Re: dynamic equivalence and evangelicals

On Mon, 2 May 1994, Dan G. McCartney, Westminster Seminary wrote:

>   Mr. Sennett writes regarding dynamic equivalence:
> > In my experiences attempting to teach these issues (which have been, 
> > primarily, in the church) I have found constant resentment to the idea of 
> > dynamic equivalence from those of more conservative theological bents; 
> > particularly from those with fundamentalist leanings.  They seem to 
> > perceive it as some kind of modernist/neo-orthodox/secular humanist/new 
> > age (pick your favorite whipping person) plot to steal "truth" away from 
> > the Bible.  The words "literal," "true," and "inerrant" have become 
> > inextricably linked together in a hopeless confusion that many will 
> > defend to the death, confident that they are following the same path of 
> > martyrdom tread by the likes of Polycarp, Servetus, and Brother Biddle 
> > (but I wax satirical; forgive me).
> This all seems very odd to some of us who come from the particular point of
> view here castigated.  As Mr. Sennett himself indicates, evangelicals are
> inordinately fond of the Living Bible, and some of us fundies who are
> interested in serious study of the Bible shudder more at the Living Bible than
> perhaps Mr. Sennett, since it is so blatantly "perspectival" as well as being
> demonstrably wrong in many places.  If evangelicals were so opposed to dynamic
> equivalence, why has the NIV Bible done so well, and why is the largest
> evangelical mission agency, Wycliffe Translators, so committed to dynamic
> equivalence in its translation?  Of course there are people out there who think
> the King James Version is inspired, but I haven't run into too many of them
> lately.  It sounds to me like Mr. Sennett had a bad experience with some
> conservative Christians, and now wishes to label us all as stupid
> anti-intellectual hate mongers.  

I have read and reread Prof. McCartney's excerpt from my earlier posting, 
and can't for the life of me find where I castegate evangelicals or 
fundamentalists in the manner of which he seems to accuse me, nore even 
anywhere where I suggest that my experience is indicative of all 
attitudes in these camps.  It sounds to me simply like the relating of 
some personal experience and reflection on those.  And, to the best of my 
recollection, that was the intention of the posting.  I apologize for 
inadvertently pushing the wrong buttons.

> May I suggest we put this conversation back on the high ground.

As far as I can see, the conversation never left the high ground until 
the above mentioning of "stupid anti-intellectual hate mongers."  I am 
all in favor of this suggestion.

BTW: (In the effort to return to just such high ground) It is my 
understanding that the NIV, contra the above implication, is not a 
dynamic equivalence model translation -- not purely so, anyway.  In fact, 
I believe that one of the *strengths* of the NIV is its adept combination 
of dynamic equivalence sympathies with an aim to preserve much of the 
"flavor" of traditional translations (if you understand what I mean).  I 
have had many people say to me, in criticism of the Good News Bible, that 
it just doesn't "sound" like the Bible.  I know what they mean -- they 
(we) have been raised on KJV, RSV, and the like, and expect the Bible to 
have a certain lyrical and literary quality which the GNB (intentionally) 
lacks.  I believe that the NIV does the best job of contemporary 
translations of preserving the lyric and literary quality, while 
capturing many of the strengths of dynamic equivalence models.  The 
opinions of a layman.  Any response?

"Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana."
--Groucho Marx

Prof. James F. Sennett
Asst. Professor of Philosophy         sennett@goliath.pbac.edu
Palm Beach Atlantic College                    andretg@aol.com
PO Box 24708                             voice: (407) 835-4431
West Palm Beach, FL  33416-4708            fax: (407) 835-4342

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