The Principles of Coherence
While Kintsch and his colleagues did not come up with any easily used formula, they did contributed[sic] to our understanding of readability, including the central role of coherence in a text. Kintsch found out that lack of coherence affects lower-grade readers much more than upper-grade ones. The upper-grade readers, in fact, feel challenged to reorganize the text themselves. They may require more opportunities for solving problems, while lower-grade readers require more carefully organized texts.
Well, there you have it: coherence plays a central role.
I have often found that many Bible translations stutter as I read them. Not only does the versification have a profound impact on readability and comprehension, but the grammatical and lexical dislocations cause me to stumble and trip along as my mind walks through the text. I think the worst part, however, is the translations appear to follow a verse-at-a-time or clause-at-a-time methodology. There doesn't appear to me to be any effort at capturing the coherency in the paragraphs. Nor any effort to convey how the paragraphs are coherently connected.
Let me give what I hope will be a rather thought provoking example (and this will be far too short of an appropriately developed presentation).
Ephesian 4:17-5:17 form a chiasm with 5:1-2 in the exact center. If you start reading at 4:17 you'll see that 5:1-2 appear to jump off the page as an incoherent addition to the text. That's one of the clues that indicates a chiasm. The fact is that it is the topic sentence of the entire section. Furthermore, the topic is driven home by way of a conclusive summary in 5:17. This conclusion also reflects, in a contrastive way, what Paul says at the beginning in 4:17-18, another clue to the chiasm. In other words, we need to have the Lord's understanding and not the pagan understanding.
With this conclusion in place, Paul launches into a very practical application of what it means to "imitate God" and to "understand his will," namely, Eph. 5:19-6:9. This involves being "filled with the Spirit." Being filled with the Spirit means living correctly within several societal institutions--marriage and family, and (what we would call) employer-employee.
Next, Paul launches into the armor of God section. I discovered recently that this is a very clear allusion to Isa. 59. What does Isa. 59 have to say? Well, it's about God dealing with the sin problem--the very thing Paul was dealing with in Eph. 4:17-5:17 when he told us to imitate God! What does God do? He puts on armor to deal with the sin. What does that mean for us? We are to imitate him--that's what Eph. 5:1-2 said! We are to also put on his armor!
It's quite coherent.
It took an enormous amount of effort for me to discover that. And yet, now that I see it, it is perfectly obvious that that is what Paul is doing. It's the structure of the text that clued me in, and the coherency that convinced me that I correctly comprehended what Paul was saying.
Why can't I have a translation that helps me see the structure of the text far more easily than the hurdles I have to jump over today?