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What Now Shall I Read: the HCSB and the KJV

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I could not find anyone who wanted to persuade me about these translations, and yet they are bestsellers and so deserve at least passing treatment. A very special thank you to my friend and colleague, me. I am joining myself in this project, “What now Shall I Read?” Previous entries are here: Intro , NIV, NRSV, NAB, NLT, ESV, and the NASB. And now, for the penultimate post on WNSIR, a very warm Political Jesus welcome to me as I tell me why I should read the HCSB and the KJV (based on what I was able to find).

First, the HCSB –

Chad, it is clear that you are as theologically dedicated as you are smart. Perhaps you are more dedicated to God than you are smart. Perhaps you are not smart at all and just theologically and overly religiously inclined. That is why you should choose the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

Far from being written in today’s language, it keeps theologically important, but ultimately meaningless words like justification, sanctification, redemption in tact, although they really don’t mean anything to our readers beyond what our pastors tell us they mean.

The HCSB also keeps traditional names of people and places in the Bible in tact, regardless of new scholarship, so that we don’t have to change any of our curriculum, church names, and just because that might be controversial. Avoiding controversy is super important to being Biblical. The one exception is the Tetragrammaton. We just love big words.

You see, most Bibles are just plain wrong when they translate the Bible. You see, LORD is not a good translation of the Tetragrammaton. That is why we use Yahweh. Even though tradition tells us not to, and even though we aren’t completely sure of how it should be pronounced, and even though some people will be offended, this is really the only innovation we have going for us, so we stuck with it.

Chad, you should know that we kept the little headings above groups of text that let you know what you should be thinking about the story before you read it. Also, the red letters. We love color coordination. There was an argument about this apparently. Some of us thought that the innovation of color text was “adding to the words of this book” and thus were afraid of judgment, but the marketing guys were able to convince us that it made better financial sense.

Lastly, we don’t accommodate to the culture like some other liberal translations do. Even when the text clearly includes women, we exclude them just to be on the safe side. We toyed with translating “Eve” as “Adam without a penis,” but then we might have to change some of the pictures in our kid’s Bibles. Also, we wanted to avoid any potential homosexuals using our Bible as a proof-text. We should be the only ones using our own translation as a proof text.

Chad, we sincerely hope that you choose the HCSB as your new translation. It is the standard after all. Blessings of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, our El Shaddai.

Now, the KJV –

If it is good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for you, Chad.

The KJV was written by Christians, in the original language of God.

Many will tell you that the original languages of the Bible were Hebrew, Greek, and sometimes Aramaic (which is like the leap year of Biblical languages, am I right?). That is false. The Bible was written in the King James English, then taken back in time and translated into Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. Later, when the Christian Empire was at its golden zenith (which hopefully will return as soon as we can kick all of those liberals out of Washington), it was re-translated from the only slightly inferior Latin Vulgate (may it rest in peace).

The King Jimmy Bible has taken God’s nation, I mean America, through its toughest times. Without it, we may never have been able to twist scripture as well as we have, and Moses might not have ever had horns. Don’t innovate on God’s original plan – the KJV.

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What Now Shall I Read? A requiem for the NIV

The NIV (New International Version) translation of the Bible was the Bible I first encountered the Scriptures with. I used it exclusively from my freshman year of high school until I started Seminary. I began to use the TNIV (Today’s New International Version) when the full version came out in 2005.

I liked the TNIV because it addressed many (but not all) of the translational errors of the 1984 NIV, but more important, it used gender inclusive language where the text itself seemed to indicate that this was appropriate. There was a large controversy regarding the TNIV, like it was some sort of liberal agenda at work, and this stifled the broader appeal it might otherwise have had among the evangelical community. Nevertheless, I found it to be a non-perfect, but adequate and readable/preachable translation.

But this week, the NIV 2011 was released electronically. The NIV 2011 will supersede and replace both the 1984 NIV and the TNIV. Many things have been changed for the better. Some things haven’t. Below is a comparison of a few verses from the 1984 NIV, the TNIV, and the NIV 2011. I will address the changes afterward.

NIV TNIV NIV2011
Gen 1:6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” 

Matt 25:31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.

1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

Gen 1:6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 

Matt 25:31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.

