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Can a Translation be Completely Accurate

There’s an interesting thread in the Religion Forum right now, What is a Biblical Translation?, which goes into the issue of whether one can create a 100% accurate Bible translation.

Of course, the answer is “no.” If you want 100% accuracy, you need to go to the source language. But even there you bring yourself into the process, and because you bring yourself, a fallible, finite human (unless you’re special), into the process, your reading will never be 100% accurate.

In a later message, one member asks the question of whether God could make a translation 100% accurate. I sense that all theists are supposed to automatically respond with “yes!” But I disagree. Only by changing the very nature of language could God create a 100% accurate translation. Only by changing the very nature of humans, making us non-finite and not just sinless, could God make us understand such an accurate translation with 100% accuracy.

The bottom line is this: If you use a translation, you will indeed lose something. I’ve commented before about the need to compare translations and be very careful with context in order to alleviate this problem. But none of those options are equal to knowing how to read the source languages.

But beyond this, we must face the fact that no matter how versed one becomes in the source languages one is still human, still fallible, and still well removed by history and culture from the writers of the source. We have a drive to find the one and only totally accurate revelation, but we really have no mechanism for understanding such a thing. We see dimly in a mirror, and we’re going to have to get used to the humbling reality of living with that.

If you comment, please go to the thread there.

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