Thursday, September 9, 2010

At least three English Bibles

Dan Wallace addresses "What Bible Should I Own? at Parchment and Pen in three categories and concludes that each of us should have at least three English Bibles in our libraries:
.... First, I think everyone should own a King James Bible. It has been hailed as one of the greatest literary monuments to the English language, and the greatest literary monument every produced by a committee. Regardless of what you think of the KJV’s accuracy, it is a must for all English-speaking Christians. I would add that I think it’s a must for all English-speaking people, regardless of their faith commitments. ....

Second, I would propose that every English-speaking Christian own a good study Bible. It should be accurate and readable, and have plenty of helpful notes. There are several excellent study Bibles available, but the one I like the best is the NET Bible (available at www.bible.org). Why the NET? .... What makes the NET Bible unique are three things: its philosophy of translation, how it was produced, and its extensive footnotes. The translation philosophy was to combine three different approaches: accuracy, readability, and literacy. ....

But there are other good study Bibles, too. The ESV [English Standard Version] is an excellent, literary translation with understated elegance, in keeping with the KJV and RSV [Revised Standard Version]. And its study Bible, with articles and notes, is excellent. The NIV Study Bible has very good notes and a very readable translation, but it interprets a bit too much for my tastes. The NRSV [New Revised Standard Version] is a very good translation, though its stance on gender inclusivism sometimes mars the beauty of the translation and is even, at times, misleading (cf. Matt 18.15; 1 Tim 3.2). The REB [Revised English Bible] is a gender-inclusive translation but it has sidestepped the problems of the NRSV by giving literary power a higher priority. ....
Finally, I suggest that every English-speaking Christian get a Bible that is readable, lively, and captures the ‘feel’ of the original. The more accurate Bibles usually don’t do this (including the NET and ESV). The NIV comes close, but Eugene Peterson’s The Message, the Living Bible [now The New Living Translation], and J.B. Phillips’ The New Testament in Modern English do well in this regard. These are Bibles that are meant to be read one chapter (or passage) at a time, not verse by verse. In fact, Phillips stripped out the verse numbers and only had chapters so that the reader would not get bogged down when reading the text.

So, what Bible should you own? At least three, and one of them needs to be the King James Bible. But whatever you get, make sure to read it! [more] [Note: I have expanded the titles of the Bibles that were abbreviated above and added the Amazon links]
In the third category, I would recommend Phillips, although he only did the New Testament.

Thanks to Justin Taylor for the reference.

Parchment and Pen » What Bible Should I Own (Dan Wallace)