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Are literal translations better than paraphrases?

...from https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2018/07/why-view-a-bible-passage-in-more-than-one-bible-translation/

Should you use a paraphrase? A paraphrase of the Bible should not be used as a Christian’s primary Bible. We have to remember that a paraphrase is what the author thinks the Bible says, not necessarily what the Bible says. Eugene Peterson did a fair job on The Message, but there are many passages in The Message that do not accurately render the original meaning of the text. A paraphrase of the Bible should essentially be used as a commentary on the Bible, a way to get another perspective. A paraphrase can be used alongside a Bible translation to give insight into what the Bible means. A paraphrase of the Bible, though, should not be viewed as the Bible, but rather as an author’s idea of what the Bible says and what it means by what it says.

...from https://www.gotquestions.org/paraphrase-Bible.html

In Hebrew there are two possible meanings: a herald might run quickly with the message, or someone might be able to quickly read the writing on the tablets themselves. The NIV translators flattened the interpretive possibilities of the passage by portraying the first interpretation as the passage’s only meaning. Such choices may enhance the NIV’s narrative flow, but diminish the actual complexities of the text. The NIV translators constantly made such one-dimensional explanatory choices, thus producing an English translation which, in the end, offered a far less rich biblical text.

...Flattening out the possible meanings of any given verse and then adding additional commentary to clarify the verse robs the Bible of important layers of subtlety.

...from https://www.neh.gov/humanities/2011/novemberdecember/feature/the-everlasting-bible

It is remarkable that all older versions of the Bible translate 1 Timothy 6:10 in the more literal way: “The love of money is the root of all evils” (or all evil). This includes the Wycliffe Bible, Luther Bibel, Geneva Bible, King James Version, Douay-Rheims, Darby Bible, and Revised Standard Version.

But almost all modern versions use the interpretive paraphrase: “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” These include the NCV, NIV, NASB, ASV, ESV, NKJV, HCSB, NLT, NRSV, and GNT.

...But in the case of 1 Timothy 6:10, the Greek structure in question is straightforward (pantōn tōn kakōn) and has an exact English counterpart (“of all evils”). Both are equally clear and equally puzzling. There is no hidden clue in the Greek phrase or the English phrase that would make things any clearer or more obscure. Which means that nothing is lost in clarity when a simple equivalent phrase is used to translate the Greek, like “root of all evils.” No clarity is lost, because the same ambiguity is preserved.

...from https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/is-love-of-money-really-the-root-of-all-evils

Is thought-for-thought different than paraphrase?

Paraphrased Bibles convey the text in simple, easy-to-understand language without regard to word-for-word or even thought-for-thought expressions of the original languages.

...from https://www.anchordistributors.com/biblefinderparaphrase.aspx

There is no 100% literal translation.

"I'm hungry" in Spanish is "Yo tengo hambre."
A literal translation of those three words is, "I have hunger."

A literal word-by-word translation of an opaque idiom will most likely not convey the same meaning in other languages. The English idiom kick the bucket has a variety of equivalents in other languages, such as kopnac w kalendarz ("kick the calendar") in Polish, casser sa pipe ("to break his pipe") in French[14] and tirare le cuoia ("pulling the leathers") in Italian.

...from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiom#Translating_idioms

A paraphrasey translation is better than the KJV. (I think.)

The KJV may be the best translation in the world.
But I still don't understand it.

Multiple translations are better than one translation.

When I'm studying a Bible passage, the first thing I do is read the passage in every translation I can.

I've read the Bible Genesis through Revelation a dozen or so times in every well-known translation I could find.

I'm kinda running out of translations. So now I'm starting to read the paraphrasey and lesser-known translations like the MEV and The Voice.

The Bible is about Jesus.

This is what I've learned by reading the Bible a dozen times or so in multiple translations.
I really didn't learn this at church.
Maybe I just wasn't paying attention.
Or maybe religious people tend to misunderstand the Bible.


mark@chiptape.com