Wednesday, June 15, 2022

"Pick up and read"

A Classicist considers Bible translation:
Every year, it seems, at least one new English Bible translation appears. .... ...[T]heir sheer number still raises this question from church-goers and Bible readers: what is the best translation to use? And a related question: do we even need more English translations of the Bible? ....

In a 2014 blog post, “Your Bible and Its Tribe,” Scot McNight rightly bemoaned the divisive nature of Bible translations. In a tongue-in-cheek list, he matched the tribes and their translations as follows:
  • NRSV for liberals and Shane Claiborne lovers;
  • ESV for Reformed complementarian Baptists;
  • HCSB for LifeWay store buying Southern Baptists;
  • NIV for complementarian evangelicals;
  • TNIV for egalitarians;
  • NIV 2011 for peacemakers;
  • NASB for those who want straight Bible, forget the English;
  • NLT for generic brand evangelicals;
  • Amplified for folks who have no idea what translation is but know that if you try enough words one of them will hit pay dirt;
  • NKJV and KJV for Byzantine manuscript-tree huggers;
  • The Message for evangelicals looking for a breath of fresh air and seeker sensitive, never-read-a-commentary evangelists who find Peterson’s prose so catchy.
  • CEB for mainliners who read their Bibles.

In another post, McNight himself noted that “The reality is that the major Bible translations in use today are all good, and beyond good, translations.” ....

The translation wars are clearly not over, and may forever continue on this side of Heaven. Sometimes comments pop up on social media that show a remarkable degree of ignorance about the ancient linguistic and historical context of the Bible and the work of translators of any document written in an ancient language and in the context of the ancient world. ....

...[R]eading the Bible in translation is just as reliable, generally speaking, as reading it in its original languages. In fact, even readers who read the Bible today in the original languages have to remember our fallibility as people and, especially, as people who are not living in the cultural world of the original audiences, many of whom, by the way, couldn’t read, but engaged with the text through hearing it. ....

God is unchanging, and so is His Word. But human language, like human society, is complex and nuanced, its words shifting in meaning over time. The many different translations rightly aim to reflect this reality while staying true to God’s Word. So, to conclude with an answer to that common question that Christians worry about: which translation of the Bible is the best? The answer: the one that draws your soul closer to God and helps you love others better. As the voice of God once said to Augustine, tolle lege. Pick up and read.
Nadya Williams, "Bible Translations: A Classicist Weighs In," Anxious Bench, June 15, 2022.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. I will gladly approve any comment that responds directly and politely to what has been posted.