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Thursday, September 22, 2005

making better Bibles

We can be thankful that English translators have always tried to make better Bibles.

The ASV of 1904 updated some of the obsolete language of the KJV, yet retained the trust of those with conservative theologies. It was, in fact, called by them "the Rock of Integrity."

The RSV updated the language of the ASV making it less wooden.

The NASB updated the language of the ASV, although it retained its wooden style. Later, the NASBU updated the NASB by, among other things, revising "thee" and "thou" in translated prayers to "you."

The NRSV updated the language of the RSV and improved the accuracy of the translation.

One of the first priorities of the ESV translators, when they revised the RSV, was to change every known passage which had been considered theologically "liberal" and replace the wordings with conservatives ones. Not all biblical scholars, of course, agree that each of these revisions is an improvement in accuracy, but the changes are viewed by conservatives, at least, as creating a better Bible .

The NLT translators significantly improved the accuracy of the Living Bible which served as its translation base. The NLT translators made revisions to its first edition, changes which they felt increased accuracy.

The TNIV has been shown to improve the accuracy of the NIV in a number of passages. Of course, the detractors of the TNIV view the TNIV as not being an improvement upon the NIV, due to the degree of gender inclusive language in the TNIV. But the fact still remains that a number of passages, unrelated to gender issues, have improved accuracy in the TNIV as compared with its translation base, the NIV.

In my opinion, overall, the CEV is an improvement upon the TEV. Both versions were produced by the American Bible Society, but the CEV is not a revision of the TEV. Yet the CEV reads better, as a whole, than the TEV. In some passages the TEV is more accurate than the CEV. In others the CEV is more accurate.

Let us be thankful for the time and effort that has been expended by each Bible translation team. Each team has attempted to produce a better Bible. We are all richer for that. And may the effort continue. I, personally, believe that we currently have more than enough English versions to suit every need among English speakers. It will be a good number more years before the English language changes enough more that any new major version of an English Bible would be warranted, in my opinion. But, there does remain room for improvement in each of the most popular English versions used today. And that is the purpose for this blog, to stimulate interest in making such better Bibles.

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