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New Translations Are Useful Resource For Bible Students

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A NUMBER of new English translations and revisions are available to the serious Bible student that shed new light on the meaning of the texts. The Revised Standard Version of 1952 has been updated in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). Neither is a new translation, but rather a revision of the King James Version (KJV). The New English Bible of 1970 has been updated as the Revised English Bible (REB).The Jewish Publication Society version of the Hebrew Bible, first published in 1917, has also been newly revised, as has the American Standard Version of 1901 under the title the New American Standard Version. There is even a New King James Bible, also a revision of the older version. The American Bible Society, which undertook the translation of the Today's English Version - completed in 1979 and known as the "Good News Bible has recently underwritten a new rendering titled the Contemporary English Vers ion. The New International Version (NIV) is another important and scholarly new edition that satisfies those conservative Bible students who were unhappy with the earlier Revised Standard Version and New English Bible when they came out. The New Jerusalem Bible is a scholarly and reputable updated version approved for Roman Catholic readers, but useful to all. Not everyone will be happy in all cases with these newer versions. For example, both the New Revised Standard and the Revised English have changed the meaning of Genesis 1:26-27 by substituting for the generic term "man" the equally correct "human beings" (REB) or "humankind" (NRSV). In defense of the new versions, it should be noted that the word used in the Hebrew text is "Adam," exactly the same in both Genesis 1:26-27 and Genesis 2:7. On the other hand, some of these new versions make the meanings much clearer. Take for example the opening verses in John's Gospel: "In the beginning the Word already was. The Word was in God's presence, and what God was, the Word was. He was with God from the beginning" (REB). In this instance, as it has done consistently where it was felt that the earlier version was accurate, the NRSV has kept the exact wording of the KJV. Both the NRSV and the REB translation committees were instructed to eliminate sexist language wherever possible without tampering with the text as originally written. In this regard, the New Revised Standard Version committee took a more conservative approach, while the Revised English Bible translators took a freer position. Some people may ask, why do we need so many new translations or revisions? First, because Biblical scholarship is a constant striving to get at the real meaning of the text. And second, because there are always new discoveries of ancient Biblical manuscripts and artifacts that challenge our often firmly held assumptions and change our theologically biased perceptions of Scripture. Keeping in mind when using any translation of Scripture the inescapable fact noted by one translator of the NRSV that "every translation is already an interpretation," the Bible student can nevertheless find renewed inspiration and clearer understanding by checking out several different versions. Each one is then free to choose for himself the translation that seems most insightful.


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