1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and human beings, Christ Jesus, himself human

Gen 1:6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 

Matt 25:31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.

1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus

In the first two examples, you can see how the NIV2011 has taken the updated, better translation of the verse. Thus “expanse” is properly rendered “vault” (actually “dome”, but lets not get picky) and the “heavenly” glory properly gets replaced to fix the addition of “heavenly”, fixing the bias of the 1984. However, notice what happened with 1Tim 2:5. The TNIV authors made a conscious decision to use inclusive language where appropriate. The word “anthropos” in Greek, while masculine,  is not necessarily gender specific to males. It can and does mean “humanity”. There is another word to use in Greek that is specific to maleness, but that is not used, and clearly here, the author wanted to communicate that Jesus is the mediator for all humanity, not just for men.

So why make the change backward? Politics. When the TNIV hit the scene, there was a backlash from people like James Dobson (Focus on the Family), crying that the TNIV translators were liberals and trying to make God a woman, etc… This whipped up such a frenzy among conservative evangelicals (the NIV’s prime audience), that the TNIV, while being the third most downloaded electronic version, did not have nearly the commercial impact it might have.

So the translators gave in to pressure and went backwards. Because they were convinced it was right to do so? To remain true to scripture? No. Doug Moo, Chair of The Committee on Bible Translation, said (speaking of the TNIV), “We felt certainly at the time it was the right thing to do, that the language was moving in that direction.” Has the language stopped moving in that direction? No. In fact, there is a constantly growing cry for more gender-equal language in scripture translation. No one is asking you to translate the Bible in a way that is false. We are asking for responsible use of gender language in our Holy Scriptures.

All of this to say that while I applaud the NIV for fixing some of the larger errors in translation from the 1984, the giant step backwards in gender language, while not a complete deal breaker for me, leaves a bad taste in my mouth regarding the NIV2011.

Over the next few weeks or more, we have some guest bloggers from other Biblioblogs stopping by to give insight into their preferred Bible translations for our discussion. After we have had reasonable discussion, in which I wrestle with issues raised, I will choose my new translation in conversation with you all.

This should be fun.

What Your Bible Translation Tells Me about You

Some Random Thoughts On How I Judge People

Being that I was raised in a more traditional black Baptist church, but not really fundamentalist where we got obsessed with what version of the Bible we carried or what, I enjoy poking fun at those certain persons who seem to have more than just a small attachment to their preferred translation of the Bible. Inspired by this twitter conversation, here are my working conclusions so far.

New Living Translation: Indicates that you have been a part of the Bible Wars for years and you are looking for a way to escape the King James Version only crowd. It means you still hold on to your embedded conservative theology but are desiring to engage other Christians outside of the KJVO faith.

English Standard Version: If you love the ole ESV, that may mean you are either Reformed theologically or you are a moderate who is curious what an updated version of the RSV would look like.

Revised Standard Version: Still stuck in the 1950s, you believe that the RSV is all that is left between the world and knowing God’s will. The National Council of Churches was not as liberal back then, so it cannot be that bad.

New American Standard Version: You care more about accuracy, which makes you better than people attached to the NLT.  Theologically, you consider yourself a moderate, which usually means you are a progressive suffering from denial.

New Revised Standard Version: Usually over-educated and indoctrinated in a mainline church, the NRSV-onlyist crowd was once adverse to reading anything outside of the New International Version.  NRSV-onlyists are too smart for their own good and look down upon every other translation; that is why they are often mistaken for the KJVO.

The Message: This pretty much means you are changing religions. Seriously.

New International Version/Today’s NIV: Brought up in an evangelical church that holds firm to inerrancy and the Purpose Driven Life like the plague, the NIV came as a surprise to those who grew up familiar with the KJV. So God did not speak Shakespearean English? The NIV is more accessible to children but not really good for memorizing. Perhaps that is why the NIV reader becomes a lover of reading the Bible as story, like the……

The Voice: Defenders of the Voice are oh so obsessed with the narrative interpretation of Scripture.  The translators decide what the meta-narrative is and even get to add words to the Gospel to make it more relevant. Sort of like some other religions I know of.

King James Version: Either you are a sentimental progressive who doesn’t want to rock the boat at your church or you have made the KJV the 4th person of the Trinity, right behind God, Jesus, and John Calvin.