What Do You Think About Paraphrased Bible Translations?

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

What is your take on paraphrased Bible translations?

Back in the 60s we loved Phillips Paraphrase. And the reason we could love it is because it was called a paraphrase. There's not a single Bible edition published today that will call itself a paraphrase, to their shame!

Everything is a "translation", and the reason is because, with the emergence of dynamic equivalence understandings of translation, anytime you try to distinguish between a paraphrase and a translation the person who holds one of those views will say, "All translation is paraphrase."

I say, "Well, I know what you mean. You can't find an exact equivalent to every Greek and Hebrew word and every Greek and Hebrew construction in English. That's true, you can't. But there's a difference between bringing 'obedience of faith' into English as 'obedience of faith' and 'obedience that comes from faith.'"

The first one gets very close to the Greek genitive 'obedience of faith' and includes all of its ambiguities. The second one tells the reader right off the bat what the translator thinks that ambiguity means. And I don't think translators should do that unless they have to (and they often have to).

So, yes, there's a difference with paraphrases, and they're valuable as interpretations.

So we ought to put right on the front of The Message, "A Paraphrase of the Bible," and then it would be valuable! Everybody could read it and say, "This is Eugene Peterson's interpretation of the Bible," and we would get gobs of insight from it!

But if you start substituting that kind of effort for your regular, daily Bible reading translation, then you're basically reading a commentary and depending on it and calling it the word of God.

I don't buy into the view that "Since every translation involves paraphrase, therefore there's no difference between a paraphrase and a translation." We ought to distinguish, and we ought to publish both and make the reader aware of how he should use them.

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