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Bible Translations, Profits and Politics
The Sacred Page ^ | 9/30/2010

Posted on 10/07/2010 8:20:07 AM PDT by marshmallow

Why are there so many English Bible translations? What politics and profit-motives are driving the Bible-publishing market? Here's an interesting piece from Christianity Today which discusses these issues in relation to a brand new translation making its way to bookstores soon, Common English Bible (CEB):

With the Common English Bible (CEB) officially entering a crowded translation market tomorrow, five mainline publishing houses producing the new version hope initial New Testament sales are a harbinger of the reception of the finished product.

After giving away 20,000 copies this summer, total distribution to sales channels is expected to surpass 100,000 this fall. Paul Franklyn, associate publisher for the CEB and the United Methodist Church's Abingdon House, calls the Bible's readability—forged through widespread use of translation team reading groups—a primary distinctive.

"We brought extensive field testing to bear on the process before it went to editors," Franklyn said. "That's starting to pay off."

The question is whether the public is ready for another translation when no one seems sure how many exist. The American Bible Society says there are 32 translations on the North American market, while Christian Book Distributors offers over 50.

BibleGateway.com offers 23 English versions. In his research for a book on translations, Phoenix Seminary professor Paul Wegner identified nearly 100 English versions by 1950. He estimates there are twice as many now, although only a handful controls a dominant share of the market.

"We've probably reached the saturation point," Wegner said. "It may be doing more damage than good. It's gotten to the point that people are making money." In other words, profit may be prompting more translations than readability concerns demand.

Read the rest here: Good News Glut.


TOPICS: Religion & Culture; Theology
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 10/07/2010 8:20:09 AM PDT by marshmallow
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To: marshmallow

“Why are there so many English Bible translations?”

Because language evolves.


2 posted on 10/07/2010 8:24:36 AM PDT by Grunthor (Tax cuts for the poor! If the poor can keep more money they may start hiring again!)
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To: marshmallow

Respectfully, I’ll stay with the Douay-Rheims.


3 posted on 10/07/2010 8:24:46 AM PDT by sayuncledave (A cruce salus)
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To: marshmallow

Many of these new translations have been driven by gender issues (reluctance to use the word “he,” for example) and political correctness. The last translation I know that was truly an attempt to translate more correctly was the RSV.

My own preference is the RSV or the AV (King James Version). The latest Catholic and Protestant translations are ALL inferior, IMHO. One motivation is political correctness. Another is, as this article suggests, profit. The Catholic Bishops get a cut of the pie when they force the NAB on us. And various Protestant groups have been guilty of similar motivations.


4 posted on 10/07/2010 8:27:47 AM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius.)
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To: sayuncledave

Agreed. The Catholic bible is the only non-corrupted biblical text.


5 posted on 10/07/2010 8:27:51 AM PDT by utherdoul
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To: marshmallow
Lots of comments posted on this story posted here
6 posted on 10/07/2010 8:33:55 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: utherdoul

I’d be interested in how you arrive at that conclusion. Can you explain your reasoning?


7 posted on 10/07/2010 8:37:07 AM PDT by D_Idaho ("For we wrestle not against flesh and blood...")
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To: Cicero

I’ll stick with the KJV. Not only do I believe it is correct, but I don’t have to worry about copyrights.


8 posted on 10/07/2010 8:39:53 AM PDT by Blogger
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To: marshmallow

Just picked up my copy of SpongeBob Biblepants, the BBV (Bikini Bottom Version). It has a yellow sponge cover. Spongebob characters introduce each book: Plankton for Philemon, Pearl for Jonah, etc. The words of Christ are printed in yellow. Vanderzon Publishing is really going after the Spongebob Collectibles market.


9 posted on 10/07/2010 8:42:44 AM PDT by far sider
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To: Grunthor
Because language evolves.

Yes, it's almost impossible for a modern speaker of English to comprehend the language that a translator of the NIV spoke back in 1978.

