J I Packer and the RSV
Suzanne: What advantages are there to retaining the obsolete negative word orders found in the RSV?
Dr. Packer: I hope we made it plain in the introduction what we what we were seeking to do, which was to work over the text of the RSV, removing all the blemishes which kept it from being as good as its skill in verbal expression should have made it. The language is, I think, in the old RSV, is brilliant but there were all sorts of weaknesses. We found more than we bargained for when we started on the work.
Dr. Packer: Well, it was uneven. I think that must have something to do with the fact that it was translated by liberals who haven’t got the same devotion to the actual wording and structure of the original as evangelicals, as I think you and most certainly me, do have.
I will write about Dr. Packer's comments on the King James Version in a few days.
I have actually used the RSV for the last 10 years as a pew Bible without being aware of any blemishes. That goes to show how much I have been listening in church. (I just stuck this link in in case there are any Plymouth Brethren or fans of Garrison Keillor who would like a break from this blog!)
Anyway, I have never noticed blemishes in any Bible that I am aware of. Unevenness or weaknesses, maybe, blemishes or inaccuracies no. However, I would like to come clean here on my Bible reading history, since others have done so recently.
I was brought up listening to the King James Version, in season and out. Therefore it is the Bible in my head. Forgive me, cobloggers. At the age of 12 our Bible study leader decided that we were ready to graduate from the pure milk of the word, to something a little meatier, and we used the Darby translation. To this day I often wonder where that elusive phrase went. Ah, it was in the Darby Bible! The sentences are no loss, however, each a page long. This translation was not considered suitable for reading out loud.
I started studying Greek at 14 and my older brother gave me a Greek New Testament, 2nd edition, 1968, for my 15th birthday. Now that I had the Greek New Testament and used it, I did not feel the need for an authorative English version. At 16 I bought myself a New Living Bible.
In university we were persuaded to use the NASB and I memorized many chapters of that. Throughout these years I also used the Louis Segond, French Darby, Bonnes Nouvelles, also the Gute Nachtricht Bibel and the Vamva Greek Bible.
Shortly after that I became a high school English teacher and bought a Good News Bible. This is the Bible that I still have and use along with the Greek New Testament. My Hebrew is a little sketchy.
The one Bible that has been with me through most of my life is the Greek NT. It has a utilitarian wine vinyl cover, which disappointed me at first, but it is in good condition still.
I have reviewed this personal history to help me think about the various functions that a Bible fulfills in one's life. Why is one version not enough?
Apparently in looking back, I memorized from the KJ and NASB. I am sure that my stilted writing sometimes reflects that.
However, I never thought of authority resting in anything other than the Greek NT. When at the age of 19 and 20 I was exposed to the textual criticism of the theologians of the University of Toronto this tested both my faith and my father's. (I mean my real father here, Wayne) (And this tested my parents patience as well.) However, we all carefully repositioned our faith in Christ and carried on.
For communication with others, the Good News Bible is simply the best. Okay, the NIV and the TNIV are absent from this list. Oops. Sorry. I cannot really recommend any specific Bible above any other. It is important that people realize that no Bible is 'transparent to the Greek'. I knew the Greek New Testament fairly well before my theology had even passed go. And every single Bible that I know has some good things and is missing some others.
However, I wish to help create and maintain an environment that allows the Bible to be translated by trusted scholars in a variety of ways without risk of ongoing persecution and criticism.
Update: I have reposted this since it was posted in its draft order and therefore might be missed, especially since it is part of the J I Packer series I thought it was worth reposting.
I have included the comments here.
Suzanne giving a shout out to the Peebs. heh heh. (I did read the rest of your article and have been following your entire series on the interview with Packer but haven't had anything to ask or add--just so that you know I'm not randomly making a comment from the void after seeing the mention of Plymouth Brethren.
Suzanne McCarthy said...
Hi Rey,You will know where I am coming from if I say that ordained ministry is far more of a taboo to me as a PB than as a woman,(at least in our exclusive assembly) However, I do support the full ministry of women, for other women. I still have many happy memories of my PB upbringing.