Item description for How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions by Mark L. Strauss Gordon D. Fee...
Overview A book on Bible translation from a premier biblical scholar.
With so many Bible translations available today, how can you find those that will be most useful to you? What is the difference between a translation that calls itself ?literal? and one that is more ?meaning-based?? And what difference does it make for you as a reader of God?s Word?
How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth brings clarity and insight to the current debate over translations and translation theories. Written by two seasoned Bible translators, here is an authoritative guide through the maze of translations issues, written in language that everyday Bible readers can understand.
Learn the truth about both the word-for-word and meaning-for-meaning translations approaches. Find out what goes into the whole process of translation, and what makes a translation accurate and reliable. Discover the strengths and potential weaknesses of different contemporary English Bible versions. In the midst of the present confusion over translations, this authoritative book speaks with an objective, fair-minded, and reassuring voice to help pastors, everyday Bible readers, and students make wise, well-informed choices about which Bible translations they can depend on and which will best meet their needs
Publishers Description With so many Bible translations available today, how can you find those that will be most useful to you? What is the difference between a translation that calls itself 'literal' and one that is more 'meaning-based'? And what difference does it make for you as a reader of God's Word?How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth brings clarity and insight to the current debate over translations and translation theories. Written by two seasoned Bible translators, here is an authoritative guide through the maze of translations issues, written in language that everyday Bible readers can understand.Learn the truth about both the word-for-word and meaning-for-meaning translations approaches. Find out what goes into the whole process of translation, and what makes a translation accurate and reliable. Discover the strengths and potential weaknesses of different contemporary English Bible versions. In the midst of the present confusion over translations, this authoritative book speaks with an objective, fair-minded, and reassuring voice to help pastors, everyday Bible readers, and students make wise, well-informed choices about which Bible translations they can depend on and which will best meet their needs.
Citations And Professional Reviews How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions by Mark L. Strauss Gordon D. Fee has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
CBA Retailers - 10/01/2008 page 38
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.02" Width: 5.36" Height: 0.47" Weight: 0.4 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 2007
Publisher Zondervan Publishing
ISBN 0310278767 ISBN13 9780310278764 UPC 025986278762
Availability 0 units.
More About Mark L. Strauss Gordon D. Fee
Gordon D. Fee (PhD, University of Southern California) is professor emeritus of New Testament studies at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is the author of numerous works, including New Testament Exegesis, Listening to the Spirit in the Text, and commentaries on Revelation; Philippians; and 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus. He also coauthored How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth.
Reviews - What do customers think about How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions?
Richard Jan 31, 2010
After reading some negative reviews of this work, I couldn't help but add my own comments. At first I couldn't understand what some of them were complaining about. Then it dawned on me that they had one thing in common: a dislike of dynamic equivalence,thought for thought, translations. As such I felt these negative reviewers missed the point Fee and Strauss are trying to make. First of all, of course they like dynamic equivalence translating. After all they worked on the NIV and TNIV. However, the point of their book is not that dynamic equivalence translations are the only ones to read.
Read what they say carefully and you will see that they find fault with both word for word and thought for thought methods of translation. (See their chart on page 34.)
One reviewer even commented that their preference for thought for thought was in error and cited an example from Romans. He or she got that form a book by Leland Ryken. The example is based on a metaphor where in that culture a sword stood for the power and authority of the political office. One reference that I found even stated that a sword or dagger could be presented to the "governor" when he was officially assigned his office. Given that fact I suspect there is room to translate the thought here. It should also be pointed out that a literal translation could be either sword or dagger. Therefore, I'm not sure you could argue that "sword" is the only translation that should be used in this case. After all Trajan presented a dagger to his appointees, according the source I have.
Fee and Strauss are recommending that one not rely on only one translation or type of translation. Their book provides excellent insight into what problems exist for the translator as he or she attempt to convert Hebrew and Greek into understandable English, and the key word is understandable. In the example above, it is perfectly adequate to translate that word as sword. However,would some miss the point and think Paul is referring to his own pending death sentence? Is Paul even under arrest at the time he wrote Romans? Some scholars think this letter represents an earlier desire to go there that was, ironically, filled when he was arrested and taken before the Emperor. There is even debate about whether or not he was released after the events detailed in Acts.
Besides the point of "How to Choose a Translation...." is that one method is not the only one to use. All translations have their weaknesses. I read Ryken's book too and the striking difference between it and this work is that Fee and Strauss present examples of poor translating form both word for word and thought for thought works. Read carefully and you will find that they even present examples of thought for thought translating in those word for word works, while Ryken can only praise word for word translating and criticize thought for thought work.
Martin Luther once wrote that: The words of the Hebrew tongue have a peculiar energy. It is impossible to convey so much so briefly in any other language. To render them intelligibly we must not attempt to give word for word, but only aim at the sense and the idea.
