The Challenge of Translating

Translation is not an easy task. Take a moment to consider the difficulty of translating a text which is central to the faith of millions. Striking a balance between literalness (however you define this) and readability must be hard. Further, every reader familiar with prior works is critical because their favourite rendering has been ruined.
Jerome produced the basis of the Latin Vulgate, an immense work given the proliferation of versions and Latin copies which existed when he commenced. When urged by the then current Pope to do the task he responded:

“You urge me to revise the Old Latin version, and, as it were, to sit in judgment on the copies of the Scriptures that are now scattered throughout the world; and, inasmuch as they differ from one another, you would have me decide which of them agree with the original. The labor is one of love, but at the same time it is both perilous and presumptuous—for in judging others I must be content to be judged by all …. Is there anyone learned or unlearned, who, when he takes the volume in his hands and perceives that what he reads does not suit his settled tastes, will not break out immediately into violent language and call me a forger and profane person for having the audacity to add anything to the ancient books, or to make any changes or corrections in them?”

Apparently his concerns were well founded. After his work began to be published he met serious opposition but apparently he referred “to his detractors as “two-legged asses” or “yelping dogs”—persons who “think that ignorance is identical with holiness.”
The KJV translators noted they expected to be helped by King James against “calumniations and hard interpretations of other men” and furthermore remarked that “if, on the one side, we shall be traduced by Popish persons at home or abroad, who therefore will malign us…or if, on the other side, we shall be maligned by self-conceited Brethren, who run their own ways, and give liking unto nothing, but what is framed by themselves, and hammered on their anvil…”
The reality is that few of us have the knowledge and skills to assess textual variations and translate from the original languages. Pause a second to contemplate the relatively thankless task performed by others.

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