Bible translation qualities

Following is a list of qualities (parameters, factors) I can think of by which Bible translations can be evaluated. This list is not exhaustive and there may be some overlap of categories.

  1. exegetical accuracy
  2. communicative accuracy
  3. clarity
  4. naturalness
  5. acceptability
  6. audience
  7. comtemporary vocabulary
  8. contemporary syntax
  9. individual vs. committee
  10. interconfessional
  11. ideological bias
  12. theological bias
  13. denominational affiliation
  14. elegance
  15. genre sensitivity
  16. reading level
  17. field testing
  18. idiomatic
  19. grammatical
  20. rhetorical equivalence
  21. comprehension
  22. coherent
  23. cohesive
  24. literary vs. spoken language
  25. referent tracking (proper pronoun usage, etc.)
  26. gender accuracy
  27. degree of formal equivalence
  28. presentation medium (print, oral, video, etc.)
  29. endorsements
  30. translation alternatives and footnotes
  31. translators’ training
  32. stylistics
  33. impact
  34. register
  35. translating Hebrew Bible passages according to N.T. interp. of them

ADDITIONS, from Comments:

  • liturgical
  • explicatures (amount of implicit meaning made explicit)

What are other factors you can think of? Feel free to question or otherwise interact in the comments about any of the categories.

7 thoughts on “Bible translation qualities

  1. Jim Swindle says:

    I think of a some things that have nothing to do with the translation itself, but much to do with its usability: The packaging (font, cross-references, study notes, bindings, etc.) and the price.

    The packaging and the marketing are tied in together. If your first edition is bound in pink with sequins and includes beauty tips for tween girls, it’s unlikely that scholars will ever take the translation seriously. On the other hand, if your first editions are all in dark leather with all-black type, good cross-references and a few maps and nothing more, the scholars may take the translation seriously, but the tween girls may not read it.

  2. Wayne Leman says:

    Ah, yes, thanks, Rich. I should have checked with you first! We from “low church” traditions tend to forget that we have liturgies also, so we don’t even notice liturgy until we enter worship under pastors like you. And I have grown to appreciate the kind of liturgy are referring to. It has depth.

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