1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Christian: Problems With Modern Bible Translations

Discussion in 'Same Faith Debates' started by Linus7, Mar 10, 2005.

  1. Linus7

    Linus7 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    98
    Ratings:
    +5
    Problems With the RSV

    I have some real reservations about the RSV Bible, even though I know a lot of people like it. I own two of them myself, both with the Deuterocanonical Books. One of them is a real nice leather Bible.

    In Isaiah 7:14 the RSV translates the Hebrew word almah as "young woman" rather than "virgin." Here it is:

    "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold a young woman will conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

    That seems to me to weaken the power and specificity of Isaiah's prophecy.

    In 1 Corinthians 6:9 the RSV translates the Greek word pornos (fornicators, whoremongers) as "the immoral," and the Greek words malakos (effeminate, catamites, male prostitutes) and arsenokoites (homosexuals - literally "those men who lie or 'couch' with other men") as "sexual perverts."

    Here is that verse:

    "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts . . ."

    It seems to me these rather wimpy translations weaken the meaning of the respective verses in which they occur.

    "The immoral" can mean almost anything, and "sexual perverts" can be a relative term that depends for its definition on the standards of a particular community.

    It seems to me the original Greek words were much more specific and left their readers or auditors in no doubt as to their meanings.


    Here is the RSV's rendition of the Archangel Gabriel's initial greeting to the Blessed Virgin Mary:

    Luke 1:28 And he came to her and said, "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"

    Pretty pedestrian.

    Here are the renderings of all of those verses above in a couple of much better Bible versions.

    Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (King James Bible)

    Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel. (Douay Rheims Bible)

    1Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind (King James Bible)

    1Corinthians 6:9-10 Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: Neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers: Nor the effeminate nor liers with mankind nor thieves nor covetous nor drunkards nor railers nor extortioners shall possess the kingdom of God. (Douay Rheims Bible)


    Luke 1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, "Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women." (King James Bible)

    Luke 1:28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. (Douay Rheims Bible)


    The KJV and the DRB may use language that is somewhat archaic, but at least what is meant is fairly clear.

    Has anyone else encountered any other problems in the RSV or other modern translations?






     
  2. No*s

    No*s Captain Obvious

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2004
    Messages:
    5,917
    Ratings:
    +471
    The issue is more complicated than that. The RSV is translated from the Masoretic Text, which means that they're translating the Hebrew words, not the LXX. The Hebrew has alma, which denotes a young woman. The Christian reading is dependent on the translation in the LXX, itself done by Jews in the third or second century BC. It's one of the reasons a Christian Bible should place a heavy emphasis on the LXX...

    On I Corinthians 6.9, pornos denotes someone participating in porneia, which in its turn denotes more than fornication. The translation of "sexually immoral" is better in that sense, as BDAG says "any form of unlawful intercourse."

    The second and third are softened, though.

    Luke 1.28 is certainly pretty pedestrian, but it's jlegitimate as a translation. Personally, I think it is far from emphatic enough.

    Now, I have to ask...can you work with the original languages, and I mean actually open it up and read them?
     
  3. Linus7

    Linus7 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    98
    Ratings:
    +5
    No, I can't read the original languages, although I do speak more than one modern language.

    I agree with you about the Septuagint. Since the translators of it were actually ancient Jews themselves, who had access to manuscripts the medieval Masoretes did not have, it is more reliable than the Masoretic text. The Masoretes also had an anti-Christian axe to grind.

    Besides, the word almah - as I understand it, and I'm no Hebrew scholar - while it can mean young woman, really has a meaning closer to the English word maiden, which, like the German word Maedchen, originally signified a virgin.

    I think the translators of the Septuagint understood Isaiah better than the medieval Masoretes - or the translators of the RSV - did.
     
  4. Linus7

    Linus7 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    98
    Ratings:
    +5
    Your explanation makes sense, although I understand fornication to encompass more than just unlawful sexual intercourse.
     
  5. No*s

    No*s Captain Obvious

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2004
    Messages:
    5,917
    Ratings:
    +471
    Yes, I got that from my Hebrew professor. The only biblical language I can read and write is Greek, but I intend to add Hebrew. The way she put it was that we can't really demonstrate a clear sense of "virgin" for the term, but we can for "young girl."

    However, our case isn't hurt too terribly badly. It would be hard for me to view it as a mistranslation. She also pointed out a word, which I can't remember, where Hebrew has a distinction between maiden/virgin. So does Greek. As far as I'm concerned, it represents some no longer extant interpretation :). Just as people can argue "the word means," we can equally point out "Greek-speaking translators in the third century interpreted it as..." That, in its turn, makes this a sort of stand-off...but I'm satisfied with the result ;).

