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 Post subject: Bible Translations
PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 9:45 pm 
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So, I'm looking to do a bit of Bible study (of which I don't think one can have enough), and I'm wondering if people here have an opinion on which translation is three things: Easiest to read, most accurate in translation, and easiest to study out of.

now, the first two are a matter of translation, and the third might be of publication, as concordances and cross-references make study a great deal easier. Granted, much of this can be found online, so that's not essential.

Anyway, I'm interested in all opinions, of course, but if you've looked into this yourself already, I'd appreciate some help :)

My current opinion: NIV strikes the best compromise between readability and closeness in tranlation, The Message is the easiest to read, but sacrifices a great deal of accuracy... and the newer version of the NIV... sounds intriguing, but I know it's controversial...

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 10:05 pm 
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not something I would recommend
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I'm curious to know how anyone could judge accuracy without being able to compare them to the source. Unless you know of comments/critiques by scholars?



eta - wanted to make it really really really really clear that that wasn't intended as some opening shot in an argument. Just a straight-foward question.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 10:55 pm 
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there are more comments/critiques by scholars on this subject than any other... well, that's a guess, but I'm pretty sure it's close... ;)

It's more a matter of wading through them, than finding them :)

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 10:59 pm 
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I own several different translations and like to read them all (I confess, I'm a Bible geek :shock: ).

I'm partial to the Revised Standard Version because of the way it reads, although the New Revised Standard Version is more accurate, according to scholars. That's what is used in our church.

NIV is all-around good, and there are some excellent study aids in many editions.

Those are the only ones I seriously study. I go to the other translations -- King James Version, New American Standard Version, Good News Bible, Living Bible, etc. - to get a different feel for the text or when I want to approach a passage with a fresh eye. My favorite one to just sit and read like a novel is J.B. Phillips' paraphrase of the New Testament.

Oh, and being a child of the South, I have always enjoyed the Cotton Patch Gospels, which transplant the stories to 20th-century Georgia. :D


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 11:06 pm 
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halplm wrote:
there are more comments/critiques by scholars on this subject than any other... well, that's a guess, but I'm pretty sure it's close... ;)

It's more a matter of wading through them, than finding them :)


Without the source to question, IMO, it will always be a matter of conjecture.
The History Channel had a show about the Koran and its various interpretations the other day.
There is no right or wrong. It is all how you read the written word, and what you take from it. Coupled with the time it was written.
Parts of the Koran were written 20 years after the fact. It was all done from memory. It was subject to interpretation.
The Bible is no different. There is no "THE" Bible.
There are too many instances where things can be interpreted in multiple ways.

Said a West Virginia preacher on interpretation of the Bible, " It wasn't wine. Wine is forbiddend. The interpretation is grape juice."
You'll never get to the bottom of it without the source.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 11:34 pm 
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we're talking translations from the oldest copies we have... obviously.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 11:38 pm 
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Just to clarify: When I used the word "accurate," I didn't mean straight from God to your eyes. I meant that reputable scholars used the best available early texts for their translations.

I recently read a very interesting book, "Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why" by Bart D. Ehrman, that is a fascinating look at how scribal errors and deliberate changes altered the text. We have no way of knowing exactly what the original words were.

That doesn't bother me, by the way. :) People who nitpick Scripture to death -- in hopes of either proving or disproving it -- tend to miss the big picture (love God, love neighbor).


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 11:52 pm 
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Very well said, Wampus! :)

Obviously, I don't read English translations, so I can't comment on hal's question, but I like a translation to be pretty as well as readable. I don't like it when it's too modern, too prosaic. I want the well-known verses to sound the way I know them. :)

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 11:58 pm 
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I'm partaking in this Bible study and I need things pretty simplified.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 12:21 am 
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I do think it's important to read a translation that makes sense to you. Otherwise you get to something like "Suffer the children to come unto me" and think it has something to do with suffering rather than just "Let them come." Meanings get lost or changed over time.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 12:37 am 
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...hence the importance of a decent commentary to accompany the translated text.

"Translation" means just that - a translation into English from the original language. Obviously, that can't take place until you've established an original text, and halplm isn't worried about that at the moment (though obviously other people do study that).

I think the NIV and the NASB are fairly comprable. I have done bible studies where I had one, and other people had another...and it worked fine. They tend to be readable, and have good notes on the side for the tricky passages. The King James translation tends to be neither accurate nor readable, and accompanied by very little commentary. But that does tend to be more 'poetic' than most other translations, which can be fun (if not what you had in mind for this project).

If you are going to be reading passages aloud, it is good to stick with one version (if everyone takes a verse, and you have variant translations, that just gets confusing!). But otherwise, it is usually good for everyone to just use their own - any discrepencies can fuel the discussion.

If you want to look up particular passages in the various versions, I recommend www.biblegateway.com There, you can switch back and forth between translations readily (and the default is NIV). So, you could use a more standard translation for the study, but read one passage from 'The Message' (or one like that) just to give people a feel for it.

As for commentary...that depends on the study. Are you doing an overview of the whole Bible? A particular book? A theme?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 1:01 am 
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we haven't decided yet. I like to go with themes, but we'll see.

We'll probably do a lot of looking things up online... but I think we need one that you can sit and read as well... ;)

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For the TROUBLED may you find PEACE
For the DESPAIRING may you find HOPE
For the LONELY may you find LOVE
For the SKEPTICAL may you find FAITH
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 4:07 am 
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I was given a new Bible the other day, it is the New International Version. I haven't read much in it yet.

