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Old 05-28-2001, 11:15 AM   #1
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Post Which Bible?

This question is for Ish, Bede, Nomad, Layman, and every other theist who posts here. Please, I am very interested in hearing from all of you.

Which bible is considered to be the best translation? Since this is a Biblical Criticism board, I would think that criticizing the best, not worst, bible would be in our best interests. From what I understand, shooting holes in the King James translation is more like a S.W.A.T. team in a kindergarden class...

I would like to purchase a new bible for use in this discussion forum, and I need your help.

Thanks,

Don
 
Old 05-28-2001, 11:32 AM   #2
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by sentinel00:
This question is for Ish, Bede, Nomad, Layman, and every other theist who posts here. Please, I am very interested in hearing from all of you.

Which bible is considered to be the best translation? Since this is a Biblical Criticism board, I would think that criticizing the best, not worst, bible would be in our best interests. From what I understand, shooting holes in the King James translation is more like a S.W.A.T. team in a kindergarden class...

I would like to purchase a new bible for use in this discussion forum, and I need your help.

Thanks,

Don
</font>
This is a question I'm still trying to figure out myself. So let me give you the same advice I recently received from someone far more advanced in biblical studies than I am.

You're going to need a variety of Bibles. And yes, I agree that the KJV is significantly outdated. I would suggest the NKJV in its place. Others I would recommend are NIV, NASB, RSV, and NLT. Also, it might be a good idea to avoid paraphrased versions (CEV, TLB, MSG)--good reading but not beneficial for scholarship or biblical criticism. Commentaries are also highly recommended, although I must confess that I haven't obtained any yet.

Hope this helps.

Andrew
 
Old 05-28-2001, 01:02 PM   #3
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Hi Don

I use three main translations that can be found in any bookstore:

1) The New International Version (NIV). Please try to get a study version with some explanitory notes. It takes a phrase by phrase approach to the translation, and tends to do areasonable job of conveying the best meaning of the original text.

2) The Revised Standard Version. The best word for word translation of the Bible around. The language is a bit stilted because of this approach (some things just do not translate very cleanly), but it does not suffer from some of the liberties taken by the NIV translators as the latter tried to make many of the ancient idioms more intelligeable to modern readers.

3) The New American Bible. This one is the Bible of choice for the Roman Catholic Church, and includes the deuterocanonicals (Apocryphal) books excluded by the NIV. Try and find the 1987 edition (or later).

Online please take a look at the New English Translation which has among the best notes on virtually ever word and phrase in the Bible.

The NIV and RSV (as well as a number of others) can be found at BibleGateway.com and the Catholic NAB can be found at National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Now, if this is too much information, or you want my recommendation on just one translation, then I would go with a study bible based on the NIV. The translation is fairly good, the language is quite easy to read, and the notes are very good.

Peace,

Nomad
 
Old 05-28-2001, 01:38 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info, Brian.

One question (sorry for the ignorance, btw), but the translations are all from Greek, yes? How many "generations" (to use an a/v recording term) of languages are there between the original texts and English?
 
Old 05-28-2001, 01:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by sentinel00:

One question (sorry for the ignorance, btw), but the translations are all from Greek, yes?</font>
All of the translations I have listed are from the original Greek (NT) and Hebrew and Aramaic (OT). The reason the KJV and NKJV are not considered to be as reliable is that they use the Byzantine Text for the Greek of the NT (and sometimes even the more problematic Latin translations of the Vulgate), and this is seen as being newer (post 4th Century AD) and less reliable than is the Alexandrian Text (post 2nd Century MSS). If you really want to get into the mind numbing details on this discussion, I can recommend a couple of very good online discussions on the topic. Suffice to say, it is very boring, even if it is important.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">How many "generations" (to use an a/v recording term) of languages are there between the original texts and English?</font>
All of them work from the original languages, as well as the oldest and most reliable MSS available to us at this time (generally dating between 200AD and 800AD). Important discrepancies in the MSS texts will be noted in the footnotes of any good translation (i.e. which passages are thought to be possible interpolations, or are otherwise problematic).

