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Recommendation about English Bible translation


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#21 Ken Simpson

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 10:14 PM

I remember once hearing about the idiom issue from Don Carson (Research Professor of NT at Trinity International University, Deerfield).

 

He grew up in French Canada and he spoke of the complexities of simple word for word translation with the example of "frog in your throat". To an english speaker that means you have a dry sore throat with a somewhat husky voice. (My guess is that your sort of sound a bit amphibian). However, in French (or at least in French Canada) the exact co-ordinate phrase was "chat dans la gorge" - "a cat in your throat" - (try frog in your throat in google translate). At one level, this is fairly trivial, but what if the idiom had some significant connotation that you wanted to import with it, or alternatively, that it picked up when it came into English from French. Then how do you best translate it? "Cat in your throat" because it's "accurate" or "frog in your throat" because that's actually what you mean?

 

Yes of course, we can and should educate on this. But let me make a "true confession". I grew up in the Western Suburbs (read hicksville - we call them bogans) in Sydney in the 60s and 70s. Still an awfully bigoted and homophobic time, full of many hate words. For me growing up a "cat" wasn't just a feline of the moggy or otherwise variety, it was a dysphemism for a homosexual. So for me, a teenage (now repentantly I hope) bigot, to have a "cat in your throat" conjured up images that I could not have coped with and still find plague my thoughts over thirty years later. This would have completely obscured the meaning for me.

 

Translation is a much fraught exercise, and I am so thankful I am not tasked with that particular service of God's people (yet), and even more so that we have such fine translations available with variant philosophies of translation. The biggest issue I think is when the translation does not tell us from what philosophy they translate. There is a place even for the NLT (at times) I think.

 

Anyway, I have gone on far too long about this.


Edited by Ken Simpson, 05 March 2013 - 11:11 PM.

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#22 Ken Simpson

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 10:17 PM

On the contrary, I was only afraid of sounding like a mere copy-cat! We seem to have similar thoughts on this topic.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery????

 

Seriously, I don't think anyone could accuse you of being a mere copy-cat (is that like a meer-kat in double??) Jonathan. I always find your posts stimulating and interesting. 

 

Mind you, I don't think it was a serious concern either!


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#23 JonathanHuber

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 10:55 PM

I wasn't really too concerned. :) Your story of "cat/frog in the throat" was a good example, btw.



#24 Daniel Semler

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 12:11 AM

Thanx Ken. (TAITWARH) The air is thick with acronyms 'round here.

 

Thx

D


Edited by Daniel Semler, 06 March 2013 - 12:14 AM.

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#25 Kevin Soars

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 01:52 AM

Thank you all. I have found this discussion very interesting and helpful.

 

Kevin.


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#26 craigminah

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 06:48 AM

This is a very informative and interesting thread.  As what my pastor would refer to as the dreaded "luke-warm Christian" and I never really read the Bible except in church until a few years ago (I'm 43) when a friend suggested I buy an NIV Life Application Study Bible.  I went to the local Christian bookstore and they ordered one for my wife and me but what arrived as an NLT Life Application Study Bible.  I was a little upset I received a different Bible and almost everyone I know had the NIV, but I read it and it was really easy to read.  I think that got me past my initial reluctance to start reading because it was so readable, had pictures and maps, the backstory was there before the chapter, and there was an explanation of everything at the bottom of each page.  

 

I've since added a couple different types of translations to my reading and enjoy NKJV, NASB, NLT, ESV, and NIV.  I currently read YouVersion reading plans with Accordance open to get a better understanding of what the plan is talking about and have added the ESV Study Bible.  Still a novice, I find the variety the key for me learning...you could change the Bibles to almost any reputable Bible and as long as I maintain the variety I'll be fine.

 

Very grateful for the options Accordance and other sources provide.


Edited by craigminah, 06 March 2013 - 06:49 AM.


#27 MartinClay

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 08:20 AM

I appreciate what the NLT does and the way so many people find it easy and enjoyable to read. The issue I have with it is the frequent times you encounter whole phrases and even sentences added within the text to explain what is going on. In itself that is not an issue except that with nothing to distinguish between what is translation and what is explanatory material I have too often come across situations where the explanatory material has become the part that is emphasised, discussed - even preached on, rather than the text itself.

