English Translations

I generally try to avoid getting into discussions about which English language translation is the best. Too many internet discussions about English translations seem to me to be uninformed about what actually is involved in transalating a text from one langauge to another. What is worse, the choice of translation can be seen as a badge of a certain type of Christian and advocates of one translation can sometimes have a very negative view of other believers who use a different one. There is an excellent discussion of these issues over at Internet Monk.

One of the stranger acts going on in evangelicalism these days is a variation of straight out team sports. I’m speaking, of course, of the debate over which Bible translation you “ought” to use to “really” get God’s Word.

Bible translations are….translations. No one I know of except KJV Only types try to make a case that God has endorsed an English translation. But the rhetoric of some evangelicals for their favorite translation’s superior qualities does get well past a calm exchange of views and into a kind of divine advocacy of one translation over another. There’s a bit of the Islamic approach to “inspired language” in some Christians’ attachment to their translation of choice.

Many times I’ve experienced someone being angry and/or uncomfortable that I was not using “their” Bible. I would have been happy for all of us to adopt and stay with the RSV. But with the proliferation of translations available today, it makes sense to access different English translations and paraphrases rather than depend on just one and suggest it’s God’s favorite. Read More.

I very much appreciate NT Wright’s thoughts on reading and using the Scriptures from the Slipstream podcast.

‘What I really want to say to the next generation is: ‘I want you to know your Bibles inside out and upside down in the original languages as thoroughly as you possibly can. I want you to get on your knees and learn how to pray – and not just five minutes here and there, but serious prayer for God’s world, for God’s people… and the third thing is, I want you to learn how to love people.’

This sort of attitude to the Scriptures and Christian life is far more likely to change the world than arguments about the ESV, NLT and the Message.

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