- Paperback: 178 pages
- Publisher: Zondervan; First edition (2 Oct. 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0310278767
- ISBN-13: 978-0310278764
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.1 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 798,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions (Zondervancharts) Paperback – 2 Oct 2007
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From the Back Cover
With so many Bible translations available today, how can you find those that will be most useful to you? What is the difference between a translation that calls itself 'literal' and one that is more 'meaning-based'? And what difference does it make for you as a reader of God's Word? How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth brings clarity and insight to the current debate over translations and translation theories. Written by two seasoned Bible translators, here is an authoritative guide through the maze of translations issues, written in language that everyday Bible readers can understand. Learn the truth about both the word-for-word and meaning-for-meaning translations approaches. Find out what goes into the whole process of translation, and what makes a translation accurate and reliable. Discover the strengths and potential weaknesses of different contemporary English Bible versions. In the midst of the present confusion over translations, this authoritative book speaks with an objective, fair-minded, and reassuring voice to help pastors, everyday Bible readers, and students make wise, well-informed choices about which Bible translations they can depend on and which will best meet their needs.
About the Author
Gordon D. Fee (PhD, University of Southern California) is Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies at Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia.
Top customer reviews
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I wish I had been aware of this book when I taught a short series recently on how the Bible came to us (which included a look at the range of available translations) -- I could have directed my students to it and saved myself some work!
While not attempting the same technical depth as Fee and Strauss I came to much the same conclusions.
This is not, of course, the first book dealing with this subject but it does have two major strengths largely lacking elsewhere. Firstly, the authors don't appear to have any particular theological axe to grind. They stand in an unashamedly and biblically evangelical tradition, but they haven't written in order to pit one version of Scripture against another.
Many other books in this area seek to defend some traditional view on a particular Bible version, and seem more concerned with maintaining shibboleths than with honestly exploring the complexity of the issues involved. Not until the last few pages do the authors give their personal recommendations based on their study and analysis, and you would be hard pressed to discern those ahead of that point.
Secondly, although written by two very able academic scholars, this book is immensely readable and, at times I found it thoroughly engrossing. The authors don't avoid dealing with the technical issues of linguistics and translation but present them in a way easily accessible to anyone wanting to read up on this important issue.
Like me you probably won't agree with every choice and judgement they make, but I am sure you will be grateful to them for their wisdom and insight -- not to mention their commitment to the ultimate authority of Scripture.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
You get some history behind how many translations came to be what we have today and you get the authors advice to have 1 main translation for reading from, and then others as helpful study tools.
Also be aware of bias toward the NIV, one of the authors Mark L. Strauss admits his bias toward the TNIV since he is on the Committee for Bible Translation that is responsible for updating the NIV. You can find his profile and more details at Biblica.com. This book was written before the NIV 2011 was released, so you will see the author using examples with the TNIV from 2005.
Well worth the read if you want to learn some history behind Bible translations, and also learn the strengths and weaknesses of Literal, and more thought for thought translation.
Read what they say carefully and you will see that they find fault with both word for word and thought for thought methods of translation. (See their chart on page 34.)
One reviewer even commented that their preference for thought for thought was in error and cited an example from Romans. He or she got that form a book by Leland Ryken. The example is based on a metaphor where in that culture a sword stood for the power and authority of the political office. One reference that I found even stated that a sword or dagger could be presented to the "governor" when he was officially assigned his office. Given that fact I suspect there is room to translate the thought here. It should also be pointed out that a literal translation could be either sword or dagger. Therefore, I'm not sure you could argue that "sword" is the only translation that should be used in this case. After all Trajan presented a dagger to his appointees, according the source I have.
Fee and Strauss are recommending that one not rely on only one translation or type of translation. Their book provides excellent insight into what problems exist for the translator as he or she attempt to convert Hebrew and Greek into understandable English, and the key word is understandable. In the example above, it is perfectly adequate to translate that word as sword. However,would some miss the point and think Paul is referring to his own pending death sentence? Is Paul even under arrest at the time he wrote Romans? Some scholars think this letter represents an earlier desire to go there that was, ironically, filled when he was arrested and taken before the Emperor. There is even debate about whether or not he was released after the events detailed in Acts.
Besides the point of "How to Choose a Translation...." is that one method is not the only one to use. All translations have their weaknesses. I read Ryken's book too and the striking difference between it and this work is that Fee and Strauss present examples of poor translating form both word for word and thought for thought works. Read carefully and you will find that they even present examples of thought for thought translating in those word for word works, while Ryken can only praise word for word translating and criticize thought for thought work.
Martin Luther once wrote that: The words of the Hebrew tongue have a peculiar energy. It is impossible to convey so much so briefly in any other language. To render them intelligibly we must not attempt to give word for word, but only aim at the sense and the idea.
Luther would have loved what Fee and Strauss are saying in this book. Translating the Bible is a challenge and they have given us insight into that challenge. I have read this book three times and will probably read it again. It is the best work I have read on selecting a translation. It doesn't answer the question about which one is the best one or which one is the word of God. However, it clearly agrees with the translators of the KJV who state in the preface to the 1611 edition:
Now to the latter we answer; that we do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession, (for we have seen none of theirs of the whole Bible as yet) containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God.
They are all the word of God,even the "meanest" according to the KJV preface. Which is the best to read? All of them. In fact, I remember reading a quote from Billy Graham somewhere. Asked which one is the best to read, Graham is said to have replied that the one you can understand was the best translation to read.
Fee and Strauss do a great job of defining the kinds of problems translators encounter as they try to convert Hebrew and Greek into understandable English. They explain the problem of deciding which words to pick in converting original words into English, problems faced as translators try to deal with figures of speech and problems in what to do in order to convey culturally bound terms into modern English that will give the reader an idea about what the original authors were talking about.
I highly recommend this book. I am sure some will not appreciate what Fee and Strauss have done here. After all, it is like learning what actually goes into a hot dog. Some never want to eat one again. Others will be delighted to know what they are eating. However, if you want to understand why translation is such a complex process that calls for decision making and interpretation on the part of the translator, you will love this book.
A particular Church denomination or tradition may favour just one translation, but that limits one's understanding. Meeting weekly with friends,of different church traditions and their favourite (study) Bibles, reading from each and exploring our understanding helps us draw closer to Christ.