Category Archives: Bible Translations

Bible Translations: What Is the GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)?

 

GOD’S WORD Translation—History Completed in 1995, the GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) is an English translation of the Bible by the God’s Word to the Nations Society. GW had its beginnings with a New Testament translation titled The New Testament in the Language of Today: An American Translation, published in 1963 by Lutheran pastor and seminary professor William F. Beck (1904–1966). In 1982, work on a revision was begun by Phillip B. Giessler, a pastor from Cleveland, Ohio, and his committee. This yielded another NT translation released in 1988 and titled New Testament: God’s Word to the Nations (GWN). In 1992, earlier work was abandoned and a new translation was begun, this time based on the best Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic manuscripts currently available. In early 1994 the translation was renamed GOD’S WORD prior to being turned over to World Bible Publishers for publication in March 1995. In 2008 rights to GOD’S WORD were acquired by Baker Publishing Group.

GOD’S WORD Translation—Translation Method The GOD’S WORD Translation uses the translation method known as “closest natural equivalence” which seeks to combine dynamic equivalence (thought for thought) with finding equivalent English ways of expressing the meaning of the original text. This procedure, the translators contend, ensures that the translation is faithful to the meaning intended by the original writer. Closest natural equivalence seeks to avoid the awkwardness and inaccuracy associated with word-for-word translation, and avoids the loss of meaning and oversimplification associated with thought-for-thought translation. Another consideration for the translators was readability, so they used common English punctuation, capitalization, and nearly perfect English grammar to express the text in clear, natural English. The GOD’S WORD Translation is printed in an open, single column format that enhances readability.

GOD’S WORD Translation—Pro’s and con’s The GOD’S WORD Translation sometimes does a good job at rendering words/phrases how they would be rendered if the Bible was being translated into English for the first time today. With a 400+ year history of English Bible translations, new translations are often rendered a certain way because that is how the translators are used to reading/hearing it. The GOD’S WORD Translation seeks to avoid this, and should be commended for this effort. However, sometimes in its goal of “closest natural equivalence,” the GOD’S WORD Translation strays a little too far from the literal meaning of the text, interpreting rather than translating.

GOD’S WORD Translation—Sample verses John 1:1, 14—“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became human and lived among us. We saw his glory. It was the glory that the Father shares with his only Son, a glory full of kindness and truth.”

John 3:16—“God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.”

John 8:58—“Jesus told them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Before Abraham was ever born, I am.’ ”

Ephesians 2:8–9—“God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it.”

Titus 2:13—“At the same time we can expect what we hope for—the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Bible Translations: What is the English Standard Version (ESV)?

 

English Standard Version—History The English Standard Version (ESV) is a revision of the 1971 edition of the Revised Standard Version. The first edition was published in 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. The ESV Study Bible, also published by Crossway Bibles, was published in October 2008. It uses the ESV translation and adds extensive notes and articles based on evangelical Christian scholarship. Under noted theologian J.I. Packer, who served as general editor, the translators sought and received permission from the National Council of Churches to use the 1971 edition of the RSV as the English textual basis for the ESV. Difficult passages were translated using the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other original manuscripts.

English Standard Version—Translation Method The stated intent of the translators was to produce a readable and accurate translation that stands in the tradition of Bible translations beginning with English religious reformer William Tyndale in 1525–26 and culminating in the King James Version of 1611. Examples of other translations in this genre are the Revised Version (1881–85), the American Standard Version (1901), and the Revised Standard Version (1946–1971). In their own words, they sought to follow a literal word-for-word translation philosophy. To that end, they sought as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer, while taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages. The result is a translation that is more literal than the New International Version, but more fluent and colloquial than the New American Standard Bible.

English Standard Version—Pro’s and Con’s The English Standard Version receives complaints from both sides. Some say it is too literal. Others say it is too dynamic. Often, criticism from both sides of an argument indicates that something has achieved a good balance between the two.

English Standard Version—Sample verses John 1:1, 14—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 3:16—“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 8:58—“Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ ”

Ephesians 2:8–9—“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Titus 2:13—“waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Bible Translations: What Is the Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)?

