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#1 Ardashir

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 05:17 AM

Hello;

 

I would ask you to recommend me the best English Bible scholar translation that would fit my needs. I'm quite acquainted with modern Spanish and to some degree modern German translations, but I'm not very updated about modern English translations (I use to read KJV).

 

I'm interested in the best and more accurate and updated philologically modern translation; A scholar translation, so to say, in order to use that always with the Hebrew (or Greek) originals side by side. Rather, to use it as a tool to read the originals and go more deeply into the pholological and historical questions. I would like to have it both in Accordance and in physical version (a study Bible with philological commentaries).  I have a good level of ancient Greek (I'm teacher and philologist) and a intermediate level of Hebrew, but I want yo go more deeply into Hebrew and Aramaic. My interests are mainly philological/historical/history of ancient religions.

 

Thanks and regards.



#2 bkMitchell

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 07:33 AM

Hello Ardashir,

 

You might be interested in, How to choose a Translation for All its Worth (Link) It may help you make your own educated decision for yourself. 

 

Here are a few my recommendations:

  1. For, the Hebrew/OT you might find the JPS Tanakh to be worth it. For, the most part it sticks with the masoretic text and it offers a lot of interesting notes on the text.
  2. The New English Translation Bible and notes  Is another you might find helpful and instructive.
  3. If, you're into the LXX you may also find the NETS much to your liking.
  4. And, a scholarly yet fun and maybe even mischievous translation would be the New Jerusalem Bible.

Keep in mind though that every translation is in fact an interpretation. If, you're really committed to Ad Fontes and you sound like you might be it may be in your best interest to read and struggle with the texts in their original languages. 


Edited by bkMitchell, 05 March 2013 - 07:57 AM.

חַפְּשׂוּ בַּתּוֹרָה הֵיטֵב וְאַל תִּסְתַּמְּכוּ עַל דְּבָרַי

 

 


#3 luoar

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:20 AM

As far as modern scholarly English translations are concerned the following cannot be ignored:

 

The Revised Version of 1881

The New English Bible 1971 (not available in text format).

The Revised Standard Version 1971

The New Revised Standard Version 1989

The New Jerusalem Bible 

JPS Tanakh 1985

 

Of these the RSV has proven to be the most enduring in terms of its use among academics.



#4 JonathanHuber

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 09:07 AM

There are many, many good English translations, which is illustrated a bit by the fact that I regularly use 8-9 different translations and only one of them (NRSV) is on Luoar's list. Asking for people's preferred translations is going to result in many suggestions, so I second bkMitchell's recommendation to read about them and decide for yourself which would best match your needs.

 

Having said that, I usually use the ESV, which was just updated 2 years ago. It's a fairly literal translation, which aids comparison with the original languages.


Edited by JonathanHuber, 05 March 2013 - 09:10 AM.

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#5 Julie Falling

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 10:57 AM

Hey - I am not a scholar, but have studied Greek (4 years formal teaching at a local Christian college).  Every version has its warts.  Like Jonathan, I regularly consult many versions.  The two that I always have open when reading the NT are the NASB (or its 95 update) and the ESV.  The main downside to the NASB group is that it includes, in brackets, a translation of some of the words found in the Textus Receptus that are not in the modern Greek text.  However, I have just used the Accordance highlighting feature to draw a skinny black line through the words that really don't belong there.  

 

One of the reasons I continue to go to the NASB is that, of all the versions, it seems to be the best at rendering the imperfect tense as an imperfect instead of a simple past.  A lot gets lost when aspect is completely ignored.  Take, for instance, Acts 18:4-5.  There are three imperfect verbs in this passage.  The first imperfect, διeλεγετο, is Customary (Paul regularly preached in the synagogue on the sabbath).  The second is Conative.  Paul was trying to persuade the people.  We know from verse 6 that most resisted, so translating επειθεν as a past in v4, as if the persuading had been successful, is a poor choice.  The third imperfect, συνειχετο, is Ingressive, emphasizing the start of new activity.  We know from elsewhere in Scripture that Paul received a monetary gift from the Christians in Macedonia, and it is likely that Silas and Timothy were the bearers of that gift.  Anyway, something changed with their coming.  Before they came, Paul was occupied with tent-making to support himself, preaching mostly on the Sabbath.  After Silas and Timothy came, he was able to set aside the tent-making and devote himself completely to preaching the word.  The NASB is the only English version I have found that renders these verses in a way that makes all this clear.  I greatly appreciate the attention to detail, and feel that those who are faithful in the small things are likely to be faithful in other ways.  

 

One of the other reasons I keep going to the NASB/NAS95 is that it seems to be more consistent about rendering Greek cognates with several occurrences in the same passage with English cognates.  That can be of great help to the English-only reader, but to the rest of us as well.

