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Problems with Some Bible Translations, including the King James: A Blast from the Past

    In my Introduction to the New Testament undergraduate class this semester, I have told the students that they can use most any Bible translation they want, but I prefer the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), and I do *not* want them using either a paraphrase or the King James.  Some of them want to know why, and so I explain to them.  Here is a post on the topic from almost exactly five years ago.  (Note: I’m talking about undergraduates; my graduate students read the NT in Greek) (and also note: despite what I say about the NIV I certainly allow students to use it in class, since it is the most popular translation on college campuses today)

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I have indicated that my preferred translation is the NRSV. Everyone, of course, has their favorite. My judgment is that among main-line, serious biblical scholars, the NRSV is far and away the preferred translation. But it is not so among general readers. I believe the King James Bible (the KJV) (or its slight revision: The New King James) and the New International Version (NIV) are better sellers among the population at large. So let me say a few words about these two. (Some readers of this blog will want to write to me to ask what I think of their own preferred translation: the Jerusalem Bible; the New English Version; the New American Standard Bible; etc etc. Most of the time I tell them that it’s fine. It just isn’t the one that I think is the best)

First: The King James. Published in 1611, the KJV (or “Authorized Version” as it was called, since it was a translation “authorized” by the head of the Anglican Church – guess who? King James of England), is one of the great classics of the English language and ought to be read and learned by everyone. If you want to read a fascinating account of the making of the KJV, see Adam Nicolson’s terrific study, God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible.

FOR THE REST OF THIS POST, log in as a Member. If you don’t belong yet, JOIN NOW OR YOU MAY BE CAST INTO THE OUTER DARKNESS WHERE THERE IS WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH.

Even though it is a great piece of English literature, the KJV is not a great study Bible.  That is for a couple of reasons.  First, when the KJV translators were doing their work at the beginning of the 17th century, they did not have access to most of the thousands of manuscripts of the New Testament that have been discovered and studied in the intervening centuries.  As a result, especially for the NT, the KJV is based on poor manuscripts, and that has a serious effect on the translation.  The KJV includes numerous passages that were not originally part of the NT and altered forms of yet other passages (most famously: the “final twelve verses” of Mark; the story of the woman taken in adultery in John; the passage affirming the Trinity in 1 John 5:7-8; etc.).  Not good, if you want to know what Mark, John, Paul, etc. “originally” wrote.

Second, as much as people (somewhat ignorantly) want to deny it, the English language has changed dramatically over the past four hundred years.  There are places where the KJV just doesn’t seem to make sense in our modern language.  Worse, there are places where the words do seem to make sense, but in fact they meant something different in 1611 from what they mean today.  As just one of my favorite examples:  in Revelation 17 the prophet has a vision of the horrid “Whore of Babylon” who is a terrible and frightening figure seated on a beast with seven heads and ten horns, and who is “drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.”  And after the author describes this horrific woman, he says that he “looked upon her with great admiration.”   (!)   400 years ago “admiration” meant “astonishment.”  It doesn’t carry the same meaning today, leading to a very real possibility that someone reading the passage may be more than a bit confused.

Second: the NIV.   I will admit that the NIV is a very, very readable translation, and that it was produced by some very fine scholars.   The problem is that to be on the NIV translation committee a scholar had to be a committed evangelical Christian with specific views about the infallibility of the Bible (I don’t recall just now the specific doctrinal statement on the Bible that they had to sign off on, but it involved a high view of biblical inspiration).  That means that there was one perspective on the Bible represented on the committee, and it had a real effect on translation decisions that were made.

Rather than spell out the differences for you, I’ll suggest that if you’re really interested, you just do an exercise yourself.   Compare the three accounts of Paul’s conversion in Acts 9, 22, and 26 in the NRSV and notice the detailed differences; then do the same thing with the NIV, and see if any of these differences have been smoothed over.  Or do the same thing with the sale of Joseph by his brothers to the Midianites (or was it the Ishmaelites?) in Genesis 37.

My view is that a Bible translation should not be driven by a theological view of the text but by the science of philology, and that translating the Bible is in principle no different from translating Homer, Plato, Epictetus, or Ignatius of Antioch.   The translation should be made with an eye of communicating in the new language the words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs of the original language, as readably, but also as accurately, as possible.  I think the NRSV does this better than most, if not all, the other translations.


