September 23, 2020

Who Translated the New Living Translation? (And More Thoughts on Advocating English Translations)

For starters, let’s have a full accounting of my participation in the Great Translation Circus.

Right behind me is the Thompson Chain Reference KJV that I used in preaching from high school up into college.

Not too far from it is a shelf where I have many of the Bibles I’ve used in my adult life. There’s a Thompson New King James, a nice red leather NASB original, a well worn NIV single column that I used for many years, two ESVs (one of which I am giving away), an NRSV Access Study Bible that I really like and several gift Bibles, including the RSV I received at my ordination.

In my classroom I have my old high school Living Bible, a worn out NASB paperback and a completely disassembled first edition NIV Study Bible. Love those notes.

Right behind me is my “devotional stack.” I have an ESV personal sized single column, the Message and an NLT second edition. All are small and fit in my satchel nicely. (Michael Card, William Lane and Noel Heikinnen got me to take a serious look at the NLT second edition, so if I am an apostate, blame them.)

On my computer I run Macsword with ESV and some greek tools. On my laptop I run Accordance and several translations. I regularly access several online translations, but most of the time I copy and paste the NLT second edition into what I write.

When I go to men’s Bible Study twice a week, I take my two small Bibles and my Greek New Testament. When I teach, I use the ESV. When I preach to students, I usually read and project the NLT. In churches around here in southeast Kentucky, the KJV is the only safe pulpit Bible.

Now that I’ve come clean, let’s talk about Bible translations a moment.

One of the stranger acts going on in evangelicalism these days is a variation of straight out team sports. I’m speaking, of course, of the debate over which Bible translation you “ought” to use to “really” get God’s Word.

Bible translations are….translations. No one I know of except KJV Only types try to make a case that God has endorsed an English translation. But the rhetoric of some evangelicals for their favorite translation’s superior qualities does get well past a calm exchange of views and into a kind of divine advocacy of one translation over another. There’s a bit of the Islamic approach to “inspired language” in some Christians’ attachment to their translation of choice.

Many times I’ve experienced someone being angry and/or uncomfortable that I was not using “their” Bible. I would have been happy for all of us to adopt and stay with the RSV. But with the proliferation of translations available today, it makes sense to access different English translations and paraphrases rather than depend on just one and suggest it’s God’s favorite.

But what is even stranger about this game is the way translations operate as identifiers for complete descriptions of the individuals using them. Ryan Cordle from the BHT described this well.

“…sometimes I wonder if the insistence of some on the “more literal” translations is a form of academic/spiritual elitism. It is as if those who would rather avoid the awkwardness of the NASB (which I read most of the time, with the NET) are not quite as intelligent as those who need to rely on “easy” Bibles like the NLT. People who don’t read NAS/ESV just don’t “get” it.

The reason I bring this up is because that is exactly how I was my first couple of years at college. I could judge someone based on their chosen version: NASB or ESV meant I could be friends with you; NRSV meant you were smart, but cluelessly liberal; KJV meant fundamentalist; NIV or NKJV meant you were probably clueless about translations and therefore not as great as I was; NLT or the Message meant you were a hopeless youth ministry major. I was able to put myself above everyone because I chose to read “the most literal,” and I understood Greek better than the unwashed.

All of that was before I took my Greek exegesis classes, and realized all of the judgment calls that go on with translating/textual criticism anyway, and no version is free from interpretation. Therefore, you might as well pick the one you will read and feel comfortable with.”

Reformed blogger Tim Challies devoted considerable space to advocating the superiority of “essentially literal” translations to translations such as the NLT in a lengthy post yesterday. Challies is a layman, but he makes much the same case as men like Leland Ryken and others for the superiority of the “essentially literal” translations, which usually means the ESV/NASB.

Tyndale Press editor Keith Williams responded at the NLT blog, taking issue with Challies’ presentation of the weaknesses of dynamic equivalence translations.

My own views on translations were deeply influenced by the experience of teaching a semester of Greek several years ago. I immediately realized that every translation- including the ESV- used some examples of dynamic equivalence. Some translations use more and others less, but all translations participate in the various less-than-perfect processes of word and idiom translation.

I’ve found myself considerably annoyed recently by two things.

