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The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies Provides a comprehensive survey of Biblical scholarship in a variety of disciplines.

The Translation of the New Testament

The New Testament has probably been translated more than any other book, ancient or modern. The history of the translation of the New Testament provides a fascinating account of how various individuals and groups of people have understood this text. Most translations have come about because of the inability to read the original Greek, and, as a result, the translations themselves have in many, if not most, instances come to be given the same kind of sacred status that the original has had—in effect, if not in fact. The issues discussed here focus upon the English translations and include: (a) the textual basis of modern translations, (b) issues in translational theory, and (c) modern translations of the Bible into English.

a. The Textual Basis of Modern Translations

There has been a significant shift in the textual basis of the translations of the Greek New Testament (see Porter 2001a for fuller treatment). The Catholic versions, even until recently, were based upon the Latin Vulgate. Those translations that utilized the original Greek, however, still faced a number of issues regarding the text. The Renaissance rediscovery of classical learning, and the advent of movable type printing, provided the impetus to publish the Greek text of the New Testament. In a race with the appearance of Cardinal Ximenes' Complutensian New Testament (printed in 1514 but not issued until around 1522), Erasmus published his Greek New Testament in 1516 (second edition 1519, and a further three editions). This text was based mainly on two late Byzantine manuscripts (supplemented by three or four others, dating to around the twelfth century), with some portions of Revelation retroverted from Latin because of the limitations of his manuscripts. The preface to the second edition of the Elzevirs' printing of a Greek New Testament in 1633 (resembling that of Erasmus but based on one of Beza from 1565) contained reference to the text as the one that was ‘received’ by all. This Textus Receptus was used by New Testament Greek scholarship until the nineteenth century, when publication of the major early codexes (fourth and fifth centuries), and discovery of the Greek papyri (not fully appreciated until the twentieth century, however), shifted the textual basis of New Testament scholarship toward the Alexandrian tradition. Constantin Tischendorf established the importance of these recent textual findings, issuing eight editions of the Greek New Testament, especially utilizing in the eighth edition his recently discovered Codex Sinaiticus (1869). B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, however, became probably the most well-known systematizers of the principles of textual criticism, when they published their Greek New Testament and principles of textual criticism in 1881—a system still used widely in creating today's eclectic text: that is, one that collates a number of manuscripts, rather than relying exclusively on one. Nevertheless, they relied heavily upon the codexes Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, against which readings in other manuscripts were assessed. In 1898, Eberhard Nestle created a completely eclectic text by collating the readings in Westcott and Hort's, Tischendorf's, and at first Richard Weymouth's and later Bernhard Weiss's editions, the basis of the current Nestle–Aland New Testament (27th edition, Aland 1993). In the early 1960s, in an effort to provide a Greek text for Bible translators, Eugene Nida instigated the American Bible Society's Greek New Testament project. That edition, although originally independent, is now the same text as the Nestle–Aland text since its 26th edition (1979) and the third edition of the UBS text, which itself has reached four editions (1966, 1968, 1975 corr. 1983, 1993).

A number of texts have formed the bases of other versions of the Bible discussed below. We do not have the exact text that was used for the Authorized Version (or King James Bible), but a reconstructed text was issued by F. H. A. Scrivener in 1881 as part of the revisions for the Revised Version, and was thought by him to reflect the fifth edition of Beza's text, published in 1598 (others have thought it reflects an edition published by Stephanus in 1550). Organizations such as the Trinitarian Bible Society have continued to keep editions of the Textus Receptus in print. An edition of the majority text, relying upon the Byzantine textual tradition and in many ways resembling the Textus Receptus, has been issued by Zane Hodges and A. L. Farstad (1982). The text of Hermann von Soden (1913) was used by Moffatt for his translation (the only major version to follow von Soden). Richard Weymouth published the Greek text that he translated (1886), which was based upon a collation of the major published editions available in the nineteenth century, including those that followed the Textus Receptus and the Alexandrian textual tradition. R. V. G. Tasker in 1964 published the eclectic Greek text followed by the New English Bible, with appended notes regarding variant readings.

