Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Short Rant on versions of the Bible

I have always used The New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Version. I prefer this Bible over all others that I’ve read. While the King James Bible is beautifully written the translation is so dated and poor I find it only usefully except within it’s own historical context. While other Bibles like the New Standard Version International Bible that they supply in my meetinghouse just makes me mad and frustrated. There are no footnotes, no notes about how or why the translators translated a word or verse the way they did, no alternatives in Greek or Arabic, so I can see the translating choices that were made. Plus all of the sections in these Bibles have captions before each chapter, things like Jesus Heals a Leper, or On Marriage, or Jesus tells about the end-times captions like these annoy me because they distract me from my reading of the actual Bible. The captions also make me feel as if I’m reading Cliff-Notes version of the Bible, and I feel as if I am being told what exactly I should be getting out of each section of the Bible. As if the translators feel like they have to tell me the punch line to everyone of Jesus’ messages, and it also bothers me because some times what I think is the most important part of a Bible passage is not what is commonly thought to be the important part. I hate having how I should pray and what I should think about God dictated to me in any way, from a minister or other wise, and particularly don’t like it coming from the version of the Bible I read. In summery I like The New Oxford Annotated Bible because it allows me, as a scholar, to make my own decisions about how I will read the Bible and how I will fully and scholarly study each passage and their meanings.

5 comments:

Marshall Massey (Iowa YM [C]) said...

Hi, Anna!

If I may suggest a test: Look up I Kings 19:12 in the Authorised ("King James") Version. Note the language (historically an important touchstone for Quakerism). Now compare the Bible you're using.

The AV/KJV's translation is a literal rendering of the original Hebrew. Your version "corrects" it to what its authors imagine is more believable. It makes this "correction" even though, by doing so, it contradicts many people's own experience and greatly changes the meaning of the phrase that follows (v 13a, "When Elijah heard it").

There are other changes like that. For example, look up Nahum 1:1, Habakkuk 1:1, Zechariah 9:1, and/or Malachi 1:1 in the AV/KJV. Note that the message given to the prophet is spoken of in each case as a "burden". Again, this is a key element in Quaker understanding, and ties in with Friends' own experience of what it feels like when the Guide makes a difficult demand of us. It relates to some of our own familiar turns of phrase -- being "under a concern", for example. It also connects to a very traditional turn of phrase in ordinary English speech -- saying "the burden of this text" or "the burden of his statement to the judge" as a short way of saying "the difficult message that this text (or his statement to the judge) labors to convey". It has a secondary connection with ordinary turns of speech like talking about "the burden of proof". And it just happens to be a literal translation of the original Hebrew.

But now look up the same passages in your own Bible. The authors of your Bible "corrected" it according to what they themselves thought was more believable. Did they improve it, do you suppose?

One can find changes like this throughout most modern translations -- the New King James Version being a noteworthy exception. The effect is to make it harder for people to rediscover the Biblical roots of traditional Quaker practice and experience.

In my humble opinion, if you want to check the difficulties of translation that the authors of different versions struggled with, you might as well forget all the one-volume works like the New Oxford Annotated NRSV, which are too terse to reveal the blinkers of their authors' own agendas, and go straight to the Anchor Bible series. Consider also using Strong's Concordance, preferably in conjunction with Vine Unger & White's An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words and Balz & Schneider's Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament.

oakleyses said...

coach purses, louis vuitton, louis vuitton outlet, ray ban sunglasses, michael kors outlet, coach outlet, michael kors outlet, oakley sunglasses cheap, kate spade outlet, prada handbags, oakley sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, tiffany and co, chanel handbags, oakley sunglasses, louboutin, burberry outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet, tiffany and co, burberry outlet, nike free, coach outlet store online, gucci outlet, louis vuitton handbags, longchamp outlet, louis vuitton outlet stores, michael kors outlet, air max, polo ralph lauren outlet, louboutin outlet, true religion jeans, true religion jeans, kate spade handbags, longchamp handbags, tory burch outlet, jordan shoes, louis vuitton outlet, christian louboutin shoes, nike shoes, michael kors outlet, air max, coach factory outlet, prada outlet, longchamp handbags, louboutin

oakleyses said...

ray ban sunglasses, polo ralph lauren, sac louis vuitton, sac hermes, mulberry, north face, air force, nike tn, ray ban pas cher, vans pas cher, hollister, abercrombie and fitch, michael kors pas cher, nike roshe, nike air max, sac burberry, sac longchamp, hollister, nike blazer, nike trainers, hogan outlet, polo lacoste, louboutin, new balance pas cher, air jordan, converse pas cher, nike roshe run, louis vuitton uk, north face, michael kors, nike free pas cher, barbour, longchamp, nike free, sac louis vuitton, vanessa bruno, michael kors, sac guess, timberland, air max pas cher, true religion outlet, true religion outlet, louis vuitton, air max, oakley pas cher, ralph lauren, lululemon, air max

oakleyses said...

jimmy choo outlet, ugg boots, new balance shoes, birkin bag, vans shoes, soccer jerseys, canada goose, north face jackets, chi flat iron, mcm handbags, canada goose uk, insanity workout, ugg pas cher, asics running shoes, instyler, nike huarache, p90x, giuseppe zanotti, bottega veneta, valentino shoes, nike roshe run, ferragamo shoes, canada goose, moncler, abercrombie and fitch, herve leger, hollister, nfl jerseys, soccer shoes, longchamp, mont blanc, mac cosmetics, ugg australia, lululemon outlet, ugg, babyliss pro, rolex watches, canada goose outlet, marc jacobs, north face outlet, celine handbags, ugg boots, ghd, reebok outlet, wedding dresses, beats by dre, canada goose, uggs outlet, canada goose jackets

oakleyses said...

coach purses, louis vuitton, louis vuitton outlet, ray ban sunglasses, michael kors outlet, coach outlet, michael kors outlet, oakley sunglasses cheap, kate spade outlet, prada handbags, oakley sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, tiffany and co, chanel handbags, oakley sunglasses, louboutin, burberry outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet, tiffany and co, burberry outlet, nike free, coach outlet store online, gucci outlet, louis vuitton handbags, longchamp outlet, louis vuitton outlet stores, michael kors outlet, air max, polo ralph lauren outlet, louboutin outlet, true religion jeans, true religion jeans, kate spade handbags, longchamp handbags, tory burch outlet, jordan shoes, louis vuitton outlet, christian louboutin shoes, nike shoes, michael kors outlet, air max, coach factory outlet, prada outlet, longchamp handbags, louboutin