All translation is necessarily interpretation. Translation is never
just a matter of exchanging a word in one language for its equivalent in another language.
While living in Switzerland, I once made a phone call in response to an
advertisement for an apartment. When I asked to speak with the lady who placed the ad, the
response was "Sie ist am Apparat."
Oh, I though to myself, the lady must be exercising on some kind of
apparatus. I therefore asked that she be called to the phone, whereupon the person on the
other end of the line burst forth in gales of laughter. You see, the words "Sie ist
am Apparat," though literally, "shes on the apparatus," is the German
equivalent to the English expression "speaking." What the dear lady meant was
"Im on the phone speaking to you."
When translating, then, it is necessary to be as faithful to the source
text as is humanly possible.
To take a final New Testament example, the first clause of John 3:16
reads "God so loved the world." The NEB translates this as, "God loved the
world so much." But this is impossible. The word translated "so much" (houtos)
is an adverb, not of degree, but of manner. To remove all possibility of ambiguity, the
ISV rendered the clause thus: "For this is how God loved the
Dear friend, as you read your ISV New Testament, the most important
thing you can do is to believe what God says in John 3:16that he loves and cares for
you deeply. He was even willing to sacrifice his Son to save you from sin, and he wants to
give you eternal life and a home with him in heaven. No translation of the Bible is worth
very much unless you take this fundamental message to heart.
In the ISV you will hear God speaking to you in clear, understandable
English. Our prayer is that as you read the Scriptures you will come to knowin a
profoundly personal waythe God who is its great Author and Subject.