Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Purpose of the Paraphrase

The first thing to notice is the stated purpose of the paraphrase. The author is claiming that his main goal is to “reproduce the thought of Paul” in modern English. This is exactly what dynamic equivalent translators state as their main goal as well. I am convinced that this should not be the primary goal of a translator. However, it is a perfectly fine goal of someone making a paraphrase. But I’ll have to take that up later.

The second thing to notice is the reasons given for the main goal. Stephens finds that the Bible has become so familiar to the English reader that almost everything that is written sounds cliché, and so is passed over without thought. Therefore, when the English reader reads the Bible in the King James, he is blinded by its familiar form rather than by its content.

Stephens also hopes to stir up a fresh interest in the Bible by presenting it is a form that will be more palatable to the reader. The idea behind this thought is that if a reader does not find meaning in a text, he will not stay with it long. Therefore, since the Bible has become so familiar that he can not comprehend what he’s reading, the reader will be much more inclined to read the thoughts of Paul in a totally new form and thus reengage with the mind of Paul.

Many of these stated goals and reasons for writing a paraphrase are wonderful. In fact, I believe this is what good pastors do each time they preach. However, I am convinced that these same goals and reasons should have little sway in a good Bible translation. Hopefully it will become clearer why I believe this as I continue to review this preface.

No comments: