Honest Translation

Dave Brunn is my new favorite guy. He’s a missionary of over two decades and an author, focusing specifically in bible translation. Below, you’ll find a video of about a half-hour that explains a number of things, including: 

1) Why translation is so tricky,

2) why we can’t exactly trust a translation based on its stated intentions,

3) why the method of a translation can’t be and isn’t consistently “fixed,” 

4) and why bias instead of altruism keeps us from doing the job correctly.

Many of these things are facets of Christian life and academics that I’ve discussed before, so if you’re looking for some context, you can always read (1) this, (2) this, (3) this, (4) this, or even (5) this!

As with anyone making an argument, for the most part, there are a few places where Brunn commits some reasoning errors. For example, he claims that because about 94% of the world’s languages aren’t Indo-European like Koine Greek (the original language of the New Testament), seeking a word-for-word translation in English seems dubious. In addition to that, his treatment of Matthew 6:13 as an example belies some bias that, if ignored, would yield at least a more objectively trustworthy translation. This bias does come through more towards the last five minutes or so of the video. That said, most of what he does says is true enough to cause both laughter and serious reconsideration of our own biases concerning what the text “ought to say,” rather than what it actually says. So in the meantime, please enjoy, and feel free to email me with any of your comments or questions:  

+MSH

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