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Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Courage of Clarity

In my opinion, many English Bible translators would do well to rediscover their mother tongue as they translate. There is beauty in good literary English. Ironically, it is possible to miss writing in good literary English while trying to avoid dumbing down language or being too colloquial, or through importing non-English language patterns to English translations.

Every English Bible translation team should be required to (re)take a course in how to write well in English before they translate. And it is good to be reminded again and again of what good literary English is, by reading it, and listening to those who teach about the great English classics of literature, including well-written contemporary literature.

The webpage to which this post is linked (click on the title of this post) is one among many voices that call us to write well in English. The better the English is in English Bibles, the more it will be in the mother tongue of those who Bible translators are trying to reach with God's Word in English.

Of course, clarity should never trump accuracy in translation. But neither should obfuscation or convoluted writing ever substitute for clarity, when translators know the meaning they are trying to convey. It is possible to translate both accurately and clearly.

Clear writing requires work, it requires discipline to write only following the patterns and rules of one's mother tongue, and it requires repeated revision until both accuracy and clarity shine through in translation.


Pretentious Language

I just found this webpage (click on the link above) which is a transcript of an interview conducted on the Voice of America radio program Wordmaster. Ken Smith, an author, is interviewed, and he says some of the same things I have often felt about how people use alternate ways of speaking to accomplish different purposes.

Have you ever heard someone start out "I am cognizant of the fact that ..."? How do you feel when you hear that? Would it have the same meaning (but not social impact) if they had simply said "I know that ..." In my college English class, where our professor helped me improve my English writing a great deal, the answer would have been clear. Our professor would have said, "Just write 'I know that ...' or 'I have become aware of the fact that'!" Is this dumbing down of English? No, not in the least. Stop and think for awhile about what might motivate someone to use Latinate-influenced English such as "I am cognizant of the fact that ..."

Here's another one, this time from some English Bibles, "... in all my remembrance of you" (Phil. 1:3) Is there any logical, linguistic, theological, or other principled reason why this could not be worded, instead, in standard English as "... every time I remember you"? What principle of Bible translation would call for us to use the convoluted, Latinate-influenced (the word "remembrance" is Latinate in origin), and periphrastic (not paraphrastic) wording "... in all my remembrance of you"?

What other examples of convoluted, Latinate, or pretentious (even unintended) English have you found in English Bibles? Why don't you post some examples by clicking on the Comment link following this message. You can log in as Anonymous, or even better, as "Other", or, of course, if you already have a Blogger username, please use that.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Which version has your English? -- Part 2

After I posted my first essay in this series, Tim Bulkeley, whose biblical scholarship posted on the Internet I have admired for years, commented on how difficult it was for him to know what kind of English he used so that he could respond to the survey I posted on Bible versions in that essay. I thanked Tim for his honesty and admitted that I am not alert enough to the fact that many people are not aware of how they speak or write English. They simply use the language. Tim's comments prompted me to try to think of better ways to help people become aware of their own language usage. This exercise might not be interesting for most people--except for language nuts like me who thoroughly enjoy observing how others and I myself use English. The exercise can have value for all of us, though, since I believe that a Bible version will more accurately communicate to us and will impact us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually if it is written in our heart language. That is the passion that drives Bible translators around the world to translate for those who do not have the Bible in their heart language. By heart language, I am referring to one's own native language, especially the natural way that one speaks or writes in that native language. And that is the passion that moves me to try to help English Bible versions be written not only accurately, but also in the heart language of English readers.

So I thought of some exercises that can help lead us, hopefully, to discover what kind of English we each use and whether or not it is the same English that is in the Bible versions that we use.

In today's exercise, I would like to use a non-biblical example, because sometimes if we go directly to biblical examples, our brains switch to a "Bible dialect" that we might be familiar with, and then the exercise is not as objective as it could be.

So, please check (tick) any of the following sentences that sound to you like something you would naturally say or write in your everyday, ordinary life. Some of you may mark more than one sentence and that is just fine. Click on the Send button. You may get a warning message about Sending. Approve (OK) sending. I won't reveal your email address to others, nor will I spam you. I will receive the results of this exercise. After several days, I will post the results of this survey on this blog.

1. My heart is swallowed up in sorrow upon every remembrance of you that you had to go to the hospital.
2. My heart is swallowed up in sorrow upon every remembrance of you that you had to go to hospital.
3. I feel very sad every time I remember that you had to go to the hospital.
4. I feel very sad every time I remember that you had to go to hospital.
5. I get really twisted out of shape every time it hits me that you had to go to the hospital.
6. You know, like, I feel really bummed, dude, every time my cognitive recall, you know, like, tells me again, that you were, like, so sick you had to go to the hospital.
7. My heart is heavy every time I become cognizant of the fact that you had to go to the hospital.
8. I feel very sad every time I become cognizant of the fact that you had to go to the hospital.
9. Deep sadness comes to me whenever I remember that you had to go to the hospital.
10. Full sadness comes to me whenever I remember that you had to go to the hospital.
11. I sure get sad every time I remember that you had to go to the hospital.
12. I surely get sad every time I remember that you had to go to the hospital.
13. My heart is pulled down every time I remember that you had to go to the hospital.
14. My heart is weighed down every time I remember that you had to go to the hospital.
15. Heavy heartedness comes to me every time I remember that you had to go to the hospital.
16. I feel very sad upon every remembrance of you knowing that you had to go to the hospital.
17. I am downcast in every remembrance of you knowing that you had to go to the hospital.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Translation maxims

Here is a set of translation maxims I developed a number of years ago. I thought it would be interesting to post the list here. It still appears at its original URL which is linked to the title for this blog entry. Feel free to comment on any of these maxims.

by Wayne Leman

1. Any concept can be expressed in any language, using the natural linguistic resources of that language. The translation of a concept will often have a different number of words from what it had in the original text, because all languages differ in their vocabulary (lexicon) and how their words relate to each other (syntax).

2. A translation should not sound like a translation. It should sound like any other good, natural speech or writing in that language.

3. Accuracy is measured by the degree to which users of a translation get the same meaning from it which the original text had. Accuracy can be determined by field testing the translation among a wide range of speakers of the target language.

4. Word-for-word translation does not necessarily increase [communicative] accuracy. In fact, it often reduces [communicative] accuracy.

5. Thought-for-thought translation does not increase [communicative] accuracy, if the translator inserts ideas of his/her own which are not in the meaning of the original text.