Since the time of the Revised Version, there has been a definite rejection of the Textus Receptus as the basis of modern English translations, and the acceptance of the Alexandrian textual tradition in the form of various eclectic texts, especially that of Nestle–Aland. With the number of complete or nearly complete early codexes, such as Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, however, it would be possible for New Testament scholars to use a single manuscript as their textual basis. Early complete New Testament manuscripts are much closer to the time of writing than are later eclectic texts (and even the single text Hebrew manuscripts used in Old Testament study). One advantage of using a single manuscript is that it represents an actual text that was utilized historically and transmitted within a faith community, unlike the modern eclectic text, which is a product of nineteenth- and twentieth-century scholarship, not that of an ancient church.

b. Issues in Translational Theory

The ancients themselves were familiar with the issue of translation—although in the West this usually meant translation of ancient documents into Greek. The Septuagint, the most important and largest translation project of the ancient Western world, no doubt came about because most ancient Jews, especially those in Egypt, did not know Hebrew. There were probably also non-Jews who wished to read the Hebrew Scriptures, but they did not know, nor were willing to learn, ancient Hebrew. As a result of such situations, a number of ancient writers, such as Cicero, reflected upon translation. However, there was no consistent ancient theory of translation. Instead, one discovers a range of approaches among ancient translations—even the Septuagint includes a number of translational styles, moving (interestingly enough) from a more fluid and literary translation in the Pentateuch to increasingly more literalistic translation in later books (on these issues, see Porter 2001a, 2001b, 2005).

1. Formal and Dynamic Equivalence Most translation in the ancient world, as well as into modern times, followed what has come to be called literalistic or formal equivalence translation—even though a number of earlier translators were not slavish in their renderings. Formal or literalistic translation, represented in such translations as the Authorized Version, the Revised Standard Version in English, and the English Standard Version, is characterized by what is claimed to be a close following of the original text, a consistency in the translation of individual words, word order that reflects the original, and even an archaic type of language that maintains the biblical sound of the tradition.

In the middle of last century, Nida began systematizing a new approach to biblical translation. In his major works (1964; Nida and Taber 1976; De Waard and Nida 1986), Nida developed his dynamic or, now, functional, equivalence translational principles. Rejecting theories regarding the specialness of the Greek of the New Testament, Nida endorses the notion that the Greek reflects the common language of the Mediterranean world of the time. He believes that there was mutual understanding between users and receivers, governed by the speaker's intention. It is the distinctive characteristics of each language, however, that create the problems for translation, since these features demand that the content be preserved even if the incidentals, such as form, must be changed. Nevertheless, he endorses the notion that what can be said in one language can be said in another.

As a consequence, Nida developed his now well-known theory of kernel sentences in relation to the source—message—receptor structure of language. He also utilizes the notions of surface and underlying kernel sentences, in which similar surface structures do not necessarily mean that the underlying kernels are the same. As a result, the translator must analyse the surface construction in the source language and render this into its kernel, and then transfer this to the receptor language, and render it in the surface structure. The example that Nida utilizes is Mark 1: 4, and the phrase that John preached ‘a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins’. This phrase consists of five ‘basic kernels’ and their proposed relations: (1) ‘John preached X’ (X stands for the entire indirect discourse), (2) ‘John baptizes the people’, (3) ‘The people repent’, (4) ‘God forgives X’, (5) ‘the people sin’. Nida then offers two means of rendering the phrase—‘I will baptize you’ or ‘You will receive baptism’, for languages that do not have passive formations, and ‘John preached, “Repent and be baptized, so that God will forgive the evil you have done”’, for those that do.

