My last attempt to see how people understand the accuracy of their Bible translations didn’t work. I got a lot of responses, but not one answer to the basic question.
So I’m trying again, with a poll:
Please feel free to comment after you’ve answered the poll.
I’ve just returned from a three-day festival of learning in Kerhonkson, NY, where I spoke about, among other things, Bible translation.
Right at the end I was asked a great question, which I repeating here: What percentage of your Bible translation is accurate?
We all know that there is no Bible translation that’s 100% accurate. So:
1. Which Bible translation do you prefer?
2. How much of it do you think is accurate?
I’m looking forward to reading your responses.
Bible Gateway is one of the top destinations for different translations of the Bible. It has also announced that the widely-anticipated updated NIV translation (the so-called “2011” edition) will first be available on its website. So its new Perspectives in Translation blog, a joint project with The Gospel Coalition, is sure to receive attention.
I’ll have more to say about the content soon. For now, take a look.
Still following up on my question about accuracy and choosing Bible translations, and by way of answering my question about whether it’s okay if people choose what the Bible is, it occurs to me that music might be a useful comparison.
Many, many parts of the Bible have been set to music, and the options for any single passage usually range considerably. So people get to choose, for example, if they want Isaiah to be majestic or meditative, or if they want the Lord’s Prayer to be glorious, powerful, or pensive.
And most people — myself included — don’t see any problem with this. We should be able to choose how we want our religious music to sound.
But most people also agree — and again, I’m one of them — that we don’t get to choose what our religious texts mean, or, at least, that the options are more constrained.
So it seems to me that another way of looking of the question of choosing a Bible translation is this: Should a Bible translation be more like a melody (where everything is fair game), or more like a mirror (where accuracy is paramount)?
One interesting (though entirely predictable) result was that some people prefer more than one translation: the NLT for “readability,” for example, but the NET for “accuracy,” or the NASB for use in formal settings.
Even people who only have one preferred translation usually like the translation for similar kinds of reasons.
The upshot of this, though, is that people are deciding for themselves what the Bible is.
You can decide to have a formal Bible, a chatty Bible, an accessible Bible, or an esoteric Bible. You can opt for a Christian OT or a Jewish OT (even though it’s the same text).
Do you think this is okay? Do you think it’s okay that people get to choose what the Bible is (for them)?
“I like my Bible translation because it…” How would you complete that sentence?
I hear this sort of thing all the time — in comments on this blog, in discussions on similar blogs, via e-mail, in books, and from people who attend my lectures — and there are lots of reasons people like a particular translation.
But I’m surprised that the sentence almost never ends “…because it is accurate.”
Rather, I hear that people like a translation because it’s familiar, formal, chatty, accessible, entertaining, modern, gender-neutral, inclusive, etc.
I’ll post some more thoughts on this soon.
For now: Which translation do you prefer? And why?