Monday, August 27, 2007

Translations


First, I want to send a big Thank You out to my good friend at the beach, Nathan, for helping me figure out what was up with the comments. Evidently no one was allowed to comment, but now it is fixed.
Here's also a picture of me and Kevin at a Cleveland Indians game about a month ago.
I have begun reading a book for seminary called "How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth" by Fee and Stuart, and it mentions in here some of the differences among versions of the Bible. I have often wondered this and have heard some different things. Here's what they say: There are three ways in which the Bible can be translated - literally, functionally, and freely. The challenge with every version of the Bible as it is being translated is what to keep the same and what to change. The English language is quite different from Hebrew and Greek, and we are also averaging a couple thousand years difference in time, and a couple thousand miles difference in place and culture. So, to translate everything word for word would end up being odd and nonsensical to us. The opposite end of that spectrum is to update the original author's words too much to the point that it borders on commentary instead of translation. In the middle of this spectrum are the translations that have strived to translate in a relevant way to our world today, yet still preserving as much of the meaning (not exact wording necessarily) as possible. So, on the one hand, there are the Bibles that tend to be very literal in translation - and these are the King James Versions and similar. Then there are the freely translated versions - and these are the Message and Living Bible and similar. In the middle of these are the Bibles with the highest degree of functionality and the ones that have had the wording updated in the most common sense way while preserving original meaning, and these are the NIVs and NRSVs. Here is a quote from the book - "The TNIV is as good a translation as you will get." This is because it has the most up to date wording available (therefore having a high degree of relevance), while also having a high degree of original meaning preserved.
I am not making any personal statements on what Bible you should be reading from. In fact, their recommendation is that you begin with a TNIV/NIV as your main source of reading, and then also have an NSRV or NASU (word-updated versions of KJV) to compare with (as these are the more literal wordings), and also incorporate a GNB or NAB in order to give yourself the best possible set of resources for intelligent reading and study of the Bible. It is also recommended that you have a Bible Dictionary as a resource when you need information about people, times, places, etc. They did also mention that if you had a freely translated Bible (such as the Message) that these are sometimes helpful in helping you to think more creatively about what the meaning of a passage might be, but that this should certainly not be the only version you are reading from.
I found this information interesting and personally went promptly to my stack of 9 Bibles to see which ones I had and which ones I might need to investigate further. Of the ones they recommend, I have a couple NIVs, a NRSV and that's about it. I do have the GNB on my computer though. I also have a KJV, LB, MSG, NEB, and NCV, plus a whole slew on the computer. This book is a great book at helping you to figure out how to interpret the Bible on your own - without relying heavily on commentaries or other sources. You can do it, if you know the proper methods. Check this book out, or borrow it from me in about 4 weeks when I will be done with it. And above all, get in your Bible, whatever version you have, every day!

1 comment:

MilePost13 said...

Good friend...does that mean you'll take me to a basball game?