Friday, January 6, 2012

NIV Translation Posts Compiled

Thanks to one of our friends who has compiled all of our IL posts on Bible translation issues into a single Word document. It's split up below into one file that contains the comments under each post, and another file without the comments. Click on the links below to download.

NNIV Thoughts with Comments

NNIV Thoughts

Another of our friends presented this interesting observation:
    I frequently hear advocates of the 2011 NIV use the following argument to give merit to the translation:

      95% is the same as the 1984 version

      3.5% is better

    What then goes without saying is that 1.5% is worse, and that number sounds very small.

    There are ~775,000 words in the Bible. I’m sure it varies a few hundred from translation to translation. 1.5% is ~12000 words. 12000 words is 15-20 pages, depending on font type and size. So, if one wants to rationalize with numbers, a small number like 1.5% becomes a very big number in terms of words and pages. And I am again reminded of Luther's words regarding purity of doctrine.


Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

95% is the same as the 1984 version... 3.5% is better, 1.5% worse...

This is the famous KISS-L approach of reducing a complex subject to manipulate people perceived to be "simpletons," who are going to cast a vote: Keep It Simple for the Stupid Laymen. "Here are three statistics with arbitrary value assigned to them, now go make your decision." Laymen everywhere ought to be deeply offended by such dismissive tactics.

This sort of vast oversimplification is not only misleading, but is devised to avoid the difficult job of actually educating the laity and of facing their challenges when they discover that, on average, roughly 60% of every page of a Dynamic/Functional Equivalence Bible is composed of English words which do not appear directly in the source texts at all, but are constructed by the translator to, in his judgement, "functionally say the same thing" (in fact, one study of 170 random verses in the NIV1984 counted 4576 English words to translate 3164 words from the original language; of these, 2265 English words [49%] were added without direct support in the original texts, while 1522 of the words in the original texts [48%] were left untranslated). Even more startling to the layman who actually becomes informed, is that the "construction" of the NIV2011 translators in the "12,000 words of it which are worse," imposes a quasi-egalitarian worldview on the entire message of Scripture, a worldview which is utterly foreign to that of its authors and to historic Christianity.

By contrast, there were only a few difficulties with the RSV, prompting WELS to reject it and investigate other options. Rev. Brian Keller (WELS) in his essay, Evaluating Bible Translations: Alle Schrift von Gott eingegeben [from pp. 12-13]

------ Begin Extended Quote
Many conservative Bible scholars declared the RSVʼs treatment of Old Testament prophecies about the coming Savior to be unacceptable. Perhaps the most wellknown example of this was the RSVʼs use of the words “young woman” instead of “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14 RSV [compare Isaiah 7:14 ESV, c.f. Matthew 1:23 RSV and compare Matthew 1:23 ESV). Another concern was removing some passages that declared Jesus to be true God (see Romans 9:5 RSV, compare Romans 9:5 ESV). Some might have gained from reading some passages of the RSV, but there is a stigma attached to the RSV.

The RSV has essentially been superseded by the NRSV... But, the truth is that the ESV scholars and translators were determined to correct the problems of the RSV, while saving the better parts. There were many parts that were useful. In fairness, WLS professors from the 1950ʼs often spoke of some of these positive aspects of the RSV. WELS ultimately declined to use it due to the serious doctrinal problems. Yet, it is interesting to trace the history of how the RSV was treated by the WELS and WLS... The first quotations in WLQ are positive ones.

The review of the RSV includes this paragraph early on:

It would be neither correct nor fair to denounce the translation of the New Testament in the RSV in sweeping, categorical terms because of errors in fact or misinterpretations that we have found in it. We believe that there are such. But the fact remains that “there are many things that can and should be said in favor of” the RSV of the Bible and of its New Testament in particular. Professor Reim has promised to point such out in an early issue of The Northwestern Lutheran, and coming issues of our Synodʼs periodicals will no doubt publish articles on both the things to becommended and those to be criticized in the new version.

Continued in next comment...

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

...Continued from previous comment.

Professor Blumeʼs conclusion to that WLQ article strikes a chord with me in this discussion:

“Is the RSV really the New Testament in modern American speech?” and “Is it the best that modern scholarship can produce?”, our reply shall have to be: “As we can see it now, the answer is No on both counts.” What answers our pastors will give to the questions of those of their people who have bought and are reading the RSV poses a much more difficult problem. Since last September this writer has become increasingly convinced that no answer to our peopleʼs inquiries will be completely satisfactory to them or to us until we have given them a version of the New Testament that will do for our generation what Lutherʼs New Testament of 1522 did for the Germany of his day.

---End Quote---

From the same Essay, we learn that it wasn't 1.5%, or around 12,000 words of the Bible which were in dispute, but a relatively few passages: [from pg. 41]

"The famous deal-breaker of the RSV was the use of “young woman” in Isaiah 7:14. In the immediate context of Isaiah chapter seven, and the wider context of Matthew 1, “young woman” simply will not cut it. It is an inaccurate and unacceptable translation."

"Young Woman" in the RSV? Compared to 12,000 words in the NNIV? Big deal. "Young Woman" can be fixed with a bottle of white-out; 12,000 words which impose a foreign worldview on the Scriptures cannot be -- but we're willing to live with it anyway, because "There is no such thing as a perfect translation..." Or are we "living with it" at all? I get the distinct impression that it is the ardent desire of those who advocate the NNIV to impose this new worldview on Scripture.

Anonymous said...

" This is the famous KISS-L approach of reducing a complex subject to manipulate people perceived to be "simpletons," who are going to cast a vote: Keep It Simple for the Stupid Laymen. "

Back in the 90's ... there was the "whole language" controversy in our WELS grade schools. At the time I said ... " what are you going to do if 'whole language' happens to the Bible ?"

2 Peter 3:16 "..... His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction."

One wonders what would Paul's letters read today if the goal is not to have something that might be hard to understand ?


Anonymous said...

It seems like one of the main criteria put forth by the TEC is "Readability". Thinking in particular of the original Greek letters by Paul to the various congregations. These letters were written, by inspiration, with the knowledge that they would be read to the congregations. The congregations would have been composed of rich and poor, educated and illiterate, free and slave; quite a diverse mix to say the least. Would the Greek have been written in a style which would meet our criteria for "Readability" or can a style even be assigned to the writings? Where I am going with this is that if Letters which were written with the knowledge they were going to be read were not written in an easy to read vernacular/conversational style, why should we be putting such an emphasis on "Readability"?

Lee A Liermann

Pastor Jeff Samelson said...

I just tried downloading the documents above and got an error message indicating the files aren't available anymore. Is the problem on your end or mine?


Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Sorry, Jeff. Problem was on our end. Try again. It should work now. If not, let us know!

Anonymous said...

I hear that the TEC along with others are now being charged with the task of reviewing the ESV and HSBC along with the NIV11. With the hope of adopting one at the 2013 Synod Convention.

Is this a gracious way out of the NIV11 and would either the ESV or HSBC be acceptable alternatives even worthy of consideration?

Lee Liermann

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