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4 Bumps

It's all in the translation

So the revamped Catholic Bible was released today. The NT is the same as the last translation fix, and this one only covers the OT. Some scriptures that were re-translated in the 70's were restored to the original, others were clarified to be closer to the original Hebrew, and some were made "inclusive", but there's a disagreement about some.

This is one of them:

"One dispute focused on Psalm 1:1, where the bishops proposed changing, "Happy the man who follow not the counsel of the wicked," to, "Happy those who do not follow the counsel of the wicked."

Vatican officials argued that the verse was a prophecy of Jesus and that the pronoun must remain masculine and singular. Though the revised version has not been submitted for use at Mass -- which would require Vatican approval -- Psalm 1 follows the Vatican ruling: "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked." "

Should the focus of translation be to make things more modern and accessable, or on preserving the original intent?  How many other translation issues walk this line where the desire to modernize leaves the question of who it applies to in question?  (this is not a biblical only issue - it applies to all ancient texts translated to English)

Answer Question

Asked by NotPanicking at 3:05 PM on Mar. 9, 2011 in Religious Debate

Level 51 (421,174 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • I don't think the two are mutually exclusive.

    It seems like we should be able to translate the orinigal intent into modern, accessible language. I think the problem is that the "offerings" ancient texts don't always apply exactly to the modern world, but we try really hard to squeeze them in.

    Answer by UpSheRises at 3:32 PM on Mar. 9, 2011

  • I think it should be the goal of a translation to remain as close as possible to the original text. You can still "up-grade" the language, but I don't think we should sacrifice the integrity of the original work just for the sake of easy reading.

    Answer by asmcbride at 3:39 PM on Mar. 9, 2011

  • I don't know. Sometimes I like modernization as long as they provide notations or include the literal translation in notes. For example, I really liked reading Stephen Mitchell's version of the Tao Te Ching, but it's literal in some places and improvised and modernized in others. He has notes in the back to expand on meanings and include literal translations that he adjusted. Sometimes literal translations can seem stale--especially in the case of the Tao where someone fluent in language but not a practicing Taoist translates it. Mitchell is a long time Taoist and wrote it with the intent to give us insight into Lao Tzu's mind--sometimes this was literal and sometimes he expands on ideas to make it relevant to us in our time. I would not like it if changes were made to purposely change meanings though, but that often happens too.


    Answer by pam19 at 4:58 PM on Mar. 9, 2011

  • I would not like it if changes were made to purposely change meanings though, but that often happens too.

    That's an issue with the Eddas, too. Since they are written in a very strictly structured verse, it's nearly impossible to translate them directly and maintain the verse structure (they are all written in a way that can be interchangeably sung as a song or recited as poetry). Some translations are more concerned with the meaning. Others are more concerned with trying to preserve the verse structure, which makes for some funky translations to fit what should be a 20 syllable translation into a 10 syllable space.

    Comment by NotPanicking (original poster) at 5:04 PM on Mar. 9, 2011

  • I bought the Living Bible and really like it because it helps you understand things better. I also study The King James Version and I don't think that the new translations are that far off from the "real" Bible.

    Answer by jesussaves58 at 7:47 PM on Mar. 9, 2011

  • Should the focus of translation be to make things more modern and accessable, or on preserving the original intent?

    Considering that with any translation you lose integrity, the intent and focus should be accuracy- Given, I understand what you stated about the Eddas, and that is another thread entirely- When you lose what little integrity the already compromised translation has, it permits even further misuse and abuse.
    If one is not happy with the original intent of the text and makes an attempt to change it's intent to be more appealing/widely accepted it falls into the same pot with those who expressly abuse scripture to suit their agenda. No?

    Answer by ObbyDobbie at 8:19 PM on Mar. 9, 2011

  • I think as long as you preserve the spirit of the passage and don't dilute the message, a modern translation is acceptable. I also think that inclusive language sometimes muddies the waters. I can see where not distinguishing between the masculine and feminine can confuse

    Answer by adnilm at 8:21 PM on Mar. 9, 2011

  • I would think that having the text be as close to the original Hebrew would be most important


    Answer by CRoseJS4 at 5:12 AM on Mar. 10, 2011

  • The problem is that the original language of the OT (Hebrew) is a complex language to translate, many words not having an adequate translation in other languages that often leads to misinterpretations. A good example of this is the mistranslation of the word "almah" in Isaiah 7:14 from which the Christian idea of a "virgin birth" comes from. The word "almah" was mistranslated as "virgin" when it only means a young woman that has reached puberty but is still unmarried.


    Answer by momto2boys973 at 2:49 PM on Mar. 11, 2011

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