Sunday, November 21, 2010

Eugene Nida and Bible Translation: An Interview

I found an interesting article/interview with Eugene Nida this evening. I'd like to share a snippet:

Q: What do you consider your most important contribution to Bible translation?

A: To help people be willing to say what the text means-not what the words are, but what the text means. For example, Hallowed be thy name in the Lord's Prayer. I have not met one English-speaking person who can tell me what that means. I've met some theologians who say that this is a passive imperative (which we don't have in the English language), but it seems to me a tragedy for us to use expressions that most people don't understand.

You can read the rest of the interview here.

Point well taken. On a side note, some English grammarians would disagree with the statement that there is no "passive imperative" in English. They consider the construction "Let (not) + subject + verb..." to make up the passive imperative.

I highly recommend reading the rest of the short interview, especially the last part dealing with "word worship."

I will always be grateful for a certain professor, brother, and co-laborer in the gospel who got me out of the prison of super-literal translations. I felt the psychological struggle Nida speaks of when preparing my translation journals for this professor's classes. Word for word translation is much easier and a trap if one's not careful. But, Bible translation is much more than word for word translation. Doing so also got me away from "translation worship" which can be seriously dangerous (and not just for those who vote Byzantine).

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