The Interpretation of Translation

In the 2nd week of our Hermeneutics course, we learned about “The Interpretation of Translation.”  The Bible in our possession has divisions of testaments, books, chapters and verses.  66 books are included and many religious books were left out.  In addition, the Bible was composed in 3 different languages, and a reading in English means that someone has already began the process of hermeneutics without us really thinking about it.

Here are some notes from week 2.

The Bible is:

  • 1 narrative
  • 2 testaments
  • 66 books
  • 39 Old Testament books
  • 27 New Testament books
  • 1,189 chapters
  • 31,173 verses
  • 773,692 words

The Bible was written by:

  • Kings to shepherds,
  • Scholars to fishermen,
  • Prophets to generals,
  • Tax collectors to doctors,
  • And cupbearers to priests.

The Bible was written:

  • Over a 2,000 year span
  • On 3 different continents
  • In 3 different languages 

Biblical Sections

  • Old Testament
    • Law
    • History
    • Writings
    • Prophets
  • New Testament
    • Gospels
    • Acts
    • Letters
    • Revelation

What Scripture Teaches

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

  • Teaching – what’s right
  • Reproof – what’s not right
  • Correction – how to make it right
  • Training – how to keep it right

The Bible Is:

  • Inspired – breathed out by God
  • Infallible – Scripture is incapable of teaching error
  • Inerrant – the original translations contain no error 


  • The very fact that you are reading the Bible in English means that you have already entered the process of interpretation.
  • Someone translated the words that you are reading and they had difficult decisions of which you are unaware.
  • Look at the different meanings that 1 Cor. 7:36 can have just be using alternate definitions of the Greek word partheno:

3 Types of Translations

  1. Word-for-Word attempts to keep translation as close as possible to exact words and phrasing in the original languages.
  2. Thought-for-Thought attempts to translate words and phrases into dynamic equivalents in the receptor language.
  3. Feeling-for-Feeling attempts to translate the feel of the text from one language to the other with less concern about original wording.

Notice the difference in feel from these three type of translations using the same verse:

If you look at the literal reading of John 12:25, word-for-word translation like the ESV, you notice that the translators even have to do some rearranging to have it make sense in English since the wording in the Greek is unique to English sentence constructions.