A couple of years ago I wrote several posts on my search for a mediating or neutral Bible translation. I grew up on the King James Version and had the pleasure of being able to share the same text with Christians in most denominations, and those of the Jewish and academic communities.
I experienced a real shock when I first read some of the translations published in the last 10 years. I realized that each one would only appeal to a relatively small segment of the Bible reading community. There would no longer be a common text.
I experience this as a real loss. At first I thought that a translation which was relatively literal could be acceptable to all. The KJV is very careful in many ways, not always, but for the most part, to not add interpretive words. No other translation since has been so careful.
I actually thought that we could have a translation today that we could share, that would keep Christendom from fracturing into a thousand pieces, that could be the reference text for dialogue with others. However, I was told that this was very unlikely.
- “I fully agree that these exists when they really shouldn’t. The disadvantage is that they discriminate against others who are outside the circle of insiders. Personally, I try not to use them and would discourage others from accepting shibboleths as a group identity.”
What a thoughtful response. We don’t want to exclude others with the Bible translation we use. This thought has also been a view expressed notably by Chris Heard some time ago, and Iyov. (Unfortunately I cannot cite exact posts but I wish to acknowledge the posts they have made on this issue.)
I had an experience today of realizing that certain English translations published recently had a small feature of their translation which might make them quite unsuitable for a wider audience. I wonder what others think of this.
This is Psalm 51:11,
- Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. (KJV 1987 edition)
In most recent evangelical translations of the Bible “holy spirit” has been written as “Holy Spirit.” This form is found in the (T)NIV, ESV, NASB, NLT, CEV, NKJV, HCSB. (The NLT provides this footnote: Or your spirit of holiness.)
The Darby translation offers this alternative.
- 11Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not the spirit of thy holiness from me. Darby
The JPS does not capitalize “holy spirit,” as one would expect. Nor does Robert Alter. It appears to me that the publishers of the Bibles mentioned above are well aware that these Bibles will not meet the needs of a wider community. They are for insiders.
Those Bibles which do not capitalize “holy spirit” are the JB (1966); NAB (1969); NEB (1970); and NRSV (1989).
What I am wondering is whether capitalizing words in the Hebrew Bible which could possibly refer to members of the trinity is a shibboleth. Do those in evangelical circles expect this of their Bibles?