Here We Go Again: The Passion Translation
Those of you who have followed Kouyanet for a while can imagine just how delighted I wasn’t when I discovered that yet another new English translation of the Bible is being published. This time we have, the Passion Translation.
The Passion Translation describes itself as:
The Passion Translation is a new, heart-level translation that expresses God’s fiery heart of love to this generation using Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic manuscripts, merging the emotion and life-changing truth of God’s Word.
Let me be honest here; I know what all of these words mean, but I haven’t a clue what they signify when they are put together in this order. Sadly, too much of the advertising for this new translation is of this sort, which frankly doesn’t bode well for the translation itself.
The Passion Translation is the work of Dr. Brian Simmons who used to be a missionary linguist and Bible translator in Panama. This gives rise to two thoughts; firstly he should know better than increasing the already over stocked English language translation market and secondly, what would happen if every missionary linguist decided to produce an English translation as well? I’ve got hundreds of colleagues who are just as qualified and experienced as Dr. Simmons; should they all publish new English Translations?
There is an FAQ section on the Passion Translation website which gives a few details of the translation, let me comment on a couple of things:
In past translations wonderfully gifted scholars were trained to focus on other factors besides the emotion of the text. As Brian has studied the original biblical manuscripts, he has uncovered what he believes is the love language of God that has been missing from other translations.
As a general rule, anyone who claims to have studied the text of the Bible and found something that everyone else has missed is best avoided. If they have studied the text in the original languages and discovered something that everyone else has missed, they are well educated, but still best avoided.
You may have heard about two kinds of Bible translations: formal equivalence and functional equivalence. These are fancy words for Bibles that are either literal word-for-word versions (formal) or thought-for-thought versions (functional or dynamic).
OK, so which of these two sides does The Passion Translation take? In many ways, both!
While we’ve worked hard to express the original biblical languages in modern English, we believe there really is no such thing as a consistent word-for-word translation. Yes literal meaning matters, but the full meaning of a passage doesn’t transfer from word-to-word. Our translation philosophy is that the meaning of God’s original message to the world has priority over its exact form, which is why our goal is to communicate the meaning of Scripture as clearly and naturally as possible in modern English.
If you strip away the extra words, this says that the Passion Translation is a dynamic translation which claims to be literal (other translations make the same claim).
I need to be clear, I’ve not read the Passion Translation and I can’t comment on what the translation itself is like (apart from one verse, which I’ll mention below). However, the publicity on the translation web page is awful. Perhaps it doesn’t translate across the Atlantic, but the hyperbole, the claims to uniqueness and the overwritten psychobabble give me no confidence in this product at all.
There is one verse quoted on the website:
“No promise from God is empty of power, for with God there is no such thing as impossibility!” Luke 1:37
Again, it may be a British English vs American English thing, but that reads very awkwardly to me.
A couple of further points:
- The Passion Translation website has a very annoying video on the front page which plays every time you visit it. Once would be fine, but in the process of writing this blog post, I’ve had to listen to it three or four times. Someone needs to fix that.
- If the Publisher of the Passion Translation wants to send me a review copy of any of the books that have been published so far, I would be delighted to give an honest review. Until then, I’m just left with an impression from the website and that is far from positive.