Thursday, February 24, 2011

Daly's N.T. Translation: The Second Letter of Peter


     Second Peter

   1:1 Simeon Peter, a slave and apostle of 

Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained 
an equally precious faith as ours through 
the righteousness of our God and Savior 
Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be yours 
in abundance in the knowledge of God and 
of Jesus our Lord.
   3 His divine power has given us everything 
needed for life and godliness, through the 
knowledge of him who called us by his own 
glory and goodness; 4 through which he has 
given to us his precious and very great 
promises; so that through these you may 
become sharers of the divine nature, having  
escaped from the corruption that is in the 
world because of lust. 5 Also for this very 
reason you must put forth every effort to 
supplement the faith you have with 
excellence, and the excellence with  
knowledge, 6 and the knowledge with 
self-control, and the self-control with 
endurance, and the endurance with 
godliness, 7 and the godliness with  
brotherly affection and the brotherly 
affection with love. 8 For if these things 
are in you and increasing, they keep you 
from being unproductive or unfruitful in 
the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
9 For the person who lacks these things is 
nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten  
the cleansing of his past sins. 10 Therefore, 
instead of being like that, brothers and 
sisters, you must make every effort to 
confirm your calling and election: for if you 
do these things, you will never stumble. 
11 For in this way, the entrance into the 
eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior 
Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.
   12 Therefore, I intend to always remind 

you about these things, though you know 
them, and have been established in the 
present truth. 13 And I think it right, as 
long as I am in this body, to stir up your 
memory, 14 knowing that the putting off 
of my body will soon come, even as our 
Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 So, 
I will make every effort so that after my 
departure you may be able to recall these 
   16 For we did not follow cleverly devised
myths when we made known to you the 

power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 
17 For he received honor and glory from 
God the Father, when a voice conveyed to 
him by the Majestic Glory, said, "This is my 
Son, my Beloved, with whom I am  
well-pleased:" 18 and we ourselves heard 
this voice from heaven, while we were with 
him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have 
the prophetic word more fully confirmed; to 
which you do well to pay attention, as to a 
lamp shining in a dark place, until the day 
dawns and the morning star rises in your 
hearts: 20 knowing this first, that no  
prophecy of scripture was produced by 
one's own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy 
ever came by the human will, but men spoke 
from God, being carried along by the Holy 

   2:1 But there were also false prophets 

among the people, as among you also there 
will be false teachers, who will secretly bring 
in destructive opinions, even denying the 
Master who has bought them, bringing swift 
destruction on themselves. 2 And many will 
follow their morally corrupt ways; because of 
whom the way of truth will be maligned.
3 And by covetousness they will exploit you 

with fabricated words, but for them the 
sentence pronounced long ago is waiting; it 
is not idle and their destruction is not asleep.
   4 For if God did not spare angels when 

they sinned, but sent them to tartaros, and 
committed them to chains of deepest gloom, 
to be kept for judgment; 5 and he did not 
spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah 
the eighth one, a preacher of righteousness, 
when he brought a flood on the world of the 
ungodly; 6 and having reduced the cities of 
Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes, judged them 
by complete devastation, making them an 
example of what awaits the ungodly; 7 and 
delivered righteous Lot, being distressed by 
the morally corrupt conduct of the lawless  
8 (for that righteous man dwelling among 
them, by seeing and hearing, his righteous 
soul was being tormented from day to day 
concerning their lawless deeds): 9 the Lord 
knows how to rescue the godly from trial, 
and to keep the unrighteous under 
punishment until the day of judgment; 
10 and especially those who indulge the 
flesh in desires that defile, and despising  
authority. Daring, self-willed, not afraid to 
 blaspheme glorious ones: 11 whereas 
angels, though greater in might and 
power, do not bring a slanderous judgment 
against them before the Lord. 12 But these 
people, as irrational creatures, were born 
animals of mere instinct, to be taken and 
destroyed, blaspheming in matters which  
they are ignorant of. Indeed, in their 
destruction they will be destroyed, 
13 suffering wrong as payment for 
wrong-doing; considering indulging in the 
day time a pleasure. They are spots and  
blemishes, indulging in their deceits while 
they are feasting with you; 14 their eyes 
are always looking for an adulterous 
woman, and who are never satisfied 
without sin; enticing unstable souls; having 
a heart that has been trained in greed.  
Accursed children! 15 forsaking a straight 
way, they went astray, having followed the 
way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved 
the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he 
was rebuked for his own transgression: a 
speechless donkey spoke with a human voice 
and restrained the madness of the prophet.
   17 These are waterless springs, and mists 

being driven by a storm; for whom the most 
gloomy darkness has been reserved. 18 For, 
speaking pompous dictums, they entice by 
the lusts of the flesh, and by moral corruption 
they are enticing those who are just escaping 
from those who live in error; 19 promising 
them freedom, while they themselves are 
slaves to corruption; for by whom anyone has  
been overcome, to this one he has been 
enslaved. 20 For if, having escaped the 
defilements of the world through the 
knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus 
Christ, they are again entangled by them 
and overcome, the last state has become  
worse with them than the first. 21 For it
was better for them not to have known the 
way of righteousness, than having known 
it, to turn from the holy commandment 
delivered to them. 22 It has happened to 
them according to the true proverb, "A dog 
returns to its own vomit, and a sow that 
has been washed to wallowing in mud."

