Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Making Sense of Bible Translations

Sunday, September 25, 2011
Joe Alain, Hebron Baptist Church

Early English Translations How did we get our English Bible?
A complete translation of the Bible in English did not appear until the fourteenth century. The Latin Vulgate was the principle Bible used in the English church. John Wycliffe (called “The Morning Star of the Reformation”) along with two associates produced an English version of the Bible which was based on the Latin text.

During the sixteenth century there was an explosion of Bible translations. There are several factors that led to this:
(1) The Renaissance with its recovery of classical learning (especially Greek).

(2) The fall of Constantinople and the westward movement of Greek scholars.

(3) The Hebrew renaissance (Hebrew editions of the Bible by 1448).

(4) The development of Gutenberg’s printing press (ca. 1540).

(5) The Protestant reformation with its emphasis on vernacular versions and theological emphasis upon Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), provided a catalyst for new translations.

William Tyndale (1484-1536) stands above all the rest concerning English translations in the sixteenth century. His New Testament translation was the first translation based on the Greek text established by Erasmus in 1516. Tyndale never finished the complete Bible and he was strangled and burned because of his work in 1536.

The first complete English Bible was produced in 1535 by Miles Coverdale. This work utilized Tyndale’s NT and completed the OT in consultation with German and Latin sources. Coverdale’s Bible was the first to remove the apocryphal books (that were in the Latin Vulgate).

The Authorized Version or King James Bible capped the series of translations begun by Tyndale (1611). Produced by a team of 54 scholars, the KJV became the Bible for English-speaking peoples for generations and a monument of the English language. This year marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

Why Is There a Need for Fresh Translations? Why do we need new translations?
(1) Advancements in textual criticism. Today we have many more early manuscripts that were simply not available before. For example, Codex Sinaiticus, early Greek papyri of NT documents, Dead Sea Scrolls, etc.
(2) Our knowledge of biblical languages has increased.

(3) The English language is continually changing. Updating translations to reflect contemporary usage of any language makes it easier to understand the Bible’s timeless message.

Evaluating Translations How do we determine what is a “good” translation?
Criteria for Evaluation of a Translation
1. The Identity and Qualification of the Translators. Who is doing the translation? What are their qualifications? Some English works are the product of a single person. For example, J.B. Phillip’s New Testament in Modern English and Eugene Peterson’s The Message. While works produced by a single person have there value, a committee offers a higher concentration of skills than one person. Modern translations are often the product of committees of over a hundred persons from a variety of backgrounds and skill sets. This serves to eliminate theological bias and provides needed accountability.

2. The Underlying Textual Basis of the Translation. What are the translation teams basing their translation on? Most modern translations opt for what is called a critical Greek text, reflecting an eclectic approach to textual questions. Usually this means some translations differ on the point of variations that are found in a text. A good translation will explain some of these variants.

3. The Theory of Translation Used by the Translators. This is perhaps the most practical information for us to know concerning the evaluation of a translation. There is a “hermeneutic” (science of interpretation) to translation. The act of translation means that translator will make judgements based on his or her understanding of the original languages, the receptor language, culture, etc. Translators must overcome all these barriers while remaining faithful to the message of the original text.

Our English Bibles are translations from the original biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Among the things that a translator must be concerned with are what is known as “historical distance” and the “receptor language” in our case English

Historical Distance has to do with the differences that exist between the original language and the receptor language (English in our case) both in words, grammar, and idioms (or expressions) as well as in matters of culture and history.

Theory of Translation Each translator or team of translators must make a choice concerning how they will bridge the gap (the historical distance) between the two languages. It is usually a question of “degrees.” For example, should “lamp” be translated “flashlight” or “torch” in cultures where these serve the purpose that a lamp once did?

Three Theories of translation have been generally followed in bridging the gap between the original languages and the receptor language.

Literal or Formal Equivalency (“Word Correspondence”). The attempt to translate by keeping as close as possible to the exact words (Word Correspondence) and phrasing in the original language, yet still make sense in the receptor language. A formal equivalent translation will keep the historical distance intact at all points. This makes for an excellent translation for serious study. The downside is that the text may seem a little disjointed sounding and awkward. Although there are many formal equivalent translations, the ASV and the NASB are representative of this theory of translation.

Dynamic Equivalency (“Functional”). The attempt to translate words, idioms, and grammatical constructions of the original language into precise equivalents in the receptive language, producing a thought-for-thought translation. Such a translation keeps historical distance on all historical and most factual matters, but “updates” matters of language, grammar, and style. Meaning takes precedence over matters of structure and style. The question is, “how far can the translator go to achieve the equivalent effect yet still remain faithful to the text? The NIV and NLT are examples of this theory of translation.

Free (Paraphrases). The attempt to translate the ideas from one language to another, with less concern about using the exact words of the original. A free translation, sometimes also called a paraphrase, tries to eliminate as much of the historical distance as possible. Although paraphrases have there value, they are not translations and should not be treated as such. The Living Bible and The Message are representative paraphrases.

What are some things to be aware of concerning a paraphrase?
(1) A paraphrase may be taken as a translation by the average person.

(2) A paraphrase may reflect the theology of the person who did the paraphrase. In evaluating modern translations know the theological perspective of the translators. Usually, it is best to use a translation from a team rather than an individual. Of course, it goes without saying that the Bible text is inspired not someone’s commentary about the text! Think of a paraphrase as a “mini” commentary on Scripture.

