Which Bible Translation Do I Prefer? June 5, 2012 BDEhrman2020-04-03T19:40:02-04:00June 5th, 2012|Christian Apocrypha, History of Biblical Scholarship, New Testament Manuscripts, Reader’s Questions| Share Bart’s Post on These Platforms FacebookTwitterRedditLinkedInTumblrPinterestEmail Click for the Previous Post Click for the Next Post 20 Comments Xeronimo74 June 5, 2012 at 9:21 pmLog in to Reply What about the NET Bible? Seems quite good to me … as a layman, I have to admit! They’ve got a lot of explanations and annotations. http://net.bible.org/ I also like the Blue Lette Bible to look up the actual Hebrew or Greek words! http://www.blueletterbible.org/ BDEhrman June 6, 2012 at 11:38 pmLog in to Reply I’m afraid I’ve never used the NET much, and so do not have a strong opion about it. Xeronimo74 June 5, 2012 at 9:22 pmLog in to Reply Oh, and too bad that God/Jesus don’t seem to like the idea of issuing the One and Only Official and Authorized Bible ™! 😀 AdamPanacci June 5, 2012 at 10:21 pmLog in to Reply Any thoughts on the arguments for the KJV only view? It’s amazing how militant many KJV only people can get! BDEhrman June 6, 2012 at 11:41 pmLog in to Reply Yes, I think this view is completely theologically driven (only by fundamentalists) and has no historical credibility. I do not consider it a scholarly view (since I don’t know of a single scholar who holds to it — even my conservative evangelical colleagues, who find the view, as a rule, highly irritating!) tcc June 6, 2012 at 12:14 amLog in to Reply “…some translation committees are made up committed evangelical Christians who are committed to the idea that the Bible is the revealed word of God (the New International Version – the NIV); or very very conservative evangelicals (the New American Standard Bible – the NASB) and so on.” Yep. I have an NASB translation, and the introductions are REALLY dishonest about the dates of the gospels and their authors. Mark is 55 AD, John’s 85 AD (and was “obviously based on eyewitness accounts”), etc. It’s not as bad the KJV, though, which–in the introduction to the book of Numbers–lists “mixed marriages” as one of the Israelites’ despicable sins. jasha June 6, 2012 at 5:08 pmLog in to Reply Dr Ehrman, In your scholarly work you consider the Bible as a historical document, but its also of course a literary and liturgical work. Whenever I want a Bible quotation (not that often, but it happens) I prefer the King James version because I find its style so pleasing. Just out of curiosity, when you were still a practicing Christian, what version of the Bible did you prefer for liturgical purposes? BDEhrman June 6, 2012 at 11:44 pmLog in to Reply At the time I used the NASB, since I was more interested in the “literal meaning” than in the liturgical use of the Bible. Heterodoxus June 6, 2012 at 9:21 pmLog in to Reply I’ve not heard of the NRSV, but I’ll scrutinize it. FWIW, I use various Bible versions when analyzing Scripture: HOT, KJV, NLB, GNT, ABP, among others. Some of these versions contain translator notes, but the version I refer to the most is the NET Bible with its 60,932 translator notes; e.g., note 73 at John 10:31: “The phrase ἕν ἐσμεν … is a significant assertion with trinitarian[sic] implications. ἕν is neuter, not masculine, so the assertion is not that Jesus and the Father are one person, but one “thing.” Identity of the two persons is not what is asserted, but essential unity (unity of essence).” A comment like this invariably opens the proverbial “can of worms,” but that’s a separate issue. James Dowden June 7, 2012 at 1:21 amLog in to Reply Well, I will have to award myself a gold star for using several translations. The main ones I use are the ESV, the NRSV, and the NJB. I’m not sure what I find more irritating between the two RSV descendants: the ESV’s very occasional partisan moments (making Psalm 68:25 match their favoured translation of Isaiah 7:14 is at least consistently wrong; a much worse instance of partisan games is how the Apocrypha is in the back, which means I inevitably find myself flicking far too near the back for the New Testament), or the NRSV’s occasional gender-inclusivist contortions (1 Timothy 3:12 seems to spite the widowers to avoid showing Pseudo-Paul up to have not been a feminist). So I definitely agree that there is no perfect translation. And I am yet to find a translation into English that renders the blatant Septuagint-ism in Revelation 4:8 to my tastes, although the Modern Hebrew New Testament spots this — maybe I too indulge in idiosyncratic translation. 