Dynamic equivalence

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Dynamic equivalence is an approach to Bible translation that seeks to convey the meaning of a phrase or verse without necessarily adhering to a word-for-word literal translation. The New International Version is an example of a translation where dynamic equivalence was the predominant method used.

The extent to which dynamic equivalence should be used is a long-running debate. Many modern translations of the Bible use dynamic equivalence to some extent, but some versions use it more than others. Part of the controversy is how dynamic equivalence can allow liberal creep into the Bible unless there is a strong guiding principle, such as to adhere to conservatism. The New International Version is also an example, where dynamic equivalence is not consistently applied, for the purpose of supporting a contentious doctrinal position. For example, in Matthew 23:9 the NIV deliberately omits the word "your" hymon where every extant copy of the Greek text says ὑμῶν hymon "your, yours, your own"

καὶ πατέρα μὴ καλέσητε ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς
kai patera mē kalesēte hymon epi tēs gēs
And father no [one] call your on the earth
And call no one your father on the earth.

The NIV completely omits the word ὑμῶν hymon "your, yours, your own" from its reading of Matthew 23:9, reading instead,

"And do not call anyone on earth 'father'."

The omission is not an accidental oversight, but was made for the purpose of providing polemic against Catholic doctrine. Just as the Apostle Paul was father of the Corinthians through his preaching of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 4:15), so Catholics and Orthodox also for the same reason address their priests as "Father", but in fact never address them as "my Father". This verse in the Greek New Testament was altered by the translators of the NIV to be used as a "proof text" against the Catholic Church. No other reason can explain the clear omission of a word that exists in every extant manuscript of Matthew 23:9. Some other versions have also done the same (NIV, NLT Living Bible, ISV, Aramaic English). Compare the multiple versions of Matthew 23:9. The versions that read "your father" are ESV, NASB, KJB/KJV, HCSB, NET, GOD'S WORD, Jubilee 2000, King James 2000, AKJV, ASV, Douay-Rheims, Darby, ERV, WBT, WNT, WEB, YLT.

An example of an effective use of dynamic equivalence, which is too much for most modern translations of the Bible, is the Living Bible's translation of Proverbs 16:27:

“ Idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece. ”

The above translation goes beyond a word-for-word translation in order to convey the full meaning of the entire verse.

See also