Luther would have loved what Fee and Strauss are saying in this book. Translating the Bible is a challenge and they have given us insight into that challenge. I have read this book three times and will probably read it again. It is the best work I have read on selecting a translation. It doesn't answer the question about which one is the best one or which one is the word of God. However, it clearly agrees with the translators of the KJV who state in the preface to the 1611 edition:
Now to the latter we answer; that we do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession, (for we have seen none of theirs of the whole Bible as yet) containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God.
They are all the word of God,even the "meanest" according to the KJV preface. Which is the best to read? All of them. In fact, I remember reading a quote from Billy Graham somewhere. Asked which one is the best to read, Graham is said to have replied that the one you can understand was the best translation to read.
Fee and Strauss do a great job of defining the kinds of problems translators encounter as they try to convert Hebrew and Greek into understandable English. They explain the problem of deciding which words to pick in converting original words into English, problems faced as translators try to deal with figures of speech and problems in what to do in order to convey culturally bound terms into modern English that will give the reader an idea about what the original authors were talking about.
I highly recommend this book. I am sure some will not appreciate what Fee and Strauss have done here. After all, it is like learning what actually goes into a hot dog. Some never want to eat one again. Others will be delighted to know what they are eating. However, if you want to understand why translation is such a complex process that calls for decision making and interpretation on the part of the translator, you will love this book.
Absolutely worthless Jul 2, 2009
You might as well buy a dartboard and some Post-It notes.
Over 95% (I counted) of this book is devoted to a survey of Bible translation's nuts and bolts -- specifically, why translating the Bible is much more difficult and nuanced than it sounds, some history of the English bible, major topics and issues of yesterday and today, and what choices must be made in order to produce a Bible translation.
These are all handled very competently in a succinct, rewarding, and readable style for which the authors are to be commended. (The natural consequence of which is, the authors want you to buy into their charitable opinion of functional equivalence translations. I wouldn't really tend to agree, but it doesn't trouble me much.) They certainly did a LOT of homework, and the even-harder work of making it into something accessible and compelling to the general reader.
There is exactly one reason why this book is offered to us in the marketplace, and that is as "a guide to understanding and using Bible versions."
This book only exists for the moment you and I stand in the bookstore looking at all these different Bible translations, and wonder which one to get and why.
King Jimmy, NIV, NRSV, Holman CSB, New Jerusalem Bible? What to do??
What you REALLY need at that moment is to have *ME* standing there, or someone like me, to politely inform you of the specific consequences which you, the end-user, can expect with this translation or that one.
Ideally you're hoping for the advice of a straight-shooting, practical theologian who focuses on what really matters; where the rubber meets the road... because what you're getting now is the OPPOSITE of that from the blurbs printed on the backs of these mass-market editions: incomprehensible clap-trap about why that particular translation is the best for everything, substantiated by vague five-word clauses that sound the same for each translation.
You wish you could read between the lines and just figure out what you're getting with each text, or which one is strong in the particular aspect that has you shopping in the first place. That shouldn't be hard. Wouldn't even take more than a couple pages.
And this is where Team Fee/Strauss drops it. Well, blows it royally. Well... wreaks the worst injury to civilization since the sack of Rome by the Huns.
After covering all the challenging ground of WHY translations are intimidating stuff, all that is supplied to actually help you regarding HOW TO CHOOSE A TRANSLATION FOR ALL IT'S WORTH is a half-dozen pages of the same homogeneous marketing blurbs that you wanted to decode in the first place. Wow, you could've just taken a nap and ended up at the same place.
Here and there during these precious half-dozen pages, there are sprinkled brief (as in, LESS THAN ONE LINE) comments that actually tell you something you didn't already know, such as the unique textual basis for the NKJV or... gosh, actually I'm having a hard time remembering. It's as if what few shreds of meaningful content there were had been obscured within ten thousand gallons of glop. In fact, it's exactly like that. If the sum total of all these meaningful points had amounted to even one good-sized paragraph then maybe I'd remember more.
I suppose relevance of information is ultimately subjective, but this book literally tells you nothing. Oh, the marketing blurbs, minimal attention toward the NAS, and favorable disposition toward the King James Version based on nothing but the publishers' marketing department... they're still there. But did you know that the NIV is regarded as a superb Old Testament because its intermediate language, German, is structured similarly to Hebrew? (Not that it seems to make any real difference in the finished product, nor would you ever know because it's also the most BORING Old Testament translation!) Or that the NIV you have today is very different from the one that first came out and prompted a wave of "bloodless" criticism, ultimately changing their textual basis to MT as a compromise? Well you wouldn't learn it from THIS book either!
See? There is an abundance of interesting, fun, and helpful information that could've been supplied... but it wasn't. And those "fun facts" you were secretly hoping for? None present. (Well, maybe, but if it's there it's buried pretty thoroughly. Not worth it. There might be a short list of well-known KJV misprints, complete with humorous names traditional to collectors, but I'm pretty sure that's a different book I have in mind. The list is also available on Wikipedia.)
