I don’t really want to blog about English translations of the Bible, but I don’t seem to be able to avoid it. Today, I came across a couple of good articles which I think will be of interest to readers of Kouyanet.
The first is on the FIEC website and written by David Shaw and looks at the 2011 edition of the NIV. This update of a familiar translation has been vilified in some circles, but it really doesn’t deserve the criticism it has received. Shaw does a great job of unpacking the issues around it and his piece is well worth a read.
We need to remember that God’s perfect word doesn’t change but that imperfect translations do and that’s often a good thing precisely because they are imperfect. There is always room for improvement. In the case of the 2011 NIV, about 95% is identical with the 1984 NIV. According to the committee in charge of the NIV 2011, chaired by Douglas Moo, changes were made for one or more of three reasons:
- Progress in scholarship
- Concern for clarity
- Changes in English
The second article I came across is an excellent overview of what we need to think about when it comes to comparing different English versions of the Bible by Mark Ward.
Bible translation reviews are like newspaper articles on climate change. Few of us have any real scientific knowledge, let alone the specialized kind required for understanding that complex issue. We have to trust that the journalist has done his or her homework. Likewise, reviewers of Bible translations are asking us to trust them—while generally providing lists of examples in which you can supposedly “see for yourself” what’s wrong (or right) with a given translation.
Don’t take my word for it, go and read these excellent articles. Meanwhile, remember that there are almost 2,000 languages without a single word of Scripture available to them.