English Bible translations in progress

I know of three English committee Bible translations which are currently in progress:

  1. ISV (International Standard Version) – nearing completion. Isaiah, the last book, to be translated, is being translated directly from a Dead Sea scroll. The ISV team welcomes revision suggestions.
  2. NIV2011 – revision of the NIV. It will likely read much like the NIV, but the committee will revisit each controversial passage to try to avoid the rejection the TNIV received in some quarters. On this blog we are encouraging readers to submit revision suggestions.
  3. CEB (Common English Bible) – its first goal is clarity with “plain speaking”. It is especially intended to replace the NRSV among mainline denominations which desire to use a Bible version which uses more natural English. On BBB we are also encouraging readers to submit revision suggestions for the CEB.

I wish each of these translation teams well as they work to meet their goals. I also hope to compare some of their translation wordings in future posts. If you would like to do some of that comparison now, feel free to include it in the Comments to this post.

32 thoughts on “English Bible translations in progress

  1. Dru says:

    At $119.50 a copy with no sample even to enable one to find out anything about it, and a blurb that makes it clear it has an undivulged but idiosyncratic attitude towards original language manuscripts?

  2. Doug says:

    I wasn’t going to say anything, but it looks like “The Holy Bible in its Original Order” denies the trinity by claiming the Holy Spirit is not a person. I don’t think this is the place to include such a “Bible”.

  3. Peter Kirk says:

    Doug, where did you find this about “The Holy Bible in its Original Order” denying the trinity? It’s not on the version’s web page. But there is more than enough there to make me keep well away from this version, not just its price but also the ignorant way in which the results of proper translation theory as well as textual criticism are rejected as “corrupted” and “blasphemous”.

    The idea of restoring the original order of the books is an interesting one. But even if this version does what Frank Viola and George Barna have called for, as discussed by T.C. Robinson and others (including some discussion of the theological implications of reordering), I doubt if it will meet with their approval.

    Anyway, this is not a committee translation (just two translators, Coulter and Heiss) and is not work in progress as it has already been published, so why the mention here?

  4. Doug says:

    I googled it looking for reviews. Found one on Amazon.com. The author of the review said that the one of these two graduated from one of Armstrong’s colleges and that the articles in the back of the bible were anti-trinity. If I am wrong about this, I apoligize. I also suspect a translation that claims all others are corrupt in some way and theirs is the best.

  5. Doug says:

    The “original” order presupposes that there is value in that method. But what about the NT? We are not certain as to exact dates of Paul’s letters. And if an order could be found to build a systematic theology, does not also presuppose that Paul and the other writers of the NT were planning that and not writing to address a specific issue that arose in the Church?

  6. Peter Kirk says:

    I also suspect a translation that claims all others are corrupt in some way and theirs is the best.

    Me too. That’s why I don’t like ESV! 😉

    But, Doug, you miss the point on ordering. No one is suggesting that Paul was planning a systematic theology – rather the opposite. The point is that his theology was not systematic but developed as he encountered different situations – and that that process is clarified by looking at the order of his writings.

  7. Gary Simmons says:

    The ESV is… interesting. I enjoy the Literary Study Bible — although more for the commentary from Ryken than the text itself.

    The “Original Bible Restored” does hold some appeal to me because it’s (supposedly) bound in lambskin. It is a vanity, but I would like to own one such Bible. Just… not that one.

    Concerning the biblical book order: there really isn’t a good solution for the Gospels and Acts. Really, Luke and Acts should be together. My “solution” would be Matthew, Mark, John, Luke, Acts. Yes, it breaks up the synoptics, but so what? That’s better than disjointing a two-part series.

  8. Franklin Monroe says:

    The New Testament In Its Original Order by Fred R. Coulter was published in 2003 (York Publishing). Coulter completed biblical, Greek, and theological studies in California; and he has been a pastor of sabbath-keeping churches in the western US (mostly California). His unique translation is based upon the 1550 Stephen’s Greek. The historic order of the NT books are based upon some extant codices where the General Epistles (James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2, & 3 John, Jude) are found immediately following the Gospels and preceding the Pauline Epistles (traditional order begins with Romans and concludes with Philemon); Revelation is still the last book. So, Luke and Acts are still separated by John’s Gospel.