Several criticisms have been raised against Nida's theory—although much translation theory, at least in biblical studies, continues to look to Nida for guidance. The first concerns his kernel-based theoretical model (Porter 1999). Nida's model has not kept pace with developments in the Chomskyan-influenced linguistic world, but continues to reflect a model similar to Chomsky's early phrase-structure model (Chomsky 1957). This model has been superseded in the eyes of many. There are also doubts as to whether there is any method by which recovery of meaning at the deep structure is possible. Further questions have been raised about the relationship between the Chomskyan theory and the applied translational theory of Nida. The example of Mark 1: 4, an attempt to bridge this gap, has been criticized for lack of precision.

A second criticism concerns functional equivalence itself. There is the question of whether functional equivalence is a goal that can be attained, and if so, whether it is desirable to attempt to do so (Van Leeuwen 2001). Rather than run the risk of distortion of the message of the original, it has been argued that features of the original should be preserved, especially when there are not direct equivalences between the original and receptor languages. It is only when these features are maintained that an equivalent effect can be maintained.

The third criticism concerns common language translation. The question has been raised as to whether, especially in English, the same principles of translation should be utilized for a culture in which the Bible is being rendered into a language receiving the Bible for the first time (Ryken 2002). This is a criticism of restricting oneself to a single translation, rather than being a criticism of dynamic equivalence translation itself. The notion of a common language translation, however, would appear to have its rightful place in the increasingly diverse cultural world in which English is the world language.

There are a number of other models of translation that have been, or are being, developed (see the essays in Wilt 2003). These include discourse-based models, the application of relevance theory, and the use of systemic linguistics, to name a few. In many ways, however, each of these more recent developments reflects or responds to the underlying principles of dynamic equivalence translation theory as pioneered by Nida.

2. Gender and Language Issues One of the most highly contentious issues in recent discussion of Bible translation is how to render gendered language in a gender-free, gender-neutral, or gender-inclusive way. These grammatical issues impinge on the larger issue of the male orientation of the biblical world, and how one might address that through translation (individual translations are discussed further below).

The New Revised Standard Version and the Revised English Bible were the first major Bibles to be published as gender-sensitive Bibles (the New Jerusalem Bible made some attempt to address the issue). The appearance of the New Revised Standard Version, more so than the Revised English Bible, caused little reaction focused on their gender-inclusive language. The attempt to introduce in North America a New International Version reflecting gender-free language was not so successful. Such a Bible was published in the United Kingdom (1995), but a concurrent attempt in the United States brought a reaction that resulted in the publisher withdrawing this revised version (see Strauss 1998, Carson 1998, and Poythress and Grudem 2000). Then, in 2001, the publisher decided to publish the TNIV New Testament, amid a predictable amount of furore but an equal, if not larger, attempt by the publisher to justify the venture by marshalling the opinions of supporters and orchestrating mass distributions of these New Testaments.

The immediate issue stems from the linguistic questions involved—even if there are underlying (and sometimes unspoken) theological issues. Greek has grammatical gender: that is, certain kinds of words that appear with a designation of gender (e.g. masculine, feminine, or neuter). This gender often follows natural gender, but not always (e.g. ‘woman’ is feminine, but ‘child’ is neuter). In ancient times, if there was a single male in an audience of women, reference to the group would require a masculine word-form. An example is use of the Greek masculine word ‘brethren’ when speaking to a group of Christians that might include numerous women. Further, there are certain words that are used to speak of representative individuals (e.g. ‘someone’), and these words are gendered also. There is the further question of how one speaks of God—and here the theological issues confront the linguistic. The word for ‘God’ in the Greek New Testament is grammatically masculine, so grammatical reference is made with masculine pronouns. Grammatically, concord of a masculine noun and masculine pronoun may be required, but recent theological discussion has raised the question of the gender of God, and whether it is now advisable to speak of God being masculine or feminine, or masculine and feminine, or whether these terms are even relevant at all.

