TRUTH IN TRANSLATION by A. Frances Werner

TRUTH IN TRANSLATION

Accuracy and Surprising Bias in the Old Testament
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A look at how English-language Bibles compare to the original ancient Hebrew and Aramaic, including her new Old Testament translation: the “Ancient Roots Translinear Bible” (ARTB).

Werner sets out to show statistically how well 20 major English translations of the Bible match up to the ancient biblical languages, her ideal being where every ancient word would match up consistently with the same, single English word. She explains why she believes the format of ancient Hebrew makes this method of translation necessary. While her new translation might be extreme and oversimplify the difficulties of translation, her highlighting of certain inaccuracies and biases are well-researched and thought-provoking. It is often easy, though, to bend the truth with numbers. Werner’s one-sided statistics and occasionally incorrect syllogisms make her argument only partially convincing so that even valid points will generate two probable responses. First, some readers will take Werner’s arguments at face value and turn the ARTB into, quite literally, their new Bible. Second, some readers who would be invaluable in answering Werner’s call to arms to improve biblical translations in general will be skeptical. Werner often refers to Jason David BeDuhn’s Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament. BeDuhn inspired Werner’s own work, but he had the advantage of a background in religious scholarship and, without his own translation in the mix, greater impartiality. In fairness to Werner, while her scientific methods show the ARTB to be statistically the “best,” she does note some faults and concludes by calling on others to take her findings and continue to improve the Bible-translation and -publishing industries. How having a patent pending on her method will help in this effort remains a question. The author attempts, and to some degree succeeds, in making her work accessible to the everyday Bible reader, but in-depth knowledge of both linguistics and theological study are useful when unearthing the veracity in Werner’s arguments.

There’s truth to Werner’s translation, but the whole should be taken with a grain of salt.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-9789763-1-6
Page count: 160pp
Program: Kirkus Indie
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