1. One is the idea that those who have produced dynamic equivalence translations are somehow making a “mockery” (Challies’ word) of inspiration.

There is no one on the face of the earth I respect more for his knowledge of Hebrew than Eugene Peterson. Long before he produced The Message, he was demonstrating his linguistic acumen in his many older testament expositions.

The “young, restless and reformed” never stop portraying Peterson as one of those “mockers” of God’s word. I’d ask these hecklers to read Peterson’s Eat This Book and get back to me on that one. Peterson is the most reverent, scripturally hungry person I’ve ever read.

The fact is that The Message is a completely idiomatic project. People who don’t know that are few. People who ignorantly vilify Peterson as one who “changes God’s words” are many.

And then we have the issue of who translated the New Living Translation. Careful there young, restless and reformed. Some of your favorites have been doing some dynamic equivalence translation behind your back.

Here are the names of the NLT translators. Let me point out a few of them.

Dr. Robert Stein, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. (If you know Stein at all, you will know why I put him on this list. He’s Mr. No Nonsense on the Bible.)

Dr. D.A. Carson, TEDS (I think some of you may have heard of Dr. Carson.)

Dr. Tom Shreiner, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Isn’t Dr. Shreiner a Calvinist hero?)

Dr. Moises Silva, Gordon-Conwell (I hear James White cite this man all the time, and White was a consultant on the original NAS.)

Dr. Klyne Snodgrass, North Park

Dr. F. F. Bruce, University of Manchester (Ahem)

Check out the entire list of NLT translators. I’m not sure the young, restless and reformed have taken stock of who some of those “mockers” of inspiration happen to be.

2. The other annoyance is the consumerism at the base of all this rhetoric. We’re publishing and selling books here, and don’t think it’s anything less than that. There’s nothing wrong with it, and I buy a bunch of them, but let’s stop acting like consumerism isn’t part of this discussion.

Evangelicals have connected discipleship and buying stuff in a way that is completely alien to the New Testament.

If today’s Christians were around in the Biblical era there would be ads for the Septuagint with endorsements from famous Jews and announcements of new “Glow in the Dark” covers.

If I buy an ESV and that’s my only Bible- and I actually read/use it- I’ll be blessed by the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit isn’t frustrated with the NLT. Both the ESV and NLT are human efforts to translate an eclectic scholarly text. The process is imperfect. It’s pursued with various assumptions and choices. The final product is a translation.

But toss this process into the Christian publishing business and suddenly I have to have an ESV to be a junior John Piper and every NLT comes with a coupon for a free eyebrow piercing.

Give me a break. You’re selling a book, marketing an image and making a profit. Let’s not gussy all that up with “Real Hairy Chested Manly Christians Use The _____________” or “The Emerging Bible Comes With All Propositions Removed.”

Just stop it. Make your case. Delete the needless mischaracterizations of good scholars. Stop labeling Christians by their translation.

And yes, I’ve pre-ordered an ESV Study Bible, just to be safe.


  1. David A Booth says


    “Faithful to his marriage” is an excellent dynamic translation. The only drawback (there are always trade offs!) is that it masks the possibility that Paul may be addressing polygamy. For that reason I would prefer the more colloquial: “one woman man” or “one woman sort of man”.

    Yet, unlike you, I don’t think that a translation intended to be a standard pulpit/pew Bible should eliminate the possibility that the verse is restricting the office of Bishop to men.

    Thanks for taking the time to interact! Now, I think we need to give thread back to M.S.


  2. My dust-covered bible is better than your dust-covered bible! 😉

    I guess if the bible is a “magic book”, there must be a magic translation.

    I have some difficulty with heavily literal translations. They tend to read as poetically as a analytical calculus text. But again, if the point is to extract the “magic” from the bible, then technically-correct wording becomes essential.

    With all the RC’s on this blog, I’m a little surprised that no one mentioned the New American Bible, which I really like, but in which I have run across some quasi-paraphrasing.

    I wish the apocrypha was included in the more modern translations. It was in the bible the apostles read (septuagint) and contains several New Testament allusions (check out the cross references in the 1560 edition of the Geneva Bible).

    I agree with Scott. As a missionary, I had the opportunity to learn to read the bible in Japanese. That actually opened my eyes to the way different words are translated and how culture influences their meaning.

