God Didn't Say That

Bible Translations and Mistranslations

What’s Plenary Verbal Inspiration Got To Do With Translation?

Some people believe that every word of scripture is God-given. Reasonable people can disagree about this (see Clayboy’s thoughtful rejection of the idea, for example) but I’m not sure the inspiredness of the words has anything to do with translation.

Even if every Hebrew and Greek word in the current version of the Bible is inspired, I still see only two options:

1. Leave the words untranslated.

2. Translate them as well as possible.

Option (1) seems like a good idea if you believe that the only point of the words was the very words themselves. And option (2) seems like a good idea if you believe that one point of the words was to convey a message in a particular way.

The only reason I can think of to focus on the words to the exclusion of the sentences is if you believe that the words are inspired but the sentences are not.

I suppose it’s possible, but does anyone believe that?


December 1, 2009 - Posted by | translation theory | , , ,


  1. I am not sure many people think that far…shame, as they should.

    Comment by Joel | December 2, 2009

  2. I love this post.

    Comment by toryninja | December 2, 2009

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