In which I rant about paraphrases

paraphrase n.

  1. a restatement of a text in different words, often to clarify meaning [Wiktionary]
  2. a restatement of a text, passage, or work giving the meaning in another form [Merriam-Webster]
  3. A rewording of something written or spoken by someone else, esp. with the aim of making the sense clearer; a free rendering of a passage. [OED]

Something that quite annoys me is when people refer to translations such as The Message or the NLT as paraphrases, when they aren’t! They are both translations from the original Biblical languages (although the Living Bible was a paraphrase, from the ASV).

A paraphrase is a text reworded in the same language. The NKJV, ESV and NIV 2011 are all far more paraphrasistic than The Message is! (As is the 2nd edition of the NLT too.)

I don’t know why people love to call these translations paraphrases when they are not. I think it’s probably because they don’t agree with their translation philosophies in some way: maybe they’re not “literal” enough (see my last post for what I think about that); maybe they’re too idiomatic; maybe they’ve been too corrupted by the author’s interpretations.

In any case it does no one any good to keep calling them something they are not! Instead, name the specific flaws of each translation! If there’s too much interpretation just say it! Not “literal” enough? Okay, we’ll agree to disagree on that. Just don’t insult a translation you dislike by calling it a “paraphrase” while promoting another English Bible revision as a “translation”!

30 thoughts on “In which I rant about paraphrases

  1. CD-Host says:

    I call the Message a paraphrase because I think it is one. I don’t even think Peterson would disagree, according to Michelle Bearden he Peterson considered the Message a translation and a paraphrase. If you read the introduction:

    He decided to strive for the spirit of the original manuscripts—to express the rhythm of the voices, the flavor of the idiomatic expressions, the subtle connotations of meaning that are often lost in English translations.

    The goal of The Message is to engage people in the reading process and help them understand what they read. This is not a study Bible, but rather “a reading Bible.” The verse numbers, which are not in the original documents, have been left out of the print version to facilitate easy and enjoyable reading. The original books of the Bible were not written in formal language. The Message tries to recapture the Word in the words we use today. (from the introduction)

    While Marlow is to my right I think he wrote a pretty good critique of the message: http://www.bible-researcher.com/themessage.html

    As for the NLT2e (current NLT) it carries the connotation I think because of the NTL1e which was much loser. NLT1e is a more borderline case, and while I like the term “loose dynamic” for translation like The Voice of NLT1e I can understand why someone would go with paraphrase to differentiate loose dynamic translation from dynamic. NLT2e is just a dynamic translation paraphrase is simply unfair.

  2. Dannii says:

    Eugene Peterson says in the intro that he worked from the Biblical languages so I feel confident to say that it should not be classified as a paraphrase, even if he himself makes that mistake.

    Calling a translation a “paraphrase” because it involves stating something in your own words is pointless… all translations would be paraphrases then. Much better is to keep the technical meaning of a restatement in the same language.

    Can you explain what you mean by “loose”?

  3. Jonathan Morgan says:

    I don’t think that dictionary definition is of much use here, because it is not how the word is being used. In the particular domain of Biblical translations, the sense of the word has changed. People when they use it do not use it to mean a changing of words in the same language (which, BTW, none of your three definitions said – they may have implied it, but I’m not even convinced of that). Instead in my judgement the underlying sense of the word as I hear it used as:
    a) Something attempting to make the original text clearer.
    b) As a result, the essence of the passage will be kept but details are allowed to be lost.

    I would feel this is how it is used generally, not just of Biblical paraphrases. I think this feeling is also present in the OED definition: “esp. with the aim of making the sense clearer; a free rendering of a passage”. The way most people I hear use the word concentrates fairly exclusively on this part of the definition, that it is free and easy and captures the essence. This is exactly how I feel about the Bibles called paraphrases: They often capture the essence, and sometimes really well, but ideas and concepts get left out in the process.