: )

But seriously, there seems to be a new one every year.

Some of which are really poor and ill-advised to boot.

10 posted on 10/07/2010 8:43:21 AM PDT by wideawake
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To: Blogger

Yes, I usually quote from the King James Version. It’s the classic version in English, which almost all English speaking writers used.

And I have concluded that the talk about mistranslations was mostly in aid of the newer versions. For instance, as I recall being told, a famous “mistranslation” was a phrase in the KJV Song of Solomon, “the daughters of the vine jumped over the wall.” It was retranslated in the RSV as something like “the shoots of the vine climbed over the wall.” I remember being told about that mistranslation maybe 50 years ago.

But it later occurred to me, what’s the matter with “the daughters of the vine”? Most likely that was what the original Hebrew said, and all it needs is a footnote explaining that “daughters” is a kind of metaphor or common usage meaning branches or shoots. In fact, I suspect it’s more accurate, once you understand what is meant by it.


11 posted on 10/07/2010 9:10:31 AM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius.)
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To: marshmallow

I will be a KJV man for life. It’s the only one I trust.


12 posted on 10/07/2010 9:16:47 AM PDT by ColdSteelTalon (Light is fading to shadow, and casting its shroud over all we have known...)
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To: utherdoul; Amityschild; Brad's Gramma; Captain Beyond; Cvengr; DvdMom; firebrand; ...
The [Roman] Catholic bible
is the only
non-corrupted
biblical text.

WHAT UNMITIGATED NONSENSE!
.
.
.
I thought all educated folks of every flavor and denomination knew that only the original autographs were flawless.
.
Sheesh.
Sigh.

13 posted on 10/07/2010 9:26:11 AM PDT by Quix (Times are a changin' INSURE you have believed in your heart & confessed Jesus as Lord Come NtheFlesh)
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To: ColdSteelTalon

Aye.


14 posted on 10/07/2010 9:40:55 AM PDT by El Cid (Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house...)
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To: marshmallow

I think the NIV for a thought-for-thought translation and the NASB for a word-for-word translation are the best for most people.


15 posted on 10/07/2010 9:55:58 AM PDT by SeaHawkFan
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To: wideawake

Every year? Probably hyperbole, but amusing. I use the NIV myself because as I stated, language evolves. I have tried reading the KJV and I can literally feel my eyes glazing over. We don’t speak that way, no one thinks using that form of english and it really is less than helpful when trying to teach new believers about the Word of God.

There are those that love the KJV (my mother for example) and good for them for being able to understand the literary gymnastics that version performs. I imagine that the main translation in use prior to the KJV had many adherents as well.

What I would love to have is a version of the Bible; OT and NT translated directly from the Hebrew to modern english.


16 posted on 10/07/2010 10:11:33 AM PDT by Grunthor (Tax cuts for the poor! If the poor can keep more money they may start hiring again!)
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To: Grunthor
What I would love to have is a version of the Bible; OT and NT translated directly from the Hebrew to modern english.

There is, of course, no known Hebrew NT (except for the modern translations from the Greek into Israeli Hebrew, which is really a different language).

The OT portions of both the NIV and the NASB are direct translations from Hebrew, insofar as they were both translated freshly from the original languages rather than being revised from earlier translations.

As a reader of Biblical Hebrew and Greek I can tell you there is nothing like a knowledge of the original to deepen your understanding.

One good NT translation is Richmond Lattimore's, in terms of following the Greek closely.

A translation of the Hebrew OT as direct as Lattimore's of the NT would be almost unintelligible in modern English.

17 posted on 10/07/2010 10:35:47 AM PDT by wideawake
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To: marshmallow

I´ve got a KJV, two Torahs and a Tanach which cite various translations, the KJV among them, and a Quran for the same reason that Jefferson did: ´Know your enemy´...that idiot Keith Ellison notwithstanding.


18 posted on 10/07/2010 1:01:07 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: wideawake
Israeli Hebrew, which is really a different language).

