Lewis on translating into the vernacular
In both [England and America] an essential part of the ordination exam ought to be a passage from some recognized theological work set for translation into vulgar English—just like doing Latin prose. Failure on this exam should mean failure on the whole exam. It is absolutely disgraceful that we expect missionaries to the Bantus to learn Bantu but never ask whether our missionaries to the Americans or English can speak American or English. Any fool can write learned language. The vernacular is the real test. If you can’t turn your faith into it, then either you don’t understand it or you don’t believe it.(Published in The Christian Century, 31 December 1958, pp. 1006-1007.)
I wonder if Lewis would have said the same thing about the Bible being in vernacular "American or English"? I would hope so. Lewis was a good author. It's his kind of English and that used by a number of other good English (and "American") authors that I would like to see in English Bibles. We find it in J.B. Phillips' translation. We find it sometimes in passages in other English Bible versions. It would be wonderful to see it much more.
It's that kind of natural, vernacular translation that I keep crusading for on this blog. It results in better Bibles. Vernacular translation does not mean the end of good literary English in the Bible. On the contrary, some of the best literary English can appear in English Bibles. We just need to commit ourselves to pay as much attention to the quality of English in our translations as we do to the biblical languages we try to understand to translate them.
HT: Bradford Mercer via Adrian Warnock