I think that I may be switching Bible translations

Those who have read Rotundus for some time will quite likely be aware that one of my pet peeves is the restrictions placed on the usage of Bible translations by the copyright owners (I'd like to see as close as possible to a public domain license here).

While it's licensing terms are not ideal, the NET Bible (which I've written about on here before) is one translation that tries to take a more open approach to copyright and seems to have a translation team with reasonable credentials. Anyways, I figured that it was about time that I put my money where my mouth is and so forked out the money a week or two ago for a printed copy of that translation, which arrived mid-week in the mail. While not dubbed a "study bible" this thing does have an impressive number of notes included (60,932 to be exact)

One thing that I noticed after getting this thing in the mail was just how much additional content their website, Bible.org has. They have a series on the canonization of scripture (etc.) that sounds like it'll be worth a listen.


Yeah, Bible copyrights are stupid -- crass commercialization. Three cheers for the NET Bible. I love it too!

One of the testimonials comes from someone at Zondervan directly involved with NIV. It would be interesting to see a comparison between this translation and others. NIV is sort of halfway between word-for-word and thought-for-thought. I would guess that NET Bible is closer to word-for-word based on the few parts I looked at, and that does seem to be their intention.

The first time we had this discussion, I was utterly opposed to anything except RSV and NIV. Since then I've learned a lot about Bible translations and how many of them are derived from each other and/or from ye olde King James Version. A few years ago I noticed that Synod had appointed some people to investigate the English Standard Version, which according to Zondervan's comparison chart is even closer to word-for-word than the RSV.

Going back to the original Hebrew and Greek seems like a good idea. I'm noticing more and more that ministers, in their sermons, are having to make remarks regarding the accuracy of the NIV. Sometimes they don't like some of the words chosen by the NIV team. Other times the NIV team has added words that didn't exist in the original texts. I still think NIV is an accurate translation, but once in a while a particular verse catches my eye, for one reason or another, and I need a word-for-word translation.

One of the interesting things about the NET is that sometimes in the translator's notes they have a parallel translation to what is included in the actual NET text - the whole formal equivalence (word-for-word) versus dynamic equivalence (paraphrase) thing. They also fairly frequently make mention to how various other texts have translated a particular phrase, which I find rather useful.

Translating is definitely a balancing act, and it seems that they haven't done a bad job here. One thing that I like is that there is a mechanism for feedback available if you think that a particular text is poorly translated.

What I'd personally like to see is two translations of the same text being read - one from a more paraphrasish translation, and one from a more word-for-word based translation. I think that in both types of translation you can loose things, and here you'd at least get a flavour of both. Somehow I don't expect to see such happening, except perhaps in a more academic forum.

One particular verse that bugs me is Daniel 5:2. Every translation I've looked at (RSV, NIV, NET, NASB) says that Nebuchadnezzar is the father of Belshazzar (also in the book of Baruch), which is not the case. Some like to use this verse as a proof text that the entire Bible is fallible because it gets this historical fact wrong. Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus. A more accurate translation would be ancestor or predecessor, which are both given in the footnote.

Daniel 5:1 also has a small technicality in that it calls Belshazzar a king, but from what I've read he was only a prince. The footnote in NET mentions this; not sure if the NIV does.

EDIT: I submitted by suggestion for 5:2 using the feedback tool. Will be interesting to see what response I get.

Well, you could also do something like that with Matthew 1:1, and I suppose that this same technique might then be applied to the first chapters of Genesis as well. The question is when and where it can be applied.

What is the difference between a king and a prince? Sometimes there's somewhat of a separation of powers with multiple people in similar roles (perhaps with one slightly higher than another), and sometimes one king might be subservient to another. You could also differentiate a king and a regent - although they might be translated similarly.

To use a naval analogy, from what I recall of reading of the British navy in the form in which it existed in centuries past, the title with which whoever was in charge of a ship was to be addressed was captain, even if that officer might be only a lieutenant (etc.).

In addition to the NIV and RSV, there are several other translations that the synod has OK'd. They just "recommended" the NIV - something I'm not entirely sure it has the power to do.

It can recommend translations but can't make churches switch translations.