Protestant/Evangelical Bible Translations

I’ve seen a few mentions of this topic, so I thought I’d try to sum up the whole issue for you all.

  • King James (KJV): aka The Authorized Version and AV1611. Mentioned only for the sake of historical completeness since it is the grande dame of English Bible translations. Today used only by staunch traditionalists and KJV-Only types (and yes… that’s really a thing.)

Revised Standard Version (RSV): This is the last translation that could in any way be considered universal in the English speaking world. It was used by both Protestants and Catholics. Fundamentalists tended to eschew it for the KJV over what they saw as encroaching theological liberalism the translations, especially with regards to the Virgin Birth.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV): A re-revision to the RSV. If the RSV saw some encroachment of theological liberalism, then the NRSV was absolutely riddled with it. Between the RSV and NRSV you have nearly universal acceptance amongst mainline Protestants.

New American Standard Bible (NASB): An entirely new translation of the Old and New Testaments undertaken by the Lockman Foundation to accomplish the same goals as the RSV (i.e. better textual criticism and updated language) but with a thorough commitment to translational accuracy and historical Protestant orthodoxy. It was and remains to be the 800-pound gorilla of serious bible study but it was always hampered by stilted language that rendered it almost entirely useless for preaching and worship.

New International Version (NIV): A dynamic equivalence translation (i.e. “thought for thought”) dedicated to the idea of rendering what the authors of scripture meant instead of what they said. It’s notable for the fact that it has very straightforward international standard English usage that can easily be translated into other languages and/or understood by non-native English speakers while still maintaining a surprising level of faithfulness to the text. This is the standard Evangelical bible and it used almost universally. Not to be confused with the TNIV or Today’s NIV which is a “gender neutral” update of the NIV that almost nobody uses.

New King James Version (NKJV): Nothing more than an update of the KJV to bring it up to modern English usage. Favored by some traditionalists who oppose the usage of the critical Alexandrian-line influenced Nestle-Alland Novum Testamentum Graece over the more traditional Byzantine-line based Textus Receptus.

English Standard Version (ESV): Undertaken as an update to the RSV intended to provide a translation that is both in accordance with the traditional KJV-RSV line and with historical protestant orthodoxy. Uses limited gender inclusive language, but hasn’t kicked up the dust storm that the TNIV did. A translation including the OT Apocrypha has been produced (theoretically opening it up to use by Catholics). Accepted mainly by Evangelicals of the “New Calvinist” movement, and by “traditionalist” Protestant denominations such as the LCMS and indeed, traditionalists within mainline Protestant churches.

Others: Too many to name, if you want to know about a specific translation, just ask. Also feel free to ask about those textual issues that I mentioned regarding the NKJV.

And what are we suppose to take away from this? :shrug:

Whatever you like. :o The purpose was education, not advocacy.

I suppose, however, the most immediate application for you all would be being able to speak our language when reaching out to us.

For evangelicals who know about these things, which translation you use becomes a kind of “gang sign” that allows us to pretend that we already know where you’re coming from. If you come quoting the KJV at me, for instance, then I will leap to the conclusion that you’re either a fundie-nutjob who doesn’t let his wife wear makeup or a snake handler. If you come with Douay-Rheims, then I will know immediately that you are a traditionalist Catholic.

Evangelicals (if they’re good ones) sped a lot of time reading and memorizing their preferred translation and are taught to trust the Bible over and above all other things. For most Evangelicals (who can’t read Greek and Hebrew), this means that their preferred translation is what the truth sounds like to them and anything else will immediately be challenged as “well… that’s not what my bible says…”

Try it sometime. Quote the NIV instead of the NRSV or DV when walking an Evangelical through the scriptural basis for the Hail Mary. You may very well be shocked to discover how quickly you can disarm someone’s objections by using their preferred translation instead of your own.

