What are good versions/translations of the Bible?

by coldfish 20 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas

    I'm an atheist, so I do not consider the Bible to be of divine origin.

    Having spent about 20 years as a JW though, I cannot pretend it doesn't exist. As far as the NWT is concerned; I believe it was produced by uneducated cultists to support their cult teachings. The Watchtower Society also publishes the Byingtom Bible (The Bible in Living English). As a translator, Byington was better qualified than all the hacks and phonies on the New World Translation Committee.


    Just today I learned of a translation I had never heard of before - The Geneva Bible.

    Here's one site that discusses it: http://www.reformed.org/documents/geneva/Geneva.html

    and here's a place where you can get it on-line http://www.genevabible.org/Geneva.html

    I don't know anything yet about the merits or deficiencies of the Geneva Bible...

  • Narkissos


    "Wasted toil"? Perhaps, if "absolute truth" and "eternal salvation" in the JWs or fundamentalistic ways are the only purpose of reading the Bible.

    I began reading the Bible as a JW, went on reading it as a Christian and ended (?) as an atheist, but I still find it fascinating from a historical and literary viewpoint. I think it helps understand our common symbolical and imaginary world.

    Back to the topic: I'm not acquainted with many English translations but since I've been on this board I generally used the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and I've found it very good thus far.

  • El blanko
    El blanko
    WHO WROTE THE BIBLE is a good place to start (Friedman)

    Just reading this book and finding it rather dull sadly - wasn't sure what to expect, and bored with it already.

  • LittleToe

    ElB:Have you got to the part about the dimensions of the Tabernacle yet?

  • outnfree

    For a just-exited JW, I vote for The New Jerusalem Bible. It uses the name Yahweh where the tetragrammaton appeared in the Old Testament, has the Apochrypha, and puts OT references found in the body of the New Testament in italics with footnotes.

  • Terry
    WHO WROTE THE BIBLE is a good place to start (Friedman)

    Just reading this book and finding it rather dull sadly - wasn't sure what to expect, and bored with it already. ************************************************************ For me, it was a real page-turner! Just the intro had my heart pounding. I learned alot I didn't know and that always gets me excited. There is more than one book of this kind available; you have to find one you can get the hang of.

  • Leolaia

    As said before, there is no such thing as a perfect translation. Bias runs through all of them, and because the idioms, vocabulary, and culture behind two languages are always different, the translator must strike a compromise between literalness and readability. When Jesus says "I am the bread of life" in the Gospel of John, that's going to mean something very different to someone in rural Mexico where bread is an expensive luxury while tortillas are the basic staple. That is why some Mexican Spanish translations render the phrase as, "I am the tortilla of life," which is not literal but it gets the right point across. When the idioms and concepts are much more abstract, as they often are in the Bible (i.e. sin, love, forgiveness, spirit, repentence, justification, etc.), the problems become much more complex and one often has to make choices on what one believes are the original theological concepts in the work.

    Then there is the problem of which text to translate. Because of its complex literary history, the Bible has thousands of manuscripts all different from each other. A textual critic can compare them and reconstruct what is likely the most original version of the text, but that in no way takes one back to the original autographs. In fact, in many cases there might never have been any one "original version," with different versions circulating concurrently of a single work. The author, in making multiple copies of a work to be published, might make a little change here a little correction there, so that none of the first manuscripts were identical with each other. Then, further additions and editorial changes may be made....the canonical Gospel of Mark in our Bibles is probably the third edition of the work (being an expunged version of Secret Mark, which itself was an expanded version of the Mark used by the authors of Matthew and Luke) and manuscripts of Mark have no less than four different endings to the book. The Gospel of John is also in a state of irretrievable disorder, with some chapters out of order, some chapters like ch. 8 and 21 added later to the book, and other more subtle changes. The problem is worse with the OT. The Hebrew Masoretic text that most Bibles use is separated by 1,000 to 1,500 years from the autographs, and it is substantially different from the older Septuagint (which is a Greek translation of an older Hebrew text) and the Hebrew versions of the Dead Sea Scrolls which date much closer to the time the OT was compiled. If you want to get a taste of what a different textual tradition is like for the OT, I would recommend the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, recently published.

    I suspect tho that you are just interested in reading a Bible that is just different from the NWT, but scholarly, and I would also like to join with those recommending the New Jerusalem Bible (or the old Jerusalem Bible, which I still use for its wonderful references). The translation is scholarly and a little more idiomatic than literal, but its main strengths lie in its presentation, readability, and completeness. It puts verse numbers in the margins and is thus not constrained to present the text in arbitrary chapter blocks but as each book is literarily organized. Each subsection has headers stating the theme, and on a whole this is a boon for readability. So many times in reading the NWT, I would get bogged down in, say, Romans, wondering, "What is the main point? Where is this going?" as the work just seems to ramble on. But in the Jerusalem Bible, it is very easy to read along and see where the argument is going and what each of the points are that are being made. So I think its presentation greatly enhances comprehension. Also, it takes the liberty of rearranging verses that have become mixed up in the textual tradition, and this also helps in readability as the thought becomes more coherent (most translations just stick with the traditional verse order, even if it is wrong). I also like it because it includes the full Catholic canon, and thus contains all the Apocrypha not found in the NWT and Protestant translations. Finally, it renders the tetragrammaton with "Yahweh" which is more original to the text than "LORD," and not the less-accurate "Jehovah".

    It is best, though, to have a library of translations to compare how others render a given passage, as well as commentaries to explain nuances in the Greek and Hebrew text.

  • El blanko
    El blanko
    Have you got to the part about the dimensions of the Tabernacle yet?

    I might skip and take a look - I have noticed the illustrations. To be fair I picked this up in a charity shop for 99p ages ago and saw several people mention the book here and got interested (slightly).

  • coldfish

    Thanks for all your comments and suggestions.. much appreciated


  • omegaone

    There is a King James edition called The Companion Bible with marginal notes on each page and is very well written by a bible scholar that many people have never heard of, E.W.Bullinger. A hebrew and greek scholar, this is one you will find helpful in your research. I think you can get it at www.kregalpublications.com..

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