Do we have too many english translations?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by mesly, Jul 2, 2002.

  1. mesly

    mesly
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    Do you think we have too many english translations of the bible? After all, we are not reaching any new "people group" with each new translation.

    [ July 02, 2002, 10:45 AM: Message edited by: Michael Sly ]
     
  2. mesly

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    I voted "Yes". I find it very overwhelming when looking at the list of translations available. In fact, it gets a bit confusing (i.e. should I use the ESV or the NASB?). Every new translation comes out saying that it is the most accurate and immediately compares itself to the legacy and reptuation of the KJV.

    I believe we have created the same situation that plagues a child who is standing in front of a candy store and cannot easily make a choice on what to purchase. Christendom faces the same dilema when purchasing a copy of the bible.

    Note that I am not advocating a specific translation, just my percieved problem.

    God bless,
    Michael

    [ July 02, 2002, 10:37 AM: Message edited by: Michael Sly ]
     
  3. Chris Temple

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    Absolutely we have too many. Our Christian consumer mindset follows the world and demands a translation "right for me". We have standards in every thing else in English, from dictionaries to encyclopedias (with necessary periodic updates, of course) but our society is so dumbed-down and consumer oriented that we must have one we personally "like". Ideally, we would have one English standard, updated every 25 years or so, which we all could read and memorize. However, as long as people desire their own style, the publishers will keep pumping them out, and we will have many various versions of God's word in English.
     
  4. Wayne Leman

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    I voted yes. I am grateful that we English speakers are blessed to have a variety of translations of the Bible in our language. But many of them read nearly identically to others. This is true even of the newest ones coming out, they are very close to each other, not identical, but very close. And the law of diminishing returns kicks in here somewhere.

    Furthermore, from the viewpoint of world needs, we need to turn our attention from making more English Bible translations to the millions of people around the world who have no Bible at all in their languages. There are nearly 1/2 billion people speaking more than 3,000 different languages who have no Bible. It would be good if at least some of the financial and personnel resources which are being used to keep making new English versions could be directed to helping bring God's precious Word to those who cannot hear or read it because it is not yet in their language. May God help us catch a vision for these lost souls around the world who need to hear the saving message in their own language.

    Wayne
    Bible Translation website:
    http://www.geocities.com/bible_translation
     
  5. Jamal5000

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    No, I do not think that we have too many English translations because people read differently and understand English differently.

    Since people read differently, then you will see the text subjectively. That subjectivity influences the way you translate the text. Some use one synonym, but another uses a word that he considers more accurate. In the midst of that philosophy, one person may see a bible translation as easy-to-read while another may not understand where a sentence begins and ends.

    Translations go with the times. The high number of translations shows the wide desparity in the way we read...not necessarily a good thing.

    I do believe that one day the Lord will bless us with ONE and only one English Bible. Perhaps the appearance of all of these versions exists as just a stepping stone. Remember, we know the desires of our hearts, but God lays out the steps in which we will achieve them.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. TomVols

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    I believe we do have too many because of the motivation behind many of the newer ones is suspect.
     
  7. mesly

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    Tom, this is an interesting topic in and of itself. We all know that $$$ are behind many of the translations. Are there any other motives you are aware of?
     
  8. HankD

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    I answered no.

    There are legitimate variations in translation to English.
    I am able to call up about 20 English passages on my PC and compare them along with the Greek/Hebrew.

    This gives most if not all of the legitimate variations and nuances of any given passage.

    HankD

    [ July 02, 2002, 02:00 PM: Message edited by: HankD ]
     
  9. BrotherJesse

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    We just have too many Bible versions PERIOD!
     
  10. Jamal5000

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    I've heard this before. I know that that an agenda exists behind the TNIV. Do you know which others?

    Thanks, again TomVols
    [​IMG]
     
  11. Chris Temple

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    Well said, Wayne on both counts.
     
  12. Pete Richert

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    I'm totally with you on this. But it is not as easy as it sounds. Most of the "personnel resources" are English speakers who speak nothing else and would not be able to translate into any of these 3000 languages. It is not really a question of whether we are replacing one new english translation with one in swahilli but one new english translation with a new systematic theology or commentary on John. And those financial resources are usually after the fact, in the money that is paid back to the publisher when people buy the Bibles. In order to raise that money we need to convince people who would otherwise buy a new translation to donate that money instead straight to groups who do Bible translation so we will have the money.
     
