Someone wrote a comment in response to the series on Squeamish Translating that I thought deserved more exposure than just the Comments section under the Prologue…
It was signed as “Anonymous,” so I don’t know who wrote it nor can I validate the claims made. Still, it’s a very striking statement. If what he (she?) says is true, it means that my assessment of “Squeamish Translating” is spot on. The troubling truth, however, is that it was evidently more openly intentional than I was prepared to suggest.
Here’s the text of the comment:
I just finished reading your PDF file “Squeamish Translating”. Well done!
I attended a seminary which required proficiency in translating Greek and Hebrew. (We weren’t even allowed to have English translations of the Bible in the classroom!) It may surprise you to learn that the biases of the NIV and other modern translations were openly discussed and are common knowledge, at least to the clergy of my denomination.
What may be even more surprising—and I have no more than my anecdotal recollections to prove this—is that the translators of the NIV in particular were very open in academia with their desire to water down Holy Scripture on these points! They seemed to have a passion for keeping the Bible g-rated, though I don’t remember exactly why, presumably to keep the Bible accessible to the general population.
Nudity isn’t the only topic they watered down. Bodily functions of all types, slang idioms, and acts of violence all fell victim to the translators good intentions. By the way, I found your blog via Fig Leaf Forum. Blessings!
Brother or Sister—whoever you are—thanks for writing. If you ever find any documentation for your statements here, please let me know.
I’d welcome knowing the name of the seminary, the name of the course, and the professor(s) who taught it. I just might do some snooping of my own on the topic.
(I’d prefer the information in a private email, but if you’d rather not send it directly to me, post it in a comment and I will get the information. Then I’ll decline posting the comment to the blog)
— Matthew Neal
Squeamish Translating (PDF of the entire series)