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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

On Translations of the Bible

Rob Bradshaw at BiblicalStudies.org.uk recently uploaded an interesting lecture by H.F.D. Sparks, "On Translations of the Bible." Professor Sparks introduces us in a very personal way to translation issues over British and American revisions to the KJV (AV). The pdf download from Rob's blog is free.

7 Comments:

At Wed Aug 16, 09:32:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

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At Wed Aug 16, 10:40:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

seem perliously close to anti-Semitism

I'm glad you caught that and wrote about it. Typical of me, I was so limited on time that I only skimmed Sparks' article and missed a good deal. There should be no room for anti-Semitism in Bible translations.

 
At Thu Aug 17, 05:08:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

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At Thu Aug 17, 08:39:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

Wayne said, I'm glad you caught that and wrote about it. Typical of me, I was so limited on time that I only skimmed Sparks' article and missed a good deal. There should be no room for anti-Semitism in Bible translations.

No shame, Wayne. His comments on translations themselves (as long as you ignore the "perliously close to anti-Semitism", though not obviously so, comments) are still interesting and relevant. We would be foolish to close our eyes to others views on scripture and their Biblical ideologies.

Better to be knowledgeable, though dead, than ignorant and alive.

When studying WWII we often need study Hitler's ideology; likewise, when studying the Bible and Christian History in particular, historical positions on anti-Semitism "needs" be studied as well. After all, anti-Semitism has played a role in translation historically speaking, and if we do not know about this, how can we create Better Bibles?

That is what this blog is all about (Better Bibles, for those barely listening/reading)...

 
At Thu Aug 17, 08:47:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

On the other hand, I find this comment from the article to be most telling:

…whatever may happen in the future, we cannot, in our existing situation, escape the necessity of choosing between one translation and another, if we are going to use the Bible at all…

Although many people advocate the use of as many translations as necessary (each for a different pretty little purpose, etc.) the reality is that people enjoy using one PRIMARY translation; only wishing to consult another in times of confusion or heavy study.

I don't find this desire to be unrealistic, and I think the pursuit of "Better Bibles" will help enable people to rely on one particular translation.

If you don't believe what I say (Undergrad. psych. will teach you differently) it is not hard to just look around us and see that this is a desire of the average, and even the above average (look at scholarly endorsements), Christian.

I, for one, do not blame them. Is it good to consult other Bibles? Absolutely, but I am not so ignorant as to suggest that it is not a built in desire of a majority of individuals to identify most closely with a particular translation.

 
At Thu Aug 17, 09:23:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Matthew concluded:

Is it good to consult other Bibles? Absolutely, but I am not so ignorant as to suggest that it is not a built in desire of a majority of individuals to identify most closely with a particular translation.

I agree, Matthew. I confess to finding myself "floating" some for several years because I have not personally settled on a single Bible that I use for my main version.

I think your comments point out an important social motivation that people have, solidarity, fitting in, group-ness. Like every human motivation, it can be taken to excess, but it can also be used for good.

At this time, I don't see any contemporary English version gaining the "standard" status that the KJV enjoyed for so long. But individual faith communities, at least, can have their own standard version.

 
At Tue Aug 22, 07:48:00 PM, Blogger Ian Myles Slater said...

Sparks follows the "judaizing" passage with the claim that "when we are choosing a Church version, accuracy (as it is customarily understood) is a less important consideration than it is when we are choosing one for the Bible student, or even when we are choosing one just to read ‘as literature’."

I cringed, but I'm not completely unsympathetic. I suppose, given the context, that he is concerned about the Psalms in particular being faith-affirming, rather than problematic, for the ordinary worshipper. I think that this is a legitimate concern; not least because most people these days aren't accustomed to reading poetry, let alone poetry with some of its roots in the Bronze Age. (And not just a concern for Christians -- Psalms translations can be problematic for Jewish worship too, particularly given the layers of midrashic exposition relating to their use in the service, as against what is now understood to be their literal meaning.)

However, a lot of people seem to regard the translation they are accustomed to reciting (or hearing) in congregational worship as "the real Scripture," and perceive anything different as "changed," so following his advice would seem to be setting the stage for a lot of avoidable conflicts.

 

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