If you have a deeper interest in the academic study of the Bible, you will probably run across the terms “hermeneutics” and “exegesis.”  Hermeneutics is defined as “the science of interpretation, especially of the Scriptures” or “the branch of theology that deals with the principles of Biblical exegesis.”  Exegesis, in turn, means “critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text, especially of the Bible.”  So in layman’s terms, exegesis would be more focused on understanding and explaining the text while hermeneutics would be more focused on how the text was translated.  Primarily, exegesis is what you get from your pastor or your Sunday school teacher on Sunday, and hermeneutics is primarily what scholars might focus on during their studies at the theological schools and universities. 

 Prior to the turn of the 20th century, most texts were translated using an approach called “formal equivalence,”  but since then, another approach has been gaining in popularity: “dynamic equivalence.”

From Wikipedia:  “Dynamic equivalence and formal equivalence are terms for methods of translation coined by Eugene Nida. The two terms have often been understood as fundamentally the same as sense-for-sense translation and word-for-word translation, respectively, and Nida did often seem to use them this way.”

 In an article on Yahoo Voices, Zachary Fruhling further explains these two terms as follows:

“Formal equivalence means that the translator has attempted to give a word-for-word translation from the original language into English, and has tried to capture the grammatical structure of the original language as well. The result in English can be very stilted and artificial, but the words, terms, and concepts have been rendered as faithfully into English as our language allows. Dynamic equivalence, by contrast, attempts to capture the intended meaning behind the original language as well as possible without overt concern for the original terms or structure of the source scripture. Most Bible versions will fall somewhere between these two extremes, combining elements of both translation methods; although most Bible versions can be placed generally into one or the other methods, to various degrees.“

The King James Bible would be a good example of a translation by formal equivalence, although the translators did, at some points, use dynamic equivalence when a word-for-word translation would have caused a significant departure from the original meaning.  In order to find a balance between faithful interpretation of the original language while not losing sight of the important meanings inherent in the text, the translators of the KJV not only looked at the original texts in Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek  (New Testament), but they also checked to see how other translators handled certain passages.  Many scholars believe that the KJV is primarily influenced by the Tyndale version judging by similarities between the two, but the translation team (47 scholars and clerics in 6 teams based at Oxford, Cambridge, and Westminster Abbey) had been instructed to be guided primarily by the Bishop’s Bible.  The reason for this is that King James wanted “to guarantee that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology of the Church of England. Certain Greek and Hebrew words were to be translated in a manner that reflected the traditional usage of the church. For example, old ecclesiastical words such as the word 'church' were to be retained and not to be translated as 'congregation'. The new translation would reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and traditional beliefs about ordained clergy.”

More tomorrow.

I pray that you will feel the strength and comfort of God’s everlasting arms in your life today.


04/17/2014 6:39am

It is not an easy task. One needs professional translation service to translate the Bible exactly. People are too much sensitive about language

11/28/2014 12:59am

I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

11/23/2016 9:08am

There are lots of changes occurs during the translation of bible which is not good for the new generation because initial sentences quite different from the translated stuff.

02/05/2017 8:19am

Studying is very creative process. What approach do you prefer?


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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 


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