A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Process Behind Your Bible Translation

New Testament scholar, Scot McKnight posted this brief four minute video from You Tube regarding the ESV bible translators as they debate what English word to use for a passage of scripture.  It's a helpful example of the careful research, discernment, debate, and voting process that leads to the English bible translations we hold in our hands.

The text in question is from I Corinthians 7:21 where Paul writes, "Were you a slave when called?" The choice was whether to use the English word/phrase, "slave" or "bond servant."  Notice that the debate takes into account not only the use of the Hebrew/Greek words and their meaning in their ancient context, but also the perceived meaning of the English word, "slave" in our modern era.

As the video shows, the committee voted 9-3 to go with the translation of "bond servant" rather than to use the word, "slave."  For those of you who like to use the NRSV which is the translation we use in worship, they chose to use the word, "slave."

The point here is not to say that one translation is correct and another translation is incorrect, but to show that a bible translation committee is faced with difficult decisions since people perceive words differently.

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