6. Meaning is found more than just in words. It is the total expression of an utterance, including meaning which is found in the words, but also in the syntax of how the words are connected to each other, how the resultant phrases are connected to each other, and how sentences, paragraphs, episodes, and discourse segments relate to each other. Meaning is also often not explicitly expressed in one language, because there are cultural clues making it unnecessary to do so. But that implicit meaning is just as much a part of the meaning of an utterance as are the explicit words and syntax. Meaning is also found not just in the denotations of words, but also in their connotations. A good translation will reflect, to the best degree possible, the connotations, rhetorical impact, and emotive style of the original text. Total accuracy requires preserving all of these aspects of the original meaning, lexical meaning, syntactic and discourse meaning, implicit meaning (that which is necessary for accurately understanding an utterance), connotations, rhetorical impact, and other aspects of good style.

7. The best translations are made by individuals who are native speakers of the target language. The best native speaker translators are those who are very sensitive to proper grammar and word combinations in their own language. These translators will likely be recognized by others in their language community as being good speakers, perhaps even eloquent.

Which version has your English?

A few weeks ago I posted a survey on my Bible Translation website which asks for people to vote for which English version of the Bible had English which sounded closest to the way they speak and write. Since then I started this blog and thought it would be a good idea to include the same survey here, which I did. Having the survey on this blog probably garnered a few more votes than the survey would have just being on my Bible translation website. But I am new to blogging and still learning how to use the Blogger software and how to make this blog look nicer (for my eyes, anyway!). The survey was working fine. And it looked fine in my usual browser, Internet Explorer. But after a few days I realized that I needed to see how my blog looked in other browsers, for those who use them. I used Mozilla Firefox to access my blog and was startled to find that the box in which the survey appeared threw off formatting for the side margin of my blog. The survey appeared far from its intended location. So, yesterday, as I made further revisions to the blog page, I removed the survey, so that the side margin would look right in both Internet Explorer and Firefox.

But, the survey should look fine in an individual blog entry, so here it is, again, ... hmm, trying, still trying, .... well, I tried several options but I could not get the survey to display properly in this blog entry, and I got error messages about the code, so if you want to vote, please go to my Bible Translation website and vote there. Oh, wait, ... after completing this essay, I tried one more time to include the survey in this blog entry. I deleted one line of code and I think we might have success ... Do we? I think we do, although the survey doesn't look exactly the way it should. But I think it will work. Who wants to try it to find out? :-)

Bible versions English quality
Which English Bible version has wordings closest to how you normally speak and write?

(PLEASE NOTE the key words here are "how you normally speak and write." This is not a survey about your favorite Bible version. ALSO, if you have already voted in this survey on the Bible Translation website, please do not vote again.)

King James Version
New International Version
Today's New International
New Living Translation
New American Standard Bible
English Standard Version
Holman Christian Standard Bible
New Revised Standard Version
Good News Translation (TEV)
Contemporary English Version
New Century Version
New King James Version
New American Bible
New Jerusalem Bible
NET Bible
Revised Standard Version
The Message
God's Word
Revised English Bible

Now, surveys like this are not perfect. They are not scientific polls. They only register votes from those who happen to come across my survey on the Internet-- and I don't have nearly the number of visitors that CNN gets for its online surveys!! And of those who see my survey, not all choose to vote.

Furthermore, as you can see from comments posted after you take the survey, some, perhaps many, respondents are not familiar with all of the Bible versions in the survey. So the survey is distorted in that respondents usually only vote for Bible versions with which they are familiar. Some versions, such as the NAB, NJB, TEV (GNT), CEV, NCV, BLB, and ISV are not well known to many who faithfully read and study an English Bible. Sometimes it is not even easy to locate a bookstore that sells the less well known versions.

And sometimes, I suspect, respondents may vote for their favorite version or the one they are most familiar with, perhaps because we are people who are so rushed and do not always understand survey instructions as we might if we took more time to read them, or if they were written more clearly. Besides, for many people, the version they use most probably does seem to them to be written in the language that they normally speak and write. Many people do not think critically about how something is written that they read. They simply read for content, which is the most natural thing to do.

For those who are interested, the American Bible Society sells a number of versions, including less well known versions such as the GNT, CEV, and NJB. stocks many different English Bible versions, including the NCV, GNT, NAB, CEV Learning Bible, and the TNIV, which is not sold in some Christian bookstore chains. stocks the CEV, NCV, as well as several of the more popular English versions. sells the GW (God's Word) translation, CEV, NCV, ISV, TNIV, as well as several other Bible versions.

Please note that this post will slide off the list of active blog entries after so many other entries are added. But visitors to this blog can still access the survey at its link at the top of the right margin of this blog.

And finally, and this is very important, this survey is not about which version is most accurate. Translation accuracy is of great concern to most of us for whom the Bible is important. It can be difficult to vote for a version which has good quality, natural English but which may not be as accurate as some version which has less natural English. The ideal English Bible version has not yet been made and published, one which is judged by biblical scholars to be highly accurate and also judged by English scholars to be written in contemporary, natural English. It is not easy to bring these two important qualities of Bible translation together into a single book, although there are some versions which come close, in my opinion. I think I should save expressing that opinion for another essay sometime, if I even have the courage to tell how I feel then, since feelings run deep about English Bible versions. There is much heat in Bible version debates, and I confess that it is not easy for me to be the recipient of the most strident of criticisms about views of English Bible versions. Even though I, too, have deeply held convictions about Bible translation, I personally prefer a calmer, more collegial exchange of views on hot topics, rather than heated rhetoric. Different strokes for different folks! Most who have strong opinions about Bible versions do so because those opinions are rootly in deeply held convictions about biblical teaching and theology, the nature of language, and whether or not the Bible is meant to be understand by the "man in the street" (or even the woman in the street, if the word "man" does not include everyone in your dialect, which is another hot topic).

