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Leland Ryken @ Crossway Blog on Translation

September 11, 2009

You can read Part 1 and Part 2 of Leland Ryken’s Q/A  on translation with Crossway Blog.  Very helpful and timely for those who thinking through the most recent announcement by Zondervan.  I wanted to include a very helpful chart (below) that Ryken included to give some actual flesh to his argument for an essentially literal translation:


6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2009 8:08 pm


    The TNIV is almost identical to the ESV in each of the verses in this chart. I don’t know what translation Ryken is discussing but it is not the NIV or the TNIV. I have no idea why you linked to a story about the TNIV in this post.

    I also think it is not a useful chart when Ryken does not cite the translation he is comparing.

    I think you owe another apology to the TNIV. Please try to be responsible with facts.

    • jbstarke permalink*
      September 11, 2009 8:21 pm

      My post, nor do I think Ryken’s post was specifically aimed at the TNIV, it was just “timely.”

  2. September 12, 2009 12:25 am

    Why doesn’t Ryken and the CBMW have a boycott of the Message, NLT and CEV since these seem to be the translations referred to in the chart. The TNIV is almost identical in every case to the ESV, except in perhaps one case there is one word different.

    Saying it is “timely” is like saying it is time to buy Christmas presents on a cool evening in July.

    There really is no connection, but you want to suggest a connection anyway.

    • jbstarke permalink*
      September 12, 2009 3:19 pm

      By the way, below is a quote by Ryken as to how Kostenberger and Ryken are not opposed to one another, but compliment one another:
      “Adherents of “dynamic equivalence” (and the more recent label “functional equivalence”) do not necessarily feel obliged to translate the actual words of the original. Instead, these translators often engage in commentary on the biblical text instead of translation of it. This is done by bypassing the words of the original and offering an interpretation of its “content meaning” as distinct from its “lexical meaning.”
      In my new book, Understanding English Bible Translation, I stress that the terminology of dynamic equivalence is misleading in covering the range of practices followed by translators.”

      At this point, Ryken is talking about the NIV and TNIV. But he is inline with Kostenberger attempting to translate the “word”, not phrase, best – which I know you will disagree with the translation. But it takes interpretation, at some level, to do that. Context is the best way to do this.

  3. September 12, 2009 3:51 pm

    First, reproducing this chart in a discussion of the TNIV is seriously misleading. In fact, the chart contains no references so it should not be published at all. I suppose the chart must come with footnotes, but these are not reproduced. It is a very curious publishing practice to provide this chart with no references.

    Second, I understand you to say that interpretation can be used in the choice of what English word to use for a certain Greek word, as long as one word is translated by one word, and not one phrase by one phrase.

    For example,

    18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is (C)in the bosom of the Father, (D)He has explained Him. NASB

    No one has ever seen God;(B) the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. ESV

    No one has ever seen God, but the one and only [Son], who is himself God and [a] is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. TNIV

    So, what I hear you saying is that if the ESV changes bosom to side then that’s okay, but if the TNIV changes “bosom” to “in closest relationship” that is not okay.

    The ESV subtly shifts meaning hear and there by some kind of intepretation, but the TNIV, sticking far closer to the meaning of the original uses a phrase instead. Why is the loss of word meaning okay in the ESV? Becuase interpretive translation of words is allowed, but not interpretative translation of phrases?

    I am not sure why so much latitude is allowed in the translation of words.

  4. September 12, 2009 7:48 pm

    inline with Kostenberger attempting to translate the “word”, not phrase, best – which I know you will disagree with the translation.

    You misunderstand me by a long shot. I think it is best to translate the word faithfully and I have no idea why the ESV is considered closer in this respect than many other translations.

    Let’s look at the complaints against the TNIV,

    1) It translates anthropos (pl) with “people” rather than jumping back and forth as the ESV does. The TNIV is more concordant by a long shot.

    2) The TNIV translates hilasmos with “atonement” instead of “propitiation” following Tyndale rather than Calvin. This is still word for word.

    3) In 1 TIm. 2:12 the TNIV translates authentein with “assume authority” rather than “exercise authority” (ESV) – this time the TNIV follows Calvin and the ESV follows Tyndale.

    4) 1 TIm. 5:8 the ESV inserts a masculine pronoun into to text which is not there in English. In fact, many passages in the Greek have no masculine pronoun, since a Greek verb does not require one. How does the ESV justify inserting the masculine into the text where God has not done so?

    5) adelphos (pl) is translated as “brothers and sisters” which everyone knows is a literal and word for word translation of adelphoi.

    I have had no one explain to me why CBMW has attacked the TNIV and not the ESV? It can’t be an argument between Tyndale and Calvin. What is it?

    And your chart contains no reference to the (T)NIV at all, so there is no use looking there for examples.

    There is one main difference and that is the use of “sinful nature.” However, if we look at other places, the ESV has frequently inserted the word “God” or “us” or some other such thing to clarify a text that becomes difficult to translate otherwise.

    I don’t think that we should stoop to John Piper’s complaint that the TNIV uses “now” instead of “therefore.” That hardly counts as a dynamic equivatent example.

    In fact, few people recognize the TNIV as a dynamic equivalent translation. Usually that honour is reserved for the Good News Bible, and the CEV.

    I am disappointed that so many people have had their experience of reading the Bible disrupted and made to be conflicted and distorted by this discussion. How many women will now know, thanks to P & G, that God intends males to have the priority. They might not have known this if they had only had the text, either the ESV or the TNIV. But the anti-TNIV campaign has stirred the waters and tarnished Christianity.

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