Looking at Hell
Speaking in Tongues and Virgin Births: Readers’ Mailbag September 3, 2017

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Comments

  1. Lev
    Lev  September 4, 2017

    “FOR THE REST OF THIS POST, log in as a Member. If you don’t belong yet, JOIN NOW OR YOU MAY BE CAST INTO THE OUTER DARKNESS WHERE THERE IS WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH.”

    Hahaha! Is this a new one, Bart? Inspired by your research on the afterlife? 🙂

  2. Lev
    Lev  September 4, 2017

    Very interesting post. After many years of sticking with the NIV, I switched to the NRSV and have not regretted it.

    For your graduates, which version of the Greek NT do you urge them to use? I’m guessing it’s the Nestle Aland 28 Alexandrian text-type, rather than the Majority Text Byzantine text-type?

    Do you ever come across the Byzantine loyalists who argue (often with much vigour!) against the Alexandrian and it’s alleged corruptions?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 5, 2017

      Yes, as with almost all places, we use the NA28. The only Byzantine loyalists that I know are fundamentalist Christians.

      • JamesSnappJr  September 6, 2017

        Bart,
        When you refer to the NIV, and describe it as having been made by a team of fine scholars, etc. — to which NIV do you refer? The 1973/1984 NIV was produced by a huge interdenominational team. But that NIV is out of print; the publishers have withdrawn it from circulation. The NIV currently published and distributed by Zondervan is the 2011 NIV, for which there was a much smaller translation-committee (15 people, iirc, when they were all healthy and mobile enough to show up to the committee-meetings). The 2011 NIV various from the earlier NIV in significant ways, not least of which can be seen in Mark 1:41.

        BE: “There was one perspective on the Bible represented on the committee, and it had a real effect on translation decisions that were made.”

        Well, yes — though the points that you mentioned may be the results of the application of “dynamic equivalence,” not of the translators’ affirmation of inerrancy. But surely if there are two opposite perspectives, one is right and the other is wrong; the text is either inerrant, or else it is errant. Are you suggesting that the sponsors of the NIV (1984) should have recruited translators with erroneous views of the Bible, merely for the sake of diversity? Should committees writing rocketship-manuals recruit flat-earthers and geocentrists to join the committee? Surely not.

        • Bart
          Bart  September 7, 2017

          I think many of the problems of translation remain in the new edition, but I haven’t made a systematic study of the changes they made (though I did know about Mark 1:41 — a good move on their part). The problems are not just a more idiomatic rendering, but actual attempts to resolve exegetical difficulties through taking liberties with the text. Another blog user has suggested this site for examples: https://isthatinthebible.wordpress.com/articles-and-resources/deliberate-mistranslation-in-the-new-international-version-niv/ (I’m not sure what you mean by translators with erroneous views; do you mean scholars who willfully reject the truth? That seems a bit harsh! The reality is that if everyone on the committee has a particular view of the inspiration of the Bible, that view will inevitably affect how they translate it. That is, it results in a one-sided bias. You simply don’t have that problem with other translations of other ancient works — e.g., of the Greek and Latin classics)

      • mcmemmo  September 29, 2017

        In a nutshell, can you explain why you believe the NA28 is a more accurate rendering of the original Greek than the Majority Byzantine text-type? I’m not a fundamentalist Christian, but I’d like to have a good response for them.

        • Bart
          Bart  October 1, 2017

          In a nutshell, it is based on the oldest surviving manuscripts which, on the basis of internal criteria, can time and again be shown to attest the best readings, over against the later Byzantine manuscripts.

  3. fishician  September 4, 2017

    I have found several places in the NIV where the translation was clearly altered to conform to tradition or to reduce the appearance of error.(Deuteronomy 1:1 for example, to make it appear that Moses could be the author). How can a translator claim the texts are the “inspired inerrant infallible Word of God” and yet make deliberate alterations to the translation? I also find it ironic that conservative Christians love the King James version, since King James was known to be a homosexual, the saying in his day being. “Elizabeth was King, now James is Queen.” Also ironic that they generally despise the government yet adore a translation authorized by a king, the epitome of governmental power.

  4. dankoh  September 4, 2017

    How do you feel about the RSV? I am using it in the Oxford Annotated Version, partly because it has useful history notes, and also because it has the complete Apocrypha. (I sometimes use the St. Joseph New American Bible when I want to show the Catholic version. For the Hebrew Scripture, I use JPS or my own translations.)

    • Bart
      Bart  September 5, 2017

      It was a great translation, but it was done in the 1940s and is now out of date. You should think about trying the newer Oxford Annotated with the NRSV.

