A Free Grace Perspective on Bible Translations -- By: Robert N. Wilkin
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A Free Grace Perspective
on Bible Translations
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Recently there have been a number of journal articles written evaluating modern Bible translations in light of theological concerns, their handling of the Old and New Testaments, and in terms of their use of English style.1
Since I have often been asked what translation or translations I recommend and why, I thought writing an article might prove to be of interest. In this article I evaluate five major translations in terms of how they handle passages of special interest to the Grace message.
Bible translations are so massive as to make evaluating the entire translation impossible. A reasonable approach is to select a manageable number of verses that deal with our theological concern, the Free Grace perspective, and compare how each translates the verses. Before we do that, I will make some general comments about the translations which I evaluate, the NIV, NASB, NET (The NET Bible), KJV, and NKJV.
II. General Comments on the Five
Of the five, the NIV and NET are the freest in terms of their translation style. They are not really paraphrases of the text as are The Living
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Bible and The Message. However, at times they do a fair amount of paraphrasing. They both use a thought for thought translation style, which is called dynamic equivalence.
In their book, The NIV Reconsidered, Hodges and Radmacher suggest that dynamic equivalence is sometimes necessary and that it isn’t objectionable in itself.2 “When all is said and done,” they write, “it is the issue of accuracy that matters above everything else.”3 The authors then proceed to give many examples of where the NIV is inaccurate.
In the back of the NET the translators state the principles they used in translation. There they say that this translation is somewhere between formal equivalence (“word for word”) and dynamic equivalence. The NET translators indicate some of the techniques they used including, breaking up “long, complicated sentences in the original languages…into shorter sentences more acceptable in contemporary English;” “Nouns have been used for pronouns where the English pronoun would be obscure or ambiguous to a modern reader;” “In places where passive constructions create...
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