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Accuracy of Translation: The Primary Criterion in Evaluating Bible Versions With Special Reference to the New International Version [Paperback]

By Robert P. Martin (Author)
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Item Number 132157  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   95
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.43" Width: 5.25" Height: 0.32"
Weight:   0.28 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 1998
Publisher   Banner of Truth
ISBN  0851517358  
EAN  9780851517353  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Dr. Martin explains the principles lying behind contemporary translations, and carefully analyses the New International Version New Testament to see whether it provides a translation which is satisfactory for widespread use in the church today. His study not only presents a critique of the NIV, but also provides insights into Scripture which will help every reader to appreciate the richness of God's Word and the benefit of careful Bible study.

Publishers Description
How should the Word of God be translated? Robert Martin argues that the verbal nature of inspiration can only be honoured if a formal equivalence approach is preferred.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
You must read this book  Feb 8, 2003
This is simply the best book out there on the subject of Bible translation. It debunks the myth that we need (or should) dumb down the Bible. All you NIV addicts (as I once was) should read this.
Critical but fair look at the inadequacy of the NIV  Jul 13, 2002
Dr. Martin does a good job of arguing for the importance of accuracy over popularity when chosing a translation. This is the Bible we are talking about here, not which translation of Dostoyevsky capture's the essence of the author's work. The review by Trevor Jenkins below is unfair. It most certainly would not be good for Martin to endorse a translation. He picks on the NIV because it has become the de facto standard. This is the point. He is trying to steer us back to high standards when choosing a translation. The NIV doesn't cut it with the exception of "readability". But that should not be the main criteria. Accuracy should be, and Martin does a good job of supporting his argument. Should be read by all thinking Christians.
The inspiration of Scripture's THE issue in translation...  Dec 5, 2001
...and Martin hits the nail on the head. This' a short book but should be seriously considered by all believers.

If a translation is to be accurate, it must translate the words God used. Given that there is no perfect translation, some are better than others because of how they translate the words God used (and what manuscripts they use). In particular, on the issue of what Bible to use in churches for worship, teaching and for public readings, etc., Martin rightly points out that the more accurate the words are translated the better. Otherwise, the doctrine of inspiration is not being upheld. Still, he does not explicitly support one version over another (and even has an appendix with serious questions about the 'KJV only' stance).

On a more personal level, the issue he applies to Bible translations applies to all of us is - do we choose the Bible we like or use for some subjective reason or is it because it best fits with the doctrine of inspiration? Indeed, do we consistently apply the doctrine of inspiration to all areas of life? God has used this book to open my eyes to the necessity of doing that more than any other (apart from the Bible itself).

- Mark

Deserved Caution Regarding Dynamic Equivalence.  May 31, 2001
Reviewer Trevor Jenkins seems to condemn Robert Martin as a proponent of Formal Equivalency, as if being a proponent of Dynamic Equivalency sets you on a higher plateau in regards to translation philosophy. The theme of Martin's book can best be summed in his sentence, "The dynamic equivalence translator tends to be relatively unrestrained in his theologizing. What a formal equivalence translator generally does only as a matter of necessity, the dynamic equivalence translator often does as a matter of choice." Consider an example. Proper names should be translated formally. No one thinks of substituting Jerusalem for Washington. Yet where Gehenna shows up in the NT (a Greek equivalent of the Hinnom Valley in the OT), the NIV translates it as *Hell*. This is interpreting the text, not translating it. (The same can be for Hades and Tartarus.) There are about 11 words used in the English Bible for *Lord*, but the NIV translators refuse to translate the proper name Jehovah/Yahweh, and the reason given in a private letter was a profit motive. So accuracy (and integrity to the source text) is indeed lacking in the NIV, and other "Dynamic Equivalent/Paraphrased" Bibles that have followed suit. Use the NIV, or any other DE translation, but only with a FE/Literal translation close by.
Biased and Unproven Assertions  May 17, 2000
The author attempts to check the "accuracy" of translation of the New International Version. However, he is not clear as to what his criteria of accuracy are. After a very hurried and yet opaque discussion of the two extremes of translation formal and dynamic equivalence Martin focuses upon the intent of the translators of the NIV itself. It soon becomes obvious though that Martin is himself a proponent of formal equivalence. He is very disparaging of dynamic equivalance as a concept and resorts at one point to calling it paraphrase. There is none of the excitement over translation that there is in, say, Phillips' "A Ring of Truth".

Martin would appear to be a cessationist from the references he cites, e.g. Warfield. His understanding of doctrine is at times bizare. For example, his version inspiration of closer to Islamic dictation of the Koran than to Godly inspiration.

The most disturbing sentence in the book, when talking of formal equivalence is "we do not, however, encounter passages which cannot be understood by the average literate adult Christian who is willing to make an effort to study them" (p20). Martin suggests that the average Christian has better reading ability than the average man. Given that 97% of (British) people are habitual non-readers this is a hard claim to swallow. He goes on from this statement to assert that the Bible should not be made easy to read; this despite the comment earlier in his tirade that Koine Greek was the common man's language. The conclusion of such an argument as his is, of course, that every Christian should be fluent in Koine Greek themselves and there by eliminate all necessity of translators.

Martin castigates the NIV translators for having their own "favoured interpretation" when deciding to add (or omit) words in the text. However, for this to stand we must be clear that Martin himself therefore also has a favoured translation but he is not couragous enough to tell us what that is! In his critisms of the removal of technical terms he makes the statement "familar (and more accurate)" but without justifying that assertion.

At the start of the book Martin quotes J Gresham Machen by saying "the differences between the manuscripts is 'infinitesimal in comparison with what they have in common'" and yet he goes on to make point out the similar small differences in the NIV wording. A glance at an edition of the Greek New Testament (e.g. UBS4, NA27 or earlier) will show the minutia that both Martin and Machen ignore. Worse perhaps is that Martin implicitly argues for a KJVish dialect of English as the only correct wording. The is not quite a KJV-only tirade but that thought is close to the surface the entire time.

Martin says that the NIV translators indulge in unwarranted paraphrase but in most of the examples he cites (ad nauseum) what he calls "paraphrase" would more correctly be called modern English. He prefers stilted and arachaic English that is nothing better than transliteration of the Greek text into English words. Despite his suggestion that the removal of technical terms makes the resultant text hard to read it is actually this extereme literalism that makes the Bible text difficult to read. Martin's style of literalism only obfuscates the text rather than clarifies it. One random example is that he prefers the expression "did not know her" (in Matt 1:25) over the NIV translators choice of "had no (sexual) union with her". Such an expression as "knew in the Bible sense" can only be considered quaint by any modern reader.

Throughout Martin mentions linquistic principles. However, it is clear to even those with the minimum understaning of such principles that Martin is not one of them. He seems unaware of the work underlying either Mona Baker's on translation in general (In Other Words) or of the excellent summary from Cotterell and Turner of the application of linguistics to Bible interpretation (Linguistics and Bible Interpretation). Although both these books post-date Martin's by only a little while the material that they cover would have been available to Martin. Overall his tone is strident hardly an attribute of a man of God and not exhibiting "speech seasoned with salt".

Does he prove his point about the (in)accuracy of the NIV? No, I don't believe that he does. He does not make the case for formal equivalence over dynamic equivalence. I cannot recommend this text to a general audience. The appeal of the book will be limited to only two groups of readers: those who are already presuaded of the same position as Martin and those involved in translation work as a warning of the critisms that their work will be subjected to.


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