#28 craigminah

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 09:36 AM

I appreciate what the NLT does and the way so many people find it easy and enjoyable to read. The issue I have with it is the frequent times you encounter whole phrases and even sentences added within the text to explain what is going on. In itself that is not an issue except that with nothing to distinguish between what is translation and what is explanatory material I have too often come across situations where the explanatory material has become the part that is emphasised, discussed - even preached on, rather than the text itself.

Right, we have to know the bias of the translation's author(s) along with the issues resulting from the translation methods.



#29 JonathanHuber

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 09:53 AM

I'm not sure that this is so different from sermons that draw out meanings that may be implied by the text but not specifically stated. If someone asks why you're late and you reply only that you were stuck in traffic, you imply that you were delayed by the traffic. The NLT just makes that kind of implication clearer (and remember that the NLT is nowhere near as bad as the Message; the very paraphrased Living Bible was revised by Gk/Hb scholars and reissued as the New Living Translation as it was now more faithful to the original text). As long as the extra material communicates the meaning of the text, I don't see how emphasizing it would be unfaithful to the text. The problem is when there are multiple possible interpretations and a functional translation forces you in a direction that you think is incorrect. Really, all translations do some interpretation; functional translations just have to make more of those decisions.



#30 Julie Falling

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 11:09 AM

One more thing to consider here.  I do all my reading and studying starting with the same version for the following reason.  When I do a search in English, I need to have a word to start with.  If I am doing my reading and studying in multiple versions, I'm likely to end up with The New Scrambled Version in my head!  The difference may be a perfectly acceptable synonym, but that will not help me with my search.  I could I do a "Search All," but sometimes that yields too much data!

 

Our Sunday school students to not have the resources we do, so I advise them to

 

  1. pick one good essentially literal (by Ryken's definition) version for reading/study and stick with it;  
  2. always compare versions as part of their study, viewing the more free versions as one would a  commentary.  

 

That way if they need to drag out an exhaustive concordance (anyone still have one of those laying around the house?), they have somewhere to start with their search and have a better chance of finding what they're looking for.  Additionally, many of our students also memorize a lot of Scripture.  Doing daily devotional time from multiple versions will not facilitate memorization.

 

It seems obvious that, when it comes to idioms, a word-for-word literal translation is not the way to go.  What would any modern reader do with the "what to me and to you?" of Jn 2:4?  The idioms must be rendered as functional equivalents.  That is why the versions that are "formally equivalent" are probably best described as essentially literal (Ryken).  

 

However, to render, for example, σαρχ as "sinful nature" in Romans is not best, IMHO.  It really is not a translation, but an interpretation.  Did I not die with Christ?  Am I not a new creature in Christ?  Have not old things passed away (my old nature?) and all things become new?  Or am I the same old person only with the Holy Spirit tacked on?  When I sin, am I not acting contrary to my new nature, acting according to the flesh?  I do still sin, but am I still sinfulI by nature?  My view, and I know I'm dipping into theology here, is that I really am a new creature, and that my old sinful nature really did die, but that, between here and heaven, I'm stuck with this uncooperative flesh which is attracted to the world/world system.  I, personally, would rather have a Bible version that uses the word, "flesh," and then study to learn what it means in context.  I would rather have a preacher or study Bible or commentary that does the same.  As a student myself, I find that I gain the most in my study when I pursue the "what on earth does that mean?" questions than I do when someone just hands me an interpretation on a platter (figuratively speaking).

 

Another thing that has occurred to me as I read, in general, is the value of retaining as much of the grammar as possible, which I guess is basically formal equivalence.  Which is the stronger statement?

 

  • John Doe lied.
  • John Doe is a liar.

 

(Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)  There can be subtle weakening of the force of the text when one part of speech is morphed into another.  Will the basic meaning be lost?  Perhaps not.  Might it be less confrontational?  Yes, in my opinion.  Do I want to be confronted by the truth of the Scriptures, even when it stings?  Yes.

