Bible Translations

In loose terms Bible translations (which are many and varied) fall into two types. Each type has a difference methodological approach: ‘Dynamic' Equivalence and ‘Formal' Equivalence. 

The famous linguist Dr Eugene Nida coined these phrases to identify two methods of translation. We could understand them in the following manner:

Dynamic Equivalence = same as sense for sense translation (translating the meanings of phrases or whole sentences). 

Pro: Dynamic Equivalence accurately conveys the 'original meaning' in a contemporary language, so we can understand the heart and intent of the inspiration and the original writers. 

Con: The final text is not a word for word translation.

Formal Equivalence word for word translation (translating the meanings of individual words in their more or less exact syntactic sequence). 

Pro: Formal Equivalence accurately matches the original word for its best modern equivalent. 

Con: The final text is not an accurate translation of the 'original meaning’. Unless you are an Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin and 16th Century English scholar, you will not necessarily be able to pic up the nuances in the original text, to see through the syntax to find the ‘dynamic’ meaning. For example, if you look at an Interlinear Bible (an exact word for word translation) the syntactical structures are different to modern English so clear ‘dynamic’ (active spirited) understanding is not available unless you are a linguist of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. 

Answer? Read both dynamic and formal equivalence translations and you’ll enjoy the best of both worlds. If you are not a linguist, scholar or theologian then you’ll really need to spend most of your time studying dynamic equivalence versions, so that you are not trying to reinvent the wheel concerning Biblical translation. 

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