Thinking Out Loud

May 31, 2011

Translation Arguments Really About Preferences

Eddie Arthur at the Bible Translation blog Kouya wrote this with his tongue firmly planted in cheek, but it is oh, so very, very accurate.

The Definitive Guide To Bible Translation Terms

One of the problems with the whole issue of Bible translation is that people use such confusing terms. For someone who just wants to understand the merits of a particular translation or who is perhaps looking to buy a Bible, the geekish terminology that surrounds the subject can be a real stumbling block. So, in order to help those who have not been initiated into the secrets of translation terminology, I would like to present this definitive guide.

  • Meaning Based: “a translation which prioritizes the meaning rather than the form of the original language.”
  • Form Based: “a translation which prioritizes the form of the original language rather than the meaning.”
  • Literal Translation: “a form based translation”
  • Word for Word: “a form-based translation and I don’t know much about languages.”
  • Free Translation: “I don’t like this meaning based translation.”
  • Paraphrase: “I really don’t like this meaning based translation.”
  • Accurate: I like it.
  • The Most Accurate: means either
    • as an opinion (I believe this is the most accurate translation) “I really like it.”
    • as a statement of factt (this is the most accurate translation) “I know nothing about translation theory or languages.”
  • Dynamic Equivalence: “I read a blog post about translation once.”


  1. lol!

    Comment by Brian — May 31, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

  2. I too(Brian) am LOL ’cause just go and buy KING JAMES VERSION of the Holy Bible ,tried and “tested” since Circa 1600AD Available at All book stores (no problem)JL

    Comment by Joe Lambert — May 31, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

    • I think that should read “tired and tested,” and really, given all we now know, it doesn’t really pass the test. The KJV served the church well for many years, but it’s time to retire it. Past that time, really. And Paul didn’t say “God” in Romans 6:1-2. He would never toss God’s name in using that fashion as Jew, and would never do it as Christian, either. No other translation has the name of God or any other deity in verse 2. It’s just another example of where the KJV lapsed into… okay, I’ll say it: Paraphrase. But I appreciate your comment as it is indicative of everything this article is about.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — May 31, 2011 @ 5:42 pm

  3. It’s fascinating how after so much time, so much can still be written about bible translation, isn’t it. Keep the debate going.

    Comment by GB Translation — June 1, 2011 @ 11:55 am

  4. The letter kills but the Spirit giveth life! The best translation is the one that offers the best tools to study the Word of God. My preference is the King James 1611, With Strongs Exhaustive Concordance with Hebrew & Greek Lexicons! The Holy Spirit will do the rest if you are DILIGENT in your pursuit of God! These ARE the last days and the love of MANY has waxed cold for the Word of God and for Jesus Christ Himself! I Thank God the Father for His Grace and Mercy I am not counted in that number!!! : )

    Comment by John David Joseph Lionel Taggart — June 7, 2011 @ 2:33 am

    • I’m happy your KJV 1611 works for you with the reference books available; but obviously this is not something we want to recommend across the board. From your very own translation, we read in Acts 15:19 “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God” which (for everyone else) means “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” (NIV) or ” We’re not going to unnecessarily burden non-Jewish people who turn to the Master.”

      Forcing the KJV on people constitutes the unnecessary burden or making it difficult.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — June 7, 2011 @ 8:49 am

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