 

 

Probably we can say that all the versions have their value with some audience and under some circumstances, but as we grow in our understanding of the Bible, as Craig said, we may want to move toward a more formally equivalent version.  And as we grow in our understanding of the Bible, do we not also grow in our understanding of the English language as well?  Is not the reverse also true - if, as Christians, we grow in our understanding of our own language, we will grow in our understanding of the Bible in English?

 

Sorry I got so wordy here.  I'm kinda passionate about the subtilties.  That is why I wanted to learn Greek.  Like Ken, I'm not wild about the NLT-type versions, but I suppose they have their place.  Among the young people we teach, we don't have a single one who can't spiritually and intellectually handle an essentially literal version of the Bible.  We teach from the NASB/NAS95 with several other versions open and displayed on the wall via Accordance.  Our former pastor preached from it.  Our interim pastor is preaching from it.  And no one is having any problems with it.  Nor do I think there would be a problem with any other essentially literal version.  And every man who preaches brings up the renderings of other versions to flesh out the text.

 

I really need to quit writing!  The laundry beckons.


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#31 Julie Falling

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 12:30 PM

For those interested in the HCSBS see my review here:

 

http://www.accordanc...HCSBS Group-up#

 

Very helpful review.  Thank you.  With your recommendation, and Helen's, I think I need to be spending more time in the HCSB.


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#32 revtim

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 06:13 PM

I have never been one to have too much loyalty to a particular version of the Bible - i have used the KJV, NIV, NLT, JPS, NRSV, NASB, and ESV at one point or another.

 

For the past 3 years though the HCSB has gained from me the most loyalty i have had to a version. My wife was given a copy of the HCSB and because her Bible was the only handy, I grabbed it one day. Then fell in love. I enjoy how that translation committee is not afraid to avoid the traditional phrasing of well know verses (John 3.16 is perhaps the best example).

 

I also find that it is a good translation to preach from for me at least.


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#33 Ardashir

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 07:21 PM

I have made some research and I think NRSV is one of the best options that fits my needs for academic and linguistic purposes. I have ordered the New Oxford Annotated Bible (I think it's a kind of study Bible helpful to me). 

I find also interesting NET, and since I'm happy with JPS I consider purchasing also the Tanakh Study Bible (I must decide wether in print or electronic).



#34 JohnK

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 10:01 PM

This may be off-topic. My question is, do non-English speakers/readers have as many multiple translations as there are in English and do they run the same gamut of differences? At least we all have the same Hebrew and Greek Texts!

 

John



#35 Chuck Schneider

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:19 AM

There are a lot of German-language versions, too. Accordance has quite a few of them here:

 

http://www.accordanc...national-Bibles

 

 

This may be off-topic. My question is, do non-English speakers/readers have as many multiple translations as there are in English and do they run the same gamut of differences? At least we all have the same Hebrew and Greek Texts!

 

John



#36 Ardashir

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 12:43 PM

We have now in Spain several options, but way less than in English speaking world because  we have a younger tradition of translation due to the influence of spanish catholicism and contra reformist spirit. The main text along centuries in catholic Spain was the latin Vulgate until XX century. "Common" people didn't read the Bible (and weren't encouraged to do so) and even now very few people read the Bible, be it for religious of for academic purposes.

 

Our "King James" was the Reina-Valera XVI century translation but wasn't widespread in Spain and most exemplars were destroyed by Inquisition.  The language is now highly outdated.  We have quite good literal translations from XX century (including Jerusalem Bible), mainly catholic oriented but also ecumenic. The main translations are no more than 5 or 6. Of course, there are versions adapted to the american spanish.  There aren't many versions like The Message; I least I don't know any of them, the nearer are abridged versions for kids, but they are not regarded as actual Bibles.


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#37 Unix

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Posted 22 March 2013 - 10:33 AM

Old Testament: 1989 REB for all books except Joshua, Judges, Samuel, 1 Kings, Isaiah, Proverbs, Ezekiel and Daniel.
NET, preferably wait for the 2nd Edition, for: 1-2 Sam, 1 Kings.
Douay-Rheims Challoner for: Is 5:6 and Song of Solomon.
1970 NAB 1st Edition for: Is 7:14. The rest of Is: the 1966 Jerusalem Bible Reader's Edition and RSV corrected from Continental commentary by Wildberger.

