God Didn't Say That

Bible Translations and Mistranslations

Bible Translation: Where Melody and Mirrors Merge

Still following up on my question about accuracy and choosing Bible translations, and by way of answering my question about whether it’s okay if people choose what the Bible is, it occurs to me that music might be a useful comparison.

Many, many parts of the Bible have been set to music, and the options for any single passage usually range considerably. So people get to choose, for example, if they want Isaiah to be majestic or meditative, or if they want the Lord’s Prayer to be glorious, powerful, or pensive.

And most people — myself included — don’t see any problem with this. We should be able to choose how we want our religious music to sound.

But most people also agree — and again, I’m one of them — that we don’t get to choose what our religious texts mean, or, at least, that the options are more constrained.

So it seems to me that another way of looking of the question of choosing a Bible translation is this: Should a Bible translation be more like a melody (where everything is fair game), or more like a mirror (where accuracy is paramount)?


July 12, 2010 Posted by | translation theory, using Bible translations | , , , | 5 Comments

Choosing What the Bible Is

I recently asked how people choose a Bible translation. (And I have more here.)

One interesting (though entirely predictable) result was that some people prefer more than one translation: the NLT for “readability,” for example, but the NET for “accuracy,” or the NASB for use in formal settings.

Even people who only have one preferred translation usually like the translation for similar kinds of reasons.

The upshot of this, though, is that people are deciding for themselves what the Bible is.

You can decide to have a formal Bible, a chatty Bible, an accessible Bible, or an esoteric Bible. You can opt for a Christian OT or a Jewish OT (even though it’s the same text).

Do you think this is okay? Do you think it’s okay that people get to choose what the Bible is (for them)?

July 12, 2010 Posted by | translation theory, using Bible translations | , , , | 14 Comments