Tag Archives: Today’s New International Version

What Now Shall I Read? The Exciting Conclusion

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A hearty, chunky, beefy, soupy “thank you” to everyone who has kept up with my search for a Bible translation, post-TNIV. Previous entries can be read here: Intro , NIV, NRSV, NAB, NLT, ESV, NASB, and the HCSB & KJV. For this concluding post, I would like to thank everyone who contributed and encourage everyone reading to check out the home blogs of these misunderstood, lonely, nerdy, and amazing Bibliophiles. They are, in order of appearance: Mark Stevens, Rodney Thomas Jr., Jeremy Thompson, Joel Watts, Jason Skipper, Dustin Smith, and me. Since I know you are all dying to know who the most convincing was, I will interact briefly, and without further ado, with each translation that was posted on.

The NIV: The problem here is that I agree with everything Mark had to say about the NIV. He claims that it “just felt right.” This is a claim that I can make as well. The language just feels comfortable to me. The NIV is the Bible I was first introduced to, and the Bible that I can quote from most comfortably. Mark also makes some very good statements about the gender inclusivity of the NIV family of Bibles. The readability is there, and the translators are generally well respected. The problem is that most of this applies to the TNIV, not the newer NIV 2010. In fact, the gender regression and my lack of trust in the current round of translators (as opposed to the TNIV) is why I am looking for a new translation in the first place. Verdict: Unless the TNIV makes a comeback, I will read elsewhere.

The NRSV: As a student of the scriptures, I am convinced that the NRSV has much good to offer. I don’t find the more literal translations of words to be “wooden” as some others have, but I also appreciate that it is not as gripping as one might hope for in their religious literature. The readability does not bother me as much as it might otherwise, since the general narrative is already embedded within me. At this point in my life, I am looking for more literal/faithful translations than gripping ones. Having said that, I don’t like preaching from this Bible. It does feel wooden when I preach from it. The problem compounded is that my church, and most PC(USA) churches I have been to, use this version. I am stuck at least using this translation liturgically for the foreseeable future. But that isn’t so bad. Verdict: Unless I have a say in the matter, I will read this version liturgically and for some study purposes.

The NAB: Jeremy’s post did not convince me to use the NAB whatsoever. But, it was very helpful. Jeremy’s honesty with why he uses the NAB, along with his acknowledgment of its imperfection, and yet his comfort with using it, really felt genuine. He uses the NRSV in tandem with the NAB and it works in his context. And his context, for him, is comfortable with the NAB, therefore so is he. I am confident that wherever the NAB is not quite adequate, Jeremy is doing a good job with his parish to guide them into a clearer picture. So while Jeremy did not convince me to use the NAB, he gained my respect and along the way, allowed me to be more comfortable with my decision to use the NRSV liturgically. Verdict: Unless my Presbytery turns into a Parish and adopts the NAB, I will read elsewhere.

The NLT: I actually like the NLT. Like Joel, I find it to be highly readable, and therefore, very useful, especially to the person who is looking into a devotional Bible or someone who is primarily concerned with narrative/spiritual matters. I have many good friends who love the NLT to death and read the scriptures more because of it than they would without it, which in my book is a great thing. However, at the stage I am in right now, I find the NLT, while highly readable, sometimes sacrifices a more sure reading of certain verses for the sake of the reader. Not that this makes it a poor translation, but the slippery slope of leaning more on a particular translator’s interpretation than on what the text might say more literally is a hard slope for me to start down. Readability, while good for most, is not what I am looking for at the moment. Also, Joel made a very good point. He fell in love with the NLT. Any version that I use has to be a version I can fall in love with in the same way. Verdict: Unless I go back to my roots and join my wife’s family at a more modern Charismatic church, I will read elsewhere.

The ESV: While I appreciate that those who support the ESV wear their theological commitments on their sleeves, it is more off-putting to me that this translation was essentially marketed as “We are not the liberal TNIV.” And while I appreciate Jason’s candor, I am afraid that a translation described by him as basically, “better than the KJV.” I appreciate that much of the theological language and poetic cadence is kept, but my fear is that those who translated it had much too much of their own selves in it, much like the translators of the KJV did. While it is impossible to do away with that danger completely, a reactionary Bible like this one feels like it doesn’t even try to avoid it. And I think for them and their audience, that is alright. But for me, I am not persuaded. Verdict: Unless Jesus comes back as a prize fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed, I will read elsewhere.

The NASB: I must admit that this one caught me a little off guard. As I haven’t really examined the NASB as thoroughly as some others, I had no preconceived notions about it. Actually, that isn’t true. I actually confused it initially with the NAB, and so I thought the NASB was a Catholic translation. I was wrong. But on the other side of it, I am impressed with what I have read so far. Dustin did a far more technical evaluation than most of the other contenders, and as such, I was able to do a 1-1 evaluation myself. I wish Dustin would have done a comparison of the NASB with the NRSV instead of the NIV, but regardless, much of his point was made. The NASB (with many exceptions, as in every version) does a very good job with a more literal translation. Verdict: Unless another more literal translation comes along, I am reading the NASB alongside the NRSV for much of my study.

The HCSB: I like the Transliterations for the names of God, especially YHWH, but the rest of the translating decisions are thoroughly spiritually partisan, and I have no use for that. Verdict: Unless El Shaddai convinces me through a convention, Southern or otherwise, I will read elsewhere.

