The two different NIVs

tODD, a long-time reader and commenter on this blog, told me that he was using Bible Gateway, that extremely useful site that allows you to find Bible passages from a wide array of translations, when he noticed that an NIV passage he was finding was different from the same NIV passage he learned as a child. He dug into the matter, and it turns out there is a new version of the NIV, with many quite different translations, that will replace the NIV of 1984.

On November 1, the new translation was put up on Bible Gateway. In March, 2011, it will be published as the New International Version, with both the controversial Today’s New International Version (TNIV) (with all of the gender-neutral and other non-conservative language) AND the original New International Version (that had become the dominant evangelical version) going out of print.

These plans were announced some time ago, but I suspect many people do not realize that this change is underway. The Wikipedia article on the TNIV says this:

“On September 1, 2009, it was announced that development of a new revision of the NIV is in progress, and that once it is released both the TNIV and the 1984 NIV would be discontinued.[3] Keith Danby, president and chief executive officer of Biblica, once known as the International Bible Society said they erred in presenting past updates, failed to convince people revisions were needed and “underestimated” readers’ loyalty to the 1984 NIV. The update NIV will be issued in 2011.”

The Wikipedia article on the NIV gives the updated details: “A major revision was announced on September 1, 2009 and was published online on November 1, 2010 at http://www.biblegateway.com and http://www.biblica.com. The first printed editions will be published in March 2011.”

The revised NIV will not use inclusive language for God, but it will use inclusive language in other places. Grammatical purists like me will be annoyed that the plural pronoun “they” will be used for singulars of unspecified gender. See Translation Notes, which lists other new readings. I’ll let tODD report the ones that caught his eye:

1 Peter 5:9
(NIV 1984) Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
(NIV 2011) Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

James 5:7-9 (partial)
(NIV 1984) Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. … Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
(NIV 2011) Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. … Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

* ‟Saints” often becomes ‟God’s people,” ‟the Lord’s people,” ‟the Lord’s holy people” and the
like (as in Romans 8:27)
* Certain uses of ‟Christ” are now ‟Messiah.”
* Some occurrences of ‟Jews,” especially in John, have become ‟Jewish leaders” or something
similar.
* Most occurrences of ‟sinful nature” have become ‟flesh.”

Perhaps the most-changed verse, that I could find, was Malachi 2:16:
(NIV 1984) “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself[a]with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
(NIV 2011) “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the LORD Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

There are some good changes, in my opinion, such as translating some passages that are ambiguous in the original languages so that they are still ambiguous in English, leaving room for various interpretations, instead of the translator taking a position and making it look like that is what the Bible says! (That, to me, is the bane of many modern translations.) But still there remains lots of interpretations for the sake of modern readers in place of simply rendering what these non-modern texts literally say, this being part of the translating philosophy of the NIV. Here too is that tendency in American evangelicalism to cut itself off from the church of the past (eliminating “saints”?). Not to mention the presumption of correcting the Bible’s “sexist” language.

It also looks like the new NIV will continue and maybe even intensify what most annoyed me about the old NIV: the utter tone-deaf resistance to metaphor, poetry, and beauty of language:

Psalm 23: 4: (NIV 1984) “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. . . ”
(NIV 2011) “Even though I walk through the darkest valley. . .”

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Acroamaticus

    In being tone deaf to metaphor, poetry and beauty in language, isn’t the new NIV just remaining faithful to the goal of the original NIV translators to render the Bible in ‘contemporary English’? Seriously, it’s hard to believe the original NIV had stylistic consultants, as claimed in the preface. Either the consultants had cloth ears when it came to poetry, or they were overruled by the editors too often to have an impact on the translation.
    I’m not suggesting that there is no place for prosaic translations of the Bible, but when such versions become the ‘received text’ for a generation or more, the language as a whole suffers, not to mention the imaginations of Bible readers and the wider culture.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Acroamaticus

    In being tone deaf to metaphor, poetry and beauty in language, isn’t the new NIV just remaining faithful to the goal of the original NIV translators to render the Bible in ‘contemporary English’? Seriously, it’s hard to believe the original NIV had stylistic consultants, as claimed in the preface. Either the consultants had cloth ears when it came to poetry, or they were overruled by the editors too often to have an impact on the translation.
    I’m not suggesting that there is no place for prosaic translations of the Bible, but when such versions become the ‘received text’ for a generation or more, the language as a whole suffers, not to mention the imaginations of Bible readers and the wider culture.

  • WebMonk

    I’m an ESV person myself for casual reading and most studying. The older NIV probably comes next in frequency of use, and then the NKJV after that.

    But when I get into a more in-depth study, I hit up concordances, dictionaries, translators notes, and commentaries so much that the particular translation that I started with doesn’t make much difference.

  • WebMonk

    I’m an ESV person myself for casual reading and most studying. The older NIV probably comes next in frequency of use, and then the NKJV after that.

    But when I get into a more in-depth study, I hit up concordances, dictionaries, translators notes, and commentaries so much that the particular translation that I started with doesn’t make much difference.

  • Ryan

    “but when such versions become the ‘received text’ for a generation or more, the language as a whole suffers” Not necessarily, the KJV and even more so Luther’s Translation in German helped to coalesce and form the Languages of their respect countries and thats why they lasted so long. (Luther’s version was THE version until about 1950).

    I’m curious to see what the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod is going to do since they are strongly wed to the 84′ NIV and have been like bulldogs in their defense and use for WELS.

  • Ryan

    “but when such versions become the ‘received text’ for a generation or more, the language as a whole suffers” Not necessarily, the KJV and even more so Luther’s Translation in German helped to coalesce and form the Languages of their respect countries and thats why they lasted so long. (Luther’s version was THE version until about 1950).

    I’m curious to see what the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod is going to do since they are strongly wed to the 84′ NIV and have been like bulldogs in their defense and use for WELS.

  • trotk

    One of my great frustrations with the NIV (and I wouldn’t use it unless I were forced) is the lack of subordination.

    It takes subordinate clauses, adds a conjunction, and renders them as independent clauses, thus simplifying the language. This steals the depth and richness from so many sentences, and because Greek depends so much on subordination, it neuters the New Testament particularly. The shallow language may be easier to understand, but it certainly lacks the richness and complexity that the authors (particularly Paul) intended.

  • trotk

    One of my great frustrations with the NIV (and I wouldn’t use it unless I were forced) is the lack of subordination.

    It takes subordinate clauses, adds a conjunction, and renders them as independent clauses, thus simplifying the language. This steals the depth and richness from so many sentences, and because Greek depends so much on subordination, it neuters the New Testament particularly. The shallow language may be easier to understand, but it certainly lacks the richness and complexity that the authors (particularly Paul) intended.

  • Booklover

    “the utter tone-deaf resistance to metaphor, poetry, and beauty of language”

    Keeping these three factors in mind, Dr. Veith, could you please tell us your favorite Bible translations?

  • Booklover

    “the utter tone-deaf resistance to metaphor, poetry, and beauty of language”

    Keeping these three factors in mind, Dr. Veith, could you please tell us your favorite Bible translations?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Per trotk’s comment, it’s worth noting that a lot of the “grand style” of the older translations, especially the KJV, does lie in the fact that the translators were not afraid of keeping a degree of the patterns of the originals. Hence you get a lot of long sentences, complicated forms, and such. Beautiful, but not necessarily suitable for young readers.

    That brings up a very important question in my mind; mature readers can quickly master the ESV, NKJV, NASB, and KJV. What do we do for readers who do not yet have a 10th grade reading level? The one translation that’s closer to the NIV in style/reading level (without slipping into a failure to translate pronouns correctly) that I can think of is the HCSB.

    There is also the question, per trotk’s and other comments; if one can not understand a subordinate clause, it’s not just a question of reading and understanding the Bible. How can you understand Dickens or any writer of more than 10 years ago if you have trouble understanding subordinate clauses and such?

    I don’t particularly like how King James and others mandated the use of the KJV, politicizing the Church, but by golly, one nice byproduct of this choice is that English-speaking people could understand one another!

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Per trotk’s comment, it’s worth noting that a lot of the “grand style” of the older translations, especially the KJV, does lie in the fact that the translators were not afraid of keeping a degree of the patterns of the originals. Hence you get a lot of long sentences, complicated forms, and such. Beautiful, but not necessarily suitable for young readers.

    That brings up a very important question in my mind; mature readers can quickly master the ESV, NKJV, NASB, and KJV. What do we do for readers who do not yet have a 10th grade reading level? The one translation that’s closer to the NIV in style/reading level (without slipping into a failure to translate pronouns correctly) that I can think of is the HCSB.

    There is also the question, per trotk’s and other comments; if one can not understand a subordinate clause, it’s not just a question of reading and understanding the Bible. How can you understand Dickens or any writer of more than 10 years ago if you have trouble understanding subordinate clauses and such?

    I don’t particularly like how King James and others mandated the use of the KJV, politicizing the Church, but by golly, one nice byproduct of this choice is that English-speaking people could understand one another!

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Zondervan sent a letter out to all publishers using the NIV asking them to sign a letter stating they will agree to switch over, exclusively, to the 2011 NIV edition, by 2013. They sent the letter before the translation had been released. I’m waiting for a thorough review of the 2011 NIV. I am, so far, receiving mixed signals.

    If the 2011 NIV does not find a home among American Evangelicals, that will make it difficult for Zondervan to sustain it.

    Zondervan is owned by the Ruppert Murdoch media empire, which owns Harper Collins, of which Zondervan is now a subsidiary. Murdoch’s media company is one of the world’s largest distributors of pornography.

    Keep that fact in mind next time you buy a copy of the NIV. The profits from the NIV go into subsidizing the activities of Murdoch’s companies.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Zondervan sent a letter out to all publishers using the NIV asking them to sign a letter stating they will agree to switch over, exclusively, to the 2011 NIV edition, by 2013. They sent the letter before the translation had been released. I’m waiting for a thorough review of the 2011 NIV. I am, so far, receiving mixed signals.

    If the 2011 NIV does not find a home among American Evangelicals, that will make it difficult for Zondervan to sustain it.

    Zondervan is owned by the Ruppert Murdoch media empire, which owns Harper Collins, of which Zondervan is now a subsidiary. Murdoch’s media company is one of the world’s largest distributors of pornography.

    Keep that fact in mind next time you buy a copy of the NIV. The profits from the NIV go into subsidizing the activities of Murdoch’s companies.

  • Dave Sarafolean

    I’ve had problems with the NIV on a couple of major areas apart from those mentioned in this post.

    For starters, the word “propitiation” was replaced with “atonement” or “atoning sacrifice” and only shows up in the footnotes (see Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17 and I John 2:2). Secondly, the NIV butchers the language of Galatians 5 removing what is the in the Greek, “flesh” / sarx and substituting “old man.”

    These issues date back to the original NIV translation and are not fixed in the latest edition. I have found the ESV to be a much more faithful translation that doesn’t shy away from tough topics and preserves metaphors, imagery and poetry. Leland Ryken’s book, The Word of God in English is very helpful at this point.

