Translation Question

Why in the world is it a strength for a translation to be made within the Tyndale & KJV stream of tradition???

18 thoughts on “Translation Question

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  1. I’d say it’s a marketing spin. Kind of an “appeal to tradition.” It means that the translation wasn’t made “from scratch.” It’s a revision of a revision of a revision of the KJV. Example: ESV (2007) is a revision of RSV (1952) which builds off of ASV (1901), the American version of the ERV (1880s-UK) which was the first real revision of KJV since the 1700s. Jeff’s right, “People don’t like change.”

    But all English translations are in some way indebted to the Tyndale/KJV tradition, at least if the translators are native English speakers. It’s really hard to translate against the familiar sense one would have of a well-known text like the Bible. I think the HCSB reads like it was trying too hard to be different (see John 3:16 for an example).

    1. That’s actually true — the KJV tradition renders ουτως as a complementizer (that), when its really an adverb roughly parallel to the English phrases, “in this way” or “in this manner,” or even the clause “this is how.”

      1. That’s why we need new translations! The traditional understanding wasn’t right, but it’s what feels right because of the weight of tradition.

        So John 3:16 wasn’t the best example. It was what came to mind on the spur of the moment. That was just a feeling I had from reading the HCSB. To me, it seemed like they made minor changes just to sound different like picking a synonym instead of the familiar English word from other translations. I hadn’t compared the original on the occasions where I had that feeling to see if the HCSB was actually more correct. I’ll try that next time it happens.

      2. I’m not convinced that the KJV’s rendering is inaccurate for the seventeenth century: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son” etc. The “so” here, I think, means “thus,” equivalent to the phrases you suggest as alternatives. In present-day English, that’s not at all the most likely reading, so we assume it means “For God loved the world SO MUCH that he gave his only begotten son.” But the 1769 standard text of the KJV includes a comma between “world” and “that,” indicating that “so” should be understood as “thus”: “For God so [thus] loved the world, that he gave” etc.

  2. It’s a strength if you think that Bible translation cannot ignore the history of reception of the Bible within a given culture and within a given language.

    If you are a thoroughgoing individualist Protestant according to whom the only people that matter are you and Paul and maybe the Holy Spirit (carefully defined so as not to have anything to do with the communion of saints), go ahead, ignore the tradition of translation in one’s own language that has shaped centuries of literature, song, cinema, and beyond.

    1. John, do you honestly think those are the only two options? Or are you just trying to be extra polemical today? Not translating the Tyndale/KJV translation = ignoring “the history of reception of the Bible within a given culture and within a given language”???? Wow. Well, I suppose that if you’re gonna go, go all out.

      Thankfully, personally experience has shown that you consistently don’t actually believe the first comment you make on my blog at least at the level of strength that you make it.

  3. Though I agree with your question (as it were), I can think of at least two reasons to rely on the KJV:

    As I discussed here, I think it makes it easier to quote the Bible.

    Secondly, basing a translation on the KJV — for many people — is like basing a translation on the textus receptus, that is, the Bible as we know it now.

    A clear example comes from Deuteronomy 31:1. The Hebrew reads, “Moses went and spoke…,” but that’s odd because Moses didn’t go anywhere. The Hebrew for “Moses went” is V-Y-L-K. The LXX and the DSS both read “Moses finished,” the Hebrew for which is V-Y-K-L. In other words, the Hebrew we currently have seems like a typo (technically called “parablepsis”).

    Some modern translations (NAB, NRSV, e.g.), go with “finished speaking” here. Others (NIV and ESV) try to make sense of the Hebrew, molding the probably-wrong Hebrew into idiomatic English. And still others (KJV) just translate the Hebrew that’s there.


  4. Mike,

    I like to use the original Jerusalem Bible as a foil to the KJV tradition. It is based on a French translation, helping it avoid some of the KJV pitfalls. It also is nice to have access to a different tradition’s translation history.


  5. If you are going to bother with a new translation at all into English, I would think you’d be better served by translation directly from the original languages into current English. I personally cannot read the KJV because it is not English that I can understand without lots of further “translating”. And while I do like to read paraphrases, I don’t use them for study. Right now I use the HCSB since I feel it’s the best in accuracy and readability, but for me several others fit the bill, such as the T/NIV. If I am interested in word study, I use an interlinear.

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