Avoid the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible, as it used only the Latin Vulgate as its original source, and is therefore not very accurate.

Brian (Nomad)
 
Old 05-28-2001, 04:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Nomad:
Hi Don

I use three main translations that can be found in any bookstore:

1) The New International Version (NIV). Please try to get a study version with some explanitory notes. It takes a phrase by phrase approach to the translation, and tends to do areasonable job of conveying the best meaning of the original text.

2) The Revised Standard Version. The best word for word translation of the Bible around. The language is a bit stilted because of this approach (some things just do not translate very cleanly), but it does not suffer from some of the liberties taken by the NIV translators as the latter tried to make many of the ancient idioms more intelligeable to modern readers.

3) The New American Bible. This one is the Bible of choice for the Roman Catholic Church, and includes the deuterocanonicals (Apocryphal) books excluded by the NIV. Try and find the 1987 edition (or later).

Online please take a look at the New English Translation which has among the best notes on virtually ever word and phrase in the Bible.

The NIV and RSV (as well as a number of others) can be found at BibleGateway.com and the Catholic NAB can be found at National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Now, if this is too much information, or you want my recommendation on just one translation, then I would go with a study bible based on the NIV. The translation is fairly good, the language is quite easy to read, and the notes are very good.

Peace,

Nomad
</font>
Greetings Brian.

I just bought a New Living Translation (NLT) Bible today. What do you make of that one? While I was there, I did see that New American Bible (NAB) you mentioned but didn't know anything about it at the time. Can you give me a little more info? (And this is just a side thing: Are you Catholic?)

I have an NIV Bible and am looking to replace it for a study Bible version of it. Thing is, the one I saw at the bookstore was $40! How much did you pay for yours?

I was surprised to hear that the KJV and even the NKJV were that inaccurate (or rather, less than accurate). I'm going to soon start reading James White's "King James Only Controversy"--that should shed some light on that stuff.

Oh, and perhaps this isn't the best place for this, but my curiosity is overcoming my caution: Why are you ignoring Jubal's posts regarding your debate tactics with Doherty?

I was honestly curious.

Andrew
 
Old 05-28-2001, 10:13 PM   #7
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Hi Andrew, and welcome to the Boards. It is always nice to have another thoughtful theist in the group.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Andrew Anderson:

I just bought a New Living Translation (NLT) Bible today. What do you make of that one?</font>
I am not fond of translations that are primarily focused on making the Bible easier to read, typically at the expense of accuracy in the actual translation of the text. I certainly understand when a person wants to use a Bible that is easy to read, and accessible, but if the intention is to conduct serious Bible studies, these are not the best with which to work.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> While I was there, I did see that New American Bible (NAB) you mentioned but didn't know anything about it at the time. Can you give me a little more info? (And this is just a side thing: Are you Catholic?)</font>
I am Lutheran, but have strong Catholic sympathies. My pastor usually cringes when I refer to Lutherans as Catholic-Lite, but the two denominations are much closer than either cares to admit on virtually all important theological issues.

The reason that I recommended the NAB is for the Deuterocanonicals. Their absense, even as an appendix in the NIV is a serious weakness for this translation (as well as for most Protestant translations). Sadly, since most English speaking countries are Protestant, we have very little exposure to the full breadth of Christian Scriptures.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I have an NIV Bible and am looking to replace it for a study Bible version of it. Thing is, the one I saw at the bookstore was $40! How much did you pay for yours?</font>
Take a look at The NIV Student Bible (Hardcover) from Christianbook.com. I have always found their prices to be much more reasonable than Amazon when it comes to Christian books. This one is listed at $21.95US and the softcover version is $4.00 less. Either is very good.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I was surprised to hear that the KJV and even the NKJV were that inaccurate (or rather, less than accurate). I'm going to soon start reading James White's "King James Only Controversy"--that should shed some light on that stuff.</font>
I own a beautiful copy of an original Authorized Version KJV, and have always preferred it for the poetry, especially in the Psalms, Ecclessiastes, Lamentations, Isaiah and Job. But the translations are not as current or accurate as are the more modern ones like NIV, NASB and RSV.

