (p.21-2). The conclusion likely to be drawn
from what Culler (1976) writes is that one of the troublesome problems of
translation is the disparity among languages. The bigger the gap between the SL
and the TL, the more difficult the transfer of message from the former to the latter
will be.
The difference between an SL and a TL and the variation in their cultures make the
process of translating a real challenge. Among the problematic factors involved in
translation such as form, meaning, style, proverbs, idioms, etc., the present paper i
going to concentrate mainly on the procedures of translating CSCs in general and on
the strategies of rendering allusions in particular.
2. Translation procedures, strategies and methods
The translating procedures, as depicted by Nida (1964) are as follow:
Technical procedures:
analysis of the source and target languages;
B. a through study of the source language text before making attempts
translate it;
C. Making judgments of the semantic and syntactic approximations. (pp.
Organizational procedures:
constant reevaluation of the attempt made; contrasting it with the existing
available translations of the same text done by other translators, and checkin
the text's communicative effectiveness by asking the target language readers
to evaluate its accuracy and effectiveness and studying their reactions (pp.
Krings (1986:18) defines translation strategy as "translator's potentially conscious
plans for solving concrete translation problems in the framework of a concrete
translation task," and Seguinot (1989) believes that there are at least three global
strategies employed by the translators: (i) translating without interruption for as
long as possible; (ii) correcting surface errors immediately; (iii) leaving the
monitoring for qualitative or stylistic errors in the text to the revision stage.
Moreover, Loescher (1991:8) defines translation strategy as "a potentially conscious
procedure for solving a problem faced in translating a text, or any segment of it." A
it is stated in this definition, the notion of consciousness is significant in
distinguishing strategies which are used by the learners or translators. In this
regard, Cohen (1998:4) asserts that "the element of consciousness is what
distinguishes strategies from these processes that are not strategic."
Furthermore, Bell (1998:188) differentiates between global (those dealing with
whole texts) and local (those dealing with text segments) strategies and confirms
that this distinction results from various kinds of translation problems.
Venuti (1998:240) indicates that translation strategies "involve the basic tasks of
choosing the foreign text to be translated and developing a method to translate it."
He employs the concepts of domesticating and foreignizing to refer to translation
Jaaskelainen (1999:71) considers strategy as, "a series of competencies, a set of
steps or processes that favor the acquisition, storage, and/or utilization of
information." He maintains that strategies are "heuristic and flexible in nature, and
their adoption implies a decision influenced by amendments in the translator's
Taking into account the process and product of translation, Jaaskelainen (2005)
divides strategies into two major categories: some strategies relate to what happen
to texts, while other strategies relate to what happens in the process.
Product-related strategies, as Jaaskelainen (2005:15) writes, involves the basic
tasks of choosing the SL text and developing a method to translate it. However, she
maintains that process-related strategies "are a set of (loosely formulated) rules or
principles which a translator uses to reach the goals determined by the translating
situation" (p.16). Moreover, Jaaskelainen (2005:16) divides this into two types,
namely global strategies and local strategies: "global strategies refer to general
principles and modes of action and local strategies refer to specific activities in
relation to the translator's problem-solving and decision-making."
Newmark (1988b) mentions the difference between translation methods and
translation procedures. He writes that, "[w]hile translation methods relate to whole
texts, translation procedures are used for sentences and the smaller units of
language" (p.81). He goes on to refer to the following methods of translation:
Word-for-word translation: in which the SL word order is preserved and the
words translated singly by their most common meanings, out of context.
Literal translation: in which the SL grammatical constructions are converted to
their nearest TL equivalents, but the lexical words are again translated singly,
out of context.
Faithful translation: it attempts to produce the precise contextual meaning of
the original within the constraints of the TL grammatical structures.
Semantic translation: which differs from 'faithful translation' only in as far as i
must take more account of the aesthetic value of the SL text.
Adaptation: which is the freest form of translation, and is used mainly for
plays (comedies) and poetry; the themes, characters, plots are usually
preserved, the SL culture is converted to the TL culture and the text is
Free translation: it produces the TL text without the style, form, or content of
the original.
Idiomatic translation: it reproduces the 'message' of the original but tends to
distort nuances of meaning by preferring colloquialisms and idioms where
these do not exist in the original.
Communicative translation: it attempts to render the exact contextual
meaning of the original in such a way that both content and language are
readily acceptable and comprehensible to the readership (1988b: 45-47).
Newmark (1991:10-12) writes of a continuum existing between "semantic" and
"communicative" translation. Any translation can be "more, or less semantic—more
or less, communicative—even a particular section or sentence can be treated more
communicatively or less semantically." Both seek an "equivalent effect." Zhongying
(1994: 97), who prefers literal translation to free translation, writes that, "[i]n
China, it is agreed by many that one should translate literally, if possible, or appeal
to free translation."
In order to clarify the distinction between procedure and strategy, the forthcoming
section is allotted to discussing the procedures of translating culture-specific terms,
and strategies for rendering allusions will be explained in detail.
2.1. Procedures of translating culture-specific concepts (CSCs)
Graedler (2000:3) puts forth some procedures of translating CSCs:
Making up a new word.
Explaining the meaning of the SL expression in lieu of translating it.
Preserving the SL term intact.
Opting for a word in the TL which seems similar to or has the same
"relevance" as the SL term.
Defining culture-bound terms (CBTs) as the terms which "refer to concepts,
institutions and personnel which are specific to the SL culture" (p.2), Harvey
(2000:2-6) puts forward the following four major techniques for translating CBTs:
1. Functional Equivalence: It means using a referent in the TL culture whose
function is similar to that of the source language (SL) referent. As Harvey
(2000:2) writes, authors are divided over the merits of this technique: Weston
(1991:23) describes it as "the ideal method of translation," while Sarcevic
(1985:131) asserts that it is "misleading and should be avoided."
2. Formal Equivalence or 'linguistic equivalence': It means a 'word-for-word'
3. Transcription or 'borrowing' (i.e. reproducing or, where necessary,
transliterating the original term): It stands at the far end of SL-oriented
strategies. If the term is formally transparent or is explained in the context, it
may be used alone. In other cases, particularly where no knowledge of the SL
by the reader is presumed, transcription is accompanied by an explanation or
a translator's note.
4. Descriptive or self-explanatory translation: It uses generic terms (not CBTs) t
convey the meaning. It is appropriate in a wide variety of contexts where
formal equivalence is considered insufficiently clear. In a text aimed at a
specialized reader, it can be helpful to add the original SL term to avoid
The following are the different translation procedures that Newmark (1988b)
Transference: it is the process of transferring an SL word to a TL text. It
includes transliteration and is the same as what Harvey (2000:5) named
Naturalization: it adapts the SL word first to the normal pronunciation, then to
the normal morphology of the TL. (Newmark, 1988b:82)
Cultural equivalent: it means replacing a cultural word in the SL with a TL one
however, "they are not accurate" (Newmark, 1988b:83)
Functional equivalent: it requires the use of a culture-neutral word. (Newmark
Descriptive equivalent: in this procedure the meaning of the CBT is explained
in several words. (Newmark, 1988b:83)
Componential analysis: it means "comparing an SL word with a TL word which
has a similar meaning but is not an obvious one-to-one equivalent, by
demonstrating first their common and then their differing sense components."
