Bible Translations and Study

Recent video where Mike Licona and Mike Wallace talk about the best Bible translations.

  • Study & Accuracy: NET
  • Readability & Accuracy: NIV (Not sure which version?)
  • Understated elegance: ESV
  • Rich wording: KJV and REB (1989)
  • Ecumentical: NRSV

Overall, I did like the discussion on the differences between translations and accuracy and some of the problems with the various translations. In particular, if you are looking for a new Bible, the NET seems to be the best in consensus especially since the NET has a ton of footnotes where the translators discuss why they translated things in the way they did and offer the alternative translations for passages that may exist.

If you’re looking for a new good study Bible, the NET seems like a good one.

I did post before that the newer NIV has gone to more gender/sex neutral language.

Here’s a 32 page analysis of the changes 2011 changes of the NIV which is why a bunch of the changes may be questionable.

“We expect that evangelical feminists who claim that women can be pastors and elders will eagerly adopt this 2011 NIV because it tilts the scales in favor of their view at several key verses. This is especially true because the new NIV changes the primary verse in the debate over women’s roles in the church.

  • 1984 NIV 1 Timothy 2:12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a
    man; she must be silent.
  • 2011 NIV 1 Timothy 2:12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a
    man; she must be quiet. (same as TNIV, but with modified footnotes)

Evangelical feminists will love this translation because in one stroke it removes the Bible’s main barrier to women pastors and elders. As soon as a church adopts the 2011 NIV, the debate over women’s roles in that church will be over, because women pastors and elders can just say, “I’m not assuming authority on my own initiative; it was given to me by the other pastors and elders.” Therefore any woman could be a pastor or elder so long as she does not take it upon herself to “assume authority.”

The NIV’s translation committee says that the translation “assume authority” is “a particularly nice English rendering because it leaves the question open.” In other words, “assume
authority” could be understood in two different ways: a negative way (meaning “wrongly assume authority on one’s own initiative”) or a positive way (meaning “begin to use authority in a rightful way”). But in saying this the NIV translators fail to understand the full force of what they have done: They have given legitimacy to a feminist interpretation that did not have legitimacy from any other modern English translation (except the discontinued TNIV).

See the above link for all of the noted changes. In particular, there is a lot of changes to avoid using male pronouns, father, brother, man, son and other things in the NT. Same with the OT.

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18 Responses to Bible Translations and Study

  1. Sharkly says:

    I gotta give a shout out to my trusty all around solid NASB!
    I also like the KJV, ESV, and some others. At Bible Gateway you can read your chosen verse in over 50 English translations:
    https://classic.biblegateway.com/verse/en/1%20Corinthians%2011:7

  2. Novaseeker says:

    I have been using the ESV in recent years mostly — I find it is a good mix of solid usage without paraphrasing, and no concessions to modernist fudging on “disliked” terms. It isn’t perfect — some things come across as being translated a bit stiffly. The NRSV also is a fluid translation but is marred by even more common stiffness than the ESV, and also has the problem of modernist language changes — to its credit the NRSV footnotes every single time it is making one of these changes, and indicates what the (typically Greek) word actually is, but it’s still annoying that they are one-upping the Word like that, and from a philosophical perspective it makes it a much less satisfying translation to use.

    Although I have never used the NIV (I always found it a bit too “low” of a translation for my taste), it’s disappointing, but not surprising, to see it go the way of the modernist/revisionist translations. The same has happened, in a more sneaky and less overt way, with the HCSB/CSB line, where it has now adopted more neutral wording in many places — their explanation for what they have done (see here: https://csbible.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Translation-Decisions-QA.pdf ) provides a figleaf of credibility for moving away from long-accepted translations of the terms for objective reasons, but the motivation behind it, while overtly denied, seems clear enough, given that it is happening in 2020. Still, it does not go as far as the new NIV text, as you can see in the comparisons of things like 1 Tim 2. I think it was inevitable that in its quest for retaining “relevancy”, the more evangelical-oriented translations, like NIV and (with lesser changes) the CSB, were going to eventually go down the more inclusive/revisionist/modernist route, because (1) failing to do that can alienate some who might otherwise join and (2) there is a kind of “race to the bottom” effect, whereby some adopt the changes, and then others feel “competitive pressure” to do so in order to stay “equally relevant”. It took longer, of course, than it did for the modernist instigators, who were motivated by wanting to be the spearhead (ahem) of changes in the Church with their NRSV (which is from 1989 — not a new translation any more), whereas these are motivated not by the desire to change in itself but rather by the desire to remain relevant to a changed culture in order to evangelize it, or not to foreclose that (in their own view). I realize that this issue — how to evangelize, does it make sense to do what the new NIV and CSB do in order to get there, etc. — is very divisive inside evangelicalism (I am not an evangelical), but it does seem to me, as someone looking in from the outside, that it’s a durable trend, and that you’re going to see similar pressures, and similar splits, eventually over homosexuality and the treatment of “committed gay partnerships” in the years ahead, motivated also by the same desire for retaining evangelistic relevance and plausibility in the current culture.

