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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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At Wed Apr 13, 03:15:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Matt. 23:15 "then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are"

I personally do not get from the wording here, "the child of hell," that this kind of person is fit for hell or deserves to go there. Field testing would let us know for sure if sufficient numbers of NLT users get the intended figurative meaning here.

At Sat Apr 16, 12:48:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Ps. 119:105 see comment under HCSB

At Tue Apr 19, 04:09:00 AM, Blogger Sue P said...

John 18:4
I normally like to read the NLT as it often flows well and explains things more clearly than the NIV (which I also use). However, the style of this verse surprised me. Who would ever say:
“Whom are you looking for?”
If one were to be pedantic, one might say 'for whom are you looking?' but in my experience everyone would normally say 'who are you looking for?'.
NIV here says: “Who is it you want?” - much more natural!
NLT seems to have a thing about whom, which appears in several verses: Just in John there's
5:45, 6:68, 13:22, 13:26, to name a few. The NIV in these places seems to have it right. NLT seems to want to be 'over-correct' on this and sends me back to the NIV at these points.

At Thu Apr 21, 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

John 1:17 "God's unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ"

The argument could be made that "unfailing love" might be a responsible translation of the Greek word xaris of this verse (xaris is translated as 'grace' in traditional versions).

But I do not think it can be argued that "faithfulness" would be an accurate translation of Greek aletheia which is translated as "truth" in all other versions which I checked.

(The second observation was first made and passed along to me by an email friend, Bob Bruce.)

At Mon Apr 25, 09:01:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was actually quite impressed with the NLT's rendering of John 1:17. I think the translators probably see here (as do I and notable commentators) a Septuagintalism. LXX regularly renders Hebrew 'met as alethia (or a related form). See for instance, Exod 34:6, in which 'met is rendered alethinos in LXX. ESV, for example, opts for 'faithfulness' in Exod 34:6.

Josh 2:14 is an instance in which 'met is rendered alethia (identical form) in LXX. Again, ESV rightly renders the term 'faithfulness.'

If you grant that it is at least possible that the language and concepts of the OT heavily informed John's writing of ch. 1 (note the allusion to Moses in this very verse), then I think their translation decision is quite arguable.

At Mon May 02, 04:02:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Luke 2:10-11 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!”

Inaccurate: omission of the benefactive "for you" for the verb "born"

At Wed May 04, 04:12:00 PM, Anonymous A Student of the Bible said...

As I understand the aim of the NLT, it is to accurately communicate the meaning of the original texts in the most natural language of today's (American) English speaker. With respect to Luke 2:10-11, I suppose they might have thought that saying "born to you" or "born for you" might be clumsy and unnecessary given the fact that the benefactive nature of the birth is entirely clear from their very literal rendering of the angel's announcement in v. 10 (I have no idea whether that is what they were thinking, but it seems possible). As I've read the NLT closely, it is evident that they are translating with the phrase, the sentence, even the paragraph in view at any given moment. So is their rendering of Luke 2:11 "inaccurate" for not formally representing "for you"? If it were trying to be a formal equivalence translation, then definitely yes. But they're not claiming to be a formal equivalence translation. I doubt anyone would miss the point that the birth is a benefactive one when reading this passage in the NLT. Whether that is enough to merit the descriptor "accurate translation" is another matter, though, I admit. Wayne, I'd be curious to know whether you think what they've done here violates any of the "maxims" from your recent post on translation maxims.

At Wed May 04, 04:24:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Dear Student of the Bible,

You ask a very good question. Here is what my thinking is at the moment: If field testing with a number of subjects shows that almost everyone gets the benefactive idea from the current NLT wording, then I'd suggest that it is sufficient as it is. I'm sorry I wasn't clearer on this point, but I don't think the benefactive idea has to be expressed only with the two English word "for you." There are other possible ways of getting that meaning included here, without making the sentence too cumbersome. One possibility would be to say "Your Savior" instead of "The Savior".