  5. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  September 4, 2017

    My NIV Bible is several years old and doesn’t have gender inclusive language. The recent versions must have changed because the YouVersion Bible app is gender inclusive. I don’t know if other changes were made. I do have several issues with some of these modern translations, the NRSV being one of them.

    For example, John 14:23–Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

    When looking up the words, “those” and “them,” the Greek says αὐτῷ, αὐτόν, τις. The interlinear has these words as “him” and “anyone.” The NKJV translates it exactly as I find it in the interlinear:

    Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

    My question is, do those Greek words mean him/anyone or those/them?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 5, 2017

      The issue here is not the Greek but the English. In English, if you say “him” you mean “male person.” The Greek pronoun is indeed masculine (it has to be either masculine or feminine because of the rules of Greek grammar), but the masculine pronoun, in Greek, could mean “male” AND/OR “female.” So to translate it with a masculine English pronounce misrepresents the meaning.

      • Pattycake1974
        Pattycake1974  September 5, 2017

        If the Greek means him or her, it’s a singular pronoun and not a plural one. So if it’s masculine (I get that because I took Spanish and everyday objects were designated as masculine, -o; or feminine, -a) and it’s singular, why would it be translated as “them” rather than “him”?

        • Pattycake1974
          Pattycake1974  September 5, 2017

          I’m adding to my other comment: Is there no distinction for singular and plural nouns/pronouns in Greek?

          • Bart
            Bart  September 7, 2017

            Yes there are singular and plural pronouns. Again, the problem is not the Greek, it’s the English. Today in English we don’t use the term “man” to mean “human.” “Man” means a male person, not both male and female. So to with “him” and “his,” etc.

        • Bart
          Bart  September 7, 2017

          Because in English if you say “him” you mean “male person,” but the context indicates that the reference is not only to males but also to females, and one way to convey that sense is to change the singular to a plural.

          • Pattycake1974
            Pattycake1974  September 8, 2017

            If there was no concept of words like person, people, humans, etc., (they’re not first century words, right?) then what words were they using? Man, woman, mankind–just as we have it in the Greek.

            If I was in the first century and asked someone, “What is that *person’s* name?” Would he give me a name or would he say, “What does *person* mean?” What I’m getting at is, the NT writers used sexist language because they had no concept of human or person. Those terms were developed later and have philosophical connotations to them. (It would be like using the word homosexual as a translation. It’s not correct because they had no concept of such a thing.) They looked at women as the weaker part of mankind, not as a person or a human or any kind of separate identity. That’s why “fish for people” drives me batty!

          • Bart
            Bart  September 8, 2017

            For “man” one could use either the term ANTHROPOS or the term ANER. The latter always referred to a male (and could also mean “husband”), the former was applied to both men and women. And so it would be a mistranslation into modern English to render it as “man” because that word (man) in English has come to mean “male person.” My sense is that “fish for people” drives people batty for only one reason: they are so deeply accustomed to “fishers of men” from Sunday School days and general usage in our culture.

      • bamurray  September 5, 2017

        “the masculine pronoun, in Greek, could mean “male” AND/OR “female.””

        How do we know this? (This isn’t snark – I’m genuinely curious.)

        • Bart
          Bart  September 7, 2017

          Because the context indicates that both men and women are in view. (If you say “If a person commits murder, he must face judgment,” the “he” indicates that the person is male, even though obviously females are in view as well).

  6. RonaldTaska  September 4, 2017

    Thanks again!

  7. doug  September 4, 2017

    I find what the Bible says about the Bible to be interesting. In the RSV Preface it says “the King James Version has grave defects.” “these defects are so many and so serious as to call for revision of the English translation.” “The King James Version of the New Testament was based upon a Greek text that was marred by mistakes”.

  8. Evan  September 4, 2017

    Other than the Thees and Thous, and the gender inclusive changes, is there a reason to trash the RSV Oxford Bible (2nd ed 1972), the concordances and Aland parallels, and upgrade the whole reference system to NRSV?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 5, 2017

      Yup. The NRSV is up to date in its language, and is based on more recent scholarship and manuscript finds. It’s a superior translation, imho.

  9. jdub3125  September 5, 2017

    Professor, is there a proliferation of translation versions in other languages also, such as French, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, Japanese, et. al.? And do your colleagues in non-English speaking universities, academics and theologians, deal with similar issues revolving around multiple translations?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 5, 2017

      Yup! But mainly in languages for which there are a lot of Christian-speakers.

