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Liberal Bibles?


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No, I don't necessarily mean Bibles rewritten in PC lingo per se, but I have seen numerous study Bibles out there but none of them ever seem to be put together by liberal Chrisitians. (I currently have 3, the student Bible, The Women's Bible II, and the Couples' Bible)

 

Do any of the more liberal denominations put out their own study Bibles, or are there any generic non-denominational liberal study Bibles in existence?

 

Thanks!

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Hmm... I'd say that the most "liberal" study Bible that I'm aware of is the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) Study Bible. It's really more academic than anything, but it clearly stands against a more literalistic/fundamentalist reading of the Good Book. Another excellent resource, albeit far larger and more extensive, to consider is the New Interpreter's Bible Commentary series. This is available in either 12 books (like an encyclopedia) or on CD. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that they've just come out with a 1 volume New Interpreter's Study Bible. Can anybody verify this?

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Hi Killer :)

 

The request was not for a "liberal" bible (though one could argue that translators supply their own interpretive lens, as evidenced by the fact that you seem to prefer the KJV and NIV versions), but for a liberal *study* bible, which, clearly, would have an interpretative bias.

 

Hope that clarifies...

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Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that they've just come out with a 1 volume New Interpreter's Study Bible. Can anybody verify this?

 

I have this study Bible and highly recommend it. It is the NRSV with Apocrypha. It includes study notes, excursuses, some topical essays having to do with interpretation. Scholars that contribute are those leading in their field. Before each book there is an introduction with structure of the book concerned.

 

If anyone is interested in OT, I recommend "Sources of the Pentateuch: Texts, Introductions, Annnotations" by A. F. Campbell and M. A. Obrien. It is the first five books Genesis to Deuteronomy, though the later book contains only 4 verses. It's divided into J, E, P source (that's why Deut has only a handful of verses, Leviticus and Numbers also only include verses that pertain to J, E, P). In this text you can read J as one whole, E as a whole, likewise with P. It's a different way to read the Pentateuch, giving one a feel in the way that Historical critics are thinking.

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Hi!

 

I really enjoy the Life Application Study Bible. I have one in the NIV and one in the New Living Translation. When you read the commentary at the beginning and you see how many different denominations and scholars were involved, and when you read how exacting their research was, it gives you a confidence in it that, at least for myself, is lacking with some of the other versions. I grew up with the KJV, and my Pastor still uses it in his sermons, but when I study in private, the Life Application Study Bible helps give a clearer understanding of the scriptures.

 

God Bless,

TammyJo58

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I just purchased the New Oxford Annotated Study Bible with Apocrypha, which uses the NRSV.

 

I find it easy to read. The annotations seem thorough. It is scholarly and balanced; not too far to the right, not to far to the left.

 

The text is evenly spaced and easy on the eyes. The paper is of superior quality, which can be a problem with some Bibles.

 

I figure my next bible will be The Access Bible, which also uses the NRSV. Or:

 

Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that they've just come out with a 1 volume New Interpreter's Study Bible.

 

This study bible looks awesome! I looked it up on Amazon and found the following review from someone who DOESN'T LIKE the NRSV for this reason:

 

First, this bible makes an effort to reclaim the Old Testament for the Jewish people. The Old Testament is no longer called the Old Testament, but the "Hebrew Bible". Passages of messianic import are interpreted historically and critically.

 

Can you believe it? How dare the editors of the NRSV call the Hebrew scriptures, well, the Hebrew scriptures?! :P

 

If anyone is interested in OT, I recommend "Sources of the Pentateuch: Texts, Introductions, Annnotations" by A. F. Campbell and M. A. Obrien.

 

And now, thanks to Socius, I will be obtaining this as well. :angry: Look what you did. You made me spend more money!

 

Aletheia

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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I would recommend that when you're reading the OT, no matter what version of the Bible you're reading, you read a copy of the Hebrew Tanakh alongside for comparison. I personally preffer the Jewish Publication Society's translation, but there are a couple different ones out there to choose from. There are some pretty interesting translation discrepancies you'll notice if you do this between the Tanakh and OT of the Bible. Not to mention the fact that I personally trust the Jewish people more when it comes to translating their own Holy texts accurately than my fellow Christians.

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I know of a couple of great bibles that seem look at the message God was trying to give. I think there the best.

 

The NIV and KJV!

 

For crying out loud, if your looking for a bible that's liberal or conservitive, your really missing the point.

