Those who listened to my old podcast, Rediscovering the Bible, know that I used to review various translations of the Bible after I’d read them. Since it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to continue that podcast I’m going to use this space to keep you updated on my perceptions of translations. And, I’ll, overtime, go back and write up some reviews for you of the translations I talked about on Rediscovering.
I know that many of you read my page because of the Keto Diet posts, and I appreciate that. A few stop by looking for posts on dogs. Stick around, I’m going to do one of those tomorrow. I’ll be writing about the Westminster Dog Show that was held on Saturday and Sunday. And a handful of readers are here because of some of the podcasts I recorded dealing with paranormal activities. You’re in luck, too, because I have some things to write, or maybe record, about that.
The fact of the matter, though, is that of all the topics I write and talk about, Jesus tops the list. The Bible is His Word, and I love it. I read an average of 6 chapters a day from the Bible. Sometimes more, once in a while a little less. But one of the things I try and do, is read a different translation through each time. That way I can see the Bible from a slightly different angle each time. I’ve done this for years, and I really like it.
I have studied Greek and Hebrew. But I’m not proficient enough in either language to read the Bible devotionally from those original tongues. When I need to, I can translate a verse or two, and I can certainly look up words and phrases. But I’m not a language scholar, by any stretch of the imagination. Heck, I’m from Kentucky. I’m not even an English scholar!
This time through, I’m reading an English translation of the Septuagint as my Old Testament version. The Septuagint, sometimes referred to as LXX (70), is the Greek translation of the Old Testament that was popular in the first century. This was the translation that the writers of the New Testament used most often when they quoted the Old Testament. This was the Bible the early Christians used to spread the good news throughout the world. I will review it for you once I’m done. I’m only in 2 Kings right now.
For the New Testament, I used the New American Standard Bible (NASB). A new edition came out in 2020, so I thought it was time I tried it. Here are my thoughts.
First, I have never been much of a fan of the NASB. I had to use it for some classes and projects back in the mid 1970s during my undergrad work. I didn’t like it then, at all. In those days I was a huge fan of the shiny, brand new, New International Version. I found that things hadn’t changed much in my enjoyment of the NASB.
The NASB is unique in modern Bible translations. Many, like the New Living, the Good News, or the New International, have tried a style of translation that translates thought for thought, rather than word for word. It makes the Bible much easier to read, but it has a tendency to lean a bit on the translator’s theology. That’s why there are committees that do these translations. The committees are always from a variety of denominational backgrounds to try and weed out any biases.
Even the venerable King James Version is loaded with theological and even political biases. Loaded. Some day we’ll talk about it.
The NASB, has stood head and shoulders above the crowd, working hard to make a word for word translation of the Bible, yet make it readable. It’s that last part where problems come in, and it’s natural. Greek and Hebrew syntax are different than English. All languages are different, that’s one of the things that makes learning a new language difficult. And one of the things we find amusing when someone from another country is trying to speak English.
The translators have been aware of this from the 70s, but their noble and faithful commitment to produce a great translation left them some challenges. They have improved them over the years, to be fair, but, for me, it is still hard to read the NASB. It doesn’t flow. It is stifled. I would honestly call it work to read. It’s fine for a few verses, or a chapter, but for reading devotionally, it requires a type of concentration that I do not possess.
Don’t get me wrong, the translation is awesome in it’s faithfulness (so says the non language scholar). It is great to keep around for study. Every preacher, every teacher should have a copy on his or her bookshelf to check regularly. Especially if you are weak in your Greek and Hebrew knowledge. I truly appreciate that aspect of the NASB. And I highly recommend it for that purpose.
As for devotions? Perhaps if you are a true literal thinker you might really like it. Certainly, if you’re at all concerned about doctrinal biases creeping into the Bible, you will not have to worry much. There is one place in Hebrews 6, where I have some questions, but again, I’m getting wordy, so we’ll save that for another day.
After all that, my summary is, I did not enjoy reading the NASB in my morning quiet time. It was work and if I was not committed to the Word, I would have stopped reading somewhere along the way in Matthew. I was, however, reminded of what a great study tool it is for use in preparing sermons and lessons, and will use it more frequently in that capacity.
If you’re new to the Bible, this has probably confused the fire out of you. And for that I’m sorry. What I try and do is help people find a translation that is easy for them to read and understand so that they learn to love the Bible. If you want to know more, and I hope you do, I will recommend my ebook, ‘(Re)Discovering the Bible‘. Just follow the link, or search in Amazon.
Thanks. Tomorrow, we’ll be back with a look at this past weekend’s Westminster Dog Show. Have a good one.