 

Lastly, for the English reader, only a few Bible versions put the English words added by the translators to make the text more readable or understandable in italics when there is no corresponding Greek word.  The NASB/NAS95 and the KJV/NKJV do this.  This is most helpful to the English-only reader, but is also helpful to the one with some knowledge of the original languages.

 

As a Sunday school teacher (ages 16 through college), I need to have a bunch of versions because my students don't all use the same one.  We have tried to teach them not to rely on just one Bible version, nor to rely on just one commentary.  We have encouraged them to use other versions, even the ones that take a lot of liberties with the text, as they would a commentary.

 

My top three choices for the NT are:  NASB/NAS95, ESV, & NET (New English Translation)

For the OT:  NASB/NAS95, ESV, JPS.

 

I regularly go to my "Sixteen Bible Search" to look at how a subset of my Bibles renders a particular verse or two.  See attached.

 

Attached File  Sixteen Bible Search.png   691.4KB   51 downloads

 

 

 


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#6 Helen Brown

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 01:22 PM

Personally I really enjoy the HCSB and find it both fresh and accurate.


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#7 Lorinda H. M. Hoover

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 01:42 PM

Given your interests, another thing to keep in mind when looking for a translation to use in Accordance is whether or not it is a key number text, that is a text that is coded with either Strongs or G/K numbering.   Key numbered texts include:  NRSVS, ESVS, NIV-11 G/K, JPSS, HCSBS, NAS95S, and the NKJVS. [The S at the end means "with Strong's numbers" so the NRSVS is the New Revised Standard Version with Strong's numbers. NOTE:  the NETS--New English Translation of the Septuagint- is NOT a key number text, even though there is an S at the end of the abbreviation]

 

The NASB (available as NAS95S with strongs) is a very literal, if wooden translation. 

 

The notes of the NET Bible are very helpful in terms of translation decisions, but is not currently available as a key number text.


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#8 luoar

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 01:59 PM

Lorinda makes an excellent point. Coded texts are a great advantage and only Accordance has so many of them on offer. For my purposes having these facilitates quick verse comparisons. I agree too with Helen that HCSB has been superbly produced. I would love to see an edition of the RSV  with Strong's but I know this is unlikely ever to happen.  :(

 

For those interested in the HCSBS see my review here:

 

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



#9 Ardashir

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 01:59 PM

Thanks to all for the good suggestions.

 

I have read reviews of How to choose a Translation for All its Worthdespite I'm normally sceptic about books of  the"how to choose" type, it seems a good book written by reputed scholars. But it seems it is focused in the differences between "formal equivalent" translations and "functional equivalent" ones, and the authors advocate the later. I prefer the "formal or literal equivalent" as a tool too deepen into the originals; not a readable or beautiful one, but a highly philologically accurate one.

 

I own and use translations in several languages, mainly Spanish (The spanish version of the Bible of Jerusalem is quite accurate with helpful notes; the translations of L.A. Shökel are accurate and beautiful as literature), German (the updated Erbelfelder Bibel) and also Italian and French. In English, I appreciate the archaic language of King James and all that it signifies for the history of English language and culture. I own also the JPS 1999 English-Hebrew edition and I like it very much, but it has very few (but helpful) notes and glosses. As it's natural, the jewish versions make choices in the light of rabbinic tradition and Rashi commentary.

 

As bkMitchell said, my main interest is to go Ad fontes and to work  whit the best understanding of the original texts and linguistic/cultural background. Besides, I'm more and more into ancient translations, id est, targumim, syriac, LXX, Vulgate... 

I have a lot of "printed" stuff and resources, but I need to choose the most helpful translation(s) in order to work the original languages in the Accordance platform (I have only KJV and ESV).  I find NET interesting due to the lot of linguistic notes it seems to have, and also NASB. As Julie points out, I find details very important.

 

Thank you for your suggestions, I will research about the discussed translations.



#10 Julie Falling

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 02:16 PM

I, too, very strong strongly favor the "essentially literal" versions and view the functional equivalent ones as I would a commentary.  There's a real difference between a translator deciding which connotation of a word best fits the context (lexical decisions), and one who translates and then tells you what he/she/they think it means (interpretive decisions).  I want a translation, not a commentary.  I realize that there is not always a clean break between the two, but most of the time there is.
 
As a reader, given the choice between accuracy and super-slick readability, I'll go with accuracy every time.  Also, some versions that are supposed to represent really good English sometimes use words that are jarring, or supposed standard English but a little odd - see offspring/offsprings @ Gal 3:16 in the ESV.  I looked offsprings up in a dictionary, and it is supposedly acceptable, but it was so odd that I found it distracting.  Why not just use seed/seeds?  We're reading the Bible, not a popular novel.  We're expected to acquire an understanding of Bible-specific uses of words.
 
