Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New English Bible Translation

I am glad to report that a new ecumenical Bible translation project is in development (as yet unnamed) but you can read the details about it over at the graphe site. As for the aim of the translation: "We intend to introduce and distribute a new ecumenical Bible translation to congregations. This completely new translation (title to come) will be an excellent rendition of the original texts and also a document that is accessible to readers of the Bible in our churches. The new Bible translation would be pitched at an 8th grade reading level (compare 11th grade for the NRSV), so that it might enjoy wider use. The new translation will be used in the teaching and worship practices of congregations in at least the following traditions: Presbyterian, Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, and the United Church of Christ. Readers and seekers from many other traditions will benefit also from this new translation."

The editors include:

David L. Petersen, Old Testament Editor
Joel B. Green, New Testament Editor
Elizabeth Caldwell, Readability Editor
David A. deSilva, Apocrypha Editor
Emerson B. Powery, Greek Associate Editor for Apocrypha and NT
Brent A. Strawn, Hebrew Associate Editor
Cynthia Long Westfall, Greek Associate Editor
Carol A. Wehrheim, Associate Readability Editor

And before anyone knocks it, I'm doing the translation of 1 Esdras.


David Reimer said...

Well ... of course one wishes a project like this well. So, not “knocking”, per se...

...But at the same time I confess to a certain heart-sinking feeling. Do we really need another English translation?? I confess, too, to a twinge of cynicism when considering the economics of Bible publishing (in the U.S.A. in particular).

I'm also interested in the promises that this version will provide (quoting from the graphe website):

1. Clarity of language, as in "plain speaking"
2. A reliable, genuine, and credible power to transform lives
3. An emotional expectation to find the love of God
4. A rational expectation to find the knowledge of God

I could have sworn that #2 was something that one relied on the Holy Spirit for, and that isn't in the gift of a translation committee to "promise". And how can they "promise" readerly (?) expectations in ## 3-4 anyway?!

Sigh! OK. I think I'm done. :)

David Reimer

Peter M. Head said...

Excellent. Just what we need. We can add it to the 1,634 other English translations of the Bible. Cool, this is the 1,635th - the one we were all waiting for.

Richard A. Rhodes said...

I'll repeat here the jist of the comment I made on Metacatholic, Better Bibles, and Ancient Hebrew Poetry.

Any project that has Joel Green is likely to be good, at least for the NT.

That said, I’m concerned that this project, like all the contemporary translations is audience-driven rather than text-driven.

For my money what’s missing from English translations is a respect for the text as primary. Every translation is colored by concerns of political correctness or theological correctness, concern for audience (aimed at xth grade), and/or continuity of a translational tradition.

Why can’t we just have a straight up translation concerned with accuracy first? Something that hits the English speaker’s ear the way the original hit the Greek and Hebrew speaker’s ear. Clear and simple where it was clear and simple. Literary where it was literary. Challenging where it was challenging. Obscure where it was obscure. (I think Revelations left Greek speakers scratching their heads, too.) (We over at Better Bibles Blog spend a lot of time talking about just such translational accuracy.)

Is it that Bibles are such a valuable commodity that we are always under the curse of being market driven?