What comments do you have to make after reading this blog entry? Click on the Comment link right below this message and write what you think.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Parableman evaluates a TNIV passage

In yesterday's post on his Parableman blog, Jeremy Pierce analyzes the translation of 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 in several recent English versions, including the TNIV. Although he is not an advocate for the TNIV, nor am I, his conclusion is most informative:
My conclusion is that the TNIV does the best job with these verses, at least with respect to these pronouns. There are other places of difference here that I'm not talking about at all. On this decision, the TNIV is actually the most accurate of all these translations, and it achieves this by paying more attention than the others to the form of the original. Yet in doing so, it somehow violates whatever intuition lies behind the popular conception of translating literally. I say that's just a good argument against using the popular conception of translating literally and sticking with more precise goals of preserving the meaning that the form conveys while also trying to preserve as much as you can of the sense of the original without losing equally important aspects of the meaning that come with the form, all the while sounding like English.
There's food for thought about what it means to translate accurately. You might also want to read what I wrote some time ago, "When literal is not accurate." A literal translation can be accurate. But sometimes a literal translation is not the most accurate. In my opinion, the highest goal for any Bible translation is communicative accuracy, which is ensuring that a translation is done so well that its readers can accurately understand the the original meaning of the source text. Oh, yes, I am old-fashioned enough to advocate for original meaning and authorial intent.

What do you think?


Monday, April 25, 2005

Domesticating vs. foreignizing Bible translation

Translation scholars have long debated whether or not a translation of any text should bring the cultural and linguistic information of that text more in line with the culture of the target audience (domesticating approach) or leave the foreign text sounding foreign to the target audience, retaining as much of the source text's linguistic and cultural forms as possible (the foreignizing approach). This issue has entered the debate over what are the best ways to translate the Bible, which is a collection of books written by men of cultures and languages different from most who read the Bible in translation.

Some believe that a translation of the Bible should sound as "foreign" as possible. As far as I can tell, retaining the foreignness of a translation is equivalent to "transparency" in Bible translation, a translation principle promoted by Dr. Leland Ryken, Professor of English at Wheaton College, as well as Dr. Raymond Van Leeuwen of Eastern University. Others seem to believe that it is better to make a Bible translation as if the Bible were written directly to us today.

Is the Bible a foreign book? Yes, it is: The Bible is a collection of books which were written by authors who wrote in languages which are no longer spoken today-- although Modern Hebrew is related to Biblical Hebrew and Modern Greek is obviously related to the Hellenistic (Koine) Greek of the New Testament as well as other ancient Greek dialects. The biblical authors lived thousands of years ago, in cultures different from those of many cultures today. The cultures from which they wrote were strongly patriarchal. There was slavery. Marriage sometimes included polygamy and concubines. In general, women were not formally educated.

Should Bible translators "transculturate" any of the content of the biblical source texts so that it sounds more "modern." One of the most extreme examples of Bible translation transculturation was the Cotton Patch Version of the New Testament, "translated" by Clarence Jordan during the 1960s, the time of the major Civil Rights conflicts, in the U.S. Dr. Jordan changed the placenames in the Bible to placenames in the southern U.S. where he lived. He changed historical and cultural aspects of the Bible to be like those in the South during the Civil Rights struggles. In his transculturation, Jesus was born in Gainesville, George. Jordan has Paul addressing his letters to believers in southern cities such as Atlanta, Birmingham, and Selma. Jordan produced his transculturation so that others could get a feel for what it was like to be a part of the Civil Rights struggle in the South. He wanted people to think of that struggle in biblical terms and so he brought the Bible into that different time and culture in actual translation.

The New Testament and Psalms: An Inclusive Version, published by Oxford University Press transculturates the primary biblical masculine imagery of God as Father in the Lord's Prayer to "Our Father-Mother in heaven." It makes other cultural changes to the biblical source text, also, to make the translation more acceptable to various groups within modern society.

Is it legitimate to alter any of the historical or cultural facts of the biblical source text when doing true Bible translation? I say "no;" this is what I was taught in my Bible translation training classes and workshops and I still believe it. The Bible was not originally written for peoples and cultures of today, even though many people informally speak about the Bible as if it had been. The books of the Bible were written for people who lived a long time ago, who faced specific cultural problems different from those which most English speakers face today, such as how a slave owner should treat his slaves, or whether or not an observant believer should eat meat which has previously been offered as a sacrifice to idols. But, of course, by application, we today have much to learn from how the biblical writers addressed the issues of their day.

Does this mean we should put the application of scriptural principles in a Bible translation itself? No, I don't think so. I think we should allow the historical and cultural context of the original biblical source text to say just what they said, to refer to issues of slavery, meat offered to idols, levitical dietary practices, etc.

Does that mean that a Bible translation should sound foreign? To the extent that it accurately reflects the context in which the source text were written, yes. And to the extant that it accurately retains the various original literary genres in which the biblical books were written, I believe the answer is, again, yes.

Does this, however, mean that we should also import as much of the syntax and lexical rules of the biblical source languages as possible into English or any other target language? Here I think the answer should be "no." I find no compelling reason why any English translation should not be written in good quality grammatical literary English, which follows the rules of standard dialects of English, including semantic rules which state what words can combine ("collocate") with each other. The English language can clearly reflect the poetic and gospel epistolary genres of the biblical source texts, and do so in proper, grammatical English.

In my opinion, it is not necessary for the language of the Bible to sound foreign, to have constructions which are not indigenous to English, to have wordings which sound strange and may have no meaning at all to English speakers, in an attempt to retain a "foreign" sound in the language of the translation. Many of us have read technical manuals for electronic appliances which were obviously not written by native speakers of English. For the most part, we can figure out what the instructions mean, but they are harder to understand than if those manuals had been written by native speakers of English who can write well.

Using good quality English does not mean changing any meanings of what is said in the Bible. It is possible to translate using good quality, natural language while retaining a very high level of translation accuracy. In fact, I would maintain that if we do not use quality English in a translation, we actually reduce accuracy in a translation, since using poor quality English reduces the ability of those who use a translation to understand the original meaning.

The RSV, NRSV, NASB, and ESV state that "the Most High uttered his voice" (Psalm 18:13). But that wording is not proper English. No one native English speaker "utters" their voice. The English verb "utter" only collocates with a few other words, and such sanctioned combinations are part of English grammar, in particular, the semantic (lexical) component of English grammar. For instance it is a proper English collocation to speak of "uttering an epithet." We can "utter the last word." But we do not, in English, "utter a voice." The verb "utter" and the noun "voice" do not collocate in English. The Hebrew words underlying these English translations could collocate together in Hebrew grammar.

Is it necessary to use the foreign-sounding phrase "uttered his voice" to make Bible translation be "transparent" to the original linguistic or cultural context? I don't think so. I may be wrong, and I would be glad to be shown how using such a non-English wording enhances the integrity of the translation. There is loss of accuracy, in my opinion, if instead of translating Psalm 18:13 as the ESV did, with its English which breaks a lexical rule of English, one translates as "the Sovereign One shouted" (NET). The two different wordings have the same intended meaning. But the NET uses gramamtical English here, while the four other versions do not.

