September 29th, 2016
24. How is the EHV reviewed in order to receive suggestions for improvement?
With the appearance of the complete print edition of the EHV, some people have suggested that there be an ongoing review and revision process. For that reason, it seems timely to review the extensive review process that has already taken place before the first printing, and outline how this will continue in the future.
The EHV has already undergone very extensive review. There were many steps of review, involving a large number of people. These were the standard procedures in the process of developing each book of the EHV.
A translator prepared a draft of the book based on the Hebrew or Greek text. There is already a lot of review built in to this first step. The translators consulted many resources from across the span of the Christian church, using the collective knowledge of the church that has been accumulated in translations, commentaries, and other resources. The translators sometimes invited further evaluation by leaving several options in the translation for editors and reviewers to consider. Translators marked these and other passages in which they were inviting critique with red print.
The editor reviewed the draft, checking it against the EHV rubrics. He corrected any typos, etc., which he noticed, and marked additional passages in red in order to draw reviewers’ attention to them, and in some cases he offered more options for certain translations.
Four technical reviewers evaluated the translation by comparing it with the Hebrew or Greek text. The reviewers worked independently, so we received four separate evaluations of the translation for each book. Reviewers were told: Red text means “consider all the options to see if this is the best we can do.”
If you think that what is in the red is fine, you can change it to black.
If you think the red should be improved, but you don’t have anything better, leave it red.
If you have a better translation to offer (either for something that was red or something that was not), substitute it into the text in blue. Briefly explain why your translation is better than what was there. What was weak about the old translation? What is better about yours?
If you correct typos or punctuation, etc., mark the changes in blue, so that they all get transferred to the master.
Please consider more carefully passages that are more well-known or more quoted than others.
Though the main duty of tech reviews is to check the accuracy of the translation against the original text, they also considered:
Would this be appropriate and clear for use in our regular worship services?
Would this be appropriate for use in Bible classes?
Would this be appropriate for quoting in the catechism?
Would this be appropriate for private devotions of lay people?
Last but certainly not least, are there any doctrinal considerations or concerns to be aware of?
The editor entered data from all the tech reviews into the master. Some suggested improvements were accepted immediately without further discussion. Where there were different options suggested or even contrasting opinions, options were left for further discussion with the reviewers.
When there was a marked difference of opinion (whether it involved substance or style), the specific issue in some cases was submitted to a panel of reactors in order to gather a wider cross-section of opinions.
We are always checking for the desired level of consistency of translation across books, but in the case of parallel books like Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, there was special attention to a process of harmonization of translations across books.
When this process was completed, the translation was sent to a larger number of popular reviewers. They read the translation largely for clarity and readability, but they were free to raise questions about issues of substance.
Again, all the information was collated in the master and decisions were made.
An English professor critiqued the translation for correctness and clarity, including the clarity and helpfulness of the footnotes, and further changes were made to the text.
Proof-readers/popular reviewers (often ten or more per book) read the text for errors but also made comments on clarity. Some focused on professional-quality proofreading of the mechanics of the text. Others read the text as part of their devotions and focused on the clarity of the text.
The translation was submitted to the publisher for set up. It received additional proofreading, both by the staff of the publisher and by additional volunteer proofreaders from the EHV.
Our review process includes pastors, teachers, and laypeople, the future users of EHV.
More input was received from the pastors and congregations who were using the lectionary readings over a three-year period.
Two years of input has been received from users of the New Testament and Psalms.
The entire process has been repeated in preparation for the study Bible.
Many published reviews of Bible translations seem to be based on having one person or a few persons read and report on a portion of the text. Their suggestions are sifted by a small committee and evaluations and recommendations are issued. In our internal review of EHV, a minimum of ten people reviewed every section of every book. We have seen many review processes in which reviewers, and even translators, do not have a guide book that expresses a unified philosophy of translation or a set of guidelines to assist all reviewers. At every stage of the process EHV reviewers had available a 40+ pages set of rubrics to aid them in their review. The latest edition of the rubrics was always posted on our web site. (Our reviewers of course are welcome to challenge any guidelines or rubrics they disagree with.)
Our Wartburg Project website has many FAQs and articles that explain specific translation choices that have been made.
What about external review? We already have received helps and evaluations from outside our immediate circle. Now that the translation is complete, we will welcome suggestions from external reviewers. In fact, many review copies have already been sent out to scholars and periodicals.
We want to have a stable text, especially for educational purposes. We, of course, will fix any typos or errors as soon as we find them, but we will do a systematic revision only after three to five years of congregational use, so that a wide cross-section of input can be sifted and compared. We expect this revision to be modest in scope, keeping the text as stable as possible.