The Word of God in English, Leland Ryken

“The language of 1Peter is nearer to the standards of classical Greek than the vernacular koine…Nonliterary koine varies from a ‘crude and frequently ungrammatical form of Greek to the standard literary form.’…One thing
that Metzger and others have emphasized is the degree to which the Greek of the New Testament has been suffused with Hebraic terminology from the Old Testament. Regarding this liturgical flavor in the New Testament, Albrecht Ritschl claimed that ‘the Old Testament is the lexicon of the New Testament.’ This casts a new light on the King James Version, which is so scorned by dynamic equivalent translators for its strangeness. Someone has written that ‘the New Testament was written in Hebraized Greek. The KJV with its literalism is Hebraized English.’ The import of this is that a contemporary colloquial translation of the New Testament that makes everything sound ‘natural’ might be the very translation that is farthest from the original text… In other words, there are parts of the Bible for which we can unequivocally say that the easier a translation is to read, the more inaccurately it has translated the original text. (pg 100)…The fact that the New Testament was written in koine Greek should not lead translators to translate the Bible in a uniformly colloquial style. Finally, a good translation does not attempt to make the Bible simpler than it was for the original audience…A good translation does not patronize its readers. It expects the best from them. It does not slant itself to a grade-school level for the simple reason that most Bible readers are ‘not’ grade-schoolers. The Bible deserves the quality of attention and comprehensions that we devote to other kinds of reading. My concern here is not the exact level of reading that is required. In fact, I am suspicious of translations that allow a grade level to set the ground for a translation. My concern is the question of what we expect from readers. Some modern translations indulge and insult their readers They expect less from readers when they read the Bible than when they read other things. A good translation elevate both the Bible and its readers instead of diminishing them.” (290)…As a literary scholar has said, ‘If passages of the Scriptures are to suggest things of supra-phenomenal reality, it cannot well be done in the natural vocabulary of our current speech.’ In an earlier chapter I took up the subject of the diminishment of language in modern translations. The antidoe to such diminishment is to maintain the elevation of the King James tradition.” (pg 281).

The Word of God in English, Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation, Leland Ryken.

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