Friday, December 13, 2013

Daniel Wallace’s 15 Myths about Bible Translation

danwallaceDaniel Wallace wrote a short blog post called “Fifteen Myths about Bible Translation” in which he sets forth these 15 myths.

The 15 myths are:

  1. A word-for-word translation is the best kind.
  2. A literal translation is the best.
  3. The King James Version is a literal translation.
  4. The King James Version is perfect.
  5. The King James Version was hard to understand when it was first published.
  6. There has never been an authorized revision of the KJV.
  7. The Apocrypha are books found only in Roman Catholic Bibles.
  8. Homosexuals influenced the translation of the NIV.
  9. No translation can claim to be the word of God except the King James Bible.
  10. Modern translations have removed words and verses from the Bible.
  11. Essential doctrines are in jeopardy in modern translations.
  12. “Young woman” in the RSV’s translation of Isaiah 7.14 was due to liberal bias.
  13. Gender-inclusive translations are driven by a social agenda.
  14. Red-letter editions of the Bible highlight the exact words of Jesus.
  15. Chapter and verse numbers are inspired.

The only points above I did not know were considered myths are 3, 5, 12, and 15.  Do people really think that the KJV was difficult to its original readers? Just because the correct translation in Is 7:14 is “young woman” does not mean that 12 is actually a myth. But, since I do not have all the facts concerning the liberal bias of the RSV, I cannot make a decisive declaration here. However, many scholars think that the RSV has a liberal bias, although, that does not make it true either. Many scholars and academics have had wrong ideas about things before, not unlike those that believe that humans are responsible for global warming.

I would like to take issue with Wallace’s myths in points 1 and 2. Please, don’t think that I have anything against Wallace. In fact, in the world of Biblical Greek and ancient manuscripts, he is doing an immense amount of good work. I also have his “Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament,” which is an excellent Greek grammar.

While there are those that believe that literal translations are a direct word-for-word translation, most proponents of essentially literal translation (ELT) do not see it that way. Wallace perpetuates a myth that truly is a myth, since ELT Bibles are not what the claim makes it out to be. Wallace should know better, and I believe he does.

I have recently read and reviewed “Translating Truth: The Case for Essentially Literal Bible Translation.” In Crossway’s blurp on the book it says:

Translating Truth advocates essentially literal Bible translation and in an attempt to foster an edifying dialogue concerning translation philosophy. It addresses what constitutes ‘good’ translation, common myths about word-for-word translations, and the importance of preserving the authenticity of the Bible text. The essays in this book offer clear and enlightening insights into the foundational ideas of essentially literal Bible translation.”

The book indeed does what it sets out to do, and for those that believe the mythical nature of literal translations espoused by Wallace, this book is a must read to correct those wrong ideas about what literal translations truly are.

To find out more about this book, you can read my 5-part review of the book here.

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