This is a follow-up to my post yesterday about Bible translation.
I’m grateful for different Bible translations on the spectrum from the more formal equivalent (like the NASB) to the more functional equivalent (like the NLT). While a mediating translation like the NIV may be optimal overall, I respect the other translation philosophies and benefit immensely from their translations.
I have a lot of friends who advocate a more formal equivalent philosophy and who prefer the ESV as the all-around optimal translation. I respect that. (The last two churches I’ve been a member of use primarily the ESV, and the one before that uses primarily the NASB.)
This is what I emailed one of those friends yesterday (slightly edited):
I have never noticed anything you’ve said on Bible translation to be distasteful. Thanks for your good spirit about the issue. I have no problem with people handling the issue like you do. For example, I recall you very humbling telling me something like this back in 2007: “I think that Dr. Carson may be on the wrong side on this one.” I have no problem with someone taking that position on at least four conditions:
- They understand the opposing position, which involves learning the best arguments for that position, often by careful reading.
- They respectfully and accurately portray the opposing position, and they can articulate its objections to their own position. (Cf. Tim Keller’s effective apologetic method: “Articulate their objections to Christian living and belief better than they can do it themselves.”)
- They don’t blow the issue out of proportion.
- They don’t despise or slander the opposing position or people who hold it.
Unfortunately, some people (not limited to advocates of any one translation philosophy) haven’t sufficiently done 1–3, and that may result in other people (with good motives) being guilty of all four (e.g., watch the recent SBC Resolution against the updated NIV; cf. CBT’s response).
- “The Best All-Around Book on Bible Translation”
- “Reproduce the Meaning”
- “Thank God for Good Bible Translators and Translations“
Update on 3/31/2017: In my latest attempt to explain how to interpret and apply the Bible, I include a chapter on Bible translation (pp. 50–81).