Re: literal not = interpretive

From: Andrew Kulikovsky (
Date: Thu Jun 05 1997 - 23:14:35 EDT

Paul Dixon - Ladd Hill Bible Church wrote:
> >
> > 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.

I agree they have different philosophies of interpretation but I still
don't see how the NIV is more interpretive than the NAS. The NAS assumes
the basic unit of thought is the word. The NIV assumes the basic unit of
thought is the sentence (to put it simplistically). All translations are

> > 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.

This may sound strange but *prove logic*? How do you know logic is
correct? You can't prove logic using logic since that would be begging
the question. We accept logic basically by faith and experience and
account for it on the basis of being made in the image of God.

A logical argument can only be as good as its premises.

> 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.

Then we may as well just settle for an interlinear and throw all our
translations away. Isn't that the logical conclusion of your above

> 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.

I often tell people NEVER to use just one translation (particularly if
they don't know the original languages) but to read as many as possible
when studying a particular passage. I suggest they use the NIV or NRSV
as their primary translation and then the NAS, RSV, NJB, NEB/REB and
ASV. I also tell them to consult expanded translations like Keneth
Wuest's and William Barclay's.

By reading different versions people will see the differing
interpretations and then have the option of making their own choice. The
One-Translation-Only mentallity should be avoided at all costs - not
just by the KJV worshippers but by everyone.


| Andrew S. Kulikovsky B.App.Sc(Hons) MACS
| Software Engineer (CelsiusTech Australia)
| & Theology Student (MA - Pacific College)
| Adelaide, Australia
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| ...Look to Jesus Christ

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