Hundreds of other similar examples could be given where the language used in an English version is not English. It has English words, but they do not relate to each other properly according to the rules of English grammar, which includes the rules of semantics (the lexicon).

To try to clarify, I am not talking about matters of literary style here. I love the great literature of the Bible and its variety of genres, which should be preserved in translation, as much as possible. What I am concerned about are not unique wordings that come from the pens of creative writers. Rather, I am concerned that so many wordings in English Bible versions do not follow the rules of English grammar. Rampant breaking of English word order, syntax, or lexical rules is not required to make a translation be as transparent to the source texts as possible.

Let us not make understanding the Bible any more difficult that it already is by adding to it an unnecessary linguistic burden of not having its translation follow the rules of the language into which it is translated. The Bible remains a "foreign" book because it talks about foreign things. But it doesn't have to sound like a foreign book as it tells us about those foreign things. And, with the help of Bible teachers, we who read the Bible today in our own languages can apply the teachings of the Bible to ourselves within our own time and cultures.

What do you think?


Bettering the Better Bibles Blog

I spent most of the weekend tweaking the colors and fonts on this blog. I hope it is easier on the eyes to read now. I learned quite a bit about modifying css code on blog pages. I had worked with fairly plain HTML code for webpages before, but not css code. But there is much yet to learn, and I'm afraid I don't have the time for it. Our tribal translation project takes priority these days. We are digitally recording all of the Scripture which has been translated into the Cheyenne language over the past 30 years that we have been with this project. The recordings are coming out great and we are getting much affirmative feedback from Cheyennes who listen to them. We are able to easily put the digital recordings on CDs for distribution. It is not much more difficult to copy CDs to cassette tapes for those who do not yet have CD players.

It's interesting to begin blogging. I have worked with websites for many years but I only started a blog less than a month ago.

I really do hope that this blog will become a resource center where people can post ideas for improving English Bible versions. I am just as passionate that English speakers deserve to have Bibles which are in high quality English as I am that the millions of people around the world who have no Bibles deserve to have the Bible translated accurately and well into good quality forms of their languages, more than 3,000 languages remaining without any Bibles. What a task! It will take the involvement of people from all over the world to get the task done. The traditional missionary sending nations cannot complete the task soon enough. It is so gratifying to see more and more people from other parts of the world becoming missionaries and involving themselves in the job of bringing God's Word to people in their own language.

Have a good week!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Translation elegance

I have occasionally encountered the description "elegant" to refer to how some Bible passage or an entire Bible version is worded in translation. I've never been quite sure what was meant. Often the translation being referred to was written in a form of English which is not used today, either in spoken or written form, and probably never has been used in previous stages of English. It isn't, as far as I can tell, high quality literary English, such as might be written by a novelist on the level of a contemporary Charles Dickens.

Clearly, many who evaluate Bible translations have a sense that the King James Version is "elegant." And I would agree. There is a beauty to the language of the KJV. Part of that beauty comes from the fact that the language is outdated. We often like things which are from the past. But part of the beauty comes from the fact that the KJV (and its predecessors on which the KJV translators greatly depended for translation ideas) was written in smooth cadences. There is a pleasant rhythm to the language of the KJV. There is interesting figurative language which many of us can understand, to some degree, because we have grown up on the KJV.

But I also find beauty in concise, pithy, tight English, such as the famous phrase of the philosopher Descartes, "I think, therefore I am."

And I find beauty in many of the phrasings of Shakespeare, such as in the often quoted line: "To be, or not to be: that is the question" and the lines that follow.

As the great Swiss-German theologian, Karl Barth, was nearing the end of his life, he was asked after one of his lectures, ""Of all the theological insights you have ever had, which do you consider to be the greatest of them all?" Barth's answer was profound in its simplicity and truth, ""The greatest theological insight that I have ever had is this: Jesus love me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!" I, personally, consider that an elegant answer. And, in my opinion, the line from Sunday School song which Barth quoted is, in its own way, elegant English.

I also know that there are others who find literary elegance when reading something which is written simply and concisely, yet powerfully, using words and syntax which they themselves use. I, myself, find literary elegance in some poetry and other literature which is written with strong, active verbs (typically of Germanic rather than Latinate origin) and a minimum of flowery description. That's the way my college English professor taught his class to write. I like find some elegance in a Bible version that is worded the way my professor taught us to write. There are some English Bible versions written that way. And there are some passages in several other Bible versions written that way. That kind of writing "speaks" my language. It gets through to me. It uses only grammatical English. It is clear and crisp. It does not use run-on sentences.

What are some Bible translation wordings which sound elegant to me? Here are some excerpted from a webpage I wrote once on good style in English versions:

Psalm 23 (KJV)
1. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 119.11 (The Message)
I'll never forget the KJV wording which I memorized as a child, and have tried to follow in my life:

"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."

but today I find Eugene Peterson's metaphors for this verse powerful and, of course, priceless:

"I've banked your promises in the vault of my heart
so I won't sin myself bankrupt."

Wow! This captures the essential meaning of the original accurately, and does it with great style. Biblical Hebrew was full of powerful metaphors and idioms, and Peterson makes his translations of the Hebrew come alive with equally powerful word pictures which are natural to English. This is truly translation which can speak to anyone who has ears to hear, to use a wonderful idiom from the KJV. The challenge to any translator is to transfer original meaning accurately, but stylize it so that speakers of the target language can hear it as powerfully as, presumably, the speakers of the original Biblical languages did; the goal of including gripping style with accurace is often not met but it is still worth trying to reach for that goal. Too many English versions are stylistically bland, with long run-on sentences, uneven social levels of vocabulary, and linguistically awkward logical connections. We don't need gimmicks or blinking neon lights in our translations, but we do need God's help to be sensitive to original meaning as well as the beauty of each language into which we translate, so that each translation can speak to people as effectively as God intends for his written word.

Jer. 18.1-5 (TEV)
Overall, the TEV is stylistically flat, but I sense a nice rhythm here. Calling the building a "potter's house", as opposed to the more bland names used in other versions, makes this passage stick in my mind:

1 The LORD said to me, 2 “Go down to the potter's house, where I will give you my message.” 3 So I went there and saw the potter working at his wheel. 4 Whenever a piece of pottery turned out imperfect, he would take the clay and make it into something else. 5 Then the LORD said to me, 6 “Don't I have the right to do with you people of Israel what the potter did with the clay? You are in my hands just like clay in the potter's hands.

