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Review of Truth In Translation by Jason BeDuhn

14 years ago

464 words

2 out of 5 Stars

Truth In Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament is a “critical study of Biblical translation, assessing the accuracy of nine English versions of the New Testament in wide use today.” Jason BeDuhn looks at several different English translations of the New Testament and judges for bias and accuracy in his book published in 2003 by University Press of America.

This is not a great book, but does have an upside. If the book would have ended after chapter three it, albeit much shorter, would have received more stars. The first three chapters are well done and quite informative concerning the process of translation. I especially liked his description of the work of the translator, the origins of the English Bible, as well as his overview of major English translations. That is where the solid scholarship ends.

In the next chapters his arguments are weak, straw-men that he appropriately thrashes. His first two argument, which one would assume are his best, are not convincing. He attempts to define Greek words without consulting THE scholarly Greek lexicon. (which is the primary resource used by both theological and secular Greek studies) In chapter one he also applies the mindset of the modern man to his own view of worship versus adoration. This argument shows that theology does matter to the translator. You cannot have translation without interpretation, which is guided by theology. Chapter two shows the author’s bias while he denies a definition of a word that is clearly appropriate according to scholarly reference work. If the author was set on trying to demonstrate that the passage was to be interpreted a certain way I would understand, though not approve of, his tactics. But, by denying what the whole scholarly community (many not claiming to be Christian) has determined to be the definition of the word the author shows the bias he is trying to overcome. The rest of this book is more of the same, building a straw-man argument and then knocking it down…

The author gives one something to think about, but please don’t let your study of translation and translation bias be solely informed by this book. If you are looking for a book to help you understand translation, this one is fine, but there are better ones out there. If you want a Bible that presents the translators notes alongside the text, go here. If you want to read about the way the NET Bible translated the text, they published it here.

Bottom line: Don’t be a dummy about your faith. If you have a sacred text, read it, study it, learn about it. It won’t harm your faith, but it may change it. Hopefully, you will allow it to take your faith deeper.

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