Yet another new Bible translation has been published: “The Voice Bible” (2012) [HT: VJack]. New translations keep coming out. A while ago, I received a different new translation: “The Common English Bible” (2010). To illustrate a few interesting principles, rather than discuss the truth or falsity of Christian scriptures, I will discuss translation issues below.
Most Christians have not read the whole Bible yet alone know the controversies behind translations. And probably most Atheists aren’t familiar with Bible translation issues either — nor should they be. But the issues are fascinating for those interested. As a former translator (Japanese-English), I was aware of some of the issues — and even more since I have been blogging on religion. Presently, for instance, I see the same difficulties as I explore various translations of the Hindu Ramayana — another ancient text. Both Hindu and Christian translators face the issues I discuss below but in this post I will illustrate them using the two new translations: “The Voice” (VB) & “The Common English Bible” (CEB).
Here are two things important issues to understand about translations:
(1) Translation Sources
Here is a diagram I did illustrating sources of NT translations. VB is from the Byzantine Text Types via the Textus Receptus which is same source for the KJV. However, the CEB is from the Alexandrian text-type which is the source of the RSV and the NIV. Perhaps you may know, the Alexandrian translations and the Byzantine translations are not the best of friends in Christian circles.
(2) Translation Types
The VB & the CEB are both dynamic equivalence translation which seek to express the supposed original intent of the authors rather than word-for-word translations with some feeling that the original phrasings are important even if difficult to understand. Of course most translations contain some mix of both types but one intent usually predominates a given translation. I made a diagram here illustrating these choices and how bias inevitably enters both methods.
So below are four side-by-side translations part of the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6:9-12 for your comparative reading pleasure. If readers know better verses to illustrate their differences, let me know. Remember, The RSV & CEB are the same family (Alexandrian) and the KJV & the VB are the same family (Byzantine). Also note, this wiki article explains the history of some variations in the Lord’s Prayer.
|The King James Version:
||The Voice Bible:
|The Revised Standard Version:
||The Common English Bible:
Questions to Reader:
- What is your favorite translation of the Bible and why? If you include the issues I discuss above, you get extra points for your comment! 🙂
- Do you have any favorite texts from another language where you have seen the importance of these translations issues? Again, extra points if you tell us which text, what issues and your favorite translation.