I already do this. It is a simple rule of apologetics. I guess my bewilderment comes from the inherent implication in your post that we are unaware of these different translations and therefore should defer to your judgment as to the proper translation and as to the mindset of a certain group of people who use a particular translation. Do you claim to be some authority in this matter?

Oh no no no… far from it… just an evangelical “insider” who can, perhaps, give some insight into how we see these things.

I just have seen questions about this translation or that translation pop up from time to time and thought I’d lay out all the main translations in one handy guide for people who didn’t grow up around this stuff and don’t deal with it day in and day out.

I also wanted to open the floor up to questions about English Bible translations in general.

Douay-Rheims version English version (before the KJV) published 1609: Info here at this Link

And it can be read Here

I grew up with the KJV, and it’s still my favorite, bit I like the DR as too. I just like the old language. Since I grew up with it, it’s not hard for me to read, and the flavor is great. That goes for both the KJV and DR.

I still use the KJV from time to time because my Greek, frankly, sucks and all those ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ help me keep my grammar straight.

I have said it before (but not here) that we did a real disservice to the English language when we did away with the distinction between the 2nd person singular and plural.

Praise be to the hardy people, my fore bearers, of Western and Central Pennsylvania for holding the line with yinz.

A kind thought. Many of us have a good grasp of English bible translations available to and used by evangelicals.

  • King James (KJV): aka The Authorized Version and AV1611. Mentioned only for the sake of historical completeness since it is the grande dame of English Bible translations. Today used only by staunch traditionalists and KJV-Only types (and yes… that’s really a thing.)

The KJV was certainly the single most widely used bible among English speaking evangelicals and protestants in general. Among English speaking Catholics the Douay Rheimes bible (DRB) was the most used until newer translations became available. The DRB pre-dates the KJV by a few years.

Revised Standard Version (RSV): This is the last translation that could in any way be considered universal in the English speaking world. It was used by both Protestants and Catholics. Fundamentalists tended to eschew it for the KJV over what they saw as encroaching theological liberalism the translations, especially with regards to the Virgin Birth.

The RSV is a revision of the American Standard Version (ASV) published in 1901 AD. The ASV is the USA edition of the Revised Version (RV), a British version published in 1881 AD. The ASV embodies the preferences of the USA members of the RV translation committee. The ASV is also the ‘father’ of the NASB.

Catholics have an edition of the RSV, sometimes called the RSV-CE, which was produced in 1966 AD by British Catholic revisers. It incorporates some revisions of the text of the RSV new testament (usually lifting text from the footnotes into the main body of the new testament and changing ‘brothers’ to brethren’ in some passages) and incorporating the full canon of 73 books instead of the 66 books in protestant editions of the RSV.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV): A re-revision to the RSV. If the RSV saw some encroachment of theological liberalism, then the NRSV was absolutely riddled with it. Between the RSV and NRSV you have nearly universal acceptance amongst mainline Protestants.

New American Standard Bible (NASB): An entirely new translation of the Old and New Testaments undertaken by the Lockman Foundation to accomplish the same goals as the RSV (i.e. better textual criticism and updated language) but with a thorough commitment to translational accuracy and historical Protestant orthodoxy. It was and remains to be the 800-pound gorilla of serious bible study but it was always hampered by stilted language that rendered it almost entirely useless for preaching and worship.

The NASB is a revision of the ASV and not a an entirely new translation. It was first published as a complete bible in 1971 AD. It has since been revised (as of 1995 AD) to improve its readability. Some think of the NASB as an accurate translation but when compared to the RSV and some other translations of the same era is not especially accurate.

New International Version (NIV): A dynamic equivalence translation (i.e. “thought for thought”) dedicated to the idea of rendering what the authors of scripture meant instead of what they said. It’s notable for the fact that it has very straightforward international standard English usage that can easily be translated into other languages and/or understood by non-native English speakers while still maintaining a surprising level of faithfulness to the text. This is the standard Evangelical bible and it used almost universally. Not to be confused with the TNIV or Today’s NIV which is a “gender neutral” update of the NIV that almost nobody uses.

