Do better Bibles need the word “propitiation”?

Rick Mansfield has another excellent post at The Lamp. This one deals with the question of whether English Bible versions need to have the word “propitiation.”

Click here to find out what Rick now believes is a good answer to that question. Be prepared to spend some time thinking. Rick gives a good amount of background information as he answers the question.

3 thoughts on “Do better Bibles need the word “propitiation”?

  1. Billy says:

    I like the use of the word propitiation because it forces me to study it like many other complex concepts. However, I feel it is even more important to explain it properly to those that don’t have a fully developed propitiation theology ( I think this depends less on translation than it does on theology.)
    Like the Jews did to remove, mediate, pay the price, yes ransom, they sacrificed an animal, hence the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the word. Not Jesus a pure, humble nice (Lamblike) guy, but God offering the sacrifice of his Lamb, Jesus.

  2. Wayne Leman says:

    Very true, Billy. A Bible translation can’t do everything. There needs to be teaching that accompanies a translation. On the other hand, a translation should communicate everything possible that is in the original text. The English word “propitiation” communicates little of what the original biblical word meant, as Rick’s post demonstrates. Again, this is an issue of translation of linguistic meaning, that is, the meaning of original words versus complete translation of concepts. The latter should not be done in a translation. That would make a Bible commentary out of a translation. But a translation that withholds original information from its readers by using words that they do not know does not accurately communicate since it doesn’t convey to its users what the original audience understood. The original audiences understood the original words which have been translated by “propitiation.” So, therefore, readers of our translations should also understand whatever words are used to translate the meaning of the original words.

    This is a difficult translation principle to convey. It has to do with the difference between translating the meanings of the original words and translating the entirety of concepts, which can’t be done without teaching. Of course, there may have been some original words which were not understood by the original hearers. But it is not likely that there were very many of these, since communication would break down if people used very many words which their audiences did not understand. The biblical authors intended their audiences to understand them, for the most part, I am rather sure.

  3. rpearse says:

    Heh heh. You know why people use archaic English in translations? Because modern English lacks any particular word that so exactly represents the word that I am trying to translate! It’s really that simple. As soon as you reject “propitiation” — a word that features regularly on “Katy and Peter — the next chapter” (!) — you are thrown into the snake-pit of finding a word that doesn’t comment paraphrase on your text, doesn’t introduce your own opinions into the text, and that doesn’t involve inserting a dozen words into the text each time.

    This is why translators get paid! It’s part of the day’s work.

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