Monday, April 12, 2010

What version should I use? Part - 2

Okay, last we talked we discussed the Greek and Hebrew texts. Since these were the original languages the Bible was written in, it would make seance to use these for our translations -- Correct? Since the Greek and Hebrew texts are older, they are the more reliable (Remember that as a rule of thumb! Older = More Reliable!)

When the KJV was being translated, the writers relied heavily on another text: the Latin Vulgate Bible. The Latin Bible was new, but extremely eloquent in it's speech (it was not the kind of language you would use everyday in the street.) This is another example of there being new and better ways of translating. Keeping this in mind, let's do some translation comparisons...

KJV, Isaiah 14:12 "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!"

NKJV, Isaiah 14:12 "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,* son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!

* Literally
Day Star"

NIV, Isaiah 14:12 "How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!"

NASB, Isaiah 14:12 "How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!"

What do we see? KJV uses the word "Lucifer," NKJV also uses "Lucifer, but adds a footnote -- "Day Star" -- NIV and NASB both use "morning star"/"star of the morning". The KJVO people condemn the NIV, NASB and even the NKJV (because of the footnote) for changing the word "Lucifer" to "morning star".

When you hear the word "Lucifer" what pops into your head? Satan, right? That's what we've been taught, but have you ever stopped and wondered where the word "Lucifer" came from? Originally that's all it was, a word; "Lucifer" was never intended to be a name. Let me explain. In the ancient Hebrew texts the word translated "Lucifer" is הֵילֵל (heylel) which literally means "morning star". So why was it translated "Lucifer"? The Latin word (as in Latin Vulgate Bible) for "morning star" is "Lucifer". "Lucifer" is not a name! It is the Latin word for "morning star"! When the translators for the NIV, NASB, and NKJV came to that word, they looked at the ancient text and decided that they should not keep a Latin word in English -- they were translating for English, NOT LATIN. Thus they decided to go with the literal, original meaning of the word "heylel" and wrote down "morning star". Seems much more reasonable to me too, right?

Another thing that translators have to keep in mind is "idea-idea" and "word-word" translating. You see, when you are translating another culture, another language, and another way of speaking into English, sometimes the actual meaning gets lost within all the word shuffling. When you are translating word for word into English, you can come up with stuff that doesn't necessarily make the most sense. However, if you translate idea by idea, you take the foreign phrase and use the English way of speaking to say it (this is called "dynamic equivalence").

Example: KJV (word-word) Luke 9:44 "Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men."

That sounds a little awkward.

NIV (idea-idea) Luke 9:44 "Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men."

Sounds a lot better, doesn't it?

Because of the word-word translation of the KJV, it tends to be more difficult to understand than the NIV. I'm not saying that the KJV is impossible to understand, and if you prefer it -- by all means! -- use it, but if you find it easier to read and learn from another version, don't limit yourself.

I've got one more of these coming so Stay tuned..

Part - 1, Part - 2, Part - 3


Kwame E. said...

Nah, just go with the KJV.
That way, you’ll eventually come to learn all kinds of weird and archaic vocabulary. From there you have a stepping stone to further your studies and eventually learn Middle English, all before moving on to the ultimate linguistic goal: the mastery of Anglo-Saxon/Old English.

Don’t thank me now, Christine, for this excellent (and free) advice. You can do so at a later time when “swa swa” is a phrase that doesn’t sound strange anymore.

Christine Ericson said...

Thanks Kwame, I dearly miss the days when birds flew in the lyft and fish swam in the bæðweg! ;P