Re: literal not = interpretive

From: Paul Dixon - Ladd Hill Bible Church (
Date: Thu Jun 05 1997 - 03:54:23 EDT

On Thu, 5 Jun 1997, Andrew Kulikovsky wrote:

> Paul Dixon - Ladd Hill Bible Church wrote:
> snip
> >Good question. It does seem here the NAS violates its own principles
> of
> >translation and takes own the philosophical approach of the NIV where
> they
> >translate more from Greek idiom to English idiom, rather than word for
> >word translation.
> snip
> >Jim, I prefer the more literal, non-interpretive translations of
> either
> >the NAS or the KJV. The NIV is by nature more interpretive and
> >paraphrastic. So, until it can be demonstrated conclusively that
> >OU+verb+PAS implies a universal negation, then it is best to leave the
> >ambiguity in the translation.
> Paul, do you really think that literal = non-interpretive?

Andrew: Let's say "less interpretive." The NIV and NAS have different
philosophies of translation. The former is more idiomatic, paraphrastic
and interpretive, while the latter is more literal (word for word) and
less interpretive.


> Can you ever prove anything *conclusively*? I think it is best for an
> informed translator to examine the context (historical and literary) and
> make an informed interpretation rather than leave it ambiguous.
> Otherwise the layman and uninformed pastor will simply interpret it
> whichever way it pleases him (or whichever way preaches better or
> whichever way doesn't go against his own doctrinal stance etc.).

Yes, we can prove things "conclusively," using logic. But, when it comes
to grammar and meanings of words "conclusively" is not the best word, to
be sure.

While the translator is certainly concerned about the probable meanings
of the individual words being translated, his task is not to determine the
overall meaning of the words put together. This is the job of the
interpreter. This might sound boxie, but it is a desireable goal.

The danger of an overly interpretive translation like the NIV is that for
the lay reader the possible interpretations (as revealed in the Greek or
Hebrew texts) are eliminated from consideration, giving the impression
that the interpretation is the Word of God. If there is uncertainty, or
at least not a high probability in the Greek text, then that should be
reflected as much as possible in the translation.

Paul Dixon


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