I wouldn't read this review if I were you. They say that there are two things you never want to see produced—laws and sausages. But there's at least one more: Bible translations. As Old Testament scholar Gordon Wenham says in his blurb for Leland Ryken's The Word of God in English, Ryken's book is "gripping" but "also most disturbing, for Ryken argues that most modern Bible translations sell their readers short."

This is hard to hear for believers who have memorized and treasured certain versions of their favorite verses. The translation we're used to seems as sacred to us as Scripture itself. If something's not quite right with the sausage, there's a part of us that would rather not know.

The problem isn't with Scripture, it's with language itself. In a recent essay in Harper's, Kitty Burns Florey remarks that trying to get English to conform to the rules of Latin grammar is "something like forcing a struggling cat into the carrier for a trip to the vet." Trying to get Hebrew (which is lusciously poetic) and Greek (which relies heavily on context for the meaning of words) to fit nicely into the parameters of English is similarly problematic.

Bible translators have two ways to put the square pegs of Hebrew and Greek into the round hole of English, and those are "essentially literal" and "dynamic equivalent" translations. An essentially literal translation follows the literal meaning and word order of the original language as far as the receptor language allows. A "dynamic equivalent" translation seeks to use the words and phrasing of a receptor language that best captures the meaning of the original language. A common definition is that "essentially literal" means word-for-word, while "dynamic equivalence" is thought-for-thought. ...

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