This article is from the World English Bible Translation FAQ, by Michael Paul Johnson email@example.com with numerous contributions by others.
The WEB must:
* be done with prayer -- specifically prayer for inspiration by the
* be accurate and reliable (Revelation 22:18-19).
* be understandable to the majority of the world's English-speaking
population (and therefore should avoid locale-specific usage).
* be kept in the Public Domain (and therefore be done by volunteers
and/or funded by donations).
* be made available in a short time, because we don't know the exact
time of our Lord's return.
* preserve the essential character of the original 1901 publication.
* use language that is not faddish, but likely to retain its meaning
for some time.
* render God's proper Name in the Old Testament as "Yahweh."
* resolve unclear passages by referring to the original Hebrew and
* be done with utmost respect for God and His Word.
* be done by Christians from a variety of denominations and
* retain (at least for now) the ASV 1901's pronoun capitalization
rules (lower case "he" referring to God).
* retain (at least for now) the ASV 1901's use of "he" when that word
might mean ("he and/or she").
Bible translation (as with any natural language translation) is a
balancing act, where the translators seek to preserve the following:
* The meaning of each thought or sentence.
* The meanings of individual words in their context.
* The shades of meaning implied by word forms, tense, etc.
* The impact and tone of each passage.
* The style of the original authors who were inspired by the Holy
* Faithfulness to the target language (English, in this case).
Note that some of the above goals are at odds with one another, like
preservation of the original style vs. faithfulness to the target
language, and expressing the last bit of the shades of meaning vs.
preserving the impact. Still, it is possible to retain a good balance.
Different balance points are chosen by different translation committees.
Indeed, many translations can be characterized by the weight the
translators gave to each of the above items. For example, The Amplified
Bible excels at getting the meaning across, but falls down hard on
impact, style preservation, and faithfulness to the target language. The
New Living Translation excels at preserving the meanings of entire
thoughts, impact, and faithfulness to the target language, but loses
some of the style and shades of meaning. The New International Version
excels at most of the above, but loses some elements of style and some
of the subtleties of wording. The World English Bible attempts to
balance all of the above with a fairly literal translation.
Some people like to use the terms "formal equivalent" and "dynamic
equivalent." Neither of these exactly describe what we are doing, since
we have borrowed ideas from both, but I suppose that we are closer to
formal equivalence than dynamic equivalence.