(Newmark, 1988b:114)
Synonymy: it is a "near TL equivalent." Here economy trumps accuracy.
(Newmark, 1988b:84)
Through-translation: it is the literal translation of common collocations, name
of organizations and components of compounds. It can also be called: calque
or loan translation. (Newmark, 1988b:84)
Shifts or transpositions: it involves a change in the grammar from SL to TL, fo
instance, (i) change from singular to plural, (ii) the change required when a
specific SL structure does not exist in the TL, (iii) change of an SL verb to a TL
word, change of an SL noun group to a TL noun and so forth. (Newmark,
Modulation: it occurs when the translator reproduces the message of the
original text in the TL text in conformity with the current norms of the TL,
since the SL and the TL may appear dissimilar in terms of perspective.
(Newmark, 1988b:88)
Recognized translation: it occurs when the translator "normally uses the
official or the generally accepted translation of any institutional term."
(Newmark, 1988b:89)
Compensation: it occurs when loss of meaning in one part of a sentence is
compensated in another part. (Newmark, 1988b:90)
Paraphrase: in this procedure the meaning of the CBT is explained. Here the
explanation is much more detailed than that of descriptive equivalent.
(Newmark, 1988b:91)
Couplets: it occurs when the translator combines two different procedures.
(Newmark, 1988b:91)
Notes: notes are additional information in a translation. (Newmark, 1988b:91
Notes can appear in the form of 'footnotes.' Although some stylists consider a
translation sprinkled with footnotes terrible with regard to appearance, nonetheless,
their use can assist the TT readers to make better judgments of the ST contents.
Nida (1964:237-39) advocates the use of footnotes to fulfill at least the two
following functions: (i) to provide supplementary information, and (ii) to call
attention to the original's discrepancies.
A really troublesome area in the field of translation appears to be the occurrence of
allusions, which seem to be culture-specific portions of a SL. All kinds of allusions,
especially cultural and historical allusions, bestow a specific density on the original
language and need to be explicated in the translation to bring forth the richness of
the SL text for the TL audience.
Appearing abundantly in literary translations, allusions, as Albakry (2004:3) points
out, "are part of the prior cultural knowledge taken for granted by the author writin
for a predominantly Moslem Arab [SL] audience. To give the closest approximation
of the source language, therefore, it was necessary to opt for 'glossing' or using
explanatory footnotes." However, somewhere else he claims that, "footnotes ... can
be rather intrusive, and therefore, their uses were minimized as much as possible"
(Albakry, 2004:4).
2.2. Strategies of translating allusions
Proper names, which are defined by Richards (1985:68) as "names of a particular
person, place or thing" and are spelled "with a capital letter," play an essential role
in a literary work. For instance let us consider personal PNs. They may refer to the
setting, social status and nationality of characters, and really demand attention
when rendered into a foreign language.
There are some models for rendering PNs in translations. One of these models is
presented by Hervey and Higgins (1986) who believe that there exist two strategies
for translating PNs. They point out: "either the name can be taken over unchanged
from the ST to the TT, or it can be adopted to conform to the phonic/graphic
conventions of the TL" (p.29).
Hervey and Higgins (1986) refer to the former as exotism which "is tantamount to
literal translation, and involves no cultural transposition" (p.29), and the latter as
transliteration. However, they propose another procedure or alternative, as they pu
it, namely cultural transplantation. Being considered as "the extreme degree of
cultural transposition," cultural transplantation is considered to be a procedure in
which "SL names are replaced by indigenous TL names that are not their literal
equivalents, but have similar cultural connotations" (Hervey & Higgins, 1986:29).
Regarding the translation of PNs, Newmark (1988a:214) asserts that, "normally,
people's first and sure names are transferred, thus preserving nationality and
assuming that their names have no connotations in the text."
The procedure of transference cannot be asserted to be effective where connotation
and implied meanings are significant. Indeed, there are some names in the Persian
poet Sa'di's work Gulestan, which bear connotations and require a specific strategy
for being translated. Newmark's (1988a:215) solution of the mentioned problem is
as follows: "first translate the word that underlies the SL proper name into the TL,
and then naturalize the translated word back into a new SL proper name." However
there is a shortcoming in the strategy in question. As it seems it is only useful for
personal PNs, since as Newmark (1988a:215), ignoring the right of not educated
readers to enjoy a translated text, states, it can be utilized merely "when the
character's name is not yet current amongst an educated TL readership."
Leppihalme (1997:79) proposes another set of strategies for translating the proper
name allusions:
Retention of the name:
a. using the name as such.
using the name, adding some guidance.
c. using the name, adding a detailed explanation, for instance, a footnote.
Replacement of the name by another:
a. replacing the name by another SL name.
replacing the name by a TL name
Omission of the name:
a. omitting the name, but transferring the sense by other means, for
instance by a common noun.
omitting the name and the allusion together.
Moreover, nine strategies for the translation of key-phrase allusions are proposed b
Leppihalme (1997: 82) as follows:
Use of a standard translation,
Minimum change, that is, a literal translation, without regard to connotative o
contextual meaning,
Extra allusive guidance added in the text,
The use of footnotes, endnotes, translator's notes and other explicit
explanations not supplied in the text but explicitly given as additional
Stimulated familiarity or internal marking, that is, the addition of intra-allusive
allusion ,
Replacement by a TL item,
Reduction of the allusion to sense by rephrasing,
Re-creation, using a fusion of techniques: creative construction of a passage
which hints at the connotations of the allusion or other special effects created
by it,
Omission of the allusion.
3. Conclusion
Although some stylists consider translation "sprinkled with footnotes" undesirable,
their uses can assist the TT readers to make better judgment of the ST contents. In
general, it seems that the procedures 'functional equivalent' and 'notes' would have
a higher potential for conveying the concepts underlying the CSCs embedded in a
text; moreover, it can be claimed that a combination of these strategies would resu
in a more accurate understanding of the CSCs than other procedures.
Various strategies opted for by translators in rendering allusions seem to play a
crucial role in recognition and perception of connotations carried by them. If a novic
translator renders a literary text without paying adequate attention to the allusions,
the connotations are likely not to be transferred as a result of the translator's failure
to acknowledge them. They will be entirely lost to the majority of the TL readers;
consequently, the translation will be ineffective.
It seems necessary for an acceptable translation to produce the same (or at least
similar) effects on the TT readers as those created by the original work on its
readers. This paper may show that a translator does not appear to be successful in
his challenging task of efficiently rendering the CSCs and PNs when he sacrifices, or
at least minimizes, the effect of allusions in favor of preserving graphical or lexical
forms of source language PNs. In other words, a competent translator is wll-advised
not to deprive the TL reader of enjoying, or even recognizing, the allusions either in
the name of fidelity or brevity.