Gender-inclusive Bibles have attempted to overcome some of these difficulties by adopting a number of contextually sensitive translational features. For example, in some contexts the word ‘they’ can be used to indicate male and female participants, while in others ‘brothers and sisters’ might be more appropriate; or the word ‘humanity’ or ‘humankind’ can be used for generic ‘man’. Not all problems can be solved so easily, however. Besides the problem with God mentioned above, there is the problem of Jesus Christ, who is clearly depicted in the New Testament as both a man and the saviour of humankind. For many, it is not an issue that Jesus is still referred to as a man, so long as his being the Christ is seen not to be gender-based. This raises further issues related to some of the earliest Christological controversies of the Church, regarding the human and divine natures of Jesus Christ and their interrelationships. Further difficulty is created by the title that Jesus often uses of himself, ‘son of man’, with its twofold gendered reference. One soon realizes that tension can often be created between the gendered basis of the original language and attempts to eradicate such reference in modern English.

3. Cultural Issues The modern Bible translation movement is closely linked with the modern missionary movement, so it is inevitable that issues regarding cultural imperialism are raised regarding translation. It has been argued recently, for example, that the kind of translation programme reflected by Nida imposes a cultural hegemony of the receptor language over the source language (Venuti 1995). This is caused by the fact that the translation, meant to be fully comprehensible in the receptor language, neglects both the context and the content of the source text. Venuti has argued for restraining ‘the ethnocentric violence of translation’ (p. 20), which, he believes, exerts control over the translated text. He believes that Nida's translational model domesticates the text in the process of creating fluent translations. As a result, differences in language and culture are sublimated to the influence of the receptor language. Venuti argues for a foreignizing translation that, while not free from its own cultural political agendas, ‘resists dominant target-language cultural values so as to signify the linguistic and cultural difference of the foreign text’ (p. 23).

It is probably not fair to chastise Nida and his fellow Bible translators for being culturally insensitive. Nevertheless, some important insights should be appreciated from the cultural critique of modern translational practice. One is that all translational theory—even that of those who criticize dynamic equivalence—is theory-laden, even (or especially?) for those who claim that they are trying to produce an especially accurate translation. However, while the cultural critique of translation has validity in our pluriform world, the critique is also objecting to much more than simply the particularities of modem Bible translation. There is what appears to be a cultural and religious disagreement between Nida and his objectors. The objection is to the particular Christian orientation of those involved in Bible translation world-wide. At the end of the day, one's response may be governed by one's agreement with the theological position of those involved in Bible translation.

c. Modern Translations of the Bible into English

Modern vernacular translations have often reflected the theological climate of the times, besides proving to be important linguistically (for more detail, see Ewert 1983; Porter 2001a). For a number of languages, such as German (Luther's Bible of 1522), a significant translation has been instrumental in fixing the modern form of the language. English had a number of important translations, such as those by Tyndale (1526) and Coverdale (1535), and the Bibles that preceded the Authorized Version (AV) or King James Bible (Great Bible 1539, Geneva Bible 1560, Bishops' Bible 1568)—all of which were drawn upon in various ways by those who translated the AV (1611). This Bible established itself as pre-eminent from the second half of the seventeenth until into the twentieth century.

Before the twentieth century, there had been a number of individual translations, such as by Wesley (1775), but the AV held sway. However, in the light of the efforts of individual scholars and new manuscript discoveries, the need for a revision of the AV was known. The formation in 1870 of a committee to oversee the revision of the AV created huge interest in new versions. As a result, there were more Bibles translated into English in the twentieth century than during any other period in history.

The translation that paved the way for most of these translations was the Revised Version. The committee formed in 1870 in England, which had representation by various denominations, and was shadowed by an American committee, sought to bring the Revised Version into line with recently discovered ancient manuscripts, to correct errors, and to clarify inconsistencies and ambiguous wording—all without unnecessarily changing the AV. The New Testament appeared in 1881 (Old Testament 1885, Apocrypha 1895). Despite large sales, the conservative revision committee was seen to have failed. Excluding those disappointed that favourite texts were now excluded (e.g. John 5:3–4; Acts 8:37; 1 John 5:7; the Westcott and Hort edition, being developed, was followed), the most important shortcoming was its inelegant English style, especially in the New Testament, because of an attempt to render each Greek word with the same English word, a practice not followed in the AV. The American counterpart, the American Standard Version (1901), bolder than its English counterpart in eliminating archaisms, was more popular. This failed attempt helped to set the stage for more, rather than fewer, modern translations in the twentieth century.

