NRSV? any thoughts

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Pete Richert, Aug 16, 2001.

  1. Pete Richert

    Pete Richert
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    Growing up, I became the most familiar with the KJV and the NIV, which seemed to be the most popular. Later I learned about the NASB and NKJV for those who wish to remain more literal or keep with the TR.

    What I know very little about is the RSV and NRSV. I have never met anybody who uses them. Indeed, the only place I have seen them referenced is in the Word Biblical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles by William Mounce. However, I have heard from a few sources that the NRSV is one of the major translations in the evangelical world.

    So I have a couple of questions. Clearly the NIV is the most popular in the United States, with probably the KJV and NASB coming in next; is the NRSV the Bible of choice in the United Kingdom? Austrailia? Since it was produced and published at Oxford, this was my only hypothesis. Does anybody have any views on it as a translation? The only thing I know about the NRSV is that it uses gender neutral language a lot, something like is quite taboo in many of my circles. Did the RSV pretty much go out of style when the NRSV came along?

    Thanks for the help,
    PASG
     
  2. Rev. Joshua

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    The NRSV is the standard translation for moderate and liberal evangelical Christians in the US. It was used almost exclusively in our seminary, and is the pew Bible for all of the local baptist churches I've visited lately (but, those are only the moderate and liberal ones).

    Among the study Bibles, I prefer the Oxfurd UP study Bible, although I think the Harper-Collins is equally good.
     
  3. Pete Richert

    Pete Richert
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    Many questions for you if you don't mind?

    Which Seminary?
    What makes it likeable by moderate and liberal evangelicals?
    What characteristics of these evangelicals make them moderate and liberal?

    Anybody else have any views?
     
  4. Chris Temple

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by pure and simple genius:
    So I have a couple of questions. Clearly the NIV is the most popular in the United States, with probably the KJV and NASB coming in next; is the NRSV the Bible of choice in the United Kingdom? Austrailia? Since it was produced and published at Oxford, this was my only hypothesis. Does anybody have any views on it as a translation? The only thing I know about the NRSV is that it uses gender neutral language a lot, something like is quite taboo in many of my circles. Did the RSV pretty much go out of style when the NRSV came along?

    Thanks for the help,
    PASG
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    The NRSV went over the top in trying to accomodate egalitarians. It intentionally and quite awkwardly attempts to render all neuter gender references as both male and female. Fortunately, it did not go as far as neutering God and Christ, though many liberals wish it did. :eek:

    For an excellent review of the NRSV, see What's Wrong with Gender-Neutral Bible Translations at http://cbmw.org.master.com/texis/master/redir/?u=http%3A//www.cbmw.org/resources/articles/genderneutral.html

    The RSV was actually quite a good translation, although it translated propitiation as expiation due largely to C.H. Dodd who worked on the translation, who did not like the idea of God havingto have his wrath satisfied by a blood sacrifice. Many conservative scholars used the RSV, including Anthony Hoekema, George Eldon Ladd, and currently John Piper.

    The RSV is being updated by conservative scholars into the English Standard Version, and this will be available this September.

    For info on the ESV, see http://shop.gospelcom.net/cgi-bin/GoodNews.storefront/3b7c415500d186062719ac14100105dd/Catalog/1394
     
  5. Chris Temple

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by CJoshuaV:
    moderate and liberal evangelical Christians <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Wow ... there's an oxymoron for you!! :eek:
     
  6. Rev. Joshua

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Chris Temple:


    Wow ... there's an oxymoron for you!! :eek:
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Kinda like "fundamentalist scholarship." ;)
     
  7. Orvie

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    Another oxymoron would be Humble Liberal. :rolleyes:
     
  8. Rev. Joshua

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    Sorry Pure and Simple, I missed your questions:

    1 - McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University

    2 - The scholarship is solid and comes from mainstream, ecumenical scholars. In addition, the language is intentional inclusive.

    3 - I'm speaking of the United Methodist Church, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and the Alliance of Baptists. If you're not familiar with these groups I could sketch you a quick bio.

    Joshua

    P.S. I think I'll humbly bow out of the oxymoron game.
     
  9. Pete Richert

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    Thanks Chris and Joshua, for the valuable information. I have been actually looking forward to the ESV, but I have to wait til the Spring to get the thinline addition.
     
