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Religion & Philosophy Discuss Word-for-word versus sense-for-sense at the General Discussion; A serious question--and it has been a serious question for quite some time--is this: Is it better to have a ...

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Old 10-02-2019, 12:05 PM
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Default Word-for-word versus sense-for-sense

A serious question--and it has been a serious question for quite some time--is this: Is it better to have a word-for-word translation of the Bible, or a sense-for-sense translation?

Before answering, one should consider that a word-for-word translation is not always (easily) understandable. For instance, in Colossians 3:12, Paul uses the phrase "bowels of mercies," as it is translated in the King James Version of the Bible.

The problem is that most people probably have no idea just what this means.

(The Revised Standard Version, by comparison, has "tender compassion.")

By way of explanation, for the ancient Jews, the bowels were the seat of compassion. (We probably should not laugh too hard. After all, we "enlightened," twenty-first-century Americans consider the heart to be the seat of love--even though it is really only a blood pump.)

Probably the most literal translation of the Bible is the American Standard Version, done around the turn of the twentieth century. It actually reads quite stiffly.

At the other extreme is Good News for Modern Man (a.k.a. Today's English Version). It takes liberties that make me feel a bit uncomfortable.

In my own view, the best method is a sort of compromise: the sense-for-sense translation in the text itself, with a literal translation contained in a footnote. (And this is not just a theory, either. Several translations do just exactly this.)

What do others think?
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Old 10-02-2019, 12:24 PM
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Default Re: Word-for-word versus sense-for-sense

I prefer a literal translation in the text with a "sense-for-sense" in the footnotes. As you said, some of the more liberal interpretations make me "uncomfortable" and I want to see the literal text when I read, then if I'm confused I'll look to the footnotes.
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Old 10-02-2019, 01:49 PM
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Default Re: Word-for-word versus sense-for-sense

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Originally Posted by pjohns View Post
A serious question--and it has been a serious question for quite some time--is this: Is it better to have a word-for-word translation of the Bible, or a sense-for-sense translation?

Before answering, one should consider that a word-for-word translation is not always (easily) understandable. For instance, in Colossians 3:12, Paul uses the phrase "bowels of mercies," as it is translated in the King James Version of the Bible.

The problem is that most people probably have no idea just what this means.

(The Revised Standard Version, by comparison, has "tender compassion.")

By way of explanation, for the ancient Jews, the bowels were the seat of compassion. (We probably should not laugh too hard. After all, we "enlightened," twenty-first-century Americans consider the heart to be the seat of love--even though it is really only a blood pump.)

Probably the most literal translation of the Bible is the American Standard Version, done around the turn of the twentieth century. It actually reads quite stiffly.

At the other extreme is Good News for Modern Man (a.k.a. Today's English Version). It takes liberties that make me feel a bit uncomfortable.

In my own view, the best method is a sort of compromise: the sense-for-sense translation in the text itself, with a literal translation contained in a footnote. (And this is not just a theory, either. Several translations do just exactly this.)

What do others think?
First may God bless you for your interest in his word.
People can only give their opinion based on their own experience and study.
I'll give you mine.
Number one, when you pray before you read the Bible it really makes a difference in your understanding. Ask God to open your eyes, mind, and heart to the true meaning of what you are reading.
Next I can only tell you that the Kings James version is miraculously translated and poetic at the same time. You might want to read the Psalms, the Christmas story in Luke, Genesis in the KJV. If you'd like to use it in its entirety for your go2 Bible, have a good concordance and a good commentary such as F.B. Meyer.
If you just want the straight up word of God as easily understandable as possible within an accurate translation, I highly recommend New International Version (NIV).
Commentaries, maps and footnotes are always enriching however you decide to do your reading.
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Old 10-06-2019, 11:08 AM
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Default Re: Word-for-word versus sense-for-sense

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Originally Posted by pjohns View Post
Is it better to have a word-for-word translation of the Bible, or a sense-for-sense translation?
Why is a translation requested, needed or desired?
If it truly is the word of god, then no translation should be necessary.
Learn the language of Abraham.
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:16 PM
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Default Re: Word-for-word versus sense-for-sense

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Originally Posted by Bat View Post
Why is a translation requested, needed or desired?
If it truly is the word of god, then no translation should be necessary.
Learn the language of Abraham.
And a lot of it is in Ancient Greek.
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