    In short, I think your distinction between rephrasing in this language and capturing the essence but not the details is unnecessary and is not how people actually use the word.

    As to how the Message is “loose”, where it is including ideas or explanations that are not present in the original text I think it is hard to call it a translation of the original text (by my definition, it would also not be a paraphrase unless you were sure it got the essence while losing the details, and sometimes I’m not sure it does). While I accept that all translations must make some decisions about what a word/phrase means and how to present it, the Message goes far beyond what is necessary for a translation. I will pick a few examples talking about the kingdom from Matthew, but they are just what I happened to find when looking at a couple of chapters. I could find more.

    Matthew 4:17
    “This Isaiah-prophesied sermon came to life in Galilee the moment Jesus started preaching. He picked up where John left off: “Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.” ”

    This could be just a difference in opinion of the meaning of the original, but every version I’ve checked so far has had some variant on “the kingdom of heaven is near” or “at hand”. If so, having it here now completely changes the meaning of the text.

    Matthew 4:23
    “From there he went all over Galilee. He used synagogues for meeting places and taught people the truth of God. God’s kingdom was his theme–that beginning right now they were under God’s government, a good government! He also healed people of their diseases and of the bad effects of their bad lives. ”

    Most translations have some variant of “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God”. We can make that gospel “good news” if we want to, but still the whole sentence “that beginning right now they were under God’s government, a good government!” is not in the original in any form, and so it’s hard for me to view it as translation rather than interpretation. It also again speaks about the current kingdom of God, which I think is even less present in the original here than it was in the previous verse.
    Also it speaks of “the bad effects of their bad lives”. Judging by the other translations, I’m not sure that this sense is in the original, which just talks about healing diseases and problems without laying the blame on the people he healed. If it is not in the original then it is probably not translation, but rather interpretation.

    Matthew 5:3
    You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

    It seems Jesus mentioned the kingdom of God and it was related to all his teaching on the kingdom of God. This doesn’t relate it to the kingdom of God or to his previous message on the kingdom at all (maybe it doesn’t miss too much, though, if you understand “God and his rule” to talk about the same thing).

    Matthew 5:5
    “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are–no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

    In other translations, it talks about inheriting the earth. Maybe we could consider that the earth really meant something that couldn’t possibly be had by normal means, but I’m really not sure it translates either what was said or what the original hearers would have understood by it. If it doesn’t, then I question whether it should be called a translation. (Personally, I think it means the return of Christ and a literal fulfillment of the Promises to Abraham).

    On a verse by verse basis, I could probably at a stretch argue that a lot of these were translations rather than paraphrasing the essence of the text, but the more there are the less it feels like it is being true to the text and doing more than capturing what it feels to be the essence of the text. And large explanatory chunks that don’t really appear to map to anything in the original sounds more like commentary than translation.

  4. Donna says:

    Hi Danni,

    One thing I appreciated about Michael Bird’s article was that he didn’t use “paraphrase” in the derogatory way that some do.

    I agree , that people interested in Bible translation do tend to use the word differently to the way linguists do. I think though, Jonathan, that secular linguists would certainly regard a paraphrase as being intralingual. If it crosses language boundaries, then it is a translation (though with varying degrees of literalness and freeness).

    I just happened to be reading Luke 1 in The Message this morning and I was struck by how literal the translation was at many points, but in a creative and striking way. having just done the exegesis from Greek myself, I was impressed with the way he rendered some of the verses. For example, from Zechariah’s song:

    God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
    Shining on those in the darkness,
    those sitting in the shadow of death,
    Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
    down the path of peace.

    That both speaks to my heart, but is also a very accurate rendering of the original.

  5. Wayne Leman says:

    There is the historical, technical meaning of paraphrase which means to restate something in the same language.

    But there is now, as Jonathan has pointed out, a new meaning of paraphrase which means something like “looser than I wish a translation to be.”

    When it comes to lexicography, whether we like it or not, we have to record each meaning of a word in use.