    My copy is hardbound, and too large to carry to church regularly (but the text is also big and easy on the eyes). About half the pages are dedicated to topical articles (History, Canonization, and Preservation of the Bible, etc.) and appendices of commentary (yes, there is one bout the Trinity).

    Apparently, Coulter collaborated with a Hebrew consultant to produce a translation of the Old Testament, which is presented in the order of the Jewish Tanakh (Torah, Prophets, Writings) and then combined it with the previously published NT.

  9. Dru says:

    Leaving aside the binding, the font and the choice of Greek text, what is it actually like as a translation? How accurate is it? How reliable is it on difficult translation choices? How readable is it?

  10. Doug says:

    Sorry Mr. Monroe. I was looking for something along the lines of Dru’s comment as a response, not a press release. And what is a “Hebrew consultant”?

  11. Michael Nicholls says:

    And what is a “Hebrew consultant”?

    Perhaps someone who knows Hebrew? I definitely think it’s important to have at least one person who knows Hebrew giving OT translation input. 😉

  12. Charles says:

    I realize this is off topic but don’t know of any other way….

    A while back someone here said it was, say less than scholarly for someone to rely on the Strong numbers encountered in certain versions of the KJV and NASB, but I forgot why.

    Could someone please refresh my memory?

  13. Richie says:

    I must have missed a change in policy of this blog. I thought it had been decided that bashing of the ESV would not be allowed.

    Would someone show me offical ESV literature that states or suggests that other translations are corrupt in some way.

    As for the promotion of one’s own translation of the Bible as the best just look, for example, at the TNIV website’s endorsements section.

  14. Wayne Leman says:

    Richie wrote:

    I must have missed a change in policy of this blog. I thought it had been decided that bashing of the ESV would not be allowed.

    You are correct, Richie: Bashing of any Bible translation and any translation team is not permitted by our blogging guidelines.

    Would someone show me offical ESV literature that states or suggests that other translations are corrupt in some way.

    I’ll leave this to be answered by whoever wrote what caused you to write that.

  15. Peter Kirk says:

    Richie, I’m sorry if I offended you by my mention of ESV, with a smiley. There had been a lot of bashing of another version here (which I note that you did not complain about), and my point was simply that if the same standards were applied to more mainstream versions they too would fail – as is true of ESV, and very likely of TNIV as well although I don’t remember seeing quite the same claims made for it.

    I will accept that the current articles on the ESV website do not go as far as explicitly claiming that “all others are corrupt in some way and theirs is the best” – although some people have made such claims on its behalf. But that does seem to be the implication of what I read here:

    In contrast to the ESV, some Bible versions have followed a “thought-for-thought” rather than “word-for-word” translation philosophy, emphasizing “dynamic equivalence” rather than the “essentially literal” meaning of the original. A “thought-for-thought” translation is of necessity more inclined to reflect the interpretive opinions of the translator and the influences of contemporary culture.

    As an essentially literal translation, then, the ESV seeks to carry over every possible nuance of meaning in the original words of Scripture into our own language. As such, it is ideally suited for in-depth study of the Bible. Indeed, with its emphasis on literary excellence, the ESV is equally suited for public reading and preaching, for private reading and reflection, for both academic and devotional study, and for Scripture memorization.

    At this page you will find explicit criticisms of the accuracy or precision of the best known (among evangelicals) alternative modern translations: NIV, TNIV, NLT, HCSB and The Message – rather different criticisms are made of NKJV and NASB. The clear implication is that all the others are considered to be lacking in accuracy or clarity and that ESV is the best version.

    The ESV endorsements make explicit claims that ESV is the best translation, using words like “unsurpassed”, “the standard translation for the English-speaking world” and “the Bible for our times” (and those words from three of us Brits who are usually known for understatement!)

    If you can find similar claims made by the TNIV team, I would be interested to see them. But then one would expect just such claims to be made by those marketing any translation.