In the history of translation, one of the noteworthy tensions has been between versions produced by individuals and those by committees, of which there have been numbers by each. Once the need for a more up-to-date English version had been illustrated by the failed Revised Version, a number of individuals in the first half of the twentieth century produced their own versions. Motivated by differing circumstances, these individuals produced a number of credible and well-received translations. The success of the personal translations then gave renewed impetus to committee translations, which dominated translation in the second half of the twentieth century.

Even after considerable passing of time, several personal translations still merit comment. Weymouth's (1903)—the result of his having worked with other translation projects, his classical expertise, and his work in textual criticism (see above)—was published as a supplement to other versions as a contemporary English translation. The Scottish pastor and scholar James Moffatt published two translations—The Historical New Testament (1901) and his better-known New Translation (New Testament 1913, Old Testament 1924, combined version 1926). Moffatt, an innovative translator, wished to overcome the archaisms of the AV and reflect what he considered the most important linguistic advances. This led to the major criticisms of the translation, especially his using Old Testament source criticism and von Soden's Greek text.

The first American English personal translation of lasting value was made by Edgar J. Goodspeed. Goodspeed, a New Testament scholar with interest in the recently discovered Greek papyri, wished to produce a translation in American English suitable for public use. The New Testament of his An American Translation (1923) was written in a smooth American English, evidencing much detailed knowledge of the Greek text (Old Testament by J. M. P. Smith 1927, combined edition 1931). Goodspeed's teaching at the University of Chicago, considered by many a theologically liberal institution, and his wording that differed from the AV (though more accurate), resulted in much criticism of the translation.

Catholics during this time continued to use the Douai–Rheims translation of the Vulgate (New Testament 1582, Old Testament 1609–10, revised in the eighteenth century by Richard Challoner; reprinted numerous times in the nineteenth century). A revision of this translation was thought necessary, and the British Catholic scholar and man of letters Ronald Knox completed his revision of the New Testament in 1945 (Old Testament 1949). His attempt to render the language of the Vulgate into what a native English-speaker would say was commendable; but, since 1943, and especially after Vatican II, Catholic scholars were allowed and even encouraged to utilize the original languages, so his version is anachronistic.

From his work with British youth during the Second World War, J. B. Phillips wanted to communicate the Bible to those who did not understand biblical English. He produced a translation that reflected spoken English, translating the original in a smooth, flowing, and understandable language. Beginning with his Letters to Young Churches (1947), which included Paul's letters, Hebrews, and the catholic epistles (with a laudatory preface by C. S. Lewis), and following on with other parts (Gospels in 1952, Acts in 1955, and Revelation in 1957), Phillips issued his entire New Testament in 1958. Phillips produced a revised edition in 1972, based upon the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament, rather than his earlier use of Westcott and Hort. Many consider Phillips's translation to reflect high literary sensitivity, although most probably consider it too paraphrastic.

Other personal translations of the New Testament worth noting, including those produced in the second half of the twentieth century, include Gerrit Verkuyl's Berkeley Version (New Testament 1945, entire Bible 1959); that of the Jewish scholar Hugh Schonfield, the first Jewish translator of the New Testament into English (1955); the classical scholar E. V. Rieu's Penguin Gospels (1952), and his son C. H. Rieu's Acts of the Apostles (1957); that of the classical scholar Richmond Lattimore (Gospels 1962, Acts and Letters 1982); the paraphrase of the American Standard Version by Kenneth Taylor in his Living Bible (1971); and the Presbyterian minister Eugene Peterson's The Message: The New Testament in Contemporary Language (1993; entire Bible 2002). A revision of the Living Bible, using the Hebrew and Greek texts, has been published as the New Living Translation (1996). The translation of the New Testament in 1966 of the Today's English Version, which became the New Testament portion of the Good News Bible (1976), was done by essentially one person, Robert Bratcher (but this was never promoted as a personal translation) (see below).

