Modes of Communication: 1 Cor. 6:20
For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Cor. 6:20, NKJV)Try this: read that verse wording aloud, or, better yet, have someone else read it aloud to you. Focus on the last three words. Based only on what you hear, not on what you read, what meaning or meanings do you get from the last three words?
Did you hear an ambiguity in those words? If you did (and not everyone will), the fact that you did calls for Bible versions not only to be translated so that they read well on paper, but also so that they sound good when read aloud.
Suzanne has just completed her series here on modes of communication. She has addressed issues relating to written vs. oral communication. There is direct relevance to Bible translation.
I am increasing in my appreciation for the Bible read aloud, including as part of a liturgy. I like to listen to Bible versions which have been translated with both modes of communication in mind, visual (written words on a page) and oral. As many of you probably know, the earliest copies of Bible books were often read aloud. There was no printing press nor paper, so there was no inexpensive way to mass produce books. Copies of biblical books were often scarce, so they would be read aloud to benefit more than just the reader.
I think that much of the Hebrew Bible was written specifically to be read aloud. The text has many beautiful oral features, including alliteration, assonance, euphony, repetition, and word plays. It is difficult to reproduce some of the oral features in translation but some translators have tried, including Fox and Alter.
Some English Bible translation committees today are intentionally paying attention to how their translation will sound when it is read aloud, as well as how it will sound to the mind when people read it to themselves silently. I commend such translations. I consider them better Bibles.
Most English versions translated during the past several recent decades do not have the potential ambiguity I spotted in the wording of 1 Cor. 6:20 this morning, because the Greek underlying the translation "and in your spirt, which are God's" are not found in the oldest manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. If I were translating from the Greek textual base used in the KJV and NKJV I would reword the last three words to "which belong to God" to avoid the ambiguity which, when read aloud, can communicate the meaning that our bodies and spirits are gods.