    I have read that the NET people say readers should “come for the notes and stay for the translation”. I have never spent much time with it — I have become used to using my Olive Tree app on my PC, and using a few Greek/Hebrew dictionaries that are integrated into the app there so I generally already have access to the original language word history and alternate translations of them, together with extensive cross-referencing of the original language word and related uses and so on, and look at that fairly frequently in my reading of the ESV, so I am not very certain of how much the notes of the NET would add for me, but I will look at it further — I have not spent much time with it yet, or with the text itself, to judge that. I will check it out.

  3. Lance says:

    The NIV is not accurate and changes scripture. In general, I only use the Critical Text Bibles as commentaries since they all want to remove parts of Scripture (one of many examples Rom 8:1). I just consider Majority text versions to be real Bibles.. I love the KJV but for a more modern rendering use the MEV.

  4. @ Lance, Nova

    NIV 1984 is pretty solid as far as a translation goes. I definitely don’t like the newer version though based on how they’re translating stuff to be “relevant to the culture.”

    A wide reading of various translations tends to get a fairly accurate meaning though, but alignment of translation to what the early Church fathers believed is probably going to be the most accurate. Commentaries definitely help with that.

  5. Jonadab-the-Rechabite says:

    For precision of word translation I favor the NASB.
    For first pass readability the ESV works well.
    For majesty without seeming anachronistic I like the NKJV.
    And I still use YLT nearly every time I prepare a study.
    I use Bibleworks to access several translations and the Greek and sometimes the Hebrew with manuscript differences efficiently. Unfortunately this powerful exegetical tool it is no longer published. It is still the best I have ever seen including logos and accordance.

  6. Anonymous Reader says:

    Here is a train wreck of modernity in slow motion.

    https://nypost.com/2020/09/23/this-bisexual-pastor-turned-stripper-has-never-been-happier/

    I wonder what translation she read/reads? The Message?

  7. Jack says:

    Verily, I saith unto thee, that goode provision made hence of his great majestye, King James, twas goode enough for those masters of olde, Sir Bacon and Shakespeare. Such heavenly light hath sustaineth mine steppes ere the tender days of suckling, tis shall yet suffyce for me and mine. To thee, thou worsted stocking knaves that stoopeth to admit divers tongues of dandy form, may thou receiveth pity from the everlasting upon thy final hour. Selah!

  8. Sharkly says:

    Jonadab-the-Rechabite,
    I also really like the Young’s Literal Translation.
    Novaseeker,
    I always enjoyed my mom’s original RSV.
    Jack,
    I really like the Geneva Bible, the original King James is sometimes a bit too new for me. LOL
    Anonymous Reader,
    Why does that story sound so entirely as expected to me? Rebellious attention seeking woman, rebels against God and her husband, and then continues seeking more attention. And our media seems jubilant that they get to mock cucked Churchianity and cheer on a deviant whore all in a single story. I’m glad she left the pulpit for the stripper’s pole. I bet the hireling stooges who tried to make a pastor out of that confused self-promoting whore are too stupid to even have a clue as to the source of their own foolishness and errors. And she is self-promoting pretty well by getting the New York Post to publish what is essentially a two page teaser for her OnlyFans site. The whole “pastor turned pansexual stripper” backstory is pure gold for attracting a pansexual clientele of as many others as you possibly can, who are also running away from God.

  9. Jack says:

    @ Sharkly,
    Tooth, thy fondest effluence that hath taken root in the decorum of the tongues of olde, shall alight on wings likened unto the angelic beings upon high. Prithee, mayest thine heart of hearts findeth thy delight in the Lord’s admonishments forthwith.
    Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum, si þin nama gehalgod. To becume þin rice, gewurþe ðin willa, on eorðan swa swa on heofonum. Urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us todæg, and forgyf us ure gyltas, swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendum. And ne gelæd þu us on costnunge, ac alys us of yfele. Soþlice.

  10. Novaseeker says:

    Here is a train wreck of modernity in slow motion.

    So many warning signs, really, but a couple for the guys …

    First, notice that things started to go awry with this one after the decision to attend a church that was violating the scripture in having women pastors. As the article describes it, this was the first in a series of “self-awareness” episodes in the life of this misguided woman, where she “realized” that she “liked performing in front of people” (in her misguided understanding of what a pastor is and does). In a proper church following the scripture, this would not have happened, and it’s at least possible that the entire sad chain of events described would have never happened. And the fact that this part *did* happen is at least partially to blame on the now ex-husband, which is a lesson: do not ever attend a church with your wife which does not follow the teaching of the scriptures when it comes to men and women and authority, period, end of story. You literally never know where it can lead — in extreme cases, like this one, it can lead from being a suburban mom of three who is witnessing at church to being an online sex worker who was, prior to Covid, about to branch out to high end prostitution (if you google around, she has another interview online where she says that she was actually lined up to meet her first “paid date” when Covid hit ….). You never know, and it all starts when a woman gets a taste of the power that rebellion against her scriptural role brings. Don’t go there.