Zeph. 3.17b (LB)
I love the singing metaphors and effective contrast here:

"Is that a joyous choir I hear? No, it is the Lord himself exulting over you in happy song."

Rom. 12.2 (Phillips)
Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.

1 Cor. 13.4-7 (Phillips)

I am moved to change with J.B. Phillips' wording of one of my favorite parts of the Bible:

"This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience--it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive; it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance."

Eph. 3:17 (NLT)
And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love.

Eph. 5.1-2 (The Message)
The following is one of many passages in The Message which startle me out of any lethargy I experience from becoming too familiar with Scripture. I can't close my ears or heart to this message:

"Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that."

Eph. 5.6-7 (The Message)
Ephesians must be a favorite book of Eugene Peterson, translator of The Message. He does such a good job translating it. We can't ignore this message:

"Don't let yourselves be taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don't even hang around people like that."

Eph. 5.8-10 (The Message)
In the very next verses, Peterson continues to enlighten us:

"You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You're out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true--these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it."

Phil. 2.5-11 (ISV)
The ISV translators obviously love this ancient hymn of the church and so worded it as an English hymn. The poetic style is dated, including use of the inversions, "existed he" and "did he possess". The ISV team tells me that they chose this older style to reflect the antiquity of this hymn:

"The poem's 2000 years old! That's why we deliberately used the inversion technique! ... This was a deliberate choice of the translation team."

It makes great sense to me. Well done!

I grew up on traditional evangelical hymns and so I enjoy the allusion to the "matchless name of Jesus", from the hymn "That Beautiful Name," in verse 9 of the following:

5 Have the same attitude among yourselves that was also in Christ Jesus:

6 In God's own form existed he,
And shared with God equality,
Deemed nothing needed grasping.
7 Instead, poured out in emptiness,
A servant's form did he possess,
In human form he chose to be,
8 And lived in all humility,
Death on a cross obeying.
9 Now lifted up by God to heaven,
A name above all others given,
This matchless name possessing.
10 And so, when Jesus' name is called,
The knees of everyone will fall,
Where'er they are residing.
11 Then every tongue in one accord,
Will say that Jesus Christ is Lord,
While God the Father praising.

Phil. 3.17-21 (The Message)
The word choices are powerful in this rendering. Notice how well the running metaphor is maintained at the beginning of this section. Then notice the sharp contrast between "easy street" and "dead-end street." Then there is the fun b-word alliteration of the next sentence, in "bellies" and "belches." Next delight in the short, crisp exclamations of the following two sentences ending with the glorious words, "We're citizens of high heaven!" Feast on this verbal cuisine; you'll be left with a good taste in your mouth, not belches from a belly filled with fast food:

"Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I've warned you of them many times; sadly, I'm having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ's Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.

But there's far more to life for us. We're citizens of high heaven! We're waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He'll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him."

Phil. 4:6 (New Living Translation)
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

James 1.2-4 (Phillips)
I doubt that the power of Phillips' images of crowding intruders and welcomed friends will ever be equaled by other wordings for these verses. This is one of my all-time favorites for good style in Bible translation. It continues to speak to my inner being, when all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into my life:

"When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence."

Hebrews 12.1b-2 (ISV and NLT)
I like the alliteration of "Pioneer and Perfector" in the ISV. Such alliteration draws our attention to the words, then to the one described by those words, Jesus, upon whom we need to focus:

"let us keep on running with endurance the race set before us, focusing on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfector of faith"

The NLT rendering is similar:
"looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith"

So, what do I conclude from several years of contemplating the notion of translation elegance? I conclude that elegance, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. We consider elegant what strikes us as elegant, as circular as that sounds.

I do not like to read awkward English, with convoluted syntax, foreign-sounding phrases, collocational clashes, and pronoun antecedents which are difficult to identify. I personally do not find such language beautiful or elegant. And I regret to say that many English Bible versions are written like that. Some of these English versions are sometimes lauded as being "elegant." Sometimes I think people call elegant language which is foreign-sounding, which we do not understand easily, and which does not sound "common-place." In contrast, I think most who care about English quality, including those who may call foreign-sounding English translations elegant, would agree that elegant literature has English which is grammatical also also often has wonderful turns of phrases, powerful verbs, and other attractive literary devices such as emphasis, rhythm, judicious repetition, active metaphors, and phonetic choices for words (such as alliteration).

I agree with many others that the language of the KJV and Shakespeare and the novels of Dickens is elegant. But such literature does not have nearly as much non-English syntax and lexical combinations as are found in many English Bible versions, including some produced recently. If you are not sure what I am referring to, look for posts under some of the English versions on this blog and find comments from me where I note collocational clashes wordings which do not sound like English to me.

Some claim that the collocational clashes and use of non-English systax is a sign of poetic beauty in recent English versions. Yes, it is true that good English poetry often has some unique collocational clashes, but poets usually do not fill their poetry with collocational clashes. There may be one or two word clashes which stand out, and often a poet will have set up the poem to accomodate the clashes and cause us to think "outside the box." Such is not the case with the rampant non-English wordings found in many English Bible versions today. It is difficult for me, on a visceral level, to read these versions; it is just not a pleasant experience. Fortunately, there is also good English in recent Bible versions, and I like to point it out.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think elegance is also. And I would encourage others to consider if what they sometimes sense as being "elegant" in Bible versions is actually not elegant, but, rather, strange English, which sounds "elegant" to some ears because it is "different" from how we normally speak and write.

Monday, April 18, 2005

5-5 contest

In an effort to prime the pump on this new blog to get more posts from others, I have decided to have a contest with prizes. Here is how it will work:

Who may enter: anyone who wishes to post a comment which follows the guidelines of this blog, which are basically that posts be gracious, as professional as possible, and specific to a particular wording from an English Bible version.

Contest rules: to be eligible as a contest winner, you must post comments on problematical translation wordings of at least 5 different Bible passages from at least 2 different Bible versions. The comments need to be in your own words, not copied from some other website.

Winners: The first 5 people to post qualifying comments will each win a prize. If posts are made at close to the same time, winners will be determined by date and time of posts as they are labeled by the blog software.

