Re: Amplified and Berkeley Versions

From: Don Wilkins (
Date: Sat Apr 11 1998 - 21:36:38 EDT

At 02:52 PM 4/10/98 EDT, Cindy Westfall wrote:
>I'll address the Amplified Version.
>This is not considered a good translation by many scholars precisely because
>it includes a range of meaning for key words. This is problematic from two
>The Amplified purposely approaches the determination of key words in a way
>that that has been called 'illegitimate totality transfer', a term coined by
>James Barr, but referred to by Carson in <Exegetical Fallacies>. A good
>translation determines the meaning of a word in view in a given text by its
>context; it doesn't import a range of meanings into the text and consider them
>as equally valid choices.

If you mean that the Amp simply lists the possible semantic range of a key
word and thereby invites the reader to pick a meaning, then you haven't
adequately read the Amp. Its aim is to give the appropriate contextual
meaning together with clarification, such as one might find in a commentary.
But it's fair to say that not everyone wants commentary within the text itself.
Since you mention Carson, it's interesting to note that the word he uses to
illustrate his point is EKKLHSIA in Acts 7:38 (borrowing from Silva). This
is an easy one to trip over because we naturally associate the word with
"church"; but the Amp simply (and correctly) has "assembly" in this verse,
i.e. with no "clarification". However, it does add "(desert)" after
"wilderness," which is not such a bad idea given the fact that many American
readers would associate "wilderness," the literal translation, with
pine-covered mountains rather than with desert.

>Second, this probably should not be referred to as a translation, since it is
>not written in fluent English. It doesn't attempt to approximate the literary
>impact that the Greek text would have had on its original readers.

I have no idea what you mean by "...not written in fluent English," unless
by that you mean that brackets and parentheses destroy fluency. It is in
fact a translation from the original languages, with commentary inserted. As
to literary impact, no translation can give us the approximate impact on the
original readers, and the Amp is instead attempting to approximate the
meaning that the original readers inferred. Its success or failure in
achieving this has to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

BTW, I don't mean to be overly critical of your comments; the Amp has its
faults. But harsh criticism should be fair and accurate, especially when it
is directed at a work that was a labor of love and is well respected by many.

Don Wilkins

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