4. Types of translations: 2. Dynamic Translation

2. Dynamic translation.

With this type of translation the emphasis is on conveying the same thought, even the same emotional content as would have been the experience of the first readers of the Bible. Yet translators still adhere as closely to the text as can be possible. Though this type of translation is more easily understood, some of the character or poetic beauty of the original can be lost. Deviation from the direct translation of the word can assist in understandability, but it is possible that a deeper subtle nuance can get lost.

* What could have been the problem of the son brought to Jesus that is recorded in Mat.17:15? The MKJV says he was a “lunatic”. But what exactly is a lunatic? In modern times we rarely use this word in a serious manner. Referring to someone as a lunatic, usually has more the feeling of irresponsibility or stupidity than a serious illness. The Amplified version (AMP) speaks of “epilepsy”. The Bible in Basic English (BBE) says “he was off his head”, while the NIV rather describes what was happening to the child: “he had seizures”.

The Greek word selyniazetai contains the word selyne which indicates something of the brilliant sparkle of the moon. But when we look at what happened to the boy, it looks rather like the seizures that we associate with epilepsy. In the time of Jesus, common thought was that that type of seizures were caused by demonic oppression that had some influence from the moon. The question now arises whether we should see all seizures that display what happened to the boy, as demonic oppression linked to the moon? Should we try to drive demons from an epileptic? This clearly could not be the case. On the other hand it is possible that the boy was in fact demon possessed and that the demon caused the boy to have seizures very likened to what we now know as epilepsy, but in essence was something different. Jesus knew what the matter really was, and acted upon it accordingly. To us this Godly knowledge is not freely available.

However we look at it, translation is a huge challenge that needs to be done with great responsibility. The question remains: Is it better to translate the word according to its common meaning, without interpretation? This leaves the word of God open to individual interpretation. Ask twenty parents to explain to their children what a lunatic really is, and you would almost certain end up with twenty definitions! Is this the way we should work with the word of God? Or should translators, experts in antique culture and literature look at all the possibilities and make a choice as to what would convey the original meaning the best to us in our circumstances and understanding? The dynamic translation chooses this option.

The NIV is an example of a dynamic translation.

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About bibledifferencesfacts

I am a retired preacher of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa. Since my studies at the University of Pretoria I had a keen interest in the reasons for the differences between the translations of the Bible, especially the New Testament. Since 1973 I am married to my dear wife and greatest friend, Leah Page. We are blessed with two daughters and two sons, two grand sons and one grand daughter. God is alive and omnipotent! Glory to His Name! Herman
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