Thursday, September 17, 2009

NWT - Goodspeed's Criticism

Goodspeed's Criticism

Apparently another anti-Watchtower writer has appealed to another famous NT scholar and Bible translator's review of the NWT: Dr. Goodspeed. I have received a photocopy of a page in which Dr. Goodspeed is quoted as criticizing the NWT. And what terrible errors did Dr. Goodspeed point to? Mistranslation? Adding to or subtracting from the original text? No! According to this anti-Watchtower writer, Dr. Goodspeed objected to some instances of translating the original Hebrew into awkward English.

Did it distort the meaning of God's Word? Well, here is the outstanding example that the anti-Watchtower writer of that page found in Dr. Edgar J. Goodspeed's critique of the NWT:

"One reading he pointed out as especially awkward and grammatically poor [in English, of course] was in Judges 14:3 (p. 803, first edition), where Samson is made to say: `Her get for me....'."

Yes, the full sentence in the original edition of the NWT reads, "Her get for me, because she is the one just right in my eyes." True, this is awkward English (it has long since been revised). But does it change the meaning? Does it make it so you can't understand it?

The writer claimed that Dr. Goodspeed knew the NWT well, and yet all he could find to criticize from Dr. Goodspeed's review was an instance of awkward English that in no way harmed the accuracy of the translation!

The problem is that the more literally accurate a translation tries to be the more awkward the English often becomes. There must be a trade-off between being literally accurate and having perfect English (as in any translation from one language to another). - see any Hebrew-English Interlinear.

The fact is that the New World Translation, being the work of men, cannot be a perfect translation, but it may well be the most literally accurate translation available today (with the exception of some Hebrew-English Interlinear Bibles which are certainly much more awkward and harder to understand than the NWT).

You will find that the word-for-word translation of the original Hebrew manuscripts at Judges 14:3 is: "Her get for me for she she is right in eyes of me." - see The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament, Zondervan; or The Interlinear Bible, Baker Book House. Compare this with the NWT rendering quoted above: "Her get for me, because she is the one just right in my eyes."

Now compare other translations:

"Get her for me, because she pleases me." - NRSV.

"Get her for me. She's the right one for me" - NIV.

"Get her for me; she pleaseth me well" - KJV.

"Get her for me, for she pleases me well." – NKJV; RSV.

"Get her for me, for she looks good to me" - NASB.

"Get her for me because she pleases me" - NEB.

"Get this one for me; get her, because I like her" - JB.

Are these most-respected translations really more accurate than the NWT? IS the NWT "distorting" God's Word? Isn't it, rather, "bending over backward" in striving for accuracy?

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