Macquarie University
14 files

Translating the Bible: a critical analysis of E.A. Nida's theory of Dynamic Equivalence and its impact upon recent Bible translations

posted on 2022-03-28, 01:55 authored by Anthony H. Nichols
Developments in translation theory have externalized processes used intuitively by translators for centuries. The literature on Bible translation in particular is dominated by Eugene A. Nida and his proteges whose work is informed by a wealth of intercultural experience. -- This thesis is a critique of the Dynamic Equivalence (DE) theory of translation propounded by Nida, exemplified in the Good News Bible, and promoted in non-Western languages by the United Bible Societies. Section I of the thesis surveys the history of translation, its theory and problems, and describes relevant developments in linguistics. Section II examines Nida's sociolinguistic model and his methods of grammatical and semantic analysis, transfer and restructuring. Section III focuses on the translation of seven texts representing different Bible genres into Septuagint Greek, English and Indonesian versions, noting the distinctive features of DE translations. Section IV takes up and examines key issues that have arisen: the nature of Biblical language, the handling of important Biblical motifs and technical terminology, and the implications of naturalness and explicitness in translation. -- Nida has provided excellent discussion on most translation problems, as well as useful tools for semantic analysis. However, the DE model is found to be defective for Bible translation. Firstly, it underestimates the intricate relationship of form and meaning in language. Secondly, while evaluation of translation must take account of its purpose and intended audience, 'equivalence' defined in terms of the receptor's reactions is impossible to measure, and blurs the distinction between 'translation' and 'communication'. Thirdly, the determinative role given to receptor response constantly jeopardizes the historical and cultural 'otherness' of the Biblical text. Finally the drive for explicitness guarantees that indigenous receptors must approach Scripture through a Western grid and denies them direct access to the Biblical universe of discource.


Table of Contents

Introduction: the background, purpose and scope of the thesis -- I. BIBLE TRANSLATION AND LINGUISTICS -- An historical overview of translation and translation theory -- Problems in translation -- Sacred texts and translation theory -- II. THE DYNAMIC EQUIVALENCE THEORY OF EUGENE A. NIDA -- An orientation to Nida's socio-linguistic theory of translation -- Nida's grammatical analysis -- Semantic analysis -- Transfer and restructuring -- III. DE THEORY INCARNATE: THE GOOD NEWS BIBLE -- Backgound: the Bible in English -- The Good News Bible: its backgound, purpose and nature -- Dynamic Equivalence translations examined -- IV. SOME ISSUES ARISING FROM THE IMPLEMENTATION OF DE THEORY -- The language of the Bible and natural common language -- Concordance and technical terminology in DE translations -- Preserving cultural and historical distance: inclusive language and 'Israel' in recent versions -- Explicitness and the westernization of scripture -- Conclusion.


Bibliography: p. 304-336

Degree Type

Thesis non-Macquarie


Thesis (PhD), University of Sheffield, Dept. of Biblical Studies

Year of Award



Copyright Anthony Howard Nichols.




x, 336 p

Former Identifiers

mq:8089 1371974

Usage metrics

    Macquarie University Theses


    Ref. manager