    Any thoughts about Robert Webber’s comments about “ruminato”, i.e. emphasis on personal inner response to the message of scripture? I know that sounds like magic bookism, too. But I wonder if recent emphasis on literal translations and inductive study methods has stripped God of the means of speaking through scripture to us personally. One can have a high textual view of scripture and still deny its sacredness.

  3. Hi M.S.

    Thank for putting up with our little discussion/debate. If anyone else would like to comment further on the 1 Timothy 3:2 translation I have reproduced the interaction between David A. Booth and myself at Eclectic Christian. I have even added a poll so that readers can chime in and vote for their favorite translation of 1 Timothy 3:2. Thanks again!

    David, Thank you for your gracious responses. I wish Christians always responded to me in the way you did!

    Mike Bell

  4. What is there to say that the actual “quotes” (for lack of a better word) in the Bible are not paraphrases of what people said?

    Surprised this hasnt caused mroe discussion. Or maybe everybody agrees already.

    I do.

    I have always tried in my teaching to explain to people to be really careful about getting overly excited about picking apart word-for-word quotes when trying to make a theoligical point that relies on a particular word.

    The first problem is they are usually relying on the english word in their argument and second, the “quote” is probably a paraphrase in the first place. If I remember correctly there are no Hebrew quotation marks.

  5. Michael Bell,

    You wrote “The Hebrew word that is translated “nose” in Isaiah (and many other places in the Bible), is translated “wrath” in Psalm 21. Why? Dynamic equivalence.”

    No I don’t think this is really a good example of dynamic equivalence, as much as it is an example of the nature of Hebrew vs. abstractions in english.

    Your previous example was taking a literal statement “he knocked on the door” and then translating it in equally literal terms “he stood outside the hut and raised his voice.” Since the “before” and “after” are both equally literal language, you’ve “fudged” reality and changed the historical account.

    In the example you cite from Psalms, wheras the Hebraic construction for ‘wrath’ was never meant to be literal, but is a concrete idiom, it is rightly translated by the KJB into ‘wrath’ since the idiom doesn’t carry over. The idiom in Hebrew was NEVER understood in literal terms.

    Even Green in his strictly literal translation translates it to “wrath.”

    So you can’t compare the two examples. The first example has a translation which falsifies historical fact. The second example does not, because God was not literally breathing folks through His nose. He was expressing wrath, and that’s what the Hebrew readers knew and understood.

  6. Another monkey wrench in the discussion between the functional-equivalent and dynamic translations is that the Koine Greek used in the New Testament is stylistically very simple. The dynamic translations which render a low-grade-level text are more faithful to this reality.

    Yet another monkey wrench is that the rendering of Jesus’ words in the Gospel is necessarily a Greek translation of Aramaic. Did the Gospel writers use a formal-equivalent or dynamic translation?

    (Full disclosure: I prefer NASB/ESV. My wife devours her NLT.)

  7. Brian, we know that Jesus spent his early childhood, when languages are most easily absorbed, in the Jewish community of Alexandria. We also know that Greek was the lingua franca of at least the Eastern portion of the Roman empire and in a lot of ways outside the business of the empire and commerce was much more common than Latin. And we know that around the time of Jesus Hebrew schools were common — at least in Israel — and many Jewish children were literate in Hebrew.

    Given that, it’s a stretch to assert that Jesus’ words were necessarily translated from Aramaic to Greek. Based on the composition of the crowds, it’s extremely likely he taught in Greek at least as much as he taught in Aramaic. And it’s also likely, especially in encounters with Pharisees and other teachers and in the synagogues that he used Hebrew. (I say that since the synagogues in Judea used Hebrew, unlike most first century synagogues which mostly used Greek.)

    Of course, the “words of Jesus” in the Gospels are not recorded in the same sense as a video or audio recording anyway. We know he traveled from place to place teaching in a largely oral culture. (That can be hard for us to grasp in our culture. Ancient cultures flipped the precedence we give written texts. In ancient cultures, written texts were generally suspect because you couldn’t be sure what had been altered or by whom. Oral teachings and traditions, by contrast, were considered superior because you knew the teacher.) An excellent example of this is provided in the sermon on the mount in Matthew and the sermon on the plains in Luke. They are essentially distillations by the gospel authors of the same teaching by Jesus, a teaching he likely gave at least tens of times — but never exactly the same way twice. And he probably taught them sometimes in Aramaic, sometimes in common Greek, and possibly even sometimes in Hebrew.