1995 NASU for: Zephaniah 1:1-3:8, 3:10-20.

NRSV for: Zephaniah 3:9
Sirach: a combination of REB for the parts that have been found in Hebrew, and NETS for the rest.
NETS for: 1 Mc.


Catholic Public Domain Version is pretty good for: Mt 1:18-16:1. It can be found both on the internet for free, and as printed matter. If You want only a portion of the Bible in CPDV, a good idea is to buy only the volume(s) You want from the 6-volume Bible. (Of course it also comes as a 1-volume printed Bible.) Correct it to align with the 1992 Nestle-Aland 27th Edition Greek text with the 2009 Comprehensive New Testament - (it's entirely in English).
Correct Mt 11:27 from Hermeneia (remove that verse).

Douay-Rheims Challoner and the Vulgate for: Mt 25:1.


CEB for: the Lord's Prayer in Mt 6:9-13.

As a commentary for Lk I use mainly: Hermeneia by François Bovon. It's scheduled to be completed in April 2013.

EDIT: REB for: much of 2 Cor 1-9, much of Gal, parts of Eph, Phil, 1 Thess.

The translation in Paideia for: Ro.

 

1994 2 Corinthians volume 1 chapters 1-7 by Thrall for this comment in 5:18: "God will hear ... of his people, and become"

Good News Translation for the word friends in: 2 Cor 5:18a.

NLT for: 1 Jn 2:5 (because of the recommendation in: http://www.christian...2/#post60073334).

I leave out Heb 9:15- and to the end of the book.

 

I make some use of J. B. Phillips New Testament, it's the best out of ASV, COM, CPDV, JB, KJV, NAB '70 and '86, NIV '84 and '11, NJB, NKJV, NASB, NASU, NEB, NRSV, REB, RSV, TEV '71 and '76, TLB, UPDV version 2.15 for:
Mt 19:6-7, 19:21b-22, 19:25b, 19:26b, 22:22
Lk 6:45, 18:1-3a, 4a
2 Cor 1:10a, 1:11, 2:7b
Hebr 2:5, 2:14-15, 4:3b, 5:1c, 6:11-12a, 7:13-14, 7:25
1 Jn 2:7b, 2:11a-b (JB is the best for the end of the verse: because it is too dark to see.), 2:20-21, 2:27c-29, 3:5-6a, 3:8b, 3:17c-18a, 3:22a but leave out a part of a word so that it says: 'We receive what we ask', 4:5b, 4:6b except 6 'what we say means nothing to the man who is not himself a child, 4:7a, 4:11b-12a except b-c 'surely we, in our turn, should love each other! It is true that no human being has ever had a direct vision of God, 4:14-21, 5:2a, c-3a 'The test of our love for' 'lies in this question - do we love God himself and do we obey his commands? For loving God means', 6a except b-c 'Jesus Christ himself is the one who came by water and by blood -', 6:19-20a-b.

 

New Testament, compare with: 1966 Jerusalem Bible Reader's Edition and 2004 Good News Translation 3rd Edition UK-English.

_________________________________________________________________

 

I'm closest to Anabaptism, but I believe in Purgatory in Afterlife. I'm studying Latin and Gk (not that much Latin, going to study a few years of Gk, starting with classical Gk, then NT Gk, then LXX Gk), and later on German. I speak 3 languages fluently. Currently I'm studying Chemistry and have just finished Maths. Last semester I studied Ethics, society, Science (continued that in January 2013), English, grammar. Next semester I'm studying English and Psychology. I'm also going to study at least ¾ of a year Theology full-time including New Testament in a Protestant college, Old Testament ¼ of a year in a RC college, and Anabaptism ¼ of a year in the Protestant college.


Edited by Unix, 22 March 2013 - 06:03 PM.


#38 Fr. Rich

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Posted 22 March 2013 - 11:14 AM



As a commentary for Lk I use mainly: Hermeneia by François Bovon. It's scheduled to be completed in April 2013

 

Bovon's third volume on Luke is already out. I have had my copy for about six weeks.


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