Monday, December 16, 2013

Which version is best?

Get Religion's "Religion Guy" responds to "There are many different versions of the Bible.... Which is considered the closest to the earliest available manuscripts?"
...[M]ost renditions from recent decades are reliable products from well-credentialed scholars capable of wrestling with the best available texts. Because there are so many ancient Greek New Testament manuscripts and the meaning of some Hebrew Old Testament terms is unclear, there are differences in wording among the translations, but key substantive disagreements are few. Instead, the major differences involve the philosophy of translation and, to a lesser extent, the reading skill of the intended audience. ....

Popular paraphrases such as Kenneth Taylor’s Living Bible, Eugene Peterson’s The Message, or J.B. Phillips’ elegant New Testament in Modern English aim for literary flow more than accuracy and are not true translations. Such loose versions can be helpful for fresh thinking and overview, but an actual translation is recommended for careful study of a passage.

Thanks to the computer age, www.biblegateway.com can provide Bible browsers the full text of no less than 46 English translations to search and compare, not only the modern RSV, ESV, NRSV, NIV, NASB, or HCSB, but the King James, Douay-Rheims, John Wycliffe’s pioneering and outlawed version of 1382, and the influential Geneva Bible from 1599. This Web resource has texts in many other languages. It lacks two important English Bibles, the Catholic NAB and the Jewish Publication Society’s modernized Tanakh of 1985. ....
My father introduced me to the J.B. Phillips paraphrase of the New Testament and it remains a favorite. Nothing comes close to the literary quality of the KJV, but the ESV has become my default for personal reading and aloud when I lead congregational worship.

So which Bible version is really the most authentic?