  • Dave Sarafolean

    I’ve had problems with the NIV on a couple of major areas apart from those mentioned in this post.

    For starters, the word “propitiation” was replaced with “atonement” or “atoning sacrifice” and only shows up in the footnotes (see Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17 and I John 2:2). Secondly, the NIV butchers the language of Galatians 5 removing what is the in the Greek, “flesh” / sarx and substituting “old man.”

    These issues date back to the original NIV translation and are not fixed in the latest edition. I have found the ESV to be a much more faithful translation that doesn’t shy away from tough topics and preserves metaphors, imagery and poetry. Leland Ryken’s book, The Word of God in English is very helpful at this point.

  • Ryan

    Out of curiosity (I am in no way a KJV only type) – “What do we do for readers who do not yet have a 10th grade reading level?” What did they do in 1920, 1820, 1720 and if they did just use the KJV why are we different now, that is what has changed in the later half of the 20th century into the 21st? Noah Webster tried his hand at an updated KJV, but in no way made it easier to read, just corrected some glaring errors. By the 20s there was the ASV (1901) which was driven more by textual issues (Westcott and Hort Greek Text) than just easier to read – so when, and why, did easier to read become an issue, surely before the 70s when that truly was a driving factor in the NIV’s production.

  • Ryan

    Out of curiosity (I am in no way a KJV only type) – “What do we do for readers who do not yet have a 10th grade reading level?” What did they do in 1920, 1820, 1720 and if they did just use the KJV why are we different now, that is what has changed in the later half of the 20th century into the 21st? Noah Webster tried his hand at an updated KJV, but in no way made it easier to read, just corrected some glaring errors. By the 20s there was the ASV (1901) which was driven more by textual issues (Westcott and Hort Greek Text) than just easier to read – so when, and why, did easier to read become an issue, surely before the 70s when that truly was a driving factor in the NIV’s production.

  • WebMonk

    Paul, I suspect that it is FAR the reverse of what you claim. The profits from the pornography are much greater than the profits from printing Bibles, and so it would be the profits of the pornography which are subsidizing the Bible sales, if anything.

    (in reality, it is most likely that neither is subsidizing the other, but that’s not nearly as exciting to complain about!)

  • WebMonk

    Paul, I suspect that it is FAR the reverse of what you claim. The profits from the pornography are much greater than the profits from printing Bibles, and so it would be the profits of the pornography which are subsidizing the Bible sales, if anything.

    (in reality, it is most likely that neither is subsidizing the other, but that’s not nearly as exciting to complain about!)

  • CRB

    One thing I wonder about in this Reformed translation:
    why dont they just go ahead and change Christ’s words of
    institution of the Supper to “This “signifies” by body…blood”?
    At least their false views on the sacrament would be honest!

  • CRB

    One thing I wonder about in this Reformed translation:
    why dont they just go ahead and change Christ’s words of
    institution of the Supper to “This “signifies” by body…blood”?
    At least their false views on the sacrament would be honest!

  • CRB

    Correction: “by” should be “my”

  • CRB

    Correction: “by” should be “my”

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    The NIV is a huge profit center for Murdoch’s conglomerate. However you want to look at it, support for the NIV is funding his other efforts. Your scenario seems as unsavory as any other way you want to look at it.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    The NIV is a huge profit center for Murdoch’s conglomerate. However you want to look at it, support for the NIV is funding his other efforts. Your scenario seems as unsavory as any other way you want to look at it.

  • WebMonk

    Ryan, what did they do? Fewer people were able to read the Bible if they didn’t have the sufficient reading capabilities. Our modern levels of education are different in many ways from what we had 100 years ago, though.

    Today, nearly every adult has at least reading comprehension above the 4th grade level. (despite my snarky claims about some of the people on this blog *cough*BrorPorcell*cough*) However, there are relatively few who have the 10th grade reading level. Today we have a fairly large population of poor readers that don’t reach even the 10th grade level, and yet are above the 4th grade level.

    That wasn’t the case 100 years ago. There was a fairly stark difference between those who could read well and those who could just barely read/write, and there were few who fell into that in-between stage. 100 or 200 years ago, if you were able to get to more than 3 or 4 years of school, you were most likely able to read at a high level. If you only got the 3-4 years of school (including home schooling, traveling teachers, etc) then you were able to functionally read, but not much beyond the modern 3rd-4th grade level.

    If you were of that level of education – you just didn’t read much. There were frequent statements of woe at the lack of reading ability back then, and how they could just barely read simple sentences, and couldn’t read the Bible.

    So, the picture 100 years ago was a bit more binary – you could either read the KJV-level of English, or you could just barely read (or couldn’t read) at all.

    Today there is a fine-grained scale of reading abilities among adults stretching from the barely-reading level up through the very capable level. That makes comparisons between what was done in the past about reading the Bible and what is done today, just a bit on the tricky side.

  • WebMonk

    Ryan, what did they do? Fewer people were able to read the Bible if they didn’t have the sufficient reading capabilities. Our modern levels of education are different in many ways from what we had 100 years ago, though.

    Today, nearly every adult has at least reading comprehension above the 4th grade level. (despite my snarky claims about some of the people on this blog *cough*BrorPorcell*cough*) However, there are relatively few who have the 10th grade reading level. Today we have a fairly large population of poor readers that don’t reach even the 10th grade level, and yet are above the 4th grade level.

    That wasn’t the case 100 years ago. There was a fairly stark difference between those who could read well and those who could just barely read/write, and there were few who fell into that in-between stage. 100 or 200 years ago, if you were able to get to more than 3 or 4 years of school, you were most likely able to read at a high level. If you only got the 3-4 years of school (including home schooling, traveling teachers, etc) then you were able to functionally read, but not much beyond the modern 3rd-4th grade level.

    If you were of that level of education – you just didn’t read much. There were frequent statements of woe at the lack of reading ability back then, and how they could just barely read simple sentences, and couldn’t read the Bible.

    So, the picture 100 years ago was a bit more binary – you could either read the KJV-level of English, or you could just barely read (or couldn’t read) at all.

    Today there is a fine-grained scale of reading abilities among adults stretching from the barely-reading level up through the very capable level. That makes comparisons between what was done in the past about reading the Bible and what is done today, just a bit on the tricky side.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Wow Webmonk, that’s rather funny coming from you…
    But seriously folks, what do you do for those that can’t understand the Bible? You explain it to them, which is what the sermon was originally meant to do.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Wow Webmonk, that’s rather funny coming from you…
    But seriously folks, what do you do for those that can’t understand the Bible? You explain it to them, which is what the sermon was originally meant to do.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Ryan, along with what WebMonk and Bror wrote, there is also a very important factor regarding how we don’t have good reading comprehension;

    “whole language” has replaced “phonics” in reading instruction. As this occurred, as far back as in the 1920s and 1930s, military authorities noticed that more and more draftees were unable to read, and it’s said that the rate of functional illiteracy among those having attended school has quadrupled since 1950.

    My kids, trained in phonics, are reading the KJV and NKJV comfortably by age 7. Kids in the local schools–rated highly by the state, by the way– not so much.

    As long as we have government schools and whole language instruction, there will be a big place for simplified Bible translations and paraphrases.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Ryan, along with what WebMonk and Bror wrote, there is also a very important factor regarding how we don’t have good reading comprehension;

    “whole language” has replaced “phonics” in reading instruction. As this occurred, as far back as in the 1920s and 1930s, military authorities noticed that more and more draftees were unable to read, and it’s said that the rate of functional illiteracy among those having attended school has quadrupled since 1950.

    My kids, trained in phonics, are reading the KJV and NKJV comfortably by age 7. Kids in the local schools–rated highly by the state, by the way– not so much.

    As long as we have government schools and whole language instruction, there will be a big place for simplified Bible translations and paraphrases.

  • JonSLC

    This news also highlights the vital importance of training pastors and theologians in the original languages of the Scriptures. Finally, every translation will have flaws. At the very least, those who preach and teach the Word should be able to evaluate English versions and explain passages to their people.

  • JonSLC

    This news also highlights the vital importance of training pastors and theologians in the original languages of the Scriptures. Finally, every translation will have flaws. At the very least, those who preach and teach the Word should be able to evaluate English versions and explain passages to their people.

  • DonS

    JonSLC, that’s right. You should generally be familiar with several versions (modern software and websites make that easy — even on your phone!), and keep in mind that the original languages control. I’ve never been a huge fan of the NIV, because I thought that it deliberately chose readability and “relevance” over accuracy, but all of the more modern translations have their unique flaws. Personally, I most commonly use NASB, but often read NKJV and ESV.

  • DonS

    JonSLC, that’s right. You should generally be familiar with several versions (modern software and websites make that easy — even on your phone!), and keep in mind that the original languages control. I’ve never been a huge fan of the NIV, because I thought that it deliberately chose readability and “relevance” over accuracy, but all of the more modern translations have their unique flaws. Personally, I most commonly use NASB, but often read NKJV and ESV.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I’m an ESV person as well. It’s a good translation. I also like the NASB. Do Lutherans have their own translation, or do they use the NIV?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I’m an ESV person as well. It’s a good translation. I also like the NASB. Do Lutherans have their own translation, or do they use the NIV?

  • Stephen

    I was at Luther, St. Paul in the early 1990s when they began to do away with rigorous summer Greek classes for all divinity students, largely due to the advent of available databases and the coming of the Internet. I was one of the last crops that went through it and I am so thankful. If pastors, teachers and even laity cannot study the scriptures in the original languages on a broad scale, or at least have a facility there for the congregations they are shepherding, we are lost as an evangelical church. We are back to the days of an exclusive and elite priesthood, on the one hand, and on the other, the complete “democratization” of the scriptures on the other – I know apart from everyone else what it says in the Bible and NO ONE can tell me ANY different (because no one actually knows any different, and thus can speak with any authority).

    I see this latter phenomenon already fairly widespread, accounting for the dispersion of the church in the US. I think the problem is not these new attempts to make the scriptures accessible through new translations, it is an overall loss of the teaching role of the church. ” Go ye therefore and make disciples” means make them “pupils” – students of the things Jesus has commanded, the one who taught with authority. I love the image of our Lord as a boy in the temple. What could that imply for us?

    Maybe I am talking off topic. Elsewhere on this blog I keep beating away on this and it may be my little idol – learning and education. God chose what is foolish to shame the wise. Someone please smack me if it sounds that way. Having spent a little time overseas seeing what missionaries have done, in many cases they had to first teach people to read and educate them alongside offering them the Gospel. It went hand in hand.