These personal translations all represent significant achievements in the history of Bible translation. These translators had to overcome the resistance to creating any translation other than the AV in English-speaking circles, and did so by a combination of phenomenal learning and wise judgement in deciding how to render words and phrases into language understandable by their audiences. Without these individual efforts, the history of Bible translation would certainly be much impoverished.

The second half of the twentieth century was dominated by group translational projects. Such projects were undoubtedly slow in developing in the first half of the century on account of the failure of the Revised Version and the continuing admiration, even veneration, of the AV. A noteworthy exception (if it can be said to be so) is the Twentieth Century New Testament, a version by a small group of twenty ministers and laymen (none of them scholars) in 1902. The translators, concerned that the Bible be understood by readers in their own language as they use it, organized the New Testament in chronological order.

There are two committee-made translations created in the English-speaking world in the second half of the twentieth century that stand out above the rest. One is the Revised Standard Version, itself a revision of the American Standard Version. The International Council of Religious Education (later the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA) was given the copyright of the American Standard Version, and in 1937 set up a committee with broad denominational representation to oversee its revision. The translation was meant to preserve the AV where possible, but to take into consideration recent biblical scholarship, including textual criticism, and render this into a form of English that could be used for both public and private reading. The New Testament essentially used an eclectic text based on Nestle's Greek New Testament (16th (1936) and 17th (1941) editions). The Revised Standard Version returned to the AV's practice of rendering the same word by differing English words. The Revised Standard Version met with mixed reactions when the New Testament was published in 1946 (both Testaments 1952). For over twenty-five years, until the New International Version was published, it was the predominant English version. Among many revisions, in 1974 a project was started that resulted in the New Revised Standard Version with gender-neutral language (1989). The sometimes vitriolic negative reaction to the Revised Standard Version would seem quaint if it were not that similar kinds of reactions still confront translations (see above on the TNIV). There were accusations that theological truths had been lost in the translation. In many circles, the consensus is that the Revised Standard Version and now the New Revised Standard Version in most ways accomplished their purpose.

In Britain, the New English Bible attempted to be a completely new translation, rather than simply a revision of a previous translation. C. H. Dodd, and later G. R. Driver, headed a committee set up in 1947 to produce such a translation meant to have a timeless quality that avoided both archaisms and modernisms, did not preserve the language of former versions, and was written so that it could be used for reading aloud (New Testament 1961, complete Bible with Apocrypha 1970). However, it was criticized for not finding the right stylistic level—some thought that it had gone beyond what the average intelligent reader could understand, while others thought that it was rather too prosaic in its phrasing and expression. The New English Bible never caught on in North America. A revision, published in 1989 as the Revised English Bible, utilized inclusive gender (see above).

At about the same time in Britain, Roman Catholics undertook an English version directly from the original Hebrew and Greek, rather than from the Latin Vulgate. English-speaking Catholic scholars, including J. R. R. Tolkien, taking their model and inspiration (as well as the textual notes), from the French translation La Bible de Jerusalem (1956), produced their own rendering of the Hebrew and Greek (checked against the French version), publishing the Jerusalem Bible in 1966. The Jerusalem Bible, without the encumbrance of residual AV English still found in the Revised Standard Version, was designed especially as a study Bible. Revised and reissued as the New Jerusalem Bible in 1985, some have thought that its revisions are more literalistic than the earlier version. In the United States, the equivalent Catholic translation was the New American Bible. Originally the Confraternity Bible, this version took a long time to appear in its final form, due to changing policy on translation by the Roman Catholic Church. The New Testament, first translated from the Vulgate, was issued in 1941 (the Old Testament from the Hebrew in 1969). Retranslation of the New Testament from Greek delayed issuing of the entire Bible until 1970. The version has maintained some traditional Bible translation language, while utilizing some of the developments of the twentieth century, such as rendering the same word by differing English words depending upon context.

