Bible Translations: The Link between Exegesis and Expository Preaching -- By: Robert L. Thomas

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 01:1 (Spring 1990)
Article: Bible Translations: The Link between Exegesis and Expository Preaching
Author: Robert L. Thomas


Bible Translations:
The Link between Exegesis and Expository Preaching1

Robert L. Thomas

Professor of New Testament Language and Literature
The Master’s Seminary

Expository preaching presupposes the goal of teaching an audience the meaning of the passage on which the sermon is based. Two types of Bible translations are available astextbooks the preacher may use in accomplishing this task. One type follows the original languages of Scripture in form and vocabulary insofar as possible without doing violence to English usage. The other type is not so much governed by phraseology in the original languages, but accommodates itself to contemporary usage of the language into which the translation is made. It is possible with a fair degree of objectivity to measure how far each translation deviates from the original languages. The greater degree of deviation inevitably reflects a higher proportion of interpretation on the translators part. Regardless of the accuracy of the interpretation, the preacher will at times disagree with it and have to devote valuable sermon time to correcting the text. The best choice of translations on which to base expository preaching is, therefore, one which more literally follows the original languages and excludes as much human interpretation as possible.

* * * * *

English versions of the Bible can be classified in different ways. They can be classified in regard to historical origin, in regard to textual basis, in regard to theological bias, and in regard to usage of the English language. These areas of consideration are not without relevance to exegesis and expository preaching, but for purposes of the current study, a fifth classification will be examined, that of the

philosophies of translation used in producing Bible versions.2

This category of analysis is chosen because of its very close connection with exegesis and exposition. In such an investigation as this these two terms, exegesis and exposition, must be clearly defined. “Exegesis” is the critical or technical application of hermeneutical principles to a biblical text in the original language with a view to the exposition or declaration of its meaning. “Exposition” is defined as a discourse setting forth the meaning of a passage in a popular form. It is roughly synonymous with expository preaching. In a comparison of these two it is to be noted that exegesis is more foundational and more critically and technically oriented. Exposition is based upon exegesis and has in view a more popular audience. The exposition...

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