Biblical studies: May 2004 Archives

Vessel of Honour has responded to my comments against the textual tradition that served as the basis of the King James Version (in my review of Bible translations). This is my somewhat lengthy response to what I consider to be a long list of false impressions, misunderstandings, and bad responses to what I said.

A recent survey of Bible translations used by pastors in the U.S. of different denominations (linked, I believe, by Jollyblogger somewhere) gave me the idea for this post. I have little to say about the survey itself except that it was strange that they didn't include Presbyterians as a category and that they didn't single out the NET, RSV, or ESV.

What I'm mainly interested in doing here is giving people enough information to choose what English translations of the Bible are best for various purposes. I don't think there's one best translation, and which one you pick will be affected by a number of factors, including things about yourself and the circumstances in which you'll be using this particular Bible. First, though I want to report two real occurrences from my friend who worked in a religious bookstore. One woman asked about purchasing a Bible. He asked her what translation she wanted. Her response: "English!" This was not someone who spoke English as a second language, from whom such a response makes perfect sense. The second case is often told as a joke, but this really happened to my friend. Someone came into the store asking for a Bible. He asked what translation the person wanted, and he received in response, "The King James, you know, the one Jesus used." Well, I hope to do a better job of explaining Bible translations than those who failed these people.

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