It can be claimed that the best translation method seem to be the one which allows
translator to utilize 'notes.' Furthermore, employing 'notes' in the translation, both
as a translation strategy and a translation procedure, seems to be indispensable so
that the foreign language readership could benefit from the text as much as the ST
readers do.
Albakry, M. (2004). Linguistic and cultural issues in literary translation.
Retrieved November 17, 2006 from
Bell, R. T. (1998). Psychological/cognitive approaches. In M. Baker (Ed)
Routledge encyclopedia of translation studies. London & New York:
Cohen, A.D. (1984). On taking tests: what the students report.
Language testing, 11 (1). 70-81.
Culler, J. (1976). Structuralist poetics: structuralism, linguistics, and the
study of literature. Cornell: Cornell University Press.
Graedler, A.L. (2000). Cultural shock. Retrieved December 6, 2006 from
Harvey, M. (2003). A beginner's course in legal translation: the case of
culture-bound terms. Retrieved April 3, 2007 from
Hervey, S., & Higgins, I. (1992). Thinking Translation. London & New
York: Routledge.
Jaaskelainen, R., (2005). Translation studies: what are they? Retrieved
November 11, 2006 from http://www.hum.expertise.workshop.
Jaaskelainen, R., (1999). Tapping the process: an explorative study of
cognitive and effective factors involved in translating. Joensuu:
University of Joensuu Publications in Humanities.
Krings, H.P. (1986). Translation problems and translation strategies of
advanced German learners of French. In J. House, & S. Blum-Kulka
(Eds.), Interlingual and intercultural communication (pp. 263-75).
Tubingen: Gunter Narr.
Leppihalme, R. (1997). Culture bumps: an empirical approach to the
translation of allusions. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Loescher, W. (1991). Translation performance, translation process and
translation strategies. Tuebingen: Guten Narr.
Newmark, P. (1988a). A Textbook of Translation. Hertfordshire: Prentice
Newmark, P. (1988b). Approaches to Translation. Hertfordshire: Prentic
Newmark, P. (1991). About Translation: Multilingual Matters. Clevedon,
Philadelphia, Adelaide: Multilingual Matters Ltd.
Nida, E. A. (1964). Towards a science of translation, with special
reference to principles and procedures involved in Bible translating.
Leiden: Brill.
Richards, et al (1985). Longman dictionary of applied linguistics. UK:
Seguinot, C. (1989). The translation process. Toronto: H.G. Publications
Venuti, L. (1998). Strategies of translation. In M. Baker (Ed.),
Encyclopedia of translation studies (pp. 240-244). London and New
York: Routledge.
Translation Methods
Ted J. Thrasher, Olathe, Kansas
Text: 1 Pet. 1:24-25 "For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of
grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord
endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."
INTRODUCTION -According to Peter in this passage, our life in the flesh is temporary and fleeting -- all the
glory of man is compared to the flower of grass, which shall wither and fall away with the
passing of time. Contrasted to this is the enduring nature of the Word of God. God's Word
will never wither and pass away as the grass, as our bodies of flesh or as the things in
which man often glories. No, the Word of the Lord will endure forever.
The Word of God does not consist in the paper, ink, leather and binding of our Bibles, but
in the living truth which is communicated to us through the medium of the words we read
therein. Jesus said in Jn. 6:63, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing:
the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
Because of this great truth, God's eternal Word shall never be destroyed! It shall be
standing when this earth and all the things of this earth have been destroyed! It shall be
present in the day of judgment; It is the standard by which all men shall either stand or fall
(John 12:48)! How thankful we should be that we can read and study God's Word, in our
language, and know the truth of God whereby we may be free of the guilt of sin (John
8:32)! This is made possible because of the painstaking work of 148 men who accurately
translated from the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek into our English
language, what we know as the King James Version and the American Standard Version.
However, we should recognize that there are some today, for various reasons and motives
(some apparent and some not), which are producing what they call "Bibles" or "Versions"
of the Bible which are not really God's Word. They will not succeed in destroying God's
Word, for, as we have seen that is impossible. But, they very well may succeed in
deceiving many people by binding their productions in attractive forms and printing the
word "Bible" on it somewhere and passing it off as a "new and improved version" of
God's Word. Therefore, we need to understand that not every book which claims to be the
"Bible" is, in fact, God's Word.
I am deeply saddened by the confusion which surrounds this issue -- A confusion which I
firmly believe is the work of the devil and his agents to destroy the power and influence
of the Word of God on the hearts of men and women. I am further saddened because
people are now asking "Which Bible Should I Study?" which in essence, equates to the
same question as, "Where Can I Find The Word Of God?" or "Which Version Is The
Word Of God?"
Brother Goebel Music in his excellent book on the Easy To Read Version (p 127-149,
154-57), listed 133 different versions and 7,000 Editions or Styles which have been set
before the public and presented as some form of the Word of God. He lists some of the
various styles as: Children's Bibles (Toddler's Bible, Children's Bible in 365 Stories),
Recovery Bibles (Helping The Addicted And Codependent...), Bibles With A Point Of
View (Pick a denomination), Issues-Oriented Bibles (The King And The Beast, for teens,
which deals with drug abuse, homosexuality) and Scriptures For Him And Her
(Appealing to the Needs of Man and Woman).
Could everyone of these possibly be the eternal Word of God -- the standard by which we
will be judged? And if not, which one, if any, is the Word of God? And even if some have
a reliable translation of the Bible, yet it is often weaved in among the false doctrine taught
in the comments and footnotes. Amid this type of confusion, how can one find the Word
of God? How can one know, out of all these various books, claiming to be the Word of
God, which to choose? Or if we should choose any of them?
Certainly we are sobered by the responsibility set before us to deal with the issue of
translation and versions of the Bible. The work of translating God's Word from the
original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek into another language is a complex
process which is far beyond the limited abilities and resources which most students of the
Bible possess. In a study of the various methods of translation, we are concerned with
"how" the translation is done or the philosophy of the translator(s) and this, by it's nature,
is a technical subject.
Thankfully, we do not have to be able to do the work of a translator to study the various
methods which are used. And we do not have to be able to study the original languages
and translate them ourselves in order to know the Word of God. (Although a study of the
original language is often helpful to those interested in discovering some of the shades of
meanings which are conveyed in the original. For instance, there are three Koine Greek
words which are translated "love" in the New Testament. The first is the highest form of
love: agape; the next is philos which is friendly love and the third is storge which is the
love of kin, relatives, family. With just one English word to express all three types of love,
we must rely on the context to define their usage. However, a study in the original easily
yields the distinct meaning.)
Virtually everybody who studies the Bible depends upon a translation of the original
languages for their knowledge of God's Word. Since, "...faith cometh by hearing, and
hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17) it is imperative that the translation we use be
an accurate translation of God's Word from the original, rather than the opinion of some
theological expert, or worse, the doctrinal bias of some denominational teacher eager to
insert his false doctrine right into the text! If it is not, then our faith will be based upon
man's word rather than God's Word.