    As for the inclusive language thing, it is not completely out of line to say “brothers and sisters” instead of simply “brothers” though I object when attempts to soften gender language invade upon Trinitarian language for the Father. I don’t get replacing “Saints.” I’m guessing someone felt that term was esoteric. The John literature is difficult, and this new designation of “Jewish leaders” IS an interpretation – perhaps an accurate one when fleshed out, but an interpretation nonetheless that is imposed on the words. But then we have been living with these paraphrased bibles for a long time. I enjoy my copy of “Psalms Now” published by Concordia. All of it leads me back to my initial point – these translations need to be read and taught in the context of the church, the body of believers where the Holy Spirit can guide that reading and where there are teachers to help that process along. This is in many ways is a counter-cultural move.

  • Stephen

    I was at Luther, St. Paul in the early 1990s when they began to do away with rigorous summer Greek classes for all divinity students, largely due to the advent of available databases and the coming of the Internet. I was one of the last crops that went through it and I am so thankful. If pastors, teachers and even laity cannot study the scriptures in the original languages on a broad scale, or at least have a facility there for the congregations they are shepherding, we are lost as an evangelical church. We are back to the days of an exclusive and elite priesthood, on the one hand, and on the other, the complete “democratization” of the scriptures on the other – I know apart from everyone else what it says in the Bible and NO ONE can tell me ANY different (because no one actually knows any different, and thus can speak with any authority).

    I see this latter phenomenon already fairly widespread, accounting for the dispersion of the church in the US. I think the problem is not these new attempts to make the scriptures accessible through new translations, it is an overall loss of the teaching role of the church. ” Go ye therefore and make disciples” means make them “pupils” – students of the things Jesus has commanded, the one who taught with authority. I love the image of our Lord as a boy in the temple. What could that imply for us?

    Maybe I am talking off topic. Elsewhere on this blog I keep beating away on this and it may be my little idol – learning and education. God chose what is foolish to shame the wise. Someone please smack me if it sounds that way. Having spent a little time overseas seeing what missionaries have done, in many cases they had to first teach people to read and educate them alongside offering them the Gospel. It went hand in hand.

    As for the inclusive language thing, it is not completely out of line to say “brothers and sisters” instead of simply “brothers” though I object when attempts to soften gender language invade upon Trinitarian language for the Father. I don’t get replacing “Saints.” I’m guessing someone felt that term was esoteric. The John literature is difficult, and this new designation of “Jewish leaders” IS an interpretation – perhaps an accurate one when fleshed out, but an interpretation nonetheless that is imposed on the words. But then we have been living with these paraphrased bibles for a long time. I enjoy my copy of “Psalms Now” published by Concordia. All of it leads me back to my initial point – these translations need to be read and taught in the context of the church, the body of believers where the Holy Spirit can guide that reading and where there are teachers to help that process along. This is in many ways is a counter-cultural move.

  • http://www.gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    For the last 25 years or so, I’ve been using a sturdy copy of the NIV which has thick paper and margins that are an inch and a quarter wide. This has been great for interacting with the text, underlining, writing comments etc. Does anyone publish an ESV like that? I’m thinking it’s time to pick up a new translation for my “working Bible”.

  • http://www.gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    For the last 25 years or so, I’ve been using a sturdy copy of the NIV which has thick paper and margins that are an inch and a quarter wide. This has been great for interacting with the text, underlining, writing comments etc. Does anyone publish an ESV like that? I’m thinking it’s time to pick up a new translation for my “working Bible”.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    J.Dean
    Lutherans tend to use the english translations available to the masses seeing no need to have our own translation. That said the LCMS anyway uses the ESV for the readings and so on in the New Hymnal, and the new Lutheran Study Bible also.
    Personally, I find English translations are much worse than translations into other languages that I am familiar with, Swedish, German, and Spanish. I think this is in large part due to the reformed bias of the English speaking world, and possibly to the sloppiness of the language in general.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    J.Dean
    Lutherans tend to use the english translations available to the masses seeing no need to have our own translation. That said the LCMS anyway uses the ESV for the readings and so on in the New Hymnal, and the new Lutheran Study Bible also.
    Personally, I find English translations are much worse than translations into other languages that I am familiar with, Swedish, German, and Spanish. I think this is in large part due to the reformed bias of the English speaking world, and possibly to the sloppiness of the language in general.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Blows my mind that a seminary finds Greek to be worthless because there are now available to the student cheat tools.
    I have yet to come up with the funds to buy logos, or any of the others. But I have great fun reading from the Greek New Testament everymorning and using my own set of cheaters, Kittle, Bauer Gingrich Arndt, and “A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament”. All of which would be painful to use without actual knowledge of Greek, and sometimes a bit misleading without that knowledge. It is amazing what you pick up in nuances and so forth when you just sit down to read it in the original as edited by Nestle-Aland…

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Blows my mind that a seminary finds Greek to be worthless because there are now available to the student cheat tools.
    I have yet to come up with the funds to buy logos, or any of the others. But I have great fun reading from the Greek New Testament everymorning and using my own set of cheaters, Kittle, Bauer Gingrich Arndt, and “A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament”. All of which would be painful to use without actual knowledge of Greek, and sometimes a bit misleading without that knowledge. It is amazing what you pick up in nuances and so forth when you just sit down to read it in the original as edited by Nestle-Aland…

  • Ryan

    Pastor Spomer yes:

    Cambridge (as in the University in England) makes excellent Bibles including an ESV Wide Margin (but check the font size – everybody’s mileage differs) http://www.cambridge.org/uk/bibles/esv/widemargin.htm

    As for the highest quality Bibles anywhere check RA Allan’s of Scotland:
    http://www.bibles-direct.co.uk/
    (or check here http://www.evangelicalbible.com/shop/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=12)

    Cambridge will last you potentially decades, Allan’s will last potentially a lifetime.

    Thanks for the answers with KJV and literacy. The idea between a low level and high level of reading ability in the past hadn’t occurred to me. I’ve always been under the impression that Adult Male literacy in the United States ran close to 100% in the 18th and early 19th Centuries – especially in New England, but of course up North they were reading the Geneva Bible not the KJV. I was familiar with the shift in how we teach reading in the public schools as I’m a homeschooling parent myself.

    As for Lutheran translations: ESV is the Bible used in LCMS publications including Concordia Publishing Houses fine ‘The Lutheran Study Bible’, NIV is usedby the WELS,In the ELCA the NRSV is popular (and liberal in bent). There is a Lutheran translation made by a Dr. William Beck of Concordia Seminary St. Louis in the 60s (?) called ‘An American Translation’, which is not half bad, and still is in print here: http://christiannewsmo.com/AAT.html

  • Ryan

    Pastor Spomer yes:

    Cambridge (as in the University in England) makes excellent Bibles including an ESV Wide Margin (but check the font size – everybody’s mileage differs) http://www.cambridge.org/uk/bibles/esv/widemargin.htm

    As for the highest quality Bibles anywhere check RA Allan’s of Scotland:
    http://www.bibles-direct.co.uk/
    (or check here http://www.evangelicalbible.com/shop/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=12)

    Cambridge will last you potentially decades, Allan’s will last potentially a lifetime.

    Thanks for the answers with KJV and literacy. The idea between a low level and high level of reading ability in the past hadn’t occurred to me. I’ve always been under the impression that Adult Male literacy in the United States ran close to 100% in the 18th and early 19th Centuries – especially in New England, but of course up North they were reading the Geneva Bible not the KJV. I was familiar with the shift in how we teach reading in the public schools as I’m a homeschooling parent myself.

    As for Lutheran translations: ESV is the Bible used in LCMS publications including Concordia Publishing Houses fine ‘The Lutheran Study Bible’, NIV is usedby the WELS,In the ELCA the NRSV is popular (and liberal in bent). There is a Lutheran translation made by a Dr. William Beck of Concordia Seminary St. Louis in the 60s (?) called ‘An American Translation’, which is not half bad, and still is in print here: http://christiannewsmo.com/AAT.html

  • Stephen

    Bror @ 23

    Amen! Nothing like it for me. I am a lay person, but when I have shared this enthusiasm with others at even the most informal bible studies they love it, even just looking at the scriptures in Greek! I mean, it is ours!!! Even just bouncing around between various English versions should be encouraged I think as way to kind of” swim” around in the Word (good baptismal image perhaps).

    I think the move at Luther was all for the sake of efficiency and part of a general shift in seminaries away from the academic model to a more practical, hands-on, program-oriented style of ministry. It’s more about meeting people’s needs than making sure we know the tradition and are passing it on. Not saying the latter isn’t there to some extent, but the efficiency model takes center stage more and more I think. They are trying to recruit, which is getting more difficult, so this greases the wheels in that way too.

    God works. There are good pastors. They need support and prayers. Don’t mean to bash anyone, just citing what seems to be a deficit in our Lutheranism as a whole. The LCMS, from whence I sprung and now worship, is having a hard time keeping the doors open on schools that were once its badge of honor. It’s the next generation of Lutherans and the one after that that I wonder about.

  • Stephen

    Bror @ 23

    Amen! Nothing like it for me. I am a lay person, but when I have shared this enthusiasm with others at even the most informal bible studies they love it, even just looking at the scriptures in Greek! I mean, it is ours!!! Even just bouncing around between various English versions should be encouraged I think as way to kind of” swim” around in the Word (good baptismal image perhaps).

    I think the move at Luther was all for the sake of efficiency and part of a general shift in seminaries away from the academic model to a more practical, hands-on, program-oriented style of ministry. It’s more about meeting people’s needs than making sure we know the tradition and are passing it on. Not saying the latter isn’t there to some extent, but the efficiency model takes center stage more and more I think. They are trying to recruit, which is getting more difficult, so this greases the wheels in that way too.

    God works. There are good pastors. They need support and prayers. Don’t mean to bash anyone, just citing what seems to be a deficit in our Lutheranism as a whole. The LCMS, from whence I sprung and now worship, is having a hard time keeping the doors open on schools that were once its badge of honor. It’s the next generation of Lutherans and the one after that that I wonder about.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    “It’s more about meeting people’s needs than making sure we know the tradition and are passing it on. ”
    yeah because those two aren’t congruent…. what people need is the word of God, what people want is something completely different.
    It is sad what is happening with out schools etc. But this whole bit of dumming down the curriculum for pastors isn’t going to help that at all. There are good pastors, but there are going to be fewer if that trend keeps.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    “It’s more about meeting people’s needs than making sure we know the tradition and are passing it on. ”
    yeah because those two aren’t congruent…. what people need is the word of God, what people want is something completely different.
    It is sad what is happening with out schools etc. But this whole bit of dumming down the curriculum for pastors isn’t going to help that at all. There are good pastors, but there are going to be fewer if that trend keeps.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Bror@ 23
    As a language teacher, I’m very disheartened by that approach. Live interaction and learning when it comes to a foreign language is always superior to learning via books or computers. While I have not formally studied Greek, I know that it can be very complex, and careless, ill-equipped attempts to study languages can result in bad theology (look at word of faith/prosperity preachers).

