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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Christmas presents for the TNIV team

There are few things in life that bring me greater joy than helping a Bible translation team improve its translation. Others might not experience that same joy that I do, but I do know that people experience joy when reading a better Bible. All around the world people marvel (and are spiritually impacted) whenever they hear God's Word translated as they speak and write their own language.

For several years I have been sending revision suggestions to the CBT, the TNIV translation team. These days I am checking TNIV Psalms. My regular job (checking Bible translations in other languages) does not allow me time to check the TNIV as thoroughly as I would like, but I am still able to skim read and spot wordings which could be improved.

But I am not going to be able to complete my check of the TNIV before their annual deadline, January 1, for receiving revision suggestions. Would you consider giving a Christmas present to the TNIV team by suggesting revisions which would make their translation even better? Perhaps you could skim read books of the Bible which I have not yet been able to check, so that as many books of the Bible will be covered as possible before the CBT deadline. In my latest push the past few weeks I have checked Ruth, Job, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, and I will soon finish Psalms. BBB reader Tim Carr is expecting to complete checking the New Testament by the deadline. If you prefer to check New Testament books, check Tim's suggestions on the TNIV revisions suggestions webpage to see if he has not already suggested a revision for a wording you are interested in.

I realize that there is barely a month to go, but if you would be willing in that time to skim one or more books which Tim and I have not been able to check yet, it would be a big help. I will post a survey in the BBB (and TNIV Truth blog's) margin where you can mark down which book, God helping you, you hope to check for the TNIV team.

Do you need to be a Greek or Hebrew scholar to check an English translation? No, in fact such scholarship can often be an impediment to the kind of TNIV checking most needed at this time. You just need to be a native speaker of English, with a good sense of whether or not some wording sounds like good English, whether it follows the standard rules of English syntax and lexicon.

To help you see what kinds of things you might find, here are few examples I have spotted in the TNIV Psalms, along with explanatory words about the translation issue:

Ps. 38:3 "there is no health in my body" – unnatural; consider natural: "my body is not healthy

Ps. 68:17 "The chariots of God are tens of thousands" – improper English with "are" connecting the noun subject and the number of them; consider: "The chariots of God number in the tens of thousands", or "God has tens of thousands of chariots"

Ps. 75:1 "Name" – This is the only capitalized instance of "name" (including for God's name) I have found in the TNIV. I suspect it is a typographical error.

Ps. 82:1 "gives judgment" – unnatural; I don't think we "give" judgment in English

Ps. 84:7 "from strength to strength" – unnatural English; I don't know what it means.

Ps. 89: 13 "endued" – not a well known word today

Ps. 89:15 "acclaim" – not a well known word today

Ps. 90:12 "Teach us to number our days" – I've heard this Bible phrase since childhood but I do not understand it. It sounds like the psalmist is asking God to teach him how to count the number of days he has done something, perhaps how many days he has lived.
You can record your revision suggestions on the TNIV revision suggestions webpage. There are further instructions on the webpage. There is also a link there to download a free copy of the TNIV if you do not have this Bible version yet. I will forward suggestions to the TNIV team by their deadline, January 1.

Please consider indicating which TNIV books you would like to check in the new survey in this blog's margin. And if you cannot skim an entire book, if you can submit even one suggestion that can be a help.


At Wed Nov 21, 02:21:00 PM, Blogger Tim said...

As a Catholic who is quite fond of the TNIV, I would love to have a TNIV with Deuterocanonicals under my tree! :)

At Wed Nov 21, 06:17:00 PM, Blogger John said...

As an evangelical, I would love to have a TNIV with as broad a selection of "intertestamental" literature included as the NRSV, REB, NAB, and NJB provide.

Thanks, Wayne, for this post. I'm learning to do just as you say. I now revise my translations in a penultimate phase, not against the Hebrew / Aramaic / Greek, but against "natural English."

John Hobbins

At Wed Nov 21, 06:40:00 PM, Blogger ScriptureZealot said...

I have noticed that the (T)NIV rendering of Psalm 62:1,5 is so different from the other translations that I wonder why this is. I don't have any suggestions though.

As a tangent I've been reading one Psalm a day and have come to prefer the TNIV over my usual NRSV in addition to KJV or NASB.

At Wed Nov 21, 10:30:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Thanks, John. Your words mean a lot to me.

And you're not the first one who has wished that intertestamental books could be included in some editions of the TNIV. I acknowledge your wish on this also, Tim.

At Wed Nov 21, 10:40:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

I have noticed that the (T)NIV rendering of Psalm 62:1,5 is so different from the other translations that I wonder why this is.

I suspect that the answer lies in the different ways it is possible to express the Hebrew here. The NET Bible footnote for v. 1 seems relevant:

“only for God [is] there silence [to] my soul.”

It sounds like a Hebrew idiom to me and idioms are often quite difficult to translate. Each of the different Bible versions tries to do justice to the Hebrew idiom in translation.

At Thu Nov 22, 04:13:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

In Psalm 62:1,5, although there are some textual difficulties, the basic issue is a simple one. There is a word (or perhaps different words in the two verses) which can mean either literal "silence" or more generally "stillness". So verse 1 can be translated literally (ignoring the particle ak) "to God the silence of my soul" or "to God the stillness of my soul". The different renderings I have seen all seem to be based on different ways of understanding this.

At Fri Nov 23, 10:15:00 AM, Blogger ScriptureZealot said...

Regarding Psalm 62:1,5 translating my soul rests (TNIV), or {waits} in silence (most others)--I was reading Psalm 22 yesterday and in verse :2b noticed a footnote:

by night, but I find no rest. [b]

b. Psalm 22:2 Or night, and am not silent

It looks like the same word for silent is used in both. I wonder if Ps 62 should have a footnote.

At Fri Nov 23, 10:31:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

I wonder if Ps 62 should have a footnote.

I think a footnote would be helpful.

At Fri Nov 23, 05:03:00 PM, Blogger A.D. Riddle said...

I've been reading the TNIV of Isaiah and they capitalized "name" in 18:7 and 30:27. I did not take the time (yet) to see if there was any rhyme or reason for it.

At Fri Nov 23, 09:11:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Thank you, A.D. I have now added the two occurrences in Isaiah to my list.

At Sun Nov 25, 07:09:00 PM, Blogger chad said...

I am going to try to tackle Nehemiah after finals are over

At Sun Nov 25, 09:11:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

I am going to try to tackle Nehemiah after finals are over

That would be great, Chad. After Psalms I went on to Proverbs. Biblical poetry is sure different from narrative material. The poetry has a lot more translation issues. I'll probably finish checking Proverbs tomorrow.

At Tue Nov 27, 12:23:00 PM, Blogger A.D. Riddle said...


I found another instance of capitalized "name" in Jer 25:29.

Also, as I was reading this morning, Jer 35:15 sounded a little unusual: "Do not follow other gods to serve them."


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