   3:1 This is now, beloved, the second letter 

that I am writing to you; I am trying to stir 
up your sincere mind by way of reminder; 
2 that you may remember the words that 
have been previously spoken by the holy 
prophets, and the commandment of the Lord 
and Savior through your apostles: 3 knowing 
this first, that in the last days mockers will 
come mocking, living according to their own  
lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of 
his coming? For, from the time the ancestors  
fell asleep, all things are continuing as they 
were from the beginning of creation. 5 For 
they deliberately forget, that by the word of 
God, heavens existed long ago, and an earth 
having been formed out of water and through 
water, 6 through which the world existing 
at that time, perished being deluged with 
water: 7 but the present heavens and the 
earth, by the same word have been stored up,  
being kept for fire, for a day of judgment and  
destruction of the ungodly people.
   8 But do not forget this one thing, beloved,
that one day with the Lord is as a thousand 

years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The 
Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as 
some think of slowness; but is patient toward 
you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come 
to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will 
come like a thief; in which the heavens will 
pass away with a sudden roar, and the 
elements burning up will be dissolved, and 
the earth and the deeds that are done on it 
will be laid bare. 11 Since all these things 
will be dissolved in this manner, what sort 
of persons ought you to be in holy conduct 
and godliness, 12 waiting for and earnestly 
desiring the coming day of God, because of 
which the heavens being set on fire will be 
dissolved, and the elements burning up  will 
melt? 13 But, according to his promise, we 
are looking for new heavens and new earth 
in which righteousness dwells.
   14 Therefore, beloved, waiting for these 

things, make every effort to be found by 
him in peace, spotless and unblemished. 
15 And regard the patience of our Lord as 
salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul 
also wrote to you according to the wisdom 
given to him, 16 as also in all his letters, 
speaking in them concerning these things;
in which are some things hard to be 

understood, which the ignorant and unstable 
distort as they do also the other scriptures, 
to their own destruction. 17 Therefore, you 
beloved, knowing these things in advance, 
must continue guarding yourselves, lest 
being carried away with the error of the 
lawless, you fall from your own stability. 
18 But continue growing in the grace and 
knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus  
Christ. To him be the glory both now and to 
the day of eternity. Let it be so. 
Copyright 2007, Ron Daly, All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bible Translations and Young Preachers

     I am frequently asked by young preachers, "Which translation do you
recommend that I use in my preaching?"  This  is a  great question and  it
comes  from  young  men  who  are  conscientious  about  their  work as
servants  of  the most  high God. It indicates that they want to use the best
texts available in their study, teaching, and life application. First, we must
lay some groundwork.

     No translation of the sacred scriptures is without flaws. All of them were
translated by human beings, and they reflect the background, training, and
deficiencies of the hands that made them. Therefore, do not go on the hunt
for the perfect translation. It's not out there.

     I strongly  believe  preachers  should  use more  than one translation for
study. The "backbone" translation should be one of the modified-literal texts.
Why?  The  modified-literal  translations  will  stay  close  to  the  Hebrew,
Aramaic, and Greek texts. They will give you some idea of what is going on
in the original text. Simply put, if you do not have any background in Hebrew
and Greek, modified-literal versions will get you as close as possible to those
languages short of studying the original languages of scripture. Another reason
for using versions of this kind is the fact that those of us who believe in the
verbal inspiration of scripture, put emphasis on the very words of the text.
(1 Cor. 2:13) Most modified-literal versions try to bring as much from the
original languages into English as possible.

     The reigning "king" of the modified-literal versions is the ASV-1901. In
my judgment, it edges out the NASB most of the time. The NASB is based
on a slightly better text, and uses a more modern vocabulary, but many times
the best translation in the NASB is found in the footnotes! I have found this
to be true quite often. The NASB's strength is in the fact that it attempts to
show  "verbal action,"  but  that  is not all there is to accuracy in translation.
Many  times  this  becomes  artificial  and  is  often inconsistently executed.
Nevertheless, if a person cannot find a usable copy of the ASV, the NASB
is probably a good alternative.

     There  are  translations  that  stand between the very literal ASV and the
so-called dynamic equivalent versions. This middle ground is occupied by the
RSV, ESV, NRSV, and the HCSB. On the whole the ESV is probably the
best though the NRSV is not too far behind. The main flaw of the NRSV is
its   attempt   to   be  "gender  inclusive"  which   sometimes   causes  it    to
butcher English and change the text. The  RSV  is  not  as  bad  as  is  often

     There are also versions that are "dynamic equivalent" or more idiomatic
in  their  approach  to  translating  God's  word. There  is a place for such
translations. They often  complement  the  more  literal  versions. They are
usually  easy  to  read  and  can  open  the  door  to good  exegesis  and
understanding.  The   New   International   Version   (NIV),  New  Living
Translation (NLT), and Today's  New  International Version  (TNIV) fall
into this category.