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Bror@ 23
    As a language teacher, I’m very disheartened by that approach. Live interaction and learning when it comes to a foreign language is always superior to learning via books or computers. While I have not formally studied Greek, I know that it can be very complex, and careless, ill-equipped attempts to study languages can result in bad theology (look at word of faith/prosperity preachers).

  • Dust

    Many years ago there was (is?) a translation called something like the “Beck” translation. Seemed to me that conservative Lutherans really liked that one? Am not sure why it never really took off…..

  • Dust

    Many years ago there was (is?) a translation called something like the “Beck” translation. Seemed to me that conservative Lutherans really liked that one? Am not sure why it never really took off…..

  • WebMonk

    Bror 23 – you mean people actually BUY Logos?!?!? Huh, here I thought it was just something everyone downloaded off of PirateBay or something like that. That’s what everyone seemed to do when my brother was at college.

  • WebMonk

    Bror 23 – you mean people actually BUY Logos?!?!? Huh, here I thought it was just something everyone downloaded off of PirateBay or something like that. That’s what everyone seemed to do when my brother was at college.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    By the way, a better link for the translators’ notes would be this PDF, which has rather extensive commentary on the changes. That’s where I got nearly all my information from (though some was just my comparing the two NIV versions on Bible Gateway).

    I’ve read the NIV for nearly all my (literate) life, as it was the de facto translation of the LCMS until I left (as well as the preferred Bible of most of my fellow Texans in the SBC), and it remains the translation of choice in the WELS. I have CPH’s Lutheran Study Bible, but I have to admit that I struggle with its ESV translation sometimes. You can criticize the NIV for lacking the “beauty of language”, but if that’s the text you have learned from your youth, it necessarily flows a lot better than any translation you’re less familiar with. Of course, I have no knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, so I can only analyze the English translations themselves.

    Anyhow, Veith notes that “Grammatical purists like me will be annoyed that the plural pronoun ‘they’ will be used for singulars of unspecified gender.” But I think the reply in the translators’ notes is interesting:

    It is interesting to observe that this development is a throwback to a usage of English that existed prior to the solidification of the generic “he” as the only “proper” usage during the nineteenth century in Victorian England. Even the KJV occasionally used expressions like “let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). For that matter, so did the Greek New Testament!

    I also think that eliminating “saints” would be less confusing for most readers, not more. Everyday usage, even among Christians, typically has “saints” referring to the Catholic concept, not all believers. I feel like the only time I hear the word “saints” mentioned in church is in the context of the liturgy or reading from Scripture, but in sermons or conversations, people refer to “believers” or “the Church”.

    At some point, we have to ask what the point of a Bible translation is, as it can’t be all things. I mean, I’m all for a beauty in both prose and poetry, use of clear modern language, and faithfulness to the original at the word, thought, and overarching levels. But, you know, that’s probably not going to happen.

    And while it’s nice to expect that everyone is only reading their Bible in the context of belonging to a church where their pastor is well-informed and can instruct them as to what the Bible says … that’s not always the case. For a lot of people, their Bible is their best chance for hearing God’s truth.

    For those people, I think it’s quite appropriate that “the word ‘propitiation’ was replaced with ‘atonement’” (@8), for example. If “propitiation” is the better word (and I’m honestly not sure how so), is it still the best choice if almost no one knows what it means? As to the claim that “the NIV butchers the language of Galatians 5 removing what is the in the Greek, ‘flesh’ / sarx and substituting ‘old man’”, the ’84 NIV actually uses “sinful nature”, with a footnote explaining that “the flesh” is also a possibility. The ’11 NIV uses “the flesh”, with a lengthy footnote saying that “In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit”. FYI.

    As to Stephen’s observing (@20) that “this new designation of ‘Jewish leaders’ IS an interpretation – perhaps an accurate one when fleshed out, but an interpretation nonetheless that is imposed on the words”, again, that goes to the question of what was the translators’ philosophy. But I’ve heard too many people complain that John’s Gospel is “anti-Semitic” — likely because of English translations in which “the Jews conspired to kill him” — to be able to maintain that everyone today knows that John was not literally referring to all of the Jews at that time.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    By the way, a better link for the translators’ notes would be this PDF, which has rather extensive commentary on the changes. That’s where I got nearly all my information from (though some was just my comparing the two NIV versions on Bible Gateway).

    I’ve read the NIV for nearly all my (literate) life, as it was the de facto translation of the LCMS until I left (as well as the preferred Bible of most of my fellow Texans in the SBC), and it remains the translation of choice in the WELS. I have CPH’s Lutheran Study Bible, but I have to admit that I struggle with its ESV translation sometimes. You can criticize the NIV for lacking the “beauty of language”, but if that’s the text you have learned from your youth, it necessarily flows a lot better than any translation you’re less familiar with. Of course, I have no knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, so I can only analyze the English translations themselves.

    Anyhow, Veith notes that “Grammatical purists like me will be annoyed that the plural pronoun ‘they’ will be used for singulars of unspecified gender.” But I think the reply in the translators’ notes is interesting:

    It is interesting to observe that this development is a throwback to a usage of English that existed prior to the solidification of the generic “he” as the only “proper” usage during the nineteenth century in Victorian England. Even the KJV occasionally used expressions like “let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). For that matter, so did the Greek New Testament!

    I also think that eliminating “saints” would be less confusing for most readers, not more. Everyday usage, even among Christians, typically has “saints” referring to the Catholic concept, not all believers. I feel like the only time I hear the word “saints” mentioned in church is in the context of the liturgy or reading from Scripture, but in sermons or conversations, people refer to “believers” or “the Church”.

    At some point, we have to ask what the point of a Bible translation is, as it can’t be all things. I mean, I’m all for a beauty in both prose and poetry, use of clear modern language, and faithfulness to the original at the word, thought, and overarching levels. But, you know, that’s probably not going to happen.

    And while it’s nice to expect that everyone is only reading their Bible in the context of belonging to a church where their pastor is well-informed and can instruct them as to what the Bible says … that’s not always the case. For a lot of people, their Bible is their best chance for hearing God’s truth.

    For those people, I think it’s quite appropriate that “the word ‘propitiation’ was replaced with ‘atonement’” (@8), for example. If “propitiation” is the better word (and I’m honestly not sure how so), is it still the best choice if almost no one knows what it means? As to the claim that “the NIV butchers the language of Galatians 5 removing what is the in the Greek, ‘flesh’ / sarx and substituting ‘old man’”, the ’84 NIV actually uses “sinful nature”, with a footnote explaining that “the flesh” is also a possibility. The ’11 NIV uses “the flesh”, with a lengthy footnote saying that “In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit”. FYI.

    As to Stephen’s observing (@20) that “this new designation of ‘Jewish leaders’ IS an interpretation – perhaps an accurate one when fleshed out, but an interpretation nonetheless that is imposed on the words”, again, that goes to the question of what was the translators’ philosophy. But I’ve heard too many people complain that John’s Gospel is “anti-Semitic” — likely because of English translations in which “the Jews conspired to kill him” — to be able to maintain that everyone today knows that John was not literally referring to all of the Jews at that time.

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  • Stephen

    J. Dean @26

    In Bror’s defense, since Koine Greek is a dead language it is a good idea to have reference texts such as the lexicon he mentions and the grammar aids, and other tools to do better translation and interpretive work. I don’t have experience with any computer programs per se, but I do use online bibles once in a while and I like them because I can access several translations quickly.

    But you are right too. Unless one is trained in how to use them and what they imply, there are all kinds of potential readings one might develop that could be way off-base, yet sound very authoritative. So I guess I am back to my other point about the scriptures being discussed among believers – perhaps we need to insist on a kind of “Midrash” tradition where we apply our understanding and experience together and discuss the scripture to see what God has to say to us as a people first RATHER than primarily as isolated individuals. Maybe this is the problem with the economics of creating and selling new translations, as if this alone will have some kind of saving effect. It’s like bringing people to Christ without then inviting them to join in the life of the Church. A huge piece is missing.

  • Stephen

    J. Dean @26

    In Bror’s defense, since Koine Greek is a dead language it is a good idea to have reference texts such as the lexicon he mentions and the grammar aids, and other tools to do better translation and interpretive work. I don’t have experience with any computer programs per se, but I do use online bibles once in a while and I like them because I can access several translations quickly.

    But you are right too. Unless one is trained in how to use them and what they imply, there are all kinds of potential readings one might develop that could be way off-base, yet sound very authoritative. So I guess I am back to my other point about the scriptures being discussed among believers – perhaps we need to insist on a kind of “Midrash” tradition where we apply our understanding and experience together and discuss the scripture to see what God has to say to us as a people first RATHER than primarily as isolated individuals. Maybe this is the problem with the economics of creating and selling new translations, as if this alone will have some kind of saving effect. It’s like bringing people to Christ without then inviting them to join in the life of the Church. A huge piece is missing.

  • Stephen

    Todd @29

    So, given what you are saying, there is a role for translators to teach, to greater or lesser degree. To your mind, this is because there is going to be those who do not read the scriptures within the context of the church, so there needs to be some accounting for this situation.

    Maybe that is an unfair reduction of everything you said, but you actually caught me at my own game. If I am willing to accept “brothers and sisters” then I ought to be able to accept “Jewish leaders” as well.

    Hmmmm. Is it a slippery slope? What are the theological implications of doing this – for instance, in my example, allowing one because Greek is an inflected language and you can’t get around using male gender pronouns for both genders, and disallowing the other because saying “Jewish leaders” is a conclusion based on a historical analysis and, maybe, a concern over Jewish/Christian dialogue? I don’t have an answer, but you see what is involved.

    We give up “saints” because it’s Catholic sounding? What does that say? This is where it gets tricky.

    By the way, my favorite Bible is an NIV that my mom gave me and my Baptist father in law hates it.

  • Stephen

    Todd @29

    So, given what you are saying, there is a role for translators to teach, to greater or lesser degree. To your mind, this is because there is going to be those who do not read the scriptures within the context of the church, so there needs to be some accounting for this situation.

    Maybe that is an unfair reduction of everything you said, but you actually caught me at my own game. If I am willing to accept “brothers and sisters” then I ought to be able to accept “Jewish leaders” as well.

    Hmmmm. Is it a slippery slope? What are the theological implications of doing this – for instance, in my example, allowing one because Greek is an inflected language and you can’t get around using male gender pronouns for both genders, and disallowing the other because saying “Jewish leaders” is a conclusion based on a historical analysis and, maybe, a concern over Jewish/Christian dialogue? I don’t have an answer, but you see what is involved.

    We give up “saints” because it’s Catholic sounding? What does that say? This is where it gets tricky.

    By the way, my favorite Bible is an NIV that my mom gave me and my Baptist father in law hates it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen (@31), your “reduction” is a fair one, for the most part, though I was less concerned with “those who do not read the scriptures within the context of the church” as much as — and this is even trickier — those who do not read the scriptures within the context of an orthodox church.

