Monday, June 10, 2013

Translating the Bible

Hello my dear reader,

If you have a Bible and you read it, guess what: you are interpreting the text because reading in itself is interpretation. Well, that's a story for another post. Flavia Di Consiglio from the BBC looks at translating the Bible in the 21st Century and she correctly points out that when scholar and priest William Tyndale decided to translate the Bible into English in the 1520s, he set out on a dangerous journey that eventually led him to be burned at the stake. At the time, the only authorised Bible in England was a 4th Century Latin version, and translations were forbidden. Tyndale's crime was an intense desire to see his fellow countrymen read the Bible in their own language. Five hundred years later, Bible societies around the world are pursuing the mission of having the 'Book of Books' translated into every single language known to man, and the number of new versions grows every year.

Among my favorite parts of this article was how one Protestant scholar work may differ from an Eastern Orthodox scholar and the fine balance that goes into translating against the backdrop of different theological outlooks:
Mr Morava gives an example of how this delicate balance is achieved, citing the concept of redemption. It is an important aspect of Protestant theology and refers primarily to the event of the crucifixion, whereas, says Mr Moravia, it does not find a lot of favour among the Eastern Orthodox Church. "The Old Testament speaks often of God redeeming Israel from Egypt," says Mr Morava.

"A Protestant translator would prefer to keep this term in order to echo the redeeming act of God that finds full expression later in history in the story of crucifixion. However, an Orthodox translator finds this unnecessary and rightly points out that the use of such terminology in these verses does not make sense for the reader." According to Mr Morava, a suitable alternative is to translate as 'saving' or 'liberating' the people of Israel from Egypt.

Do you have a particular Bible translation that you prefer?

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