     Young  preachers  would  do  well  to have copies of the ASV, RSV,
NASB,  NIV,  ESV,  NRSV, and TNIV  in  their  library.  They  should
diligently  study  and  compare  them.  By  doing  so, they  will  have the
benefits of broad based scholarship. Learn  to  note the differences among
them and ask "Why do they differ?" Do your research in order to determine
the  reasons for the disparity  in  their  renderings. If  you  will  use  several
translations in your study, they will serve to "balance and counter balance"
each other. The best all-around version is probably the ESV. It is basically
the RSV updated and sometimes corrected by conservative scholars.

Copyright 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Modified Literal Translations

     If you have extensively read the scholarly literature that discusses
the theory  of  Bible translation,  you  have  likely  seen  the  phrase
"modified-literal."  What  is  a  modified-literal  translation  of   the

     A strictly literal translation is one that follows the form of the source
language even though doing so does "violence" to the receptor language.
A strictly literal translation attempts to follow the form of the original in
every way; word order, grammar, number of words used, etc. The
closest  literary  production  that  we  have of such  literalism is called
an  interlinear. A  strictly  literal  translation  of the original languages of
scripture  would be  difficult  to  read  and more difficult to  understand. 
Note  this example:  The Greek text of Heb. 3:1 says, "hothen   adelphoi   
hagioi  kleseos  epouraniou metochoi katanoesate ton apostolon kai 
archierea tes homologias hemon Iesoun."  A  strictly  literal   English
translation of the Greek text is, "For which reason brothers holy calling
heavenly partners consider carefully the ambassador and high priest of the
confession of us Jesus." At least two things are apparent, (1) a strictly
literal translation is difficult to read and understand, (2) it can also be
misleading, especially for the person not conversant in Greek, and who
is not aware that Greek and English word order are not always the same.

     Now we ask, what must be done in order to achieve understandability
and maintain accuracy? Some degree of modification has to be made in
the receptor language. We try to make as few modifications as possible,
but we make any that are necessary in order to produce an understandable
and  accurate  translation.  This  is  the  idea  underlying   modified-literal
translations. The modified-literal versions remain as close to the original as
possible, and they sometimes sacrifice English style in doing so. They are
not always easy to read, but they make the best study Bibles for close,
indepth  research. Even  the  slightest  deviation  from  the original  is  a
modification, whether it is a change in word order, word count, or other
linguistic alterations.

     When  we  make  the  necessary  modifications  to the strictly literal
translation  of   Heb. 3:1  noted  earlier,  the  resultant  modified-literal
rendering could be something like this, "Therefore, holy brothers and
sisters, partners  in  a  heavenly  calling,  carefully  consider  Jesus,  the
ambassador and high priest of our confession."

     The English speaking world is blessed with several good modified-
literal versions of the scriptures. The ASV-1901 is a very close rendering
of the Hebrew and Greek. In fact it is generally so close that it is quite
difficult to read, but its deviation value from the biblical languages is quite
low. It is an excellent translation for comparative study if a person can
navigate through the archaic Elizabethan English. The RSV, ESV, NASB,
and the NRSV are all modified-literal versions that have a good degree
of accuracy, and each is useful to the careful student of God's word.
This does not mean that all translations of the scriptures are equal, but
most are useful, and their usefulness varies from passage to passage.

Copyright 2011 

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Brief Nontechnical Evaluation of Some English Versions (Part 5)

     The New Revised Standard Version was officially issued
September 30th 1990. The NRSV translating committee consisted
of 30 men and women, each of whom held advanced degrees in
their respective fields. The copyright is held by the National Council
of the Churches of Christ. The translation philosophy underlying
the NRSV is "literal as possible; as free as necessary." In my
judgment this reflects the ideal goal in all Bible translation, albeit
often inconsistently executed. There are times when a modified-
literal rendering of the ancient texts is understandable, and there
are  occasions  when  literal  is  unintelligible. In  such  cases the
translators  should use  current  English  idiom, and some degree
of paraphrase if necessary in order to insure the resulting translation
is intelligible as well as accurate.                                                                 

     The NRSV is a thorough revision of the RSV which was initially
published in 1952. A second edition of the RSV, which was a slight
revision of the N.T. portion was published in 1971. Several factors
provided the impetus that led to the production of the NRSV. (1) The
need to remove the archaic language including the removal of the "thee's"
and "thou's" from the RSV. (2) The need to correct and update some
of the exegetical choices in the text of the RSV based on further use
of the papyri, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and modern scholarly study of
comparative Semitic languages such as Akkadian and Ugaritic. (3)
The need to remove unnecessarily male oriented language when the
text speaks to or about males and females. For generations the words
"man" and the so-called generic "he" were understood to include males
and females in certain contexts, but changes within the English language
to some extent altered this perception.

     The O.T. committee made use of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia
(1977 edition; emandate, 1983) . They did not slavishly follow the
Masoretic Text. When the translators believed the Hebrew text was
"corrupt," they did not hesitate to compare the ancient versions (Greek,
Aramaic, and Latin) and the Dead Sea Scrolls. They also made
"corrections" to the text by following the most probable reconstructions
of the original and relying on the judgment of competent Hebrew scholars.
The N.T. committee based its work on the 3rd edition  of  the United
Bibles Societies Greek Text. The translators had access to the changes
that were introduced into the critical apparatus of the 4th edition of the
Greek N.T., published in 1993.

