In previous posts in this series we have introduced the concept of translation equivalence. We have given a number of examples of translation equivalents between languages where literal translation isn’t proper, when one follows the rules of both the source and target languages. Many people accept this to be true about languages they have studied …
except when it comes to Bible translation!
Look at this example:
Some critics of the TNIV dissed it for revising Matthew 1:18 from NIV:
she [Mary] was found to be with child
she was found to be pregnant
in the TNIV. The TNIV properly uses a common English translation equivalent for the underlying Greek, eurethe en gastri eksousa, literally,
she was found in the belly having
or with more natural English word order,
she was found having in the belly
But English speakers today do not usually say that a woman is “with child”. The NIV and other translations (KJV, RSV, ESV, NASB) which use that outdated phrase are not using a current translation equivalent. The HCSB and TNIV both use the word which is commonly used, “pregnant”.
By the way, those who objected to the TNIV’s not using “with child” cannot be objecting on the basis of literal translation since “with child” does not literally translate the Greek idiom “have in the belly”. There is no word for “child” in the Greek text. There is just a tradition of saying “with child” in English Bibles in the KJV-Tyndale tradition. But tradition does not determine accuracy, naturalness, nor translation equivalence. Objective attention to the linguistic facts of the biblical languages and equal attention to the linguistic facts of a target language determine accuracy and naturalness. The result will be translation equivalence.
Next let’s look at specific categories of translation equivalence when translating the Bible to English.
(to be continued)