  8. B.B.

    A light bulb just went on over here. I see now why we were butting heads on this.

    I agree with you absolutely that you can’t change the historical account.

    I also agree with you absolutely that you can’t carry over an idiom. That is why an idiom is a good example of dynamic equivalence because there is no direct equivalent. Usually when we have an idiom in scripture the translators have to find a dynamic equivalence to make it meaningful to the English audience.

    I think what was causing the confusion/difference of opinion around the “door knocking” text is that I had in mind a phrase from Revelation 3:20 where Jesus states : “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (NIV) I should have stated the context in which the phrase appears because I think that makes a big difference.

    I understand this text quite metaphorically, and almost idiomatic. Jesus is not literally standing at our door and is not literally knocking. As a result I think that is OK to translate the metaphor into one that is more meaningful to its audience.

    I am sorry about the confusion that I may have caused, and I hope that this has cleared it up a bit.

    Mike Bell

  9. They way ancient writings work, we really only have paraphrases of Jesus’ sermons. Or Peter’s or Paul’s…these were not written down by God’s stenographer.

    Yet, I still value a literal translation over a paraphrase by a long mile. Reading parts of the New Century Version years ago showed me that paraphrases can sometimes take a hard turn onto Crazy Street.

    I was once a devout KJV Only. I referred to the Nearly Inspired Version and Not Actually Scripture. I still hold a deep suspicion of the NIV.

    My day to day reading, take it to church bible is a NASB Zondervan Study Bible. My auxilary bible is the Apologetics Study Bible in CSB. Number three is the Archeology Study Bible in, sigh, NIV. I have a Scholfield in KJV. The previews I have seen of the new ESV Study Bible have me intrigued. The fact that if I order it through a certain website $5 goes to the Acts 29 network is a bonus. I will probably get it because I have developed a bible addiction.

    I still love the poetry of the KJV but if someone has trouble reading it, I recommend either the NASB or the CSB. If the Bible really is God’s Revealed Word and the guidebook to salvation…would you rather have someone not reading it, not understanding it than reading a translation you don’t agree with (leaving out obvious heresies and such)?

    Read whatever is easiest for you. Read several versions of some of the hard verses. Shouldn’t we make sure we “study to show ourselves approved” and be as certain about what we believe as we can on this side?

    The Bible is the final arbiter of our religion (by which I mean if it says “yes” or “no” we should too, if it stays silent, maybe we should too.) but condemning certain translations done in good faith and reasonable accuracy (no “she” references to God) and those who read them is just idolatry.


  10. Scott,

    It is highly doubtful that Jesus conversed with the Twelve in Greek.

    Your other points speak to my underlying idea, which is that the nature of the Bible we have, and of the way ideas were transmitted in the world in which it was promulgated, speaks against the argument of those belittling the validity of a dynamic translation per se.

  11. Brian,

    You stated….”Yet another monkey wrench is that the rendering of Jesus’ words in the Gospel is necessarily a Greek translation of Aramaic. Did the Gospel writers use a formal-equivalent or dynamic translation?”

    Not sure this is a “monkey wrench” for a position that distrusts dynamic equivalence. And I’m not sure you can compare this, ie the apostolic rendering of Christ’s Aramaic words into greek, to the english translator’s rendering the greek into english.

    The former task is “God-breathed” (theopneustos), wheras I don’t know of any who want to designate the latter as such, other than some very extreme KJB-only groups who believe the translation itself is inspired.

    The apostolic writers were not merely translators. They were agents of revelation, with a revelatory gift, enabling them to give us greek renderings of the Aramaic speech of Christ in greek words given by the Spirit. Do you really want to speak of this as “dynamic equivalence” in the same sense as when spoken of the NLT?

  12. B.B.,

    Did the Holy Spirit use a formal-equivalence or dynamic method to render Jesus’ Aramaic sayings into Greek?

  13. Brian,

    I would tend to think that that question really isn’t relevant. If it was a matter of God Himself reworking His original words to something a bit looser, who is going to have a trust issue with “the translator?” Both sets of wordings would be equally inspired and thus both equally and absolutely authoritative.