Prizes: I have 5 different English Bible versions to give away as prizes. They are:

1. nearly new beautiful hardback NLT, First Edition
2. nearly new paperback TNIV
3. older hardback NIV
4. HCSB: new large print paperback of the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs
5. my old personal TEV (antique value??; Who knows? Maybe I will become famous someday and you might become rich from having my old Bible!!)

Contest beginning: April 18
Contest end: when all prizes are given away

Disqualifications: I will be the judge if any comments are considered off-topic for this blog, not specific enough, etc. I will be fair, but if you enter the contest all the usual legal rules apply, you will not hold me liable in case your computer stops working after you post, etc. etc.!! :-)

First come, first served for the prizes, in other words, the first winner will get to pick which of the Bible version prizes listed here they want. The next winner will get to pick from the prizes remaining. I will pay the postage to mail your prize to you. Please let me know your mailing address via private email (please don't post your address publicly on this blog, for your own security).

Feel free to let your friends know about this contest in case they might want to win, also. You can let me know by email as soon as you post your contest comments on this blog. You can find my email address if you click on the View my complete profile link in the upper left portion of the main page of this blog (or in this sentence). As usual (see Welcome message), please post your comments under the Bible version for which the comments are made. Then, why don't you also place a comment under this contest message after you have posted, just telling which Bible versions you posted comments about and which of the prizes you have chosen. That way other contestants will be able to track how the contest is going and which prizes are left.

Have fun!

Sunday, April 17, 2005


Thank you for visiting the Better Bibles Blog. I hope you enjoy your time here. Feel free to look around. Your comments are invited.

English speakers are rich from having so many different English Bible versions which they can use. Most of them have many good wordings. But even good things can be improved. This blog was created to allow users to post concerns about specific wordings in English Bible versions. Please include the reference of a verse you are commenting on, and include the English wording you are concerned about. Feel free to suggest an improved wording, based on your understanding of English as written by native, fluent English speakers, and your understanding of what the wording (or its original biblical language source text) was intended to mean. Please post under the specific English Bible version you are commenting upon. Go to Versions in the right margin and click on the name of the version you want.

Please do not make generalized comments about any English Bible version such as "This version is too literal" or "This version is too paraphrastic" or "This is the most accurate version." Instead, please note specific wording problems and suggest improvements.

This blog is meant to be a positive contribution to discussion of English Bible versions. Besides posting concerns about English quality, you may also post comments about wordings which you believe are not as accurate as they should be. If you do address accuracy issues, please be sure that you have studied the issue in as scholarly manner as possible, so that you are not simply stating an opinion about accuracy, but, rather, are basing your comments on the facts of the Biblical languages and careful exegesis.

Comments about English quality can be about a translation wording which you do not understand (or which you think many other English speakers would not understand), or which is awkward, obsolete, convoluted, etc.

Our hope is that this blog can develop into a resource center which will be valuable to anyone concerned about English Bible translation.

Finally, we must emphasize that having a blog such as this in no way detracts from our gratefulness to English Bible translators who have worked hard, often sacrificially, to produce the English Bible versions which are critiqued here. Posting comments does not mean that a Bible version is bad; it only means that we see room for improvement. And most Bible translators want to improve their translations, because all translators recognize that no translation, including their own, is perfect.

And as we are grateful for the wealth of Bible translations we have for English, let us not forget the 3,000 language groups around the world who do not have any Bible translations in their language. Wouldn't it be wonderful if more of the resources spent producing more English Bibles would be directed toward translating for Bibleless peoples?

Friday, April 15, 2005

Translating figurative language in the Bible

After reading some of my comments on this blog, someone might ask me, "Are you suggesting that we remove all the metaphors and idioms of the original biblical languages?"

And I would answer:

No, not at all. I am only suggesting that we translate original biblical figurative language to good quality English, that is English which is fully grammatical. And I would also suggest that this good quality English should accurately communicate the meaning of the original figurative language to any particular audience we intend to use our translation. If a user of a translation must consult some source outside of a translation to understand the meaning of translation wordings of biblical figurative language, then I contend that the original figurative language has not been fully translated to English. By definition, a translation allows a user to get the same meaning from what the translation "says" as the original hearers got from what the original biblical languages "said."

Field testing can determine if the original figurative meanings of biblical metaphors and idioms have been accurately communicated to different target audiences when they are literally ("transparently") translated. If field testing demonstrates that individuals do not understand the original figurative meanings from literal translations, then translators are faced with the choice of revising the translation until the original meaning is accurately communicated, or using some other means to help these individuals know what the figurative meanings are. Helpful options can be footnotes, marginal notes, Bible study aids, or marking the problem wordings with some symbol which will alert the reader to ask a Bible teacher what the actual meaning is. In my own opinion, for "ordinary" Bible translation (not for specialist audiences such as Bible scholars), the historical thrust of vernacular translation calls for translating in such a way that "ordinary" individuals (including faithful members of a church or synagogue) can understand what the original biblical writings said and meant just through a translation itself. I do not believe that this is dumbing down translation. For sure, it is not transculturating, since no details of the biblical historical and cultural contexts are changed in the translation other than the words being in a different language, which is what translation is, by definition.


Thursday, April 14, 2005

What is the best English Bible version?

This is a good question and one that is commonly asked, sometimes asked even more personally, "What is the best English Bible version for me to use?"

There is no single answer to this question that works for everyone. When it comes to Bible usage in a language like English where we have so many different English versions and different kinds of people using them, "one size doesn't fit all."

It is helpful to answer this question with several other questions, such as:

1. Do you wish to use a Bible version which is the same as what your church uses as its pew Bible?

2. What will be your primary use for your Bible? For instance, will you use it mostly for detailed Bible study or for devotional reading?

3. Are you part of a faith community which helps explain the meaning of difficult wordings in Bible versions?

4. Do you prefer a more sophisticated kind of English when you read the Bible or do you prefer "everyday" English?

I have posted some ideas about the value of using different English versions on my webpage titled Recent English Bible Versions Compared. This webpage (and others like it; there are several linked from my webpage) will help answer your question, as you think through the followup questions above.

