Wayne Leman on Translation Errors

Wayne Leman has written an excellent post on the Better Bibles Blog, in which he discusses what should or should not be called an error in Bible translation. He is looking for a list of genuine translation errors; not differences of opinion or ideology, but genuine errors. I’ll be watching with interest to see what he finds.

I don’t actually have a list of translation errors in the sense Wayne is talking about. I personally consider a number of translations way off the mark, but those is a differences of opinion, and I can certainly provide the linguistic justification for the translation I oppose. For example, I regard the translation of ;almah in Isaiah 7:14 as “virgin” to be inappropriate. I think the evidence is strongly in favor of translating “young woman.” But I do understand both the linguistic and ideological arguments in favor of the other translation. Nobody “goofs” and puts “virgin” in the verse. They are expressing a difference of opinion.

In a comment at Bible Bibles, I indicated also that I thought it would be inappropriate in context to fault the KJV translators for not using information they didn’t have. If one is looking at inaccuracies in the KJV, that is one thing. Errors would seem to imply that the translators had the necessary knowledge, and they goofed.

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One Comment

  1. I think the confusion over the translation of the Heb. ‘alma’ as ‘virgin’ stems from a misunderstanding of the word ‘parthenos’ in ancient Greek. When that verse from Isaiah was translated for the Greek Septuagint, the word ‘parthenos’ was used, and later translators assumed that ‘parthenos’ should be translated into ‘virgin’ in English, and it is possible that the author of the Gospel of Matthew understood the word to have that specific meaning. But ‘parthenos’ did not have such a specific meaning in Septuagint Greek, as evident from the use of that word to describe Dinah AFTER she is raped in Genesis 34 (in the LXX).

    In other words, not only does the Heb. ‘alma’ not have the specific meaning of the English word ‘virgin,’ neither does the Gr. ‘parthenos’ have such a specific meaning. Which is why using it is not justified.

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