Monday, January 27, 2014

EDUCATION: A Question of Translations?

While we can always trust that God is ultimately in control of His living words, there can be some confusion with so many versions of the Bible around. Over the years there have been many translations and paraphrases and I often have people asking questions about why one is chosen over another so I finally did some research to find out more about them. In doing so I found this excellent article from the Lutheran Witness a few years ago called Handing on the Word of Truth. It talks about textual basis, theory of equivalence, and language, and gives a few tips about choosing one over another.

This is an important lesson for confirmation and youth because people ask about it all the time and having some knowledge in this area will help them understand how decisions are made with regard to Bible translations as well as give them valuable information to share when others ask them questions. There's nothing like the helpless feeling of stupidity when someone asks you what you believe or why you believe it, especially when it comes to the Bible. Their answer should never be, "We read that one because it's the one the pastor likes."

Try this activity. 
Have some translations available (try to have them without covers or do copies so nobody knows which is which) and have the students (adults or children) do their own comparison study. Let them know the year it was first translated and its textual basis (read the article). Then have them read specific sections and ask the following questions:

  • Does one seem more formal or functional than another?
  • What is its readability? 
  • Does it appear to be a word-for-word translation or more of an interpretation?
  • Do their intents seems similar or does one seem very different than another?
  • Do you get the same meaning from each text?
  • Do the words used or does the sentence structure get in the way of understanding meaning?
  • Does it appear to be trying so hard to be contemporary that the strength of meaning is lost?
  • Do the words chosen make it seem that the Law or Gospel loses importance?

One Bible translation isn't necessarily better or worse than another and it is important that we are able to talk about and discuss everything and anything about our faith openly. The Bible is the LIVING WORD OF GOD and while we may not get everything exactly perfect in translation, we can trust that HE WILL.

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