Translation with of holy scriptures or religious texts is work rather complicated to do. Being the influence for the self-consciousness of individuals, their beliefs, values, and cultural identity, this kind of text places very high responsibility upon the translator to keep them and treat it with the utmost care and respect.

Challenges in Translating Religious Texts

Religious texts are normally in ancient languages like Biblical Hebrew, Classical Arabic, or Sanskrit. These languages involve special structures, idioms, and subtleties, which may make it very difficult to translate them into current languages in such a manner that the same connotation is reflected.

Cultural and Religious Sensitivity: The translator should handle religious texts very sensitively, for their meanings are full of meaning and are holy to the believer. A wrong interpretation or a lack of cultural sensitivity would be misleading and offensive to the other party.

Ambiguity with Many Interpretations: Many religious texts fall prey to ambiguity and offer more than one interpretation, so much so that it ends up confusing the believer. Many a time, therefore, in such interpretations, the translator has to be sure that the meanings underlying such interpretations are conveyed, refraining in an impartial manner from imposing his own set of beliefs.

Preservation of the sacredness: most of the religious texts have a language that is rhythmical, melodic, or poetic in a way, if not all the above, contributing to its sacredness. This is hardly something that may be translated into another language.

Approaches to Translating Religious Texts

Literal translation with This technique seeks to translate “word for word,” right to the level where the sentence structure and principal words from the source language are retained. This, at times, ensures high levels of preciseness; however, it makes the translated text sound uncanny and difficult to understand in the target language.

Dynamic or Functional Equivalence: The method aims at bringing out the meaning and intent of the original as clearly and naturally as possible, without doing violence to the wording necessary for intelligibility, and it aims at making the target audience understand the meaning of the text. 

Paraphrase or Free Translation: In this approach, the translator paraphrases the words in an effort to express the message of the original text in her own words. She tries to say the overall message and the essence of the words in the original rather than sticking to what was literally in the original text. 

The translation of religious texts and scripture really requires big work, not only for the knowledge of language but also for the realization of culture and religion. The choice of adopting the most literal approach in translation or one guided by dynamic equivalence will lie in the purpose of the translation, the audience of the translation, and the nature of the source text itself. In this sense, the translation of religious texts can be further construed to meaningfully contribute to inter-religious dialogue, understanding, and respect between religious communities.