Does the translation process affect the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of the Bible?
When talking about Bible translation, it is important to also consider inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility. Inspiration refers to God inspiring the text. It is based on 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that refers to Scripture as "God-breathed" (see also 2 Peter 1:20-21). Inerrancy refers to the Bible being perfect or without error in its original writing (1 Peter 1:24-25). Infallibility has been used in a variety of ways among theologians, but generally refers to the Bible being a perfect guide of faith and practice.
How does translation impact these three areas? First, a translator or translation team that adheres to the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of the Bible will care greatly about the accuracy of any translation produced. If a person considers the Bible is God's perfect revelation to humanity, he or she will seek to faithfully render each word and phrase in a way that best communicates this revelation to the target audience of the language.
Second, a translator or translation team committed to these beliefs will seek to discover the earliest, original form of the text as the basis of Bible translation. This will involve investigating all relevant manuscripts, intense study of the Bible's original language, as well as related study in fields of Bible interpretation, culture, and history.
Are today's translations of the Bible inspired or inerrant? No. Only the original manuscripts of the Bible are inerrant and they no longer exist. Instead, scholars study the earliest available manuscripts and seek to accurately translate them into modern languages. Some English translations are more literal, such as the King James Version, New King James Version, English Standard Version, or New American Standard Bible. Other English translations focus on simple English and communicating phrase by phrase from the original languages, such as the New Living Translation. Other English translations seek a medium between these two approaches such as the New International Version.
Today, a variety of English Bible translations exist, each with certain strengths to help modern readers better understand and apply its teachings. Those who are able may also seek to study the Bible in its original languages to further understand what it teaches. Ultimately, our goal is to better comprehend and glorify God through the study of His perfect revelation in our lives today.
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