     There are many textual improvements found in the NRSV. Instead
of a "mist" going up from the earth as in the RSV, the NRSV says "a
stream would rise from the earth." (Gen. 2:6) In Proverbs "sluggard"
is replaced by "lazybones" (Prov. 6:6,9 ) and  "lazy person" (Prov. 19:24;
20:4; 26:14). In Acts 2:38 the NRSV takes the bold step of accurately
translating eis aphesin ton hamartion humon as "so that your sins may
be forgiven," instead of using the generic phrase "for the forgiveness of
your sins."  In Acts 19:9 we read of the "lecture hall" of  Tyrannus instead
of  "school" as in the KJV and ASV.  In 1 Cor. 10:9, the NRSV
follows the reading of  p46, a papyrus fragment dated 200 A.D. Instead
of the traditional "Lord," it says the Israelites in the wilderness put "Christ"
to the test.  In 2 Tim. 4:1 the translators understood the contextual use
of diamarturomai and rendered it "I solemnly urge you" instead of  "I
charge you" as in the RSV. In Gal. 3:24 paidagogos is interpreted as
"disciplinarian" instead of  "schoolmaster" or  "tutor." The NRSV's
brilliance for idiomatic translation is observed in Jno. 1:18. The literal
rendering of  eis ton kolpon tou patros is "in the bosom of the Father."
(KJV, ASV, RSV) The NRSV abandons a literal translation of the
phrase and gives us the beautifully elegant "close to the Father's heart."

     There are places where the NRSV has made textual choices that
are questionable to say the least. In Gen. 1:1 it says, "In the beginnning
when God created." They translate the Hebrew as a dependent clause,
when it appears that it is a general summary statement of the creation.
In Gen. 1:2 it says, "a wind from God swept over the face of the waters"
instead of saying "the Spirit of God was hovering..." Ruach elohim is
used in other places in the O.T. to indicate the "Spirit of God" so why
not in this occurrence? Mat. 5:32 gives "unchastity" as a ground for
divorce. The rendering is too vague. The Greek porneia denotes
sexual immorality. The NRSV correctly translates porneia in
(1 Cor. 5:1 and 2 Cor. 12:21). In Mat. 18:15 it says what to do "if
another member of the church sins against you." The Greek simply
means "if your brother or sister, or a fellow believer sins against you."
(Cf. the TNIV) In 1 Cor. 16:2 the NRSV says believers should
contribute "whatever extra you earn" toward the collection for God's
holy people. The Greek says, "give whatever you prosper in", meaning,
"as you prosper." The NRSV's rendering of the Greek phrase is sure
to lighten many a collection basket on Sunday morning.

     The NRSV is not a perfect translation. Nevertheless, it has many
good qualities and is a very useful text. Perhaps its niche is when
used as a comparative tool for study. Occasionally it goes too far in
order to attain "gender inclusiveness" and in doing so it sometimes
sacrifices accuracy.  There is much to commend the NRSV if a person
uses it with discretion.  How do I rate the NRSV on a scale of 1 to 10?
I give it a rating of 8 for readability and a rating of 7.5 for accuracy.
The accuracy rating  of  7.5 reflects the way the NRSV handles "gender
inclusive"  language. Gender   accuracy   and  gender inclusiveness
are not necessarily the same. If the NRSV were more restrained, and
if it were more felicitous in handling the English language, it would easily
have a 9 for accuracy! It is an excellent translation most of the time.

Copyright 2011


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Tradition and Translation (No.2)

     Correctly translating the original languages of scripture into English
(or any other language), is a very serious work. The language from
which a translation is made is called the source or parent language.
The language into which a  translation is  made  is  called the target
or receptor language in scholarly circles.  Translators are not guided
by the  Holy  Spirit  in  their  endeavor. They  translate  based on their
their understanding of what they see in the original text and their ability
to determine the meaning of the words, idioms, and grammar of the
source or parent text. Their training and theology have some degree
of influence on their work.

     Many translators are also influenced by tradition in their work, as
many readers of translations are affected by tradition in their reading
of the text. Tradition is not necessarily evil unless it forms the basis
for changing what God has revealed, and becomes the purveyor of
religious error. Human tradition is like a wild bull; it is a difficult beast
to break. One reason tradition often plays an integral role in the Bible
translation process is due to the commercial side of the venture. If
changing the wording of the translation is needed for the sake of
accuracy, it is often rejected by publishers because the product is
designed to be sold to the public. The primary goal of the translation
process should be faithfulness to the  source  language  in  so  far  as
such can be accommodated by the target language. Let us briefly
illustrate this point by noting some examples.

     The word baptize that we see in most English translations of the
N.T. is a notable example. Baptize is not a translation of the original
word. It is transferred from the Greek text and brought over into the
English language. The Greek word is baptizo and the last letter "o"
(Omega) is dropped and an "e" is placed at the end. Contrary to
some incomplete Greek lexicons baptizo does not mean to "baptize."
Baptize is a gloss, not a definition. Baptizo is used in ancient Greek
as far back as Hippocrates in the 5th-4th century BC, and Plato in
the 5th-4th century BC, etc. in the sense of put or go under water,
submerge,  immerse,  or  sink.  There  is   also  the   figurative  or
metaphorical  sense  of  soak  or  overwhelm. 

