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The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation Paperback – November 12, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Leland Ryken (PhD, University of Oregon) served as professor of English at Wheaton College for nearly 50 years. He has authored or edited over fifty books, including The Word of God in English and A Complete Handbook of Literary Forms in the Bible. He is a frequent speaker at the Evangelical Theological Society's annual meetings and served as literary stylist for the English Standard Version Bible.

C. John Collins (PhD, University of Liverpool) is professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St Louis, Missouri. With degrees from MIT and Faith Evangelical Lutheran Seminary, he pursues such research interests as Hebrew and Greek grammar, science and faith, and biblical theology. He is the author of The God of MiraclesDid Adam and Eve Really Exist?, and Science and Faith.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (November 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581344643
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581344646
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Robert Woods on April 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
After reading this exceptional and important work and reading some of the "reviews" I felt compelled to write my own review. I hope this helps.
Since the middle of the twentieth century there has been an explosion of translations of the Bible into English. Between 1952 and 1990 there were twenty-seven English versions of the entire Bible. Several have been added to this number since 1990. Many are excited about this ever-expanding number; others are contending that there may be some negative unintended consequences due to this development.
Most discussions and debates about the "best" translation of the Bible into modern English are rooted in misconceptions about the most reliable original manuscripts, varying philosophies of language, and various translation philosophies. The two main camps are the literal word-for-word, or the dynamic equalevant thought-for-thought.
Dr. Leland Ryken, Professor of English at Wheaton College, brings a unique and discerning perspective to this discussion. Due to his expertise as a Biblical literary critic, Ryken is highly qualified to enter this arena. He has written several helpful books that apply the discipline of literary analysis to the Scriptures. In this current book, Ryken places the discussion of the best English version of the Bible translation within a broader context. The majority of books written over the past few decades that examine English Bibles either take a historical approach by examining the development of the numerous versions, or a linguistic comparison of particular words, phrases or ideas from the original languages into English. Ryken poses different questions and examines the discussion from a broader cultural and literary perspective while providing exceptionally perceptive analysis.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By ken_diercouff on September 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a great book and enjoyable to read. Professor Ryken is very informed and has put a lot of thought and analysis into this book. Every student of the Bible should read this book.
Other commentators have covered the high points. Dr. Ryken does a great job of showing the value of paraphrases as a commentary, but not as a translation, certainly not a primary shource. The book is also excellent at explaining the history of Bible as quality literature, certainly above the din of paraphrases such as The Message. (One reader said about the Message, " It's great, if you don't mind Jesus sounding like a used car salesman."!!)
I read almost every major translation and have arrived at many of the same conclusions that Dr. Ryken does. However, he could have given more positive press to the NKJV, since it also has many of the literary qualities found in the translation he praised (the ESV). The fact that the NKJV is based on the Textus Receptus is a plus, not minus, in my book. Also, some of the complaints he had about other translations could also be made about the ESV; it also tends to be interpretive in places. For example Romans 3:25, "to be received through faith" inserts the words, "to be received," forcing the interpretation of the passage. Dr, Ryken also made a passing comment slighting the accuracy in translation in the NKJV, yet in many comparisons I find the NKJV to be equivalent or superior to the ESV. (The fact that the NKJV at times uses various words to translate one Greek work is a stylistic issue; again, the ESV does the same thing with the Greek word "anthropos.")
I wish some attention had been given to the Holman Christian Standard Bible, a new Bible, which is very readable and yet mostly literal.
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40 of 51 people found the following review helpful By M. Aubrey on July 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
This review originated as a comment to the so-called "most helpful review" by R. M. Wood, which is 5 stars and as of July 19th, 2009 has 55 of 62 positive votes. The original comment is still there, but the substance of it is worth placing here because I know many people tend to read the reviews and not the comments on the reviews. If this review sounds rather passionate and heated. That's because it is. Ryken's book frustrates me beyond belief.

After reading this book, I have to ask, "How can someone who doesn't even know Greek or Hebrew [i.e. Ryken] provide a 'much-needed corrective' for translation. The guy can't even translate for himself and you want him to tell you what makes a good translation??? What nonsense! And more, how can someone who 1 again) doesn't know the languages and 2) isn't trained in either translation or linguistics be a reliable guide for informing anyone about translation theory? Ryken skews translation theory left and right. Anyone who has studied translation or linguistics could tell you in a second that he has no idea what he's talking about. If he's going to try to be an "expert" on the subject, he should go take a couple classes at Wycliffe's Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics in Dallas, TX, the Canada Institute of Linguistics (CANIL) in Langley, BC or a number of other schools associated with training Bible translators (e.g. Biola or Moody Bible Institute) before he says anything more. Ryken cannot tell whether translation methodology is misguided or not because he truly doesn't understand it to begin with.

If what Ryken calls and describes as "Dynamic Equivalence" actually existed, then I would completely agree with him.
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