What is striking about Challies’ Review

And I say “striking” in a positive sense.

Now Challies is definitely not trained in linguistics or Bible translation, but he is a smart guy and he slight discomfort with Ryken’s book is significant. In all of his praise of the book, there’s an underlying issue that appears to nag at him.

He writes:

I must say, though, that a weakness remains that, in my mind, threatens to undo his argument and it is this: his definition of an essentially literal translation remains just a little bit too nebulous, a little too subjective.

This is good. Because it is the point. Most of what Ryken give his readers tends to be rhetorical attacks against the other side with much ink spilled over how subjective and inaccurate meaning based translations are. But when he moves to his own “theory.” We simply don’t find much theory.

I would encourage Challies to read a few more books on translation from other perspectives. What is unfortunate is that there are not many accessible books on translation for the layperson, though perhaps Willis Barnestone’s The Poetics of Translation would be a decent start, though that’s on my wife’s recommendation, not my own…since I haven’t read it yet.

And I also need to write more myself about what I actually think regarding translation. I’ve been challenged a few posts back to write positively about translation for a bit rather than always being negative & critical. Perhaps I’ll see about filling up that gap in the next couple weeks…

5 thoughts on “What is striking about Challies’ Review

  1. I’d be very interested in reading more of your perspective on translation. You mentioned previously a list of criteria for translation. That might be a good place to start. I was really struck by “acceptability,” because it sounds to me like a terrible criterium. As a heavy reader of SF and Historical fiction, I’ve come to expect the language of a foreign culture (even expressed in English) to be about as foreign to me as the culture itself. The last thing I want is to read the Bible and notice how similar the expressions are to, say, American business communication. Especially in reading the OT, I expect to come across passages and think “that was an unusual way of expressing that concept.”

    1. Perhaps I’ll write a post describing the criteria and why they’re necessary. Acceptability is actually incredibly important. It’s less about what you describe and more about sociolinguistics & dialect.

      More to come…

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