The controversy over Bible translations has cooled in recent years. Items such as the "KJV only" dispute and other issues have, for the most past, settled as the Bible reading public has been educated. But within that refinement, another controversy has been born. With all the sophistication and difficulty that attends the translator's task, it remains a reality that the proponents of dynamic equivalence and essentially literal translations are bound to clash. This book Understanding English Translation: A Case for An Essentially Literal Approach written by English professor, translation stylist, and biblical scholar, Leland Ryken, argues that Christians need to adhere to an essentially literal approach in translating the Scriptures and in choosing their Bible.Ryken believes that to do otherwise is to imbed too much interpretation into the text, and in fact if we do accept dynamic equivalence, we are changing the text from the Bible to one's own interpretation of it. Would not one's theological beliefs inappropriately influence the construction of a "dynamic equivalence" translation? Especially in those passages most problematic to a translator's theology? Ryken's argument is strong, insightful and penetrating and "exposes the dynamic equivalence theory of the Bible translation as not only insufficient but counterproductive in that it of necessity moves its practitioners from being translators of the Bible to interpreters, commentators, and even editor's." of the Bible."
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Review 1 for Understanding English Bible Translation: The Case for an Essentially Literal Approach
Date:May 14, 2010
Dr. Ryken's treatments of the various positions or philosophies in modern Bible translation should not be taken lightly. He is an able scholar with keen insight into the issues he includes in his text.However, I do not believe Dr. Ryken handles the issues as a dispassionate observer. He has a very definite bias toward the essential literal translation perspective, which comes through almost from the very first explanation and his definitions of the various translation philosophies, his term. It is especially noticiable when he describes or attempts to define dynamic equivalence. His contempt for the term itself makes itself known and thus it is hard for him be objective.I personally know and have been taught by a number of the Bible theologians and scholars who were part the translation teams of five modern English translations of the Bible; the NASB, the New King James, both NIVs, The ESV. Every one of these men and women are faithful Christian believers. Their hearts and minds are always focussed on telling God's story, God's way through the translation of God's word into the language of the people who will be reading it.Dr. Ryken railed against the idea of "marketing" a translation to a target audience. I put it you that the translators of the 1611 King James Bible did something similar. They did not do market studies, but they were definitely bent on reaching the Protestant audience.The idea that certain English translations from the 17th or 18th century are somehow superior in translation and are more faithful to the ancient language of the Scriptures is almost ludicrous at best. They have their place in translation history and should be read by the Chritians who wish to read them. They are not superior.Neither are the 20th century translations superior.Serious students of the Bible should read Dr. Rykens book. I would recommend it, with the above caveat.