Category Archives: bible translation

A History of Twentieth Century Translation Theory and Its Application to Bible Translation

I just had an article published in the Journal of Translation titled “A History of Twentieth Century Translation Theory and Its Application to Bible Translation”. It discusses theoretical developments in translation theory while advocating a perspective I support called ‘functionalism’ which, in short, argues that translations must be designed to fit particular needs. The logical end to this is that because there are multiple needs, there must be multiple ‘correct’ ways of translating the Bible. The one ‘best Bible’ translation doesn’t exist. The one ‘right’ way to translate doesn’t exist either. Sometimes you’ll need a literal translation, other times you’ll need an idiomatic translation, and both are ‘right’ in their particular situation.

Anyway, here’s the LINK (free registration required to view the paper online) and the abstract:

This article studies the development of twentieth century translation theory. This was a period during which significant theoretical contributions were made in both secular and Bible translation circles. These contributions have had a profound impact on the practice of translation throughout the twentieth century and since. The individuals who contributed to the present state of translation theory worked in both secular and Bible translation circles and this article examines contributions from both. A select history of theoretical developments, focusing on the most important ideas relevant to Bible translation work is given in order to examine the impact of such theories in the practice of Bible translation. These include the philosophical approaches of the early twentieth century; the linguistic era of the 1950s and 1960s; the rise of functionalism and descriptive translation studies; and, finally, the emergence of postcolonial and related foreignising approaches.

Andy Cheung, “A History of Twentieth Century Translation Theory and Its Application to Bible Translation”, Journal of Translation 9:1 (Apr 2013) 1-15. [Link]

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Dr Andy Cheung is Academic Dean at King’s Evangelical Divinity School.

Foreignisation and Bible Translation

The current edition of Tyndale Bulletin (63.2, Nov 2012, 257-73) includes an article by KEDS tutor Dr Andy Cheung which considers the notion of foreignisation with respect to Bible translation, a concept which originated with Schleiermacher.

The title of the article is “Foreignising Bible Translation: Retaining Foreign Origins when Rendering Scripture.” In his summary of the article, Andy writes: ‘”Foreignising translation” aims to relocate the reader in the world of the source text and attempts to make obvious the alien origins of the original text.’ Although foreignisation is well established in “secular” translation studies, it is less commonly used in biblical translation.

The article, which will be of interest to all students who are currently studying exegesis and hermeneutics, is available online.

Reverend Eugene Nida

THE REVEREND EUGENE NIDA, who has died aged 96, helped translate the Bible into more than 200 languages, enabling the world’s most popular book to be understood by remote populations from the icy wastes of the Arctic Circle to the deserts of Africa. (From the obituary here at the Daily Telegraph)

Daniel Wallace NIV 2011

Dan Wallace, who is always worth reading, has begun a four-part series on the NIV 2011 edition. The first two posts are available here and here. It’s not just a review of the newly updated NIV, but also contains a select history of Bible translation, which is well worth a read. If you want something meatier, go with what I’m currently rereading this week: David Daniell’s outstanding 900 page historical survey titled, The Bible in English, by some distance the best book of this type. Admittedly, at 900 pages, it might be a bit long for most, in which case go for the next best thing: Bruce Metzger’s Bible in Translation:Ancient and English Versions.

Dr John Bendor-Samuel 1929-2011

Today, I received the following press release from Wycliffe Bible Translators UK:

It is with sadness that Wycliffe Bible Translators UK reports the death of Dr John Bendor-Samuel, Director-Emeritus of Wycliffe UK, following a road traffic accident close to his home on 6 January 2011. Read more »

Revised Chinese Union Version (RCUV) Bible Released

Good News for Chinese Readers of the Bible, as a major new revision is released. Today, over 90% of Chinese Christians use the Chinese Union Version (CUV) which makes it effectively the standard edition. It was first released over 90 years ago so a revision has long been needed. Here is the news reported in the Singapore edition of the Christian Post: Read more »