Packer and Nida
I asked Dr. Packer about the inclusion of the TNIV translation of Ιουδαιοι as 'Jewish leaders' in the Statement of Concern about the TNIV. Here is the relevant quote from the Statement of Concern.
- Gender problems are not the only serious problems with the TNIV. For example: How do the TNIV translators know that changing "Jews" to "Jewish leaders," for example in Acts 13:50 and 21:11, does not make a false claim, and obscure a possible corporate meaning?
- It’s a spinoff from extreme sensitivity, extreme unwillingness to say anything that would be offensive to Jews since the holocaust which has given all Protestants a bad conscience about our Protestant performance. Most nations took a step or two in their history towards what ended up in Germany as the holocaust.
Let me say now on behalf of the ESV which tried consistently to hold to the distinction between translating, that is showing you what was there in the original, and interpreting, which is a matter of telling the contemporary reader what you think it means in areas where more than one view of what it means is possible .
You know very well in Johns gospel it is just 'Judeans' or 'Jews'. 'Jewish leaders' is probably the right interpretation though it isn’t a grammatical. It can’t be said that 'Ioudaioi' means Jewish leaders - it doesn’t, it just means people who lived in Judea. John could have said 'chief Judeans' but he didn’t, he said 'Judeans'. There are various ways he could have said that. He only said 'oi Joudaioi'. The only safe way is to translate it 'the Jews' and explain that translation isn’t a matter of working in your own preferred interpretation of things.
Its simply a matter of making it possible for the readers of the translation to see what was there in the original in saying that of course, you realize, we are, people like me, we are returning to an ideal of translation which was rubbished by people like Nida, and which I think you have to return to because Nida foreshortened translation as a process and he made it into interpretation. He said that you must understand that translating is interpreting in a sense that gets away from the first purpose of translation, which is to tell the people what was there.
- All translation is to a certain extent interpretation, that is, in the Darby translation of 1 Tim. 2:16 it is “she shall be preserved in childbearing”, and in the Luther Bible it is "she shall be blessed through childbearing". But to come back to preserved - the difference is between preserved and saved, they are both word for word translations, but you have to make a decision, it is in interpretation.
- Oh that is certain, and there are lots of circumstances like that in scripture, I give you that point without argument. I am still saying there is a difference between trying to give people access to the way in which the sentences were put together, it was thus the thought was expressed in the original, and keeping people from the original by only telling people what you think it means.
I have a few difficulties with this. First, how possible is quantitative equivalence, the same number of words in the translation as there are in the original. Sometimes a month worth of writing will only approximate the idea :-) Second, once one settles for a 'word for word' translation, there is still a vast range of words to choose from. Which word is the 'right word' for any particular 'word for word' rendering? It is not always obvious and ultimately depends on interpretation.
Third, can one actually try to translate a Greek word consistently by the same English word in similar contexts. ESV Translation Philosophy "we have sought to use the same English word for important recurring words in the original." We know that no English Bible does this, and certainly the ESV no more than any other. Decker's article has more to say about this.
At the same time I am in sympathy with a translation philosphy that does not encourage unnecessary interpretation. While I enjoy and use the Good News Bible, I am also quite attuned to the KJV. But I have been told over and over, "No, Suzanne, that is not an option." (sigh)