Still, I like the ESV, HCSB, NRSV, and even the NKJV (despite the text from which it was translated).  I use them all.  I learn a lot by comparing versions - it makes me dig to discover what is at the root of them.

P.S. I found the book, How to Choose a Translation . . . very frustrating and not even remotely helpful.  I was unable to finish it.


Edited by Julie Falling, 06 March 2013 - 08:54 AM.

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#11 Julie Falling

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 02:38 PM

Hey - I should have included this in the last post.  A good book to read on the subject of Bible versions is The Word of God in English, by Leland Ryken.  It is available as a downloadable PDF here - http://www.esv.org/a...s/pdfs/woge.pdf.  Yes, it does at times come across like an extended ad for the ESV, but the principles the author presents are sound.  A good read.  We've given away many, many copies of it to our students and to friends.


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#12 Ardashir

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 03:19 PM

We're reading the Bible, not a popular novel. 
 

Very good point; the biblical texts have very beautiful images, powerful metaphors and a distinctive and sometimes hard language, many times obscured in translation by supposed mends, "corrections", popular language, "understandable" expressions and even political and gender correctness. Certain translators assume they must provide the common reader with popular and easy language, and adapt for them the texts, but I think the common reader is smarter than that and subtler. An ancient text is an ancient text, and for understanding purposes we have notes, glosses and commentaries. One must read a Shakespeare text with notes, not a shakespearean modern adaptation. As a teacher, we must use adaptations of classical texts like Homer or Virgil for teenagers. Secretly I hate these adaptations because the students miss the powerful and strange original (even in translation). When I was a teenager myself, I used to read translations of the very originals, and despite I didn't understand always all the content, I apprehended their greatness, and was a first step toward the original languages.

 

Thanks for the book, is nearer to what I was looking for. By the way, I recently purchased The Bible in English by David Daniell; an excellent account of historical translations in the English speaking world, analyzing their impact in English language and culture (Tyndale, Geneva Bible, King James history, Shakespeare, Milton, etc)



#13 Julie Falling

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 03:52 PM

I was speaking with one of my Greek professors, and a very good teacher, I might add, after class one day.  We were talking about how "dumbed down" some of the Bible versions are.  I said, "They assume that Christians are stupid."  He answered, "They are."  That has really stuck with me - I found it very arrogant and, frankly, offensive.  Just because a Christian has not studied the original languages does not mean he is stupid!  He has the mind of Christ, right?  He is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, right?  That's more than we can say for Einstein.   Being able to study Greek has been a tremendous privilege and joy for me, but it does not make me 'a cut above.' It does mean I have been greatly blessed.


Edited by Julie Falling, 05 March 2013 - 03:54 PM.

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#14 Ken Simpson

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 04:54 PM

I agree generally with the above, however, it's important to remember that the God's Word must also be accessible to Tyndale's "plowboy". I know that many give up reading the ESV because it is just too convoluted for people without very high English skills. Yes, we *need* the NASBs of the translation worlds (my personal preference is the 1881 RV) but we really need, as they did in Tyndale's time, the translation accessible and understandable without a degree, diploma, or certificate, just a desire to know and understand.

 

I regularly read the Word with non-Christians, and those from a non-English speaking background,  and it's not that "Christians are stupid" it's that they are just so unfamiliar with reading at that level! Yes they can learn, maybe, but the real art is walking the line between wood and marshmallow. As Julie hinted at, every translation is an interpretation, it's just not possible to do it word-for-word and retain the meaning (IMHO). Greek (and Hebrew) are just too different to English. So the translators decision is *always* (or at least should be) how to best render what the Greek or Hebrew or Aramaic is saying into *modern English* with all it's foibles and inherent inaccuracies. To do a translation into English that is 50 years old (like me) is not much more help than into English of 400 years ago. In fact at times it can be plain misleading.

 

So my personal answer is: I really don't like the NLT's of the world - that really is IMHO playing fast and loose with the text. But almost any other translation (yes in my opinion the NIV11 does an overall excellent job in what I have read so far) that is more MOR (NIV/HCSB) is better for reading, and encourages me to read my Scriptures. Others like ESV/RV/NASB and even RSV are excellent for study, but I find they are two different processes (at least in my life).

 

Sorry for the long post.


Edited by Ken Simpson, 05 March 2013 - 04:55 PM.

