Re: Translation

I quite agree with Douglas DeLacy that it is interesting and sometimes
helpful to compare translation of various texts into various languages.  I
suggest, however, that translation of the Bible is a special problem and
that we might as well recognize it.  The "problem" arises from the special
uses made of the Bibleand the special attitudes toward it, as sacred text,
basis for belief/action, etc.  Caesar, Flaubert, Dante, etc., will be read
recreationally, or as academic exercises.  But the Bible will be read, by
believer and non-believer (though with differing tones) as a sacred text
of the current world, as "word of God" or as the "Bible" (of "those"
Christians, Jews, etc.).
	Consequently, there are special problems in translating the Bible.
 If one wants merely to give a translation for the avocational,
recreational reader who is merely slightly curious about what all the fuss
is about, and wishes to be able to drop the names of Bible personalities
at cocktail parties with the bishop, then perhaps a rather free-flowing,
"dynamic-equivalence" version is proper.  But for the SERIOUS readers
(N.B. an important term from my previous posting on this subject) who wish
to STUDY the text and who are inclined for form serious judgments about
meaning, application, teachings, intention, etc., I suggest that the best
translation is one that is as representative as practical of the cadence
and idioms of the original, and preserves references to cultural
artefacts, etc., even if unfamiliar to the modern reader.  Such a
translation will have to come with philological and cultural notes to the
text to help the reader navigate the text.
	The advantages are that (1) such a translation simply conveys more
than the DE version can, of texture and feel of the text as well as of
basic sentence meaning, and (2) such a translation helps the serious
reader appreciate the cultural and historical gap that must be respected
in attempting to apply the text today.  Consequently, if the biblical text
uses andro-centric language, this should be preserved in such a
translation, to let the reader see how the text partakes of its historial
and cultural setting of origin.  It is,in my view, the job of the
preacher/homilist to clarify the text for today, and I would prefer a text
for liturgical usage that preserves the text "warts and all", not a
bowdlerized, sanitized and "enjoyable" text that will not offend or
require any effort to understand it.  For the "general reader" market, for
the recreational reader among the Bible's UNcultured dispisers, perhaps a
GNB type translation  is OK.  Let a 1,000 translations bloom!  But there
is something to be said for a translation for serious (and, dare I say it,
DEVOUT) readers that achieves the objectives I advocate.
	Finally, such readers, you see, will more frequently read the
Bible in groups, not individually, and this too is an important aspect of
the nature of the target audience the translator must deal with--how will
the translation be read and used?  It's not the sort of translation for
the Gideons to leave in busy motels, but it's the kind for groups of
serious readers (like churches) who want to encounter the Bible as closely
as practical.  

Larry Hurtado, Religion, Univ. of Manitoba