Questions, Insights, & Responses

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#20 - TEV translation methodology

by Robert Nguyen Cramer

This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.


Question/insight #20: "I noticed for the first time that the TEV sometimes has useful text that explicitly shifts the point of view or the speaker, making the text easier to follow in the flow from one verse to another. Two examples of this in this week's Lesson are in Isa 42:5 in the RR and John 14:10 in the third section. In the Isa instance, 'And now the LORD God says to his servant,' at the end of 42:5 makes explicit whom the speech in 42:6 is addressed to. And in John, 'Philip' at the beginning of the verse and 'Jesus said to his disciples' in the middle show the shift in whom Jesus was speaking to. No such indicators are in either the KJV nor the NRSV, so my question is whether the TEV translators were taking accepted liberties in introducing these handy flow devices, which presumably have no explicit counterpart in the original texts, or were they picking up on original text that the KJV and NRSV translators had overlooked/ignored?" (8/28/98)

Response #20:

In Isa 42:5, the KJV and NRSV follow the literal word-order of the Hebrew text, but the TEV's rearrangement of the word order does not in any way change the meaning. The modification of the word order only helps make the verses more readable, thus more comprehensible in English. The TEV consistently follows very high standards of translation methodologies. Below are some of the many books available to translators through the United Bible Societies (UBS). (The UBS provides most likely the most consistently exacting, honest, thoroughly researched translation of literature in any language. This is particularly true of the TEV.)

In John 14:8, the TEV provides appropriate and accurate help in understanding whom Jesus is addressing, which is obvious from the conjugation of the verbs in Greek, but not in literal English. Jesus is addressing Philip as a single individual from the beginning of verse 8 through the question mark in verse 10. After the question mark in verse 10 through verse 11, Jesus is addressing his disciples, plurally. The Greek verbs make this clear. Since a literal translation in English cannot distinguish between 2nd person singular verbs and 2nd person plural verbs, the TEV adds the words needed to enable the reader to properly understand the dialog.


Copyright 1996-2002 Robert Nguyen Cramer