What is an “Accurate” translation?

A disciple's study

~ Bill Mounce

William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics. He is the author of numerous works including the recent Basics of Biblical Greek Video Lectures and the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar. Learn more about Bill’s Greek resources at BillMounce.com.

A friend asked me this question the other day, and I thought I would take this opportunity to flesh out what I think the answer is.

The standard answer is that a “literal” Bible is the most accurate, and by “literal” they generally mean word-for-word. If the Greek has a verb, the English should have a verb. If the text uses the same Greek three times, the same English word should be used three times.

This understanding is seriously flawed at two levels.

First, the English word “literal” has to do with meaning, not form. Webster gives these three definitions…

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