Today Henry Neufeld blogs on Examples of Textual Issues in Translation
. Henry begins:
One issue that is commonly neglected in comparing Bible translations is the text used. Translators are well aware that differences in translation can be the result of differences in the text used, but in modern times, the approach to the text used by most translations has been very similar, and thus tends to be ignored by non-professionals. One major distinction is between those translations that follow the Textus Receptus, and those that use a more modern, eclectic text in the New Testament. The NKJV is a good example of a modern translation that follows that text.
But in discussing the RSV, ESV, and NRSV, I was reminded of another textual difference that is less well known: The attitude of the translators toward conjectural readings and readings in supported only by an ancient version or one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Typically, in translating the Hebrew scriptures, Christian translators have followed the Masoretic Text, the text printed in the vast majority of Hebrew Bibles, unless they find it impossible to translate the MT intelligibly. In that case they will look to the versions, the scrolls, or even to a conjectural emendation in some translations. The tendency in New Testament textual criticism, because a large amount of external evidence is available, is to study each variant and determine the best text, but this procedure has not yet carried over into Old Testament studies.
Henry goes on to discuss how treatment of the textual variants affects translation of two passages:
The first is an added paragraph between 1 Samuel 10:27 and 11:1. In this case we have an explanatory paragraph that comes between Saul becoming king and the situation in Jabesh Gilead which is Saul’s first problem as the leader of Israel. The NRSV alone among the modern translations includes this paragraph as part of the text. It is noted in a footnote in both the NLT and the CEV.
He discusses the textual evidence for specific translation choices. He does the same with his second example:
A second case involves the text of Isaiah in the Revised English Bible (REB) and the New American Bible (NAB). Isaiah 41:6-7 are transposed in that version to follow Isaiah 40:20. This is a correction supported by no external textual evidence at all. Presumably the change is based on a copying error involving miscopying part of a column, but the mechanism by which the change could occur is a bit obscure. It would have had to occur very early in the text.
Henry writes well, as always, and many visitors to this blog should find his comments helpful to understand how some Bible versions differ from others in the Old Testament, due to differences in the biblical texts used.