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   In Defense of Traditional Bible Texts

"The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever."
. . . Psalm 12:6-7 . . .

A Response To A Critique of "Word-For-Word Translating"

H. D. Williams, M.D., Ph.D., June, 2009

This author was disheartened to see the evaluation of "Word-For-Word Translating" by John R. Himes, which my wife fortuitously stumbled upon on the internet. First, Mr. Himes did not contact the author before making these public crass pronouncements. He has the author's email addresses and/or contact numbers. This omission is contrary to clear scriptural principles.  Furthermore, the tone of his comments is not humble at all, but very prideful, derogatory, and libelous. If he is such a superior "linguist," why hasn't he written a book on translating in the English language?  Perhaps he plans to do so, and that is the reason for his attack on this book and one of its authors (see below). Here are a few of his egregious mistakes:

1.        Mr. Himes may not know that many well-trained individuals with credentials that far exceed his education reviewed and participated in producing "Word-For-Word Translating" and have high praises for "Word-For-Word Translating." Furthermore, several of them made contributions. Dr. D. A. Waite, Th.D., Ph.D., an extensively trained linguist at Dallas Theological Seminary, Purdue, University of Michigan, and Southern Methodist University was the editor. Dr. D. S. Jung, a contributor to Word-For-Word Translating, has been a translator in Korea for far more years than Mr. Himes in Japan. Dr. Phil Stringer, a contributor to the book, is a well known teacher around the world and in contact with numerous missionaries and translators in every part of the world. In addition, "Word-For-Word Translating" is a Ph. D. dissertation submitted to the faculty of Louisiana Baptist University. The Dean of the school, Dr. Bill Sheffield, Th.D., Ph.D., who was a missionary to South America for twenty years and is an author, describes the work as excellent. Another Dean of the University, Dr. Roy Wallace, who has written many books, including works on Hebrew, Greek, and systematic theology, had no corrections. Many of the author's classmates at LBU informed him that their dissertation had "MANY red marks;" some had to redo their dissertations. The author of "Word-For-Word Translating" did not have one red mark or one correction on his work. Many translators and others have reported that the work was "very helpful and needful."

2.        For Mr. Himes education, please see: There is no evidence that Mr. Himes has ever written a book in English, but he has time to participate in blogs on the internet.  Dr. Williams is the author of ten books, editor of many others as a publisher, and author of numerous articles that have appeared in journals and newsletters. In the end, however, Mr. Himes fails to appreciate that the requirement for translating God's Words is not established by secular, religious, or academic qualifications, but by God Himself. This greatest failure of modern translators and translating is emphasized in "Word-For-Word Translating." For reasons of pride, modern man turns to theories of translating rather than to the Words of God.

3.        Mr. Himes is involved in uninformed scurrilous argumentum ad hominem attacks in his review of "Word-For-Word Translating." He has never met or talked with the authors. Mr. Himes does not know how much the author does or does not remember from his training in linguistics.  He has no idea how much time was spent with professional translators in the US or on mission trips overseas before producing the work. Mr. Himes could not find one thing good in "Word-For-Word Translating." There is obvious serious underlying bitterness reflected in his review of "Word-For-Word Translating" that has nothing to do with the work.

4.        One of the most serious flagrant comments by Mr. Himes, who claims to be a linguist, is his lack of understanding of the word semantics as occasionally used in "Word-For-Word Translating." Semantics is NOT only the study of meaning, but also is related to the misuse of words in translating as opposed to synonymous translating. Many dictionaries that are readily available also give this definition of semantics: "connotative meaning b: the language used (as in advertising or political propaganda) to achieve a desired effect on an audience especially through the use of words with novel or dual meanings." In common parlance, this is called "spin."  Also, he does not understand figure of speech, epithet, metaphor, similes, allegory, etc. He does not understand the translation of "logos" and its cognates in many places in the King James Bible, which emphasizes "the Word(s)."

5.        The examples he gives from "Word-For-Word Translating" shows considerable and enormous lack of insight on his part.

6.        Mr. Himes makes a slanderous charge when he claims the author is giving "the opinion of others;" he implies proper credit was not given. These allegations are serious, libelous, and false.

7.        Mr. Himes is the one who must not understand the "perfect" tense in Hebrew or Greek or understand the intent of our Lord in His use of the "perfect" tense. (e.g. see Mat. 4:4; see Dana and Mantey, pp. 200-205; see Defending the King James Bible by Dr. Waite, p. 10).