The KJV: A beautiful, poetic, and culturally significant translation. However, it suffers from an imperialistic nature. A poor translation, in archaic language, based upon a poor Latin translation (no offense, Jerome). I tried, Jimmy, I tried. But I just can’t read you. My horribly mentally scarred 8-year-old self still remembers trying to reach God through you and failing miserably. Verdict: Unless King James comes down from Heaven and tells me otherwise (I have so many theological problems with that last statement I made), I will read elsewhere. Actually, I will read elsewhere no matter what. I would likely treat James as a zombie and shoot off his head.

Overall Verdict: For my part, I am personally comfortable using the NRSV for liturgical purposes. I am now glad to add the NASB to my NRSV and the TNIV I will keep around for the purposes of quick reference or study. However, I believe that at this stage, no English translation can do what I need it to do. I need a translation that I feel has accurately translated the original languages in a way that is relevant and faithful to the original writer’s intent. And probably shocking in a way that most Bibles will not be for commercial purposes. This is why I have decided on a new version. A version that does not exist yet. The PJV.

The PJV (Political Jesus Version) is a serious project (with a tongue-in-cheek name) that springs out of my search for a Bible translation I can get behind. After reading the posts and talking with Rod and Kurk Gayle, Rod and I decided that the only translation we could get behind was the translation we did ourselves. Essentially, Rod will translate a passage, as will I. Then we will compare, get input from others (English, Hebrew, and Greek, general language scholars) and post that passage to political Jesus. We will also include commentary on that passage from Rod, myself, and hopefully other, more diverse voices, in order to facilitate a translation that we hope will be faithful, helpful, and will start conversations. It must also be said that anything we attempt is frail and feeble without God’s blessing. So YHWH, this is my formal request for your help in this project.


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Kevin Sam on the NIV and Gender-Inclusive Language

All the rage among the biblio-blogs recently seems to be discussion on gendered language in the NIV.

I think Kevin Sam has it right:

If we are being gender-inclusive only for the sake of being neutral even if the speaker’s intention was directed to men, then I want nothing of it.  But if it was the speaker’s original intention to speak to both men and women, then “Yes!  I’m all for the changes in the updated NIV 2011.

You can read the rest here at his blog.

Good thing there is no such thing a gender neutrality.

I would also suggest you check out Kevin’s fair comparison of the NRSV, ESV, and NASB.

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What Now Shall I Read? A Case for the NIV

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A very special thank you to Mark Stevens from his blog, Scripture, Ministry, and the People of God, for joining us in this project, “What now Shall I Read?” You can read the first post on my search for a new Bible translation here, but now, let’s give Mark a very warm political Jesus welcome as he tells me why he chose the NIV version.

–    Why the NIV/TNIV is for me! (by Rev. Mark Stevens)

Firstly let me say thank you to Chad for the opportunity to guest post and for asking me to consider
the reasons behind my choosing and liking the NIV family of translations.

A little history…

I have to be honest and say that I was never a real fan of the NIV 1984 and for many years after
I became a Christian I used the RSV and then moved on to a New King James Reference Bible.
However, after years of abuse study its health declined and I set about trying to find a new bible. I
had no idea it would take me years before I settled on the TNIV.

When I entered seminary everyone was using and recommending the NRSV (because N.T. Wright
recommended it) so I bought one and when I entered my current ministry I splurged and bought
myself a Harper Collins NRSV Study Bible which turned out to be the worst Bible I have ever owned.
After a year or so of trudging my way through the NRSV and trying to ignore its woodenness and
poor readability, I gave up and began my search again.

As I mentioned, until I purchased the TNIV I had never used an NIV with any regularity. Everywhere
I went it was bemoaned and derided. Then one day I was speaking with Ben Witherington about
my dilemma and he suggested I try the TNIV. He told me it was a vast improvement upon the NIV
and many of the elements of the NIV in which preachers are often hear to say, “Now the NIV says
here…but it should read” were gone. Furthermore, it used gender inclusive/accurate language which
was something I had liked about the NRSV. I had never considered it because the “Today” made me
think it was on par with the Message or NLT. So, as my ordination approached, I decided to request a
TNIV Reference Bible as my Ordination gift.

So why did I chooses the NIV family of Bibles?

My first reason for choosing the TNIV relates to gender language decisions. In all honesty, gender
inclusive/accurate language is something I had not considered until I had a daughter. When the two
of us read a story she understands “man” to be a male, not a word that means human being and this
will be reinforced once she starts attending school. In Australia the use of “man” is not acceptable
as a word for human being. She could quite easily take a verse such as 2 Tim 3:17 literally if were to
read the NKJV or even the NIV 84 and understand it to apply only to males. There is much more I
could say about this…

My second reason relates to the TNIV/NIV’s readability. In my opinion anyone who uses an English
translation to study Scripture forensically is only kidding themselves. Our English translations are
great for personal study and understanding the overall narrative of the bible, however, if a person
wants to study the text in any depth then it should be done in the original language. Therefore, if I
am going to use my English translation to read why would I choose something that is not naturally
readable to me? Furthermore, I preach from the TNIV and it is exceptionally good aurally.

Thirdly, the CBT are, in my opinion, the best group of Evangelical scholars going around and certainly

the translation team I know the most about and therefore trust. One of the reasons I chose not to go
with the ESV related to the very strong theological opinions of some of the translation committee.
Now I know that I can never know everything every translator believes but for me, the CBT are the
closest to my own theological position. I have read commentaries by the likes of Fee, Mounce, Moo,
France and Waltke and I feel like I know them.

Finally, my main reason for choosing the TNIV is that I like it! When I first read it, it felt right. I
liked the balance between formal and functional equivalence. I have no problem with any other
translation. I may disagree with certain decisions their committees have made but overall all
translation teams have worked hard and share an obvious love for God’s word and therefore should
be respected.

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