There is no reason here to get involved in all the discussions that
linguists and translation theorists get into today. Here are some
thoughts we need to consider when we talk about why there are a variety of
translations. Again, I recommend: How to Choose A Translation for All Its Worth
First, the context of translation is that those who do so believe they are translating the Word of God. So, the act itself becomes sacred.
Second, there is an absolute necessity to translate because
(1) cultures change, (2) languages change, and (3) as Christians move
into new areas there is a need for others to read the Bible in their
own language. In addition, (4) as we learn more about the earliest
manuscripts of the Bible, we are led to more refined translations.
Third, it seems to me that there are two poles, or
essential theories, to translations. Some strive for formal identity
and others for dynamic equivalence. The formal identity people like to
leave things alone — close verbal similarity to Hebrew and Greek so that the English comes off as wooden. The dynamic equivalent people prefer to evoke the same
response in modern readers that was evoked in the original readers by
transforming what something meant in its day to an equivalent in our
day. There is therefore more creativity in dynamic equivalence.
Example from 1 Peter 1: “gird up the loins of your mind” (formal identity) vs. “with minds that are fully alert” (TNIV).
There are some wonderful “Parallel” Bibles:
Fourth, here are some typical considerations translators use when they are at work translating.
1. Strive to reproduce the original message.
2. Find a natural dynamic equivalent instead of a formal identity. We
don’t have to use “bowels” in 1 John 3:17 but can use “pity.”
3. Shape the meanings of words to the particular context instead of
always using the same English word for the same Hebrew or Greek word.
4. Think of how a given translation will sound in public and not just how it reads.
5. Target an audience for your translation.
6. English style is important but not as important as fidelity to message.