    It’s irrelevant whether the apostles “played loose” or not, since it was the Spirit speaking.

  14. B.B.,

    While we trust that God’s revleation is inerrant and infallible and man’s is not, even so if we are willing to accept that the Holy Spirit would choose to render the concepts behind Jesus’ Aramaic words in Greek rather than the specific words themselves, what does that say about what God is trying to accomplish through his written Word?

    If we accept that God himself might work that way, then the issue with dynamic translation cannot be the method itself, but rather the trustworthiness and reliability of the translators.

    The issue of the reliability of the translators is not avoided by going to a formal-equivalence translation. Since languages are not codes in which words have one-to-one correspondence, the choice of English word used to render the underlying Greek word is just as subject to the biases of the formal-equivalence translator as the choice of phrase is to those of the dynamic translator. The generally formal-equivalence philosophy of the NRSV does not make it acceptable to evangelicals, for example, on account of the theological viewpoint underlying the choices of words.

  15. >The generally formal-equivalence philosophy of the NRSV does not make it acceptable to evangelicals, for example, on account of the theological viewpoint underlying the choices of words.

    You have an interesting definition of evangelical. Are you excluding all the mainline denominations?

  16. “The generally formal-equivalence philosophy of the NRSV does not make it acceptable to evangelicals, for example, on account of the theological viewpoint underlying the choices of words.”

    …that, and perhaps more so because they chose newly found manuscripts on which to base their translation, recovered from ancient garbage dumps and monastery trash bins…

  17. “You have an interesting definition of evangelical. Are you excluding all the mainline denominations?”

    I would exclude the theological liberals in the mainline denominations, absolutely.

    I thought the point of evangelicalism when the movement started in the 1950’s was to avoid the excesses of fundamentalism (withdrawal from the world) and liberalism (apostasy).

  18. “…that, and perhaps more so because they chose newly found manuscripts on which to base their translation, recovered from ancient garbage dumps and monastery trash bins…”

    If you consider NA27 and BHS to be thus, then you may toss out all translations currently in common use save the KJV and NKJV.

  19. Just for everyone’s information, I will not publish any comments that advocate the KJV only position.

  20. You ought to allow comments advocating the KJV only position, as long as they are written in King James English.

  21. Brian writes: “The generally formal-equivalence philosophy of the NRSV does not make it acceptable to evangelicals, for example, on account of the theological viewpoint underlying the choices of words.”

    Hmmm, strange then that the Evangelical Bible Colleges and seminaries that I have been most closely associated with have made it the required translation when citing scripture in essays.

  22. It is not really a controversial statement to note that very few evangelicals use the NRSV for personal devotion or study. Nor is it controversial to note that it is commonly regarded as a liberal translation.

    The philosophy of the NRSV translation, like the RSV before it, is not to assume Christian theology when translating the Old Testament. This results in many renderings of the Hebrew which appear to be at odds with the New Testament. (This goes beyond simply the use of gender-inclusive language, which is also found in the NLT, NCV, etc. — translations which, this thread notwithstanding, do find appeal among rank-and-file evangelical churchgoers.)

    Highlighting these differences is useful for the textual scholar. The traditional Christian understanding of the Old Testament is that it should be interpreted in light of Jesus Christ. It is sometimes forgotten that it does in fact require interpretation. So I can understand why in a scholarly setting the NRSV might be preferred.

  23. Is it news to some of us that there are Bible believing, evangelical people in the mainline congregations? NRSVs and all?

    The idea of a “conservative” translation falls apart on the particulars. The ESV uses all the things that are condemned by its fans in other translations like the NIV/TNIV. Just uses them less.

    The ESV is 94% RSV. The RSV was the devil for decades. Now all sorts of evangelicals confess to using it.

    Blah blah blah.

    Use ’em all and remember what they are and are not.

  24. “Is it news to some of us that there are Bible believing, evangelical people in the mainline congregations? NRSVs and all?”

    Well, that’s a relief. I was afraid my being a contented member of a UMC church was disqualifying me from salvation.

    “The idea of a “conservative” translation falls apart on the particulars. The ESV uses all the things that are condemned by its fans in other translations like the NIV/TNIV. Just uses them less.