🙂 AdamPanacci June 7, 2012 at 5:57 pmLog in to Reply On the note of exegesis and interpretation of the biblical text, it appears to me that texts often enable, rather than demand, interpretations – given the amount of conflicting interpretations that have been offered for many verses of the bible by scholars (let alone lay people!) and the divide between the very different Christian denominations — all of which believe their theological view is clearly rooted in the bible. One practice I see that leads to the “enabling” of different interpretations of the same text is the common practice of reading the Bible as one unified book. In other words, if Paul says something confusing (or says something which conflicts with ones theological view!) about the relationship between faith and works in Romans it is okay to turn to James to “fill in the blanks” or to unify the two. I think this practices allows one to find in a verse almost anything one wants…and people often make this a practice when it is convenient or beneficial to their own theological! It appears to me that books of the bible often differ with each other in many areas. You showed this quite well in your book “God’s Problem” – demonstrating that there are many different views in the Bible that conflict with one another over why we suffer. Or in your book “Jesus, Interrupted” – which shows that the Bible expresses very different views on a wide variety of areas. cozmot June 7, 2012 at 7:25 pmLog in to Reply You said that offhand you can’t think of any translation that has not been done by bona fide scholars, but I have one for you: The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, published by the Watchtower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses.) The Watchtower Society has never revealed the names of the committee that translated it, but it is well known that Frederick Franz, who later became the president of the Watchtower Society, was a major architect of the translation. He formally studied Biblical Greek for a couple of years, and was self-taught in Hebrew, Aramaic, and a number of other languages. While clearly talented, he was not a Biblical scholar by any stretch of the imagination. What this anonymous committee created, though, was a translation that was by design duplicitous, dishonest, and frequently revised to align it with the shifting doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. To my knowledge there is not a more misleading translation. (The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, aka the Inspired Version, would compete for this dishonor if it were a true translation, but it is not.) NarrowGate June 8, 2012 at 3:50 amLog in to Reply there are websites like the Unbound Bible http://unbound.biola.edu that let you read bible books in four different versions on the same web page. It also has a search engine and commentaries. I would like to see the William Tyndale NT beside the King James Version (84% of which was sourced by Tyndale, who was strangled and burned at the stake for having wrote it, but I digress…) SJB June 8, 2012 at 2:15 pmLog in to Reply Prof Ehrman You wrote “But if they really want to know what the text says – they should learn Greek and Hebrew!” So assuming a layman was motivated enough how would you recommend that they proceed? I note the presence of various primers and guides on Amazon (no Koine for Dummies though!) but wonder how successful most folks would be at teaching themselves. It also occurs that while you study the languages and guide others in the study of the texts you yourself may not actually teach the languages? Advice? thx BDEhrman June 8, 2012 at 11:48 pmLog in to Reply I don’t teach them now, but I have done so in the past. And absolutely loved doing so. I’m afraid I really don’t know about self-teaching options for these languages (I’ve learned Latin, Syriac, and Coptic on my own, but I don’t recommend it). Best thing to do is to try and track down a tutor! AdamPanacci June 9, 2012 at 12:02 amLog in to Reply SJB, If you have trouble tracking down a tutor or there is no Christian college that teaches Greek in your area, William Mounce, who wrote one of the many standard NT greek textbooks, has posted audio lectures online for free that elaborate on his introductory book. http://www.biblicaltraining.org/biblical-greek/william-mounce AdamPanacci June 9, 2012 at 12:09 amLog in to Reply Mounce actually has a more up to date website that includes video lectures here: http://www.teknia.com/newtestamentgreek1 brandyrose August 10, 2012 at 2:30 amLog in to Reply I’ve been reading The Voice New Testament for a few years and the complete Bible was published in April (www.hearthevoice.com); it is wonderful in a devotional context. I’ve used the NRSV in college and for study, and I also thought it was good. What I like about The Voice is the lyrical language, the “King James” feel with out the inaccuracies. Wcarmich April 20, 2022 at 9:39 pmLog in to Reply Dr. Ehrman, You have mentioned in the past trying to read the various gospels side by side to more easily see the differences in each version. Can you recommend a good source to do this? BDEhrman April 22, 2022 at 5:19 pmLog in to Reply Yes! Kurt Aland, Synopsis of the Four Gospels. Leave A Comment Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.