Mo’ Translations, Mo’ Problems

If you just knew me from this blog, you could already guess that I believe the Bible is important. I mean, I’m posting a Bible reading schedule daily. Also, the fact that I’m a Lutheran pastor should’ve clued you in on this. But I want you to realize that the Bible is more than just important to me as a Lutheran Christian, it’s pretty much the most important thing for my faith that God has given me.

The Bible isn’t just the “story of Christianity;” it’s the source and norm of our faith. It was given, word for word, by God himself to the human beings that wrote the words down. It is the story of our salvation in Jesus Christ, inspired by the Holy Spirit, speaking of God the Father’s indescribable love for sinful people like me. Plus,  not only does it tell the gospel message of Jesus; it gives the power to have me believe it.

So, yeah. It’s important.

Because I have believe this about the Bible, it’s obvious I want to be able to read the Bible in as accurate a way as possible. The original books of the Bible were written mostly in Hebrew and Greek. I’m thankful that I can read and translate these languages due to my education in the WELS worker-training system, but I use English for the majority of my day-to-day reading. Because of this, I need to use a translation.

But which translation to choose? Well, for most of my life, this has been easy. I grew up using the NIV (New International Version). For me, basically until my college years, the NIV was the Bible. I had little contact with other translations,  nor had any need to seek out other translations arisen for me (or for the WELS for that matter.)

Well, that’s changing now. The NIV is coming out (has come out) with its first revision since 1984. Right now it’s only available in online versions, like Bible Gateway. Check out this page from Bible Gateway to learn more information about this new version. This revision, from what I can tell, is much more extensive than previous versions. It’s not something that will go unnoticed. The time will likely come, also, when this new revision is the only version of the NIV available, with the 1984 version going out of print.

Because of this, I (and my congregation and synod) need to evaluate this new version and see if it’s worth continuing to use in church. The synod needs to decide if it will update it’s publications and other materials with the new translation also. If this new version of the NIV isn’t acceptable, the next decision will be: which version should we use?

I’ll be following this post up in the near future with thoughts on this new translation, plus the “old” NIV as well as other translations available. In the meantime, check out the new translation and see what you think for yourself. Plus, I’d love to hear comments (whether on this post or future ones) about your thoughts on Bible translations.

One thing I like about this little “dilemma:” it’s forcing people to look closely at the text of the Bible. In my book that’s a blessing.

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2 thoughts on “Mo’ Translations, Mo’ Problems

  1. For the last several weeks in Bible Class I have been printing out a sheet with the “new” NIV alongside the text from the ESV, so that people could compare it to the text in their NIV texts. So far we haven’t run across any deal-breakers, though I have found a few places where I have a preference for the translation of either the NIV or the ESV.

    One comes to mind. The NIV regularly does not translate the word “idou,” while the ESV translates “behold.” I prefer to see the word in there.

    Of course, that doesn’t have anything to do with the revision of the NIV. It will be interesting how it all sorts out.

    • I think printing out sheets like that is a good idea. I did it once and I was surprised at the negative reaction to the new NIV. It was a section where the gender-neutral thing really stood out a lot, though.

      I agree with you on the idou / behold thing. Why leave it out? It can really add something sometimes.

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