Recent New Testament translation causing a stir

by careful 12 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • careful

    Sharp-witted and well-educated Eastern Orthodox philosopher and theologian David Bentley Hart, now a fellow at Notre Dame, has produced a NT translation (Yale Univ Press 2017) that is causing a major stir. One-man translations are pretty rare any more, but this one is making a real splash, largely because it does not surrender to the group/translation committee mentality.

    Even though it's been out only a few months, it's already been reviewed several times in well-known publications. Hart is a highly intelligent guy, very well published in a variety of fields, who can take on Nietzsche or the local Protestant minister. His translation is what he calls "almost pitilessly literal," one of the many things that has so many up in arms. If you're still interested in this sort of thing, here are some links, starting with two critical reviews:

    Hart's replies:

    Lots of other posts are out there too:

    Hart's account of doing the task:

    That's enough!

  • scratchme1010

    Thanks for the information.

  • steve2

    Why is there a great big X on the cover?

    Regarding translations by one man (I know of none by women) compared to a group of men: One of the pitfalls is that groups tend to have a moderating influence on the finished product whereas lone translators are free to play out their idiosyncratic reasonings.

  • humbled

    Careful-Thanks for posting this.

    I read David Bentley Hart’s article and it is so beautiful.

    “.....Christians truly cast in the New Testament mold fairly obnoxious: civically reprobate, ideologically unsound, economically destructive, politically irresponsible, socially discreditable, and really just a bit indecent.” -David Bentley Hart

    Why l loved Jesus and pisses me that they neutralized him by making him “the son of god”.

  • Wonderment

    I too want to say, thanks!

    steve2: Regarding translations by one man (I know of none by women) compared to a group of men: One of the pitfalls is that groups tend to have a moderating influence on the finished product whereas lone translators are free to play out their idiosyncratic reasonings.

    Me: There have been several translations published by women.

    "idiosyncratic reasonings" as they may be, it is this freedom that has made possible the valuable contributions to the genre these lone translators have made. Both type of translations (made by committees and individuals) have their pluses and minuses. It brings balance to the world of interpretation, where large committees have the upper hand, but are sort of obliged to do their translations with selected constituents in mind.

    I think that both types of translations can be useful with the right mindset.

  • humbled


    One of the pitfalls is that groups tend to ave a moderating influence on the finished product whereas lone translators are free to play out their idiosyncratic reasonings.

    You may have said that ^^^as a cautionary against this single man translation but I see it as the freedom to speak freely because religious committees can also do harm-/the orthodoxy dumbing down effect.Think:Governing Body.

    Is there a plural for incubus ?

  • JaniceA

    Good catch! Thanks for highlighting this new translation. I quite like the irreverence of the man who seems to have taken it quite seriously.

    I think that his refusal to homogenize the translation to give a easy read/single voice was brilliant and highlights how sublimely ridiculous our (previous) reverence for the scriptures and their beauty actually was.

  • Crazyguy

    I started reading the new Net Septuagint bible that came out just a few years. It was supposed to be the most up to date translation based on all the data. In the end they too, the translators, were influenced by all thier previous ideals for the new translation was in my opinion not truly an accurate one. Maybe a bit better but not as accurate as it should be.

  • careful

    The X on the cover is a cross formed by two nails of the kind used at the time of Jesus to put people on crosses. On the inside title page and under the title of each book (Matt. Mark, etc.) is a single horizontal nail.

    One-woman translations include two old ones, the entire NT by Helen Barrett Montgomery in 1924, and the entire OT by Helen Spurrell in 1885. In modern times female Bible translators are certainly around but do not produce entire NT or OT translations. They do parts, often individual books in the form of commentaries. For example, Adele Berlin did the Anchor Bible volume of Zephaniah (1994), Carol Newsom wrote a volume on Daniel (The OT Library 2014), Margaret Thrall, the two volumes on 2 Cor. for the ICC (1994, 2000), and Karen Jobes has written commentaries on 1 Peter (Baker 2005) and 1, 2, 3 John (Zondervan 2011). The last was also on the committee that translated the NETS that Crazyguy mentioned (Esther).

    I was wondering if I'd get much of a response from this post, given that so many here are atheist/agnostic, and/or are pretty anti-Bible. I appreciate the responses.

  • slimboyfat

    Thanks for bringing the translation to our attention. I like David Bentley Hart as an apologist and Christian thinker.

    I like the translation, as much as I've read, and I'm not impressed by N T Wright's criticisms of it. As someone who sees a lot of books, I've come across a huge number of books written by Tom/NT Wright. He must be near holding a record as one of the most prolific authors alive. Not only has he written dozens of books, but some of them are huge, over a thousand pages. I don't know how he manages it. He must write thousands of words a day, and do little else. (Or get help)

    I've not been terribly impressed by the little I've read. So the tenor and quality of his review of David Bentley Hart don't surprise me.

    In some ways David Bentley Hart shows the early Christians as a more extreme version of modern day JWs. Not only do they place their religion above ties to family, ethnicity, nation and so on, but he presents early Christianity as completely opposed to wealth and the wealthy. Hart says that for the first Christians money was not merely a moral danger it was an intrinsic evil. JWs don't go quite that far. Hart also describes the early Christians as communists, which is difficult to refute, if you take what the New Testament says seriously. They may not have lived up to the concept, but it certainly seems to have been the ideal they aspired to.

    Also, on the one hand I welcome Hart's arguments in favour of universalism in the scriptures, but on the other hand I find it implausible in certain passages. One scripture where I think N T Wright has a point is Matt 25:46. This verse does appear to assume eternal damnation for some, as far as I can see.

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