Two Very Different Reviews

Recently two bloggers wrote reviews of Leland Ryken’s new book on translation: Understanding English Bible Translation (which I cannot link to for purchase with a good conscience).

One of them is written by Tim Challies, a self-employed web-designer with a degree in history from McMaster University, whose also done some interesting writing on culture & the church.

The other is written by Joel M. Hoffman, who has “a PhD in theoretical linguistics and has taught Bible in religious settings and translation theory at Brandeis University and at HUC-JIR in New York City”

Very different views of the same book.

Challies writes:

In Understanding English Bible Translation Ryken argues persuasively that there is much to gain in depending upon an essentially literal translation of Scripture and he argues equally well that there is potential for great loss if we turn instead to dynamic equivalents or other less-stringent translations.

Though not quite an academic book, neither was it particularly easy reading. Still, it did a good of presenting arguments for what Ryken calls an “essentially literal” approach to translating the Bible. <– That referred to Ryken’s first book; my mistake.

And Hoffman writes:

Unfortunately, Ryken’s work is marred by a disdain for scholarship, rhetoric disguised as argument, and a lack of attention to the very biblical text he claims to be investigating.

I’ll let you read the rest…

(HT: Bryan Lilly – I don’t actually read Challies’ blog…)

8 thoughts on “Two Very Different Reviews

Add yours

  1. One quote that I liked about Challie’s post: “we, in the English-speaking world, are profoundly blessed for we have at our disposal scores of translations of Scripture. While they range from excellent to abysmal, in many cases even the worst of them is far superior to the best available in any number of other languages.” I often think that the debate about English translations is like debating which steak house serves the best prime rib. Instead of so much internal dispute over which is the best English translation, we should look outwardly to thousands of people groups that do not have a translation in their own language. On that note, happy Bible Translation Day!

    1. He’s right. There isn’t a large number of minority language translations created that are directly dependent upon the Greek & Hebrew text. Most are translated from other translations and then checked against the original languages after that fact. It’s an efficient system, but it’s an unfortunate state of affairs.

      1. I think most “new” English-language translations are also created from existing English translations, whether by design (ESV and NIV-2011, e.g.) or for convenience.


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