Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

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10. Translations

It can be frustrating to be in a Bible study and different people have different translations, and those translations differ from each other; at times it seems they even contradict each other. One translation says “brother” and the other says “brother and sister”; which is correct? If one translation says “he” and the other translation says “they”; which is correct? Why does one translation speak of Christian “Saints” and another one says “holy ones”? Why does the Bible’s most famous verse get translated with “so” in some translations and not in others? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son” (ESV); “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son” (NLT). Which one is right? Why are they different?

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Discussion questions

  1. What is your preferred translation, and why?
  2. What are the two steps of translation? Why is each step interpretive?
  3. What does it mean that “languages are not codes”? How does this apply to Bible translations?
  4. What role does biblical context play when translating Greek words?
  5. What is an “idiom” and why can they be so difficult to translate?
  6. Is it possible to exactly reproduce the meaning of Hebrew and Greek into English? If not, can you trust your translation?
  7. What is translation philosophy, and why is it important when translating the Bible?
  8. Which of the five categories of translation does your favorite translation fit into? What are the advantages and disadvantages of your favorite translation?