     Why does baptize live on in English translations? First, King
James of England issued the edict that "ecclesiastical words" were
to be retained when he gave instructions to the men who translated
the KJV. The language of the KJV continues to influence English
speaking people even when accuracy demands change. Second,
baptize is defined in English dictionaries as "to dip (a person) into
or sprinkle with, water as a symbol of admission into Christianity
or   a   specific  Christian   church."  (Webster's  New  World 
Dictionary, Second  College  Edition, page  111)  This  is  an
inaccurate  ecumenical  definition  that  allows  enough  room for
those  who  practice  the  errors  of  sprinkling  and pouring to
claim  that  their  practice  has  biblical  precedent.  The  word  
baptizo never has those meanings in the N.T. 

     The  phrase "the Holy Ghost" in the KJV is another symbol
of  tradition's ability to hang on like an eagle with a fish in its talons.
In Greek, the  phrase  is  tou hagiou pneumatos  as  in  Mat. 28:19
and  2 Cor. 13:14. The  correct  reading  is  "the Holy Spirit." Yet,
many people, including preachers, continue to speak of the Holy
Spirit as the Holy Ghost. Why? It is sometimes because of  tradition
or the mystical "feeling" in charismatic circles that accompanies the
mention of  "the Holy Ghost." The Holy Spirit is not a "ghost," he
is a person in the Godhead.

     Church is another word that needs to be discussed. It is another
one of the ecclesiastical words that King James said is to be retained
in the translation he authorized. Most people think of a "church" as
either a physical building where people meet, or they believe it means
a denomination.The fact is, the Greek word from which "church" is
translated is ekklesia, and in the N.T, it means a congregation, group,
or assembly. In the spiritual sense it refers to the Lord's people whether
assembled (1 Cor. 11:18), living in a region (Acts 9:31), or the entire
body of Christ (Mat. 16:18). It never refers to a denomination in the

     In the O.T. we often see the words "LORD" or "GOD" spelled
with all capital letters. This is the way that translators of the Hebrew
scriptures alert the readers to the fact that the tetragrammaton
(the four consonants YHWH) are used in those places. YHWH
represents the personal name of God. (Ex. 3:14; Isa. 42:8; Jer. 33:2)
YHWH is found in more than 6000 places. The ASV uses the word
"Jehovah." First, the use of "LORD" and  "GOD" is confusing to many
people as they are not aware those words are used to represent the
name  of  God.  Second,  neither  "LORD,"  "GOD," or "Jehovah"
accurately reflects what the Hebrew text says. I am aware that due
to ancient Jewish superstition, many believe the exact pronunciation
was lost. There are better ways to represent what is in the Hebrew
text instead of using artificial expedients. Some  English  versions
have  made steps forward in breaking with tradition as to how the
tetragrammaton is translated. The Jerusalem Bible and the Holman
Christian Standard Bible choose to represent the tetragrammaton
with Yahweh in many places.

     When  necessary, why  can  we  not  break  away  from human
tradition and accurately convey God's word in current understandable
English? It can be done.

Copyright 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Brief Nontechnical Evaluation of Some English Versions (Part 4)

     Holman Christian Standard Bible. The HCSB is published by
Holman Bible Publishers, an agency of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Holman Bible Publishers holds the HCSB copyright. The complete
Bible was published in 2003 and an updated text was issued in 2009.

     The text used to translate the O.T. was the 5th edition of Biblia
Hebraica Stuttgartensia. The N. T. was translated using the 27th edition
of the Nestle-Aland Greek text. Both Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia
and Nestle-Aland are critical texts. The HCSB seeks to follow what is
called the Optimal Equivalence method of translation. Optimal equivalence
lies between formal equivalence (modified literal) and Dynamic equivalence
(idiomatic) in translation philosophy. The HCSB is like the NIV in that it
is not a revision of any previous translation. It is translated directly from the
Hebrew and Greek texts, and is slightly more literal than the NIV, but not
as literal as the NASB. It sits between the two and it reads more like the

     We find some very accurate and "warm" translation choices in the
HCSB. Instead of a "mist" rising in Gen. 2:6, the HCSB says, "water
would come out of the ground." Instead of  "strange fire" Nadab and
Abihu "presented unauthorized fire before the LORD." (Lev. 10:1-2)
"Sexual immorality" not "fornication" becomes the ground of divorce.
(Mat. 5:32; 19:9) Instead of the traditional "God so loved the world,"
the HCSB recognizes that the Greek word houtos is an adverb
expressing manner. It says, "For God loved the world in this way."
(Jno. 3:16) In Phil. 2:6 it says Jesus was "existing in the form of God,"
which recognizes that the Greek word huparchon is a present active
participle. (Cf. ASV and NIV)

     There are also places where the HCSB missed the mark in translation.
Yahweh, God's personal name, is used quite a few times in the HCSB
(Ex. 3:15, 16; 6:2,3,6,7; Isa. 30:27; 40:28; 42:8, etc.). Consistency
would seem to demand that Yahweh be used wherever the tetragammaton
is found. Like the ESV and NIV, the HCSB fails to accurately translate
the plural noun adelphoi as "brothers and sisters" in such texts as
1 Cor. 1:10 when a congregation is being addressed. It does not have a
footnote explaining that the Greek word denotes brothers and sisters;
siblings in a family. The ESV has the relevant footnote. The HCSB is
also quite loose in its use of the word "Christian." It uses the word no
less than 7 times, even though it is found only 3 times in the Greek N.T.

