Monday, November 1, 2010

LHP Review: The Word of God in English

Ryken, Leland. Understanding English Bible Translation: The Case for an Essentially Literal Approach. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009. 205 Pages. Paper. $12.99. (LHP)
Understanding English Bible Translation is a condensation and revision of Ryken's earlier book, The Word of God in English. I'm a big fan of that book. Both books make The Case for an Essentially Literal Approach, hence the subtitle of the new volume.

Leland Ryken was the literary stylist for the English Standard Version. He does favor that English translation, as do I for most purposes in a Lutheran congregation, but he truly advocates for traditional, literal translation.

As opposed to what? Well, "dynamic equivalence," paraphrases, and politically-correct Bibles that add "interpretation," intentional bias, or plain eisegesis instead of merely translating the Word of God.
Understanding is full of examples (slimmed down from TWoGiE) demonstrating the "sameness" of essentially literal translations and how "dynamic equivalent" or paraphrase Bibles vary unacceptably widely in meaning.

An expert, up-to-date clarification of the issues underlying modern Bible translation, combined with sound argument for an essentially literal translation philosophy.

From the KJV to the NIV, NLT, ESV, and beyond, English Bible translations have never been as plentiful as they are today. This proliferation has also brought confusion regarding translation differences and reliability. This book brings clarity to the issues and makes a strong case for an essentially literal approach.

Taking into account the latest developments in Bible translation, Leland Ryken expertly clarifies the issues that underlie modern Bible translation by defining the terms that govern this discipline and offering a helpful Q&A. He then contrasts the two main translation traditions—essentially literal and dynamic equivalence—and concludes with sound reasons for choosing the former, with suggestions for using such a translation in the church.

This book will appeal to thoughtful readers who have questions about Bible translation; individuals, churches, and ministries in the process of choosing a translation; and college and seminary students and faculty. (publisher's website)
Of what possible beneficial use are "dynamic equivalent translations"? Use them as commentaries (32). Need proof that DETs are really paraphrases? See 106. What is Ryken's ideal translation? Read Part Four. One of the main reasons is a "stable Bible" that gives readers and hearers confidence in the message of God they hear (164ff).

You will also greatly benefit from Appendix B, "Ten Reasons You Can Trust an Essentially Literal Bible Translation" (189ff).
Need a new Bible? Get one you can understand, but be sure and get one that you can trust. This book will show you why you should select an ESV, KJV, NKJV, or NASB. Ryken gives you the facts or the sake of the truth and comfort of Christ.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.