I. Definition Of Terms.
Since we are dealing with somewhat of a technical subject, we need to define some of
terms, so we can understand it clearly.
1. Translate/Translation. If you consult an English dictionary, it will give the definition
of the word "translate" as, "1. To give the sense or equivalent of in another language;
change into another language" (F&W 1422) Or "carry over into one's own or another
language." Obviously, this definition is too broad and loose when used in the context of
the important work of translating God's Word. This definition is almost the same as
"interpret" which means to explain in other words. This would accommodate all the loose
methods currently being used by liberal "translators" today.
In answering the question "What Is A Translation?" Francis Steele writes, "The liberties
taken by many so-called translators is seen in their violation of the limits of true
translation in distinction from paraphrase. Any technical definition of `translation' must
emphasize the meticulous accuracy with which such limits must be observed, especially
by scholars who profess to believe in scriptural revelation."
He then gives this wonderful definition of the word translate/translation, "A translation
should convey as much of the original text in as few words as possible, yet preserve the
original atmosphere and emphasis. The translator should strive for the nearest
approximation in words, concepts, and cadence. He should scrupulously avoid adding
words or ideas not demanded by the text. His job is not to expand or to explain, but to
translate and preserve the spirit and force of the original... Not just ideas, but words are
important; so also is the emphasis indicated by word order in the sentence" (Translation or
Paraphrase? 1-3).
Brother Wayne Jackson wrote, "A `translation' is simply the rendition of the original
Biblical text (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) into one's native vernacular. Everyone, unless
he reads the Biblical languages is dependant upon a translation" (Handbook On Bible
Translation 532).
In the one sense of the word, a "translation" is the act of translating from one language to
another; in another sense, it is also used to refer to the end result or the finished product
which has been translated. Here is where we also meet the need to define another word
which is often used in connection with the second definition of the word "translation"...
2. Version. This word is defined as, "A translation from one language to another" (F&W
1489) and especially when referring to an updated translation of the Bible. (Although
version can also be defined, "A description or account as modified by a particular point of
view." This definition would seem to more closely define what most of the modern speech
versions are in fact -- just their author's point of view.) In this sense of the word, there is
truly only one "version" which matters, and that is God's Version -- His Inspired Word.
However, some of the modern speech versions attempt to use the word "version" in the
sense of "revision. They take the good name of an accurate translation and then tack the
word "New" in front of it, in order to promote their product. For instance, the NASV
sounds like it is a revision of the ASV, but in fact it is a completely new translation and
does not follow in the same principles of translation accuracy as the ASV.
3. Revision. The word revision means exactly what it sounds like, "1. To read or read
over so as to correct errors, suggest or make changes..." (F&W 1151). When one makes a
revision of the Bible, he may go back to the original language for comparison and
correction, but the major work is to re-read the translation and correct minor errors in the
text or bring the text up to date. For instance, the KJV has been revised several times
since it was first translated in 1611 to change the spelling of words and to change some of
the words which are no longer part of our vocabulary (needs to be done again). However,
the major work of translation still stands as accurate as when it was first translated.
Many of the versions which bear the name "Revised" in their titles are actually new
translations and go much further than just revising the version which are they are
supposed to follow. The RSV is one example of this. It is supposed to be a revision of the
KJV. But it is not an accurate revision of the KJV because in many places it changes the
very structure and accuracy of the text and teaches error in several passages (Isaiah 7:14
among them).
II. Some Of The Things We Are Not Discussing.
Before we engage in the study of the philosophy and methods which have been used to
translate from the original languages, we need to list some of the things we are not
discussing in this lesson. Some of these need to be discussed in other lessons, but they are
outside the scope of this lesson.
1. Textual Criticism. Textual criticism is the work of scholars who compare the minor
differences which occur between different copies of the original Hebrew or Greek texts.
We do not possess the actual "autograph copies" but thousands of copies or fragments of
them. In addition to this we also have thousands of copies of what are called the
"patristics" which are the writings of the early church fathers, which quote the Scriptures.
Over the years, there have been several discoveries which continue to add to the
credibility and accuracy of the original text of the Bible.
Some today may argue over the differences in the Greek text of the Textus Receptus
(Received Text, used by KJV) or the Westcott-Hort (Critical Text, used by ASV) but most
admit that there are very little substantial differences in them. Geisler and Nix wrote,
"...both texts convey the contents of the autographs, even though they are separately
garnished with their minor scribal and technical differences" (General Bible Introduction,
464). Therefore, we do not and should not doubt the accuracy or credibility of the original
2. Interpretation Of Existing Translations. This is what is generally called
"hermeneutics" or Biblical interpretation. Some regard translation as a part of
hermeneutics because of the need to interpret the word from one language to another. This
may be the case, but translation is not interpreting or giving the meaning of an existing
translation in the same language. A translator may sometimes function in the role of
interpreting from the original to the native language because of some unique concept
which is not easy to translate. But, his primary work is to correctly translate the text,
rather than interpret the text.
3. The Concept Of A "Perfect Translation" Most any one who has studied this issue
knows that we do not have a perfect translation in our possession. Francis Steele wrote, "It
is impossible to make a perfect transfer from one language to another in any translation"
(Translation or Paraphrase, 7). All translations have some minor errors or mistakes. This
should not be taken to mean that all so-called translations are the same. Some have many
more errors than others. However, in our best translations, the mistakes are so
insignificant and trivial, that we can honestly say that we have the Word of God in our
language. The same cannot be said for some of the perversions available today.
4. Translations Other Than English. There can be no doubt that the availability of
translations in English far outnumber any other language. Further it is apparent, (from
those who are preaching in other countries), that there is a great need for accurate
translations from the original text in these nations. Many of the so-called Bibles which are
being used are merely translations from English versions into the native tongue. Some
have selected poor English versions from which to translate (such as the NEB) and then
compound the problem by translating their error along side the original error!
III. Methods Of Translation.
There are four basic theories or methods of translation which have been used by those
who do the work of translating from the original languages.
1. Literal or Highly Literal. This is where the exact words, word order and syntax are as
literally followed and translated into English as possible. Many of the interlinears, such as
Berry's Interlinear are examples of this method of translation. Young's Literal Translation
is another example of this method of translation.
Even though these are highly accurate to the Greek, yet often times they are difficult to
read in English. For instance YLT reads in John 3:16, "for God did so love the world,
that His Son - the only begotten - He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not
perish, but may have life age-during." Berry's Interlinear reads, "For so loved God the
world that his Son the only begotten he gave, that everyone who believes on him may not
perish but have life eternal."
Although these are accurate translations, due to word order and syntax they are difficult to
read in English. They are best used as tools for those who wish to study the literal English
translation along side the original language. And for those who are more concerned with
the structure of the original than the structure of English. They would be difficult to use in
public readings or even daily Bible reading.
2. Formal Equivalence, Form-Oriented or Modified Literal. This is where the actual
words are translated and then adjusted slightly in order and syntax to conform to the target
language. This method respects the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. It focuses on the
form or the very words of the text and translates them. It is based upon the philosophy that
each and every word of the text is important and carries a meaning of its own which is
possible to express in another language.