     On the whole, the HCSB is an accurate and readable version of
the sacred scriptures. It is a very useful translation for study and would
make a good text for comparative Bible research. It is not perfect.
Neither is the Septuagint, yet the Lord, his apostles, and early
believers did not hesitate to use it.

     How do I rate the HCSB on a scale of 1 to 10? I give it a 9 for
readability and an 8.5 for overall accuracy (that is, in line with its
intended purpose and translation philosophy).

     All English translations have various types of problems. Translators
are human beings who are not guided by the Holy Spirit in the work of
translating the text. No matter how broad and detailed their knowledge
of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek is, they do make mistakes. A person's
choice of translation will depend  on which set of problems he is willing
to live with, and the use he intends to make of the translation.  Some are
looking for a good reading Bible. Others seek a modified-literal text for
close study. Others try to use a translation that is balanced in its translation

     All of the translations I have evaluated in this series of posts teach
the existence of God the Father (Jno. 4:24); Jesus (Jno. 1:1,14); and
the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9-11). They teach God created the heavens
and the earth (Gen. 1:1; Heb. 11:3); the reality of heaven and hell.
(Matt. 25:41, 46; 1 Pet. 1:4); the need for a person to believe that
Jesus is God's Son (Jno. 3:16; 8:24); to change his heart and life with
respect to sin (Acts 3:19; 17:30); to confess the Lord (Mat. 10:32;
Rom.10:10); and to be immersed in order to have sins forgiven.
(Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21) They all teach a person the need to observe
the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11);
to pray  (Acts 2:42;1 Thess. 5:17); to give as prospered (1 Cor. 16:2);
to sing (Eph. 5:19; Heb. 2:12); and to teach God's word. (2 Tim. 2:2;
1 Cor. 14:19) All of them teach the necessity of spiritual growth and
righteous living. (1 Cor.6:9-11; Eph. 5:1-14; Col. 3:5-11) A person
can be saved by diligently studying and living in harmony with God's
word in any of them.

     It is my prayer that the brief  nontechnical evaluation of a few English
translations has been useful to you. The results are my findings and I have
tried  to be impartial.  I  tried  to  let  the  facts  speak  for  themselves.
I recognize that it is not popular or politically correct in some circles to
give high marks to translations that do not read like the KJV. The KJV
is not the standard for measuring the accuracy of any translation of the
scriptures. The original text, the scriptures themselves, are the standard
and we cannot allow the allegedly bad things we have heard about a
particular translation blind us to the truth. Let  the  facts speak  and let
us  follow  the trail  of evidence wherever it leads.

Copyright 2011

A Brief Nontechnical Evaluation of Some English Versions (Part 3)

     New   International   Version   (NIV)   and   Today's   New 
International Version (TNIV) are  both  published  by  Zondervan
of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The  Copyright  to  the NIV is owned by
Biblica, Inc. The NIV  N.T. was  first  published  in  1973  with  the
complete NIV Bible including some revisions made in 1978 and 1984.
The TNIV N.T. was published in 2001 and the complete Bible in 2005.
The Old Testament of both was translated using the Biblia Hebraica,
and the New Testament was primarily translated from the Nestle-Aland
Critical Greek text. The  TNIV  is  a  limited  revision  of  the 1984
NIV text. The TNIV will no longer be published primarily due to
objections that were raised over its use of gender inclusive language.

     Both the NIV and the TNIV excel in the area of readability. They
use a range of vocabulary that is within the grasp of the "average"
person. Both are based on the translation theory known as "dynamic-
equivalence" (or functional-equivalence). This means the translators
look at the original text and ask,"How do we say this in English?"
The emphasis of "dynamic-equivalence" is not a word for word
approach to translation, but it is an attempt to make the same
impression on the modern reader that the text had on the original
readers. Dynamic equivalence is not the same as paraphrase.

     Both translations have a good overall accuracy rating. In Gen.
2:6, the KJV says "But there went up a mist from the earth and
watered the whole face of the ground." The word "mist" is from
the Hebrew word ad. Modern Hebrew lexicography recognizes
that ad  does not mean "mist." It means "spring" or "stream."
According to The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old
Testament, vol. 1, page 11, ad describes "the subterranean
stream of fresh water..."  Both the NIV and TNIV say, "streams
came up from the earth." The KJV reads "slothful servant" in
Mat. 25:26. The NIV and TNIV say, "lazy servant." This
modernizes the speech and it is accurate. In Mk. 6:19 the KJV
says Herodias "had a quarrel against him," but the NIV and TNIV
say, "nursed a grudge." It is an undeniable fact that both translations
make many passages clear. The NIV-TNIV renderings in many
passages are among the very best. (Cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Phil. 2:6-11;
Heb. 1:1-4, etc.) In Heb. 6:6 the NIV reads, "if they fall away."
The TNIV corrects this and lines up with what the Greek text says,
"and who have fallen away." The TNIV makes such improvements
quite frequently.