  13. Kiffin

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    I voted no, but with mixed feelings. This should be the golden age of Bible study with all the resources available but people are to lazy to study. One could study a Bible Text using several differant translations and be able to dig into that text with the help of hundreds of Greek and Hebrew Scholars without ever studying Greek and Hebrew. I do think there needs to be a standard English Translation. The KJV is not going to be used by the next generation and the NKJV is often identified with the KJV by many. The NASB seems to lack a flow and would never be that popular out of the USA because of it's Americanism. The NIV seems to be the most popular (unfortunately [​IMG] ) but I just don't see it becoming dominant in the same way the Old KJV was. The ESV in my opinion is the greatest hope. It seems that people of all theological persuasions laud praise on it.
     
  14. rsr

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    I sympathize with the dismay over the proliferation of translations, but remember the martyrs who died to bring us the Bible in English.
     
  15. AVL1984

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    I would tend to agree with you here. I voted Yes. The motivation behind most of these newer versions wasn't translation, but to add their explanation of what THEY thought was being said.
    May not be totally worded right there, but you get the jist of what I mean.

    God Bless

    BrotherTony
     
  16. Chris Temple

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    The RSV "coulda, shoulda, woulda", but its liberalism in the OT held it back (though many evangelicals like Piper, Packer, Hoekema, Ladd and others used it extensively). The ESV is the Bible the RSV shoulda been ;)
     
  17. HoLogos

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    I lament the situation.

    In the poll on this board we are responding to, the question was whether we have too many English translations of the Bible.

    I think it is a good question. My answer is yes and no.

    YES, we do have too many translations, because, I wish we could all possess just one Bible, and it could meet all our needs. The needs for public reading, for systematic Bible study, for pleasure reading, for literature value, for English literature classes, for children, and as a source text for Bible translators around the world who cannot read Hebrew or Greek. (Yes, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of such translators.)

    No doubt there are some who feel that we do in fact already have such a translation, the KJV, or another one.

    But I believe it is evident, and should be evident to all, that there is not unity in the church on which translation that would be. Brothers and sisters, I sincerely wish there were. Oh, I really do. I am ready and desirous to spend the rest of my life to help to bring that about. But who do I join with to do that? The church is fractured.

    And,

    NO, I don't think there are enough translations into English, and there will not be, until one is produced that will be respected, trusted, and loved enough by a large enough proportion of the church, to become most people's only Bible. And thus, become that standard as much as the KJV once was. Wouldn't that be wonderful? I bet that most of you wish this same thing, if it were possible.

    I used to have a Bible versions poll on my web site at ilovejesus.com, until March of this year when it somehow got corrupted and stopped working. But before it died, it got over a thousand votes, enough to reveal the top four. The top four were the NIV, the KJV, the NASB, and the NKJV. I pretty much agree, that all of those four are contenders to be the one all around Bible, more than the rest. And now I add the ESV to that list. But none of those five, do I consider to be good enough to be my only Bible.

    The KJV is literature-wise powerful, and spiritually powerful, and authoritative from time-testedness. A great many people still love it, including myself. But the KJV does have language too archaic. And its source texts are no longer adequate. I am not saying we should use only the Alexandrian manuscripts. I can name several places where the Alexandrian manuscripts are not the original reading. But at the same time, there are definitely many places where the KJV follows a non-original reading. There are also translation errors in the KJV, that have been corrected now in new translations as the result of more archaeological discoveries about the old languages and culture.

    The NIV is well written. They obviously took a lot of time, and consulted a lot of English experts, to produce a finely tuned piece of English literature. It is plenty simple enough for children to read. My son started reading an NIV as soon as he could read at all. But, the NIV is definitely inaccurate in many places. It really does paraphrase and simplify, and interpret too much, for many peoples' comfort, including my own. I value it though for reading through long, more dry parts of the Old Testament, for example. I am not against occasional idiomatic renderings, and even paraphrases, if the result is reasonably accurate. And it does have some good instances of this. But over all, it is not accurate enough, and not trustworthy enough, to be the churches' only Bible.

    The NASB is an accurate translation, in my opinion. But one of the main criticisms of it is that it is wooden. This is true. Another criticism of it is that it is too literal at the expense of natural English. That is probably also true. The NASB is very good for those translators out in the foreign mission field translating into a new language. (If I were one of those translators, which I always wanted to be, and tried many times to be, then I would consult as many translations as possible.) The NASB is not beautiful enough English literature, to be the Churches' only Bible.

