Just now, a good friend posted an image on, where else?, Facebook with an elderly couple kissing over the text of Pro 24.26: “He who gives an honest answer gives a kiss on the lips.” (Not sure which version was used, but was close to this one, HCSB.)

The practice of that time, apparently, was for men to kiss men on the lips in greetings (as is practiced still in some cultures today), so that the kiss on the lips was a sign of true friendship. Continue reading

The Common English Bible has this rendering for 1 Pet 1.2:

God the Father chose you because of what he knew beforehand. He chose you through the Holy Spirit’s work of making you holy and because of the faithful obedience and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Apparently, the translators wanted to understand “obedience” as being that of Christ’s, so they then had to render the Greek preposition eis as “because of.” Continue reading

While touting the HCSB, this important point comes out with an example:

2.) A word-for-word translation doesn’t always offer the best translation.

Look at Psalm 147:10. “He is not impressed by the strength of a horse; He does not value the power of a man.” In the NASB and ESV the power of a man is translated literally as “the legs of a man.” The original audience would have understood that “legs” meant the total strength of a man. Using “the power of a man” gives a clearer meaning of what the verse is trying to convey. via Nine reasons you will love the HCSB translation of the Bible.

Better examples than this abound, but this one works as well.

Here’s the first of five stanzas of a poem I whipped up tonight. Title, “Never Too Late.” Then I’ll explain why I sent it to the exclusive Cloudburst Syndicated Poetry list.

Today! tonight! this moment! now!
  You can reroute your fate;
To kill the pagan or sacred cow,
  It's never, it's never too late.

I got a notice a bit ago that the list had been inactive for three months, and if I didn’t use it over the next month, it would get deleted. So there. Continue reading

A denomination here exists called “The Church of Christ in Brazil.” My translation, literal. Today, a follower on my church Twitter account wrote to ask if we were “in Brazil” or “of Brazil,” from the one that had a certain pastor as president. I wrote to say that I never read in the New Testament about the church having a president.

Just goes to demonstrate that you can’t say “church” with anything attached to it without people thinking in denominational terms. I usually avoid it. On the Internet, however, I’ve used “church of Christ,” among other descriptions, so brethren can locate us. I’m not so sure that it’s a good trade-off, though. Continue reading

After I recommended that the KJV be permanently retired, people have asked me to recommend some versions. So I brushed off this article that’s been in preparation since before that one. This article, however, takes a different tack than recommendations: I talk about my favorite versions at the moment.

The following versions were translated by committees or a group of translators, rather than by a single person, such as McCord, Littrell, or Phillips. This list also includes only those versions distributed by major publishers, rather than smaller efforts, like the PEB. As well, only entire Bibles are included; translations which only have the New Testament finished aren’t considered.

That three of the seven in this list (ESV, NASB, NRSV) are revisions of revisions of the Authorized Version testifies to the strength of the KJV tradition.

Please note that this isn’t a review, properly speaking, of versions, but a listing of my favorites within the constraints mentioned above. Favorite means (1) I like it for what it offers and (2) I tend to consult it more than others.

The list follows a chiastic structure. (That means the middle version, “X,” is my favorite.) How’s that for Biblical?

A. ESV. Fast becoming a favorite among brethren, this 2001 revision of the RSV appeals to conservatives, while avoiding some of the stiffness of the NASB. I’m not as familiar with it as I’d like to be, and this one will probably grow in my estimation. Tyndale has made it readily available on the Internet and in applications, a laudable position which strengthens its use. I was turned off when it first came out, because the hardback binding of my copy broke, with no returns from Brazil. Not a way to endear me to a version. But it’s a good one, nevertheless.

B. NIV. I’ve appreciated the NIV since the whole Bible was released in 1978, a translation made from scratch rather than a revision. In spite of criticism from some corners and the publishers shooting themselves in the foot with bad editorial decisions, they seem to be getting on the right track with the 2011 edition. This best-seller looks to pick up steam with the new edition, and I don’t begrudge it the #1 position it has today. My pet peeve with the NIV is that it often omits connecting particles like “for.”

C. NASB. As a literal version for seeing the original language behind the translation, the New American Standard Bible attempts, sometimes badly, to approximate the Greek text as closely as possible. Now, however, the notes of the NET do much of the job in a better way. The NASB was my college choice, after migrating from KJV to ASV. From there I went to the NIV, before moving to Brazil. The 1995 update mitigated the accusation of being a wooden translation, but it still comes across as stiff. For me, a good comparative version.

X. NET. Some porridge is too hot, some is too cold, but once in a while you get a bowl that’s just right. The more I use the New English Translation (NET Bible), the better I like it, and I liked it well from the beginning. I have the three print formats and constantly refer to the online and electronic versions. It’s pretty much my standard now in English. To my mind, the translation strikes a good middle, much like the NIV. Its 60 thousand-plus notes, most of them textual, give it the edge over other versions.

C’. NLT. Perhaps the New Living Translation is not as loose as the NASB is tight (as a first glance might conclude), but they’re on different ends of the scale, so the C/C’ pairing is a contrast. Both are revisions that wound up being new translations: NASB from the ASV; NLT from the Living Bible, with which it doesn’t have much in common. Released in 1996, the second edition (NLTse) followed up in 2007. This thought-for-thought translation has much to commend it, just don’t ask it to be what it’s not. When it’s good, it’s great; when it’s iffy or overly interpretative, it’s frustrating. I like it for reading through a chapter or book, getting a feel for the flow of thought or narrative.

