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Sunday, February 10, 2008

An ever present help

We shall proceed with the concept of beautiful English. Sparkle and colour should not be left out. John has responded to the recent post by Wayne, and this one of Tim's. John clarifies for us many of the details, illuminating the Hebrew.

John then writes,
    It is a well-kept secret that the Tyndale-KJV tradition sought and found dynamic, non-literal equivalents, lexically and syntactically, on many occasions. The tradition does not throw up an “essentially literal” translation. Nor does it aim at syntactic transliteration, as 1 Kgs 2:2 shows in spades.

    Those who advocate for an essentially literal translation - I do not name names for the sake of charity - not only have the entire field of modern linguistics against them; they are also stepping outside the great tradition of English translation. Still, properly understood, the dictum that a translation should be as literal as possible and as free as necessary remains good advice.
In Psalm 46:1, we see a clear example of a dynamic equivalent found in the KJV which replaced the former literal translation. The RSV, ESV, and (T)NIV have all retained this dynamic equivalent for its beauty and familiarity. However, the HCSB returns to the literal.
    God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble. ESV, KJV, NASB

    God is our refuge and strength,
    a helper who is always found
    in times of trouble. HCSB
However, the Geneva Bible had,
    God is our hope and strength,
    and helpe in troubles, ready to be found.
In fact, as far as I can see, the KJV was the first to translate this "a very present help in trouble." It is a good example of a non-literal dynamic equivalent which has been retained in subsequent translations. It is important to realize that Bible translation owes much to human tradition. This is not a negative quality, but a realization that God has put in each of us the desire to create beauty - sparkle and colour. Of course, since we are human, tastes differ. God is one, and we humans are a diverse lot.

I was reared in a very puritanical church environment. We didn't have a formal church building and religious art and instrumental music was frowned on. In fact, the a capella singing was downright terrible. This was due to keeping human "art" out of the sanctuary.

I now understand that the Bible translations themselves owe much to human art. Understanding Bible translation as a God-inspired human activity opens my heart to seeing what God is doing through other people's God-inspired art of different kinds.


At Tue Feb 12, 11:03:00 PM, Blogger tc said...

I like the NIV/TNIV here:

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."


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