Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Brackets and the Amplified Bible

Nick Norelli has a comment on his blog about adding theological bias to a translation by including words in brackets. I would say that it is even worse with the Amplified Bible. The Amplified Bible can give good insight into the original language text, but it also causes problems by presenting something out of context, especially by including words/phrases in brackets. By giving several alternatives for a Greek/Hebrew word in a specific instance, it almost appears that the specific Greek/Hebrew could mean any of those things. However, the meaning of the word is determined by, and derived from, context, that is, the surrounding words/sentences. Thus, to imply that a specific Greek/Hebrew word could mean one of several different different things, because there are lexical (dictionary) definitions (or better, glosses) available is not helping us understand the meaning of that word in this specific context.

This also leads to interpreting and commenting rather than translating in the Amplified Bible.

Issues of translating vs. interpreting the text — two examples from the Amplified Bible

1 Thessalonians 1:10

AMP: And [how you] look forward to and await the coming of His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead -- Jesus, Who personally rescues and delivers us out of and from the wrath [bringing punishment] which is coming [upon the impenitent] and draws us to Himself [investing us with all the privileges and rewards of the new life in Christ, the Messiah].

Words inside [ ] indicates "Amplified" phrasing, words which are added to the text. First, note that the "coming wrath" is restricted by the added words ["upon the impenitent"]. The Greek text has 

EK THS ORGHS THS ERXOMENHS (from the wrath, the coming).

There is nothing about the restriction of the wrath.

Even more questionable is the last added phrase ["investing us with all the privileges and rewards of the new life in Christ, the Messiah"]. There is nothing in the Greek text that corresponds to this phrase. This is purely commentary, not translation, made to appear as if it is specifically intended by the Greek text. It is misleading to say the least.

1 Thessalonians 2:3

AMP: For our appeal [in preaching] does not [originate] from delusion or error or impure purpose or motive, nor in fraud or deceit.

There are main concerns here: the first is with the inserted text ["in preaching"]. The Greek word is παράκλησις (PARAKLHSHS), often translated as exhorted or comforted. But nowhere is the connection made with this word and preaching, unless the word κηρύσσω (KHROUSW) is present in the context. In other words, the AMP Bible has limited this appeal to a preaching context when the text does not allow such a restriction/limitation.

Also in this text, how many items in last portion of the text are actually mentioned in the Greek text? From the AMP it would appear at first glance as if there are six items that Paul enumerates. Yet the Greek text has only three. Now the question arises, why the expansion? And then, why those particular words for expansion because the six listed do not exhaust the semantic domains of the three Greek words? The reader is left with a false impression, twice in this verse alone, because the AMP Bible is not translating but interpreting and providing commentary by adding words in brackets.