If you would like to read a couple of reasonably short online articles on the subject of translations, I would recommend Why so Many Versions? and Why I Do Not Think the King James Bible Is the Best Translation Available Today. Both articles are by Dr. Daniel Wallace, and are quite readable.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Oh, and perhaps this isn't the best place for this, but my curiosity is overcoming my caution: Why are you ignoring Jubal's posts regarding your debate tactics with Doherty?</font>
I rarely ignore anyone on purpose on these boards. Sometimes I simply have too many people to respond to, and while I try to get to everyone, some get missed. In Jubal's case, I did not see him asking any questions that had not already been asked by others, so I felt that my responses to the other members would cover off his concerns.

I think the biggest problem I had with Jubal's reasoning, however, came when he decided that he had not thought me responsible for Doherty's departure until he had read my final two posts, written AFTER Doherty had already left. Quite honestly, I do not know how to respond to such reasoning, and elected not to bother even trying.

In any event, if he has any serious questions for me, then I will be happy to discuss it with him time permitting.

Peace, and welcome aboard Andrew.

Nomad
 
Old 05-28-2001, 10:37 PM   #8
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Sentinel, as Andrew stated, it's good to reference a number of different translations. Doing so will give you a greater appreciation of the various meanings of the underlying Greek.

I personally use the NIV. It is translated directly from the Greek and takes into account most recent NT papyri finds. It also makes use of the DSS in parts of the OT (esp. Isaiah if I remember right). If you'd like to check out the differences between the NIV, KJV, and the underlying Greek, I would look into the following: KJV-NIV Parallel Interlinear. I have only glanced at this book, but plan to purchase it in the near future.

As Nomad, I would also suggest the RSV for the reasons that he stated. There is also a New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) which is excellent, but I have heard that it is not as literal.

I, too, recommend the online NET which has wonderful notes.

Andrew mentions the New Living Translation (NLT). This is a paraphrase, but a very good one, in my opinion. It is a very new, accurate, and easy to read translation. Philip Comfort (mentioned in some of the threads here on Dating P46) is one of the many scholars who worked on this translation. I recently picked up a copy of the NLT specifically for reading because it has a nice flow... I use the NIV for more serious study.

If you are interested in the original languages that underlie the Bible, these translations make use of the following texts:

Biblica Hebraica Stuttgartensia (OT)
Nestle-Aland 27th (NA27) (NT)
United Bible Societies 4th (UBS4) (NT)

The NA27 and UBS4 are virtually identical. I believe that the only difference is in the apparatus (footnotes to the Greek text which provide variant readings and what MS they come from). If interested, you should be able to find these texts for sale on the internet, possibly at www.amazon.com or www.christianbooks.com.

Finally, the KJV is based on the Byzantine Greek text which is considered inferior by modern textual critics. The Alexandrian family is considered close to the original text and can be found in many of the early papyri which are used for more modern translations. The KJV is based on the Greek text called the Textus Receptus. The Textus Receptus comes to us, more or less, from a fellow named Erasmus (do a web search on him to find out more).

Erasmus based his Greek New Testament on a handful of late (10th/11th century?) MS of the inferior Byzantine flavor. Further more, he had no complete MS of Revelation. To fill in the missing parts, he simply translated the Latin Vulgate back into Greek (introducing errors). Also, Erasmus was attempting to beat another edition to the printing press, which resulted in numerous errors. Subsequent editions worked out many of these minor errors, but this does not help the fact that the text is still based on the Byzantine family (known for minor interpolations and harmonization).

You might check me on this because I don't have a book handy at the moment, but I believe the Byzantine textual family is thought to have derived from a guy named Lucian. After the Christian persectution by Diocletian in 303AD (which ordered the destruction/burning of Christian texts and churches), Lucian gathered what scraps of the NT he could find and compiled a somewhat "free" version (harmonization of the gospels, etc.). With the rise of Constantine and Christianity, the Lucian text spread quickly throughout the Byzantine empire. This text became the Byzantine or "majority" text. Again, please double check me on this. The information can be found in works by textual critics like Bruce Metzger and Kurt Aland, as well as many other scholars.