    I have always understood fornication as simply sex outside of marriage, and thus, not encompassing the full impact of porneia. I would translate it the same way if I were to make a Bible translation (something that, in my arrogance, I actually started once, and then realized how arrogant it was).
     
  6. Linus7

    Linus7 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    98
    Ratings:
    +5
    Of course, those Greek-speaking translators of the 3rd century were Greek-speaking Hebrew translators, and the 3rd century in their case was the 3rd century B.C.

    That gives them quite an antiquarian edge over the Masoretes, who assembled their texts only in the Middle Ages.

    I need to learn New Testament Greek. I don't have much desire to learn Hebrew.

    I have a buddy who is something of a linguist. Besides English, he speaks fluent Russian and Spanish and reads Hebrew and New Testament Greek. He told me Hebrew is a Level 6 language, 6 being the highest level of difficulty.

    I speak and read German pretty well, although I am getting rustier every day, and a bit of Russian.

    Anyway, I have found that learning to read another Indo-European language is not that difficult. Conversational fluency is another thing altogether!
     
  7. No*s

    No*s Captain Obvious

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2004
    Messages:
    5,917
    Ratings:
    +471
    I can believe Hebrew is that difficult...it looks difficult from what little I've learned of the principles. The tense system just looks wierd.

    My list of languages for study are Russian, expanding into Modern Greek (I can read Homeric, Attic, and Hellenistic rather easily), more Latin, Church Slavonic, Hebrew, and Aramaic
     
  8. Linus7

    Linus7 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    98
    Ratings:
    +5
    Whoa! That's an ambitious list!

    I wish you success!

    I'm too lazy for all that. I want to learn NT Greek and ecclesiastical Latin. I also want to improve my Russian.

    I'd like to learn all of the Germanic languages, but time is limited, so I probably will stop at English and German.
     
  9. No*s

    No*s Captain Obvious

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2004
    Messages:
    5,917
    Ratings:
    +471
    Oh, I won't ever learn them all. I'm too much a procrastinator. I've also wanted to learn Old English and German simply for my heritage, but those are my biblical languages lol. I will probably get the Old English, Latin, and Greek studies done, but realistically, not much more. I'm much too lazy, and that's my dream list :).
     
  10. No*s

    No*s Captain Obvious

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2004
    Messages:
    5,917
    Ratings:
    +471
    Since this is a Bible thread, how far along do you think that the "Orthodox Study Bible" translation of the LXX is? I have no clue.

    I've tried the new "Holy Orthodox Bible," which is limited to the Pentateuch, and I liked it somewhat. It's nice to have an English translationI can sit down and read (I loathe Brenton's...I'd rather pluck out my eyes with red hot pokers than read it). Greek is fun, enlightening and all, but there's just something about the mother tongue :).
     
  11. Linus7

    Linus7 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    98
    Ratings:
    +5
    I suffer from the same disease.

    It was a miracle that I ever studied German enough to actually learn it.

    If it hadn't been a fairly easy language, I might have given it up.
     
  12. No*s

    No*s Captain Obvious

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2004
    Messages:
    5,917
    Ratings:
    +471
    My Latin studies are fitful. I spend about two months in hard study...then stop for the next couple of months. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    My Hebrew study is even more erratic. The only consistent linguistic study for me is Greek (and I've slacked off of that the past few days).

    Procrastination kills the intellect, but I have yet to beat it :).
     
  13. Linus7

    Linus7 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    98
    Ratings:
    +5
    I guess you are familiar with what the translators of the NIV did with the Greek word paradosis.

    They rendered it as tradition only when used in a negative sense. Otherwise, when paradosis is used in a positive sense - as in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 - it is translated as teaching or teachings.
     
  14. may

    may Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2004
    Messages:
    3,665
    Ratings:
    +113
    This is what the new world translation says at Isaiah 7;14

    Therefore Jehovah himself will give YOU men a sign: Look! The maiden herself will actually become pregnant, and she is giving birth to a son, and she will certainly call his name Im·man´u·el.
    and 2 Thessalonions 2;15
    So, then, brothers, stand firm and maintain YOUR hold on the traditions that YOU were taught, whether it was through a verbal message or through a letter of ours
    and Luke1;28
    And when he went in before her he said: "Good day, highly favored one, Jehovah is with you.
    also 1 corinthians 6;9
    What! Do YOU not know that unrighteous persons will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men,
    The new world translation is a word for word translation of the original Greek text editedby B.F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort and published in 1881 taking into acount its root meanings you may find this interesting




    "It​
    Is the Best Interlinear New Testament Available"









    THAT is how Dr. Jason BeDuhn describes The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures. He explains:​

