Discussion On Bible Translations

Thursday, 2007-March-29 at 14:29

The Bible version cage match: Round 1 « Lingamish

I used the King James and New American Standard versions for years, before I started sharing with my peers. I found that every time I (or even a pastor, for that matter) I used those translations, I had to explain (thanks to concordances and other reference books) what it really said in the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. Since I speak none of those languages and have no background to be a biblical scholar, I began to gravitate away.

My first stop was the NIV, which was and is a decently readable translation. But it still seems to be too formal for day-to-day use (and my main Bible is an NIV/The Message parallel). I found The Message, on the other hand, to be too far away from either the wording of other translations or even the understanding of meaning that they bring.

I have used the New Century Version with Micah, my nephews, and their friends. It is pretty good, but not for congregation use, as it is too different from the other translations.

In church services, even for a fairly non-traditional church, it is impossible to follow along with The Message, while the NIV (and NLT) are the most frequently used versions in this congregation.

I actually started to use BibleGateway for my personal devotions, simply because the NLT is both understandable for personal use and useful for conversations with other people.

The core of the issue, in my estimation, is two-fold: (1) we want to faithfully understand and communicate the intent and meaning of the original languages, and (2) we want to do so in language that is understandable by contemporary audiences. That was one of the reasons why I engaged in a debate with “Chuck” from Michigan in December and January: he felt that only the KJV of 1611 was God’s Word, while I feel that this opinion is a repeat of the mistake that the Roman Catholic Church made–keeping the Bible locked up in a foreign language that the lay people could not understand–and could be responsible for a lot of people suffering eternal punishment.

Personally, even with a Master’s Degree, I understand the NLT so much more than the KJV that I doubt I could ever go back to King James as my main translation.

Anyway, back to the discussion at hand. Linguamish and his friend are doing a “cage match” between the CEV and NLT versions. It is quite interesting for those who are interested in understanding and communicating the meaning accurately.

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