Eddie and Sue Arthur

Throwback Thursday: Bible Translation Terms

This is one of my favourite ever posts on Kouyanet. When I first posted it in 2011, I had to remind a few people that it was actually meant to be humorous and that they shouldn’t take it too seriously. For a while, I was actually running a script on the sidebar which would randomly generate names for new English translations of the Bible, but WordPress didn’t seem to like it. Perhaps, I’ll try again.

One of the problems with the whole issue of Bible translation is that people use such confusing terms. For someone who just wants to understand the merits of a particular translation or who is perhaps looking to buy a Bible, the geekish terminology that surrounds the subject can be a real stumbling block. So, in order to help those who have not been initiated into the secrets of translation terminology, I would like to present this definitive guide.

  • Meaning Based: “a translation which prioritizes the meaning rather than the form of the original language.”
  • Form Based: “a translation which prioritizes the form of the original language rather than the meaning.”
  • Literal Translation “a form based translation”
  • Word for Word: “a form-based translation and I don’t know much about languages.”
  • Free Translation: “I don’t like this meaning based translation.”
  • Paraphrase: “I really don’t like this meaning based translation.”
  • Accurate: I like it.
  • The Most Accurate: means either
    • as an opinion (I believe this is the most accurate translation) “I really like it.”
    • as a statement of fact (this is the most accurate translation) “I know nothing about translation theory or languages.”
  • Dynamic Equivalence “I read a blog post about translation once.”

I hope this is helpful. There are undoubtedly other terms which could be added. Please feel free to make your own contributions in the comments.

Meanwhile, as we argue about all of the different translations we have in English, there are millions of people around the world who don’t have a single word of Scripture in their own language. Is there anything you can do to change this?

 

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