This method involves a single process whereby the words are directly translated from the
original to the target language. The emphasis is given to translating the words and the
various parts of speech as closely as is possible without distorting the meaning. This
means that nouns are translated as nouns, verbs as verbs, articles as articles, adverbs as
adverbs and adjectives as adjectives. Close attention is given to grammar so that tenses,
moods, numbers and persons are translated as closely as possible. The KJV is especially
accurate in translating the second person plural as "ye" (a distinction which is lost in
many versions by translating both singular and plural numbers as "you").
This method is sometimes recognized (and criticized) as the word-for-word method of
translation. It is the most accurate of all methods of translation in versions which are
readily available. It is the method which was employed by the KJV, ASV and NKJV
translators. Because of these translator's respect for each word, when they added English
words which did not correspond to a Greek word, they italized these words, so that the
reader could know that these words were supplied by the translators. This type of honesty
and ethical responsibility cannot be found in the modern-speech versions today.
3. Functional Equivalence, Context-Oriented, Idiomatic or Dynamic Equivalence.
This method of translation departs from the formal equivalence method in two areas: (1) It
is concerned with the thought of the writer, (as if they knew!) and (2) The reaction of the
translated message by the person reading it (as if they could predict it). It is based on the
underlying theory that communication takes place, not in word form, but in sentence form
or that the sentence is the smallest unit of communication. (Although we recognize that
the definition of words must be considered in their context, this does not mean that words
have no meaning of themselves or do not communicate themselves. Just yell "Fire" real
loud in a crowded place sometime and see if a single word can communicate. Or whisper
"Shop" or "Sale" to a woman and see what happens next).
This method of translation is defended by such men as Eugene A. Nida and Charles R.
Taber in a book entitled The Theory and Practice of Translation. In contrasting what they
term the "new focus" (Dynamic Equivalence) and the "old focus" (Formal Equivalence)
they write, "The new focus...has shifted from the form of the message to the response
of the receptor. Therefore, what one must determine is the response of the receptor to the
translated message. The response must then be compared with the way in which the
original receptors presumably reacted to the message when it was given in its original
setting" (p 1).
In order to achieve this result they go through a three step process which involves: (1)
Analyzing what they think the inspired writer meant; (2) Transferring the thought to the
target language; and (3) Restructuring it to fit what they think the person reading it will
understand (Ibid. p 33). This last step involves a number of subjective judgments and
decisions based upon emotions, attitudes and even doctrinal bias. The result is more
interpretation than translation.
The fundamental difference between Formal Equivalence and Dynamic Equivalence is
that FE is a word-for-word translation (which derives doctrine from God's Word) while
DE is a thought translation which allows the translator's doctrine to determine what he
thinks the Word of God should say. Needless to say, we reject the Dynamic Equivalence
approach to translation as being an accurate or valid method of translation.
4. Paraphrase or Unduly Free. This method is hardly worthy of being called a method
of translation, since it is not concerned with the words or sometimes not even the meaning
of the original. It is so loose that it will allow excess words, whole sentences or even
paragraphs to be inserted into the text without any justification other than the
paraphraser's belief that he is producing a product which is easier to understand than the
Word of God. Most are nothing but commentaries and very poor ones at that, since they
are packed with the false doctrines of the author of such works.
Further, some of them include words and thoughts which are vulgar and disrespectful of
the dignity which should befit the Word of God. Such liberties are taken in this method
that even liberal scholars do not recognize this as a valid or accurate method of translation.
Neither should we!
While we recognize that there is a place for paraphrasing and commenting upon the
Scriptures, honesty demands that we call it a commentary or a paraphrase of the
Scriptures rather than trying to pass it off as the Word of God in a more readable or
understandable form.
IV. Some Examples Of Various Methods Of Translation.
In order to understand these methods of translation better, we now present some examples.
Since, very few would regularly read from an interlinear or the result of the highly literal
method and since all agree that they are accurate, we will not include them in our
examples. The real debate is between the thought (DE) translations and the word (FE)
However, since paraphrases are readily available and some people are deceived into
thinking they are obtaining the Word of God by the packaging of such, we shall also give
some examples of these. One of the ways we can determine the translators' method is by
reading the Preface and Introduction of each.
1. Paraphrases. In this category we have such works as:
A. The Living Bible: Paraphrased by Kenneth Taylor. As the title indicates this is a
paraphrase or loose commentary. In the Preface of this book, he writes that "...a
paraphrase is guided not only by the translators' skill in simplifying but also by the clarity
of his understanding of what the author meant and by his theology. For when the Greek or
Hebrew is not clear, then the theology of the translator is his guide, along with his sense
of logic..." (Preface of LBP, 7th Ed. from Handbook 458).
Notice his emphasis is on simplifying and attempting to interpret what he thinks the
author meant (as if he knows the mind of God better than the inspired apostles). This is
nothing more than his commentary based upon "his theology." He makes it clear that
when in doubt about the original, insert your own theology. He was obviously in doubt a
great deal about the Hebrew and Greek because he inserted 126 words in the first 5 verses
of Romans 4!
Some styles of this paraphrase also use vulgar and irreverent pictures and thoughts in
titles and in the text itself! (Refer to Wallace 594-610).
B. The New English Bible is another example of the paraphrase method of translation,
even though some may place it in the DE method of translation. C.H. Dodd, who served
as the General Director of this project, admitted this in the introduction, "The line
between translation and paraphrase is a fine one. But we have had recourse to deliberate
paraphrase with great caution, and only in a few passages where without it we could see
no way to attain our aim of making the meaning as clear as it could be made." (Handbook
He also admits in the Introduction that the method used was different than a word-forword translation: "This meant a different theory and practice of translation...Fidelity in
translation was not to mean keeping the general framework of the original intact while
replacing Greek words by English words more or less equivalent." That he followed the
paraphrase method of "thought" or "sentence" translation is further seen in this statement
of the "freedom" of the translator from the Introduction: "...he is free to exploit a wide
range of English words covering a similar area of meaning and association he may hope
to carry over the meaning of the sentence as a whole." (Handbook 731).
Unfortunately, neither the meaning of the words or the sentences was carried over from
the original in many passages of the NEB! Brother Foy Wallace in his review of the NEB
in A Review Of The New Versions lists 80 different New Testament passages in which
words have been omitted, inserted, mis-translated or paraphrased. Among them are:
Acts 20:7 being changed to read "Saturday night" instead of the first day of the week.
In 1 Cor. 12:10; 14:26 it has the Corinthian brethren speaking in "ecstatic utterances"
(following the Pentecostal's doctrine) rather than "tongues" (or languages).
Eph. 5:19 being changed from "making melody" to "making music" and leaving out the
word "spiritual" altogether.