    People discussing Bible translations often use the newer definition. I would prefer that they not do so, but I can’t change people’s language. I’m just a descriptive linguist and can’t tell people how they should speak their language or what meanings they should have for words.

  6. CD-Host says:

    Eugene Peterson says in the intro that he worked from the Biblical languages so I feel confident to say that it should not be classified as a paraphrase, even if he himself makes that mistake.

    Calling a translation a “paraphrase” because it involves stating something in your own words is pointless… all translations would be paraphrases then. Much better is to keep the technical meaning of a restatement in the same language.

    I’m going to go with the modern definition. The message is so free in its translation that I see nothing that would change if it were not based on the Greek directly. Ultimately “paraphrase” is meant to be a property of the translation not the translator I think the modern definition makes more sense. I wasn’t even aware of the older definition, I’ve never used paraphrase in the sense you are using it here.

    As for loose dynamic vs. dynamic:

    dynamic = captures the meaning of phrases and sentences
    loose dynamic = captures the meaning of paragraphs. Can include things like transculturation.

    Or another way would be to compare goals:

    NLT = best captures the meaning for a modern reader
    Voice = first time readers will get it, and it sounds good when read out-loud”

    In my review of the Voice I choose John 1:13 as an example:
    Brown & Comfort (literal): The ones not of bloods nor of [the] will of flesh nor of [the] will of a husband but of God were born.ESV (formal): who were born, not of blood, nor the of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. NET (mediating): children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God.NLT (dynamic): They were reborn — not of a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.Voice (12-13)(loose dynamic): He bestows this birthright not by human power or initiative but by God’s will. Because we are born of this world, we can only be reborn to God by accepting his call.

  7. thislamp says:

    A paraphrase is a text reworded in the same language.

    I disagree. That’s a common definition that floats around, but it’s incorrect. It’s true that Peterson worked from the Greek and Hebrew, but it’s still safe to say that the result is a paraphrase of the biblical writers’ message.

    The same goes for J. B. Phillips New Testament in Modern English as he also worked from the Greek.

    It doesn’t matter if the original text and the resulting text come from two different languages. If I choose to create a paraphrase of the New Testament, and work from the Greek, and tell you it’s a paraphrase, do you refute me merely because the resulting work is in English?

    By the way, I wrote on this quite extensively a few years back on my older (“Classic”) This Lamp website. There are a number of articles that I won’t bother to link here, but they can be found on that site’s index page by searching for “paraphrase” and “Message.” The conversation in the comments is just as valuable, including the interactions with David Dewey.

  8. Gary Simmons says:

    Sorry, Dannii, but I agree with the other commenters here. There’s nothing in any of the definitions you provided that requires a paraphrase to be intralingual.

    It’s one of those “I know it when I see it” type things. To me, it’s a paraphrase if the wording consciously changes the genre/register or flattens the metaphors. Both translation and paraphrase involve changing the presentation of the text, but the difference is one of extent and not kind. Where to draw the line is subjective, though.

    Any translation which has a policy of assuming the entire Bible was in ordinary everyday language will of course paraphrase the not-so-everyday language of books such as Revelation or passages such as the Sermon on the Mount. Seriously — how can someone seriously believe that “common, everyday language” has chiasms and patterns of 3 and 4 (or 2+1 or 2+2 or 3+1)? If people slipped chiasms into everyday speech, then I’d be very impressed.

    Also, I am hesitant to say Revelation’s grammar is normal. Or, for that matter, that the identification of all the gemstones in Revelation were common knowledge. Not everyone in those days went to jewelry stores, I’m sure.

    This of course leads to the difference between calling a translation a paraphrase and saying that a translation paraphrased a particular passage. Again, very subjective.

  9. Gary Simmons says:

    Notice how I just unconsciously made a chiasm in that last comment. I mentioned

    A Revelation
    B Sermon on the Mount
    B’ Sermon on the Mount examples
    A’ Revelation examples

    Oh, the irony. Did I just prove my point, or disprove it?