Ultimately, the translation is not what really matters. The overarching message is what matters; and it comes across crystal clear in most (if not all) versions.

I'd be interested to know what version you decide upon.

Ish

[This message has been edited by Ish (edited May 29, 2001).]
 
Old 05-29-2001, 11:50 AM   #9
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Hey Brian.

Actually, I think you (and Ish) are a little off about the NLT. I used to think it was a paraphrased version too until an acquaintance of mine who used it told me it's one of the most accurate translations. I don't know about that statement, but after reading the preface, I know it's a thought-for-thought translation like NIV--only it uses easier expressions to understand than the NIV.

Thanks for the reference to Christianbook.com as well as the links on Bible versions. I'll be sure to check those out some time. As for JubalH, the only reason I brought it up is because he had created a post celebrating his alleged victory over you, and I was surprised to see you hadn't answered it. Thanks for clarifying, though.

Andrew
 
Old 05-29-2001, 02:43 PM   #10
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Andrew, oops, you're right about the New Living Translation. It had its beginnings in The Living Bible (1971) by Kenneth Taylor which was a paraphrase. I think this is why I get confused. Due to criticism of The Living Bible, Taylor decided to produce a revision of his paraphrase. This revision became the New Living Translation. Over ninety scholars worked on the revision.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, it is new (1996) and accurate (and so includes many of the newest papyri finds not included by the original NIV of 1978).

Here is a quote from Philip Comfort's Essential Guide To Bible Versions:

"The translation method behind the NLT has been described as "dynamic equivalence" or "functional equivalence." The goal of this kind of translation is to produce in English the closest natural equivalent of the message of Hebrew and Greek texts-both in meaning and in style. Such a translation should attempt to have the same impact upon modern readers as the original had upon its audience. To translate the Bible in this manner require that the text be interpreted accurately and then rendered in understandable, current English. In doing this, the translators attempted to enter into the same thought pattern as the author and present the same idea , connotation, and effect in the receptor language. To guard against personal subjectivism and insure accuracy of message, the NLT was produced by a large group of scholars who were each well-studied in their particular area. To ensure that the translation would be extremely readable and understandable, a group of stylists adjusted the wording to make it clear and fluent."

He defines dynamic and functional equivalence as follows:

"A translation methodology in which the translator attempts to produce the same response in the "target" language readers as the original language text produced in the original readers."

I have enjoyed reading the NLT, but I still prefer a more literal translation for true Bible study. Comfort mentions in the above book that "the New International Version is not as free as Today's English Version and the New Living Translation because these versions were created to be as contemporary as possible."

Here is a chart from Comfort's book that might be of interest:

Classification of English Translations

Strictly Literal
New American Standard Bible

Literal
King James Version
American Standard Version
New King James Version
Revised Standard Version
New American Bible

Literal with freedom to be idiomatic
New Revised Standard Version

Thought-for-Thought
New International Version
New Jerusalem Bible
Revised English Bible

Functionally equivalent (modern speech)
Today's English Version
New Living Translation
Contemporary English Version

Paraphrastic
The Living Bible
The Message

The Journey from Texts to Translations by Paul Wegner has an excellent section at the end which goes over past and present versions of the Bible in interesting detail. Here are some quotes from it about the NLT:

"One of the major differences between The Living Bible and the New Living Translation is that the latter uses dynamic equivalence rather than paraphrase."

"A dynamic-equivalence translation may use a variety of different English words to capture the meaning of a Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek word..."

"The language of the New Living Translation is clear and intelligible, with sensitivity to inclusive gender wording; its vastly improved accuracy over The Living Bible can be credited to the fine team of translators. Nevertheless, to effectively render the intent of some passages, exegetical decisions were made that are not agreed upon by all scholars."

"...this translation [NLT] was not always able to capture the meaning of the biblical texts better than does the New International Version, which claims to be a balance between the word-for-word and dynamic-equivalence translation"


I added the bolded sentences to indicate why I prefer the NIV to the NLT for actual Bible study.

Thanks for the correction!

Ish

[This message has been edited by Ish (edited May 29, 2001).]
 
 

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