Category Archives: translation equivalence

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 […]

Dynamic Equivalence re-visited

With the news of Eugene Nida’s passing, it’s worth revisiting the single biggest contribution of his thinking to the field of Bible translation. Nida proposed that the basis of translation should be to replicate the meaning of the original and not necessarily the wording. Dynamic equivalence (also known as functional equivalence) attempts to convey the […]

classy translation

Over the years I have read statements by English Bible translators that one should keep word classes in a translation the same as those in the original text. You may be more familiar with the term parts of speech for word classes. So, if a word is a noun in a biblical language text, according […]

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 […]

In which I ask if there’s any value to conveying morphosyntax

There are many things people to use describe translations: literal, formal, functional, dynamic, idiomatic, figurative, literary, interpretative, accurate, thought-for-though, word-for-word, relevant, paraphrase. Most of these suck. Most of them are almost entirely useless in my opinion. They get so misused and everyone uses them in their own subtly different way. Instead I think it’s much […]

Reflections on the nature of Bible translation

I have been strangely quiet on this blog for a long time now. Part of the problem is that I don’t have much that I want to say about the particular wording of English Bible translations. I am much more interested in the bigger issues, like the philosophical, theological, theoretical, cultural and sociological dimensions of translation. I see […]

The absence of the historical present in translations of John 13

In the samples below I’ve colored the verbs in order to show how different verb tenses are being used by John. I’m only focusing on three verb tenses: PERFECT – PURPLE AORIST – RED PRESENT – GREEN This opening section contains background information, so most of the verbs are PERFECT and AORIST. One thing I […]

Obligatory possession and Bible translation

Each translation has its particular approach, and should have an audience in mind. The translators have to ask, “Who is going to read this translation, and how can we render the source text in a way that is suitable for them?” We are blessed in English to have a number of different translations of the […]

Do we need Biblish?

As everyone knows, I’m against Biblish in Bible translations — with one exception which I will address here. It has always been my contention that all English translations, from at least the KJV on, are monotonic. It doesn’t matter if they are essentially literal, dynamic equivalent, or paraphrase. By monotonic I mean that a single […]


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