A new Friday feature on the NLT Blog, TWIB will be a look back at the week that was in the world of Bibles. I’ll post links to stories and blog posts that caught my attention throughout the week along with some brief commentary.
The big new this week, of course, was the relaunch of the NLT Blog. However, in some circles that news was overshadowed by the online release of the New International Version’s latest revision (go figure). Ahead of the release of the text, Bible Gateway, in conjunction with the Gospel Coalition, launched the Perspectives in Translation Forum, a blog-like entity that is presenting answers from a variety of scholars on a set of really interesting questions surrounding English Bible translation. The posts are all worth reading, but my two favorites so far are Robert Yarbrough’s post on what makes a Bible translation accurate (Answer: that’s a complicated question with multiple answers) and Doug Moo’s post on Romans 1:17, which is really more about the practice of translation and the usefulness of the category “literal.”
I’ve spent a bit of time reading through parts of the new NIV, and my main response is a hearty “thank you” to the fine men and women who poured themselves into the process of translating with an eye toward helping the English-speaking world connect with God’s Word. I know a couple of the members of that translation team personally, and I know that they live out the dictum expressed by J.A. Bengel: “Apply yourself wholly to the text; apply the text wholly to yourself.” These men and women deserve our respect; I’m not suggesting that we can’t closely scrutinize their work and offer opinions, but I do think we should avoid impugning their motives or offering criticism without grace and thankfulness for their body of work. You can get a small glimpse at the breadth of their work here, and please watch this video to see the heart of the committee.
NIV Reviews and New Websites
There have been a number of responses to the NIV throughout the blogosphere, and others have offered a roundup. Here I’ll point to a particularly helpful early review from Rick Mansfield and a perspective from the Christian bookstore industry. But you can look at the text yourself on Bible Gateway, and even compare it to the earlier NIV reading and the TNIV. Click this link to see a four-column comparison of my favorite passage in the NLT, NIV (1984), TNIV, and NIV (2011). If you clicked on that link, you also might have noticed the new beta edition of Bible Gateway, which is pretty significant Bible news in its own right. (Speaking of new Bible websites, did you notice the new ESV website that also launched this week?)
If reading through one passage at a time is too slow for you, and you want a firehose of data about the changes that were made to the text of the NIV, go check out the work of Robert Slowley or John Dyer. These guys have done a great service to everyone interested in Bible translation by pulling together all this data and providing some statistical analysis. There is a lot of information there to drill down into, so take your time and check it out.
Old News Department
Technically this happened last week, but it is worth noting that Logos Bible Software, in partnership with SBL, released a free edition of the Greek New Testament with a unique critical apparatus. It is also worth noting that the Greek text behind the NLT, the result of the text-critical decisions of the NLT translation team, is also freely available with some great lexical and search tools online at http://NLTInterlinear.com, and has been for over a year now.
One more link I’d like to mention. I don’t really listen to podcasts anymore, but a few years back I was following one that read a chapter of the NLT every day. I really enjoyed it, but then they slowed down and eventually stopped. I just heard this week that Ryan Haack is back at it again, and if you join him tomorrow, you’ll be just in time to catch Philemon.
That’s all we have today for This Week in Bibles. If you have suggestions for posts that you think ought to be included or blogs that I should be reading but haven’t linked to, let me know in the comments or send me an email at KeithWilliams dot NLT @ gmail.
BTW, the title of this feature is a hat-tip to one of my favorite television programs as a kid, This Week in Baseball. In the pre-Internet age, TWIB and daily newspaper box scores were all a young baseball fan would need to keep on top of the sport.