Easy-to-Read Version—History The Easy-to-Read Version of the Bible, published in 1989 by the World Bible Translation Center—founded in 1973 in Arlington, Texas—was initially prepared to meet the special needs of the deaf and was first published by Baker Book House as The English Version for the Deaf. The first-draft work on The English Version for the Deaf was done by WBTC’s in-house translators who are Greek and Hebrew scholars and deaf-language consultants. The Easy-to-Read Version has also recently undergone a major revision to better meet the needs of its target audience and evangelistic outreach (via ministries to prisons, the homeless, or children) as well as those with limited English. The revised text is also more suitable for oral reading, since many who understand spoken English are not literate.

Easy-to-Read Version—Translation method The revision of the English Version for the Deaf into the Easy-to-Read Version was not a translation as such, but rather a reworking of the EVD for the hearing population. The WBTC enlisted English stylists to smooth the text and an ecumenical panel of New Testament scholars to review the edited drafts and make suggestions. There were very few changes in content. Most of the changes involved a move toward more standard English style, i.e., less redundancy, and a more complex sentence structure. According to the WBTC: “Besides improving the English style, the revised Easy-to-Read Version reflects a better understanding of many passages. This has been made possible, in part, by the greatly expanded resources now available to our translators. Also, these translators have benefited from their involvement in over 30 different language projects. As they compared the drafts of these translations with the original texts, they often noted how the same passages were translated in the Easy-to-Read Version, resulting in many improvements. In addition, the Easy-to-Read Version has benefited from input from numerous outside scholars who have served as consultants in the process of evaluating WBTC’s translations.”

Easy-to-Read Version—Pro’s and Con’s The Easy-to-Read Version is very aptly named, as it is definitely easy to read. For that, the ERV is to be commended. It is a good thing to have the Bible translated so that those who struggle with English can understand it. While the Bible is very deep in what it proclaims, the wording usually does not need to be complicated. The primary weakness of the ERV would be that sometimes its renderings are so simplified that they do not fully communicate the message that was in the original languages. The ERV is definitely on the “dynamic equivalence” side of Bible translations, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It does, however, open the door for interpretation to be done instead of strict translation.

Easy-to-Read Version—Sample Verses John 1:1, 14—“Before the world began, the Word was there. The Word was there with God. The Word was God. The Word became a man and lived among us. We saw his glory—the glory that belongs to the only Son of the Father. The Word was full of grace (kindness) and truth.”

John 3:16—“Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. God gave his Son so that every person that believes in him would not be lost, but have life forever.”

John 8:58—“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth. Before Abraham was born, I AM.’ ”

Ephesians 2:8–9—“I mean that you are saved by grace. And you got that grace by believing. You did not save yourselves. It was a gift from God. No! You are not saved by the things you have done. So no person can boast {that he saved himself}.”

Titus 2:13—“We should live like that while we are waiting for the coming of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. He is our great hope, and he will come with glory.”[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Bible Translations: What Is the Douay-Rheims Version (DRV)?

 

Douay-Rheims Version—History The Douay-Rheims Version, which contains the Apocrypha, is the foundation on which nearly all English Catholic versions are still based. It was translated by Gregory Martin, an Oxford-trained scholar, working in the circle of English Catholic exiles on the Continent, under the sponsorship of William (later Cardinal) Allen. The NT appeared at Rheims in 1582; the OT at Douay in 1609. The whole Douay-Rheims Bible was revised and diligently compared with the Latin Vulgate by Bishop Richard Challoner in A.D. 1749–1752. The notes included in the text were written by Challoner. The DR Bible was photographically reproduced from the 1899 edition of the John Murphy Company, Baltimore, Maryland, by Tan Books in 1971.

Douay-Rheims Version—Translation method The Douay-Rheims Bible is a translation into English of the Latin Vulgate Bible which St. Jerome (342–420) translated into Latin from the original languages. The Vulgate quickly became the Bible universally used in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. In their preface, the translators of the 1582 DRV New Testament gave 10 reasons for using the Vulgate as their primary text, rather than the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, stating that the Latin Vulgate “is not only better than all other Latin translations, but than the Greek text itself, in those places where they disagree.”