Professor O.T. Allis of Princeton, at the end of his Comparative Study Of The New
English Bible wrote of the NEB that it, "is to so marked a degree a paraphrase or
interpretation of the Biblical text that it cannot be regarded as a `faithful rendering' of it,
and therefore cannot be accepted as a worthy substitute for or successor to the great
historic Version of 1611 which it aims to supplant." (Wallace 525). We can say "Amen"
to that!
C. Other Paraphrases. There are several others in this category such as:
Goodspeed in The New Testament -- An American Translation has the eunuch of Acts 8
sitting in a "car"! (Handbook 457).
Philips in his New Testament In Modern English Foreword makes an admission that he
"occasionally" wrote "what appears to be a paraphrase" but that he had "always been
careful to avoid" it. Apparently he could just not avoid it in 1 Pet. 3:21 for where the
Bible says, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth now save us", he wrote, "And I
cannot help pointing out what a perfect illustration this is of the way you have been
admitted to the safety of the Christian `ark' by baptism, which means, of course..."
(Wallace 611). In the introduction to the book of Acts Philips says that "Luke's sources of
information were probably first-class" (Wallace 613). Therefore, not inspired of God, but
probably the best he could get!
Cotton Patch Version which irreverently garbles Acts 2:36 to say, "...let all America
know beyond any doubt that God has made this same Jesus, whom you lynched, both
President and Leader." Such irreverence is sickening! All of these should be rejected as
nothing more than the opinions (and very poor opinions) of the men who produced them.
They are the work of man, not of God and certainly not worthy to even be considered as
any part of the Word of God.
2. Examples Of The Dynamic Equivalence Method.
As we pointed our earlier, the goal of those who embrace this method is not to translate
the very words of the original, but to translate what they think the writer of the original
meant (in sentence form) and then restructure the result of that process to what they think
the person reading it will be able to understand in his own language. One of the most
notable examples and widely accepted versions in this category is:
A. The New International Version which is a production of the International Bible Society
which began this work in 1965 and continue to change it from time to time. In the Preface
it says, "There is a sense in which the work of translation is never wholly finished." Why
not, if it is done accurately? There may be a need for slight revisions, as a living language
changes, but not retranslation. The fact is the NIV has changed as pressure has been
exerted from various religious groups seeking to change what it says.
Again in the Preface it is stated of the translators, "...they have striven for more than a
word-for-word translation. Because thought patterns and syntax differ from language to
language, faithful communication of the meaning of the writers of the Bible demands
frequents modifications in sentence structure and constant regard for contextual meaning
of words." Notice, the emphasis is not upon the words of the writers of the Bible, but the
thoughts or contextual meaning. This is at the heart of the DE method of translation, to
overlook the words and focus on what they think the inspired writers meant.
Further the NIV boasts of being "transdenominational in character" and this was supposed
to protect it from "sectarian bias." However, it would seem from an examination of what
it teaches, instead of protecting it, it insured that it was written into the text. It shows it
sectarian bias in such areas as:
(1) It mistranslates the Greek word sarx in numerous passages as "sinful nature" thus
teaching the false doctrine of original sin or total hereditary depravity.
(2) It tries to eliminate Mark 16:9-20 from the inspired text by stating, "The most reliable
early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20." (1978).
(3) It teaches faith only or that salvation comes at the point of faith or confession in such
passages as Eph. 1:13, Rom. 10:10 & 1 Pet. 3:21.
These are only a few of the areas where it teaches false doctrines and presents them as
God's Word! Even though a great number of our liberal brethren have accepted and use
the NIV, it is not an accurate translation of God's Word and should not be accepted as
B. Today's English Version: TEV (Also called "Good News For Modern Man). Most place
the TEV in the Dynamic Equivalence method, even though in places it borders on being
in the paraphrase category because of it's extreme looseness and overall irreverence for
the Word of God. When it first came out it was called the two-bit version because it cost
25 cents. Those who read it with discernment quickly found out it wasn't worth it!
In the Preface of Good News For Modern Man it says, "As a distinctly new translation, it
does not conform to traditional vocabulary or style, but seeks to express the meaning of
the Greek text in words and forms accepted as standard by people everywhere who
employ English as a means of communication. ...there has been no attempt to reproduce in
English the parts of speech, sentence structure, word order and grammatical devices of the
original language" (Preface of GNMM p iv from Handbook 765-6).
One of the most predominant errors of the TEV is the removal of the word "blood" from
the text. It is eliminated in 16 of the New Testament passages referring the blood of Christ,
and in 20 passages of general reference (Wallace 531-2). Thus it shows their preference
for modernism and disdain for the precious blood of Christ shed for our forgiveness.
It changes Acts 20:7 to read, "On Saturday evening we gathered together for a fellowship
meal" instead of translating it as the first day of the week breaking of bread. It uses vulgar
language in Acts 8:20 and teaches that Peter, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, told
Simon, "May you and your money go to hell..." There is absolutely no reason or excuse
for this type of irreverence and irresponsible handling of inspired truth!
C. The New American Standard Version has been placed (by some) in the same category
as the KJV and ASV for its accuracy, yet it does not deserve a place along side them in
the FE method of translation. In keeping with the DE method, the translators of the NASV
have tried to anticipate what the reader would be able understand and/or accept and then
translate it accordingly.
Under the heading of Principles of Translation the Editorial Board of the Lockman
Foundation wrote, "When it was felt that the word-for-word literalness was inacceptable
to the modern reader, a change was made in the direction of a more current English
idiom." In the translation of Greek tenses it is stated, "...the translators took care to follow
English rules rather than Greek in translating Greek presents, imperfects and aorists."
Which means, again, that the reader's supposed understanding is more important than the
accurate translation of the Greek to English.
Even though the NASV deceptively bears part of the same name as the honored and tested
ASV, suggesting that it may be a revision of the ASV, it in fact is a completely new
translation, as the Introduction states, "...in 1959, a new translation project was launched,
based upon the ASV." But, if one reads further, it also says, "...in the preparation of this
work numerous other translations have been consulted along with the linguistic tools and
literature of biblical scholarship." Actually, the NASV could more closely be called a
revision of its Lockman parent: the Amplified Bible, for it follows its text much closer
than the original or the ASV (Wallace 584).
It makes some of the same mistakes as the other so-called versions in several passages:
In Matt. 5:17, Jesus is made to say that He would not abolish the law of Moses, but in
Eph. 2:15 it says that He did abolish the "Law of commandments." An obvious
contradiction which cannot be reconciled! God's Word does not contradict Itself. But, the
NASV contradicts in these passages, therefore it is cannot be the Word of God in these
passages. If it is not the Word of God here, what about other places?
Mark 16:9-20 are placed in brackets, indicating their doubt that they belong in the text
and then in the footnote it says, "Some of the oldest mss do not contain vv. 9-20." As if
this settles the issue that they should not be there!
I Cor. 7:25 & 40 has the apostle Paul giving "his opinion" about certain matters
concerning marriage. However, Paul did not say that! He said he gave his "judgment" and
that he had "the Spirit of God." Paul was not giving uninspired opinions, but was
revealing truths which had not been revealed directly by the Lord in these passages.
