There is a quite comprehensive article here which I have 'breezed' through. I have this problem about reading - from that fellow Francis Bacon - some books are worth it - you remember the passage.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.*In tasting this article, I came across a few claims that caught my attention for a moment.
Those who insist that literal translations are superior probably do the greatest damage to people incapable of going behind the translated text to discover the meaning of the original manuscripts.This phrase begs two questions: Who is incapable of going behind the translated text? Who is capable of discovering the meaning of the original manuscripts?
Well, I looked further and reread the first paragraph in green. Maybe this is where I part company with the writer - who no doubt has more experience in translation and pastoral care than I do.
The argument in these articles is that a common claim that literal translations are superior to meaning-based translations is incorrect and can be harmful to the body of Christ.I could harm the body of Christ with a literal translation? - come, come. Does the ark of the covenant need my support lest it fall off its wagon?
There is no meaningful translation possible that ignores word usage. Words take their meaning by position in relation to other words. Translation without form is chaos. Will it harm the body? No? Perhaps like a corn soup it will give some roughage - but buttered, salted, and peppered on the cob it is not.
insistence on using those versions exclusively or primarily serves to keep people from engaging God’s word with the clarity offered by meaning-based versions.Really? - does one assume that the written text is the word and that engagement with text is the primary issue, and that meaning-based versions offer clarity? In this strange culture, I do not make any of these assumptions. I assume that God's Word is seeking to engage us - and is not confined to text and that meaning cannot be substituted for form without being bland or clearly one-sided. One translator's meaning is to another misunderstanding, worse - it is confining.
There is even more than theology in any translation - there is politics, keeping the masses in order and bums in the pews.
Spare me the pabulum. Set me a riddle. Illustrate a thought form that makes me puzzle and stops me from maintaining my comfortable umptions. Leave in the ambiguous antecedents. Tell me you do not understand. Do not imply you know the original.
Am I incapable? then leave me to God's devices. God's Original will not allow me to fail. Don't make me more incapable by telling me what I should understand in a particular text. God's Work will allow me a sufficient meaning.
Those who are sure of their meaning are more likely to harm themselves and others than not.
[Addendum: the section in the subject article on translating "the cat in the hat" illustrates the point. Discovering a rhyming word couplet in the target language would be the 'literal' translation bringing the reader in contact with the spirit of Dr. Seuss. Our problem is that we would scarcely see such play in the ancient Biblical texts given our propensity to 'appropriate' piety.
*Update Francis Bacon 1561-1626, On Studies, in W. Peacock, Selected English Essays, 1903 reprinted 1954.]