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Saturday, January 05, 2008

ERV: Easy to read version (revised )

I have found a new version of the Bible that I can read with delight. It is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the more literary kind of Bible that some have been discussing. And yet, is it? It is not like the New Living Translation, which adds significantly to the text. It is, in fact, surprisingly literal.

The footnotes are careful and explanatory. At SIL, translators are always taught to look for both a model and a base (source) Bible translation. Of course, the base/source should really be the Greek New Testament. Otherwise, it should be a very literal Bible like the NASB, the RSV or the NRSV.

However, what about a model? Often the Living Bible was proposed as a model. But we have just seen that the NLT inserts words into the text to assist in clarity, and in some cases to promote a particular interpretation of the Bible. In the Easy to Read Version, available here, fewer words are inserted into the text.

Here is 1 Cor. 7:7 which I blogged about recently.

I wish that all were as I myself am.
But each has a particular gift from God,
one having one kind and another a different kind. NRSV

But God has given each person a different
ability. He makes some able to live one
way, others to live a different way. ERV

But I wish everyone were single, just as I am.
But God gives to some the gift of marriage,
and to others the gift of singleness. NLT

I wish that all of you were like me,
but God has given different gifts to each of us. CEV

It is clear that making a translation readable does not mean that you have to add words to the text. The ERV is a Bible which, along with the CEV, might respectably provide a model for translation into a minority language. The limited vocabulary makes it ideal for working in a language that has not had a previous Bible translation.

I was particularly interested in the history of the ERV. It was developed first for the Deaf, since the Deaf have a more restricted repertoire of English vocabulary and grammatical structure than oral speakers of English.

The ERV is available to download.


6 Comments:

At Sat Jan 05, 02:31:00 AM, Blogger Christopher Heard said...

Suzanne, thank you for giving some justly-deserved attention to the ERV. World Bible Translation Center is a small operation that works hard to put out easy-to-read Bibles in many languages, not just English. I've worked with them as a consultant from time to time, and they're personal friends too, so I like to see them get good press.

 
At Sat Jan 05, 03:47:00 PM, Blogger Bob MacDonald said...

Suzanne - as always - it is a thorough pleasure to read your writing - I have long noted the wrong inferences made from this 'throwaway' comment in 1 Corinthians - as if Paul knew that others would not misinterpret him. Oh how false our assumptions are and how they distort our hearing - such sludge in our wheels. I wrote briefly on this back in June 2007 here

 
At Sat Jan 05, 04:13:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Chris,

I will be posting again on this version.

Bob,

I like your comment in response to Levine,

The critical item she states that I disagree with is that men do not identify with the unnamed women in the Gospels. I then am not a man. For I do identify with women and with the feminine in the Spirit. There is so much that is incomplete in the statement: men do not identify with women (named or unnamed).

I wrote recently on my bookshelf blog on the topic of gender.

I feel at one level that men and women are so essentially the same in our desire for relationship and even in some of the ways we sabotage this. However, I also am trying to acknowledge the deep differences. In understanding those differences maybe we can identify more with each other. Naturally I do read a lot of books by men, and it has been my pleasure here to be aware of how many men are also reading books by women.

 
At Mon Jan 07, 08:48:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Suzanne, you said about the NLT:

It is not like the New Living Translation, which adds significantly to the text.

I know you are busy right now, but when you get a break, I do need specific exx. where NLT does this, if for no other reasons, than that I can point them out to Mark Taylor as revision suggestions.

Often the Living Bible was proposed as a model. But we have just seen that the NLT inserts words into the text to assist in clarity, and in some cases to promote a particular interpretation of the Bible.

The LB overly clarified and promoted an evangelical interpretation of the Bible. I'm not aware that the NLT does this. Again, if you can provide specific exx., I would appreciate that, and I can let Mark Taylor know about them as revision suggestions.

 
At Mon Jan 07, 01:13:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Good question, Wayne. The NLT added words in this verse in 1 Cor.7:7 but I'll try to find other places. I am pretty busy right now, but soon.

 
At Wed Jan 23, 10:42:00 AM, Blogger gortexgrrl said...

Wayne,

Regarding your request to Suzanne to show where the NLT adds significantly to the text in 1 Cor 7:7...

The examples of 1 Cor 7:7 given by Suzanne in this blogpost illustrate where the NLT adds significantly to the text:

The original Greek reads more like the NRSV: I wish that all were as I myself am.
But each has a "particular gift from God" (idios charisma),
"one having one kind and another a different kind" (hos men houto de hos houto - more accurately translated as "like so, and like so" -- a figure of speech, still used today).

Whereas, the NLT reads: But I wish everyone were single, just as I am.
But God gives to some the gift of marriage,
and to others the gift of singleness.

The glaring difference between the NLT version and every other version is that it embellishes "the gift of marriage" and "the gift of singleness", which certainly do not appear in the original Greek. Nor can you assume that Paul was making an inference here with regards to the "GoS", because just as many theologians throughout history have assumed that Paul was talking about "the gift of celibacy", an enablement, not the mere circumstance of being single.

The notion that 1 Cor 7:7 is some kind of declaration of God bestowing the circumstance of singleness as a gift (for all who are single, regardless of whether they want to be or not) is entirely MODERN. And I believe it has some of its roots in the "GoS" mistranslation in modern bibles, such as the LB. Unfortunately it has contributed to a whole realm of rogue theology on singleness, one that makes many Christian singles doubt whether it's right for them to pursue marriage (as if it's more holy to take a passive stance and "wait on the Lord" to tell if it's OK or not, which isn't a very edifying message). Nevertheless, dozens and dozens of books have been written over the past several decades, advocating this magical thinking. Fortunately, there have been a number of books "rethinking the GoS" that have come out in the past couple of years, so it seems that now in SingleChristianland, the GoS is on its way out.

My own view of 1 Cor 7:7 is that it was only supposed to be an inconsequential, insignificant verse, most likely meant only to be an "preambulary disclaimer" to the main message to the unmarried in verses 8 & 9 (I go into more detail on Suzanne's blogpost here: http://englishbibles.blogspot.com/2008/01/gift-of-singleness.html.)

Last year, a few of us wrote the the editors of the NLT, requesting that they eliminate the "gift of singleness/gift of marriage" and come up with something else. We were pleased to find them open to our ideas, but we haven't heard anything back from them. I encourage anyone who might be interested in supporting our crusade to extinguish the "GoS", to write the NLT, as well as The Message.

 

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