Bill Mounce asks: What makes a Bible translation accurate?

Bill Mounce is one of the evangelical experts in koine Greek, the dialect of the New Testament. He is also one of the translators of the New International Version.

The other day he published this short article, which I found particularly useful. He shows that the work of translation is far more complex than translating word-for-word! To quote:

This morning I was driving to the gym and saw a construction truck in front of me with the sign, “Construction Vehicle. Do Not Follow.” Now, if a German friend who didn’t speak English were riding with me and wanted to know what the sign was, how should I translate it?

The problem, of course, is that the sign does not say what it means. How can you not follow the truck in front of you? Once the truck is on the road, does the road have to be vacated until it leaves the road? Of course we understand that it means, “Do not follow closely.” So what would be an accurate translation? If you said, “Folge nicht,” would that be an accurate translation for your friend? Or would you have to say, “Folge nicht genau”?

It’s kind of like a Stop sign. The last thing it means is stop. It means, stop, and when it is your turn go; otherwise, you would never leave the intersection.

I highly recommend Bill Mounce’s blog in general! You might also enjoy my post, “Which Bible Version is the Most Literal?

 

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The Critical Text and the Textus Receptus in 2 Thessalonians [Studies in Thessalonians]

Most Christian scholars use what is called the Critical Edition of the Greek New Testament, and almost all modern versions are based upon it. There are several camps that prefer other editions, the Textus receptus or the Majority Text. Some do so because of a belief that it better represents the original; I think they are mistaken, but respect their view. Others promote one conspiracy theory or another: The modern editors are motivated by a desire to remove Christ from the New Testament! They are in league with the Pope (or the Illuminati or the Masons) to destroy God’s Word! That the NIV New Testament strikes out the name of the Lord Jesus 178 times, and that, so goes the theory, its editors did so as a blatant attack against his person or authority or incarnation.

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