"Literary Translation" and Obfuscation

I have had a busy week with little time for blogging. And now I have got back to it, I have started by blogging at Better Bibles Blog on “Literary Translation” and Obfuscation. To summarise this briefly: John Hobbins and others have been arguing for “literary translation” of the Bible, to preserve the foreignness and the alleged literary style of the original. In a typically combative way, I have argued that this is deliberate obfuscation by those who want to avoid being challenged by the Word of God.

0 thoughts on “"Literary Translation" and Obfuscation

  1. Pingback: Literary translation revisited » Metacatholic

  2. Peter,

    Am I right in assuming that you would disapprove of James Tabor’s “Original Bible Project”? Or would you think that the OBP is good as far as it goes but is certainly not an ideal translation for everyone?

    I guess I’m just trying to understand where the practice of theology falls into your translation constructs. Should theology emanate from the literary or the rough translations? And how do you think this prioritization would play out in the congregations?


  3. Nick, I am not very familiar with OBP. In reply the first thing I would say is that NO translation will ever be “an ideal translation for everyone”.

    And then, as far as I can tell from this description, the Transparent English Bible from OBP is really quite excessively literal:

    The Transparent English Bible is certainly at the far, far, end of the “word for word” spectrum, … The idea behind the TEB is to carry over the literal words of the text, and this includes details such as singulars and plurals, definite articles, and our effort to consistently reflect the root meaning of words to the extent that is possible in English without the theological overlay so common in almost all English Bibles.

    I would expect such a translation, if well done, to be of interest to a small niche group of would-be scholars (not real scholars who would not need it because they can use the original language texts), but to be quite unsuitable for the great majority of Bible readers. I would be very concerned if anyone tried to use such a Bible as a church Bible or recommended it for reading by a non-Christian or a new or uncertain believer.

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