    The ESV is 94% RSV. The RSV was the devil for decades. Now all sorts of evangelicals confess to using it.”

    My understanding is that the 6% that was revised included 1) changing controversial OT verses to reflect the traditional Christian interpretation, 2) updating some verses to reflect the latest critical texts, and 3) changing just a handful of wordings to read “better,” usually by making them less literal (but yet sometimes, somehow, clunkier.)

    Those OT verses (like Isaiah 7:14) were what made the RSV unpopular among evangelicals. To me, the transmission from ‘almah’ to ‘parthenos’ to ‘virgin’ is interesting and not deleterious to faith. (I had to smile when I asked myself, ‘how did Luther deal with this’ and then remembered the German word for ‘virgin.’) To many, it is a problem.

    Thomas Oden still swears by the RSV and so far as I can tell he’s not swimming in John Shelby Spong’s pool (the Church Fathers did not have private pools, you see).

    I’m convinced the emergence of the passionate ESV club is marketing-driven. It is supposed to be the bulwark of evangelical (especially Calvinist) orthodoxy against the TNIV heathens, or something. The ESV becomes not just a Bible, but an identification badge like so many other consumer products.

    Whatever. I thumbed through it while looking for a small Bible and liked the way it read, so I got one.

  25. While I’m stirring the pot…

    Why does the inspired New Testament quote passages from the Greek Septuagint, in places where it deviates widely from the Masoretic Text?

    Which Old Testament is inspired? Both? Why would God inspire and dictate multiple textual variants?

  26. Brian,

    The oldest complete manuscript that we have of the Masoretic Text dates from the 10th Century A.D. Partial manuscripts date from the 9th Century. By comparison the manuscripts we have from the New Testament are significantly older. This is why the discovery and translation of the Dead Sea scrolls was so important to understanding textual variants. You now have Hebrew manuscripts which were many centuries older than the previously known manuscripts. This allowed us to see what the Hebrew looked like 1000 years earlier and gave us a better understanding of the differences between the Septuagint and Masoretic text.

    A translation that comes after the Dead Sea Scrolls (in my mind) is likely to be stronger than those that predated it because of the additional texts that were available to it.

  27. Michael,

    I’m not certain we should regard the evolution of the OT as linear as opposed to branching. As in, the Masoretic Text represents one of several textual variants that existed in the Second Temple period, another one of which is reflected in the Septuagint, and yet others in the Targums, and others of which were lost in the upheaval following A.D. 70, prior to the development of the meticulous Masoretic tradition.

  28. Brian,

    Agreed. I would say more but I can only tread water so long before sinking. (I am out of my depth.)


  29. “Why would God inspire and dictate multiple textual variants?”

    Honestly, I think our whole concept of “inspiration” is off. The bulk of those who speak of it seem to harbor the idea that God did indeed dictate the writings we call scripture and the various authors just sat there in a trance and wrote down what they heard word for word. There are only a couple of places in the Bible where the writer is told to quote God directly, Revelation and a some of the Prophets come to mind but I may be wrong.

    I don’t know that I believe in any form of “inspiration” that hangs on the definition of a single word or phrase written in a different language in a culture 2000 years removed from our own. If I write here “Don’t have a cow.” we all know what it means in our slang. 1000 years from now, the same sentence becomes a prohibition against owning livestock without any cultural references.

    If the men writing had no involvement beyond that of human Xerox machine, why do their writings contain slang and other cultural references unique to their era and location? Why did Paul write things like “I say this, not the Lord”, if he was merely taking dictation?

    I DO believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, that He impressed upon men to write down ideas and concepts and, occasionally, direct quotes.

    Just my two cents.


  30. If I might add a few random thoughts:

    1. In purely literary terms, the King James is a gorgeous work. Its Shakespearean language is simply splendid. Still, I appreciate the fact that the language of the early 17th century isn’t the contemporary idiom of 2008 and that it can be alienating. Even so, as a professional literature teacher, I can’t help advocating that folks should, when possible, have as much exposure to the literary language of the KJV as they can because, among other reasons, it’s been so culturally influential.