  10. Chris Temple

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by CJoshuaV:
    McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Nuff said. That explains a lot. [​IMG]
     
  11. TomVols

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    Basically, the NRSV had two major flaws working against it from the get-go:
    1. Its blatant theological bias towards egalitarianism and liberalism (Which Chris has pointed out) doomed it among the overwhelming majority of believers because this is simply untenable for mainstream folks in the pulpit and pew.
    2. It's inability to establish a marketing beachhead. The NIV already had cornered the market the NRSV aimed broadly at. But as Joshua has pointed out, the left wing of Christianity that feels a bias towards the NIV for being too conservative does accept the NRSV openly.

    That said, I, too, eagerly await the ESV because the ESV will do what the NRSV should have: restore the RSV, which was a good translation in its own right sans the theological bias, to a place of worthy acceptance among the mainstream believers.

    [ August 17, 2001: Message edited by: TomVols ]
     
  12. Rev. Joshua

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    Tom,

    Funny how the middle is always in a different place depending on where you stand. I thought the NRSV was the standard for mainstream Christians. I certainly haven't seen anything to indicate that it is "doomed among the overwhelming majority of believers." If you want to talk about the overwhelming majority of believers, you'd have to point to one of the RCC translations.

    The scholarship on the NRSV is solid, and is widely respected in all of the seminaries I am familiar with.

    Joshua
     
  13. Pastor KevinR

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    I don't know too much about the NRSV, having mostly been raised on the KJV. The version I read the most (in order) are NKJV,KJV,NIV,NASV. I plan on reading through the NLT and if I could get an inexpensive copy of the NRSV I'd like to read it through as well.I know CBD has sold it for a relatively low price....just my opinion.
     
  14. Chris Temple

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by CJoshuaV:
    If you want to talk about the overwhelming majority of believers, you'd have to point to one of the RCC translations.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    If you want to talk about the overwhelming majority of believers, leave out mainstream Christendom and the RCC.
     
  15. Rev. Joshua

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    The funny thing about that logic is that, when fundamentalists are in the majority they point to that majority as proof of their righteousness. When they are in the minority, they point out that they are part of the few and faithful. In other words, they're always right.

    The majority of mainstream Christians was doing God's work when they compiled the canon that fundamentalists believe is verbatim the Word of God. Why aren't they still good enough to be considered Christians?

    Joshua
     
  16. Chris Temple

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> The funny thing about that logic is that, when fundamentalists are in the majority they point to that majority as proof of their righteousness. When they are in the minority, they point out that they are part of the few and faithful. In other words, they're always right. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I don’t know what “fundamentalists” you are speaking of; it seems like straw one’s you have constructed in your own mind. (I’m not a “fundy” by the way, but a Reformed Baptist). But the fundamentalists I know and have known do not base truth on a poll of the majority, but rather on the Truth of God’s inerrant word.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> The majority of mainstream Christians was doing God's work when they compiled the canon that fundamentalists believe is verbatim the Word of God. Why aren't they still good enough to be considered Christians? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Well, they aren’t still around. I hope you are not equating the believing, pre-Roman Catholic Patristics with today’s unbelieving mainstream?

    as for the canon, B.B. Warfield said this:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> In order to obtain a correct understanding of what is called the formation of the Canon of the New Testament, it is necessary to begin by fixing very firmly in our minds one fact which is obvious enough when attention is once called to it. That is, that the Christian church did not require to form for itself the idea of a "canon," — or, as we should more commonly call it, of a "Bible," — that is, of a collection of books given of God to be the authoritative rule of faith and practice. It inherited this idea from the Jewish church, along with the thing itself, the Jewish Scriptures, or the "Canon of the Old Testament." The church did not grow up by natural law: it was founded. And the authoritative teachers sent forth by Christ to found His church, carried with them, as their most precious possession, a body of Divine Scriptures, which they imposed on the church that they founded as its code of law. No reader of the New Testament can need proof of this; on every page of that book is spread the evidence that from the very beginning the Old Testament was as cordially recognized as law by the Christian as by the Jew. The Christian church thus was never without a "Bible" or a "canon." http://www.graceonlinelibrary.org/theology/full.asp?ID=126 <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


    True Evangelicals have existed from the beginning. So have unbelieving apostates. Their beliefs in Christ and treatment of biblical doctrine derived from the inerrant word are witnesses to either their belief or apostasy.