  10. Wayne Leman says:

    I disagree. That’s a common definition that floats around, but it’s incorrect.

    If I ask my students to paraphrase some statement from their textbook, I’m asking them to restate what is in the textbook. My purpose is typically to see if they understand what the textbook wording is saying.

    I don’t think Dannii’s explanation of the traditional definition of “paraphrase” is incorrect, Rick. We linguists use the definition as Dannii gave it and as I understand the dictionary definitions that Dannii cited.

    But the newer, commonly used definition of “paraphrase” as applied to Bible versions needs to be added to English dictionaries.

  11. thislamp says:

    Wayne, maybe I’ve simply been too dogmatic with my wording all week 🙂

    Perhaps it’s better to say that the traditional definition of paraphrase is inadequate.

    When I read Peterson’s rendering of the Book of Proverbs (possibly my favorite book in the Message), to me it’s crystal clear that what I’m reading is a paraphrase. Knowing that he created it from the Hebrew doesn’t lessen that fact, but rather let’s me know that it’s a more responsible paraphrase than it could have been if he had simply paraphrased the RSV or some other translation.

    And I want to be careful here not to stray too far into the realm of suggesting motives since that is agains BBB’s comment policy, but I do pick up a slightly defensive tone in Dannii Willis’ post above. Perhaps this is because many use paraphrase in a pejorative sense. Well, that doesn’t have to be. There is a long tradition of “faithful paraphrasing” of biblical texts. We see this both in the Bible itself and in both Jewish and Christian writings from centuries ago. There’s no reason that the label of paraphrase should be viewed negatively.

  12. Mike Sangrey says:

    There’s nothing in any of the definitions you provided that requires a paraphrase to be intralingual

    But, if a restatement of a text in different words is using words in a different language, then of course it’s a restatement of a text in different words. What else could it be? That’s a tautology.

    Or, in other words, if you’re right, then all translations are paraphrases by definition.

  13. Wayne Leman says:

    Thanks, Rick. I have read where Petersen himself refers to his translation as a paraphrase. I’m personally OK with that, even though Petersen translated from the Hebrew and Greek. I think most of us recognize that there are degrees of how closely a translation conforms to the forms of an original text. And in Petersen’s case, we can find a number of cases where he doesn’t always conform to the meaning of the original text.

    I agree with your last sentence, but it is the case, nevertheless, that for most people who care about Bible versions, when they use the word “paraphrase” they intend that word to be negative. A minority of Bible users like paraphrases and may not have any negative sense in the word “paraphrase.”

    Again, whether we like it or not, I think we have to accept lexicographical realities. Like Dannii, I have tried for years to correct people when they referred to “looser” translations as paraphrases. But I finally gave up and accepted that they are using the word with a new meaning. That new meaning is very commonly used among people who care about Bible translation.

    I think Dannii is right to want precision in the terms we use. I wish we could be more precise in use of label(s) referring to the difference between a restatement of something in the same language and degrees of formal equivalence in translations. But I don’t have the energy to fight this battle. I can, uh, use a paraphrase of a word, rather than the word itself, if I want to be more precise! 🙂

  14. Theophrastus says:

    The problem with saying that

    (1) the NLT is not a paraphrase;
    (2) “although the Living Bible was a paraphrase”

    (besides the weird switch from current tense to past tense) is that the NLT reproduces in many places the precise wording of the Living Bible.

    It is quite clear that it is not the case that the NLT editors worked only with original languages. To the contrary, they worked with the text of the Living Bible (and perhaps also with original languages).

    How can a sentence or phrase on one hand be a paraphrase, then somehow be “new” (even though not a single word changes), then magically become “not a paraphrase”?

  15. Sue says:

    It is quite clear that it is not the case that the NLT editors worked only with original languages.

