Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review: Which Bible Translation...

Which Bible Translation Should I Use? A Comparison of 4 Major Recent Versions. Andreas J. Kostenberger, ed. 2012. B&H. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

This book approaches the question "Which Bible Translation Should I Use?" with scholarship and care. There is an introduction to the history of translation AND the philosophy of translation by Andreas J. Kostenberger and David A. Croteau. This book examines four (and only four) translations. The translations used are ESV, NIV, HCSB, NLT. Sixteen Bible passages are examined in great detail. There is an entire chapter of the book that presents all sixteen passages in all four translations. The chapter is for easy comparison and reference. But that's just the start. Each translation has a spokesperson, of sorts. Wayne Grudem argues for the ESV. Douglas J. Moo argues for the NIV. E. Ray Clendenen argues for the HCSB. Philip Comfort argues for the NLT. In their individual essays, they go through the sixteen passages. Some take a good deal of time and unpack why their translation is the best. Others are more succinct. Most go back to the ideas presented in the introduction in terms of translation philosophy. The reader can tell that PHILOSOPHY matters. That these authors take translation very seriously.

The sixteen passages:

Exodus 2:5-6 ESV
Exodus 2:5-6 NIV
Exodus 2:5-6 HCSB
Exodus 2:5-6 NLT
Exodus 2:5-6 NASB
Psalm 1:1 ESV
Psalm 1:1 NIV
Psalm 1:1 HCSB
Psalm 1:1 NLT
Psalm 1:1 NASB
Ezekiel 18:5-9, 21-24 ESV
Ezekiel 18:5-9, 21-24 NIV
Ezekiel 18:5-9, 21-24 HCSB
Ezekiel 18:5-9, 21-24 NLT
Ezekiel 18:5-9, 21-24 NASB
Matthew 5:1-3 ESV
Matthew 5:1-3 NIV
Matthew 5:1-3 HCSB
Matthew 5:1-3 NLT
Matthew 5:1-3 NASB
Mark 1:40-45 ESV
Mark 1:40-45 NIV
Mark 1:40-45 HCSB
Mark 1:40-45 NLT
Mark 1:40-45 NASB
Mark 16:9-20 ESV
Mark 16:9-20 NIV
Mark 16:9-20 HCSB
Mark 16:9-20 NLT
Mark 16:9-20 NASB
Luke 17:3 ESV
Luke 17:3 NIV
Luke 17:3 HCSB
Luke 17:3 NLT
Luke 17:3 NASB
John 1:3-4, 14, 18 ESV
John 1:3-4, 14, 18 NIV
John 1:3-4, 14, 18 HCSB
John 1:3-4, 14, 18 NLT
John 1:3-4, 14, 18 NASB
John 2:25-3:1 ESV
John 2:25-3:1 NIV
John 2:25-3:1 HCSB
John 2:25-3:1 NLT
John 2:25-3:1 NASB
1 Corinthians 2:1, 13 ESV
1 Corinthians 2:1, 13 NIV
1 Corinthians 2:1, 13 HCSB
1 Corinthians 2:1, 13 NLT
1 Corinthians 2:1, 13 NASB
Galatians 5:2-6 ESV
Galatians 5:2-6 NIV
Galatians 5:2-6 HCSB
Galatians 5:2-6 NLT
Galatians 5:2-6 NASB
Colossians 2:8-15 ESV
Colossians 2:8-15 NIV
Colossians 2:8-15 HCSB
Colossians 2:8-15 NLT
Colossians 2:8-15 NASB
1 Thessalonians 1:3 ESV
1 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV
1 Thessalonians 1:3 HCSB
1 Thessalonians 1:3 NLT
1 Thessalonians 1:3 NASB
1 Timothy 2:12 ESV
1 Timothy 2:12 NIV
1 Timothy 2:12 HCSB
1 Timothy 2:12 NLT
1 Timothy 2:12 NASB
Jude 4-5 ESV
Jude 4-5 NIV
Jude 4-5 HCSB
Jude 4-5 NLT
Jude 4-5 NASB
Revelation 3:20 ESV
Revelation 3:20 NIV
Revelation 3:20 HCSB
Revelation 3:20 NLT
Revelation 3:20 NASB

The book is very practical. It is practical, but, extremely scholarly. It may be too detailed for some readers. There is a lot of Greek-talk about how individual Greek words are translated in this context and other contexts and different manuscript readings, etc. And some of the manuscript talk could potentially overwhelm readers. But. I liked the thoroughness of it.

If I could change just one thing about the book--and it's a BIG thing--it would be the translations. I REALLY want a book to examine the NASB and compare it with the ESV specifically. Two of the translations in this book are ones I'd never really consider reading. I've added the links to the NASB verses for my own sake. I *want* the comparison to be easy for me. The book does not include the NASB.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible


Monica said...

are all these translations word for word or are they thought for thought translations. That to me is very important. I am currently reading through the ESV but I use the NKJV. We have found in during the time we had our church that the KJV is not very popular today but that some translations that are brought to church are very "loose". Too free with the meanings

Becky said...

None of the translations like to use the phrases "word for word" or "thought for thought" these days. They prefer more "sophisticated" terms that are perhaps more accurate but less easily grasped unless you read essays on what they mean. I would say the ESV probably comes closest to what "word for word" used to mean. It is in the tradition of the KJV, it's direct link being the RSV. HCSB is a happy medium between the two translation philosophies. The NIV and NLT have a different translation philosophy--one I find myself in disagreement with.

Brooke from The Bluestocking Guide said...

I use both the NJKV and ESV. My church uses ESV exclusively.