But I did read the 23rd Psalm and it is a very poetic version, very like my favourite King James version. Since I read this book as a book, and not as God's word, I look at it differently, I know, than many of the rest of you.

I have a translation of the 23rd Psalm before me, it was read at a funeral I recently attended. I was shocked when it was read, and I am bewildered when I read it: there is nothing poetic about this version, it is choppy, and entirely misses the point, I think, of the Psalm.

(When David says, "You anointed my head with oil" that is VERY important. And yet in this version it only says, "You revive my drooping head"!)

I have no idea what Bible this Psalm was taken from. Does anyone else?

God my shepherd!
I don't need a thing.

You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
You find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
You let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through the valley of death,
I'm not afraid when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six course dinner right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.
I'm back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.

Without wishing to offend anyone whose Bible this is, I have to say that is about the worst murder of glorious poetry I have ever read. A six course dinner?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 5:19 am 
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Well, here is the version from The Message:
Quote:
God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I'm not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd's crook
makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I'm back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.

Very similar, though not identical.

The New Living translation is also simplified (it looks like it belongs in the YA part of the library), but at least it does a better job of maintaining some poetry:
Quote:
The LORD is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.


He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk
through the dark valley of death,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You welcome me as a guest,
anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the LORD
forever.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 12:14 pm 
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I think that's what I meant about not wanting too much modernisation.

Quote:
You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.


Sorry, but that's :rofl:

I could maybe understand dropping the "annointing with oil" part - yes it IS very important, but versions that cater for readers who've never before had any religious instruction would have to assume that the reader doesn't know what annointing someone with oil means (a form of showing the highest respect) - but saying "revive my drooping head" instead isn't quite the same, is it? ;)

I think that the classical English versions are really very hard to understand, but some annotations on difficult parts would be much preferable, IMO, to simplifications, which aren't just uglier, but after all change the meaning, too.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 12:30 pm 
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While I don't much like...okay, while I dislike "revive my drooping head", I can see why that was used; in ancient times, hair and scalp was refreshed by the use of scented oils being brushed through it, so I can see where the simile kicks in...but so plodding in the expression!

Hal, going back to your original question - are you intending to commence at the beginning or are you focussing only on the New Testament? I ask because...if you are going to include the first five books, plus prophets and psalms you might want to consider, as a point of comparison, one of the popular Jewish translations of these books.

I understand that such a translation would be coming from an entirely different direction to that which you are used to, but it might be useful and insightful to see how these words have traditionally been translated in a tradition outside your own; can be a catalyst for thinking and discussion.

Just an outsiders' suggestion. :)


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 7:07 pm 
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Great suggestion, Impy! I don't have a copy of one of those translations but I will one of these days. I did read from one at a friend's son's bar mitzvah, though. :)


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 9:57 pm 
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Quote:
I ask because...if you are going to include the first five books, plus prophets and psalms you might want to consider, as a point of comparison, one of the popular Jewish translations of these books.


WOW does that sound interesting. :shock:

I might just have to find something like that too, Imp! What a enriching experience to read them side by side... except I doubt they would have such a translation in my Christian book store, although I have been surprised there before.

That is SUCH a cool idea!


Anyway....


I read a NIV study bible, and I have really found the study bible part to be interesting. I also have a concordance, which is an invaluable tool at times.

Our church uses a New American Standard, so the text doesn't quite line up, and I do find that to be a bit odd at times. I like my NIV, though... kind of a good blend of the poetry of the old and the readability of the new.

I was raised with a King James bible, although no one read it. :) When I tried to read it, I could see the trouble! It really is difficult to parse out the meaning, although I love the "flavor" of its phrasing...

That translation of the 23rd Psalm is just... well, it's just wrong. :P "Death Valley" is an old TV show... the "Valley of Death" is so much more lyrical.

There's such a thing as TOO streamlined. :x


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 Post subject: Re: Bible Translations
PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 1:09 pm 
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halplm wrote:
My current opinion: NIV strikes the best compromise between readability and closeness in tranlation, The Message is the easiest to read, but sacrifices a great deal of accuracy... and the newer version of the NIV... sounds intriguing, but I know it's controversial...


It's only controversial because some conservative US Christians have kicked up such an almighty fuss about gender-inclusive language. It's a big ole hoopla over nothing, IMO, and all hinges on the use of generic language for humankind in certain passages, rather than using the masculine form. Big deal. :P

I bought a TNIV the other week and I really like it. :)

So, currently my two preferred versions are TNIV - Today's NIV - and the New Revised Standard Version, which I also like because it's very literal. :)

I really, REALLY don't like The Message. I know it's a paraphrase, not a literal or 'dynamic equivalent' translation, but it plays too fast and loose with the text, IMO. It's a shame because I've liked everything else that Eugene Peterson has ever written. But if I'm going to use a paraphrase, I prefer The Living Bible.

Anthy, I think the study notes in the NIV Study Bible are excellent. 8)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 2:27 pm 
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So, here's the current plan... we got the NIV Study Bible from Zondervan... It's got a lot of very interesting notes and such that I'm sure will be quite interesting.

I think we're going to start at the beginning of the New Testiment. I mean, there's not much more important than the Life of Jesus :).

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For the TROUBLED may you find PEACE
For the DESPAIRING may you find HOPE
For the LONELY may you find LOVE
For the SKEPTICAL may you find FAITH
-Frances C. Arrillaga 1941-1995


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