There is no advantage whatsoever to reading the Bible in translation OVER reading the Bible in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Translations are interpretations and commentary both at the same time. Reading 10 or 15 or 20 translations is reading 10 or 15 or 20 interpretations, none of which may really catch the tone, sense, and spirit of the author.
Reading any author in translation is the intellectual equivalent of kissing your spouse through a sheet. You may get something out of it, but you aren’t, and never, ever will get everything you can out of it. Kissing your spouse through 20 sheets is even less satisfying.
NEIN! It is wrong headed and inaccurate in the extreme to suggest that translations can ever be held superior to or even equal to the original texts. NEIN!
Allow me to cite Luther’s Open Letter on Translating for the benefit of our blogger:
There is a saying, “He who builds along the road has many masters.” That is the way it is with me too. Those who have never even been able to speak properly, to say nothing of translating, have all at once become my masters and I must be the pupil of them all. If I were to have asked them how to put into German the first two words of Matthew’s Gospel, Liber Generationis, none of them would have been able to say Quack! And now they sit in judgment on my whole work! Fine fellows! That is the way it was with St. Jerome too when he translated the Bible. Everybody was his master. He was the only one who was totally incompetent. And people who were not worthy to clean his shoes criticized the good man’s work. It takes a great deal of patience to do a good thing publicly, for the world always wants to be Master Know-it-all. It must always be putting the bit under the horse’s tail, criticizing everything but doing nothing itself. That is its nature; it cannot get away from it.
It’s usually the people who can’t translate a line who find the most reason to denounce the originals.
Again, Luther notes
I will go further with my boasting. I can expound psalms and prophets; they cannot. I can translate; they cannot. I can read the Holy Scriptures; they cannot. I can pray; they cannot. And, to come down to their level, I can use their own dialectics and philosophy better than all of them put together; and besides I know for sure that none of them understands their Aristotle. If there is a single one among them all who correctly understands one proemium [preface] or chapter in Aristotle, I’ll eat my hat. I am not saying too much, for I have been trained and practiced from my youth up in all their science and am well aware how deep and broad it is. They are very well aware, too, that I can do everything they can. Yet these incurable fellows treat me as though I were a stranger to their field, who had just arrived this morning for the first time and had never before either seen or heard what they teach and know. So brilliantly do they parade about with their science, teaching me what I outgrew twenty years ago, that to all their blatting and shouting I have to sing, with the harlot, “I have known for seven years that horseshoe-nails are iron.”
Only those who read the biblical text in the original and can make sense of it are worth hearing as expositors of it. Those who rely on translations alone, no matter how many, are simply parrots repeating they know not what.