    Second, notice the pernicious, evil role that the LGBT culture plays in this story. This woman was clearly not “born that way” in any meaningful sense, and she doesn’t claim that she was. Rather, she had the kind of “sexual fluidity” that is typical in a large percentage of women (not all of them, mind you, but a large percentage of them), which can be triggered under certain circumstances, and when it is, and the context is the environment of today where LGBT is a huge lobby and community just waiting to embrace and celebrate anyone who is in any way dissatisfied with their “vanilla straight life”, well … you get scenarios like this one, where a woman suddenly discovers, three kids in, in her 30s, that she is “bisexual” (and then later, pansexual, although you can’t really be both of those at once, sweetie …). Needless to say, this was the next step which was enabled by her empowerment at church … and the exposure to the LGBT performance (it almost certainly involved a lesbian romance, for it to have had the impact it did) turned her on and made her curious, and that, coupled with the kind of life dissatisfaction that is not atypical when you have three young kids to manage in the suburbs and the sense of personal empowerment she was getting through her role in church, led her to go with that fluidity “in the moment” … which, in fairly short order (again, you can see more of her story a bit if you google around) led to her sexual acting out in other ways (the photo shoots and the selling of her images online), and her leaving her marriage.

    In 2019 she also relocated to LA and divorced the husband. One can assume that this was, at least in part, motivated by the fact that LA is the epicenter of the “adult industry” in the United States — it’s literally “the place to be” if you are an up-and-coming, ambitious adult performer, as this one apparently is. It doesn’t say anything about her husband or kids moving there, however, and the kids are mostly mentioned in the past tense — my guess, although this isn’t specifically mentioned anywhere that I could find online, is that her kids are with their father either primarily or exclusively at this point. As tragic as that is for them all, it may very well be for the best, given that she is essentially an amateur porn star who is on the verge of embarking on a prostitution side-line, and likely has paramours of both sexes (perhaps even trans and others since she now uses the word “pansexual”) in and out of her life … none of which would be acceptable, assuming that the father is still at least trying to raise the children as Christians.

    Now again she is surely very much an outlier case, that’s clear. But remember, gentlemen … your situation doesn’t have to go as completely bonkers off the rails as this one in order for it to destroy your life and the lives of your kids in a very comparable way. That can and does happen with much less extreme behaviors, not involving porn or prostitution or lesbianism, but garden variety rebellion, empowerment and its fruit of sexual infidelity and adventurism. Choose your spouse wisely, yes, but equally as important, husband her properly. Under no circumstances go anywhere near a church like this one, because it can literally be the first step in a chain of causation that could, in a few years time, make your head spin in disbelief as you stagger around trying to pick up the pieces of a busted life.

  11. @ AR

    To be honest, probably isn’t really reading any Bible.

  12. Daniel says:

    The Concordant Version is my favorite literal translation of the Bible. Not super easy to read, but a very, very consistent word for word translation. When you are doing the type of Bible interpretation where you depend on the accuracy of every single word, you will need a literal translation. YLT is an improvement on the KJV, but the CLV is much better still.

  13. JPF says:

    @Jack at 3:50 am

    That was wonderful.

    Novaseeker wrote husband her properly. Under no circumstances go anywhere near a church like this one, because it can literally be the first step in a chain of causation that could, in a few years time, make your head spin in disbelief as you stagger around trying to pick up the pieces of a busted life.

    Very important advice. Protect your wife from Satanic influences… whether they be a false church, or friends who have divorced their husbands.

  14. Novaseeker says:

    Very important advice. Protect your wife from Satanic influences… whether they be a false church, or friends who have divorced their husbands.

    Indeed.

    I think also for Christian men who do manage to marry fairly young women (i.e., women from conservative Christian backgrounds who are getting married around 23-25, which is young by today’s average age at first marriage standards nationally) need to watch for signs of the “reverse epiphany” phase coming on.

    What is this?

    The manosphere in its heyday used to talk about the “epiphany phase” (I think Rollo coined the term if I remember correctly), which referred to the time between 28-32 when many women in our culture start to begin to look to get married in earnest. Prior to that they are dating and having fun, but around this age they have their “epiphany” that the clock is running on having a family, and so they start to date “intentionally”, with a view to longer term, and different kinds of men than the fun guys they were dating at, say, 25.

