Monday, 13 July 2015

The NLT: Why Dynamic Equivalence Fails.

I've used many translations of the Bible in my time. Think of one, and I've read it. I've now of course settled upon the KJV as my 'translation of choice', simply because it takes what is in the hebrew and greek and seeks a little as possible to change or interpret what is said.


Modern translating seems to disintegrate this 'formal' translation philosophy, apparently now the bible has to be read as easily and simply as possible. It has to read with as much ease as Harry Potter than with the grandeur of other ancient texts such as The Aenid, or the Enuma Elish.

Of course what this means is we are actually allowing translators to use their own opinions and beliefs to interpret what we must interpret for ourselves. No place is this more evident than in the NLT. People call upon the NIV as the devil's bible these days, but the real danger is in the NLT, a bible that I have 3 or 4 copies of in my library, because I like to have easy-read bibles, and I cannot for the life of me understand why a bible has to be less accurate than the KJV in order to be easier to read.

For instance:

"Genesis 6:2 The sons of God saw the beautiful women and took any they wanted as their wives. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120 years.”"

Genesis 6, a pretty pivotal chapter in the history of man. Notice something - lifespan. There are two interpretations of this passage, one is that 120 years is the length of time that mankind has before the flood, another is that 120 years is the lifespan of humanity. Of course the NLT just takes one and goes with
it.

Then the NLT says:
"4 In those days, and for some time after, giant Nephilites lived on the earth, for whenever the sons of God had intercourse with women, they gave birth to children who became the heroes and famous warriors of ancient times."

Do I even need to comment on this? GIANT NEPHILITES.
Who will understand this? What on Earth is a nephilite? The correct rendering is either Giant OR nephilim, and I would side with giant. Nephilim in itself is meaningless and causes people to google and end up believing that angels came to earth to mate with human women.

Now after this, the chapter is not too bad, why? because it sticks to the script, it doesn't deviate and it doesn't read into the text and try to interpret it for you.

Now in 8 places this translation uses the term "repent of your sins", In 2 more places it says "turn from your sins", and 2 more "turn from your sin". This is entirely without justification, but as the prevailing view in modern christendom, the NLT uses this to make things "easier".

Ephesians 2:8-9

"8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it."

Now people think this to be heresy, I am not so sure on this, The KJV says "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves it is a gift from God, not of works lest any man should boast" - I much prefer this, but it says the same thing. However it is another example of the NLT 'interpreting' for us, when it should just translate the passage cleanly as it should be.

I could go on and on, I only wrote this because I bought a Chronological LASB and decided to get it in the NLT rather than the KJV. The notes are no better if I'm honest, but I'm glad I got it. If anything this bible will allow me to do research into the mainstream views of doctrine.

The problem with dynamic equivalence, in both TR and CT translations lay solely on us not having all the answers, if we did every bible would be perfect - however 'scholars' do think that we have all the answers, and as far as each scholar is concerned it is their doctrinal standpoint. So they translate based on their viewpoints and we end up with catholics, baptists, methodists, presbyterians, lutherans, anglicans and so on, all adding their two-penneth, many not actually believing in God, or believing that the bible is divinely inspired beyond the "original autographs". Many times verses are translated according to ancient historical narrative, in the sense of it being a historical record rather than God speaking to his people or through the writers of the text.

Dynamic equivalence is a best guess, based upon the 'best' of worldly scholarship, history of interpretation and modern ideals of what the bible should say, and don't underestimate the influence of the latter. For instance, Matthew Henry never once refers to repenting of sins, yet 150 years later there is Charles Spurgeon talking about it like it's obvious. Opinions on what the bible says are constantly changing, and as such we have 2000 years of historical interpretation. Anabaptists, Calvinists, Luther, Tyndale, even Popes! All having influence in their time. Today false doctrines go un-noticed, even accepted by the vast majority of Christians. The greatest pastor in America today is Joel Osteen. This says it all.

The NLT will be remembered as a snapshot of mainstream beliefs in the 21st century, just as the NRSV represents the late 20th century. Whilst the KJV will still remain as a living, breathing, love-letter to the saved.

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