Gold Coast Bereans

Out of Ghana, West Africa; Christian hearts and critical minds seeking, speaking and writing the truth with love. This is a conversation of a group of friends, now living in the USA and the UK, who have known each other for more than 20 years.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bible Versions (and Ghana’s democracy)

Here in the UK, the coverage of the Ghana elections made me proud too. Quite a number of my colleagues have been congratulating me for it, as if it has something to do with me! It was also good of the opposition to have eventually accepted the results and even turned up at the inauguration, though grudgingly. Another positive sign is the increasing numbers of "elderly" statesmen in Ghana, from the former UN boss Kofi Annan to ex-Presidents Rawlings and Kuffour. If these people continue to play "neutral" or even positive roles in the country, I think we are in for a stable civilian democracy, a West African Bostwana.

About Bible versions: I think that with the "waning power" of the USA, the NIV, which two decades ago reigned supreme, is gradually losing ground to others. Robbo might like the New King James Version (NKJV); it does not have the ye and thou, but it tries to stick to the poetic nature of Biblical language, which in my opinion is a very important requirement for an effective Bible version. A poetic structure helps in the memorization of the verses, and that is the style with which of the Bible is written in the original languages, even for the intellectual books such as Romans.

All said, using two versions, one old and the other more recent is the best advice for any Bible Study. I think postmodern versions, such as the Green Bible and Gender Neutral versions etc go too far in their translations, or rather interpretations and the TNIV is not really an improvement on the NIV, hence the increasing popularity of ESV. The Amplified Bible is good for preachers and my wife is a great fan. With Amplified, who needs a hard Bible study!

As more and more versions come out, the whole theory of Bible translation has come under severe scrutiny. The big question is, "What should a translation aim for?”

I think those versions which try to interpret or even apply the Bible, though very useful, should not really be called translations. Unfortunately, in the technical sense, every translation from one language to another involves a degree of interpretation. As soon as a word can be translated into more than one equivalent word, the choice of the translator as to which of the alternatives best suits the sentence turns the process of translation into some sort of interpretation.

So the issue is how much interpretation has gone into the translation and is this is often a source of contention. Who decides how much is interpretation and how much is translation? The way the democratization of translation is going, I will not be surprised if people soon demand a new Authorized Version. The question then is who will authorize it today, interesting. - Annang


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