Wednesday, February 16, 2011

As Far As It Is Translated Correctly

We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly
8th Article of Faith
As a teenager, I got the impression at church that the Bible was inferior to other works of scripture. I don't recall anyone saying it outright, but I definitely picked up on that subtext. This bothered me. I have always felt the Spirit while reading the Bible, and I developed a testimony of its truth and divinity long before I joined the church.

Some people consider the phrase "as far as it is translated correctly" to be a limiting phrase, i.e. that the Bible is substandard. I see it, however, as an expanding phrase. We use the King James translation at church. I like the language in the KJV. It's beautiful in a way that other translations sometimes are not. However, other translations can offer greater clarity.

I've done translation of non-religious writing, and in the process, I realized that there is often more than one right way to render a phrase in another language. In that instance, each one is a correct translation and it comes down to an editorial decision of the translator. It works that way with the Bible, too.

Take, for example, 1 John 4:8:

"He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." -King James Version
"He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." -New King James Version
"The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." -New American Standard Bible
"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." -New International Version

They're all saying the same thing with slightly different words. So, a proper reading of the 8th Article of Faith would not say "The Bible is less the word of God than the other standard works." A proper reading would say "The KJV is the word of God, the NKJV is the word of God, the NASB is the word of God, the NIV is the word of God, the Bible in another language is the word of God, etc."

By Common Consent has a post about the use of the KJV at church.


Alison Moore Smith said...

Keri, just wanted to let you know that you've been nominated for best LDS Female Solo Blogger of 2010.

I followed the link from YOUR nomination. What a great blog. You definitely deserve a spot. :)

Anyway, this was a great post. I have no expertise, but find the process of translation and how it influences our reading of scripture to be fascinating.

I have an old tape of Nibley teaching a Gospel Doctrine lesson. He's reading out of a Greek Bible, translating on the fly. Holy cow.

And I LOVE that reader have the option to check "heretical" in response. heh heh

Keri said...

Thanks for the nomination, Alison! I'm glad you enjoy my blog.