Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 20:2 (Spring 2003)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Biblical Studies

The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation, by Leland Ryken. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2002. Pp. 336.

Over the past fifty years we have seen an exponential increase in the number of new Bible translations. A quick check of the online home pages of a few evangelical Bible publishers reveals the scope of the industry. Broadman and Holman advertises at least nine different Bibles (
), Thomas Nelson has some thirty Bibles (
), and Zondervan lists at least forty-nine different Bibles (
). Some Bible presses publish multiple translations (e.g., KJV, NKJV, NIV, TNIV, NASB, ESV, HCSB) and some publish multiple versions of the same translation geared toward different audiences (e.g., men, women, teens, and singles). In the face of such a bewildering array of choices in Bibles, how does one decide which are the best translations? Leland Ryken’s book, The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation, provides exactly the guidance that is needed to choose the best English translations of the Bible.

Leland Ryken is Professor of English at Wheaton College and has written or edited over twenty books. Many of Ryken’s books, including Words of Delight: A Literary Introduction to the Bible (1992), have helped biblical scholars and lay readers understand the literature of the Bible. He serves on the Literature of the Bible subgroup of the Evangelical Theological Society. Ryken’s first formal involvement in Bible translation was as the literary consultant for the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible, published by Crossway Books (2001). The Word of God in English grew out of his work on the ESV translation committee. The burden of The Word of God in English is the question of “dynamic equivalence” versus “literal” methods in Bible translation. Bible translations fall on a continuum from “formal equivalence” at the one end to “dynamic equivalence” at the other. “Formal equivalence” translations seek to represent each word in the original with a corresponding word in English; this translation method is sometimes called a “word for word” translation. At the other end of the spectrum is “dynamic equivalence,” or “thought for thought” translation; this approach attempts to represent the idea or intention of the original author, not necessarily his exact wording. The preface to the NFV explains, “Because thought patterns and syntax differ from language to language, faithful communication of the meaning of the writers of the Bible demands frequent modification in sentence structure and constant regard for the contextual meaning of words” (xi). A third method of ...

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