8.        He totally misses the points in "Word-For-Word Translating" concerning Nida's major translation theory, which places primary, practical, and theoretical emphasis on the "receptor" per Nida (or "reader" per Mr. Himes) as Nida's major translation principle. God's primary purpose for translating is to make HIS WORDS known to the nations, which is fully explained in "Word-For-Word Translating." (e.g. see p. 4, 13-14, and many other places in "Word-For-Word Translating"). Obviously, Mr. Himes must use another method of translating than the method exalted in "Word-For-Word Translating."

9.        The authors of "Word-For-Word Translating" do know about optimal equivalence translating,' which is not worth mentioning. It is another method out of the well of darkness.

10.     The authors of "Word-For-Word Translating" disagree with Mr. Himes concerning Nida's 1947 book. Careful reading of Nida's book reveals the nidus of Nida's DE (FunE) translating theory, which was fully expounded in later writings.

11.     The book, "Word-For-Word Translating" and the examples within are meant to ENCOURAGE proper translating by proper method, proper texts, proper attitude, proper prayer, proper team, and proper counsel. Mr. Himes does not understand the "art of translating" emphasized in "Word-For-Word Translating," which can never be TAUGHT. "Word-For-Word Translating" was not written in order to tell someone HOW to translate, but rather outlining how to avoid the translation theories of man as a polemic. The "art of translating" in one language-group cannot be carried over into another language-group. The "art of translating" is language specific. A translation into Japanese could not be done properly without Japanese nationals. It does not matter how well a missionary translator is trained in linguistics. Obviously, Mr. Himes must use a method of translating that obfuscates God's method.

12.     In light of Mr. Himes personal opinion of himself, his abilities, and his failure to recommend or follow Scriptural guidelines, the author could not and would not use Mr. Himes' translation work or advocate him as a member of a translation team. He would be better off sticking to the martial arts.



1.0 out of 5 starsA Deeply Flawed Book, March 10, 2009

As a missionary linguist and Bible translator (TR into Japanese), I ordered this book with anticipation. However, I was to be sadly disappointed. It is deeply flawed in the areas of linguistics, translation theory, translation methodology, etc. A good book is needed on word-for-word translating for fundamentalist translators. This is not that book.

First of all, I found many linguistic errors. This is understandable, though, since the author, Dr. H. D. Williams (a retired physician), admits he has not had formal training in Hebrew or Greek and is fluent in no foreign languages. He says that he "would never attempt to translate the Scriptures into another language without the proper experience and training in a specific culture and language-group for many years (viz. 15-20 years)" (p. 8), which experience he lacks.

Among his more egregious linguistic errors are: he misunderstands the perfect tense in both Hebrew and Greek (p. 69), mixes up such basic terms as figure of speech, metaphor, etc. (pp. 114, 123, 128); he is considerably negative against semantics (pp. 14, 18, 24, 80, etc.), yet semantics is simply the study of meaning, and is a very necessary field of study for linguists and translators. Many more examples could be given.

Secondly, I found grave misunderstandings of translation theory. For example: in his glossary the author doesn't mention reader response in his definition of Eugene Nida's theory (p. xvii); he doesn't appear to know of the existence of the optimal equivalence method of the NKJV and HCSV (not listed on p. 13 when he discusses theories); he thinks Nida's 1947 book Bible Translating is an attempt to "justify the method" of dynamic equivalence even though it was written long before Nida developed his theory (p. 5; for the record, I believe Nida's method is gravely in error). Many more examples could be given.

Thirdly, I found many examples of the author's failure to understand the process of translation itself. He claims formal training in Latin, Spanish and French, but never uses these languages for examples in the book. One must conclude from his errors that he has forgotten even that formal training. For example, in Chapter 10 he gives seven examples purporting to show how to translate by his method (Verbal Plenary Translation, or VPT). However, four of the seven examples are strictly about problems of textual criticism, not translation, and another of the examples is partly about textual criticism. When he does give an example that actually deals with the Greek (Example 1), he gets the grammar wrong. When he gets an example right in commenting on the Hebrew of Micah 5:2, he is giving the conclusions of another--once again showing his own lack of expertise. In Example 6 he shows no understanding of how the Greek word logos was translated throughout the beloved King James Bible (his and my version of choice).

I do not recommend this book to any aspiring translator or any layman who wants to understand translation. Instead, I recommend that the author follow his own advice. He writes, "The work of translating God's words should not be attempted by inexperienced individuals" (p. 7). If this be so (and it is), then surely it should also apply to those who write books on translation, thus setting themselves up as teachers of translators. I recommend that Dr. Williams take his book off the market, spend a few years more in concentrated study, then rewrite the book with a real live linguist and translator at his side. (I am not volunteering for that task.)

John R. Himes http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/x-locale/common/carrot._V47081519_.gif - See all my reviews


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