In the United States at about the same time, several other significant and lasting Bible translation projects were under way. A conservative foundation undertook publication of a new version of the Bible, out of concern that the virtues of the American Standard Version were being lost in the spate of translations since 1901. The New American Standard Bible was published with the New Testament in 1963 (entire Bible 1971, revised 1995). This version has proved highly useful for students of the original languages, because of the literalness of the translation, but it is far from fluid modern English.

The second, the translation of the Good News Bible, or Today's English Version, was the brain-child of Nida, and exemplifies his dynamic or functional equivalence translation theory (see above). As a result, technical and biblical language are avoided, expressing the text in short sentences utilizing limited vocabulary. Sponsored by the American Bible Society, the New Testament was translated from the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament by Robert Bratcher, and appeared as Good News for Modern Man: The New Testament in Today's English Version (1966, with subsequent editions; entire Good News Bible 1976, with Apocrypha 1979; now known as the Good News Translation). This translation has been widely used by those for whom English is not their first language, and as an aid in rendering the Bible into languages for which the Bible is the first written document—although many castigated it because of what they perceived as theological deficiencies. Reflecting the same translational tradition, but with more attention to its place at the end of a process beginning with the AV, is the Contemporary English Version. Utilizing the latest Greek texts (UBS Greek New Testament, third and fourth editions, 1975 and 1993), this translation utilizes dynamic or functional equivalence, while also wishing to be seen as a translation that preserves the virtues of the AV in its literary style. The Contemporary English Version (currently under revision) was published in 1995, and aroused the same kind of negative response as did the Good News Bible.

Along with the Revised Standard Version, the most significant American translation to date is the New International Version. Growing out of a concern of some American denominations to find a general purpose Bible in contemporary English (they rejected the Revised Standard Version), the New International Version committee, set up in 1965, brought together scholars from not only the United States but other English-speaking countries, such as Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand—hence its name. In many ways a conservative alternative to the Revised Standard Version, the New International Version used a text very similar to that of the standard eclectic Greek New Testament, and was published in 1973 (entire Bible 1978). A gender-neutral version, Today's New International Version, has recently been published to great fanfare (New Testament 2001; entire Bible 2005), as noted above. At times the NIV/TNIV is colloquial and unstilted, while at other times it retains biblical language. Not as dependent upon the tradition of the AV as the Revised Standard Version, the NIV/TNIV is generally consistent in its renderings of gender-neutral language.

This survey will close with reference to three further translations, which perhaps reflect the diversity now present in English translations. Not unexpectedly, Bible translation has not escaped the desire to be technologically up-to-date. The result has been a number of translations that are now available in a variety of machine-readable forms, including availability on the internet and on CD-roms. Whereas most of these translations are electronic forms of previously made translations, one translation, the NET Bible (New English Translation), has been developed in both print and electronic form from the start (1996 and following). This translation seems to follow a modified form of dynamic equivalence. Distinctives of this translation are its availability for free distribution through the net and its publication with extensive and insightful notes, which comment on a range of issues from language to theology. By contrast, the English Standard Version (2001) is a conscious attempt to pull back from dynamic equivalence translation and produce what the publisher describes as an ‘essentially literal’ translation based on the Revised Standard Version. More specifically, in the area of gendered language, the translation endorses the use of ‘he’ on the basis of how the pronouns are used in the original language and as consistent with its literalistic approach. In some ways, this makes it surprising that they also endorse for the most part the use of the eclectic text of Nestle–Aland and the United Bible Societies. The Holman Christian Standard Bible (2000) attempts to hold a mediating position. Rejecting both formal equivalence and dynamic equivalence, the Holman Bible contends that it follows a principle of optimal equivalence: that is, being literal where possible and dynamic where necessary, so as to optimize meaning. In other words, as the twenty-first century gets under way, there are translations of the Bible that represent the range of translational methodologies, as well as availing themselves of the latest in technology to package the modern form of the ancient text.

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