     Neither the NIV nor the TNIV is perfect. They, like all others,
have areas that need improvement. The NIV frequently rendered 
the Greek word sarx by "sinful nature." It is obvious that Paul
often uses sarx in a figurative way, but to render it as "sinful nature"
may not be the best translation option. To its credit, at least the
NIV does not say, "inherited sinful nature." In Psa. 51:5 the NIV
and TNIV say, "Surely I was sinful at birth." That is simply not
what David wrote.

     The TNIV seeks to employ "gender accurate language." The
traditional generic "man" becomes "person" or something similar.
This is a needed change as "man" is too gender specific in passages
addressing people or  human beings in general and not males
apart from females. The KJV says in Acts 17:30, "now God
commandeth all men every where to repent." The NIV says that
"God commands all people everywhere to repent." The TNIV
reads the same way. Both the NIV and the TNIV are more
accurate than the KJV in that text because the dative masculine
plural Greek word anthropois means people or human beings
in Acts 17:30.  The NIV uses the word "brothers" to translate
the plural Greek noun adelphoi. The TNIV more often reads
"brothers and sisters." The TNIV is generally more accurate in
such places. When a local congregation is addressed adelphoi 
means just that; "brothers and sisters." 

      Neither translation is designed for use as a Bible for
detailed word studies and indepth analysis as their deviation
value from the  "word for word" or "formal equivalence" method
of translation is greater than a more formal equivalence version
such as the ASV, RSV, ESV, or the NASB. But, both versions
have their place and are quite useful to the person who wants a
bible to read for extended periods in the early morning hours
and late at night.  

     How do I rate the NIV and TNIV on a scale of 1 to 10? I
give the NIV a 9 for readability and a 7 for accuracy (that is,
in line with its intended purpose and method of translating). I give
the TNIV a 9 for readability and 8 for accuracy (that is, in line
with it's intended purpose and method of translating).

Copyright 2011


Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Brief Nontechnical Evaluation of Some English Versions (Part 2)

     Revised Standard Version-1952,1971. The RSV is a revision
of the ASV. The translation committee sought to update the ASV
while maintaining the qualities that made the KJV a treasure of English
literature. Upon its release the RSV met a firestorm of controversy.
Some hailed it as the best translation of the day, others said it was a
"communist Bible," and other people said it was a Bible for modernists.

     The fact is, on the whole the RSV is not nearly as bad a translation
as was alleged by its critics. Some of the criticisms that were leveled
against it were based on the fact that it differed from the KJV. Instead
of   referring   to   Jesus   as    the   "only  begotten"  Son ,  the  RSV
says "only Son." (Jno. 1:14; 3:16, 18; 1 Jno. 4:9) The detractors
claimed the translation "only Son" was an effort of the RSV to deny
the virgin birth because as they say, the word "begotten" is left out.
The   charge   is   not  true. It  was  an  effort  to  be  accurate.  The
translators understood the Greek adjective monogenes does not
mean "only begotten." It is used in Greek literature to describe that
which  is  the  sole  or  only  one  of  its kind, one and only, unique.
Monogenes does not describe the virgin birth of our Lord, but his
unique  relationship  to  the  Father  and his role in the  scheme of
human redemption. He is the only one of his kind. He has no equal
as  incarnate Son (Jno. 1:14);  as one who explains  the  Father to
humanity (Jno. 1:18) ;  as   one   in   whom   we   should  believe
(Jno. 3:16); as the true light bearer for the world (Jno. 3:18-21);
and as one who is the perfect manifestation of the Father's love.
(1 Jon. 4:9-10). 

     The  harshest  criticism of the RSV resulted from the fact that it
used the phrase "young woman" instead of "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14.
The use of "young woman" is not an effort to deny the virgin birth
of our Lord. It is an effort to be accurate in translation. The Hebrew
word almah means damsel, maiden, or young woman. (Cf. My article
on Almah     on      my      Biblical      Languages      Research   
Blog.  The  phrase
"young woman" does not exclude virginity, it simply does not emphasize
it as much as it does the quality of youthfulness, and that the person is
ready for marriage; of marriageable age. The RSV teaches that Jesus
was conceived in and born of a virgin. (Mat. 1:23; Lk. 1:27)

      The RSV is a marked improvement over both the KJV and the
ASV in the area of readability. It does not maintain much of the archaic
language that characterizes the KJV, nor does it strive for the slavishly
literal approach of the ASV. It's English is cast in a relatively  modern
idiom. It sits nicely between the severely literal approach  and the "free"
paraphrase method of Bible translation. It is literal enough to be useful
for study purposes, yet idiomatic enough to be read and memorized.

