Italics and The Voice

Italics and The Voice

I’ve always regarded the use of italics to indicate words that “aren’t in the Greek” one of the sillier notions in translating. Considering there are no English words in the Greek text, one could put everything in italics. On the other hand, if an English word isn’t in some way justified by the Greek (or Hebrew) text, what is it doing in the translation at all?

Reading an English text that uses italics, such as the KJV, NKJV, or NASB, can be a bit disconcerting when you know the same text in the original languages or are comparing the English to the source language. The translators just can’t help being inconsistent. Why is one auxiliary verb in English considered original, while another is not, for example?

Enter The Voice. It’s a modern language Bible version, paraphrased in many ways with supporting and explanatory information included. Some items that are merely implied by the text are filled in. The text is formatted for easier reading and comprehension. But when one makes an ancient text clearer, one also tends to make more assumptions and to guide the reader to conclusions favored by the translator.

To avoid some of the problems of such extensive paraphrasing (or going beyond material directly tied to a dynamic translation of the text, as the preface says), The Voice uses italics. I haven’t studied their use extensively, but overall it feels more consistent than the use of italics in various formal equivalence translations.

And I still don’t like it. It just distracts. The justification is good, but I just don’t see it helping that much in practical terms. Perhaps after I’ve studied it further, I’ll feel different.


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