Showing posts with label Bible Translations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible Translations. Show all posts

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Inerrancy and Trust

Andy Stanley has taken a fair bit of flack for statements like this one about the inerrancy of scripture:

“When a specific view of inspiration is elevated to the status of doctrine, the Bible becomes an obstacle to faith for some.”

Critics have called Stanley everything from a liberal to a heretic, as Jared Wilson documents here. I can’t speak to the heresy part. I’ve read Stanley’s Irresistible, and you can find the critical commentary it inspired on our Book Reviews page. I think it’s misguided, sometimes gratuitously flippant and outright wrong in places, but I wouldn’t call it heretical in the sense that it would cause me to question Stanley’s devotion to Christ and his people, or his general orthodoxy.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Bible Study 02 — Comparison [Part 2]

Another instalment in the re-presentation of our 2013-2014 series about studying the Bible using methods deduced from the Bible itself. The series introduction can be found here and the previous post here.

Last post I concluded with the idea that the best interpreter of scripture is more scripture, as opposed to culture, history, political correctness and other external sources of meaning that we are often tempted to impose on the word of God. Our first Bible study tool is comparison.

Monday, November 09, 2020

Anonymous Asks (118)

“Why can’t all Christians agree on one version of the Bible?”

In the first century AD when the Lord Jesus walked this earth, there were two popular versions of the Old Testament in circulation (the New Testament having yet to be written). The Greek version, the Septuagint, was then about 2-1/2 centuries old, and exceedingly useful if you wanted to study the Old Testament but could not read the Jewish Tanakh in Hebrew or Aramaic.

So then, which version of the Old Testament did Jesus quote from?

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Bad Ideas that Refuse to Die

What is it about bad ideas?

I’m not thinking of anything as egregious as false teaching making its way into the church, though that tends to happen on a regular basis too. No, I’m thinking more of the natural preferences and tendencies we have and assumptions we make that can hinder the work of God and drive a wedge in between believers.

The worst part about bad ideas is that, unlike many varieties of false or heretical teaching, they often come from good people, which makes them that much more sensitive to deal with. They are also not demonstrably sinful in most cases, making it more difficult to mount a case against them and disinclining those who harbor them to easily abandon them.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Time and Chance (44)

Unless we have studied ancient languages, identifying formal Hebrew proverbs in the text of Ecclesiastes is a bit beyond most of us. To make it easier, my edition of the ESV has displayed roughly a quarter of the 221 English verses in the book with hanging indents instead of regular paragraphing, so that the reader can distinguish poetry, proverbs or quotations from the Preacher’s ongoing narrative.

The highly subjective nature of this style treatment becomes evident when we examine the same verses in other translations.

Monday, June 08, 2020

Anonymous Asks (96)

“How can I avoid the appearance of evil?”

Let me take a wild guess here: you read from the King James Version of the Bible.

Actually, it’s not really that wild a guess. If we use the very convenient BibleHub website to take a look at a broad spectrum of English translations of 1 Thessalonians 5:22 (which is where the phrase “the appearance of evil” originates), we find only six of the 28 versions listed there translate it that way, and three of those are King James variants. Of those six, the KJV is by far the most widely read, so this rendering of the verse is still very common today despite being more than a little misleading to modern readers.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Word for Word

“If you don’t have access to the original language, stick with a word-for-word translation like the NASB ...”

There is a common misconception, usually among those who are only familiar with a single language, that it is possible to translate Hebrew or Greek — or any other language, for that matter — word for word. I used to believe it myself. It is not the case, and the translators of the NASB would tell you themselves that they have not attempted any such thing.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Commentariat Speaks (16)

Done properly, Bible translation is really just the search for truth. It attempts to represent the original text in another language to the very best of expert ability to reconstruct it from the available manuscript evidence.

Some English versions are painstakingly literal, attempting as closely as possible to represent each original Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic word with an English equivalent (an impossible task, if you know anything about syntax and semantics). Others are more dynamic and literary, attempting to convey the overall feel and sense of the original as the translators understand it, rather than trying to force the receptor language to awkwardly mimic the sentence structure of the original language. Some Bible versions are based on a single, familiar text tradition. Others synthesize multiple traditions in an attempt to get at the most precise possible reading.

Either way, truth is usually the governing standard. It is rare that anyone deliberately sets out to produce a #fakebible.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Text and Me

Marg Mowczko writes about a woman who wept when reading the many masculine pronouns in 1 Corinthians in her 1984 NIV. She asked, “Where am I in the text?

Marg herself admits to a similar issue with nouns: “Masculine nouns, such as ‘brothers’ when the meaning is ‘brothers and sisters,’ effectively distance women from the text.” She finds the book of Hebrews much less personally relevant when she reads it in the ESV.

Accordingly, Marg prefers the TNIV, which uses more gender-inclusive language, giving women the prominence in the text which it is thought they need and deserve.

But since the question of distance from the text is being raised, let’s explore that a bit.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Truth Out of Balance

When I’m working, I leave my car in a seven-storey public parkade across the street from a hospital. Recently it was thought prudent to increase the number of available parking spaces for disabled drivers, so the necessary repainting was done and the usual signs posted.

That would have been fine, except that the increase in disabled spaces was an order of magnitude greater than the need it was intended to address; ten times the number required even in the busiest hours of the average day. Virtually the entire second floor of the parkade is now empty morning, noon and night. Thirty drivers who would otherwise have paid for space in this busy downtown parking lot are stuck looking for accommodation elsewhere, and the City loses the revenue from their daily custom. On the bright side, the strategy virtue-signals magnificently, so the town hall clerks and administrators are likely unperturbed.

Christian instruction can be a bit like that parkade. We only have so much space in our craniums. A truth stressed out of proportion pushes other truths out of place.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Of Words and Wording

Which version of the Old Testament did Jesus use?

Being a Jew, one might expect him to quote from the Hebrew scriptures, which would surely have been the “official” word of God in his day. But this was not always the case. Craig Evans makes the case that the Lord often quoted from a well-known Greek translation of the proto-Masoretic Hebrew, and even occasionally from the Aramaic tradition.

If you find that odd, here’s something odder: once in a while, a non-literal translation is more useful than a literal one.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Help! They Changed My Bible!

Bible translations have a way of changing over time, and it can make some Christians quite frantic.

Textual criticism is a discipline about which many believers know very little. The average regular churchgoer can probably tell you that the Bible was written primarily in Greek and Hebrew, not English (and the average reasonably intelligent person might simply assume it), but beyond that basic piece of information, how our Bibles came to us is not all that widely understood.

Given the quality of history courses in the average high school since 1970, fewer still know that when we speak of “the originals”, they are not sitting in some airless, climate-controlled museum display case. Would they be shocked to discover such manuscripts no longer exist and have not existed for centuries? Probably not, with a few seconds consideration.

But no, they don’t exist so far as we know. Some people are fine with that idea.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Bad Ideas that Refuse to Die

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bible Study 02 — Comparison [Part 2]

The most recent version of this post is available here.