Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

A Study of Principles of Bible Translation from the Perspective of Martin Luther's Bible Translation/PRINCIPE DE TRADUCTION DE LA BIBLE SELON LA BIBLE TRADUIT PAR MARTIN LUTHER

Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

A Study of Principles of Bible Translation from the Perspective of Martin Luther's Bible Translation/PRINCIPE DE TRADUCTION DE LA BIBLE SELON LA BIBLE TRADUIT PAR MARTIN LUTHER

Article excerpt


This article deals with principles of Bible translation and highlights Martin Luther's Bible translation. Before Martin Luther's German Bible, Bible translations were characterized by theological translation. The translators treated the text with reverence and great caution for fear of distorting the meaning of the Bible. Their translations aimed at formal equivalence where the faithfulness to the text was the first priority. Beginning with Martin Luther's translation, the translators emphasized the readers' response and stressed the importance of translating into intelligible language. The translators also tended to adopt sense-for-sense translation so that the readers could fully understand the translation and get hold of the essence of the Bible.

Key words: Bible translation, Martin Luther, principles

Résumé: Cet article étudie la traduction de la Bible par Martin Luther comme le cas pariculier, ananlyse le principe de traduction de la Bible. Les précédentes traductions de la Bible avant Martin Luther sont faits à visage théologique. Les traducteurs en face des mots sacré, avec l'attitude prudente, pieuse et de respect, s'efforçaient d'être fidèle au texte de la Bible et cherchait «l'égalité de la forme» de par crainte de s'écarter de ses intentions originales. A partir de Martin Luther, la traduction se concentre sur la réaction du lecteur. L'accent étant mis en lecture, la langue de la traduction est plus facile à comprendre par les lecteur. La paraphrase est adoptée comme la technique de traduction, afin que les lecteurs comprennent complètement le texte traduit à saisir l'essence spirituelle de la Bible.

Mots-Clés: traduction de la Bible, Martin Luther, Principe

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The Bible has become the book that has the largest number of translated versions and readers.

Bible translating includes a wider range of literary types (from lyric poetry to theological discourse) than any comparable kind of translating. Undoubtedly, one article cannot cover all the aspects. And this article focuses on the principles and characteristics of Bible translation.


In China, people have discussed extensively their traditional three principles of an ideal translation, namely, faithfulness, smoothness, and elegance.(Nida, 2001:114) But the formulation of translation theories , however , involves primarily the Western world. Since the Bible has been translated for a longer period of time and into more languages(2,233 as of the beginning of the year2000) than any other book, it is not strange that some of the conflicts about principles of translation have focused on how one can legitimately translate a book which is regarded as divinely inspired. Peter Newmark(2001:45) also states that "The central problem of translating has always been whether to translate literally or freely. The argument has been going on since at least the first century BC."

As the translator of the first German Bible, Martin Luther put forward the seven systematic detailed principles that should be followed by Bible translators :

Firstly, translator may change the word order of the original. Secondly, translator may use the auxiliary word of mood reasonably. Thirdly, translator may add some necessary conjunctions. Fourthly, translator may omit word in the original that was not equivalent word in the target language. Fifthly, translator may use phrase to translate a single word. Sixthly, translator may translate metaphorical usage into non-metaphorical usage and vice versa. Finally, translator should pay attention to variation from usage and accurate explanation of a word (Wen Jun, 2004:39).

According to Nida(2004:19), Alexander Fraser Tytler, who published a volume on "The principles of Translation" , set up the famous three principles as follows:

1st. The translation should give a complete transcript of the idea of the original work. …

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