Saturday, March 05, 2011

The NIV 2011

I know I've posted on this before, but I got an email today asking, "Do you know anything about a new version of the NIV?"

Here's the state of my answer.  The NIV 2011 is two things:

1. an admission of political/economic defeat in relation to the TNIV
2. an updating of the NIV

So is it better than the NIV?  Yes.  If you are happy with the NIV, go ahead and upgrade with the NIV2011.  It is better.

Is it the best translation out there as a translation?  No, not in any category.  The NLT, CEV, and in some places CEB are better dynamic translations. The ESV, and in many places CEB and NRSV, are better formal translations, in my opinion.

Right now I'm using the NRSV and CEB in my writing.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

Isn't there two assumptions about translations of scripture, depending on whether one believes in inerrancy, or not?

Scholars would hold to a closer text to the original for purposes of understanding cultural conditions/historical standards "of that time", while those that believe in inerrancy ("God's Word") would be concerned that "God's Word" is understood literally and appropriately (!).

The post-modern, or neo-orthodox, aren't concerned with such matters as much because these would believe that the "Spirit" would interpret the texts, irregardless of the translation....such as these would also affirm the "Spirit"s inspiration of other art scripture is considered literature that was created by man, inspired by "God".

Ken Schenck said...

I wouldn't put it that way but I think you are close to how I would put it.

1. Scholars shouldn't use translations at all. They should read the real Bible. But formal equivalent translations are ideal for those who are not adept at the original languages and would like to interpret the Bible on its original terms as much as possible on their own.

2. For the purpose of communication, for the purpose of application, a dynamic translation tries to do the work for you. It tries its best to transcend the historical distance between then and now by using words that communicate the gist and import of the text. This isn't really post-modern. It's communication.

The problem is when the "communicator" gets it wrong. Then they have presented a clearer meaning, but it's the wrong one. ;-)

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I guess I am caught between my knowledge and ignorance. I know too much to just read scripture as it is and too little to read it as it really was...preventing me from having any 'connection to or with scripture'. (and because it has been useful for "control" (manipulation) of me, I tend to react in a negative way to it.)

Ryan said...

Good and accurate translation, Angie, must be concerned not just with the technical meaning, but also the effect on the reader. If the effect on the reader is not recreated, then have you really translated that text faithfully?

What about an english phrase like "You're dead meat!" Translating that into another language would be technically easy. Just get the second person singular vocative form for the to-be verb, e.g. "you are" and add onto it the noun for "meat" and the adverb for "dead."

In French then it could be something like "tu est la viande morte"

But what would a phrase like that really mean to a french person?

In english we understand that to be a threat, and we know right away that the person saying it is angry, and that they want to hurt us, and so the effect on us is one of fear.

Would a french person reading tu est la viande morte experience that same effect? Would they "get" that the speaker was intending to communicate anger??

Well, no, of course not, because the french, to my knowledge, don't use the phrase "dead meat" as a threat.

So you see how translating something literally can often hide or obscure what the author - be it a human or a divine author - intended to communicate.

So you see, what appear to you to be less-literal and more free renderings of the biblical text are not necessarily fueled by some neo-orthodox theology, but rather are often just faithful attempts by skilled translators to let the biblical author have the same communicative effect on a modern english reader as he would have had on an ancient greek reader.