Tim Bulkeley who writes at Sans Blogue (one of the funniest blog titles on the planet in my view) has just written an excellent post on what a Bible translation should look like.
What makes paragraphs acceptable and headings anathema?
Firstly, almost all “normal” books in our culture have the prose printed in paragraphs, but section headings are optional. Second, although bad paragraphing misleads a reader, it misleads them much less than a badly placed or worded section heading. (That’s why I am glad to see the layout of many modern Bibles indicate when the old [but not “biblical”] chapter breaks fall in the “wrong” place.) So, paragraphs do more good and less harm. Indeed they are part of the translation process for printed books in our culture are not merely worded in English, they have paragraphs for prose and lines for poetry. Thus in translating ancient Hebrew or Greek into modern English this adaptation of form is legitimate.
Chapters and verses are a similar case. They too are added to the Bible and NOT part of the text. Yet, they are very convenient, how else – if we wanted to check the cotext – would we know which precise part of Romans Wayne meant (above) unless we knew the whole book nearly by heart? But, since they are additions added to the text, make the indications small and as unobtrusive as is convenient. (read more)