Sunday, August 11, 2013

NRSV - The Most Honest Bible Translation todate (August 09, 2013)

I have just about read (though not entirely) almost every Bible version there is from translations to paraphrases. Personally, I rarely read paraphrases and then only for devotional purposes and not for scholarship nor exegesis. Obviously, I do not wish for any of God's word (translations) to be commentarized (paraphrases) and then I would be shackled by the personal opinion of the paraphraser rather than God directly speaking to me through His Holy Spirit who leads us individually (and a few times corporately, like in the creeds) into all truth.

I do not wish to downgrade the value of paraphrases but they are normally good for baby Christians if so recommended by more knowledgeable pastors but only then for specific passages.  There is always the danger of forming personal cultic interpretations when one bases their belief entirely from paraphrase versions like the LNT, NIV, The Message, etc. and end up being misled from the true meaning of Scripture.

Translations on the other hand, are close to transliterations where the translators attempt to translate word-for-word from the original Hebrew/Aramaic/Koine Greek language of the Bible to modern or common English or whatever dialect or language the target translation is. Unfortunately, due to historical, societal, geographical, anthropological and just the mere evolution of language are concerned, there is rarely, if ever, a true one-to-one correspondence of meaning from one dialect to another or one language to another.

This behoves us with the necessity for parallel translations, scholarly exegetical works and sometimes, commentaries to arrive as close as possible to the true meaning intended by God. The previous statement alone clearly censures the "King James only" group of believers as narrow-minded and missing most of the blessings of understanding the true meaning of Scripture in history and how it may apply quite relevantly to our present life and situation.

Now as far as translations are concerned, KJV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, ASV, NASB, ESV, etc, I would like to recommend to everyone a more serious consideration of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible despite all the controversies surrounding the first version which is the RSV or Revised Standard Version of the 1960's.

During that time, not a few fundamentalists condemned the translation simply because it TRUTHFULLY translated the Hebrew version of Isaiah 7:14 as "young maiden" instead of "virgin".  I would contend that any version that translated the Hebrew almah into "virgin" is truly paraphrasing and NOT translating. Even the respected Septuagint LXX has to be treated as a paraphrase for translating the connotation instead of the denotation into the target tongue, for in fact, the denotation (real reading) of the Hebrew word is "young woman" and not at all "virgin" albeit, based on the societal and historical context of the translation of the LXX, the connotation of the Hebrew word is "virgin".

Versions other than the RSV/NRSV are therefore, NOT translating from the Hebrew but in fact, translating from the Septuagint which is a translation of a translation and therefore NOT A TRANSLATION FROM THE ORIGINAL TONGUE!  Strictly speaking a translation is one whose transliteration is based on the original tongue and not from anything other than the first generation tongue.

The RSV/NRSV in fact translates Matthew 1:23 as virgin but this time it is translated based on the original language of Matthew which is Greek and it translates the word parthenon which does read "virgin", correctly. The NRSV again is a TRUTHFUL translator and WITHOUT APOLOGY nor COMMENTARY. In this sense, I consider the NRSV as the most honest translation of the Bible todate.

One may say that the other versions minimize confusion or are more consistent. My response is that has nothing to do with honesty. Honesty has a cost and though it may cost initial ambiguity, it is THE word of God and it is up to God to work on a submitted heart and mind to lead into all truth, and it is up to the reader with the help of the Holy Spirit and their personal intellectual honesty to synthesize the conflicting verses and derive a reasonable conclusion.

Another great case is Jeremiah 26 specifically verses 3, 13, 19 where most other translations translate the Hebrew nacham into relent which is not strong enough compared to the phrase equivalent which the NRSV unapologetically translates as "change (God's) mind" because this is what it literally reads without commentary! In fact, almost all translations translate nacham in Psalm 110:4 as "change (God's) mind". This unapologetic honesty of the NRSV leads an honest mind to the conclusion that God is immutable in His character and character-related attributes but not necessarily unchangeable as far as His mind is concerned, i.e., unchangeable in heart but very much changeable in mind.  This is not at all fickle-mindedness but demonstrates one vulnerability of God BY HIS OWN intentional DESIGN. God is actually affected by what we do and what we pray for. It is not quite as easy to derive this profound theological truth from the other translations.

The Amplified Bible is right on here, for example verse 13, "the Lord will relent and reverse the decision concerning the evil which He has pronounced against you". This confirms the honesty and accuracy of the NRSV in its rendering of "changing God's mind".

To the classical believer, Divine intervention is what happens every second to the point that it makes the term irrelevant and useless. To the relational believer, Divine Intervention is always very special and many times unique but not rare. It is God's intervention into the chain of natural events to alter their course in response to the prayers of His people. This intervention normally ONLY happens in response to prayer. Examples are healing miracles, timing miracles, serendipitous miracles, etc.

Allow me to point out though that the translators for the book of Malachi may be different from the translators for the book of the Psalms particularly in translating the Hebrew yare' into the English "revere" instead of the English "fear" (as in the Psalms) thereby weakening the meaning thereof. This last book may not have passed through the scrutiny given other books, probably because it is one of the last books. Regardless, please note that discrepancy down and enjoy the NRSV. I would particularly recommend the Renovare version which includes the apocryphal books but noting that although these books are good references and further illumine the nature of the Kingdom portrayed by the chosen people (the Jews), yet the Jews themselves do NOT recognize these books are Scripture and so MUST we. (Roman Catholics take note).

The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), don't finish your study or your exegesis without it!

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