New Testament Gospel Doctrine Resources (Post 2): The Bible, Text, and Translation

New Testament Gospel Doctrine Resources (Post 2): The Bible, Text, and Translation December 6, 2018

My updated bookshelf: Mission triple, quad, Jewish Study Bible, Reader’s Hebrew Bible, Reader’s Greek New Testament, Jewish Annotated New Testament, Hart’s New Testament.

(Link to Part 1, the Short List)

First, I’m doing a book giveaway on Facebook. In order to qualify, you need to Like and Follow my page, and then Share this post.

Now, back to resources. I want to emphasize that the absolute best and easiest thing you can do to increase the quality and frequency of your Bible study is to replace/supplement your KJV with a different translation. This is almost a silver bullet for increasing understanding, appreciation, and enthusiasm. You can do it with a free app or website, or go old-school and buy hardcover. I do both.

In the lists below, I’ve starred the really important stuff.

However, personal study out of a non-KJV Bible is also something that strikes many Mormons as unfaithful or not allowed. So let’s begin with some books and articles on… 

The Bible in General, the KJV, and How It Became the Official LDS (English) Bible

Main Translations

  • New Revised Standard Version or NRSV
  • English Standard Version or ESV
    • As a revision of the RSV, this is a sibling translation to the NRSV, and both are descendents of the KJV. I have very strong feelings about the ESV Study Bible edition: avoid it.
  • New English Translation or NET Bible
    • While you can buy one in print, it’s great advantage is the thousands and thousands of comments explaining the translation. It would be long if complete in print, but their study website is quite useful. It’s still useful in spite of being recently revised in a more theologically conservative Protestant direction.
  • There are many many other translations out there which I probably wouldn’t recommend, but I’m going to single out the NIV. Don’t read it.
    • Why? Well, it’s pretty flawed, and especially when we come to Paul, Evangelical bias is clear.
    • See Kevin Barney’s blogpost.
    • Also N.T. Wright’s view, from his book Justification.

      I must register one strong protest against one particular translation. When the New International Version was published in 1980, I was one of those who hailed it with delight. I believed its own claim about itself, that it was determined to translate exactly what was there, and inject no extra paraphrasing or interpretative glosses. This contrasted so strongly with the then popular New English Bible, and promised such an advance over the then rather dated Revised Standard Version, that I recommended it to students and members of the congregation I was then serving. Disillusionment set in over the next two years, as I lectured verse by verse through several of Paul’s letters, not least Galatians and Romans. Again and again, with the Greek text in front of me and the NIV beside it, I discovered that the translators had had another principle, considerably higher than the stated one: to make sure that Paul should say what the broadly Protestant and evangelical tradition said he said…. I do know that if a church only, or mainly, relies on the NIV it will, quite simply, never understand what Paul was talking about. This is a large claim, and I have made it good, line by line, in relation to Romans in my big commentary, which prints the NIV and the NRSV and then comments on the Greek in relation to both of them. Yes, the NRSV sometimes lets you down, too, but nowhere near as frequently or as badly as the NIV.

  • Jewish Annotated New Testament
    • This is the NRSV with commentary from a Jewish perspective, the same Jewish scholars who produced the Jewish Study Bible I refer to so often in my posts. It’s insightful but can be challenging, and some of it I disagree with. A second edition came out in 2017 with greatly enlarged essays and comments.
  • Footnotes to the New Testament for Latter-day Saints, by Kevin Barney, John Gee, and others.
    • Available in hardcover, or free pdf. It’s the KJV with footnotes, like an LDS Study Bible, basically. This was originally to be published in hardcover by Covenant years ago, but they underwent a change in direction and backed out. Now it’s free.

Single-author Translations

These tend to be a little quirkier since they are produced by individuals, but no less interesting or useful.

The Greek Text(s) and Tools

If you want to understand the Greek textual/manuscript basis for differences in translations, these are your two resource.

If you want to play with the underlying Greek, let me be clear; DO NOT USE STRONG’S CONCORDANCE and don’t trust anybody who claims an understanding of meaning based on it. It’s outdated, and was never intended as a dictionary to begin with. Instead, get the free version of Logos, the free KJV, and invest in this resource. (Link to Logos version.) You can jump directly from a KJV word into an essay about its meaning in the New Testament and Greco-Roman literature. I model this in a screencast, here. I buy everything possible in Logos. This can still be useful in paper, but you may need to use Strong’s as a bridge to figure out what Greek word to find where.

As always, you can help me pay my tuition here. You can also get updates by email whenever a post goes up (subscription box on the right). You can also follow Benjamin the Scribe on Facebook. If you friend me on Facebook, please drop me a note telling me you’re a reader. I tend not to accept friend requests from people I’m not acquainted with.

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