    2. The arguing/debating over the different English translations of the Bible is beginning to sound like a linguistic version of “let’s argue over what color the church carpet should be –because it’s a SERIOUS MORAL-ETHICAL-SPIRITUAL ISSUE and I’m right and you’re not. How can you prefer taupe when I know that beige is the better, holier choice?” What happens when there’s a sense of “my Bible translation is better than yours”? Or, worse, when it’s “this is the popular version, so I must rush out and buy it and use it because it’s ‘in'”?

    3. What’s the deal with the current craze for a new “version” of the Bible for every possible ection and subsection of humanity? There’s the archaeological Bible, the teenager Bible, and even a Manga-illustrated Bible. Doesn’t this sort of trend all but make even the BIBLE a source of division-by-pigeonholing?

    4. At the utter risk of sounding like a total nerd and language snob: In graduate school I had the great good fortune of having (and taking) the opportunity to learn koine Greek well enough to read the New Testament in it. Learning Greek is like joining the Peace Corps: it’s the hardest job you’ll love. (But you do run a lower risk of catching an internal parasite!) Anyway, I encourage everyone and anyone to learn a little Greek, if only to appreciate the sheer complexity of it and the equally complex issues it brings into the translation question. And if you do manage to learn Greek well enough to read it with any facility, you’ll be blown away by it — and by the humbling awesomeness of being that much closer to the language and reality of the historical time and place of the New Testament.

    Personal digression: Frankly, not too long ago, I was on the verge of giving up entirely on this whole church business (I’m in the post-evangelical wilderness), but it was partially the historical and linguistic side of the Greek New Testament that engaged my BRAIN and called me back when I was sick to death of frou-frou religious pablum stuffed full of emotion-soaked, happy-slappy, pat phrases pulled from modern English versions.

    5. Different translations aside, there’s also the issue of context and interpretation. A person can have the best translation ever, but if he or she doesn’t have the other tools necessary, there’s still a huge chance of going off the rails. Just look at Joel Osteen’s patented raise-your-Bible-and-chant-this-cheer-after-me routine…right before he launches into the usual doctrinally fuzzy if not outright heretical Gospel of Oprah.

    6. Here’s a thought. In the Anglosphere, we have the luxury of multiple translations. What do you do in another country where you might have only one translation into the local lingo?

    Best wishes to all,

  31. ” Here’s a thought. In the Anglosphere, we have the luxury of multiple translations. What do you do in another country where you might have only one translation into the local lingo?”

    Well, in that case one might actually hear the words of God and act on them just like Jesus said a wise man does (Matthew 7:24).

  32. Lonelypilgrim, you make a nice point. Maybe we’ve become so wrapped up in WHICH TRANSLATION and even HOW TRANSLATION that we can miss the forest for the trees and rush right by what the words actually *say.*

  33. Brian (and everyone else) —

    I put together a list a while back on how everyone handled Isaiah 7:14 including Luther:

    Darum wird euch der HERR selbst ein Zeichen geben: Siehe, eine Jungfrau (young woman with strong hint of virgin) ist schwanger und wird einen Sohn gebären, den wird sie nennen Immanuel.

  34. CD-Host,

    Eine Jungfrau is “a virgin” or “a maiden.” Eine junge Frau is “a young woman.” The point of course, is the ready connotation of virginity to feminine youth in German culture at the time those words came into common use.

    The realization made me smile as I remembered how language works, and how fluid the connotations of words can be between langauges, and even with the same language between communuities and between generations.

  35. Brian —

    So your arguing it should be “a maiden” / virgin that. Or that I should put Luther down in the virgin camp? At least the texts I was working with claimed there is another word entirely for a person who has never had intercourse.

    I don’t know German so I’m just quoting in my post.

  36. A general comment.
    Why is there such a need to make all these different versions of bibles? Are people so lacking in understanding that they can’t understand the english language anymore? So what if you have have to think a little about what you read; God exhorts use to meditate on his word. So many Christians wants to be spoon fed.

    Also, is it possible that Satan is using all this as a way to confuse Christians and maybe those who seek Him. We still have the old nature and it is obvious how it is dividing us. If it is human desire that is driving all this, then it is likely an ungodly influence.

  37. Textus Receptus good enough for Paul, good enough for me! Someone ought to make an updated translation of it that is word-for-word wherever possible, idiomatic when necessary.

    Just rambling (that’s for sure), but I just bought a KJV, and it’s much more readable than I had originally thought.