Second, consider the shortcomings of book marketing and copyright laws that make such translations necessary. Modern translations are not open source. They are owned by organizations and governed by the laws protecting intellectual property. Therefore, the ability for a person not affiliated with such an organization to use these translations is seriously limited. Seriously limited without specific permission that is.

    The way past copyright laws is to obtain permission from a publisher to use their translation. This is easy for big publishers, yet for someone who just happens to write a commentary on a whole book of the Bible and takes, for one reason or another, the self-publishing route, getting rights to a translation is a significant impediment. For this reason, in a book that deals with large units of text (such as my Prevenient Grace) or a whole Biblical book (such as my work on Habakkuk), a new translation may very well be required.

Consider, lastly, how the shortcomings of contemporary academic biblical studies may require a new translation. The two reasons for an individual’s translation given above do not presuppose error in the contemporary translations but only that they are not sufficient for every possible application of a Biblical text. Another reason for a new translation, though, could be an error in a contemporary translation. No translation claims to be inerrant, so the need for new translations is to be expected. If it is an individual who disagrees with a translation, he or she would naturally present an alternative for the work he or she is presently doing (I hear pastors doing this all the time, though I wouldn’t recommend this without careful explanation).

Beyond just these problems involving human error, there may be times where a new translation is necessary because of the scholarship upon which even the most conservative translations rest. Even a translation team of highly credentialed conservative scholars employs the works of academic scholarship—commentaries, monographs, and journal articles—for their translations. If there are severe methodological errors in this scholarship, it will appear in the translations.

Consider only a few examples. In the field of text criticism, many of the most prestigious works take a very critical stance towards the text, one that does not take into account the Bible’s own self testimony. For this reason, modern translations often resort to textual emendations or easier Greek Septuagint renderings, despite the strong internal and external evidence for the superiority of the Hebrew Masoretic Text. Though there are many cases where a Septuagint reading might just represent the better reading, there is no theological or exegetical ground for the many emendations found in scholarly commentaries. These emendations are reflected in modern translations. Several times in Samuel and Habakkuk, contemporary translations present emendations of the text without any manuscript support. In every case I have come across, close attention to the context and grammar yields an appropriate sense (see, for example, my translation of Job 30). Sometimes these choices have serious consequences on one’s interpretation of the text. Such is the case in Habakkuk. For this reason, someone with a high view of Scripture may very well be justified in presenting an alternative translation that represents careful study of the original languages from Biblical presuppositions.

Part 1

Part 3


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