Translating the English Bible: From Relevance to Deconstruction

By Philip Goodwin

A challenge to traditional methods and assumptions of biblical translation, showing how Relevance Theory can provide an alternative hermeneutical approach.

ISBN: 9780227173916


In his detailed and thought-provoking work, Philip Goodwin conducts a thorough analysis of the challenges facing the Biblical translator, with particular focus on the problematic dominance of the King James Version of the Bible in our imaginations – a dominance which has had a deleterious effect upon the accuracy and originality of the translator’s work.

Goodwin considers the first two chapters of the Lukan narratives in depth, comparing and contrasting a breadth of widely disparate translations and drawing on a rich body of Biblical scholarship to support his thesis. A wide-ranging discussion of other linguistic issues is also conducted, touching on such vital matters as incorporating the contextual implications of the original text, and the attempt to challenge the reader’s pre-existing knowledge.

Goodwin develops a fresh and comprehensive answer to the difficulties of the translator’s task, and concludes by providing his own original and charming translation of the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel. Translating the English Bible provides a fascinating insight into the processes of translation and will interest anyone seeking accuracy and fidelity to the Scriptural message. It will also enlighten readers seeking a challenging translation of Luke that casts off the shackles of the ‘Holy Marriage’ tradition of Biblical translation.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 256

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Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Philip Goodwin is a businessman whose career spans three decades in finance. During 2006 to 2010 he took an extended leave to study the issues addressed in this book, working at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. He has now resumed his financial career, leading a fund management business based in London and Nairobi, Kenya. He is married, with three grown up children, and splits his time between London, the North of England and East Africa.


Note to the Reader

1. The Holy Marriage
     David Daniell and the lost art of translation
     The rules of the art
     The problem of fidelity
     The curse of the Holy Marriage
     The need for theory
     What kind of theory?

2. Challenging the Holy Marriage: Relevance Theory and Translation
     What is relevance theory?
     Interpretive resemblance
     Relevance Theory of Translation (RTT)
     Why Relevance Theory?
     How RTT is used in the present work

3. Start as you mean to go on? Syntax in Luke 1.1-4
     The Source text: relevance in context?
     Contextual implications from Luke’s preface
     Translating Luke’s preface

4. When is a priest not a priest? The Semantics of ἱερεύς in Luke 1
     The case of a certain priest: ἱερεύς τις
     Achieving relevance in context
     ἱερεύς in translation
     Challenging the consensus
     The persistence of the
ἱερὸς γάμος tradition
     Alternative translations for

5. Still looking for clues
     Clues arising from semantic representations
     Clues arising from syntactic properties
     Clues arising from phonetic properties
     Clues arising from semantic constraints on relevance
     Clues arising from formulaic expressions
     Clues arising from onomatopoeia
     Clues arising from stylistic value of words
     Clues arising from sound-based poetic qualities
     Are there other clues?
     Uses and abuses of communicative clues

6. Repetitive Texture and Four Kinds of Literalism
     Repetitive texture
     Repetitive texture in translation
     Concordance: A non-topic?
     Concordance and literalism
     Four motivations for literalism
     The Perfect translation

Final remarks: The Experimental translation

Appendix: Experimental translation of Luke 1-2


Endorsements and Reviews

Suitable for undergraduate and graduate students interested in the fields of translation, linguistics, and biblical studies … His exploration of Relevance Theory provides valuable insights for interpreters and translators of the biblical text.
Joshua P. Steele, Beeson Divinity School, in Theological Book Review , Vol 25, No 2

… some insights and interesting discursive studies.
James A.E. Mulroney, in The Expository Times, Vol 127, No 1