The Berean Expositor
Volume 34 - Page 210 of 261
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While Dr. Young's Literal Translation has many excellent features, we feel that
where it fails it but manifests the practical impossibility of the most faithful to present to
the English reader a strictly literal translation. For instance, after having read what
Dr. Young has to say about inserting and omitting the article, or the changing of the
English translation of similar words in the same context, the reader is likely, at the first,
to believe that in this literal translation such defects will be conspicuous by their absence.
It is not so however. Take for example John 1:
Dr. Young's Literal read,
"In the beginning was the Word." Yet there is no article before the word "beginning".
"And the Word was with God." Yet there is the article before the word "God".
"And the Word was God." Yet the order of the words in the original is "And God was
the Word".
Dr. Young therefore tacitly admits that with the best intentions a strictly literal
translation becomes unreadable. In verse 3 he translates "All things through him did
happen", where the verb is egeneto. In verse 17, however, where the same verb is used,
he translates is "did come".
These remarks are not made in an unkind spirit, nor with a view to detract from the
faithful labours of Dr. Young, but only to show how well-nigh impossible a task a strictly
literal translation is.
There can perhaps be no greater contrast between Dr. Young's translation and that of
James Moffatt, D.D., D.Lit., and we do not introduce Dr. Moffatt's translation to
commend it to the general reader, but for the sake of comparing Dr. Young's Preface
regarding a literal version, with Dr. Moffatt's Preface concerning the almost insuperable
difficulties that make such a literal version impracticable.
Dr. Moffatt's Preface opens as follows:--
"In his essay on Protestantism, de Quincey has a characteristic paragraph upon the
popular delusion that every idea and word which exists, or has existed, for any nation,
ancient or modern, must have a direct interchangeable equivalent in all languages. No
one who attempts to translate any part of the New Testament is likely to remain very long
under such a delusion . . . . . This raises one of the numerous points of difficulty that beset
the translator. How far is he justified in modernizing an Oriental book? . . . . . I wish only
to add this caution, that a translator appears to be more dogmatic than he really is. He
must come down on one side of the fence or the other."
We do not expect any of our readers would readily accept Dr. Moffatt's rendering of
Eph. 1: 3:--
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Who is Christ has blessed us
with every spiritual blessing."
It will be observed that "in heavenly places" is entirely omitted, without even a
footnote to explain why.