Even though the NASV may not be as inaccurate or teach false doctrine intentionally, yet
it still does not deserve the amount of defense or praise it receives from some of our
3. Examples Of The Formal Equivalence Method.
There are three translations which I believe fall in the category of word-for-word
translations which are currently available today. They are the KJV, the ASV and the
NKJV. The first two of these can be recommended without reservation as being accurate
and reliable translations of the original language to English.
A. The King James Version was translated in England at the order of King James I from
the Textus Receptus text beginning in 1604 and was finished in 1611. 54 of the world's
best scholars of that day began the work, while 47 completed the translation in 1611. It
has stood the test of 384 years of use and criticism and still stands as one of the most
loved and used Bibles we have in the English language. Despite the attacks and ridicule of
critics, both old and modern, it remains "the standard" by which other versions are judged.
From an examination of the 15 rules outlined to the translators of the KJV, we can reach
the conclusion that these men were given the responsibility of producing a translation as
close to the original language as possible, thus they employed what we would call the FE
method or "word" translation. Notice some of the rules given by Gustavus S. Paine in The
Men Behind The KJV:
"1. The ordinary Bible read in church, commonly called the Bishop's Bible, to be
followed and as little altered as the truth of the original will permit.
4. When a word hath divers significations, that to be kept which hath been most
commonly used by most of the ancient fathers.
6. No marginal notes at all to be affixed, but only for the explanation of the Hebrew or
Greek words, which cannot without some circumlocution be so briefly and fitly expressed
in the text." (Handbook 588-9).
Obviously, these men were concerned with the translation of the words not the thoughts
of the text and used great pain to compare each word with the original, while avoiding the
use of marginal notes. They were charged with translating the Word of God from the
original, not inserting their thoughts or writing commentary in the footnotes.
This, however, does not mean that they did not have some doctrinal bias and failed in
some areas to translate as clearly as they could. For instance, the word baptizo in the
Greek was transliterated to "baptize" because the Church of England did not believe in
immersion. This, however, is far from the rank error which is taught in many so-called
versions. This is not error, but a lack of clarity in translation.
B. The American Standard Version began as the English Revised Version which was
published in England in 1885. It was revised slightly by the American Revision
Committee and published as the ASV in America in 1901. The underlying New
Testament text of the ERV and ASV was the Westcott-Hort text.
The intention of the ERV and ASV was to revise the KJV and it differs from the KJV in
some areas where the Westcott-Hort text differs from the Textus Receptus. However,
even in those areas it is clearly seen, (thankfully) that the ASV translators more closely
followed the KJV than the Westcott-Hort text. Clearly they utilized the FE method or
word-for-word type of translation.
Brother George Dehoff wrote, "The King James Translation of the Bible brought the
church to us. It was the translation that gave us the Restoration movement. The few
inaccuracies in translation and obsolete words are not of any great importance but they
were well taken care of in the American Revised (later called the American Standard)
Version of 1901. The 1901 translation is probably the most accurate word for word
translation ever made. Indeed, it is sometimes called "slavishly accurate." Whatever that
means, it will never be said about the rash of new Bibles we are now getting. Accuracy is
not one of their faults!" (Wallace xv).
In the preface of the New Testament the revisers stated: "by rule of procedure which the
Committee followed, the translation of 1611 held its place in every instance until an
alteration commanded the votes of two-thirds of the revisers..." (Handbook 568).
Brother Wayne Jackson wrote of scholars such as F.F. Bruce and others, that even though
they promoted some of the more modern versions they still admitted that the
"...ERV/ASV are the most meticulously accurate translations in the English language."
(Handbook 568).
Both hostile and friendly witnesses attest to the accuracy and reliability of the ASV. It
undeniably belongs in the category of the FE method of translation and even leans in
places towards the highly literal method.
C. The New King James Version was copyrighted by Thomas Nelson, Inc. in 1979. It was
designed to be a revision of the KJV, "as a continuation of the labors of the earlier
translators" (Preface iii). Actually it is based upon virtually the same text as the KJV with
minor modifications in those areas where discoveries have been made since 1611.
It clearly follows the word-for-word method of translation, as the translators state in the
Preface, "Where new translation has been necessary in the New King James Version, the
most complete representation of the original has been rendered by considering the history
of usage and etymology of words in their contexts. This principle of complete equivalence
seeks to preserve all of the information in the text, while presenting it in good literary
form. Dynamic equivalence, a recent procedure in Bible translation, commonly results in
paraphrasing where a more literal rendering is needed to reflect a specific and vital sense."
(Preface iii).
The translators of the NKJV also are men who believe that God is the author of the Bible
and in the verbal plenary inspiration of the Scriptures. "...it has seemed consistent with
our task to cooperate with competent scholars who are governed by the biblical principle
of divine authorship of the Holy Scriptures. Therefore, all participating scholars have
signed a document of subscription to the plenary and verbal inspiration of the original
autographs of the Bible." (Preface iv).
Despite their view to retain the dignity of the KJV, the NKJV translators eliminated the
reverent pronouns such as "thee," "thou" and "thine" thus diminishing from the reverence
which should be retained in God's Word. Further, the removal of the word "ye" for the
second person plural pronoun takes away, rather than adds to the accuracy of the text.
Further, the NKJV translated the Greek term porneia with the less than accurate phrase
"sexual immorality" which is properly translated "fornication" in the KJV and ASV.
However, in following the KJV in honesty, the NKJV also placed the words supplied by
the translators in italics. Certainly the NKJV belongs in the category of the FE translations,
as do the KJV and ASV.
V. Principles Of Translation.
There are several factors which influence those who translate from the original languages
of the Bible: Attitude toward inspiration, Character, Doctrinal Bias and the Number of
People Involved in the translation process. Since these factors often effect the result of
their work, we need to look at the translator's philosophy and beliefs concerning the Word
of God. This is sometimes called principles of translation or philosophy of translation.
Before we pick up a new version and start to use it, we need to examine some the
characteristics of those who produced it. Here is a list of some of the things we should
1. The Translator's Concept Of Inspiration. Does he believe in the Verbal Plenary
Inspiration of the Scriptures, that every word is God-breathed OR does he believe that
God gave the apostles and other inspired writers the thoughts and allowed them the liberty
to select their own words? Does He believe that the Scriptures are complete and that
revelation has ended, or does he believe that the Holy Spirit is still revealing new truths
which are not found in the Bible? Does he believe that every word is inspired and
therefore every word of the text is God's Word or that just some of the words are inspired
and some are the words of man? Many times we can find the attitude of the translators
expressed in the Preface and Introduction of these versions. We should beware of all that
do not express a firm belief in every word being God's Inspired Word.
Further, the translator's concept of inspiration has a bearing upon whether he believes in
the inerrancy of the Scriptures or that there are no mistakes in the Scriptures. If a person
believes that a part of the text is from God and a part from man, then logically he must
accept that part is inerrant (God's part) and part could be error (man's part). The confusion
this brings is: Who decides which part is God's and which part is man's? Which is error
free and which could be error? Therefore, we must reject the spurious theory of partial
inspiration and affirm full, complete, plenary verbal inspiration of the Scriptures and thus
the inerrancy of the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16).
