Translating the Bible is a great undertaking. A translator not only has to understand the language being translated but also understand the language using the translation. Such difficulty arises when certain words cannot be translated or if a word or phrase has fallen out of usage thus making it difficult to translate.
Dr. Robert Martin understands some of these difficulties and has written a small book on Bible translation and why accuracy is so important. Using the NIV Study Bible (1984), he shows how translation goals could influence how a version is translated.
Does the translation seek to be a thought-for-thought translation or a word-for-word translation? This could be a problem for either option. For example, in America if a person “kicks the bucket” we understand this to mean that someone has died. Should a foreign person translating our books translate the words as “a person died” or use the term “kicked the bucket” and explain it elsewhere?
Dr. Martin gives examples of where he believes the NIV has failed in translation and should be reconsidered as a Bible. He gives cause to be alarmed as he sees some cultural influences in the NIV that may detract from the original intent of Scripture.
Martin uses this example on page 26 of his book. Mark 9:24 in the NIV reads, “…help me overcome my unbelief.” The words “me overcome” are interpretive and Martin argues should be placed in brackets indicating that these words are not in the original. This is just one example of issues Martin has with some of the translational choices of the NIV Translating team.
I found this book to be quite helpful in understanding Bible translation and how certain committees adopt a policy on how they will translate the Bible. It really opened my eyes that not all translations have the same goal and it would be wise to have several to at least compare.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.