      • Hormiga  September 6, 2017

        > mainly in languages for which there are a lot of Christian-speakers

        Any ideas for new translations into Spanish and Russian, languages in which I have an interest and a modest chance of being able to read?

      • jdub3125  September 6, 2017

        Ok thank you. Stands to reason that where there are more Christian scholars, there will be more translations.

  10. ronaldus67
    ronaldus67  September 5, 2017

    “JOIN NOW OR YOU MAY BE CAST INTO THE OUTER DARKNESS WHERE THERE IS WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH.”

    I’m so glad I’m a member!
    Thank you for saving me! 😉

  11. nbraith1975  September 5, 2017

    Bart –

    Please don’t take this comment personally. I enjoy your work and have been enlighten by your scholarly research and conclusions.

    As a scholar, what is your concern about the translation of a document that you are nearly 100% certain was not written by the ascribed author? Specifically, that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses and many books of the OT were probably not written by their ascribed author(s)?

    And if you have concluded that much of the Bible is fraudulent and made up of fictional man-made stories why not use your skilled scholarly research in other areas? It seems like your next book project is just nit-picking another religious aspect of the Bible. Specifically, if you don’t believe in heaven or hell or in divine rewards or punishments, why continue to beat a proverbial dead horse?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 7, 2017

      That is the topic of my two books, Forged, and Forgery and Counterforgery. I discuss the matter at length in both. But the Pentateuch is not a difficult issue, because it does not claim to be written by Moses. The harder cases are where an author claims to be someone he is not (e.g. “Paul’s letters to Timothy; or the book of 2 Peter)

      • nbraith1975  September 7, 2017

        This is information I would have liked to have known many years ago. Thanks for your work.

  12. flcombs  September 5, 2017

    Dr Ehrman:

    Another apparent attempt in the NIV to “cover up” a contradiction appears in Exodus 6:3:

    NIV: I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself fully known to them.

    NRSV: 3 I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name ‘The Lord’ I did not make myself known to them.

    Obviously in the Bible, people before Moses knew God by Yaweh (“the Lord”). I think the only translation that uses “fully” is the NIV. But by adding the word “fully”, the NIV is often used to explain away the apparent contradiction (you just have the wrong translation!). Is there any sound basis for scholars to put the word “fully” in the translation, especially since the NIV appears to be the only one to do that? What is the claim of the NIV translators to knowledge that others apparently do not have?

    Back in my young days before the NIV, I remember reading news accounts that there was a new bible translation being planned with the intent to remove or lessen common quoted contradictions in the bible. The NIV appears to me to be that translation, especially when reading the views the translators had to agree with to participate. From your knowledge, is that one of the reasons the NIV was made?

    There is no wonder it is often pushed as the translation to use in fundamentalist circles. I often hear it mentioned as the “preferred” version when discussing issues with the bible, but no good reason is given outside of glossing over contradictions.

  13. Petter Häggholm  September 5, 2017

    Someone maintains a very extensive list of places where the NIV has questionable and biased translations or alterations: https://isthatinthebible.wordpress.com/articles-and-resources/deliberate-mistranslation-in-the-new-international-version-niv/

  14. NancyGKnapp  September 5, 2017

    I loved my old Oxford annotated RSV with leather binding and name in gold. Alas it was worn out from much use, so I just got the new Oxford annotated NRSV. I am glad to know I made a wise choice.

  15. John1003  September 6, 2017

    Do you have any familiarity with the Darby translation. My father thinks he is the geatest scholar of them all. His translation corrects all the others. It is old but is it accurate ?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 7, 2017

      I”m afraid I’ve never studied it.

    • SidDhartha1953  September 7, 2017

      I was a student at North Greenville College in Tigerville, SC, from 1972 to 74 — a very conservative Baptist school. We had lots of ministerial students who were almost to a man (I don’t think any women considering ordained ministry would have bothered going there) raging fundamentalists. The Bible professor, Dr. Walsh, was asked his opinion of the Scofield Bible and Dispensationalism. He began his reply with, “Oh, the Darby Heresy!” I don’t remember how he explained his objections, but it was clear he had no truck for Darby.

      • Bart
        Bart  September 8, 2017

        I was at Moody Bible Institute at the same time, and we treated the Scofield Reference Bible as THE Word of God!!!