    Which translations were made working only with the original languages? The old Latin versions which have not survived. No Bible today can be considered a translation working ONLY from the original languages.

  16. Dannii says:

    Wow, lots of comments, most of which disagree with me!

    Wayne, I want to think of myself a descriptivist too. But I don’t think that’s what’s going on here, because I can’t see any consistent new meaning for “paraphrase”. Instead I see people meaning lots of things by it, a majority of which are pejorative, and which can be better described by other terms we already have. If you think there is actually a widespread new meaning can you explain it to me?

    I’ve also had a new thought in regards to The Message: I think that in deciding what to priorities in his translation, ranked pragmatics and illocutionary force higher than semantics. This then meant that in some situation he changed the semantics considerably to convey what he thought was the pragmatics of a passage. Illocutionary force is in some ways more abstract than semantics (and far more abstract that morphosyntax) so translations that emphasise it need more risky speculation. They probably are not suitable for regular mainstream translations but are instead more of a niche item. But if I’m right about this, then it’s a much more informative description than “paraphrase”, and it also gives reason for making it so idiomatic. Any thoughts?

  17. Theophrastus says:

    Sue, you miss my point. There is more Living Bible in the NLT than there is Greek or Hebrew — as you can clearly note by just comparing them. The NLT is a revision of a paraphrase — which is incompatible (using Dannii’s definition) with being a paraphrase.

    There are, of course, several translations that claim they are “fresh” translations that rely only on ancient sources. The NLT is not one of them. The NLT is a revision of a paraphrase — which is incompatible (using Dannii’s definition) with being a paraphrase.

    Of course, many extant translations claim to have been from original versions: the Targums, the Septuagint, and so on. Other translations claim to have been made from eclectic texts derived from the critical apparati of the BHS, the NA27, and similar texts. The NLT is not one of them. The NLT is a revision of a paraphrase — which is incompatible (using Dannii’s definition) with being a paraphrase.

    Now, perhaps you like the Living Bible. There is nothing wrong with that. But elevating the Living Bible to a translation after the fact is simply, as Sarah Palin is want to say, putting lipstick on a pig. The NLT is a revision of a paraphrase — which is incompatible (using Dannii’s definition) with being a paraphrase.

  18. Theophrastus says:

    I think that in deciding what to priorities in his translation, ranked pragmatics and illocutionary force higher than semantics.

    The same could be said of a catechism or systematic theology, but we do not even call these paraphrases, much less translations.

  19. Dannii says:

    Theophrastus, I’m not aware of how much of the Living Bible is still in the NLT. You may be right that it’s more of a Hebrew and Greek influenced revision/paraphrase than a translation.

    Perhaps a better example would be the CEV which doesn’t have so complex a history. It isn’t a paraphrase but instead a true translation, although with some peculiarities (reduced vocab complexity etc.)

  20. Theophrastus says:

    Dannii — do you regard a paraphrase as a binary yes/no quality (“The Message is not a paraphrase”) or do you regard it as a spectrum (“The NKJV, ESV and NIV 2011 are all far more paraphrasistic than The Message is.”)?

  21. Iver Larsen says:

    The discussion has been mainly on the evaluative use of “paraphrase” in English. I have learned some more about the English language and how different English speakers use this word. Because of its common pejorative usage, I would hope that people stop using that word altogether, at least when trying to evaluate Bible translations. It creates more heat than light.
    You can talk about a translation being more or less free. (But you cannot pit translation and interpretation against each other. Interpretation is a necessary prerequisite for all translation.) Or you can use a broader word like “rendering” which happens to have many senses in English. The one I am thinking of is from Webster’s: “to reproduce or represent by artistic or verbal means”. To represent by verbal means includes translation but is much broader in meaning. Sense 5 in my Collins dictionary simply says: “to translate”.
    Anyway, I think in Danish, and we don’t have a word for paraphrase, only words for “translation” and “rendering”.
    The Message is VERY free, so free that when we teach our students about translation principles, we tell them not to use the Message as a model. In my view it goes beyond translation into “rendering”. Having said that, I am sure it is and has been an inspiration to many English (esp. American) speakers.

