Tag Archives: bible translation

I've Started To Use The Common English Bible

For the past few years, I had been strictly using the New Revised Standard Version for both my daily devotional time and scholarly writing. I enjoy the NRSV so much that I think I needed to take a break, but I wanted a translation that was generally gender-inclusive but still faithful translations. There are different ways of judging Bible translations: Optimistic Chad dedicated a whole series on “What Shall I Read?” after the “fall” of the TNIV. TC Robinson had an on-going series on the Common English Bible starting with Romans.

The way I pick a useful translation is I take my favorite story, Gideon in the book of Judges, chapter 6, and if the translation sits well with me, then I am fine with it. Has there ever been a translation that had a questionable iteration of Gideon’s story. YES! One example is that of Joel’s beloved New Living Translation, since it calls Gideon “a mighty hero,” which is really a bad value assessment given that chapter 9 shows how flawed Gideon is. It’s a perspective in black and white, that sugarcoats the narrative of Gideon and his family.

The past month or so, I feel edified by reading the CEB. Word choices such as “The Human One” rather than “Son of Man” haven’t really bothered me all that much. I originally downloaded on Amazon.com the CEB for free when it was made available, but I didn’t give it a second thought. I just wanted more Bibles for my Kindle. As I’m going through Psalms, verses such as “The LORD is intimately acquainted with the lives of the blameless; their heritage will last forever” (Psalm 37: 18 CEB) is so much more affirming of the relation God of the Hebrew Bible than “The LORD knows the days of the blameless and their heritage will abide forever” (NRSV).

So for the time being, at church and at home, I will use the CEB. For my studies and academic reading, I will stick with the NRSV. I guess I’m not so much an NRSV-onlyist afterall!

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Praise For Pontius Pilate: Good Friday, Our Corporate Overlords, and Bible Translations

This Blog Post Was Brought To You Buy Fox News Channel And Hobby Lobby!

the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”- Matthew 27:11

There are a number of reasons why I refuse to join a large website/network of blogs, and that reason is ADS ADS ADS. I want the content I provide to be ad free because I want to be unbossed and unbought to use the words of Blerd politician and queen Shirley Chisolm. As a Christian post-colonial, I have come to realize just how much money and belief in the free market dominates Churches, left and right. The monied in churches have the power at the grassroots level, she who gives the biggest tithe wields the most influence over the church’s politics, the direction it is heading, even to limiting how much outreach the congregation will do. I am speaking from a lifetime of experience, but I am sure others can relate.

Church history is filled with persons vying for power and wanting to own the church. Constsantine sent Athanasius, a bishop from Egypt who worked to set the canon for the New Testament, into exile. Martin Luther, who translated the Bible into German, hid behind his German princes. Thomas Jefferson, who did his own translation of the Bible into English, minus Jesus’ life and miracles and resurrection, hid behind the racist slavocrats of the early United States.

No, we don’t have monarchs or politicians in the United States running the church, even though they like to visit the pulpit from time to time to ask for our votes. In their stead are for-profit corporations with political histories that are anything but innocent. An unsettling trend is emerging where corporations are seeking to have a monopoly on “the” Church by gaining ownership of Bible translations and Bible societies. The fact that Newscorp that owns Fox News Channel owns Zondervan that produces the NIV is a HUGE problem. I would say this even if the owner of MSNBC or CBS News, whatever corporation. The fact is, that in the US, where multinational corporations have “personhood,” businesses dominate the body politik. This is far from what our Federalist Founders had in mind. Another development like Newscorp is the emergence of Hobby Lobby and its CEO’s work with ETEN (Every Tribe Every Nation. ETEN stands for Every Tribe, Every Nation, and wants to spread Bible translations around the world, putting them all under one room (a monopoly–surprise surprise!). With the surrounding controversy concerning,Hobby Lobby’s political commitments, I just have to wonder why no one is asking what theological commitments in the translations offered by ETEN? Which Bible translation companies will be excluded? Hobby Lobby is owned by the same people who bring us Mardel Christian bookstore, and I’ve blogged on my feelings about Mardel Christian bookstore. The latest works by moderate voices in Christianity are placed up in the clearance aisle where no one can find them while right wing extremism is presented as the only way to be a Christian.

Because translation is interpretation, not only are these companies going to export Bible translations, they are going to export Bible translations that do not challenge their belief systems, a watered down Gospel message. That’s not the Jesus that was crucified by Pilate. Our Savior. He was unbought and unbossed. Even in the depths of Sheol.

Civil Discourse & The Apostle Paul: The First Angry Christian?

Athena column at Academy of Athens.
Image via Wikipedia

Today’s Our Daily Bread Devotional this morning featured Acts 17:16, which the passage provided in the small devotional book read like this, “While Paul waited for them in Athens, his spirit was provoked within him  when he saw that the city was given over to idols (ESV).”

I could not find this version of the passage in either the KJV, the NIV, the NRSV, or the NLT. But I found out it was the translation of the English Standard Translation.  Although the ESV comes closer, it still seems to me that the English translations of the Greek verb paroxusmos, meaning to be angrily provoked or irritated, fall short.  It seems that the idea that the apostle Paul (and included in that, Christians in general) could get angrily irritated over the practice of idolatry [much like the Judge Gideon ;-)]  is non passe, since we believe in good things like niceness, tolerance and civil discourse.  As usual, we can just pretty up the message of this first century Jewish rabbi, make him whatever we want him to be, as long as he is not confrontationational about  anything.

In the same manner, this is how theologians responded to James Hal Cone, in the early days of development of Black liberation theology. The negative stereotype of the Angry Black man was used sublimely as a critique of his work (his theological project is not without its blind spots).  Cone used his rage to go to war with the idol of race in its ugly U.S. American manifestation.

Somewhere I learned that the 16th century Protestant Reformer Martin Luther said, “for when I am angry, I can write, pray, and preach well,” and this rang true for the apostle Paul.  For while Paul was angry, he did not resort to violence or insults, but he engaged the Athenian philosophers, managed to begin with a common ground (“the unknown god” & the one from which we have our being–Acts 17:28), while at the same time, teach about the equality of all humankind and the resurrection of Christ (Acts 17:26;31).

I get mighty suspicious of  calls for “civility” because I would like to know exactly whose definition of “civil” we would need to play by.  Honoring everyone, rather than just mere toleration, as Miroslav Volf has suggested is the appropriate path for believers, but that should not prevent Christians from speaking truth to power.

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