Douay-Rheims Version—Pro’s and Con’s The Douay-Rheims Version is not a poor translation, but the problem is that it is a translation of the Latin Vulgate, not a translation of the original Hebrew and Greek. Meaning and clarity are always lost in translation from one language to another. The Douay-Rheims takes this a step further, being a translation of a translation. In addition to this fault, the Douay-Rheims translators, on occasion, allowed their Catholic theology to influence their translation choices. >br />Douay-Rheims Version—Sample Verses John 1:1, 14—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

John 3:16—“For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.”

John 8:58—“Jesus said to them: ‘Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am.’ ”

Ephesians 2:8–9—“For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God; Not of works, that no man may glory.”

Titus 2:13—“Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ,”[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Bible Translations: What Is the Contemporary English Version (CEV)?

 

Contemporary English Version—History Published by the American Bible Society, the Contemporary English Version has the goal of was uncompromising simplicity. Also known as the Bible for Today’s Family, the CEV is written at a fourth grade reading level, making it appropriate for children and adults with limited English skills. In 1991, the 175th anniversary of the American Bible Society, the CEV New Testament was released. The CEV Old Testament was released in 1995. In 1999, the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books were published. An Anglicized version was produced by the British and Foreign Bible Society, which includes metric measurements for the Commonwealth market.

Contemporary English Version—Translation Method The Contemporary English Version translators used the dynamic equivalence (thought-for-thought as opposed to word-for-word) translation method. The CEV uses gender-sensitive language for humanity but not for the Godhead. The translators also attempted to simplify certain archaic-sounding words into more modern parlance. For example, Exodus 20:14 renders “Do not commit adultery” to “Be faithful in marriage.” The Contemporary English Version is not, as some have assumed, a revision of the Good News Bible, which is also published by the American Bible Society. Rather, it is a fresh translation with a lower reading level, making it more accessible to more people around the world.

Contemporary English Version—Pro’s and con’s The Contemporary English Version is easy-to-read and easy-to-understand. It is written in quality and contemporary English. However, when it goes more toward dynamic equivalence and less toward formal equivalence, the CEV sometimes goes astray, interpreting rather than translating. Some view the Contemporary English Version as more of a paraphrase than a translation, but that is likely inaccurate, as the CEV is far more literal to the text than the true paraphrases, the Living BibleMessage.

Contemporary English Version—Sample verses John 1:1, 14—“In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us.”

John 3:16—“God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.”

John 8:58—“Jesus answered, “I tell you for certain that even before Abraham was, I was, and I am.”

Ephesians 2:8–9—“You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God’s gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own. It isn’t something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about.”

Titus 2:13—“We are filled with hope, as we wait for the glorious return of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Bible Translations: What Is the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)?

 

Complete Jewish Bible—History The Complete Jewish Bible was translated by David H. Stern, an Israel-based Messianic Jewish theologian. Published in 1998 by Jewish New Testament Publications, the CJB claims to be “Jewish in manner and presentation.” The names of the books are Jewish along with their English names (if different). Semitic names are used for people and places. It also incorporates Hebrew and Yiddish expressions that Stern refers to as “Jewish English.”

Complete Jewish Bible—Translation method The Complete Jewish Bible Old Testament is a paraphrase of the 1917 Jewish Publication Society version of the Tanakh (also known as the Masoretic Text). The New Testament is an original translation from the ancient Greek. The CJB is a free translation, with Yiddish and modern Jewish cultural expressions. Stern claims his purpose for producing the Complete Jewish Bible was “to restore God’s Word to its original Jewish context and culture as well as be in easily read modern English.”

Complete Jewish Bible—Pro’s and Con’s Restoring the “Jewishness” of the Bible is a good thing. The Bible was written predominantly by Jews and to a Jewish audience. The Complete Jewish Bible should be commended for recognizing those facts. Overall, the CJB is a good and accurate translation of the Bible. It does tend to be too “free” in its renderings, sometimes interpreting instead of translating. Also, although it was in no sense the purpose of the Complete Jewish Bible, the idea of there being a separate Bible for Jews can lead toward division in the Body of Christ.