    Indeed, I don’t see why anyone would bother to do the hard work of translating or even revising a Bible version unless they believed that all existing translations were in some way inadequate, at least for their target audience, and that the new version would be better than all of them. So it is surely a matter of honesty about one’s own beliefs, not of marketing hype, to make such claims.

    So perhaps we should stop using claims like this as a stick with which to beat any translation.

  16. Charles says:

    After much tedious searching I found it. Peter’s dislike of the ESV reminded me that it was he who made this comment regarding Strong’s Numbers

  17. Peter Kirk says:

    Yes, Charles, I do dislike Strong’s Numbers (and it’s not against the rules for me to say so), and I may well have written about this here before. I have two basic reasons for this dislike:

    1. The numbers are based on obsolete mid-19th century scholarship. This affects for example whether words are considered to be homonyms or not. There are a number of places where Hebrew (maybe also Greek) words assigned to be the same Strong’s Number are now known to be unrelated homonyms, or derived from different base forms.

    2. My main quarrel is with people who rely on Strong’s Numbers, and on Strong’s dictionary of the same vintage, even when they don’t know the original languages themselves, and then proclaim that they know precisely what the original language text means and that anyone who gives a different explanation, even people who have doctorates in biblical languages, is in serious error and perhaps not even saved. I hope that is a caricature but I have certainly seen claims that amount to that.

  18. Richie says:

    Peter,

    First, my points were very specific and had nothing to do with unofficial statements or by second parties, etc.. I appreciate your acknowledging that at least a couple of my points were at least partially correct.

    Second, I also read the quotes you provided and looked at the pages you referred me to. I do not think that either of these are any different than the typical translation web-site, etc. about their own translation. As we agree, all translations put forward their own translation philosophy and their reasons for why they favor it in comparison to others – or, in addition to others.

    Peter, I appreciate your comments on this blog and on your own blog. Of course, I don’t always agree.

    Best wishes for your recent marriage!

  19. LeRoy says:

    The problem, for the most part, does not lie in the Strong numbers, but in the selection the various translators used. Mr. Strong gives the correct word 99% of the time and does not use homonyms.
    The translators, themselves, were the ones who used the homonyms.

    Which is why we must go back to the Codex Sinaiticus. What we can conclude is that originally the text had the same reading as Papyrus 66. The corrector, however, has adapted the text resulting in the same reading as the corrected text of Papyrus 75 and the text of Codex Vaticanus.

    For instance, in Luke 23:34 omitted words: “And Jesus said: Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” This omission is supported by the manuscripts Papyrus 75, Sinaiticusa, B, D*, W, Θ, 0124, 1241, Codex Bezaelat, syrs, copsa, copbo.

    However, we must be careful with the Codex Bezae (D) with some other Western support presents a great many additions to the Neutral-Alexandrian text of Aleph A B C. see . H. Ropes in Vol. III, The Text of Acts in Part I of The Beginnings of Christianity.

    For instance the most controversial text is 2Co 4:4 Archelaus Acts of the Disputation with the Heresiarch Manes: Then Manes made the following reply to him: And what manner of God now is it that blinds one? For it is Paul who uses these words: “In whom the GOD of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the-Gospel should shine in them.”[716]
    Tischendorf
    ἐν οἷς ὁ θς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου ἐτύφλωσεν τὰ νοήματα τῶν ἀπίστων εἰς τὸ μὴ αὐγάσαι τὸν φωτισμὸν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τῆς δόξης τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θῦ. [http://www.laparola.net/greco/index.php]

    Look at the 4th line down (Codex Sinaiticus) and you will see ΘC with the Nomina Sacra over it.
    ΕΝΟΙCΟ ΘC ΤΟΥΑΙW and compare where the same θC and θῦ are used with the Nomina Sacra in ..I am the God [θC] of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God [θῦ] of the dead, but of the living.”