I don't think so. I studied Hebrew for 10 years and, once I'd had a couple of years, started taking actual courses in Hebrew. They were taught in modern Hebrew, but the school offered Bible (and rabbinic writing) course, several of which I took. The school (granted, a tiny one) offered no courses in Biblical Hebrew (or rabbinic Hebrew either). The difference between Biblical Hebrew and modern Hebrew is nothing like as great as the difference between Old English, or even Middle English, and present-day English; it's more comparable to the difference between Shakespearean English (known as "modern English" to linguists when I was in school) and present-day English.

I was going to post that I never heard of a translation of the OT into modern Hebrew, but googling reveals that a Baptist publisher in Israel is bringing one out. There's still no Jewish one, though.

One good NT translation is Richmond Lattimore's,

Is that the guy who used to teach ancient Greek as a spoken language at MIT?

19 posted on 10/07/2010 1:45:26 PM PDT by maryz
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To: maryz; Grunthor
The difference between Biblical Hebrew and modern Hebrew is nothing like as great as the difference between Old English

Well, not quite as great.

The differences between Israeli Hebrew and Biblical Hebrew are: (1) tons of loanwords from European languages, (2) a pretty much complete abandonment of the Biblical Hebrew tense system and replacement with a modified tense system related to those of European languages and (3) a replacement of Biblical Hebrew's paratactic sentence structure with far more relative clauses and a completely different word order, basically the same sentence structure as English.

The two Hebrews sound much more alike than the two Englishes because most secular Hebrew speakers pronounce Biblical Hebrew and Modern Hebrew in the same way.

The Englishes sound radically different, because the correct ancient pronounciation has been meticulously reconstructed and pronouncing Old English like Modern English is never done.

Is that the guy who used to teach ancient Greek as a spoken language at MIT?

He was not one of the founders of the program, but it would not surprise me if he were one of the visiting professors.

20 posted on 10/07/2010 2:02:08 PM PDT by wideawake
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To: Cicero

I suggest both the NASB & ESV are as much or more concerned with accuracy than the RSV. The KJV was specifically translated to support a hierarchical church structure.


21 posted on 10/07/2010 2:07:11 PM PDT by Mr Rogers (When the ass brays, don't reply...)
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To: utherdoul

“The Catholic bible is the only non-corrupted biblical text.”

No.


22 posted on 10/07/2010 2:07:57 PM PDT by Mr Rogers (When the ass brays, don't reply...)
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To: wideawake
The differences between Israeli Hebrew and Biblical Hebrew are: (1) tons of loanwords from European languages,

True -- but wouldn't this make it harder for someone conversant with Biblical Hebrew to read modern Hebrew, rather than the other way aroud?

(2) a pretty much complete abandonment of the Biblical Hebrew tense system and replacement with a modified tense system related to those of European languages and

True, and it takes some getting used to. OTOH, the Hebrew verb is really simple in terms of number of forms. Biblical Hebrew has a perfect tense, roughly corresponding to past, and an imperfect, roughly corresponding to future (except when they mean the opposite!). What serves as the present tense in modern Hebrew is originally a sort of participial form, which still also serves as a participle and sometimes a substantive. Biblical Hebrew is far more likely to attach an enclitic for the direct object to the verb, but it's not unknown in modern Hebrew, just sort of "highbrow" on the whole, as is the use of attached possessives.

(3) a replacement of Biblical Hebrew's paratactic sentence structure with far more relative clauses and a completely different word order, basically the same sentence structure as English.

Sort of -- much less pronounced a difference in modern scholarly or literary writing (not to mention poetry) than in general conversational usage. And I learned to avoid a lot of errors in sentence structure (and sequence of tenses) by hearing Israelis' mistakes in English, assuming (turns out correctly) that they were mentally translating from Hebrew.

I don't think it adds up to a "different" language, though there's room to differ. As in "When is a dialect a language?"

23 posted on 10/07/2010 2:35:03 PM PDT by maryz
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