    "I have just completed teaching a course for the Religious Studies Department of Indiana University, Bloomington, [U.S.A.] . . . This is primarily a course in the Gospels. help came in the form of copies of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures which my students used as one of the textbooks for the class. These small volumes were invaluable to the course and very popular with my students."​

    Why does Dr. BeDuhn use the Kingdom Interlinear translation in his college courses? He answers: "Simply put, it is the best interlinear New Testament available. I am a trained scholar of the Bible, familiar with the texts and tools in use in modern biblical studies, and, by the way, not a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. But I know a quality publication when I see one, and your ‘New World Bible Translation Committee’ has done its job well. Your interlinear English rendering is accurate and consistent to an extreme that forces the reader to come to terms with the linguistic, cultural, and conceptual gaps between the Greek-speaking world and our own. Your ‘New World Translation’ is a high quality, literal translation that avoids traditional glosses in its faithfulness to the Greek. It is, in many ways, superior to the most successful translations in use today."​

    The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures is published by Jehovah’s Witnesses to help lovers of God’s Word get acquainted with the original Greek text of the Bible. It contains The New Testament in the Original Greek on the left-hand side of the page (compiled by B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort). A literal word-for-word English translation is found under the lines of Greek text. In the narrow right-hand column is the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, which allows you to compare the interlinear translation with a modern English translation of the Bible.


     
  15. Linus7

    Linus7 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    98
    Ratings:
    +5
    Isn't the New World Translation a product of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the publishing arm of the Jehovah's Witnesses?

    It is my understanding the "translators" of that particular book took tremendous liberties in order to make it appear that our Lord Jesus Christ is not divine.

    No Orthodox Christian would use the New World Translation.
     
  16. may

    may Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2004
    Messages:
    3,665
    Ratings:
    +113
    If you are into searching for the original meanings give it a go, and see what you yourself come up with , this is the only way a person can make an honest search .after all ,we are all into finding the truth and desire an accurate understanding of the scriptures without any preconcieved ideas added.

    "Oh taste and see that Jehovah is good."—Ps. 34:8,

     
  17. Matrona

    Matrona Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    30
    Ratings:
    +5
    Or, you could actually study Greek for yourself and not rely on what someone else TELLS you is the best translation...

    We had someone at my church who converted from Jehovah's Witness. His mother was very unhappy about it, but she didn't shun him like the elders wanted her to, so they started shunning her too.
     
  18. may

    may Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2004
    Messages:
    3,665
    Ratings:
    +113
    And i thought this thread was about bible translations:)
     
  19. Linus7

    Linus7 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    98
    Ratings:
    +5
    That is true. And here is some of what leading Bible scholars and translators have to say about the NWT:

    1. Dr. Bruce M. Metzger, professor of New Testament at Princeton University, calls the NWT "a frightful mistranslation," "Erroneous" and "pernicious" "reprehensible" "If the Jehovah's Witnesses take this translation seriously, they are polytheists." (Professor of New Testament Language and Literature)
      [*]Dr. William
      Barclay, a leading Greek scholar, said "it is abundantly clear that a sect which can translate the New Testament like that is intellectually dishonest."
      [*]British scholar H.H. Rowley stated, "From beginning to end this volume is a shining example of how the Bible
      should not be translated."
      [*]"Well, as a backdrop, I was disturbed because they (Watchtower) had
      misquoted me in support of their translation." (These words were excerpted from the tape, "Martin and Julius Mantey on The New World Translation", Mantey is quoted on pages 1158-1159 of the Kingdom interlinear Translation)
      [*]Dr. Julius
      Mantey , author of A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, calls the NWT "a shocking mistranslation." "Obsolete and incorrect." "It is neither scholarly nor reasonable to translate John 1:1 'The Word was a god.'"
      [*]"I have never read any New Testament
      so badly translated as The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of The Greek Scriptures.... it is a distortion of the New Testament. The translators used what J.B. Rotherham had translated in 1893, in modern speech, and changed the readings in scores of passages to state what Jehovah's Witnesses believe and teach. That is a distortion not a translation." (Julius Mantey , Depth Exploration in The New Testament (N.Y.: Vantage Press, 1980), pp.136-137)
      [*]The
      translators of the NWT are "diabolical deceivers." (Julius Mantey in discussion with Walter Martin)
     
  20. No*s

    No*s Captain Obvious

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2004
    Messages:
    5,917
    Ratings:
    +471
    *****MOD POST******

    This forum is for discussion of the Orthodox Church, not for debating the pros and cons of the Watchtower, let's keep the thread's subject on Bible translations. We cannot debate the pros and cons of another religious group on this section of the forum.​
     
Loading...