    Lu 16:8 Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world? (Job 34:13)
    …for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and he hath set the world upon them. 1 Samuel 2:8

    or as David says: The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Ps 24:1

  20. LeRoy says:

    Posted November 18, 2009 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    The problem, for the most part, does not lie in the Strong numbers, but in the selection the various translators used. Mr. Strong gives the correct word 99% of the time and does not use homonyms.
    The translators, themselves, were the ones who used the homonyms.
    Which is why we must go back to the Codex Sinaiticus. What we can conclude is that originally the text had the same reading as Papyrus 66. The corrector, however, has adapted the text resulting in the same reading as the corrected text of Papyrus 75 and the text of Codex Vaticanus.
    For instance, in Luke 23:34 omitted words: “And Jesus said: Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” This omission is supported by the manuscripts Papyrus 75, Sinaiticusa, B, D*, W, Θ, 0124, 1241, Codex Bezaelat, syrs, copsa, copbo.
    However, we must be careful with the Codex Bezae (D) with some other Western support presents a great many additions to the Neutral-Alexandrian text of Aleph A B C. see . H. Ropes in Vol. III, The Text of Acts in Part I of The Beginnings of Christianity.
    For instance the most controversial text is 2Co 4:4 Archelaus Acts of the Disputation with the Heresiarch Manes: Then Manes made the following reply to him: And what manner of God now is it that blinds one? For it is Paul who uses these words: “In whom the GOD of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the-Gospel should shine in them.”[716]

    Tischendorf
    ἐν οἷς ὁ θς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου ἐτύφλωσεν τὰ νοήματα τῶν ἀπίστων εἰς τὸ μὴ αὐγάσαι τὸν φωτισμὸν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τῆς δόξης τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θῦ. [http://www.laparola.net/greco/index.php]
    Look at the 4th line down (Codex Sinaiticus) and you will see ΘC with the Nomina Sacra over it.
    ΕΝΟΙCΟ ΘC ΤΟΥΑΙW and compare where the same θC and θῦ are used with the Nomina Sacra in ..I am the God [θC] of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God [θῦ] of the dead, but of the living.”
    Lu 16:8 Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world? (Job 34:13)
    …for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and he hath set the world upon them. 1 Samuel 2:8
    or as David says: The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Ps 24:1

  21. Gary Simmons says:

    I’m looking forward to the new NIV.

    LeRoy, I find you extremely difficult to understand. Could you please do more commenting and less copy and pasting of resources? And please do not use translation.reference.com to translate the New Testament for you and then tell us to translate that way. That website doesn’t work for the Bible.

  22. LeRoy says:

    That website doesn’t work for the Bible? Again, we do not patronize on the Channel, and I do not use just one website.

    For instance the most controversial text is 2Co 4:4 Archelaus Acts of the Disputation with the Heresiarch Manes: Then Manes made the following reply to him: And what manner of God now is it that blinds one? For it is Paul who uses these words: “In whom the GOD of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the-Gospel should shine in them.”[716]

    The God of this world is GOD and not a bogey man
    Look at the 4th line down (Codex Sinaiticus) and you will see ΘC with the Nomina Sacra over it.

    ΕΝΟΙCΟ ΘC ΤΟΥΑΙW and compare where the same θC and θῦ are used with the Nomina Sacra in ..I am the God [θC] of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God [θῦ] of the dead, but of the living.”

    Lu 16:8 Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world? (Job 34:13)
    …for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and he hath set the world upon them. 1 Samuel 2:8
    or as David says: The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Ps 24:1

    And looking at another mistranslated verse, with the inserted words “in Christ”, which I have bracketed. the KJV gives as 17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God [in Christ,] the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
    Gal 3:17 τουτο δε λεγω διαθηκην προκεκυρωμενην υπο του θυ ο μετα τετρακοσια και τριακοντα ετη γεγονως νομος ουκ ακυροι εις το καταργησαι την επαγγελιαν

    As you can plainly see, the words, “IN CHRIST”, are not in the original MSS.

    Gal 3:17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise abrogated.

    Galatians 3:(19) What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions through the hand of a mediator, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was prescribed through angels.