I should also note that I agree with many others who have addressed this question when they say that there is value in using more than one English Bible version, especially, if you use more than one kind of Bible version. For instance, it helps to use a more literal Bible version, such as the NASB, RSV, NRSV, HCSB, ESV with which to do in-depth Bible study, such as word studies (I would include the NIV in this group, although many others do not). Then it is also good to have a more idiomatic ("dynamic"; more easily readable) translation to use along with the more literal version. More idiomatic English versions would include: NLT, REB, TEV/GNT, CEV, NCV, GW, and, as some would analyze it, the NIV (which I consider a more literal translation). More idiomatic translations are smoother for reading and can help us get a better grasp of the bigger picture, an overall view of a chapter or a book of the Bible, and overall themes, history, and logical flow.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Questions and Answers

Feel free to post questions about Bible translation here. I have started by posting some common questions along with answers which seem reasonable to me. Feel free to post other questions here. And feel free to post some answers, as well.

What is good quality English?

Good quality English is English which would receive a good grade in an English composition course. It is English which is recognized by most speakers of some standard dialect of English as being grammatical, with words that sound good together, with syntax that is appropriate to the rules of English grammar. It is recognized as good English by good writers of English, by editors of a wide range of journals, magazines, and newspapers. Good quality English follows the rules of English for how English words may combine (collocate) with each other. Good quality English *does* permit some creative bending of English rules, especially for poetic purposes, but even then there is typically a literary context established in which the creative expression can be understood and appreciated. Good quality English does not use grammatical patterns from other languages. It only uses grammatical patterns of the English language. Good quality English is pleasant to read. There is a wide range of English writing and speaking which would qualify as good quality English (from sophisticated English in the Atlantic Monthly to more common English in Reader's Digest), but none of it would have wordings which fluent speakers of the language would regard as ungrammatical or breaking some semantic rules of English. Good quality English uses metaphors and idioms whose meanings can be understood by speakers of good quality English.

I believe it is possible to translate the Bible to English, using only good quality English, while at the same time keeping accuracy as the highest priority, maintaining transparency to historical, cultural, and, as much as communicatively possible, even linguistic devices of the original biblical source texts, and reflecting the literary differences among the various genres of the Bible.

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Odds and Ends

Feel free to post comments or questions here about Bible translation which do not fit under any of the other categories on this blog. Please try to be as gracious and informed in your comments as possible. If you find yourself quite interested in Bible translation issues, consider joining the Bible Translation discussion list.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

ESV (English Standard Version)

ESV website
ESV Bible blog
Email translation suggestions to the ESV team
ESV links
ESV podcast

From the ESV website:
"Every translation is at many points a trade-off between literal precision and read-ability, between “formal equivalence” in expression and “functional equivalence” in communication, and the ESV is no exception. Within this framework we have sought to be “as literal as possible” while maintaining clarity of expression and literary excellence."


Monday, April 11, 2005

HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

HCSB website
HCSB online
Send feedback on the HCSB to the publisher
HCSB links

Information about the HCSB, from its publishers:
"Broadman & Holman Publishers is proud to sponsor the development of the all-new Holman Christian Standard Bible translation (Holman CSB). This fresh rendering of God's Word is translated directly from the original biblical languages with a reader-friendly style geared to contemporary English usage. The approach of combining accuracy and clarity makes the Holman CSB a translation that any reader can enjoy.

Originated in 1984, the complete Holman CSB was released to the public in April 2004 and already is one of the best-selling Bible translations on the market. It is the first all-new Bible translation from a major publisher in more than 25 years.

The Holman CSB translation was created based on the belief in Scripture as the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. A team of 100 scholars from around the world representing more than 20 different Protestant denominations worked together translating from the original biblical languages of Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic to arrive at what aims to be the most accurate and readable modern English translation available today."


Sunday, April 10, 2005

TNIV (Today's New International Version)

TNIV website

from the website of Zondervan, publishers of the TNIV:
"The TNIV is Today’s New International Version; an uncompromisingly accurate Bible translation in today’s language from the translators of the most trusted modern English translation, the NIV. The TNIV is at the heart of Zondervan’s Bible mission to get more people engaging the Bible more.
With advancements in biblical scholarship, clarity, and gender accuracy, the TNIV is a new translation that will engage today’s younger generations with God’s word. And it’s all done by the Committee on Bible Translation—the leading group of evangelical scholars in the world and the same committee that translated the most read, most trusted modern English Bible translation in the world, the NIV."

TNIV links

Submit TNIV revision suggestions

TNIV revision suggestions

TNIV reviewsTNIV opposition


NIV (New International Version)

from the NIV website:
"The NIV was created and is maintained with the mandate to accurately and faithfully translate the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic biblical texts into clearly understandable English.

The NIV is the most widely accepted contemporary Bible translation today. More people today buy the NIV Bible than any other English-language translation."


Saturday, April 09, 2005

NET Bible

After posting your comments on a specific wording in the NET Bible, so others can read your comments on this blog, please consider sending your comments to the NET Bible team. Comments from the public have helped improve the NET Bible translation.

about The NET Bible Project:
"The NET Bible (New English Translation) is a completely new translation of the Bible, not a revision or an update of a previous English version. It is being completed by more than twenty biblical scholars who are working directly from the best currently available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. The translation project originally started as an attempt to provide an electronic version of a modern translation for electronic distribution over the Internet and on CD-Rom. Anyone anywhere in the world with an Internet connection will be able to use and print out the NET Bible without cost for personal study."

NET Bible podcast


Friday, April 08, 2005

NLT (New Living Translation)

NLT website

about the NLT:
"The goal of any Bible translation is to convey the meaning of the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts as accurately as possible to the modern reader. The New Living Translation is based on the most recent scholarship in the theory of translation. The challenge for the translators was to create a text that would make the same impact in the life of modern readers that the original text had for the original readers. In the New Living Translation, this is accomplished by translating entire thoughts (rather than just words) into natural, everyday English. The end result is a translation that is easy to read and understand and that accurately communicates the meaning of the original text."

NLT podcast

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The Message

The Message website

about The Message:
"The Message Bible is heart-racing, mind-altering, and life-changing. A direct translation of the original texts, this version of the Bible in contemporary language is a version for our time. Presented as "the reading Bible," The Message brings Scripture to life, attracting people to read God’s Word with understanding and clarity."


Thursday, April 07, 2005

NRSV (New Revised Standard Version)

From NRSV: To the Reader:
"As for the style of English adopted for the present revision, among the mandates given to the Committee in 1980 by the Division of Education and Ministry of the National Council of Churches of Christ (which now holds the copyright of the RSV Bible) was the directive to continue in the tradition of the King James Bible, but to introduce such changes as are warranted on the basis of accuracy, clarity, euphony, and current English usage. Within the constraints set by the original texts and by the mandates of the Division, the Committee has followed the maxim, "As literal as possible, as free as necessary." As a consequence, the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) remains essentially a literal translation. Paraphrastic renderings have been adopted only sparingly, and then chiefly to compensate for a deficiency in the English language—the lack of a common gender third person singular pronoun."