    That is to say, it certainly would be ideal if everyone had not only a good Bible translation, but a pastor/church that could explain everything in that translation. But many people attend churches where the pastor does not do a good job of explaining where the translation is lacking or confusing. I mean, isn’t that a result of the declining seminary training you described? As such, should we have a Bible translation that, to modern readers, requires outside explanation to be properly understood? Or should the translation go ahead and try to bridge that gap in understanding itself?

    At some level, I think the question is: who is the audience we’re imagining?

    Imagine you have a secular humanist friend. You invite him to study the Bible with you. You read a passage together from Romans (always a good start) — “the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” — and your friend turns to you and says, “I thought only Catholics believed that, but there it is in the Bible! Why doesn’t your church believe that?” You hurry to explain that what the text actually means isn’t just those select few holy people that the Catholic church has recognized, but in fact all believers. Your friend raises an eyebrow at you and asks, “Are you reading what you want to into the Bible, because you don’t want to believe what the Catholics teach?”

    See? It’s not that “we give up ‘saints’ because it’s Catholic sounding”, it’s that, to modern readers, “saints” refers only to the Catholic concept which is not actually in the Bible. The original text refers to all believers, but how would modern readers know that unless (1) their pastor tells them, or (2) the translation tells them itself? And I have already mentioned why (1) is problematic, especially these days.

    Same with “the Jews” and “brothers”. A well-versed Christian knows that John wasn’t including Jesus’ disciples in “the Jews”, and that women are included in most of the seemingly male-only language of the Bible. But then, a well-versed Christian would also understand those things if their Bible said “the Jewish leaders” and “brothers and sisters”. I’m not really worried about the understanding of a Christian who already knows his Bible well. The question for me is how that non-Christian or infrequent reader will understand the text.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen (@31), your “reduction” is a fair one, for the most part, though I was less concerned with “those who do not read the scriptures within the context of the church” as much as — and this is even trickier — those who do not read the scriptures within the context of an orthodox church.

    That is to say, it certainly would be ideal if everyone had not only a good Bible translation, but a pastor/church that could explain everything in that translation. But many people attend churches where the pastor does not do a good job of explaining where the translation is lacking or confusing. I mean, isn’t that a result of the declining seminary training you described? As such, should we have a Bible translation that, to modern readers, requires outside explanation to be properly understood? Or should the translation go ahead and try to bridge that gap in understanding itself?

    At some level, I think the question is: who is the audience we’re imagining?

    Imagine you have a secular humanist friend. You invite him to study the Bible with you. You read a passage together from Romans (always a good start) — “the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” — and your friend turns to you and says, “I thought only Catholics believed that, but there it is in the Bible! Why doesn’t your church believe that?” You hurry to explain that what the text actually means isn’t just those select few holy people that the Catholic church has recognized, but in fact all believers. Your friend raises an eyebrow at you and asks, “Are you reading what you want to into the Bible, because you don’t want to believe what the Catholics teach?”

    See? It’s not that “we give up ‘saints’ because it’s Catholic sounding”, it’s that, to modern readers, “saints” refers only to the Catholic concept which is not actually in the Bible. The original text refers to all believers, but how would modern readers know that unless (1) their pastor tells them, or (2) the translation tells them itself? And I have already mentioned why (1) is problematic, especially these days.

    Same with “the Jews” and “brothers”. A well-versed Christian knows that John wasn’t including Jesus’ disciples in “the Jews”, and that women are included in most of the seemingly male-only language of the Bible. But then, a well-versed Christian would also understand those things if their Bible said “the Jewish leaders” and “brothers and sisters”. I’m not really worried about the understanding of a Christian who already knows his Bible well. The question for me is how that non-Christian or infrequent reader will understand the text.

  • trotk

    tODD, as a student and teacher of Greek, I don’t like the interpretation that exists in the NIV. Your examples of the NIV clarifying (Jewish leaders verse Jews, brothers and sisters verse brothers, etc) don’t bother me nearly as much as when the NIV takes a text that is a little unclear and makes a decision about what it means, rather than rendering it word for word. The translators might be right, but they might also be wrong.

    A mild example (albeit from Hebrew):

    Psalm 19:3 (referring to the heavens telling the glory of God) literally (courtesy of NASB):
    There is no speech, nor are there words;
    Their voice is not heard.

    Interpreted (NIV):
    There is no speech or language
    where their voice is not heard

    By adding the word “where”, the translators have limited this, and they might be wrong. It could be that there is no speech used in the heavens telling the glory of God, or it could be that there is no speech (culture/nation) where it has not been heard.

    Obviously this example is mild, because both understandings are correct in light of all of the Bible, but I don’t like the worry that perhaps this has been done in more important passages.

    My other issue with the NIV is the tendency to eliminate subordination (particularly the use of the subjunctive), because the authors of the text in the NT used it for a purpose, and so even if it is difficult to understand at times, I want it kept.

  • trotk

    tODD, as a student and teacher of Greek, I don’t like the interpretation that exists in the NIV. Your examples of the NIV clarifying (Jewish leaders verse Jews, brothers and sisters verse brothers, etc) don’t bother me nearly as much as when the NIV takes a text that is a little unclear and makes a decision about what it means, rather than rendering it word for word. The translators might be right, but they might also be wrong.

    A mild example (albeit from Hebrew):

    Psalm 19:3 (referring to the heavens telling the glory of God) literally (courtesy of NASB):
    There is no speech, nor are there words;
    Their voice is not heard.

    Interpreted (NIV):
    There is no speech or language
    where their voice is not heard

    By adding the word “where”, the translators have limited this, and they might be wrong. It could be that there is no speech used in the heavens telling the glory of God, or it could be that there is no speech (culture/nation) where it has not been heard.

    Obviously this example is mild, because both understandings are correct in light of all of the Bible, but I don’t like the worry that perhaps this has been done in more important passages.

    My other issue with the NIV is the tendency to eliminate subordination (particularly the use of the subjunctive), because the authors of the text in the NT used it for a purpose, and so even if it is difficult to understand at times, I want it kept.

  • Stephen

    Those are excellent points. I would love to be a fly on the wall on a translation committee, sweating bullets I’d imagine (I’d hope!). Those were perhaps not the best examples of the “slippery slope” and maybe there isn’t one. But then, the kind of conversation you describe is exactly the kind of conversation we need to be having with agnostics or unbelievers or curious outsiders, being “prepared to give a defense” as it were instead of expecting it to be completed for us on the page. The Word we confess is not just book and page. This is the mistake of biblicism. The Word is a living word among God’s people and indeed, it is a person that we confess who is truly alive and with us. All that harping about “it’s in the bible” is just what we need to get away from, and we do that, ironically, by being more versed in what the bible actually is all about, as well as its history – our history with it. That’s what I think (can you tell?).

    I respect people who know the scriptures chapter and verse, who tote their bibles around until they are falling apart. Nothing at all wrong with that. But that does not always equate with a solid sense of how and why they have that bible in the first place, how they fit within a life of Christian witness, and what the claims are that make that book what it is (I’m not trying to put words in your mouth here). It is a bald fact that the bible is used by some of the most notorious people in criminal history as a catalyst and justification to do all kinds of horrible things. The point being again that even though we are committed to sola scriptura, the Word of God is not a book alone.

  • Stephen

    Those are excellent points. I would love to be a fly on the wall on a translation committee, sweating bullets I’d imagine (I’d hope!). Those were perhaps not the best examples of the “slippery slope” and maybe there isn’t one. But then, the kind of conversation you describe is exactly the kind of conversation we need to be having with agnostics or unbelievers or curious outsiders, being “prepared to give a defense” as it were instead of expecting it to be completed for us on the page. The Word we confess is not just book and page. This is the mistake of biblicism. The Word is a living word among God’s people and indeed, it is a person that we confess who is truly alive and with us. All that harping about “it’s in the bible” is just what we need to get away from, and we do that, ironically, by being more versed in what the bible actually is all about, as well as its history – our history with it. That’s what I think (can you tell?).

    I respect people who know the scriptures chapter and verse, who tote their bibles around until they are falling apart. Nothing at all wrong with that. But that does not always equate with a solid sense of how and why they have that bible in the first place, how they fit within a life of Christian witness, and what the claims are that make that book what it is (I’m not trying to put words in your mouth here). It is a bald fact that the bible is used by some of the most notorious people in criminal history as a catalyst and justification to do all kinds of horrible things. The point being again that even though we are committed to sola scriptura, the Word of God is not a book alone.

  • Stephen

    sorry, my last comments were for Todd @ 32

  • Stephen

    sorry, my last comments were for Todd @ 32

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    Pastor Spomer (#21):

    I have used the Cambridge wide-margin NIV for years as well, and have thousands of notes in the margins. My son has an ESV with wide (1.25″) margins that sounds like what you are looking for, but the Crossway site lists most of these as “Out of Print.”

    http://www.crossway.org/bibles/list/edition/605/

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    Pastor Spomer (#21):

    I have used the Cambridge wide-margin NIV for years as well, and have thousands of notes in the margins. My son has an ESV with wide (1.25″) margins that sounds like what you are looking for, but the Crossway site lists most of these as “Out of Print.”

    http://www.crossway.org/bibles/list/edition/605/

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Acroamaticus

    @Ryan #3

    Ryan, you missed my qualifier, “when _prosaic_ versions become the recieved text”. The AV and Luther Bibel were certainly not prosaic, which is why they had a beneficial effect on their respective languages.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Acroamaticus

    @Ryan #3

    Ryan, you missed my qualifier, “when _prosaic_ versions become the recieved text”. The AV and Luther Bibel were certainly not prosaic, which is why they had a beneficial effect on their respective languages.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    I regularly use both the NIV and ESV.

    There are things I like about the ESV, but at times it is rather clunky and doesn’t flow as naturally as the NIV. It is no good to be poetic and accurate to the original languages if one reads and re-reads a passage and ends up saying, “Huh?” I’ve turned to my NIV for clarification on an ESV passage many a time.

    Perhaps the ESV is due for a bit of a tune-up as well. I know there have been minor changes (just as the NIV had in 1988), but it needs a bit more work, mainly in word order.

    I like my NIV, but will absolutely not use the NIV 2011 with its culturally-driven translation philosophy. Let the Bible speak for itself on gender issues.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    I regularly use both the NIV and ESV.

    There are things I like about the ESV, but at times it is rather clunky and doesn’t flow as naturally as the NIV. It is no good to be poetic and accurate to the original languages if one reads and re-reads a passage and ends up saying, “Huh?” I’ve turned to my NIV for clarification on an ESV passage many a time.

    Perhaps the ESV is due for a bit of a tune-up as well. I know there have been minor changes (just as the NIV had in 1988), but it needs a bit more work, mainly in word order.

    I like my NIV, but will absolutely not use the NIV 2011 with its culturally-driven translation philosophy. Let the Bible speak for itself on gender issues.

