N.T. Wright’s NT

Posted: September 3, 2011 in bible

Ben Witherington interviews Tom Wright on his forthcoming translation of the New Testament:

What would you see as the distinctive features of your translation, or its major contributions to our understanding of the language of the NT?

My model, and one of my lifelong heroes, was and is William Tyndale. Unlike the King James version (which borrowed about 80% from him), he tried to use short, clear words rather than long, Latinate ones. Much of the NT is not ‘high-class literature’, but street-level writing, designed for ‘ordinary folk’. I have tried to reproduce that in good, strong, clear, comprehensible English…

Where would you position this translation on the spectrum of more literal or more idiomatic and paraphrastic translations?

It is a translation, not a paraphrase. Yes, there are elements of paraphrase — when I have Matthew say that Peter ‘went out and cried like a baby’ there isn’t a ‘baby’ in Matthew’s Greek, but the alternative (‘bitterly’) has become, in my judgment, a bit flat. I wanted the reader to experience the same meaning that Matthew’s reader would, and that was my (admittedly risky) way of aiming at that goal. But mostly I have stuck very close to the actual word-by-word text, though as all translators know (from any language to any other language — even, dare I say, from English to American!) there are many times when in order to say the same thing you simply can’t go word by word. It’s an art, not a science, but within that art I have done my best to keep it as the art of translation not of paraphrase…

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