Saturday, March 8, 2008

Questions You’ve Asked About Bible Translations, Jack P. Lewis

Questions You’ve Asked About Bible Translations, Jack P. Lewis

The subject of Bible translations is very interesting and challenging. It is important for Christians to have a balanced view toward modern translations. Translating from one language to another is extremely challenging. Translating into English, a language that is ever changing, is a job that is never done. The first dictionary was published in 1928 and contained 414,800 words. By 1989, the number of words covered in the dictionary swelled to over 615,000 and it is still growing and changing! So a changing English language will require changes in Bible translations in order to effectively communicate the meaning of the Biblical text.

When studying about Bible translations, one must read from trusted scholars. Few there are who are considered scholars in Hebrew, Greek, and Bible Translations among the churches of Christ. One member of the church of Christ who meets these qualifications is Jack P. Lewis. Brother Lewis has two Ph.D. degrees—one from Hebrew Union and the other from Harvard. He has taught at Harding Graduate School of Religion for over 30 years and frequently appears on the program of the Freed-Hardeman Bible Lectureship to speak about various language-related themes. While not everyone will agree with anyone on this subject, it is important to read from those who have the scholarship and research to contribute beneficially to the subject.

This book is a collection of essays brother Lewis has written throughout his career in response to questions asked about Bible translations. The book is challenging but understandable. He discusses the translation process, which is essential for one to understand the translation process to avoid misunderstanding the issues involved. Doctor Lewis writes a very effective series of articles about modern versions and attitudes relating to new translations. He also provides a valuable discussion of textual variants and their impact on translations and comparing translation to translation. There is a very good chapter entitled “Where is the Zero Milepost?” that explains the goal of translating. Jack Lewis also discusses various translations such as the RSV, NIV, KJV, ASV, and others.

Also included in this book are discussions about topics related to Bible translations. For example, what does “Fruit of the Vine” mean? Another discussion is the meaning of “Faith to Faith”. Another thought provoking chapter deals with “Only Begotten”. He also discusses how translations have impacted the songs that we sing in worship to God.

It is important for us to equip ourselves to effectively be able to discuss and evaluate the increasing number of Bible translations. As brother Lewis states “The task of translating is never finished, and in time those translations people depend upon may be replaced by others made by people who are interested in making God’s Word available to those for whom it has been difficult.”

This book will be a valuable edition to the church library and should be put into the hands of those looking for more information relating to the subject of Bible translations.

Originally printed West Virginia Christian, Vol. 11, No. 2, February 2004, p. 8. Reprinted by permission.

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