  16. webo112
    webo112  September 7, 2017

    Professor Ehrman,
    What do you think would be the most efficient way for someone like me (that works full time and has a family) to learn to be able to (just) read New Testament Greek?
    Would you suggest online apps, or software (videos even?) or though books and print media etc?
    I am currently reading, and enjoying, your scholarly book “Orthodox Corruption of Scripture” and I am now able to pick up and recognize some Greek (Jesus Christ, etc), and would love to be able to read (slowly if be) original Greek new testament (at least the Gospels)

    Thank you in advance,

    • Bart
      Bart  September 8, 2017

      I really don’t know — I haven’t taught beginning Greek in over 30 years now, and don’t know what’s available. Sorry!! I *would* suggest that if you try it on your own you have someone you can consult who knows what they’re talking about to help out at the difficult parts. In my experience with Greek, most parts are difficult parts! But maybe others on the blog can makes suggestions of where to start? And I bet there are Internet discussion groups that deal with this. Let me know what you find.

      • webo112
        webo112  September 11, 2017

        Thank you Bart, I will look into and report what I am suggested.
        your replies are appreciated.

  17. SidDhartha1953  September 7, 2017

    Regarding the NRSV and NIV translations of Luke’s account and Luke’s ttwo versions of Paul’s account of Paul’s conversion (gosh, that was complicated to get right!) the only discrepancies I see are 1) the NIV says Paul’s companions did not understand rather than that they did not hear the voice of Jesus in 22:9, apparently to harmonize with 9:7. I can see why they would want to fudge that translation if they are inerrantists. 2)But I’m confused as to why they would say Jesus spoke Aramaic to Paul (26:14) instead of Hebrew. Being from Tarsus (assuming that is true — does anyone but Luke say so?) how much more likely was Paul to be conversant in Aramaic than in Hebrew? If Jesus were wanting to make sure Paul understood him, wouldn’t he have spoken in Greek, Paul’s first language? It doesn’t make sense to me for even a dishonest translator to misrepresent the Greek here.

    • Bart
      Bart  September 8, 2017

      Yeah, that seems a bit odd to me — the Greek says that Jesus spoke to Paul “in the Hebrew dialect.” I guess the translators are assuming that since Jesus himself spoke Aramaic (a different Semitic language) and since Hebrew wasn’t a spoken tongue that Paul would have recognized, that it must have been Aramaic? But that does seem to be taking liberties with the language. I don’t know for sure though — it would take a (simple) examination of the phrase in other writers/contexts to know whether it’s a legitimate translation. I bet someone else on the blog would know!

  18. DavidNeale  September 7, 2017

    I suppose there are lots of less dramatic examples of words in the KJV which have changed their connotations somewhat over time. Like translating agape (or caritas) as charity.

    Slightly off-topic (but related, because it’s on the topic of differences in translation) – I’ve been wondering for a while about the Gloria. Obviously, a lot of different hymns and liturgies and suchlike make reference to or paraphrase the Gloria, which in turn is based on Luke 2:14. I’d always heard (various permutations of) two different versions: “Glory to God in the highest and on Earth peace to men of good will” and “Glory to God in the highest and on Earth peace, goodwill to men”. That is, of course, quite a significant difference in meaning. The Latin is “Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis”, which I understand is is unambiguously “…men of good will”. Unfortunately, I don’t read a word of Greek; the text of the Gloria I found online was Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις Θεῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκία, but I couldn’t read it, so I asked a friend who is a classical scholar. She translated it as “Glory to God in the highest (things) and upon the earth peace (and) goodwill among people.” But I don’t know if I had the right text, or if there are different texts of the Gloria, or how it corresponds to Luke 2:14 or if different manuscripts have different texts of the latter. Apologies if I’m confused or being silly (I’m a lawyer, not a Biblical scholar).

    • Bart
      Bart  September 8, 2017

      It involves a slight difference (one letter!) between the Greek manuscripts. I think I’ll add your question to the Mailbag , since it’s pretty interesting.

  19. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  September 11, 2017

    From Plutarch’s, Lives: Περι δε της γυναικοκρατιας διαλεγομενος παντες ειπεν ανθρωποι των γυναικων αρχουσιν, ημεις δε παντων ανθρωπων, ημων δ᾿ αι γυναικες
    “Discoursing on the power of women he said, All other men rule their wives; we rule all other men, and our wives rule us.”
    Doesn’t anthropos in this sentence mean “men” here? I really cannot see a NT writer using a term like “people” even if they meant to include women. I see them saying something like, “How are you *guys* doing today?” “Guys” including both men and women, but their usage is male-oriented because that’s just how it was.

