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Bible Translation


Mariahc
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I guess that depends on what you want it for.

 

My understanding is that the NIV is more influenced by received wisdom/translation than the NRSV is. I know that NT Wright, an Anglican New Testament scholar, has come to have a strong distaste for the NIV because he claims it 'hard wires" certain assumptions into the translation in ways he finds untenable. That said... its still the Bible, and unless really serious study is the goal, then I don't really see a problem.

 

If I'm wrong about any of this, I hope someone corrects me.

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Guest billmc

Welcome to the forum, Mariah!

 

The NIV is a good translation. In fact, it is still the biggest selling translation in Christendom. But, yes, it does have its problems, especially if one is a liberal or progressive Christian. Why? Because it was assembled by a team of evangelicals who already had all of their doctrines settled and this is reflected in how they chose words for their translation.

 

For instance, in verses referencing Mary becoming pregnant, the NIV always supports the church doctrine of Jesus’ virgin birth by translating “alma” as “virgin.” Scholars tell us that “alma” means a young woman of marriageable age, which, of course, would include virgins, but the NIV “hard-wires” it in order to support church doctrine.

 

Another example, one I particularly don’t like, is how the NIV translates “sarx” in the book of Romans as “sinful nature.” “Sarx” most literally is “flesh”, but it means “human ambition” or “human tradition.” We might even call it ego. But the NIV translators, holding to the dual nature doctrine of Christians, translate “sarx” as “sinful nature”, which reinforces the evangelical/fundamentalist doctrine of original sin – that we were born sinners and always remain so. This translational choice reinforces the dualist mindset that dominates much popular Christian thinking and theology.

 

The Message is, of course, Eugene Peterson’s offering of a popular paraphrase. It grabs me sometimes for its freshness. I might use it for “light reading” but would never use it for word study.

 

Have you considered the CEB (Common English Bible)? It is a new translation designed to replace the GNT or TEV that is done by mainline protestants. It has received generally good reviews. I don’t know if the OT is out yet, though.

 

All of this being said, every translation is hard-wired to some extent. Every sect of Christianity has certain doctrinal and theological positions that they hold to. And they have to make choices in which English words they select to render the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek of our Bibles into our language. So theology is always reflected in translation to some extent. This is where good study Bibles come in by giving us alternate translations of words or phrases. This technique not only allows us to see the diversity present in the scriptures, but encourages us to attempt to determine for ourselves what the Bible means. Translating the Bible is more an art than a science. So we have a lot of translations to pick from. None will send you to hell and none will guarantee you heaven. :) But most PC and liberal Christians seem to lean towards the NRSV.

Edited by billmc
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But most PC and liberal Christians seem to lean towards the NRSV.

Bill, this is the translation used in academia. From what I have read, the Good News Bible is also considered a good translation but less literal and more idiomatic.

 

George

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I have been looking for NRSV/Message parallel bible but apparently there isn't such a combination. I did find an NIV/Message and wondered how people here feel about the NIV translation.

Peace,

M

M,

 

I am going to (again) expose my ignorance. What do you mean by "message?"

 

Welcome,

 

George

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I agree with billmc on why NIV is less reliable for any kind of bible study. There is just too much "interpretation confromed to present doctrine" instead of clean translation.

 

When studying any passaoes of biblical text, I've often used a process of examining how that passage is translated in various translations, plus with NT, how it was written in the Greek. I'm not anywhere near a Greek scholar, but did take Ancient kione and biblical Greek as part of my Religous Studies curriculum, for this very purpose. My primary versions for study are now NRSV and KJV. I hardly ever crack open my copy of NIV, have found it of not much use for either just reading or any serious study. There are much worse versions out there, of course, right off I think of the Amplified Bible and the Living Bible...those are really awful!

 

I have bible study software I bought about 10 yrs ago that lets me pull up many different translations at once that I can link together so as to run passages from different versions in parallel, as well as pull up a wide variety of bible commentaries to look at how different expositors have interpreted that passage, but you can do the same thing now on a lot of online bible study resources.

 

Jenell

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"message" as Eugene Patterson's paraphrase.....I've not encountered this particular version, but that is my primary objection to ones like the Amplified and :Living bibles...any paraphrasing is neccesarily intepretational, not translational. Before anyone can paraphrase anything, scripture or otherwise, they must have an understanding of what is meant. Reading a paraphrase is not reading the bible, but rather, one or some one group's interpetation of any passage in the bible.

 

To me, a paraphrased version is actually an expository or commentary of what that one person or group thinks is intended, which is fine as it goes, to be considered alongside scripture, not read AS scripture. I also think it is dangerous to use only one such expository or commentary, which is why I may consult a number of different commentaries in looking at how others have interpreted a passage.

 

I grew up in an environment where Scofield bibles were the all the rage, considered the "ultimate", but since then, examining Scofield's notes, I find them very bad, strongly rooted in Calvinistic/fundamentalist/"hard shell" Baptist perspectives.

 

So for bible study, I think it best to stick to the bible, translations, but not expository or commentary or interpretataions by others.

 

Jenell

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George,

 

The Message is a translation of the Bible focusing on readability as the top priority.

Nick,

 

Thanks. I have never heard that term before. I thought it might mean commentary. If readability is a criterion, then the Good News Bible might be what the doctor ordered (if M is a native speaker of English). It is a good translation and idiomatic.

 

George

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The Message is a translation of the Bible focusing on readability as the top priority.

Sometimes this means slap you in the face wakeup this is what this scripture means in today's language and metaphors. It is easy to read but if you were too comfortable with what you thought you knew of the Bible, the Message is refreshing sometimes.

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When I try and read Old Testament narratives from Kings or Genesis, I would definitely reach for my copy of the Good News Bible before my copy of the King James, and depending on my mood, the NSRV as well. There are times when struggling with a text can ruin the reading experience, and it is important for a text to move the reader, especially if that text is considered scripture by the reader.

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