  • Joanne

    One of my peaves of English translation is the very long tradition of not translating the word at all, but leaving it in the classical language, Greek or Latin. It’s a very common practice of the English language to pick up loan words; we’re practically proud of it.
    Take the word above of “saints,” the holy ones. I believe Luther would translate this from the Latin as “Die Heiligen.” See, not a problem in a language that actually translates it.
    More controversially, I’d like to see titles and names less Anglicized. Stephan was one of the seven Waiters and the first Witness. Peter said, You are The Annointed, the Son of the Living God.
    Why are words like Christ, martyr, deacon, bishop, saint, etc. not translated into English?

  • Joanne

    One of my peaves of English translation is the very long tradition of not translating the word at all, but leaving it in the classical language, Greek or Latin. It’s a very common practice of the English language to pick up loan words; we’re practically proud of it.
    Take the word above of “saints,” the holy ones. I believe Luther would translate this from the Latin as “Die Heiligen.” See, not a problem in a language that actually translates it.
    More controversially, I’d like to see titles and names less Anglicized. Stephan was one of the seven Waiters and the first Witness. Peter said, You are The Annointed, the Son of the Living God.
    Why are words like Christ, martyr, deacon, bishop, saint, etc. not translated into English?

  • Porcell

    Personally, I’ve read and reread the King James version of the Bible that was given to me during Confirmation. The style is superb with studied clarity. Though I have some Greek and much Latin, I am well aware of my linguistic limitations and pay careful attention to biblical scholars, who are rather familiar with the Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

    Among the most exemplary bores on earth are amateur devotees of the Bible who breathlessly hold forth with their precious pontifical interpretations of the Bible. Carl Piepkorn, an LCMS theologian, warned about the tendency of making an idol of the Bible.

  • Porcell

    Personally, I’ve read and reread the King James version of the Bible that was given to me during Confirmation. The style is superb with studied clarity. Though I have some Greek and much Latin, I am well aware of my linguistic limitations and pay careful attention to biblical scholars, who are rather familiar with the Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

    Among the most exemplary bores on earth are amateur devotees of the Bible who breathlessly hold forth with their precious pontifical interpretations of the Bible. Carl Piepkorn, an LCMS theologian, warned about the tendency of making an idol of the Bible.

  • Ken Howes

    Simple people were able to read the KJV. There was no issue of its being difficult to read. For some 300 years, “the Bible”, in the English language, meant the KJV, as surely as “die Bibel” meant Luther’s in German. What happened is that schools were gradually, in language arts, dumbed down. An 8th grader in 1900 had a better knowledge of English grammar and literature than a high school senior in 2000. (The sciences are a different story.)

    For me, I am glad that I learned with the KJV. It remains my favorite edition for quotation and devotions, and I use it along with the ESV, Luther, the Vulgate and the UBS Greek New Testament in exegesis. (I occasionally go to Tyndale’s NT, which is the grandfather of the KJV; it is the one English edition, the translator of which actually consulted with Luther.)

    The children still learn the Lord’s Prayer in the old English; I have not heard that it makes teaching them the prayer any more difficult.

  • Ken Howes

    Simple people were able to read the KJV. There was no issue of its being difficult to read. For some 300 years, “the Bible”, in the English language, meant the KJV, as surely as “die Bibel” meant Luther’s in German. What happened is that schools were gradually, in language arts, dumbed down. An 8th grader in 1900 had a better knowledge of English grammar and literature than a high school senior in 2000. (The sciences are a different story.)

    For me, I am glad that I learned with the KJV. It remains my favorite edition for quotation and devotions, and I use it along with the ESV, Luther, the Vulgate and the UBS Greek New Testament in exegesis. (I occasionally go to Tyndale’s NT, which is the grandfather of the KJV; it is the one English edition, the translator of which actually consulted with Luther.)

    The children still learn the Lord’s Prayer in the old English; I have not heard that it makes teaching them the prayer any more difficult.

  • Stephen

    Joanne @39

    Do we have words for these terms like martyr, deacon, bishop, etc? Maybe some, but do we want to say that “I believe in Jesus, the Anointed One?” Sounds kind of cool, but I don’ think it would pass muster. English itself is a language of borrowed terms. Why is that so important? I get the “vernacular” thing (I think) but will it be that in ten years we have a version of the NT in some kind of “text message speak” because that is what everyone is familiar with? I may be speaking somewhat absurdly to push the point, but where is the onus on the Church itself to own these ancient terms, describe them for others, and . . . teach?

  • Stephen

    Joanne @39

    Do we have words for these terms like martyr, deacon, bishop, etc? Maybe some, but do we want to say that “I believe in Jesus, the Anointed One?” Sounds kind of cool, but I don’ think it would pass muster. English itself is a language of borrowed terms. Why is that so important? I get the “vernacular” thing (I think) but will it be that in ten years we have a version of the NT in some kind of “text message speak” because that is what everyone is familiar with? I may be speaking somewhat absurdly to push the point, but where is the onus on the Church itself to own these ancient terms, describe them for others, and . . . teach?

  • Ryan

    Oops Acroamaticus, your right!

  • Ryan

    Oops Acroamaticus, your right!

  • Dust

    trotk at 33…..

    Psalm 19:3 (referring to the heavens telling the glory of God) literally (courtesy of NASB):
    There is no speech, nor are there words;
    Their voice is not heard.

    Could it also be plausible that the heavens have literally no speech as we understand speech (for obvious reasons), nor words (which would follow from no speech), but they could still have a “voice” in that they are sending a message. Alas, sadly the message (of the glory) is not heard?

    Not trying to be argumentative or challenge a trivial point, but to me this perhaps ties in with the extreme materialistic explanation of the heavens, usually leaving God the Creator out….thus, their voice is not heard?

    If so, this was a great example of how much more powerful scripture gets the closer one gets to the original text. Worth the effort to spend the time…..a rare commodity in today’s fast paced society and culture.

    Thank you for your time :)

  • Dust

    trotk at 33…..

    Psalm 19:3 (referring to the heavens telling the glory of God) literally (courtesy of NASB):
    There is no speech, nor are there words;
    Their voice is not heard.

    Could it also be plausible that the heavens have literally no speech as we understand speech (for obvious reasons), nor words (which would follow from no speech), but they could still have a “voice” in that they are sending a message. Alas, sadly the message (of the glory) is not heard?

    Not trying to be argumentative or challenge a trivial point, but to me this perhaps ties in with the extreme materialistic explanation of the heavens, usually leaving God the Creator out….thus, their voice is not heard?

    If so, this was a great example of how much more powerful scripture gets the closer one gets to the original text. Worth the effort to spend the time…..a rare commodity in today’s fast paced society and culture.

    Thank you for your time :)

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I like the CEV, Contemporary English Version because its reading level is 5th grade. I got frustrated teaching Sunday school using versions that are too high a reading level for the kids. So, I bought a case for my students. My older son was able to read it cover to cover by following a year reading plan. He could understand it easily.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I like the CEV, Contemporary English Version because its reading level is 5th grade. I got frustrated teaching Sunday school using versions that are too high a reading level for the kids. So, I bought a case for my students. My older son was able to read it cover to cover by following a year reading plan. He could understand it easily.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    You know when it comes to God’s word we ought to be just a bit careful in translations. I used to have a lot of people talk about the living Bible and how easy it was to understand and read.
    Well “See Spot Run” is easy to read and understand, the question becomes is it God’s word? When you dumb it down too much I think it ceases to be helpful. The Bible wasn’t written at a fifth grade level. It isn’t so in the original, and it ought not be so in the English.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    You know when it comes to God’s word we ought to be just a bit careful in translations. I used to have a lot of people talk about the living Bible and how easy it was to understand and read.
    Well “See Spot Run” is easy to read and understand, the question becomes is it God’s word? When you dumb it down too much I think it ceases to be helpful. The Bible wasn’t written at a fifth grade level. It isn’t so in the original, and it ought not be so in the English.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Trotk (@33), I don’t take issue with the specific problems you cite with the NIV’s translation, but nor do I think they address the issues I raised in previous comments. Also, owing to the fact that you actually know (Koine) Greek, you are one of the people for whom I am least concerned when it comes to Bible translations. :)

    Stephen (@34), “… with agnostics or unbelievers or curious outsiders, being ‘prepared to give a defense’ as it were instead of expecting it to be completed for us on the page.” Right, but I would much rather be prepared to give a defense (or “answer” as the NIV says :) ) for the “hope that I have”, and not for why my faith appears to contradict the Bible translation in question. Because, while I think I understand what you mean by “the mistake of biblicism”, I also believe that among the people most likely to make that “mistake” are agnostics/atheists and poorly informed Christians. To give the kind of answers that your reply hints at (“Well, actually, if you look at the original Greek, and not this particular English translation …”) smacks of evasion — and possibly elitism — to many who don’t really understand Scripture. Or at least that’s the concern I’m voicing here. I understand that any approach will have its problems.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Trotk (@33), I don’t take issue with the specific problems you cite with the NIV’s translation, but nor do I think they address the issues I raised in previous comments. Also, owing to the fact that you actually know (Koine) Greek, you are one of the people for whom I am least concerned when it comes to Bible translations. :)

    Stephen (@34), “… with agnostics or unbelievers or curious outsiders, being ‘prepared to give a defense’ as it were instead of expecting it to be completed for us on the page.” Right, but I would much rather be prepared to give a defense (or “answer” as the NIV says :) ) for the “hope that I have”, and not for why my faith appears to contradict the Bible translation in question. Because, while I think I understand what you mean by “the mistake of biblicism”, I also believe that among the people most likely to make that “mistake” are agnostics/atheists and poorly informed Christians. To give the kind of answers that your reply hints at (“Well, actually, if you look at the original Greek, and not this particular English translation …”) smacks of evasion — and possibly elitism — to many who don’t really understand Scripture. Or at least that’s the concern I’m voicing here. I understand that any approach will have its problems.

  • Dust

    what Bror says at 46!

    Plus, isn’t there some kind of verse in the Bible about adding or subtracting from these words as a bad thing? Does that apply in this case?

  • Dust

    what Bror says at 46!

    Plus, isn’t there some kind of verse in the Bible about adding or subtracting from these words as a bad thing? Does that apply in this case?

  • trotk

    There are more than two types of translation. The simplest to perform is word for word literal translation, where tenses remain the same, the identical word in the foreign language is used, moods and voices of verbs are preserved, etc. This is the NASB or ESV.

    The hardest is literal accuracy but in a style (including language and vocabulary) that would be at the same level in the new culture as in the original. This oftentimes means departing from a word for word translation, because you are attempting to communicate the exact thoughts in the same style. This is incredibly difficult. I honestly don’t know of any English translations that do this. This is what I would be inclined to read, if it existed.

    In the middle, there are all sorts of variations. The NIV makes no attempt to match the style of the original writing, nor does it try to have literal accuracy, but it instead focuses on communicating the same thought in whatever words, grammatical constructions, and style necessary to be easily readable in English by the average person. That is the vision, and there is a place for that.

