In partial answer to Bob Schaibley's questions:
George Steiner, who wrote a marvelous book about translation,
AFTER BABEL, argues that the best translation is one which stands
in tension with the original & thereby reveals the "salutary
strangeness" (389) of it. Steiner views language as slippery &
deceptive. The strangeness of the text is not its meaning --
rather the opposite, I think. Insofar as translation makes the
text familiar, it fails. A similar point is made in Walter
Benjamin's essay, "The Task of the Translator."
I think the line between translation & paraphrase (if there is
one) is very unclear. Exact translation is impossible, and as
Larry Hurtado notes, a simplified version is sometimes quite
appropriate. But I do get depressed at the number of students in
my classes who (despite my strong cautionary words) use
simplified versions -- and then ask why their Bible doesn't
present the same reading difficulties as RSV, etc.
George Aichele
(Adrian College)