Problems Confronting Bible Translators

If, according to the Proverbs of Solomon, “The way of the transgressor is hard” (Prov. 13:15 KJV), the way of the translator is scarcely less so. Not only does the work of translating demand the utmost in concentrated effort, but the result will seldom please everyone — least of all the conscientious translator.

Since not all the nuances in a text can be conveyed into another language, the translator must choose which ones are to be rendered and which are not. For this reason the cynic speaks of translation as “the art of making the right sacrifice,” and the Italians have put the matter succinctly in a proverb, “The translator is a traitor” (traduttore traditore). In short, except on a purely practical level, translation is never entirely successful. There is always what Ortega y Gasset called the misery and the splendor of the translation process.

Now the work of translating the Bible presents special difficulties. Since the Scriptures are a source both of information and inspiration, Bible translations are required to be accurate as well as felicitous. They must be suitable for rapid scanning as well as for detailed study, and suitable for ceremonial reading aloud to large and small audiences. Ideally, they should be intelligible and even inviting to readers of all ages, of all degrees of education, and of almost all degrees of intelligence.

This comes from Bruce Metzgar. You can read the whole article here. Thanks to Craig Adams for the link.

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