Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pew Translation?

Kyle Ray in effect asked me at The Gathering to stop waffling and endorse a translation for the pew.  I continue to struggle but I'm trying to formulate an answer:

First, preach on Sunday from whatever version seems to best communicate the message you believe you should bring this Sunday.  In other words, I'm not necessarily recommending that you standarize your preaching version.     The problem of course is when you want the congregation to read along and you are not using a PowerPoint for them to follow along.  If they are following along in the pew, you don't want the version read from the front to be too different.

... which of course raises the question of a pew translation all together.  If you don't have them at this point, I wouldn't bother.  Invest in a good AV system so you can project the version of the morning on a screen instead.

For a detailed study of the text in a class or in sermon preparation, you want a heavily formal equivalence translation like the NASB, RSV, or ESV, although the last does show its theological bias occasionally.  The NRSV and CEB are going to be better in some cases, but they will also fool you sometimes when it comes to gender (brothers and sisters).

I'm going to tentatively fall off the log with the CEB, the Common English Bible, as the leading candidate in my mind right now for pew translation, if you're going to have one.  This is not my final answer but I like it for several reasons: 1) it is very understandable and 2) it has less theological bias in my opinion and in some cases is the only version that gets it right.

We'll see.  The NLT makes a fine pew Bible too and is even more dynamic.  I use the NRSV in my worship service.  It remains the standard version for biblical scholarship at large.


FrGregACCA said...

But I'll bet this version does not include the Deutero-canonical books. Am I right?

Ken Schenck said...

It doesn't as far as I know, but practically speaking, I'm addressing Protestant groups that will never use the deuterocanonical books. I think the NRSV is a no brainer for many in that case. What do you use?

Esteban Vázquez said...

As a matter of fact, the CEB will include a full translation of all the books in both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox canons, as do the RSV and NRSV.

clayknick said...

The NRSV is our pew Bible. I still love the RSV and use it a lot. Plus some others. I'll use some just for reading and comparison, but the RSV is my favorite for study. Love it and love how it sounds.

Ken Schenck said...

I find the NRSV lovely.

FrGregACCA said...

I use the old RSV primarily, and the "Orthodox Study Bible" translation of the (LXX)Old Testament when appropriate.

I understand what you are saying, Ken, concerning Protestant groups. I hope, however, that your prediction that they will never use the D-C books is mistaken.

Esteban, I am glad to learn that the CEB will eventually include a full translation of the Old Testament.

clayknick said...

I think there are lovely passages in the NRSV, too, Ken.