  22. Dannii Willis says:

    Theophrastus, I guess I do see it as a binary term, and think it is most useful to describe the type of source. We have many other terms for describing translation philosophies, most of which are more precise, less ambiguous and also not pejorative.

  23. Joel H. says:

    Dannii,

    I understand what you want “paraphrase” to mean — namely, a restatement of a text but only if the restatement is in the same language as the text. But that doesn’t seem to be what the word means.

    Just for example, I searched for “paraphrase Moliere” in news stories from the last month. And I got, “…to paraphrase Moliere’s Monsieur Jourdain, I discovered that I’d been using adverbs all my life…” In books, I got, “To paraphrase Moliere, he ate to live rather than lived to eat…” And so forth.

    It seems pretty clear to me that English speakers use “paraphrase” to mean “restate in a different way” regardless of the original language they are restating. Although Moliere wrote in French, he can be paraphrased in English.

    It also seems pretty clear to me that — at least for the most part — English speakers know the difference between a paraphrase and a translation.

    The Message rendition of Genesis 1:1 — “…all you see, all you don’t see” — is what English speakers call a paraphrase.

    I think that English speakers who don’t know Hebrew and Greek will learn accurate information about The Message when they are told that it is a “paraphrase.”

  24. Mike Sangrey says:

    It seems pretty clear to me that English speakers use “paraphrase” to mean “restate in a different way” regardless of the original language they are restating

    I think you’re right; however, I don’t think that solves the problem. For example, “restate in a different way” when the languages are different is incredibly awkward. Obviously, destination text is a restatement. I’m really not sure what it might mean when the languages are different. The only way I can make sense from it is if we modify your definition this way.

    To restate in a different way, usually with the presumption the restatement is intended to be more clear, but also less accurate..

    However, even this definition becomes problematic since many who use the word assume that morpho-syntactic equivalence will produce increased accuracy in translation. That is a different problem, so perhaps we’ve succeeded in splitting the issue into two smaller problems. But that assumption is very frequently attached to the use of the word ‘paraphrase‘. When this assumption is “in play” the sense of ‘inaccuracy’ is considerably strengthened. So much so that the word becomes pejorative.

    It’s in this latter case that I wish people would be consistent in their use of ‘paraphrase’. If they are going to use the word to describe texts in translations they don’t like, then they should also use the same word to describe the same kinds of renderings in translations they do like. A consistent use of this word would go a long way, in my opinion, to move people forward with an understanding of what constitutes accuracy.

    Lastly, personally, when talking about translations, I think the word is totally useless. The reason is simple: translations are restatements by definition. As I mentioned above, the result is all translations become paraphrases. And that’s not helpful. The whole discussion degrades into “accurate translations are translations; inaccurate translations are paraphrases.”

  25. Dannii Willis says:

    I think that English speakers who don’t know Hebrew and Greek will learn accurate information about The Message when they are told that it is a “paraphrase.”

    I disagree. They’d only learn accurate information if it was true that some translations can be produced without bias and with little interpretation and if it was true that somehow thinking less about how to creatively render a text will result in accuracy. But all of us here know neither of those are true!

    All translations need interpretation. All translations must be creatively rendered. There are huge differences in translation philosophies, but it’s not along the lines of “paraphrase”, even using the word how most of you want to use it.

  26. Michael Marlowe says:

    Dannii wrote: “he [Peterson] changed the semantics considerably to convey what he thought was the pragmatics of a passage.”

    I agree. That’s a good observation.