B’. HCSB. Like the NIV, the Holman Christian Standard Bible was made from scratch (is that possible anymore?), hence the B/B’ pairing. Though the NIV came at the right time, as sales testify, one wonders if the 1999 HCSB wasn’t produced so the publisher wouldn’t have to pay rights. But it’s here, so let’s take it for what it is. It’s sometimes thought of as the Baptist Bible, published by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Holman Broadman. It is more, however, and deserves a look-see, which I’m doing. Some have criticized the HCSB Study Bible for conservative evangelical doctrine (faith only, etc.), but one sees that as well in other study Bibles.

A’. NRSV. For all its gender tweaking, this 1989 rendition is still an good resource to consult. This is the choice of liberal and mainstream Protestant scholars. It is a serious work, in spite of flaws, and brings the KJV fully into the 21st century, for good and bad. It’s paired A/A’ with the ESV, because both are revisions of the RSV. The ESV is the conservative revision; the NRSV, the official translation, under liberal control. I tend to use it as a check against conservative evangelical translations.

Versions that used to be on my list included the New English Bible, a British version with fresh language, but taking liberties with the text (has REB done better?), and the Amplified Bible. Perhaps in five years, or less, this list of my favorites will change again. After all, new ones come out, situations and tastes change, needs vary. Who knows? Future possibilities might include the ISV, LEB, or GodsWord.

Maybe now I ought to make my list of favorite Portuguese Bible versions.

I’d be interested in reading about your favorite versions. Got a list?

Over on TFR I counted the blessings that the King James Version has brought to me. That post should be read before, and in conjunction with, what I have to say below. I’m grateful to have had this contact with the world’s most famous version. On this 400th year of the KJV’s publication, we do well to honor the work of the translators and their predecessors.

The KJV gave rise to a whole stream of revisions and derivative translations. The ERV/ASV, RSV, NASV, NRSV, ESV, and NKJV among them. The KJV itself, as we have it today, has been revised. The original edition, from what they say, has been significantly modified.

While we give thanks to God for this distinguished past, and for the many revisions and translations that have followed in its path, the KJV has ceased to be the best-selling Bible, and for good reason. It’s time to lay aside the KJV for superior versions.

In the title I use the verb “ditch” to encourage us to lay aside the KJV for later versions that are superior in most every way. The verb is strong, and I mean no disrespect to the KJV, but my purpose in using it is to emphasize in a forceful way that it is time to retire this version because of the needs of our day and the progress made since its publication.

#1. Evangelism

Recently, on Facebook somebody posted a verse from the KJV with the word “lunatick.” First, nobody spells the word that way anymore. Second, the word is no longer used in that sense. This example can be repeated over and again. It means requiring people not familiar with the word of God to learn an antiquated language, and I can’t conceive of the Lord approving of putting any type of barrier, other than that of the Cross, before potential converts.

This point is all the more important today, because American educational levels have fallen (is this a worldwide trend?), and people are less able than ever to understand complex language. Add to that the large increase in the unchurched, and you have a great need for the use of versions that people who have no contact with Christianity can comprehend.

#2. Preaching and Teaching

Those who preach using the KJV are required to explain the translation before they can explain the text and apply it. In fact, some preachers’ sermons consist basically of explaining KJV language to the hearers. Put a modern-language version (I mean no negative connotation in that phrase — to the contrary!) in their hands and you take away their sermon.

Preaching is communication, and the KJV is a barrier to the message. 99.9% (don’t you just love statistics?) of people don’t speak 1611 English. Whoever denies this fact doesn’t live in the real world, or ministers only to people over 60 who’ve grown up with the KJV and word their prayers in bad attempts to mimic the Authorized Version.

#3. Personal Study

Since 1611 enormous discoveries have been made, both of manuscripts and in linguistics, that render the KJV outmoded. The discoveries of the Greek papyri in Egypt in the late 1800s and of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946, to name just two, have revolutionized biblical research. Textual critical studies have provided better approaches to determining the original readings.

The only reason to continue using the KJV is because one may be used to it. But personal preferences should be set aside to allow for growth in one’s own walk with God and for greater effectiveness in one’s service of edification and evangelism.

For Others and For Self

There is every reason, then, to set aside the KJV and pick up a more recent version that uses today’s language and takes advantage of the research that has opened new understanding of the original languages. For these reasons, much of what is said above also applies to the ASV and NKJV.

Because we value Scripture as the word of God, we want it to speak to us and to others in accurate and intelligible language and so that its power may be fully applied in conversion of those outside of Christ and transformation of those in his body. Otherwise, without understanding the Word, its purpose will be frustrated and we will be held responsible for clinging to a version that no longer serves the mission of God in the world.

In Luke 17, our scheduled reading today, I noted another departure of the Brazilian version, Nova Versão Internacional, from the American NIV which inspired it. Jesus told the Pharisees that “the kingdom of God is among you” or “in your midst.” So the NVI. But it can also legitimately be translated, “within you,” as the NIV does. The NVI doesn’t follow the NIV at this point.

The difference between the two provides more evidence that the Brazilian adaptation does not slavishly follow the English version. In fact, the NVI seems to favor the rendering that most of the major English versions do (see list below), since only the NIV and the NKJV render it with the idea of the kingdom being “within.” The NET Bible’s explanation for its choice is that Jesus would not say such a thing to the Pharisees, who rejected the kingdom.

Noteworthy that the 2011 update to the NIV prefers “in your midst.” But it was the previous edition that Brazilian translators used for their consultation. Continue reading

In a four-part series of sermons on Luke 6, one preacher provides, in his last lesson, this structure — chiastic, of course — to the Sermon on the Plain, and it seems to hold together well. Fantastic!

luke-6-plain-sermon-outline

Would be interesting to know if this is original with him, or if he picked it up somewhere. I wasn’t able to make a comment on his site to ask. See also his PDF handout at the link above. You can also click back through his series. Recommended. Continue reading