    I probably appear downright defiant at this point, but I just do not see that changing singular pronouns to plural so the text reads inclusively is correct. More importantly, I don’t think it’s ethical.

    I spoke with another scholar who agrees with you as I’m sure most, if not all, do as well. His reasoning was that “men” is not read inclusively (and increasingly so–I respectfully disagree but okay) in this modern world; the translator should not judge English readers. I suppose that’s true, but I have a problem with a modern reader, who’s a woman, reading words like “people” and understanding that as including her both in meaning and language. It’s a subtlety that’s extremely important and significant to a female reader. She has the right to know these things.

    • Bart
      Bart  September 11, 2017

      Yes, I completely understand your reluctance — for years it was my view too. The problem is that language and subtly embody ideology in ways we don’t immediately see, and patriarchal ideology can do very real life harm.

      • flcombs  September 11, 2017

        As a theological issue I really have to wonder. Many fundamentalists argue that God loves us all and really wants us to be saved by following exactly want he wants with a list of details. Fail them and you go to everlasting hell. Yet the evidence is that at the least even experts and scholars can’t be certain about language, interpretations , etc. not to mention the validity of the books of the Bible anyway.

        A God that cares about you and wanted everyone to be saved if only…. would certainly make certain everyone had a clear message. The fact of all the debating over real issues about it proves the fundamentalist claims invalid on the face of it.

        • TGeiger  October 24, 2017

          This is something that I have been wrestling with myself. Not to mention that if God really wanted all to believe and be saved, why limit that message to a corruptible text copied by His fallible, sinful creation? I know, I know, who am I to question God, right?

      • Pattycake1974
        Pattycake1974  September 11, 2017

        Fair enough 🙂

  20. TGeiger  October 23, 2017

    I have a copy of the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version Reference Bible) that I purchased to read 1 John 5:7-8 and Acts 9, 22, and 26 and compare it to my KJV.
    One thing I did note. In my version of the NRSV (Zondervan (March 1993), 9780310902270 ), the commentary at the beginning of 1 Timothy indicates that this book was written by Paul although some scholars disagree with this conclusion.
    From my reading of your books, you are in the group of “some” scholars.
    So, how is the average researcher (or in my case the slightly below average researcher) supposed to determine what is factual? From the evidence in your books, I am leaning toward it not being written by Paul, especially the somewhat misogynistic verses (e.g. as in 1 Tim 5), the failure to address slavery as wrong in 1 Tim 6 and other issues.
    But how is one to know if “some” scholars agree that the book was not written by Paul or most or all except the one that wrote the preface to the book in the Bible I have?
    Thank you for your time.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 23, 2017

      There’s no easy way. You have to read the arguments on both sides and see which ones seem best to fit the evidence. But just as pure objective fact: the vast majority of critical scholars (that is, everyone who does not have theological reasons for wanting to think otherwise) think 1 Timothy was not written by Paul. It is not *some*: it is the vast majority. The exce[tions are the conservative evangelicals for whom Zondervan Publishing exists.

      • TGeiger  October 24, 2017

        Thank you for your reply, much appreciated!

  21. johnsotdj  November 4, 2017

    Hello Bart, I read this post with great interest. Forty years ago I remember that every new translation of the New Testament was promoted (by guys at Bible study) as “it really brings out the Greek,” and I recall your comment that reading the NT in the original Greek was like reading it in color. It was also interesting to read that the authentic and questionable letters attributed to Paul can be distinguished by the Greek, as well as the theology.

    The New York Times has just published an article by David Bentley Hart, with the provocative title “Are Christians Supposed to be Communists?” In it I learned of his new translation of the New Testament, and read reviews indicating, among other things, that this translation (and notes) “captures the voices of the different authors,” e.g., Paul’s, Luke’s, Mark’s Greek, etc.

    I’d be very interested in your take on this new translation; not asking if it’s the best (or OK but NRSV is better)! Is it really different, or another single translator’s take like J.B. Phillips?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 5, 2017

      I haven’t read it yet, so don’t have an informed opinion. The translator appears not to be a specialist in the New Testament, so I don’t know what his qualifications are. Possibly very good! But on the surface it doesn’t look like it. I really can’t tell. He does appear to have tried to make the English translation give the “feel” of the Greek of each author; that would be a good thing. Whether he has the skill and knowledge to do it — I don’t know.

  22. johnsotdj  November 5, 2017

    Thanks for your response!

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