“There are two basic approaches, or philosophies, to translation,” says Dr. Mark Strauss in his course BI181 Introducing Bible Translations. The first is called formal equivalence. It’s also known as a word-for-word or literal translation (although Dr. Strauss emphasizes that there is no translation that is completely literal). “With formal equivalence, the goal is to follow the form of the original text—the Greek or Hebrew text—as closely as possible.”
The second approach is called functional equivalence and was previously known as dynamic equivalence or idiomatic translation. This approach focuses on capturing the essential meaning of the text.
In the following clip Dr. Strauss illustrates these differences by comparing translations of Luke 17:13.
To learn more about how the Bible is translated, how we got the Old and New Testaments, and why these texts are reliable, expand your library with the Text of The Bible Bundle, featuring Mobile Ed courses by Dr. Mark Strauss, Dr. Michael Heiser, and Dr. Craig Evans.