God Didn't Say That

Bible Translations and Mistranslations

A Note About God’s Word

Polycarp has some comments about the God’s Word translation, where he quotes a text that refers readers to a PDF called “A Guide to GOD’’S WORD Translation: Translating the Bible according to the Principles of Closest Natural Equivalence.” It’s an impressive document. Take a look.

Unfortunately, the translation doesn’t always seem to rise the promise of its principles.

It claims to be a fully new translation, yet it seems to mirror some other versions pretty closely. Just for example, Psalm 98:4 is generally difficult to translate because of its four “singing”-like verbs: hari’u, pitschu, ran’nu, and zameru. The first one starts the verse, and the last three appear one after the other at the end. Rather than simply conjoin all three verbs, the ESV, for example, goes with, “break forth into joyous song and sing praises!” Similarly, God’s Word offers, “Break out into joyful singing, and make music.” The similarities of syntax and word choice (“break forth”/”break out” and “joyous song”/”joyful singing”) seem unlikely in a translation that didn’t rely on other English versions.

And for that matter, the rendition of the line — “Shout happily to the LORD, all the earth.//Break out into joyful singing, and make music” — doesn’t seem to rise to the level of poetry.

Still, most translations do no better, and in light of the obviously well-informed thought that went into designing the translation, I think God’s Word deserves closer attention.

October 8, 2009 Posted by | Bible versions, translation practice, translation theory | , , , , | 6 Comments