As for any connection between the NLT not claiming to be a formal equivalence translation and accuracy, I personally don't find a connection. As long as all meaning components of the source text are accurately communicated to users of a translation, I think, by definition, that translation is accurate, regardless of which translation philosophy was followed. You might want to read my essay "When literal is not accurate," which addresses this point. In my opinion, the standards for accuracy should be no less stringent for a translation that is not formally equivalent as for one that is. We don't just want the meaning of the biblical source texts to be "approximately the same" in a translation. The source text and translation text should have the same meaning, as far as that is possible in translation. But, yes, to part of your question, some of that translated meaning can be implicit, as long as we are able to determine by careful field testing that the users of the translation do get the implied meaning from the translation itself. If they do not, then I think that meaning should be made explicit somehow. Again, great question(s)! Come back again and interact some more. And tell your friends so they can come here and think carefully about the wordings of English Bible versions.

At Mon May 23, 07:15:00 AM, Anonymous Mark Taylor said...

In response to Sue P and her concern about "whom": The stylists for the NLT wrestled with the issue of "correctness" vs. "naturalness" in John 18:4. In the NLT Second Edition we opted for naturalness, and the question now reads "Who are you looking for?"

Mark Taylor
Chief Stylist, NLT

At Fri Jan 06, 06:15:00 AM, Blogger Trevor Jenkins said...

Gen 6:4 (in NLT1) reads as follows:

In those days, and even afterward, giants lived on the earth, for whenever the sons of God had intercourse with human women, they gave birth to children who became the heroes mentioned in legends of old.

The referent for they is not clear in this rendering. In my ideolect the clause for whenever the sons of God had intercourse with human women is a parenthetical comment and therefore they would mean the giants but it seems the intent was to have women as the referent. When discussing this with others they have commented that without the clause the verse is not a sentence. Others have commented that the closest referent rules should apply but I disagree the giants are the subject of the sentence not the women.

Whichever of us is right about this verse it is a very ugly and confusing rendering. Read on the page one has time to consider the possibilities but when read aloud it is simply confusing.

At Sun Jan 15, 07:07:00 PM, Blogger M.E.A. said...

Matthew 7:6 in the NLT is very inaccurate. "... Don't throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you."

This rendering simply shows wrong understanding of the metaphor. There is an animal known as a razorback hog. I have heard the story from an Indian, a Hindu, who was probably not even aware of this bible verse. He told me that when you chase these kind of wild pigs, they have a special defense. When you get close up on them, they stop very suddendly. They turn back to you, tilting down their head to make a little ramp, and they stiffen the spines on their back so they are sharp as a razor! If you slide over these they slice you neatly open! Hence they do exactly what the King Jame's bible says, "they will turn and rend you." Furthermore, this action is a defense the pig makes against an attacker! The pig is not the attacker, but the defender. Finally I take issue with the faulty construction "... throw your pearls to pigs..." This sounds like they are reaching out to catch them! But if you cast your pearls BEFORE swine, then its logical they might trample them ! The NLT is inapt here at best.

I am reading through the NLT, and I am enjoying it, but I pity someone who has never read a better translation.

At Mon Jul 31, 04:38:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Ezek. 7:11: Their violence will fall back on them as punishment for their wickedness.

Question for checking: Is "fall back on them" an idiom naturally used in English?

At Mon Aug 07, 03:12:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Ps. 69:9b "and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me."

As with the preceding post on Ezek. 7:11, I am not sure if "fall back on" is a natural idiom in English for something abstract such as insults. Field testing is needed to try to determine if this is natural English.

At Tue Dec 26, 08:05:00 PM, Blogger Jungle Pop said...

Hey, I'm assuming you guys are still monitoring all new comments, even though it's been months since the last comment here.

I have a question about the NLT and its apparently different versions. The NLT that I have (thanks to you, Wayne!) and the one my wife has differs from the version on The version date (1996) seems to be the same on both, so why the difference in wording?

At Tue Dec 26, 10:54:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Hey, I'm assuming you guys are still monitoring all new comments, even though it's been months since the last comment here.

Yes, I do get notice of them. As far as I know, there have been only two versions of the NLT. The first edition published in 1996. The second edition, which has quite a few changes from the first edition, was published in 2004.


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