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#15 Randy Cue

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 05:29 PM

Given your interests, another thing to keep in mind when looking for a translation to use in Accordance is whether or not it is a key number text, that is a text that is coded with either Strongs or G/K numbering.   Key numbered texts include:  NRSVS, ESVS, NIV-11 G/K, JPSS, HCSBS, NAS95S, and the NKJVS. [The S at the end means "with Strong's numbers" so the NRSVS is the New Revised Standard Version with Strong's numbers. NOTE:  the NETS--New English Translation of the Septuagint- is NOT a key number text, even though there is an S at the end of the abbreviation]

 

The NASB (available as NAS95S with strongs) is a very literal, if wooden translation. 

 

The notes of the NET Bible are very helpful in terms of translation decisions, but is not currently available as a key number text.

I honestly have never understood why people call the NASB95 "wooden." I don't believe it is, and neither do some English Literature teacher friends of mine.

 

Hey - I should have included this in the last post.  A good book to read on the subject of Bible versions is The Word of God in English, by Leland Ryken.  It is available as a downloadable PDF here - http://www.esv.org/a...s/pdfs/woge.pdf.  Yes, it does at times come across like an extended ad for the ESV, but the principles the author presents are sound.  A good read.  We've given away many, many copies of it to our students and to friends.

I understand what Julie is saying about Dr. Ryken's book. In fact, he was the style editor and consultant for the ESV; however, reading the endorsements for his book should dis-spell any concerns about it. The Word of God in English stands as an extremely important work on the subject.

 

Soli Deo Gloria,

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#16 JonathanHuber

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 06:22 PM

As a reader, given the choice between accuracy and super-slick readability, I'll go with accuracy every time. 

 

I understand where Julie is coming from, but I don't think this is the most helpful way to say it. You must define "accuracy". To the original language words or to the meaning of the phrase? You might translate the words literally and utterly fail to communicate the text. For example, a literal translation of a strange Hebrew idiom could be viewed as less accurate than rendering a similar English meaning.

 

There was a helpful discussion some time ago on formal vs functional translations, held by representatives of the NIV11 (Doug Moo), HCSB (Ray Clendenen), and ESV (Wayne Grudem). One interesting point was that the NIV (the most functional of the three) tries to put the text into the world of the reader, while the ESV (the most formal) tries to put the reader into the world of the text. So they fundamentally have different aims. Like Ken said in his great post above, a functional translation may better communicate with a modern reader, while a more formal translation may be better for study.

 

FWIW, I agree with Ken again and value the NIV11. :)


Edited by JonathanHuber, 05 March 2013 - 06:24 PM.

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#17 Daniel Semler

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 06:33 PM

Sorry to distract from the general flow of the discussion, but Ken, what are NLT and MOR ?

 

Thx

D


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#18 Ardashir

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 07:24 PM

Sorry to distract from the general flow of the discussion, but Ken, what are NLT and MOR ?

 

Thx

D

NLT is New Living Translation, as far as I know a highly modernized and adapted translation. About MOR, I'm not sure.

 

I think we all agree more or less My ideal is a modern translation (language, syntax) but serious and accurate. In fact, it's good that exist both a more word-to word version aimed at Scholars and a more readable and artistic one (but accurate) for common reader or for the simply joy of reading. Well, "accuracy" is sometimes hard to define and there are diverse approaches, but I mean linguistic and socio-cultural accuracy, observing the laws of syntax and grammar of the target language.

 

A well made readable translation can be read and understood by the tyndalian "plowboy" also without sacrificing metaphors, poetry, ancient customs... In most cultures the sacred Scriptures have also a didactic and educational value. One learns reading and hearing, and a not very educated person learns vocabulary and aesthetical sense as he/she reads or hears or is guided by someone. One learns to listen and appreciate classical music and to read poetry. For example, the Jewish people in ancient world and medieval times was a highly literate people due to the influence of Scriptures, the talmudic discussions... (a great book is Reading and writing in the time of Jesus, Millard).

Jesus himself, a Teacher par excellence, taught and educated people. His apparently plain parables and discourses were sophisticated and intelligent. His scriptural discussions with pharisees were learned and witty.  As Falstaff says (and Prof. Bloom so many times notes) " I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men"

 

So, simplifying or modifying in a great degree an ancient text to adapt it to the so called common people underestimates the natural intelligence of the people and his capacity to learn and appreciate new things and even very difficult ones. Poetry is beautiful, but is a difficult pleasure. In the Bible there is a lot of poetry, if the images and difficult metaphors are lowered or eliminated, the poetry disappears and his suggestive power alike. Is like play a videogame with cheats, there is no fun.



#19 Ken Simpson

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 09:30 PM

JTC (Just to clarify) IMHO (in my humble/honest opinion) MOR (middle of the road) must be a rare TLA (three letter acronym).

 

Jonathan. Thanks for your kind words, though you make this sound almost disappointingly concessive "FWIW, I agree with Ken again"  ;)


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#20 JonathanHuber

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 09:58 PM

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


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