With the new liturgical changes, what do scripture scholars think about Dynamic and Direct Equivalence translations?

Although some words to the mass have changed, the stance of scripture scholars to translating the Bible hasn’t. Any serious scholars and translators of the Bible have to make choices in translation. They must either render words or phrases more word-for-word, focusing on literal fidelity sometimes at the expense of the comprehension in English (direct equivalence). For example, the Spanish phrase “Tengo 25 anos” gets directly translated as “I have 25 years.” Or translators may attempt to accurately convey the thoughts of the original text, sometimes at the expense of literalness (dynamic equivalence). The dynamic equivalence of the above is “I am 25 years old.” Of course neither approach is right or wrong, and ultimately all translations are on a continuum between the two. The Bible translation used in American Catholic churches, the New American Bible, was translated by some 50 Catholic biblical scholars who set their intention to “reflect the nuance and form of biblical Hebrew and Greek, while recasting the language to make it compatible with the rules and styles of modern English.” In comparison to other major translations of the Bible, the NAB falls solidly in the middle of the continuum between dynamic and direct equivalence alongside other well-reputed translations such as the New Jerusalem Bible and the New Revised Standard Version.

Ann Naffziger

Ann Naffziger

Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.


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