In David Lyle Jeffrey’s lecture last night, he spoke of the importance of poetry in Bible translations and the difficulty of getting the language of Hebrew and Greek idioms right.
He also spoke about market-driven translations that immanentize Scripture, gearing it to a present day audience that despises authority, does not like the concept of repentance, or the notion of kingship, preferring egalitarianism. The sense of holiness and transcendence of God is lost.
He also spoke of Bible translations that were done to accommodate Muslim sensibilities, and playing down terminology like Son of God. As I quipped to my friend Barbara, there already is a translation of the Bible geared to Muslim sensitivities. It’s called the Koran.
Jeffrey recounted a conversation with a mother who lamented that her daughter hated poetry. “I bet she doesn’t like authority either,” Jeffrey told her.
Thankfully, the King James Bible and the Revised Standard Version got good marks for their fidelity though Jeffrey reminded us that no translation is perfect. A good translation depends on a good team of experts in languages who are also prayerful, spiritually disciplined and humble before the Scriptural texts and the God they reveal.