    There is also a “reverse epiphany” phase, however, for women who marry younger. This is basically what it sounds like — the epiphany in reverse. In the “epiphany phase”, a woman realizes she is running out of time, and so switches gears to focus on different kinds of men for marriage and children than the kinds she was dating. It’s driven by FOMO with respect to having a family, for the most part. In the “reverse epiphany”, for a woman who marries younger (23-25), by the time they hit 30-33, can experience a kind of FOMO of her own, as she sees a significant number of her age-peer women only marrying now, at her age, while she now has 2-3 kids and is looking at being “tied down with kids” until she is ~50. If she got married at, say, 24, and was dating her husband beginning around 22-23, from her point of view, she has been “tied up with him” since she was 22-23, and now she is facing the prospect of going from 23-50 and “missing out” on what these peer-age women “enjoyed” during their 20s. In a woman who has other reasons to be discontent (not uncommon in women who are 5-8 years into a marriage where there are 2-3 kids, to be honest), if she fits the facts of having married significantly younger than most of her peers, there can arise a “reverse epiphany” situation, and if it does, it can cause her to leave the marriage. This actually can be more prevalent among Christian women, simply because they are statistically more likely to marry earlier than average, but it can also happen with purely secular women (Megan Fox is perhaps a famous recent example of a “reverse epiphany” situation, although her Hollywood context is particular enough to make her a poor example of anything other than her own specific life).

    If your situation fits these facts, be careful as you are approaching that life mark … it tends to be 4-8 years into the marriage (not past year 10), and with 2 or 3 youngsters, where the wife married 25 or younger, and is now therefore early 30s and still somewhat attractive or better. In these situations it is best to take particular care to avoid discontent from setting in, and avoid influences that could stoke it.

  15. Jack says:

    @ Novaseeker,
    In addition to the pressures of raising children, the reverse epiphany stage is fueled by the fact that women’s libido peaks in their early to mid 30’s. Hubbies can keep this in check if they further their careers and maintain their attractiveness. (Men reach their peak SMV at about the same time.) But if not, then look out!

  16. Novaseeker says:

    In addition to the pressures of raising children, the reverse epiphany stage is fueled by the fact that women’s libido peaks in their early to mid 30’s.

    It’s an excellent point as well, and is another reason that the “seven year itch” seems to predominantly hit women in their 30s.

  17. Anonymous Reader says:

    If your situation fits these facts, be careful as you are approaching that life mark … it tends to be 4-8 years into the marriage (not past year 10),

    There’s also the known phenomenon of female restlessness when the youngest child becomes self sufficient to some degree, typically around age 4 or so. Even with the median age of first marriage at 27 to 28 and first child at 30, with spacing of 1 to 1.5 years a woman could look up one day at the age of 35 and have a FOMO moment plus the youngest is now able to do OK in day care / pre-K. Spare time plus FOMO, and this can be very intensified if she has friends curating their lives via social media such as Insta, TikTok, Snap and even Facebook. There’s some solid research that shows divorce spreads through groups via essentially social links / social channels.

    A woman’s social circle, including work associates, has a big effect on her thinking and feelze, it’s something married men just have to be aware of. It’s almost as if women aren’t perfect, angelic entities but earthy and earthly people whose flaws are not quite the same as men’s, but just about as troublesome.

    Do I have to report somewhere for re-education now?

  18. Anonymous Reader says:

    When I posted that train wreck article, I meant to analyze it later the same day but did not. However Novaseeker did a better job than I would have. There is one thing that should be added.

    At some point early in the process, her husband surely was presented with a situation where she was contentious and he needed to just say “No”, even though that would have led to more contentiousness. Maybe he did, and then backed down in the face of storm and tears, we can’t know.

    But from the experiences of men around me, if he’d done that and then complained about her temper tantrum to someone in his church, even in a very indirect fashion, it’s quite possible he would have been counseled to just endure it. Let me look up the Bible quote about “Love…”.

    Corinthians 13: 5 – 8

    Love…

    5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, [a]thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

    It’s not rare for a married man who is having a difficult time at home to be told he should just “not be provoked”, and “bear all things” plus “endure all things”. I’ll leave the deeper exposition to others, but I don’t buy the idea that this quote was ever intended to turn married men into doormats. Yet that’s the modern effect in too many cases.

    Faced with a contentious woman, who at some point wanted to go to a church with women preaching, a man who says “NO” and then is whipsawed with tears ‘n temper tantrums…that man is not at all helped by church people telling him “Love…endures all things”. It’s just a recipe for trouble.

    This is also hypocritical, because no church leader in the modern world would dare to tell any unhaaaapy woman “Love..bears all things”, it would be abusive. The double standard revealed again.

    Churchgoing men have to counsel each other, because too many other people are willing to give out bad advice. Fortunately there are sites like this one!

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