    Regarding the word “paraphrase,” someone above has said that its usage in the sense “free translation” is “new.” But Dryden was already using it in that sense (“translation with latitude”) in 1680. And he did not use it in a pejorative sense. Many others since then have also used it in this sense. For example, F.F. Bruce, in his The Letters of Paul: An Expanded Paraphrase (1965). So the sense is old and well-established. It’s true that the word has undergone pejoration.

  27. Theophrastus says:

    More specifically, those who have read Steiner (or pretty much any author on literary translation theory) will know that Dryden divides translations into three types:

    metaphrase-paraphrase-imitation,

    with metaphrase and imitation being two extremes to be avoided, and then gives this famous metaphor about metaphrast (literalist) being like a tightrope-walker with bound feet:

    In short, the verbal copier is encumbered with so many difficulties at once, that he can never disentangle himself from them all. He is to consider, at the same time, the thought of his author, and his words, and to find out the counterpart to each in another language; and besides this, he is to confine himself to the compass of numbers, and the slavery of rhyme. It is much like dancing on ropes with fettered legs; a man may shun a fall by using caution, but the gracefulness of motion is not to be expected; and when we have said the best of it, it is but a foolish task, for no sober man would put himself into a danger for the applause of escaping without breaking his neck.

    It is important to note that the scale metaphrase-paraphrase-imitation is shifted by Dryden from our contemporary use. Dryden was speaking here about the difficulty of translating poetry and in particular preserving exact meter and rhyme in translation — in other words, preserving exact stylistic features. Dryden’s “imitation” corresponds more closely to Dannii’s “paraphrase”. Dryden’s views on “imitation” are well-known, since Dryden is quoted in no less than Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language:

    When a painter copies from the life, he has no privilege to alter features and lineaments, under pretense that his picture will look better.

  28. Michael Marlowe says:

    Dryden’s “imitation” corresponds more closely to Dannii’s “paraphrase”

    However that may be, I think by “paraphrase” Dryden means pretty much the same thing that we mean by the word. He mentions “Mr. Waller’s translation of Virgil’s Fourth Æneid” as an example, and a comparison of that version with the Latin shows that he had in mind a very free translation. For example:

    Tum vero Aeneas, subitis exterritus umbris,
    Corripit e somno corpus sociosque fatigat;
    Praecipites vigilate, viri, et considite transtris;
    Solvite vela citi. Deus aethere missus ab alto
    Festinare fugam tortosque incidere funes
    Ecce iterum instimulat. Sequimur te, sancte deorum,
    Quisquis es, imperioque iterum paremus ovantes.
    Adsis o placidusque iuves, et sidera caelo
    Dextra feras. Dixit, vaginaque eripit ensem
    Fulmineum, strictoque ferit retinacula ferro.
    Idem omnis simul ardor habet, rapiuntque ruuntque;
    Litora deseruere, latet sub classibus aequor;
    Adnixi torquent spumas et caerula verrunt.

    Amaz’d Æneas with the warning fir’d
    Shakes off dull sleep, and rouzing up his men,
    Behold! the Gods command our flight agen,
    Fall to your oars, and all your Canvas spread,
    What God soe’er that thus vouchsaf’st to lead
    We follow gladly and thy will obey,
    Assist us stil smoothing our happy way,
    And make the rest propitious. With that word
    He cuts the Cable with his shining sword;
    Through all the Navy doth like ardour raign
    They quit the shore and rush into the Main
    Plac’t on their banks, the lusty Trojan sweep
    Nuptunes smooth face, and cleave the yielding deep.

    Among many other things here, notice how et sidera caelo dextra feras (lit. “and bring forth favorable constellations of heaven”) is rendered “and make the rest propitious.” Obviously not very accurate. But Dryden recommends this approach for translation of poetry, because accuracy must be sacrificed in order to make a pleasing translation in English verse.

  29. Pao says:

    For teaching, it’s usually the NIV. That’s what most in our congregation read. I really like the ESV & HCSB as well, and use them a lot for personal study. The Message is a regular for me, too, both for personal devotional reading and for a different take when teaching.

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