Complete Jewish Bible—Sample Verses John 1:1, 14—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became a human being and lived with us, and we saw his Sh’khinah, the Sh’khinah of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”

John 3:16—“For God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed.”

John 8:58—“Yeshua said to them, ‘Yes, indeed! Before Avraham came into being, I AM!’ ”

Ephesians 2:8–9—“For you have been delivered by grace through trusting, and even this is not your accomplishment but God’s gift. You were not delivered by your own actions; therefore no one should boast.”

Titus 2:13—“while continuing to expect the blessed fulfillment of our certain hope, which is the appearing of the Sh’khinah of our great God and the appearing of our Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah.”[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Bible Translations: What Is the Bishops’ Bible?

 

The Bishops’ Bible—History The Bishops’ Bible was an English translation of the Bible produced under the authority of the established Church of England in 1568, whose bishops were offended by the Geneva Bible, the notes of which were decidedly Calvinistic in tone. Since the Great Bible, the only authorized version in use in the Anglican Church, was considered deficient because it was translated from the Latin Vulgate, a new translation was authorized by the Anglican bishops and came to be known as the “Bishops’ ” Bible. The first edition was exceptionally large and included 124 full-page illustrations. It was substantially revised in 1572, and this revised edition was to be prescribed as the base text for the Authorized King James Version of 1611, which became the standard for the Church of England.

Along with the Great Bible and the King James Version, the Bishops’ Bible was authorized to be read in church, although the Geneva Bible remained the favorite of the people for reading at home. The text of the revised 1572 version carefully excluded the offending Calvinistic notes and cross-references. The wisdom of the common people is evident from the fact that the Bishops’ Bible went through more than fifty revisions, while the Geneva Bible was reprinted intact more than 150 times.

The Bishops’ Bible—Translation method Under the direction of Queen Elizabeth I, who had no love for the Puritans and their Calvinistic doctrine, the archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker, himself a scholar, took on the task of coming up with an alternative to the Geneva Bible. Portions of the text were assigned to various revisers, the majority of whom were bishops. In spite of their prejudice against the Geneva Bible because of its blatant advocacy of lay elders and church leaders—as opposed to the clergy-led paradigm embraced by the Anglican hierarchy—the Geneva Bible was the basis for the Bishops’ Bible, although the offending anti-episcopal notes were removed. No doubt this is partly why the Bishops’ Bible never achieved the support among the common people enjoyed by the Geneva Bible.

The Bishops’ Bible—Pro’s and Con’s Because there was lax supervisory editing for the work completed by the various translators, translation practice varies greatly from book to book. Some used the Geneva Bible as their base text; some used the Great Bible, resulting in translational inconsistencies. For example, in most of the Old Testament the tetragrammaton YHWH is represented by “the Lord”, and the Hebrew Elohim is represented by “God.” But in the Psalms the practice is the opposite way around. Describing the translation, one commentator remarked that where the Bishops’ Bible reprints the Geneva Bible it is acceptable, but most of the original work is incompetent, both in its scholarship and its verbosity. Unlike Tyndale’s translations and the Geneva Bible, the Bishops’ Bible has rarely been reprinted and the archaic language makes it all but unusable for the modern reader.

The Bishops’ Bible—Sample Verses John 1:1, 14—“In the begynnyng was the worde, & the worde was with God: and that worde was God.” “And the same word became fleshe, and dwelt among vs (and we sawe the glory of it, as the glory of the only begotten sonne of the father) full of grace and trueth.”

John 3:16—“For God so loued the worlde, that he gaue his only begotten sonne, that whosoeuer beleueth in hym, shoulde not perishe, but haue euerlastyng lyfe.”

John 8:58—“Iesus sayde vnto them: Ueryly, veryly I saye vnto you, before Abraham was, I am.”

Ephesians 2:8–9—“For by grace are ye made safe through fayth, and that not of your selues, it is the gyft of God: Not of workes, lest any man shoulde boast hym selfe.”

Titus 2:13—“Lokyng for that blessed hope and appearyng of the glorie of the great God, and our sauiour Iesus Christe,”[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.