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The Role of Theology and Bias in Bible Translation: With a Special Look at the New World Translation of Jehovah's Witnesses Paperback – February 15, 1999

3.9 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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About the Author

Rolf Furuli has worked with the biblical text for four decades. Since his first Greek lecture 24 years ago, his interest in translational questions, particularly in the finer nuances of the verbal systems of the biblical languages, has mushroomed, culminating in the publication of this book.

Rolf Furuli has earned his B.A. and mag.art (a degree between M.A. and Ph.D) from the University of Oslo, with an emphasis on Hebrew; he has also studied Accadian, Arabic, Aramaic, Ethiopic, Greek, Latin, Middle Egyptian, Syriac and Ugaritic, and has done postgraduate studies in applied linguistics and semantics. At present he is a lecturer in Semitic languages at the University of Oslo, and is also working on a project where the Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls and ancient inscriptions are studied with the goal of redefining the verbal system of classical Hebrew. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Elihu Books; 1 edition (February 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0965981444
  • ISBN-13: 978-0965981446
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,533,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on December 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
I never realized how much theology played in Bible translation. Mr. Furuli hilites this fact quite well and I now look at all Bible translations differently. I used to be critical of a number of translations of the Bible because in certain areas it seemed that they let their personal beliefs effect how they worded a verse. However, I now realize that even the NWT, which is my favorite translation, does the same thing. As Mr. Furuli points out, theology can't help but play a part in Bible translation. He shows for instance that if a verse can be grammatically and symatically translated two different ways, thus conveying two meanings that are totally opposite of each other, the deciding factor on how the translator translates the verse is then based off of his personal beliefs. Thus, grammatically Titus 2:13 can "legally" be translated to read that Jesus is The Great God or it can be translated to say that he is someone other than The Great God. The way one translates the verse is then based on how he feels it should read.
This book covers a number of verses that are controversial and shows how the translation can go a number of ways. One critic condemned Mr. Furuli for choosing the NWT but in my opinion there couldn't be a better translation to use as reference for the subject. The NWT translates a number of verses differently from how most bibles do, yet at the same time, a number of very popular Bibles read similar to the NWT in various verses. The end result is that nearly every Bible I have seen translates at least one controversial verse similar to the NWT or at least acknowledge that it is possible in their footnotes. Thus, Mr. Furuli's book is not just a defense for the NWT, it is a defense for nearly every Bible there is!
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I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses, who prefers using the NWT to any other translation. Yet, while what I'm about to say might be viewed as a biased favorable slant, I think I can somewhat objectively say that Rolf Furuli's book deserves five stars. Furuli skillfully introduces his readers to mental lexicon theory, two triangles of signification involving word, concept and reference, and he thoroughly explains what he means by "concept" and "bias".
Moreover, Furuli's book contains extended discussions on Jn 1:1c, 8:58, Col 1:15-17 and Philippians 2:6ff. He has a helpful section on the Tetragrammaton and Hebrew aspect in general. His work serves as a challenge to those who insist that Trinitarian explanations of Scripture are to be preferred to non-Trinitarian ones. Despite what some critics have unfairly charged, Furuli's comments are quite balanced and he often avoids resorting to dogmatism or assertion in _Theology and Bias in Bible Translation_. See pages 46-47 of his work.
Edgar Foster
Glasgow University
Comment 55 of 65 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
As I read through the comments made by some I noticed that one of them was rather critical of Mr. Furuli's book. I have found the book to be quite interesting and it seems to be very well researched. Mr. Furuli makes good use of footnotes and quotes often from other sources. I would recomened this book to anyone. I give the book 5 stars because of it's great research and detail, but I would give it 4 1/2 stars if possible. The book get's very technical and many of the terms are not defined and it makes it hard for the average reader. Mr. Furuli does have little boxes that contain definitions of certain words, but when discusing deep grammatical subjects his technical words can cause a person to have to re-read that portion again. Mr. Furuli does a fine job of tracing the origins of the Trinity back to Middle and Neo Platonism, and also presents how the Ante-Nicene Fathers were originally subordiationist. He is not critical of the post Nicene Fathers who leaned on the philosphies of Plato and Philo to determine doctrine, but he is critical of how many transltors use the Trinity dogma as a basis for translation. But, he also shows that in some places ones theology must play a role in translation. When it comes to The holy spirit he shows that it is a matter of theology as to whether or not the translators will capitalize it, i.e. the Holy Spirit, or holy spirit. He shows that the Greek and Hebrew does not specify that The holy spirit should be capitalized or not, so it is based on the interpretation of the translator. I appreciate the long discusion of the "disputed text" in the NWT, and I believe that he does a good job of showing that "a god" is grammatically correct although not theologically.Read more ›
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By A Customer on September 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
Having read many books on Bible translation and interpretation, Rolf's book was refreshing addition to my library. I believe it effectively fills a void found in many libraries. IMHO, it is a "must read" for anyone who is involved in Bible teaching and wishes to "accurately investigate all things."
In many ways it was an eye-opener for me in the difficulties faced by all translators. The correct balance between personal theological beliefs and honest translating is a challenging undertaking. Rolf's book forced me to re-examine my own criticism of bias in some translations. Instead of judging bias on a theology, Rolf has forced me to look at the range of meanings allowed by grammar and syntax. This has given me a much more tolerant understanding of different translators and their renderings.
His book is an exceptionally fair and honest criticism. This criticism is not withheld from the N.W.T. where he concludes that unnecessary elements are added, even though they may be allowed by grammar and syntax. Conversely, he is tolerant of other translation's theological renderings when they are allowed by grammar. Throughout the book he champions allowing the reader to understand the meaning of the Scriptures with the least amount of translator interference possible.
Where he criticizes various translations, such as Eph. 1:4, he gives solid, hard to refute, evidence from lexical, grammatical and syntactical principles. This is truly an education for those of us who naturally allow a severe theological bias or ignorance mold our judgement.
Rolf's book is truly in agreement with his (and Jehovah's Witnesses') belief that every individual can properly understand Scripture when presented with convincing evidence.
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