 

Jason

Minusmay.com

I doubt you'll find many here who agree with you. The NIV is a conservative translation that actually manipulates the text of the Holy Scriptures to say what they want. For example, you know all those parts of the NT where Paul talks about sexual practices and it says Homosexual or gay in the NIV? Turns out there's no word that is anything close to gay or homosexual in the origianl languages the NT was written in, so how did they pull that off? As for the KJV, I read it primarily for the Psalms, most of the Psalms I memorize are the KJV version simply because they sound more beautiful to me than any other translation. However I can't make heads nor tales of most of it, so it is not my primary Bible. Not to mention the fact that it has similar problems to the NIV, except in the case of the KJV, verses appear in the english that don't exist anywhere in the original texts.

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I've never read it, but there was a controversy last year when Bible scholar John Henson released his own translation of the Bible, which he called Good As New: A Radical Retelling of Scriptures. I don't know if it's any good at all, but it is supposedly a more "liberal" type translation. Plus it was endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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Thanks, all. From the research I have been doing it looks liek the Access Bible may be a good one for me to start with. I need something that goes easy on someone who hasn't studied the history of her faith and its cukture in detail. :)

 

The Access Bible is an excellent beginning study Bible. You made an excellent choice.

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As an independent student of the bible and by virtue of constitutional freedom of religion, I am free to be either liberal or conservative as a response to what I read.

 

For example, If I am inspired by the mercy of God I may choose to be liberal. If I am inspired by the holiness of God I may choose to be conservative.

 

I am free to change my mind on each inspiration. Conservatively for example I may choose to eat health food. Liberally, I may choose to eat frozen custard.

 

Conservatively I may choose to pray for universal healthcare in the USA. Liberally, I may choose to politely greet people on the street.

 

The point is: the bible is both conservative and liberal. I am free to respond either way. Both are valid responses.

 

It does not have to be either / or, it can be both / and!

 

 

Dave :rolleyes:

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Excellent modern translations of scripture are the individual translations of Torah and other Hebrew scripture by both Robert Alter and Everett Fox. Cynthia Ozick's excellent essay in The Din in the Head explores and describes the power of Alter's translation.

 

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Edited by Ted Michael Morgan
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I doubt you'll find many here who agree with you. The NIV is a conservative translation that actually manipulates the text of the Holy Scriptures to say what they want. For example, you know all those parts of the NT where Paul talks about sexual practices and it says Homosexual or gay in the NIV? Turns out there's no word that is anything close to gay or homosexual in the origianl languages the NT was written in, so how did they pull that off? As for the KJV, I read it primarily for the Psalms, most of the Psalms I memorize are the KJV version simply because they sound more beautiful to me than any other translation. However I can't make heads nor tales of most of it, so it is not my primary Bible. Not to mention the fact that it has similar problems to the NIV, except in the case of the KJV, verses appear in the english that don't exist anywhere in the original texts.

 

My purely lay opinion accords with your assessment of the New International Version. I think that it has a deliberate evangelical bias. It seems to be the favorite translation of many people in my church. At least, many of them seem to use it. However, they also use other popular translations such as the New Living Translation, which is quite easy to read, and various translations from the American Bible Society. I think that I am the only member of my congregation who uses the Revised English Version, though I most often read the New Revised Standard Version at church. Some members use the New American Bible. I was surprised in a class I attended at the local Unitarian-Universalist congregation that many students in the group I attended used the old Living Translation and the King James Version. The students seemed to have used these in their past church experiences. The pastor used an Oxford Study Bible Revised Study Version. The English Standard Version is an evangelical version based upon the Revised Standard Version but it is a modified version of that translation. I am not certain how closely it follows the RSV. I have not made a verse by verse comparison. It is a good version to use when you talk with evangelicals. Some very conservative folks endorse it. I think that the differences have to do with reading the Old Testament backwards from the New Testament. The Complete Gospels edited by Robert Miller from the Westar Institute is an excellent resource that I am not certain anyone here has mentioned. There are several study editions of the Revised Standard Version. One recent one is the New Intepreter's Study Bible. A new edition of The Harper Collins Study Bible is due for release in August. The Oxford Study Bible New Revised Standard Version remains an excellent choice for lay readers (in my humble lay opinion).

