on translations

this is my quick response to Mark as he wonders if formal equivalence translations are less faithful translations:

Mark, you are on the right track – the whole question comes back to Fee and Stuart in their book How to Read the Bible for All its Worth – in their chapter on translations they talk in simple terms about translation – do we translate what Paul said, or do we translate what Paul meant? (but in our case we can say do we translate the meaning of the text or just the basic wording of the text and let others figure the meaning?) Some prefer to translate the meaning thus the more dynamic translations – others prefer just to translate what is said and leave the meaning up to being discerned by the reader hence the more formal equivalence or literal translations – still yet others prefer a mix thus the translations like the NIV – so you can see a whole host of issues coming up with these approaches – and the example of the Greek sarx is a good example – do we go with “flesh” or “sinful nature” and why? for obvious reasons one is less interpretive than the other, but could there be instances where it is fair to translate sarx as sinful nature and have it reflect what is trying to be said?

In my personal view as I have tried to share in other comments and maybe even on my blog, I see more dynamic translations as reflecting a more mature understanding of the languages and how they work and it reflects the concern to get the meaning across to the reader of the receptor language. Reading more literal translations makes some feel like they are reading their Greek or Hebrew Bibles but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is accurately translating the meaning of the text in question.

That’s my $0.02!