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How to use the Bible translations at Ichthys

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I have been reading your papers on line. I enjoy them very much. However, I can not determine which Bible translation you use in your papers. It seems to be literal. Could you please advise? Thank You.


Well, there is really no such thing as a completely "literal" translation, otherwise one would have been done long ago. The problem with translating "literally" is that every language has its own peculiarities, grammar, syntax, tone, cultural differences, vocabularies, etc. In the case of the last item on this list, that is, vocabulary, words in one language may be similar to words in another, but are never exactly the same. Just imagine superimposing a circle of a slightly larger circumference on another circle and you will see the problem - there is an area where the circles do not match (and that is true going both ways is there is any off-set when you superimpose them). Multiply this phenomenon times every word in the combined vocabularies of the two languages and you begin to get an idea of the impossibility of word-for-word translation just on this basis. When the other factors in the list are added, this makes the process of "literal" translation a complete misnomer. And if this is true of translating modern languages where the ideas involved are simple, when translating ancient texts like the Bible where the meaning is often misunderstood, it all the more so true. What a good translator shoots for is to bring over into his/her own language the true meaning of the text he/she is translating, and that requires, among other things, understanding it first in the original language. Thus translation is a process which is as much art as it is science and one which requires a good deal of knowledge and experience in both languages and in translating generally in order to be effective.

To answer your question, yes, many of the translations that occur in the text of these studies are my own. However, I also quote from KJV, NIV, and NASB whenever, in my opinion, they have hit the nail right on the head. In such cases, I will attribute the quotation after the verse reference in the following manner: "Genesis 1:2 KJV". Where there is no attribution as in the foregoing example, then you may be sure that the translation is original with me. It might also be helpful to know that when I use square brackets within a text, I am supplying words that are understood in the context but not actually present in the original (i.e., in the same way in which the KJV uses italics):

Now the judgment of this world is [imminent]. Now the ruler of this world is about to be cast out [of it].
John 12:31

On the other hand, when I use parentheses in a Bible verse, everything inside the parenthesis is in the biblical text (it is just a parenthesis) - with one exception: I also use parentheses to explain and expand certain portions of the text; whenever I do this, you will be able to tell because the parenthesis begins with explanatory abbreviations like i.e., e.g., lit., cf., et al.:

It would be very difficult to do Bible studies of this sort without providing one's own translations. Every language is different, and there is no exact equivalent between any given language "A" and language "B". What one has to do is to understand what is meant in the target language, then find a way to represent it accurately in the translation language, correctly reflecting meaning, tone, nuance, emphasis, etc.  In biblical interpretation, this is especially problematic, because "understanding" what is in the original requires not just abundant language expertise and familiarity with textual criticism - it also requires one to truly understand what the Bible is saying in any given passage and, ideally, in every passage (and that, of course, is a life-long process to which no one ever perfectly attains). So while there are for these reasons many translations of famous works of literature (Homer, for example) which are quite different from one another, in the Bible this difference between translations is often even more apparent precisely because the way the translators understand the Bible and how well they understand the Bible affects the translation in very many instances.

The study "Read Your Bible: Protection against Cults" has some things to say about some of the major versions and their strengths and weaknesses on this score.

Thanks much for your interest and your positive comments!

In Him who is the Word of Truth, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill

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