Musings About Translations and Textual Criticism:
A translation is moving meaning in one language to another. Or moving a meaning in a text, found in the source language, to the receptor language in such a way that it is coherent. Translation is not a simple task, by any means. For example, different languages have various vocabulary sizes; different languages place words in different forms, phrases, or clauses than another language may be used to. Or, the very fact that no two words are exactly alike should prove the arduous and sober task of translating.
The two main approaches are formal and functional equivalence. Both attempt to bring meaning to its readers but both do it in different fashions that can affect the “meaning”. Formal equivalence seeks to be as “word for word” as possible if not altogether. Functional equivalence (also known as dynamic equivalence) seeks to bring more practical or modern meaning to the ancient texts by rendering them in the receptor language as “meaning for meaning” as opposed to a literal approach. Personally, I favor the former yet will utilize the other as a supplement (typically the NIV). I have read, as I suggested others do previously, Leland Ryken’s work, The Word of God in English and am convinced that we should do our very best at being truthful to the original meaning of the author’s intent. For example, would Shakespeare really be Shakespeare if we edited much of what he wrote? Where does that slippery slope end up?
Some people disdain any other translation other than the KJV. I believe this notion to be idyllic but not accurate. One of the reasons that some uphold the KJV or another earlier text (Douay-Rheims Bible) is because they do not understand a need for textual criticism. The modern insurgence of a earlier manuscripts, than those of the KJV for sure, in the late 40's till today demands we understand the language that the bible was originally written as well as the type of people who were writing it as well as those who were receiving it also. Textual criticism seeks to find the original meaning in the plethora of mss available today. Using various methods in textual criticism the original meaning of the texts can be narrowed. It is equally important to obtain both a “high view” of scriptural authority as well as a positive view towards textual criticism. Usually, a deficiency in one or the other relates to a misunderstanding. Textual criticism seeks to make the original meaning available so that the translators can make clear to us God’s Word.