What Constitutes a “Faithful” Version?
When weÂ got it started, the word faithful was used many times.Â
1. We affirm that on the issue of versions, our most important duty is to be faithful to the Word and words of God.
8. We affirm that translations should be chosen, not particularly for their â€œaccuracyâ€ as for their faithfulness.
9. We deny that any form of â€œdynamic equivalenceâ€ can be considered to be faithful. We deny that any modern version that utilized â€œdynamic equivalenceâ€ can be considered faithful.
10. We affirm that â€œformal equivalenceâ€ is the only faithful method of translation.
11. We deny that reliance upon the Critical Text could be
considered faithful . . . .Â Â
13. We affirm that any version which attempts to translate either the Received Text or the majority text faithfully by means of Formal Equivalence can be considered a faithful translation.
For some this may be a new term to the topic of preservationÂ and translations.Â A term I have heard much more is the word “accurate.” While not promoting inaccuracy, I want to point out that accuracy is not theÂ most important quality for a translation. There are some translations that claim to be “more accurate” than the King James Version. I’ve not studied the details, but the gist of the claim is that the choice of English words to represent the Hebrew and Greek of the text is more accurate to today’s meaning than the choice of the King James. Now that may be true, but accuracy is not as important as faithfulness.
I stated in my first post in this series,
As a steward, I cannot add to the words he has given. If I did, would they continue to be His words? I dare not take away from the words he has given. Who am I to steal from my master?
Let me further state that aÂ faithful steward trusts his master. He is not continually second guessing him. He takes his word and he takes him at his word. An unfaithful steward could relay accurately a message that the master did not give–someone else gave it. The same is true of a translator or a version. An unfaithful translator can give a very accurate translation of something that is not the complete words of God. An accurate translation of a “second-guessing” text is not faithful. Accuracy is important, but its importance is secondary to faithfulness. So, what constitutes a faithful version?
In aÂ faithful version,Â the translators diligently strive to give an â€œevery wordâ€ rendering of the faithfully receivedÂ Hebrew and Greek text.Â To the best ofÂ their ability, they wouldÂ give theÂ translated word (for us, English) that best conveys the meaning of theÂ original word or words. They faithfully give the words and form (or usage), not merely the sense.Â All the while, they acknowledgeÂ their own (and their language’s) limitations, admitting that they cannot preserve the precise meaning.
Precision and accuracy are important. But faithfulness is moreso. The faithful translator starts with trust in his Master (the received Word), then attempts to faithfully (accurately) relay the message.