    A mediator is only necessary when both parties have to agree to something, which till the Seed should come, clearly indicates a binding covenant of promise, rather than just a decree or law and it is of no effect until the death of the testator. Christ Himself stated clearly that He did not come to destroy the law, but to show how to fulfill it—keep it in its entirety (Matthew 5:17-20).
    The births of Isaac and Ishmael
    Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. (Galatians 4:21-23)

    The Old Covenant was “dictated” by angels (Acts 7:53; Hebrews 2:2; Acts 7:38; Psalm 68:17; I Corinthians 10:4).Whereas the word decree, order, prescribe,” διατάσσω is used in 1Co 9:14. A similar word, “διαταγή” , is used in Acts 7:53, where it is translated “dictation” Hence it is to mean that the Covenant was given by angels, as witnesses to its written transmission.

  23. LeRoy says:

    More on the NIV, CEB
    Scribal Errors
    1:3 All through Him was done and without Him was done not even that had been done AV;
    All things were made by it, and without it, was made no thing, that made was 1:4 In it was life; And life was the light of men; W Tyndale’s Bible
    Joh 1:3 All through it was done; and without it was done not even one, that has been done. Griesbach (Diaglott)

    1:18 No man sawt god at any time. The only begotten son, which is in the father’s bosom, hath declared him. (W Tyndale’s Bible) (Amplified Bible)
    Jn 1:18 18 18 θν ουδεν εωρακεν πωποτε μονογενης θς εις το κολπον του πατρος εκεινος εξηγησατο ˙
    Which is actually translated as:
    18 God no one has seen ever; the only begotten of God, the one, the shed of the Father, he has made him known.

    γενής suggests derivation (γενος) rather than birth. The μον- does not denote the source but the nature of derivation. Hence μονογενής means “of sole descent,” i.e., without brothers or sisters. μονογενής is stronger than μονος, for it denotes that they have never had more than this child. μονογενής is not just a predicate of value. Philo calls the λόγος, not μονογενής but πρωτογονος, Conf. Ling., 146, etc. μονογενής is not a significant word for him.
    Only Jn. uses μονογενής. Mk. and Mt. have ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός; in Jn. 5:18; for ἴδιος means to be in a special relation to Jesus which excludes the same relation to others.

    Jn. 1:14,(.. as of the only begotten of the Father,) 18; Jn. calls Jesus ὁ γεννηθεὶς ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ, 1 Jn. 5:18. The oldest attestation of μονογενὴς θεός is W. Bauer’s preference as is in the Valentinians, Iren. Haer., I, 8, 5, Cl. Al., Exc. Theod., 6, 2, later Cl. Al., Orig. etc.
    (vol. 4 of Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, pp. 737-41;)
    I added Codex Sinaiticus; John 1:18; P66 and P75.
    P66 and P75 were provided by the Martin Bodmer Library also see James Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament.
    John 1:18 Marvin Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament: This reading is supported by “a great mass of ancient evidence.”

    Consider the basin in Jn 13:5 and then consider the translation of verse 23 which should be translated as basin NOT bosom. The disciple was NOT laying on Jesus nor on his bosom. Jesus had just finished washing the feet of the disciples from the basin.
    345 ανακείμενων leaning back
    Actual Translation: Jn 13:5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ basin one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.
    2859 κόλπος vagina; bay; basin; gulf; ME: from OFr. golfe, from Ital. golfo, based on Gk kolpos gulf’. C17: from L., lit. ‘sheath OE scth, scēath, of Gmc origin; related to SHED (2) (v. t.) shed; To part with; to throw off or give forth from one’s self; to emit; to diffuse; to cause to emanate or flow; to pour forth or out; (v. t.) To sprinkle; to intersperse; to cover.

    More Scribal Errors/or translators
    One of Jesus’ disciples, the one Jesus loved, was sitting next to Jesus at the table.*NLT; NIV
    One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table close to Jesus,* Footnote: * Greek in the bosom of Jesus ESV
    One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus; RSV
    23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining in the bosom of Jesus: Codex Sinaiticus YNG; DBY;
    One of his talmidim, whom Yeshua loved, was at the table, leaning against Yeshua#s breast. HNV

    At least they got the leaning back correct! 345 ανακείμενων leaning back

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