Category Archives: translation accuracy

Hearts and minds

Mark 6:45-52 is the familiar story of Jesus walking on the water, which comes right after the story of the feeding of the five thousand. The narrator in v. 52 concludes that the disciples might have understood how Jesus could walk on the water if they had been able to really understand that he was […]

Norms and accuracy

I’ve been absent for quite a while here. I’m on sabbatical and trying to finish not one, but two, books. Since I last posted I’ve been to India on a spur of the moment trip. One of my wife’s work colleagues got married and invited us to the wedding. So we went. I have for […]

Does ὑποτασσω mean ‘respect’ in Ephesians 5?

It’s not often that a political event provides fodder for a BBB post. But I’m going to take fodder from Iowa (a lot of fodder is harvested there) where the Republican candidates for President of the U.S. debated each other last night and turn it into grist for this BBB post. Michelle Bachman, an evangelical […]

a translation opening

For my real job I am currently checking a translation of Psalms in a tribal language of South America. Last December I asked the translation team a question about Psalm 18.9: wl-12/13/10: How natural is it for [the X speakers] to refer to the sky “opening up” Yesterday I read the team’s response: One [translator] […]

CANA translation

Remember the first recorded miracle of Jesus? That’s right. He turned water into wine when the wine ran out at a wedding feast. Good Bible translation is like that miracle wine. Such translation can take words that are like water, good for you, adequate for understanding, but without much flavor, and make a miracle out […]

Translating Punctuation when there is No Punctuation to Translate

Jonathan Morgan, on our share page, asks this, One thing I have heard a number of times is the assertion that “Greek has no punctuation”, and that as a result we can choose to repunctuate the *English* in any way we like, because “it’s all just been added by the translator anyway”. I’ve never been […]

It is easier for a hippopotamus to…

I recently returned from Africa, where I was working with a translation of the Gospel of Luke into a language that has had no previous Bible translation and a culture that has had very little contact with Christianity. I was not responsible for producing the translation into this language, but I was responsible for evaluating […]

Worship in spirit and truth–John 4:24 (part II).

A frequent prayer of mine, for I don’t know how many years, is, “Lord, make me so I worship you in spirit and truth, whatever that might mean.” I know from John 4:24 that God wants that. If I don’t know what the prepositional phrase means, I want to know what it means in my […]

Worship in spirit and truth–John 4:24 (Part I)

Worship in [the] [s/S]pirit and [in] [the] truth. John 4:24. Huh? What does that mean? Don’t think of the Greek behind it. What does that “English” mean? Don’t analyze it, just read it. Doesn’t work does it? Many translations have variations of the above. Some have one or both articles. Some capitalize ‘spirit’. Some provide […]

Accurate but not Clear?

A standard that most of us who are involved in Bible translation hold to is that a translation must strive to be clear, accurate and natural. That is the ideal, though sometimes a trade-off is involved. These are the three criteria for a good Bible translation. Sometimes acceptability is added as a fourth criterion. I […]


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