17329Re: SSNET: Christ - love & obey
- Jun 7, 2014On Thu, Jun 05, 2014 at 09:47:24AM -0400, Joshua Pennerman wrote:
> Why did the KJV translators write Elizabethan English? Becauseand
> they were Elizabethans. They lived in the Elizabethan period
> wrote in the common language of their day -- which happened to beThe KJV isn't quite common English of its period; it's a revision
> one of the high points in the development of the English language
> in terms of poetic expression.
of earlier translations, and it was deliberately made a little
statelier and more formal, a little more archaic (one of the instructions
to the translators was to alter the old wording as little as possible).
> It is true that there is a certain uniformity to their style. It
> would have been nice to have reflected the differences in theoff
> language between, for example, Judges 4 and Judges 5, to show
> the delightfully archaic nature of the Song of Deborah. Thatsong
> somehow got preserved in a more archaic form of Hebrew than isOr maybe like Shakespearean English in a 20th-century TV show.
> found in most of the rest of the OT -- a little bit like putting a
> few stanzas from Edmund Spenser into a Shakespearean play.
Some people can pull this off (e.g., Winston Churchill), but
not everyone can.
> However, to their credit, most of the translators were natively
> literate in Greek and Latin, and pretty good in Hebrew. Theywere
> an educated lot, and there were poets among them, rumored toGiven the general tendency among divines of the time to regard actors
> include even Shakespeare himself,
and everyone associated with them as something loose, licentious,
dangerous, and revolting, I doubt that Shakespeare was involved --
but certainly he and the translators shared quite a bit of knowledge
and style and the spirit of their world.
> and the overall result is more
> poetic than is usually given credit for.<snip comparison I largely agree with>
> Note the relative poetic value of the KJV vs., for example,
> Peterson's "The Message."
> Except for one line, so flat and lifeless it would be embarrassing
> to read out loud in public.It might work in private devotion, though, at least for its intended
> Not all modern translations are that bad. The New English Bible
> makes a good try at poesie, often failing rather broadly, largelyEnglish,
> perhaps because of the general poetic weakness of contemporary
> but its rendering of the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, may be theI may have to take another look at that, but usually the NEB gives
> best yet in the English language.
me hives when I try to read it.
> Because the KJV was meant to be read out loud, at a time when
> reading out loud was an art unto itself, it carries an inherentGenerally granted, but elegance and power are things that exist in
> elegance and power that I think has never been matched in any
> subsequent Bible translation.
the hearer's mind as well as in the translation (or, more correctly,
in the interface between the two). The Elizabethans were more
accustomed to that sort of language and style, but no style works
if you're not familiar with it, if you aren't trained to it. This
is as true of modern slang as it is of Shakespeare's plays.
Tyndale wanted to make sure that "every boy at the plow" could
know Scripture. We need to keep that in mind: if the masses
don't respond to it, it _doesn't matter_ how good the prose is,
or the poetry. The orator must consider the audience, as well
as the text.
> That is a separate issue from textual and doctrinal accuracy.
Yes. We do need to keep the issues separate.
> But in these respects the KJV fares no worse on average than most
> modern translations.Well, except for the part where we know a lot more about the Greek
and Hebrew of the time, and about the Biblical texts, than the KJV
translators did. There's a lot of detail work in this, and I think
the issues are sometimes overblown, but there _are_ differences.
I could wish that modern translators would pay more attention to
readability and style than they do, though.
> Being for the most part "dynamic," the newer translations often
> substitute the theological biases of their translators for thereadable," so what
> actual text in an attempt to make the text "more
> their "more readable" Bible says is often not what theBible
> writers meant.I don't think the KJV translators were entirely immune from that
sort of bias, either. This is why it's usually a good idea to
compare translations and see if you can see what they were aiming
at. And why we train pastors and theologians to read the text in
the original languages.
But we can't allow the necessary inadequacies of translation to
stop us from preaching, and teaching, and studying, the Word of
Love is a garden that needs regular watering, and weeding,
but produces all sorts of unexpected delights and surprises.
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