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4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars

on 7 August 2006
This is a most interesting read & a provocation to rethink much translation philosophy. Certainly worth reading.

Given the popularity of the NIV, Ryken's book reviews the translation theory behind this and more dynamic equivalence translations (TNIV, CEV, Message et al) in the light of a theology of verbal/plenary inspiration.

In brief, his thesis is: If the very words of the bible are inspired (& not just the ideas) then translations should, as far as possible, reflect those words.

The chapters 'five fallacies about the bible', 'seven fallacies about translation' and 'eight fallacies about bible readers' were particularly interesting.

A weakness is that Ryken confuses translation between 2 languages and rewriting in the same language. So to say 'we wouldn't think about rewriting Shakespeare into modern English' is an inadequate form of argument against dynamic equiv translations since modern English bible translators are not rewriting the KJV but translating from Hebrew & Greek into English. Similarly, to argue we should use 'the very words God used; If God used 'city', we should use 'city'' is erroneous on the same basis, since the inspired texts are not in English and therefore God did NOT use the word 'city' but a Heb/Gk word.

Ryken repeatedly overstates the case in this way seemingly forgetting he is addressing the issue of TRANSLATION from Hebrew/Greek into English & not the rewriting of an old English book.

He rightfully points out that all translations require some smoothing out of grammar from donor to receptor languages. Ryken prefers the ESV (not surpring since he was on the committee) but one may then question whether this has smoothed out enough of the Heb/Gk grammar to be readable. The question then is one of degree.

This said, many of his points are insightful and a helpful correction to the 'you have your bible & I will have mine' idea present with many Christians.
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