A new translation of the Bible into modern-day Czech hit the bookshelves on Wednesday. The New Testament was actually published a decade ago, though only now have translators managed to complete the Old Testament. Alexandr Flek, the head of the team behind “The Bible – a 21st Century Translation”, explains why the new Czech translation of the Bible has been created.
“We belong to a generation of people who were not raised in the Christian faith, and we are not very familiar with the language of the existing Bible translations that were quite archaic. The only available translations were the beautiful Bible Kralická, or the Bible of Kralice, from 1613, which is very much like the English King James Version – beautiful, very lusty language, very precise translation, but its language was of course very incomprehensible, as it was 400 years old. The only other alternative was the Czech ecumenical translation which came into existence in the 1970s. This translation is more understandable but for today’s people, it’s still difficult to understand, especially now, 20 years later, when for example my children had a very difficult time reading the children’s bible based on this translation. So this is why we started to work on a new translation 17 years ago.”
That’s quite some time. What are the major concerns when translating a text such as the Bible?
“The two concerns with every new Bible translation are accuracy and readability, or communicativeness. So we are of course building on the existing translations; we are especially inspired by the Bible of Kralice which is beautiful in its literary approach. At the same time, of course, there are quite a few changes, especially in the Old Testament where we drew on the latest findings in the field of Biblical studies.”
What kind of reactions have you had from the readers, and especially from the Catholic Church? Do they like the new translation?
“Well, we first published the New Testament in our translation ten years
ago and it became quite popular. The proof of the pudding is in the eating,
and there are about 100,000 copies of the New Testament in circulation, so
the reception in fact exceeded our expectations. When it comes to the
complete Bible, it was just published yesterday but we have already had
some very positive reviews from a whole range of Czech churches and various
universities and seminaries, including Catholic and Protestant. And we also
got some warm responses from the Jewish Community in Prague as well.”
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