Edited by Ted Michael Morgan
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My purely lay opinion accords with your assessment of the New International Version. I think that it has a deliberate evangelical bias. It seems to be the favorite translation of many people in my church. At least, many of them seem to use it. However, they also use other popular translations such as the New Living Translation, which is quite easy to read, and various translations from the American Bible Society. I think that I am the only member of my congregation who uses the Revised English Version, though I most often read the New Revised Standard Version at church. Some members use the New American Bible. I was surprised in a class I attended at the local Unitarian-Universalist congregation that many students in the group I attended used the old Living Translation and the King James Version. The students seemed to have used these in their past church experiences. The pastor used an Oxford Study Bible Revised Study Version. The English Standard Version is an evangelical version based upon the Revised Standard Version but it is a modified version of that translation. I am not certain how closely it follows the RSV. I have not made a verse by verse comparison. It is a good version to use when you talk with evangelicals. Some very conservative folks endorse it. I think that the differences have to do with reading the Old Testament backwards from the New Testament. The Complete Gospels edited by Robert Miller from the Westar Institute is an excellent resource that I am not certain anyone here has mentioned. There are several study editions of the Revised Standard Version. One recent one is the New Intepreter's Study Bible. A new edition of The Harper Collins Study Bible is due for release in August. The Oxford Study Bible New Revised Standard Version remains an excellent choice for lay readers (in my humble lay opinion).

 

 

I also find the New English Bible and the 20th Century NT excellent translations even given their age.

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I also find the New English Bible and the 20th Century NT excellent translations even given their age.

Comments on English Versions of the Bible and Study Bibles

 

Study Bibles seem popular At least, publishers introduce, revise, and re-introduce many editions of them and members of study groups or Sunday school classes to which I belong often have study Bibles with various translations and with commentaries from diverse points-of-view. Barnes and Noble and other book stores display them in large numbers. Some editions seem to me whimsical. Others include commentary by distinguished biblical scholars.

 

 

 

I have worn out several copies of succeeding editions of what is now The Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha Revised Standard Version, my old favorite study Bible that I first used in 1964 in classes at university. My parents gave me that first copy for Christmas, 1963. Today, I own and refer to several study Bibles, though they are sufficiently expensive that I recommend readers by only one or two study Bibles.

 

 

 

I do believe that study Bibles help me read and better understand scripture, even though I realize that they have limited application simply because the commentators largely have to gloss the texts, even in these large books. Nevertheless, I think that to a degree the annotations and introductions can help readers grasp important aspects of biblical texts. The Bibles are still small enough to take to services, groups, and classes. Sometimes a simple reference can deeply enrich reading a text in a group or class.

 

 

 

Many of the study Bibles I know use critical-historical methods to explore scriptures. Some others combine these with a canonical outlook that takes into account the way churches have historically understood the Bible. Further, other study Bibles interpret scripture from an evangelical viewpoint. I personally enjoy and frequently use Catholic study Bibles that uses a combination of critical-historical study methods with some general attention to Catholic doctrine and to what my mother names the plan of salvation. Members of the Disciple of Christ edited two of the best study Bibles.

 

 

 

As I indicated, all study Bible necessarily have limitations. One criticism as indicated involves limitations of historical-critical readings of scripture. I do not know one that satisfactorily explores my theological concerns though there are study Bibles that use the teachings of the Reformed tradition as a basis for notes.

 

 

 

A couple of study Bibles I use are devotional study Bibles. One The

 

Spiritual Formation Bible (NRSV), published by the conservative Christian

 

 

 

1.

publisher Zondervan and edited by staff from The Upper Room publishers, uses

 

traditional ways of reading scripture as part of spiritual formation. Another, The Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible (NRSV), edited by Richard Foster does much the same thing but from a slightly different outlook with attention to a broad range of matters that concern Christians. A group of editors and commentators from a broad range of Christian points-of-view produced this helpful devotional Bible.

 

 

 

The texts for most of my study Bibles are the Revised Standard Version, its later revision the New Revised Standard Version, the New English Bible, and its later revision the Revised English Bible. These are translations from committees of scholar representatives from major Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic and Orthodox denominations. I very much enjoy reading the Hebrew Bible in the Revised English Bible and I find the Oxford Study Bible: Revised English Bible (REB) with Apocrypha particularly helpful. The 23 articles in this edition are outstanding in their clarity and range for such short articles.

 

 

 

The first two translations are generally one-to-one word equivalent translations. The second two are thought -to-thought equivalent translations. There are formal or technical names for kinds of translations. Formal equivalent is roughly a word for word translation. Dynamic equivalent is roughly thought for thought. There are also paraphrase translations.

 

 

 

These divisions are not absolute. Translations tend to use all these forms because of difficulties transposing meaning from texts in biblical languages to other languages. Interestingly, early Christians, including the Apostle Paul, used Aramaic and Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible.

