Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
TMSJ 15:2 (Fall 2004) p. 245
Athalya Brenner and Jan Willem van Henten, eds. Bible Translation on the Threshold of the Twenty-First Century: Authority, Reception, Culture and Religion. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 353, BTC 1. London: Sheffield Academic, 2002. x + 207 pp. $115.00 (cloth). Reviewed by William D. Barrick, Professor of Old Testament.
This volume is the first in a new sub-series to JSOTSS entitled The Bible in the 21st Century (BTC 1). Eight of the contributors to this volume are on faculties in The Netherlands, three are from the USA, two from the UK, and one each from South Africa and Belgium. All but one read their essays in a colloquium at the University of Amsterdam in May 2000. Hot debate and public uproar over the attempt to modernize the Dutch Bible provided a focused atmosphere for the colloquium (1–3). Traditionalists carried the day when the boards involved in the project decided to maintain “HEER” (“LORD”) as the translation for the Tetragrammaton (6–7).
“New and Familiar: The Dynamics of Bible Translation,” by Sijbolt Noorda, is the first paper in the volume (8–16). It functions as an introduction, so no responses were included (4). Noorda describes the socio-cultural context of Jerome’s Latin translation (9–11) as a prelude to discussing the dynamics of producing a translation that will be received by a target audience (12–15). He calls for an increase in empirical research among readers as opposed to multiplying the opinions of translators alone (16).
John Rogerson’s essay, “Can a Translation of the Bible Be Authoritative?” (17–30), investigates the way in which older translations came to be viewed as authoritative. After a brief discussion of the Targum, the Septuagint, and the Vulgate (17–20), he discusses the “authorized” nature of Luther’s German translation and the various English translations (20–30). Rogerson observes that committees of translators do not guarantee the authority of a translation. G. R. Driver’s domination of the New English Bible’s (NEB) OT translation, his employment of questionable Semitic philology, and his contempt for theologians doomed the acceptance (and, thus, the authoritativeness) of that version (24–25). Yet, as individuals, Luther and Tyndale both produced translations that influenced Bibles in their respective languages for centuries (25). In the 20th century, commercial power became a factor affecting the authority of translations (26). Rogerson also touches upon problems with dynamic equivalence translations (26–28) and the issue of the inspiration of translations (29–30). Judith Frishman provides a response to Rogerson’s paper (31–35).
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