(3) A paraphrase is not tied as closely to the text. If we are people who have a high view of the Bible and believe that God has revealed His will in His Word, then we want to know exactly what he said, not just a paraphrase of what he might have said. So, while a paraphrase is helpful as a commentary on Scripture, we want to make sure that we are consulting a good formal and/or dynamic equivalent translation of Scripture.

Following are charts that show what theory of translation is used for some of the more popular translations and paraphrases:


Phillips, LB, The Message

Tensions to Keep in Mind The point of the following charts is not to suggest that only formal translations are of any value, but to show the dynamics (positives and negatives) and challenges involved in translating the Bible. Many of the newer translations (e.g., NIV, CEB) are dynamic equivalent translations for the very reason that they are trying to preserve the best of a formal equivalent while at the same time making the translation more accessible and readable for modern audiences.

On one end of the Bible translation spectrum, you have . . .
Formal (Literal)

On the other end of the Bible translation spectrum, you have . . .
Free (Paraphrase)

Practical Considerations What translation should I use? For Study, use several well-chosen translations. A good formal equivalency Bible is a must but supplement with a modern translation like the NIV or NLT. Because most translations within there classification (formal or dynamic) are so similar, choosing a Bible translation is often a matter of personal preference. For example, the following are all examples of good formal equivalent translations. Note, how they differ only on there choice of words.

Hebrews 12:2 (Examples)
King James Version: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”

English Standard Version: “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”

New American Standard Bible: “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”

Holman Christian Standard Bible: “Keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.”

For Daily Use and study you would do well to have a good literal or formal equivalent or dynamic translation with notes in the margin that reflect modern scholarship.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sermon Text for Sunday, October 2, 2011 (Galatians 5:13-26)

Galatians 5:13-26
New International Version (NIV)

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;

20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions

21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Praise for the Past, Faith for the Future Renewal Sunday, September 25, 2011

This past Sunday, September 18th we distributed "Estimate of Giving" cards in our morning worship services. You might remember that the original building campaign called for a commitment of gifts to be made over a three year period. We are well into our third year of the campaign and I want to thank you for your faithfulness to give so generously. At the time of our original campaign, we had $749,904.16 committed over a three year period. I am pleased to announce that as of August 31, 2011 we have received $694,836.45! This amount includes your campaign gifts as well as the 11% of our undesignated receipts each month when we were able to do so from our general fund.

Your Capital Fund and Steering Committees have decided to extend our original campaign eight (8) months, concluding December 31, 2012. There are three reasons for this extension:

1. This will allow people a little extra time to make their original three year commitment.

2. This will allow people to make adjustments to their commitment if needed.

3. This will allow our new members and others who did not feel that they could make a commitment previously to have the opportunity to join us in this campaign.

What Is Your Committee Asking You to Do with The Estimate of Giving Card?
1. If you made a commitment in the original campaign, and you are satisfied with the original commitment that you made, simply record your original commitment minus what you have already given. This amount would represent your commitment for the remainder of the campaign, 15 months. You should have received a letter with the amount that you have given as of August 31st. If not, please contact the church office.

2. If you made a commitment in the original campaign, and you have already completed your commitment, prayerfully consider what you might give above your original commitment for the remainder of the campaign through 2012. Here’s an example of how this might work.

Say the original amount that you pledged over three years was $6,000 and you have completed your pledge. But since the campaign has been extended and you are able financially, you might feel that you could give an additional $2,000 through December, 2012. On your Estimate of Giving card simply record the additional amount of $2,000 that you feel led to give over the next 15 months.

Similarly, if you made a commitment in the original campaign but for some reason you are not able to fulfill that amount, then record what you plan to give over the next 15 months.

3. For new members and those who did not make a commitment in the original campaign, let me encourage you to prayerful consider partnering in this campaign from now until the original campaign concludes December, 2012. So the amount that you record would be your pledged amount for the campaign from now, September 25th through December 2012.

4. If you can only pray for your church, then please record the prayer response stating that you will pray for HBC as we seek to do God’s work and bring Him glory.

This Sunday, September 25th we are asking that you bring your completed Estimate of Giving cards to worship where we will lay them before the Lord and have a special time of prayer. I look forward to what God has in store for Hebron as we continue to be faithful in extending the Gospel of Jesus in our community and in our world.

See you Sunday as we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, ready to serve the living and true God.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe
"Phil. 1:3"

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011 Sermon Text (1 Thessalonians 1:2-10)

1 Thessalonians 1:2-10, ESV

2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers,

3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,

5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,

7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.

8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.

9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,

10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fall Revial Is Here!!!

All are welcomed to join us for our Fall Revival beginning this Sunday, September 11th and continuing through Wednesday, September 14th! Following are the details for the week:

Guest Speaker: Keith Manuel
Guest Worship Leader: J. R. Walley

Schedule of Services
Sunday 8 & 10:30 a.m.
6 p.m. "Bring a Friend Night"

Monday 7 p.m. "Family Night"

Tuesday 7 p.m. "Sr. Adult Night"

Wednesday 7 p.m. "Children and Youth Night"

"Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?" Psalm 85:6