Friday, June 18, 2004


I'll turn my attention back to this set of blogs again for a moment and see if I can't knock one out.

Paraphrases not literal text translations, nor are they necessarily phrase-for-phrase translations (which require some interpretation by the translators. Paraphrases are basically what someone else thinks the Bible (or any original source document) intends to say. Paraphrases are scary because they depend upon the ability of the paraphraser to understand the mentality, focus, message and nuances of the original author. In my opinion (IMO) a paraphrase of the Bible should never be used for any purpose. There are enough translations wherein the translators have been open enough to share their own biases and beliefs that governed their choices during the translation processes (you can generally read about it in the forwards of a translation or by looking up the publisher of a version of the Bible) so that a reader can reasonably understand why the translators decided to substitute a word or phrase for what was actually in the original texts (or sometimes for what was left out of the original text).

Perhaps a contrived example would serve best to demonstrate the difference between a translation and a paraphrase. I don't have a copy of the Nestle-Aland or UBS version of the Greek New Testament handy so I'll make my own sentence fragement up.

Koine Greek:

Textually accurate translation:
"I love you"
Here you should notice that the "I" and "you" are in italics. This is a mechanism by which most Bible publishers alert the user that the text they are reading was not necessarily in the original manuscripts. The reason for this is that often with language that were as intricate and mature as Greek was at the time (spoken by a majority of the world and almost all the known western world at the time of the writing of the New Testament), words could accurately be inferred to be present in conversational language usage (such as in the letters of the New Testament from Paul, Peter and the other authors). Just like in modern Spanish it is permissible to say "no soy" to mean "I don't know", you can leave out references to oneself because the voice of the verb "soy" implies that the speaker is also the subject of the sentence.

Paraphrase of the text:
"I, yes I, the Lord, love you, my people"
Now, why would all these words be added? Sometimes the person writing the paraphrase (such as the "Good News for Modern Man" felt that it might be important to point out to the readers that the Creator of all life appreciated the reader and cared for the reader. Perhaps these words might be added for some other reason. The whole point of why paraphrases are not an acceptible item to use in determining one's belief system is that the reader never knows the underlying reasons why the authors of the paraphrase chose to use a particular set of words; are these words here bacause they really are in the original languages, are they here because I can reasonably infer them from the words and tenses used in the original documents or are they here because the author of this paraphrase felt it important to emphasize something?

Paraphrases might be OK but I can't imagine a profitable reason to utilize them for anyone who is capable of understanding basic human interaction.

Thanks for reading,


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