2. The Translator Should Recognize That Inspiration Is Not Lost In Translation.
This does not mean that those doing the translating are inspired themselves, but that to the
degree that they accurately translate the original the result is inspired. Otherwise, none of
us can say that we have the inspired Word of God in our possession, without reading the
original. Jesus and the apostles quoted from the LXX which is a translation from Hebrew
to Greek (Mk. 12:36; Heb. 3:7; 9:8; 10:15).
Brother Guy N. Woods wrote, "The popular notion, `no translation is inspired' results
from a mistaken concept of (a) what inspiration is, (b) to what inspiration extends and (c)
how inspiration was achieved. ... The test of any translation is, does it reflect fully and
accurately the mind of the Spirit as revealed through those chosen by the Lord to make
known his will to man? If yes, the words, whatever the language, embody the meaning of
the Spirit and are as inspired as the original presentation..." (Q&A II, p 240-242).
In the Introduction to Brother Foy Wallace's book, A Review Of The New Versions,
brother George DeHoff wrote, "Inspiration resides not merely in the original Hebrew and
Greek words but in the truth itself. Any correct translation is inspired. To the extent that it
is correctly translated it is the inspired word of God." (p xiv).
It should be apparent then that when the Hebrew and Greek words are accurately and
honestly translated into any language, that inspiration exists in the second language.
However, many who claim to be translating today do not hold this view and some
brethren have followed them in this false concept. Thus, we insist that the translator of
God's Word must realize and respect this important concept and firmly hold to the
principle that his work is resulting in the inspired Word of God in another language.
3. The Translator Must Work From An Accurate Text. There are essentially four
different text families from which a translator may choose, however these have been
compiled and form the basic underlying text for most translations. The Textus Receptus
and Majority text are the foundation for the KJV and NKJV, while the Westcott-Hort text
is the foundation for the ASV (although the translators of the ASV followed the KJV text
in most differences). While most agree that the Majority text is accurate, with only minor
difficulties (even Westcott and Hort admitted this), the Westcott-Hort text has been under
severe criticism from advocates of the Textus Receptus/Majority text for doctrinal bias
being inserted in the text and some portions of the Scriptures omitted which should be
retained (John Burgon being the foremost).
There are also dangerous winds blowing now among some of our brethren who are calling
for an acceptance of an "eclectic" text (where one chooses what he believes is the best or
most accurate from all the various texts). This may sound good in principle, but, who
among us, is adequately qualified to make such decisions? Further without an absolute
text, it will be impossible to have an absolute translation which we can know is the Word
of God. A faulty text will only lead to a faulty translation. When considering a new
translation, check to see what text is used.
4. The Translator Must Believe In Word-For-Word Translation. Since the Holy Spirit
guided the inspired writers in the selection of words (1 Pet. 1:19-20; 1 Cor. 2:13) we must
insist that the translator also translate the words, not merely the thought or the idea. Often
thought translations are based upon the erroneous concept of thought inspiration.
R.C. Trench wrote of the work of the translator, "The conscientious task is to take the
actual word of the original and transplant it unchanged..." (Bible Revision from Handbook
399). It is not the work of the translator to try and figure out what the inspired writer was
thinking or even what he meant and how it applies. It is his work to take the actual words
and translate them, as accurately as possible. Further, it is not his work to decide what the
reader may think or try to anticipate his "level" of thought and then place it on the level of
his anticipated readers. Some of the paraphrases have this philosophy behind them. When
one does this, he has ceased to translate and is producing a commentary aimed at a
particular audience.
5. The Translator Must Recognize The Need For A Readable Translation. When we
speak of a Word-For-Word translation, we do not mean that it must be so literal that it is
practically unreadable. Each language has it's own peculiar concepts, rhythm and word
patterns. The translator must therefore, strive for the closest possible match and then
adjust the structure of the words to be readable in English. However, this should not be
done at the expense of accuracy. These adjustments should be the exception, not the rule.
Some have criticized the ASV as being strong in Greek and weak in English. I do not
believe this is a valid criticism, since it is very readable and understandable in English.
However, if the choice must be made between readability and accuracy, we must choose
accuracy. Most of the so-called versions available today may be quite readable in English,
but they are not accurate. So what have we gained if we have a readable version, but it is
not the Word of God? Except, perhaps, a better understanding of the false doctrine
injected into the text.
An easy to read version is not what we need. What we need is to study the accurate and
reliable versions we already have. Many of our ancestors in this country learned to read
using the KJV, we would do well to follow their pattern instead of clamoring for an easy
to read Bible!
Brother Gary Colley in the conclusion of his tract "New Translations" listed three
fundamental rules necessary for Bible translating:
1. They must be accurate translations of the original text.
2. They must be clear; without doctrinal contradiction or confusion.
3. They must possess the dignity that befits the inspired Word of God.
One would think that every one who sets about to produce a new translation would gladly
conform to these principles. But, not so! A brief study of almost any modern speech
version will show that most fail on all three counts!
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION -The paraphrase method is obviously not concerned with translating God's Word, but
commenting on it. These, so-called versions should be regarded as just commentaries and
many of them very poor commentaries because they are loaded with the false doctrinal
views of their authors.
Regardless of what some liberal scholars and liberal brethren may say in defense of the
NIV and the Dynamic Equivalence method, it is not an accurate or acceptable method of
translating the Word of God, because it depends on the thought method and doctrinal
background of the translator. Further it depends too much on what the translator thinks the
reader will be able to understand, rather than just translating the Word of God and
allowing the reader to understand at his own level.
Therefore we believe that the only proper method of translation is the Formal Equivalence
or word-for-word method which respects the divine authorship of the Bible and the verbal
plenary inspiration of the Scriptures. We have two accurate and reliable translations in the
KJV and ASV which used this method. Some conservative brethren have declared the
NKJV to be also. It certainly does not have all the problems of many other new versions,
but to me it seems to add to the confusion which already exists in the church today
concerning versions.
The ASV has been effectively taken out of the hands of most people today by the lack of
publishers and availability. That leaves us with the KJV and while it is not absolutely
perfect, as a translation, and as its critics complain that it contains archaic words, yet it
still remains accurate, available, affordable, acceptable, reliable and understandable to
most people who honestly want to study the Bible and know God's Word in the English
I, for one, would like to see a revision of the KJV (as it has been revised before) which
would simply remove some of the words which have completely changed in their
meaning in today's English (such as "let" "prevent") and correct minor mistakes (such as
"Easter" in Acts 12) and yet would still retain the accuracy and reverence which the KJV
has been noted for, for centuries.
I do not believe, however, that the NKJV is the answer to this desire. We do not need a
new translation to add to the confusion and difficulties which already surround this issue,
although I feel we will probably see many more line the shelves of book stores in the
future. As for me and my house we will continue to use the KJV/ASV!