Another disappointment (didn't think there was room for another one, did you?!) is the authors' evident liberalism. They give an unsubstantiated nod to the NRSV as the eminent choice for quality formal-equivalent translations (predictable liberal academic pinkos they are) and avoid making any conclusive statements at all about nearly any other translation.
Again, the opposite of what you needed. Frankly, a number of blogs handle this subject more ably in fifteen minutes than Fee and Strauss do in fifteen dollars. They (the blogs) also supply sales figures, which make an excellent interpretive guide to the dang book you just got conned into buying with its false title/premise.
Perhaps I should blame this on the publishers, who may have gutlessly yanked any such valuable information that was initially submitted for the book, but it doubtless took two to tango anyway and the whole rest of the book is dedicated to similarly alienating readers from the Word anyway, so no free passes for those two.
While a miserable failure for the topic of "How to Choose a Bible Translation," it is actually a stellar value if you want to learn about Bible TRANSLATION. But you didn't.
Maybe the title of my review is misleading, then? Well, theirs was worse.
This book doesn't need my defense Oct 27, 2008
but the reviewer who concludes that Fee and Strauss's position is "indefensible" based on one example--Romans 13:4 in the NLT--has really missed the point.
If you want to use Romans 13:4 as a proof-text supporting capital punishment (by the way, I believe in the legitimacy of capital punishment), then this passage in the NLT will disappoint you. But if you want to understand Paul's exhortation to believers that they obey the governmental authorities, which is the point of the passage, then the NLT is perfectly adequate. (If the only governmental punishment that would deter your disobedience is the death penalty, then you probably don't care much what Paul has to say, anyway.)
The reviewer simply hasn't grasped the fundamental difficulty facing the translator, which this book lays out so cogently: the tension between accuracy and clarity. And this is strange, because judging from his spelling and syntax, English is apparently not the reviewer's native language, so he should understand better than most why there can be no such thing as a literal translation.
Good Book but the Title is Misleading Sep 8, 2008
Which type of Bible translation is better: formal equivalent (essentially literal) or functionally equivalent (used to be called dynamic equivalence)? That's what "How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth" is about. It should be mentioned that Fee was on the translation committee for the TNIV (a functionally equivalent version). And I'll also mention that Fee is the author of many superb books, including the excellent volumes on 1 Corinthians and Philippians in the New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT) series.
"How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth" comes out swinging as the first four pages of the book contain a series of endorsements by some of my most respected and beloved authors, including D.A. Carson, Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Bruce Waltke, Tremper Longmann III, and Daniel I. Block. With these endorsements, this book couldn't be bad, and it isn't. It's quite good and I really enjoyed reading it.
When you see the title of this book along with its subtitle ("A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions"), you would think that the book is just a guide of the strengths and weaknesses of various Bible versions. But it is more.
Fee and Strauss have a preference. This preference is clearly stated in the conclusion to Chapter 8: "Biblical translation involves the transfer of the meaning of words originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into functionally equivalent words in English." But you don't have to wait until Chapter 8 to learn that. From the beginning of the book they make their case for the superiority of functionally equivalent translations and, while I learned many things, I disagree with their preference.
I own approximately 30 Bible translations, from the KJV to the NCV, from the RV to the NLT. When I study I use many different ones. And the more I study, the more I like formal equivalent translations, and (in my opinion) the more I find that they are more accurate.
Case in point. I am currently reading the New American Commentary (NAC) on Judges by Daniel I. Block (who by the way is one of the endorsers of the book under review). It's interesting that the NAC series prints the NIV (a somewhat functionally equivalent translation, referred to as "mediating" in this book) in the commentaries, but the authors are free to comment on the NIV text and how accurate it is to the original languages. Time and again Block points out where the NIV translates incorrectly and he gives his own translation. When this happens, I look it up in the NASB and ESV and the vast majority of the time both match Block's translation.
If I was stranded on that proverbial island and could have only one Bible translation, it would be (in this order): the NASB, ESV, and NKJV. However, since I'm not on that island, after reading "How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth," I went out and purchased a copy of the TNIV. Go figure.
This is an excellent book and I would have given it 5 stars if the title or subtitle accurately described the contents. I would suggest leaving the title as is but changing the subtitle to "The Case for Functionally Equivalent Bible Translations."
If you want the other side of the debate, you can try "Translating Truth; The Case for Essentially Literal Bible Translations" by Collins or "The Word of God in English" by Ryken.
Save your money Sep 6, 2008
I'm glad I only paid $1 for this at a book sale.
I picked this up expecting to it to enhance 30 years of Bible study as a lay person. However, I came away with an understanding of how to create a pseudo-intellectual attack on translations of the Bible that disagree with the author's personal morality; i.e. how to make study of the Bible even more divisive and partisan than it already has become in 21st century America.
I always give my books to a local charity to sell, even books I didn't particularly enjoy. I threw this one away.