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Monday, July 25, 2005

Meet a translator ... Mark Taylor (NLT)

In this interview we get to know Mark Taylor better. Mark was part of the team that produced the New Living Translation. Mark is the president of Tyndale House Publishers. He is the son of Ken Taylor, author of the Living Bible paraphrase, who died six weeks ago, on June 10.

Hi Mark. When did the Bible first start becoming important to you personally?
I had the advantage of growing up in a home where the Bible was revered, so it has been important to me personally as long as I can remember. I also had the advantage of hearing the Bible read in modern and understandable language from my earliest days.
What was your role in the production of the New Living Translation?
I was the chief stylist for the NLT. In this role I worked closely with the Hebrew and Greek scholars to help ensure that the wording of the translation was easy to understand and was natural English. I also chaired the discussions when the Bible Translation Committee met as a group to finalize the wording of the various books.
What are one or two revisions during the translation process that you remember?
We struggled long and hard over the translation of magoi in Matt. 2:1, 7, 16. The Living Bible (from which the NLT is partially derived) translated it "astrologers," but the contemporary image of an astrologer didn't seem to convey the right meaning. We rejected the transliteration "magi" (see NIV) as having little meaning for the average reader. Our scholars were unhappy with the traditional "wise men" because it provides no sense of the astrological role these men played. But in the end we selected "wise men" simply because the story of the wise men visiting the baby Jesus is known even to Americans who are biblically illiterate.

A larger translation issue relates to the formatting of the poetic passages of the Old Testament. The Living Bible did not use poetic format at all. In the 1996 edition of the NLT we used poetic format for the Psalms and a few passages such as Moses' song in Exodus 15. In the second edition of the NLT (2004) we converted almost all of the poetic passages into a poetic format. For example, almost the entire book of Job is now presented in poetic format.
How would you like people to pray for the ministry of the New Living Translation?
Our goal is for the reader to understand the message of Scripture in reading the NLT. As we say at the end of the Introduction to the NLT, "We pray that readers will gain insight and wisdom for living, but most of all that they will meet the God of the Bible and be forever changed by knowing him."
Thanks, Mark.

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