Translation or interpretation: Intense controversy about the new german translation of the bible

Wolfgang Stegemann
During the past year a new Bible translation, the Bibel in gerechter Sprache, has led to enormous disputes in Germany. Published in October 2006, this translation has become a bestseller and is currently in its third edition.[1] Despite the positive response by the larger public, theologians and other experts have been highly critical of this translation. Almost all reviews in scholarly journals, major newspapers, and weekly magazines have been negative and have mostly rejected the translation. Even the charge of heresy has been made, and church hierarchies quickly prohibited the liturgical use of this Bible in the worship setting. It was justified with the general hermeneutical argument that this is not a translation but an interpretation of the Bible.
But really, what is so challenging about the Bibel in gerechter Sprache? The actual intention of this Bible translation is quite traditional. It aims to translate the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament on the basis of contemporary scholarly-exegetical standards. The traditional, text-oriented, and philological translation ideals that value closeness to the original text lie at the center of this translation, and the translators want to do “justice” to this principle. At the same time, the total of fifty-two translators have been guided by three additional criteria that are beyond traditional translation categories. These are: first, a gender-just language; second, a just recognition and consideration of the social context and background of the biblical texts; and third, developing a Bible “that is accountable to the Jewish religion” (K. Wengst) …
aus: SBL Forum 1st April 2008, Die Bibel in gerechter Sprache (The Bible in Inclusive Language).
(The SBL Forum is an online journal of the Society of Biblical Literature. It features essays of general and professional interest to SBL members. Its mission is to provide short, useful articles to inform, educate, and address the professional needs of biblical scholars, as well as those interested in biblical studies.)