    I would like to see a text that feels the freedom to break the conventional slavish devotion to certain words being used as the only acceptable translation. Good examples are the ones that have already been brought up. For example, I like holy ones instead of saints, because while it means the same thing, it causes one to think and see things as they were intended. I think this would answer some of the issues where the non-believers see the Biblical text as at odds with the profession of the believer, because certain words are so misunderstood.

    This text would be literal, word for word, attempt to catch the style of the writer, and yet avoid translating certain words into words that have either lost their meaning in English or that are profoundly misunderstood. And yet, I want the mood and voice of verbs preserved.

    Would this satisfy?

  • trotk

    There are more than two types of translation. The simplest to perform is word for word literal translation, where tenses remain the same, the identical word in the foreign language is used, moods and voices of verbs are preserved, etc. This is the NASB or ESV.

    The hardest is literal accuracy but in a style (including language and vocabulary) that would be at the same level in the new culture as in the original. This oftentimes means departing from a word for word translation, because you are attempting to communicate the exact thoughts in the same style. This is incredibly difficult. I honestly don’t know of any English translations that do this. This is what I would be inclined to read, if it existed.

    In the middle, there are all sorts of variations. The NIV makes no attempt to match the style of the original writing, nor does it try to have literal accuracy, but it instead focuses on communicating the same thought in whatever words, grammatical constructions, and style necessary to be easily readable in English by the average person. That is the vision, and there is a place for that.

    I would like to see a text that feels the freedom to break the conventional slavish devotion to certain words being used as the only acceptable translation. Good examples are the ones that have already been brought up. For example, I like holy ones instead of saints, because while it means the same thing, it causes one to think and see things as they were intended. I think this would answer some of the issues where the non-believers see the Biblical text as at odds with the profession of the believer, because certain words are so misunderstood.

    This text would be literal, word for word, attempt to catch the style of the writer, and yet avoid translating certain words into words that have either lost their meaning in English or that are profoundly misunderstood. And yet, I want the mood and voice of verbs preserved.

    Would this satisfy?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The Bible wasn’t written at a fifth grade level. It isn’t so in the original, and it ought not be so in the English.”

    Is that really true? I have no idea, of course. But what is the point of making it harder than it needs to be? Translation is something of an art because of the fundamental differences between the languages. Now my son is in middle school and reading the Today’s Light which is NIV and designed to be read over two years.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The Bible wasn’t written at a fifth grade level. It isn’t so in the original, and it ought not be so in the English.”

    Is that really true? I have no idea, of course. But what is the point of making it harder than it needs to be? Translation is something of an art because of the fundamental differences between the languages. Now my son is in middle school and reading the Today’s Light which is NIV and designed to be read over two years.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Trotk (@49), you get on that. It’ll sell like hotcakes! ;)

    I also wonder about Bror’s assertion (@46), SG (@50). I have heard that Paul’s writing was not all that complex, though I am completely unable to assess that claim.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Trotk (@49), you get on that. It’ll sell like hotcakes! ;)

    I also wonder about Bror’s assertion (@46), SG (@50). I have heard that Paul’s writing was not all that complex, though I am completely unable to assess that claim.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    I haven’t used the NIV in years except when I am checking memory work with my confirmads as Faith Alive is still using the NIV (I understand this is changing). It now looks like I won’t just not be using it but also not recommending it anymore.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    I haven’t used the NIV in years except when I am checking memory work with my confirmads as Faith Alive is still using the NIV (I understand this is changing). It now looks like I won’t just not be using it but also not recommending it anymore.

  • Dust

    What grade level did Shakespeare direct his work? Not even sure most middle class (to call them that) even had an education way back then, but for sure regular, everyday types loved his work and showed up at the Globe! Guess the average Joe and Jane perhaps knew more than we think??? Or, perhaps this is much ado about nothing :)

  • Dust

    What grade level did Shakespeare direct his work? Not even sure most middle class (to call them that) even had an education way back then, but for sure regular, everyday types loved his work and showed up at the Globe! Guess the average Joe and Jane perhaps knew more than we think??? Or, perhaps this is much ado about nothing :)

  • Vance

    I second a comment by Bike Bubba (6). I haven’t seen anyone else mention the Holman Christian Standard Bible. I have read a dozen or so translations cover to cover, from KJV to “The Message” and, having just finished the HCSB, I consider it to be an excellent all around translation, including being good for study. Has anyone else looked at it closely or compared it to others?

  • Vance

    I second a comment by Bike Bubba (6). I haven’t seen anyone else mention the Holman Christian Standard Bible. I have read a dozen or so translations cover to cover, from KJV to “The Message” and, having just finished the HCSB, I consider it to be an excellent all around translation, including being good for study. Has anyone else looked at it closely or compared it to others?

  • trotk

    tODD @52: All the authors of the New Testament were at different levels in terms of their difficulty and their command of Greek. Paul is the most academically complex and difficult, as he writes in a style that is more classical than Koine. John (especially in the Gospel) is at the other end of the spectrum, which is why most students of Koine are given John first (although sometimes Mark is first). Generally, the Gospels are easier than the epistles, and I would not characterize Paul as anything other than pretty complex. His sentences are long and full of subordination and the word order is pretty complex, where John’s sentences are pretty short with little subordination and simplistic word order.

    Bror, as for the claim that the Bible shouldn’t be made simpler in English than it is in the original, my academic side agrees with this, because I like the periodic masterpieces that Paul creates, and I want to see him (or any John or Luke or any author) in the text as I am reading and understanding it, but I am not sure that this matters for the accurate transmission of God’s Word and Gospel.

    Spiritually, I can’t figure out a way to prove that making the academic difficulty of the translation match the academic difficulty of the manuscript matters. Besides, some of the authors just aren’t that grammatically or stylistically complex. Their thoughts were, but not the language itself.

    The one argument that I am coming up with revolves around subordination, and it is a central issue to me because the depth (measured in subordination and the use of the subjunctive or other moods) of a language is both a product and cause of the depth of thought in the individual. Not the only product, and not the only cause, but still one that should matter to some degree.

    For example, using subordinate clauses teaches understanding in a way that a series of independent clauses doesn’t, because it forces us to see the relationships between the various clauses, which is what understanding is, whereas independent clauses don’t force you to see those relationships. You can investigate them if you desire, but most readers treat a series of independent clauses as a series of coequal statements.

  • trotk

    tODD @52: All the authors of the New Testament were at different levels in terms of their difficulty and their command of Greek. Paul is the most academically complex and difficult, as he writes in a style that is more classical than Koine. John (especially in the Gospel) is at the other end of the spectrum, which is why most students of Koine are given John first (although sometimes Mark is first). Generally, the Gospels are easier than the epistles, and I would not characterize Paul as anything other than pretty complex. His sentences are long and full of subordination and the word order is pretty complex, where John’s sentences are pretty short with little subordination and simplistic word order.

    Bror, as for the claim that the Bible shouldn’t be made simpler in English than it is in the original, my academic side agrees with this, because I like the periodic masterpieces that Paul creates, and I want to see him (or any John or Luke or any author) in the text as I am reading and understanding it, but I am not sure that this matters for the accurate transmission of God’s Word and Gospel.

    Spiritually, I can’t figure out a way to prove that making the academic difficulty of the translation match the academic difficulty of the manuscript matters. Besides, some of the authors just aren’t that grammatically or stylistically complex. Their thoughts were, but not the language itself.

    The one argument that I am coming up with revolves around subordination, and it is a central issue to me because the depth (measured in subordination and the use of the subjunctive or other moods) of a language is both a product and cause of the depth of thought in the individual. Not the only product, and not the only cause, but still one that should matter to some degree.

    For example, using subordinate clauses teaches understanding in a way that a series of independent clauses doesn’t, because it forces us to see the relationships between the various clauses, which is what understanding is, whereas independent clauses don’t force you to see those relationships. You can investigate them if you desire, but most readers treat a series of independent clauses as a series of coequal statements.

  • KarenK

    Kevin at #37 and Pastor Spomer (#21):

    You can still get some of the Crossway’s wide margin ESV bibles at Barnes and Noble online. Oxford is now publishing the ESV wide margin Bibles.

    http://productsearch.barnesandnoble.com/search/results.aspx?WRD=esv+wide+margin&box=esv%20wide%20margin&pos=-1

    (quote)
    37 Kevin N November 16, 2010 at 5:56 pm
    Pastor Spomer (#21):

    I have used the Cambridge wide-margin NIV for years as well, and have thousands of notes in the margins. My son has an ESV with wide (1.25″) margins that sounds like what you are looking for, but the Crossway site lists most of these as “Out of Print.”

    http://www.crossway.org/bibles/list/edition/605/

    (unquote)

  • KarenK

    Kevin at #37 and Pastor Spomer (#21):

    You can still get some of the Crossway’s wide margin ESV bibles at Barnes and Noble online. Oxford is now publishing the ESV wide margin Bibles.

    http://productsearch.barnesandnoble.com/search/results.aspx?WRD=esv+wide+margin&box=esv%20wide%20margin&pos=-1

    (quote)
    37 Kevin N November 16, 2010 at 5:56 pm
    Pastor Spomer (#21):

    I have used the Cambridge wide-margin NIV for years as well, and have thousands of notes in the margins. My son has an ESV with wide (1.25″) margins that sounds like what you are looking for, but the Crossway site lists most of these as “Out of Print.”

    http://www.crossway.org/bibles/list/edition/605/

    (unquote)

  • trotk

    tODD, another application of the same principle you voiced in 33. You worried about the people reading the Bible in a heterodox church. I worry (because I work with them every day) about kids in an orthodox church becoming numb to the meaning of words because they hear them every day. This is why I want a translation that doesn’t feel it has to use the “proper” English versions of the terms used in the telling of the gospel. Redemption, atonement, propitiation, justification – the list is long. There are a host of these terms, and although I can’t supply good alternatives for them all, I know that it possible to use equally accurate words and phrases that will startle students with the staggering reality of what Christ has done.
    One great example is the term “bride of Christ”. I don’t know the alternative, but I know that the average Christian kid doesn’t think about anything when they hear this, and it ought to shock us and cause us to wonder.

    All this while preserving accuracy, beauty, depth – and making no interpretations (only clarifications) of the text. And I am not prepared, nor am I capable, of doing this translation.

  • trotk

    tODD, another application of the same principle you voiced in 33. You worried about the people reading the Bible in a heterodox church. I worry (because I work with them every day) about kids in an orthodox church becoming numb to the meaning of words because they hear them every day. This is why I want a translation that doesn’t feel it has to use the “proper” English versions of the terms used in the telling of the gospel. Redemption, atonement, propitiation, justification – the list is long. There are a host of these terms, and although I can’t supply good alternatives for them all, I know that it possible to use equally accurate words and phrases that will startle students with the staggering reality of what Christ has done.
    One great example is the term “bride of Christ”. I don’t know the alternative, but I know that the average Christian kid doesn’t think about anything when they hear this, and it ought to shock us and cause us to wonder.