    The NKJV is a success in keeping some of the rhythm that makes the KJV great. It plays it safe, not diverging from the conservative, historical type of reading. That is one of its strengths, and that is one of its weaknesses. It is an improvement over the KJV in taking advantage of Greek texts discoveries, and archaeological discoveries, but I believe does not go far enough, that is, a bit more away from the "Majority text."

    The ESV is a revision of the RSV, more conservative than the NRSV, which was also a revision of the RSV. I am still evaluating the ESV, but I have seen enough to know that it is now one of my main Bibles, along with the KJV, the NASB, and the NIV. However, it is not good enough to be my only Bible.

    I recently purchased a hard copy, printed, ESV whole Bible. One time last week I picked it up and just opened it, without aiming for any particular place. It opened to the book of Isaiah, and I began to read. The verse was Isaiah 28:19:

    As often as it passes through it
    will take you;

    Why not put a comma after the word "through"? Otherwise, someone will at first understand it to mean "passes through it". The reader is forced to take a second or third pass in order to make sense of the phrase. Not that that is so hard to do. But neither is it hard to just put a comma in here and there. The entire work is lacking so many commas. It is annoying, and disappointing. It significantly decreases the readability and beauty.

    In this instance, the ESV is actually worse than the original RSV. My RSV reads:

    As often as it passes through it will
    take you;

    The place where the RSV breaks up the words for the line break, results in a little better understanding, but it is probably just by accident. The ESV and the RSV do not appear to me to have put any thought into where they put the line breaks in the indented poetic sections. Why not break it up in such a way that the main ideas or clauses are on the same line as each other? Following is how some other translations did it.

    Jerusalem Bible:

    each time it goes by,
    it will seize you.

    Now, that's how it's supposed to be done.

    Also not bad are:

    NAB:

    Whenever it passes, it shall take you;

    NRSV:

    As often as it passes through, it
    will take you;

    REB:

    As often as it sweeps by, it will take
    you;

    NASB update:

    As often as it passes through, it will seize
    you;

    In my opinion, the NASB is more readable than people give it credit for. It might be unnatural or unidiomatic English, but it is readable enough. At least the NASB put a comma where it is needed here.

    NIV:

    as often as it comes it will carry you
    away;

    KJV:

    From that time that it goeth forth it shall take you:

    I would be happy, if the producers of the ESV would send me a new, clean blank ESV, to take a red pen and add in commas, and notations for different line breaks, and send it back to them. I would also be happy if they would take my own translation, and mark their suggestions in red, and send that back to me as well.

    Have you all taken my Bible versions poll? It gives you a choice of 40 possible answers. The URL is http://www.bibletranslation.ws/poll.html

    David Robert Palmer
     
  18. Pastor Larry

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    I think as well that the NASB95 is way more readable than most give it credit for. Unfortunately, it had the name NASB which was very wooden and stiff. The NASB95, IMO, is the best pulpit Bible. It reads well and, for the most part, makes good choices in translation. Very few times in preaching from it have I had to suggest an alternative rendering. Incidentally, the few times I have, I think I have always sided with the NIV.
     
  19. Chris Temple

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    David:

    I really think this is a bit of nitpicking. The NIV is OK for reading through "long, dry" parts of the OT, but the ESV is critiqued for a comma in Isa 28:19? :rolleyes:

    Knowing that no version is perfect, and looking at the longer context in Isa shows there is no problem with understanding it:

    Isaiah 28:18-20 (ESV)
    Then your covenant with death will be annulled,
    and your agreement with Sheol will not stand;
    when the overwhelming scourge passes through,
    you will be beaten down by it.
    [19] As often as it passes through it will take you;
    for morning by morning it will pass through,
    by day and by night;
    and it will be sheer terror to understand the message.
    [20] For the bed is too short to stretch oneself on,
    and the covering too narrow to wrap oneself in.

    As an all-around version, the ESV comes out on top - way on top, IMO. :D
     
  20. HoLogos

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    Chris, I agree with you that the arrival of the ESV is an exciting thing. Because I can tell that it will be accepted by many groups and denominations.

    I also agree that it is not hard at all to get the meaning from the ESV quickly, of Isaiah 28:19. In fact, I stated so explicitly
    I also agree with you that I am nit picking.

    Where I don't agree probably, is that you must feel that nit picking is a bad thing, whereas I think it is a good thing, if your goal is to make a surprassingly good piece of English literature.

    I have very high standards for the Bible.

    If you don't nit pick, then the result is a lousy translation. Lousy, for any literalists among us, means full of lice. The singular of lice is louse. A nit is an immature louse. Nit picking is the removal of lice from something. This is a good thing. [​IMG]
     

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