NRSV website



NKJV (New King James Version)

from Thomas Nelson, copyright holder and publisher of the NKJV:
"When considering the important factors in choosing a Bible translation — accuracy, beauty, and ease of understanding — the choice is clear. Only the New King James Version offers precision and clarity without sacrificing readability. For a Bible that is both beautifully worded and trustworthy, ideal for study, teaching, personal reading, and congregational use, the NKJV has been selected by more than 25 million customers since its release, and is the preferred translation of thousands of today's most prominent Christian leaders."

NASB (New American Standard Bible)

from the Lockman Foundation which produced the NASB:
"Since its completion in 1971, the New American Standard Bible has been widely acclaimed as “the most literally accurate translation” from the original languages. Millions of people, students, scholars, pastors, missionaries, and laypersons alike, have trusted the NASB, learning from it and applying it to the challenges of their daily lives. With the NASB, anyone can discover what the original text really says, word for word, because it is considered the most literal translation of the Bible in the English language, consistently following the oldest and best manuscripts.

The updated NASB continues this commitment to accuracy, while increasing clarity and readability. Vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure have been carefully updated for greater understanding and smoother reading. The updated NASB remains the most literally accurate Bible in the English language"

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

RSV (Revised Standard Version)

REB (Revised English Bible)

about the REB:
"In 1974, the Joint Committee of the Churches, which had produced the New English Bible, decided to begin a major revision of the text. By this time, there were changes in the composition of the Joint Committee. The Roman Catholic Church, with representatives from the hierarchies of England and Wales, of Scotland, and of Ireland, entered into full membership. The United Reformed Church, which was a recent union of the Presbyterian Church of England and the Congregational Church, was represented. Then representatives of the Salvation Army and the Moravian Church joined the committee.

The best available texts of both Testaments were used. Care was taken to ensure that the style of English used be fluent and of dignity for liturgical use, while maintaining intelligibility for all ages and backgrounds. Complex or technical terms were avoided, where possible. There was care that sentence structure and word order would facilitate congregational reading, without misrepresenting the meaning of the original text. "Thou" in addressing God has been replaced by you."

NJB (New Jerusalem Bible)

Online access to the NJB.

about the NJB:
"This translation, often used in the Catholic Church, follows the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. For the Old Testament the "Masoretic Text" established in the 8-9th centuries AD by Jewish scholars, is used. Only when this presents insuperable difficulties have emendations or other versions, such as the ancient Greek translation begun in 200 BC at Alexandria, the "Septuagint" (LXX), been used."

NAB (New American Bible)

Online access to the NAB.

about the NAB:
"In 1944, the Catholic Bible Association of America was requested to produce a completely new translation of the Bible from the original languages and to present the sense of Biblical text as accurately as possible. The Old Testament was first published in a series of four volumes. The New Testament was completed in 1970, resulting in the New American Bible. It has widespread use by American Catholic people in public worship.

Further advances in Biblical scholarship and identification of pastoral needs brought about a revision of the New Testament in 1986. This fulfilled the need for greater consistency of vocabulary, sensitivity to the need of inclusive language in favor of women, greater attention to public proclamation in sacred liturgy, and provision of more abundant and upgraded explanatory material. Scholars from other Christian churches collaborated in preparing this version."

Monday, April 04, 2005

Tanakh (1985 JPS edition)

Sunday, April 03, 2005

BLB (Better Life Bible)

Internet access to the BLB.
Introduction to the BLB

from the translator:
Now you can read the Bible in a style you’ll easily understand, without stumbling over difficult terms or puzzling over the meaning.

  • How to connect with God
  • How you can enjoy a better life
  • How to relate better to other people
  • Why your life is sometimes miserable

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      CEV (Contemporary English Version)

      CEV website
      About the CEV Translation:
      "...the Contemporary English Version (CEV) differs from all other English Bibles both past and present in that it takes into account the needs of the hearer, as well as those of the reader, who may not be familiar with traditional biblical language."

      Access U.S. CEV online
      Access U.K. CEV online
      CEV podcast


      GNT (Good News Translation; TEV)

      from Zondervan, the current publishers of the Good News Translation, produced by the American Bible Societry, which has also been known as Today's English Version and the Good News Bible, as well as Good News for Modern Man:
      "The Good News Translation is:
      · A true translation, meaning it was actually translated from the Greek and Hebrew languages in which the Bible was originally written.
      · Accurate and reliable.
      · Easy to understand—even if you’ve never read the Bible before."

      Access U.S. GNT online
      Access U.K. GNB online

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      Saturday, April 02, 2005

      GW (God's Word)

      from the GW website:
      "GOD'S WORD®, ... is a completely new translation of the Bible from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts.

      GOD'S WORD® uses a linguistic translation method -- similar to the widely accepted translation method used by missionary translators throughout the world today. As a result, it reads more easily, is more literally accurate, and communicates the intended meaning of the Bible more clearly and naturally than any other English translation."


      NCV (New Century Version)

      about the NCV:
      The Easiest to Understand Translation™

      God intended for everyone to be able to understand his Word. So just as Jesus, the Master Teacher, taught spiritual principles by comparing them to such familiar terms as pearls, seeds, rocks, trees and sheep, the New Century Version translates the Scriptures in the familiar, everyday words of our times.

      A Trustworthy Translation
      The first concern during the NCV translation process was that the translation be faithful to the manuscripts in the original languages. A team composed of the World Bible Translation Center and fifty additional, highly qualified and experienced Bible scholars and translators was assembled. The team included people with translation experience on such accepted versions as the New International Version, the New American Standard Bible, and the New King James Version. The most recent scholarship and the best available Hebrew and Greek texts were used, principally the third edition of the United Bible Societies’ Greek text and the latest edition of the Biblia Hebraica, along with the Septuagint.

      A Clear Translation
      The second concern was to make the language clear enough for anyone to read the Bible and understand it for himself. In maintaining clear language, several guidelines were followed ...

      ISV (International Standard Version)

      The ISV may be downloaded from its website.

      On its website, the ISV is called:
      "the most readable and accurate Bible translation ever produced"

      Purchase the ISV New Testament
      Purchase the ISV Old Testament Sampler

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