    [ August 18, 2001: Message edited by: Chris Temple ]
     
  17. TomVols

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    Joshua,
    Simply look at the lack of impact the NRSV has had on the Bible purchasing market to find that it did not make the impact the publishers hoped. I'm not saying this is right or wrong as you allege; I'm merely saying it is reality. People just aren't buying NRSV bibles. The NIV, NLT, and others have overwhelmingly outsold the NRSV. And the NRSV rarely shows up higher than 5th among Bible translations in usage among evangelicals and mainline Christians. Had the NRSV came out before the NIV, this might all be different. Had the marketing push been stronger for the NRSV, this might all be different. But reality is reality.
     
  18. Rev. Joshua

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    It was this quote that I was responding to:

    1. Its blatant theological bias towards egalitarianism and liberalism (Which Chris has pointed out) doomed it among the overwhelming majority of believers because this is simply untenable for mainstream folks in the pulpit and pew.

    I don't think inclusive language and responsible scholarship are untenable for "mainstream folks." Again, maybe the churches that I consider mainstream are not the ones you consider mainstream, but the widespread use of the NRSV in UMC, PC(USA) and CBF churches would seem to place it squarely among the mainstream translations.

    Joshua
     
  19. TomVols

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    First of all, you are assuming that the bias of the NRSV rests only on its inclusive language translation of gender pronouns. Yet the NLT uses such and is accepted in mainstream evangelical circles. Its theological bias runs much deeper and wider than just gender pronouns. Second, your definition of "responsible scholarship" is questionable. Since it is highly presumptive, it is open for debate regardless of who uses the term. I see straw all over the place :D
    Your assertion that the NRSV is widely used can be challenged quite easily. UMC churches use a variety of translations, as do CBF churches. (If you want to hear it, I have a story about how I preached in a CBF church in Western Kentucky and was scolded for not using the KJV. I know this isn't indicative of CBF churches. Just a funny little adage) :D
    PCUSA does make more official usage of the NRSV (As does the UCC and Disciples of Christ) so no question there. But the fact remains that the NRSV is not used widely among the broader family of churches by any stretch of the imagination. It seems you are basing your statements on personal experince where I am looking at the statistics. I'll dig up the statistics I have seen if you wish when I get the time. But since this is Saturday night and I'm a Baptist, I obviously have a couple of sermons I need to start working on :D (Just kidding.)

    [ August 18, 2001: Message edited by: TomVols ]
     
  20. Wayne Rossi

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    The NRSV seems to me to be widely used in Episcopal churches, with the exception of Psalms, which are in the Book of Common Prayer. One Episcopal church I attended (the one right before I started going to Baptist services) used the RSV, actually. I've seen Catholic editions of the NRSV with the Apocrypha added, but avoided them. My own NRSV is from Nelson Bibles (publishers of the NKJV, and many KJVs out there).

    Much of the controversial NRSV "gender-egalitarian" material that I've seen involves changing "brothers" in the epistles to "beloved," with a footnote saying that "brothers" is the Greek reading.

    I've been using the NRSV recently for my Old Testament reading (1 Samuel), and I've noticed a distinct preference for the Septuagint rendering in the text, with Masoretic Text in the footnotes. In my opinion, it actually reads pretty well in the OT history books, where the storytelling aspect doesn't really leave room for the removal of specific gender. I also read through Philippians in the NRSV, and though its tone is not as clear as my OT selections, it was still clear and easier going than, say, the NASB. Finally, I've used it in the habit I've been working toward of reading Psalms regularly, and must say that its rendering of the Psalms is not the best, but I do prefer it to NASB or NIV.

    All in all, the NRSV is not a bad translation for more moderate Christians, though conservatives may well find it not to their liking. It is best for normal reading, though I would suggest a more formal equivalence Bible (well, I'd actually suggest the NASB and NKJV) for study. It's likely going to tide me over for a regular reading Bible (though I do want to check and alternate with the NKJV) until the ESV's release, and is better in reading flow and likely more accurate (except for the gender issues) than the NIV.

    At present, the RSV is more of a historical revision--of interest to those who want a piece of Bible translation history more than a regular reading Bible. I have a copy, and I don't find it as friendly to regular reading as the NRSV. (Though it is perhaps moreso than its "sibling" translation based on the ASV, the NASB.) It has the odd usage of "thee" and "thou" with reference to God, and is certainly at the point of showing its age enough that it is not a preferrable translation to the modern versions. And as a side note, the RSV is not generally available in secular or Christian bookstores, as far as I'm aware.

    -Wayne
     

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