    All this while preserving accuracy, beauty, depth – and making no interpretations (only clarifications) of the text. And I am not prepared, nor am I capable, of doing this translation.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Booklover @5, in answer to your question, I think the Bible translations with the best literary qualities are those in the great tradition of the English Bible: The KJV, which itself drew on the previous translations by Wycliffe and the Lutheran martyr Tyndale, and then the updating of that translation, the RSV, which kept most of the KJV’s literary qualities. I currently use the ESV, which is a conservative version of the RSV, leaving out its liberal scholarship, but, again, keeping most of the historical language.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Booklover @5, in answer to your question, I think the Bible translations with the best literary qualities are those in the great tradition of the English Bible: The KJV, which itself drew on the previous translations by Wycliffe and the Lutheran martyr Tyndale, and then the updating of that translation, the RSV, which kept most of the KJV’s literary qualities. I currently use the ESV, which is a conservative version of the RSV, leaving out its liberal scholarship, but, again, keeping most of the historical language.

  • Stephen

    “Translation is something of an art because of the fundamental differences between the languages.” – sg

    I think about everything trotk is saying supports sg’s observation. For one thing, I don’t think there is any way to read the scriptures without interpretation, even if you read them in Greek or Hebrew. But if we back up to the distinction trotk makes of “clarification” when creating a translation I think this is still an attempt at exposition, so I am not sure there is a difference in the two things. If anyone has ever been in a situation where they had to speak through an interpreter, then you know that words do not pass through that medium unchanged. There needs to be some level of trust there.

    I may be confusing things and working at cross purposes, because what I want to encourage is both learning and facility with and about the scriptures among Christians, and I don’t want to forsake historic language in order to make it go down easy, but I also want to instill confidence that the scriptures are trustworthy. They are, and studying them further is not going to get anyone to the bottom of things. That’s not the point. Still, it is a worthy task. For me, it is a way of devotion with mind, soul and strength.

    And we have help in all this. First of all, as Lutherans, we say that the scriptures speak plainly, and I think that is true, not because of the word choices in their particularity, but because God is faithful. Secondly, we have the law/gospel approach, the way our Confessions teach us to hear and discern the Word that is there. The Holy Spirit is always present with us when we do this work of hearing and speaking from the scriptures. God will accomplish what He intends (Isaiah 55:11) and be with us in our efforts (Mt 28:20)

    I think making translations for kids is great, and adults in a post-literate world is fine, but seeking to create translations that make evangelism and/or witness effortless – is that what we’re talking about? Will changing “saints” to “holy ones” solve much or just create a new problem? “So you think you are holy, is that it?” In which case we can have a discussion about sanctification and we’d better know Article VI, eh? Now we’re onto something!

    I’m kidding (sort of). Why give up these words? We have a history. It is ours. Why not learn it and learn from it and claim and connect with it? Why always this tyranny of the present moment? Is it the desire to reach out or the fear of becoming irrelevant?

  • Stephen

    “Translation is something of an art because of the fundamental differences between the languages.” – sg

    I think about everything trotk is saying supports sg’s observation. For one thing, I don’t think there is any way to read the scriptures without interpretation, even if you read them in Greek or Hebrew. But if we back up to the distinction trotk makes of “clarification” when creating a translation I think this is still an attempt at exposition, so I am not sure there is a difference in the two things. If anyone has ever been in a situation where they had to speak through an interpreter, then you know that words do not pass through that medium unchanged. There needs to be some level of trust there.

    I may be confusing things and working at cross purposes, because what I want to encourage is both learning and facility with and about the scriptures among Christians, and I don’t want to forsake historic language in order to make it go down easy, but I also want to instill confidence that the scriptures are trustworthy. They are, and studying them further is not going to get anyone to the bottom of things. That’s not the point. Still, it is a worthy task. For me, it is a way of devotion with mind, soul and strength.

    And we have help in all this. First of all, as Lutherans, we say that the scriptures speak plainly, and I think that is true, not because of the word choices in their particularity, but because God is faithful. Secondly, we have the law/gospel approach, the way our Confessions teach us to hear and discern the Word that is there. The Holy Spirit is always present with us when we do this work of hearing and speaking from the scriptures. God will accomplish what He intends (Isaiah 55:11) and be with us in our efforts (Mt 28:20)

    I think making translations for kids is great, and adults in a post-literate world is fine, but seeking to create translations that make evangelism and/or witness effortless – is that what we’re talking about? Will changing “saints” to “holy ones” solve much or just create a new problem? “So you think you are holy, is that it?” In which case we can have a discussion about sanctification and we’d better know Article VI, eh? Now we’re onto something!

    I’m kidding (sort of). Why give up these words? We have a history. It is ours. Why not learn it and learn from it and claim and connect with it? Why always this tyranny of the present moment? Is it the desire to reach out or the fear of becoming irrelevant?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “The Lutheran martyr Tyndale” (@59)? Dr. Veith, are you calling Tyndale a Lutheran? I’m not familiar with this claim.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “The Lutheran martyr Tyndale” (@59)? Dr. Veith, are you calling Tyndale a Lutheran? I’m not familiar with this claim.

  • Ryan

    Tyndale, like most Brits of the time, eventually came squarely down in the Calvinist camp. For example, Tyndale rejected the Lutheran Confession of the Lord’s Supper.

    http://www.ctlibrary.com/ch/1987/issue16/1619.html

  • Ryan

    Tyndale, like most Brits of the time, eventually came squarely down in the Calvinist camp. For example, Tyndale rejected the Lutheran Confession of the Lord’s Supper.

    http://www.ctlibrary.com/ch/1987/issue16/1619.html

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I recall that James White, by the way, has a great book on King James only disputes. An interesting read for those interested.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I recall that James White, by the way, has a great book on King James only disputes. An interesting read for those interested.

  • jgernander

    Although Tyndale may not be a Lutheran, the Lutheran Miles Coverdale *did* have an English translation of the Bible which, I believe, had some influence on the later KJV. Coverdale also produced a hymnbook (“Ghoostly Psalmes,” I think) that included many Lutheran hymns including Lazarus Spengler’s “By Adam’s Fall,” 1st 4 verses.

    Pastor Jerry Gernander

  • jgernander

    Although Tyndale may not be a Lutheran, the Lutheran Miles Coverdale *did* have an English translation of the Bible which, I believe, had some influence on the later KJV. Coverdale also produced a hymnbook (“Ghoostly Psalmes,” I think) that included many Lutheran hymns including Lazarus Spengler’s “By Adam’s Fall,” 1st 4 verses.

    Pastor Jerry Gernander

  • Ken Howes

    Tyndale spent several weeks in Wittenberg, and was certainly strongly influenced by Luther, before his martyrdom in Holland. His successor, Coverdale, who completed Tyndale’s Bible translation (which is the translation used in the Book of Common Prayer, not the KJV), was a Lutheran pastor in Cologne until after the death of Henry VIII. Coverdale became influenced by the Reformed later on, but was firmly a Lutheran at the time he was working on the Bible.

  • Ken Howes

    Tyndale spent several weeks in Wittenberg, and was certainly strongly influenced by Luther, before his martyrdom in Holland. His successor, Coverdale, who completed Tyndale’s Bible translation (which is the translation used in the Book of Common Prayer, not the KJV), was a Lutheran pastor in Cologne until after the death of Henry VIII. Coverdale became influenced by the Reformed later on, but was firmly a Lutheran at the time he was working on the Bible.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Regarding Joanna’s complaint about English Bibles transliterating, rather than translating, terms, there is plus and minus. “Martyr” means “witness.” “Episcopos” means “overseer”. “Baptizo” means “immerse.”

    That said, when one chooses to translate according to the primary meaning of a Greek word, you simultaneously lose the ecclesiastical meaning. Was Jesus immersed, or was He baptized, or was it……both? It’s not an easy choice!

    It illustrates brilliantly the need to learn original languages. I’ve dabbled a touch in Greek and Hebrew, and a recent exploration I had (the dancing references in Psalms 149:3 and 150:4) made it VERY clear to me that I needed to improve my understanding of verb tenses to parse out whether the form of “hallal” was an imperative, an invitation, or….?

    If it’s imperative, or even a strong invitation, then we have the Hebrews basically under a Biblical imperative to give motion to their worship–and…..perhaps the Church as well!

    I don’t know the answer, since I am regrettably in the position of not knowing my Hebrew well enough, much like the prosperity theologians and such another referred to. Regarding these, my (sorry not humble enough) opinion is that they tend to be monolingual….on a good day.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Regarding Joanna’s complaint about English Bibles transliterating, rather than translating, terms, there is plus and minus. “Martyr” means “witness.” “Episcopos” means “overseer”. “Baptizo” means “immerse.”

    That said, when one chooses to translate according to the primary meaning of a Greek word, you simultaneously lose the ecclesiastical meaning. Was Jesus immersed, or was He baptized, or was it……both? It’s not an easy choice!

    It illustrates brilliantly the need to learn original languages. I’ve dabbled a touch in Greek and Hebrew, and a recent exploration I had (the dancing references in Psalms 149:3 and 150:4) made it VERY clear to me that I needed to improve my understanding of verb tenses to parse out whether the form of “hallal” was an imperative, an invitation, or….?

    If it’s imperative, or even a strong invitation, then we have the Hebrews basically under a Biblical imperative to give motion to their worship–and…..perhaps the Church as well!

    I don’t know the answer, since I am regrettably in the position of not knowing my Hebrew well enough, much like the prosperity theologians and such another referred to. Regarding these, my (sorry not humble enough) opinion is that they tend to be monolingual….on a good day.

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  • Jeremy

    “Not to mention the presumption of correcting the Bible’s “sexist” language.”

    It’s not a matter of being sexist, it’s a matter of having an accurate translation. Modern readers will interpret “man” or “men” as being exclusively male. If I’m a pastor and I were to go to a modern congregation and ask all men to rise, I doubt there would be any women who would stand.

  • Jeremy

    “Not to mention the presumption of correcting the Bible’s “sexist” language.”

    It’s not a matter of being sexist, it’s a matter of having an accurate translation. Modern readers will interpret “man” or “men” as being exclusively male. If I’m a pastor and I were to go to a modern congregation and ask all men to rise, I doubt there would be any women who would stand.

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  • James

    Rev. Paul T. McCain wrote: “Zondervan is owned by the Ruppert Murdoch media empire, which owns Harper Collins, of which Zondervan is now a subsidiary. Murdoch’s media company is one of the world’s largest distributors of pornography. Keep that fact in mind next time you buy a copy of the NIV. The profits from the NIV go into subsidizing the activities of Murdoch’s companies.”

    Do you have some links that support this? On the News Corporation Wikipedia page I see that they have numerous movie, TV, and magazine holdings. However, I don’t see any porn specific companies. i.e. Producers of hard porn.

  • James

    P.S. The News Corporation Wikipedia page is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_Corporation

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