Category Archives: Bible Translations

The Intent of English Bible Translators

One of my desires here at is to help people not only know their Bibles, but also know about their Bibles. Each Bible translation is the result of diligent work by a team of translators (I prefer to consider translations by one person as paraphrases rather than translations). These teams of translators are guided by a set of translation principles which aim to fulfill the original purpose or intent behind the project. It is usually in the Foreword or Preface that you find such a statement of purpose or intent. I decided to look at each of these in the most popular Bible translations to discover the stated intent of each translation. Here is what I found:

King James Version

“Truly, good Christian reader, we never thought from the beginning that we should need to make a new tranlsation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one…but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principle good one, not justly to be excepted against; that hath been our endeavor, that our mark.”

“But we desire that the Scripture may speak like itself, as in the language of Canaan, that it may be understood even of the very vulgar.”

Continue reading The Intent of English Bible Translators

NBC and Gender-Inclusive Bibles

Being the host network for this year’s Super Bowl afforded NBC the opportunity to showcase the talent of their various shows. They did it in the imitation of a Broadway musical, starting off with the cast of 30 Rock and shifting to the casts of the Office, Community, and other NBC offerings, including nightly news anchor Brian Williams.

What really intrigued me was the lyrics to the song…”The Brotherhood of Man.” It clearly was not a celebration of testosterone or the theme for a men’s conference. It clearly was a song about humanity. ‘Brotherhood’ definitely referred to humanity as a whole and  ‘man’ clearly was used in the generic ‘person’ sense.

So here’s my point…if a liberal, secular television network has no problem using masculine language to refer to men and women in general, as has been the case in English and other languages for millennia, why are some evangelical Christians so convinced it is necessary to switch to gender-inclusive language in some of our English Bible translations?

Tim Challies on the Beauty of the Language in the ESV

A few days ago I posted a negative critique on a translation decision in the ESV. Today I want to emphasize how much I love reading the ESV, pointing to an excellent post by Tim Challies on the beauty of the language found in the ESV. He compares some Old Testament phrases in the ESV with how they are translated in some of the more functional translations. The NIV (1984 edition), by the way, does well, in his brief comparison study. You can read his post HERE.

They Missed it Again – The ESV Missed it on James 4:4 in the Latest Update

“They” refers to the ESV Translation Committee.

My small group is going through the DVD series “God is the Gospel” by John Piper. In session 2, Dr. Piper talks about how the proper translation of μοιχαλίς (moy-khal-is’) in James 4.4 is “adulteresses” because (a) the word in the Greek is feminine and (b) the word picture in the passage is of the church as the bride being unfaithful to God as the husband. Yet the ESV translates the word “adulterous people.” The NIV also gets it wrong.

The HCSB, NASB, and ASV get it right:

4 Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? (HCSB)

4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? (NASB)

4 Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? (ASV)

Piper, a friend to all who are on the ESV Committee, contacted Wayne Grudem about the mistake. Grudem agreed with Piper. Piper then suggested that when an update would come out, it would surely be fixed.

It was not fixed. On a recent post I linked to the list of changes in the latest (2011) update of the ESV. Disappointingly, and surprising to me, James 4.4 remains the same.

I’d love to get an explanation why.

Reflections on Reading the KJV

Last week I completed my reading of the King James Bible. My brief reflections:

1. At times it is amazingly poetic and beautiful. On more than one occasion I thought, “You just cannot improve upon that way of wording it!”

2. At times it is remarkably archaic and difficult. Several times I would have to reread a passage or phrase or consult a dictionary. A few rare times I would sigh and think, “I can’t wait until I finish this project and return to the ESV.”

3. At all times it is inspiring and profitable. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3.16-17).

All in all, I’m VERY glad I took on the challenge of reading the KJV on its 400th anniversary.

ESV Translation Gets An Update

Some people may not be aware that modern Bible translations are sometimes updated. For example…

In 2006 the NLT was updated. And in 2009, the HCSB. In both cases, there was very little fanfare. In fact, I would wager a guess that the average devout Christian had no idea these updates even occurred.

This year two popular versions received updates. First, the NIV. Unlike the HCSB and NLT updates, the NIV was less of a tweaking and more of an overhaul. It’s practically a new version altogether. I recommend sticking with your 1984 edition.

Now the ESV has received its update. Compared to the NIV, these update are very minor. You can see the “tweaking” HERE.