     The RSV translators were able to make use of the Dead Sea Scrolls
for the O.T. text and many of the Papyri for the New Testament text.
The following examples illustrate the overall accuracy of the RSV: instead
of saying that Paul was "opening and alleging that it behooved the Christ
to suffer" as the ASV says, the RSV says Paul was "explaining and
proving." The Greek phrase reads, "dianoigon kai paratithemenos,"
literally, "explaining and demonstrating/proving."  In Gal. 3:24 the ASV
uses the word "tutor" to translate paidagogos. The RSV says "guardian"
which is correct.

   The RSV is not perfect. In Rom. 11:20 it says, "but you stand fast only
through faith." The word "only" is an unjustified and unnecessary addition
to the text. The Greek text says, "su de te pistei hestekas," literally, "but
you stand by faith."  The RSV incorrectly reinstates the phrase "if they
then commit apostacy" in Heb. 6:6. The ASV correctly reads "and then
fell away." The RSV is a good study Bible and by today's standards, it is
a "conservative" revision of the ASV. One of the problems with the RSV
is, it retains the archaic pronouns in some places. It is unnecessary to do
so. There is nothing sacred about the old English forms. The RSV also
tends to leave the impression in some passages that it devaluates the
deity of  Christ. (Cf. Acts 20:28)

     How  do I rate the RSV on  a  scale  of  1 to 10?  I  give it a 7 for
readability and a 7 for overall accuracy.

Copyright 2011

A Brief Nontechnical Evaluation of Some English Versions (Part 1)

     English speaking people are blessed with a variety of versions
of the sacred scriptures that are designed to fulfill various needs.
I shall evaluate some of the versions by discussing some of their
strengths and weaknesses, and I will mention some of the qualities
that I like and dislike about them. For a more detailed analysis of
a few prominent versions see my book, A Perspective on Bible
Translations,  published   in   2010   by  Erhardt  Publications,
Louisville, Ky.

     American Standard Version-1901. Among the older versions,
the ASV is the crown jewel. It was the last of the truly modified-
literal versions before a more "dynamic" translation theory came to
the forefront. The ASV is the American edition of the Revised
Version which was in turn a revision of the KJV. The ASV N.T.
was basically, though not entirely, translated from what is known
as the Westcott-Hort Greek text. The translators had access to
many more manuscripts than the KJV translators had during their
lifetime. Westcott-Hort and the revisers gave more weight to
the older Greek manuscripts. Serious scholars do not count
manuscripts, they evaluate them.

     The intent of the translators was not merely to revise the KJV,
but to bring over as much from the ancient Hebrew and Greek as 
the English language can accommodate. Therefore, they attempted
near word for word transfer. The ASV rarely deviates from the
Masoretic text of the O.T., and it is slavishly true to the Greek
text that formed its foundation. The precision with which the revisers
generally did their work is remarkable! The ASV is so close to the
Hebrew and Greek texts that Charles Spurgeon once said "It is
good Greek and poor English," by which he meant that it gives more
attention to Hebrew and Greek usage than it does to being idiomatic
English. The ASV is not easy reading, especially for the person who
has no background in very old, archaic, stilted, Elizabethan English.

     The ASV is a good study Bible to this day because it is so close
to the original texts. It can be referred to as a concordant version,
meaning the translators tried to render the same Hebrew and Greek
word by using the same English word in all places. This makes it great
for word study, but it can be misleading because word meaning is
determined to a  large degree by how words are used in their contexts.

     Consider a few  examples  to  illustrate  the  accuracy level of
the ASV. In Mat. 28:19 the KJV says that the apostles were to
go and "teach all nations, baptizing them in the name..." The ASV
says they were to go "and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them into the name..." (Cf. Acts 8:16; 19:3,5; 1 Cor.
1:13,15) The KJV reads "such as should be saved" for the Greek
phrase tous sozomenous in Acts 2:47. The ASV reads, "those that
were saved." The Greek literally says, "to the ones being saved." The
ASV footnote indicates this fact. The KJV reads "if they shall fall
away" for the Greek words kai parapesontas in Heb. 6:6. The ASV
says, "and then fell away." The Greek literally says, "and having fallen
away." Instances like these could be multiplied many times over. The
pedantic accuracy of the ASV is legendary. The ASV is not perfect.
The translators missed the distributive use of the preposition kata in the
phrase kata mian sabbatou in 1 Cor. 16:2. The ASV says, "Upon the
first day of the week."  The Greek says "Every first (day) of a week" =
"the first day of every week." In Mat. 28:1 the ASV says the women 
visited the sepulchre "late on the Sabbath." The Greek says "after the
Sabbath." (Opse de sabbaton)

     The ASV is a good Bible for comparative study. It is highly reliable
and continues to be a point of reference in many technical commentaries
of the Hebrew and Greek texts. Its major weaknesses are the archaic
language it uses and it is so literal that it is hard for the average person
to read it. It frequently retains the word order of the original languages.
It is translation English, not the spoken English of this day or any other.

     How do I rate the ASV  on a scale of 1 to 10. I give it a 4 or 5
for readability. I give it an 8 for its modified literal accuracy. If the
translators had been able to access the Dead Sea Scrolls and other
documents for O. T. study discovered since their day, some of their
textual choices would likely be more accurate. If such were the case,
the ASV would possibly be close to a 9  with regard to its modified
literal accuracy.

Copyright 2011