The place of college chapels: 7-5/6-14
Faith in food, food in faith: 7-8-14

A Bible with an agenda? 7-7-14

Regular readers of this blog know that I take the Bible seriously but not literally. The two approaches, in fact, are mutually exclusive.

NIVOne reason not to take English versions of the Bible literally is the reality that the words are translated from the original Hebrew and Greek (plus a bit of Aramaic) and there always are translation questions and even difficulties for the most dedicated of scholars.

The fact that Hebrew and Greek as a rule don't mess with such niceties as punctuation marks makes translation into English all the more difficult.

That said, there are many excellent translations that are generally reliable as long as readers remember that translation teams always have to face uncertainties.

Back in the early 1980s, my then-pastor, who was of an evangelical bent, encouraged the use of the New International Version translation, which is known for the evangelical roots of its translation team. I've been well aware of that leaning, especially as I've read the study notes that accompany the Bible I have. But there's been much about the NIV that I've liked.

Recently, however, I discovered someone who has been comparing the NIV to the New Revised Standard Version (the Bible you'll find in the pews of my congregation) and has not been liking what he's seeing.

Indeed, he says the NIV team in many instances has purposefully mistranslated the Hebrew and Greek so that it fits more closely with evangelical theology. I am not a Hebrew or Greek scholar, so I am in no position to judge the findings he presents. But they are voluminous and fascinating.

I'd be interested to know your thoughts about the author's conclusions. (I asked the author for identifying information about himself and received this reply from Paul Davidson: "By profession, I am a Japanese-English translator living in Japan, Canadian by nationality. However, biblical studies is a major interest of mine, along with languages. I am also a moderator of the Academic Biblical and Biblical Archaeology forums at Reddit." Don't know about Reddit? Learn here.)

* * *


A new survey indicates that a majority (though shrinking) of Americans think religion can provide answers to life's problems. Of course, sometimes misused religion itself is the problem that healthy religion needs to help fix.


The comments to this entry are closed.