Christianity Today Cover Story on Bible Translation

The cover story for the most recent issue of Christianity Today is called When A Word Is Worth A Thousand Complaints (and When It Isn’t), and it’s about Bible translation. It covers several issues, including “the Satan” in Job, “virgin/young woman” in Isaiah 7:14, the TNIV and gender inclusivity, the ESV Study Bible editors overruling the authors of the study notes, and how Bible translations are reluctant to depart from tradition.

It’s a fascinating and informative article, well-worth reading.

3 thoughts on “Christianity Today Cover Story on Bible Translation

  1. Mike Tisdell says:

    The CT article makes a number of unjustified assumptions. While it is true that all Hebrew scholarship recognizes that השטן (the accuser) is a title and not a name, there is significantly more debate about the identification of “the accuser” than the author suggests.

    “While the Satan’s role in this test is much simpler than his ominous role as head of all evil powers that the later Judeo-Christian tradition ascribes to him, he reveals numerous characteristics which suggest that he is contiguous with the later Satan, God’s primary antagonist.”

    (John E. Hartley, The Book of Job, New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 71-72.)

    In dealing with the translation of עלמה (young woman /virgin) he suggests that either choice is nearly equal, but to the modern English speaker it is far more likely that they would understand that a “virgin” was very likely a “young woman” than it is that they would understand that a “young woman” was very likely to be a virgin. Unfortunately, in our culture the later is almost never assumed. Additionally, the Hebrew term עלמה refers to an “unmarried young woman” and in English we can refer to a “young woman” who is married.

  2. Don Lowe says:

    Hi Mike, those are both good points, thank you for sharing those. Regarding “The Satan” in Job, how do you think it should be translated into English? Could it still be translated “the accuser” or “the adversary” in English and still leave the door open tor it to be identified with Satan, like “the serpent” is in Genesis 3? Or should we stick to the traditional translation, “Satan,” and put a footnote, “or accuser/adversary”?

  3. Mike Tisdell says:

    I don’t have a problem with “the accuser” in the text of the translation but think that it would require a footnote. My objection to the articles proposal was its dismissal of the idea that the accuser was Satan and the suggestion that most Hebrew scholars reject the idea that this accuser was Satan. The traditional interpretation of this text seems to be even more strongly communicated in the LXX and that is something that shouldn’t easily be dismissed.

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