The Washington Post has an article about two new Bible translations. We’ve already blogged about the new gender-adjusted NIV that will take the place of the NIV beloved by many evangelicals. There is also a new translation of the New American Bible, the version approved for Roman Catholics.
The new Catholic Bible retools only the Old Testament. The first new version since 1970, it is meant to sound more poetic and more contemporary, with “spoils” replacing “booty” and “burnt offering” supplanting “Holocaust.”
It could stir controversy, however, with decisions such as the one meant to be truer to the Hebrew – translating Isaiah 7:14 to say a “young woman” shall conceive, and bear a son, instead of a “virgin,” which is how the previous Catholic Old Testament and most evangelical Bibles read. …
Some experts predict that the radical fragmentation in the marketplace will kill the contemporary notion that the Bible is a fixed text meant to be read literally.
Timothy Beal, a religion professor at Case Western University who just came out with a book called “The Rise and Fall of the Bible,” compared the flurry of versions to “a distressed crop. When a tree is about to die and puts out tons of seeds.”The Bible, Beal said, “is not a book of answers but a library of questions. It doesn’t speak in one voice. It doesn’t take one perspective. This frantic, desperate effort to resolve contradictions is going against the grain of the Bible, which seems to embrace contradictions.”
One problem with today’s Roman Catholicism is its embrace of liberal Protestantism! Liberal Bible critics have been pushing for the “young woman” translation of Isaiah’s prophecy ever since the RSV. Never mind that when the New Testament quotes the passage it cites the Septuagint, which is clearly “virgin,” a prophecy of the virgin birth of Christ. Scripture is not allowed to interpret Scripture, as in classical Protestant hermeneutics. But now Roman Catholics are going down that line. Will they now pray to the Young Woman Mary?
And what do you think of the Bible scholar’s comments?
Do you agree that so many translations is diluting the sense that the Bible has a fixed authoritative meaning?