 

 

 

A Google web search reveals articles about translation and about versions of the Bible. There are also interesting blogs.

 

 

 

No translation is perfect and no Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek text is perfect or even original. All translations are in some sense interpretations. There are critics of all translations, including my favorite versions. Many critics offer alternative translations.

 

 

 

Apparently, the best selling modern translation is the New International Version, translated by a committee of conservative Christian scholars, including some Mennonite scholars. This translation is largely a word for word equivalent translation, though some commentators find it a freer translation than the Revised Standard Version and even the New Revised Standard Version. Many critics and

 

many members of groups and classes in which I take part highly regard the New

 

 

 

2.

International Version. I know the NIV New Testament well. During the eighties, I

 

used it as my devotional New Testament. I do not know the Old Testament text. Zondervan, publisher of the NIV offers a wide range of study Bibles that use the NIV text. For myself, I find the NIV New Testament has a bias toward millennialism; however, The New Interpreter’s Bible uses it a one of its two texts and the Norton Critical Edition of the Writings of St. Paul also uses the NIV version.

 

 

Another excellent conservative translation is the English Standard Version, which the translators model on the Revised Standard Version with certain corrections and revisions they deem important. These often have to do with translating the Old Testament from the Greek Bible that the writers of the New Testament used rather than the received Hebrew text. Some commentators find some of its rendering unnecessarily stilted. The publisher of this translation will introduce a study edition in October 2008. You can sample sections of it online.

 

 

 

Most study Bibles that I know do not use other translations I enjoy reading. An exception is The Jewish Study Bible, edited by Adele Berlin and March Zvi Brettler, and published by Oxford University Press. This study Bible uses the text of the Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh translation. A positive aspect of this commentary is that it is Jewish and does not interpret the text in terms of the New Testament. Sometimes that is helpful even to Christians because it opens new readings to us and it helps us better and more fairly grasp Judaism for itself.

 

 

 

By the way, I enjoy reading the New Living Translation as well as both the Contemporary English Version, and Today’s English Version from the American Bible Society. My brother David gave me my now well worn copy of the CEV several years ago. Elsewhere I have written my take on various study Bibles. I no longer have a single favorite.

 

 

 

One reason that I use the Revised Standard Version, The New Revised Standard, the New English Bible, and the Revised English Version is that they include the Deuterocanonical (second canon) books. After all, they were part of the ancient Greek Bible in use at the time of Jesus and included in the

 

scriptures of the early church. Most Christian churches included these books in their canons of scripture and even many Protestants have found reading them worthwhile. They do not change doctrines but they do nurture spiritual formation. Some modern translations do not include them.

 

 

 

I do recommend, if you can afford to buy it, a one volume Bible

 

commentary. The scope of these volumes let the commentaries explore topics,

 

 

3.

 

frequently addressed only in abbreviated ways in study Bibles, with sufficient

 

depth and range for lay readers. For over forty years, I profitably used an edition of Peake’s Bible Commentary as my single one volume commentary.

 

 

There are several excellent one-volume Bible commentaries. I use the most recent of them--The Oxford Bible Commentary, The order in this commentary follows Protestant Bibles, but it includes articles on books included in Catholic and Orthodox Bibles. I use this commentary rather than The Jerome Bible Commentary simply because it is more recent and up-to-date.

 

 

 

These one-volume commentaries are expensive but often not much more expensive than a study Bible and usually much less expensive than even one commentaries on an individual book of the Bible. The Baton Rouge Public Library offers all of these translations, study Bibles, and commentaries as well as major commentary series such as the Anchor Bible Commentaries.

 

 

 

In addition, I own a copy of The Cambridge Companion to the Bible, edited by several distinguished scholars and published by Cambridge University Press. The text of this work is lucid, the format easy to use, and the commentary scholarly and up-to-date. The bibliographies are evocative and valuable guides to further reading and study.

 

 

 

Study Bibles help me in my studies in small groups, classes, and in private study as well as even in my private devotions. Take a look at some of them the next time you are in the bookstore or library. There are many excellent choices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hmm... I'd say that the most "liberal" study Bible that I'm aware of is the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) Study Bible. It's really more academic than anything, but it clearly stands against a more literalistic/fundamentalist reading of the Good Book. Another excellent resource, albeit far larger and more extensive, to consider is the New Interpreter's Bible Commentary series. This is available in either 12 books (like an encyclopedia) or on CD. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that they've just come out with a 1 volume New Interpreter's Study Bible. Can anybody verify this?
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