New King James Version (NKJV): Nothing more than an update of the KJV to bring it up to modern English usage. Favored by some traditionalists who oppose the usage of the critical Alexandrian-line influenced Nestle-Alland Novum Testamentum Graece over the more traditional Byzantine-line based Textus Receptus.

English Standard Version (ESV): Undertaken as an update to the RSV intended to provide a translation that is both in accordance with the traditional KJV-RSV line and with historical protestant orthodoxy. Uses limited gender inclusive language, but hasn’t kicked up the dust storm that the TNIV did. A translation including the OT Apocrypha has been produced (theoretically opening it up to use by Catholics). Accepted mainly by Evangelicals of the “New Calvinist” movement, and by “traditionalist” Protestant denominations such as the LCMS and indeed, traditionalists within mainline Protestant churches.

Others: Too many to name, if you want to know about a specific translation, just ask. Also feel free to ask about those textual issues that I mentioned regarding the NKJV.

I actually like the DRV better than the KJV, just from the aspect of readability.

Jon

The LCMS’s publishing wing, CPH, has indeed published the Apocrypha ESV with notes, not to necessarily open it up to Catholics, but to get Lutherans to once again open up to this part of scripture.

cph.org/p-19305-the-apocrypha-the-lutheran-edition-with-notes.aspx

Jon

Okay, I see where you’re coming from. :thumbsup:

:thumbsup:

Last I heard, the ESV was the latest version lined up to be used in the Lectionary, at least in England and Wales. If that actually works out, what impact do you expect that would have on discussions between Catholics and Evangelical Christians, and would it alter perceptions either of Catholics or of the ESV?

EDIT: I now see that it was proposed for all the anglophone world, and that it seems to have fallen through :frowning:

Nonetheless, I’m interested in whether the ESV ‘seems’ like a good fit for Catholics, from an Evangelical perspective, or if it is a surprising combination.

There is that loss of clarity in much of modern English. But I have to point out that throughout the South we have maintained the 2nd person plural with y’all.

I don’t care much about the various versions of the Bible. Whenever I (rarely) take the trouble to compare passages between versions, they all seem to say much the same thing anyway. No doubt there are differences of opinion or nuances of phrasing, but I get a bit cynical when I hear that one version is supposed to be “liberal” and another is supposed to be “conservative”.

I suppose the bun fight over Bible versions reminds me of some other bun fights - Latin versus vernacular masses, receiving the host in the hand or on the tongue, speaking in tongues, the KJV Is the “only” Bible, etc. We major in minors some times.

There are two comments I will make though, both based on something my wise old pastor said when I was still Presbyterian. The first was that the Living Translation was actually a commentary and not a Bible.

He also thought highly of the JB Phillips translation of the New Testament.

I can’t give an imformed opinion from my own resources as I lack the formal training.

Speaking from the Evangelical side of the river, I can say that the ESV is becoming more and more popular. It hasn’t quite broken through to being used a great deal in corporate worship and public preaching (nobody wants to spend the money to replace all the pew bibles), but I’m reading more and more books that quote the ESV over the NIV.

It’s definitely more readable than the NASB but it retains a lot of the formal-equivalence of the KJV.

PS - If you want to see a personal favorite “also ran” translation, take a look at the NET Bible. It’s translation philosophy, in a nutshell, is “INCLUDE ALL THE FOOTNOTES!” The printed version of of NET Gospel of John is particularly hilarious: The first couple-three pages consist of one whole verse with page after page of really tiny footnotes on the whole argument over “and the Word was God.” It’s the only Bible I’ve ever seen who’s “compact” version could choke Charles Ryrie his own self.

Two Catholic translations I’d add to the list:

Douay-Rheims and Douay-Rheims-Challoner (both DRB): A Catholic Bible translation made at around the same time as (but before) the KJV.

RSV-2CE: Instead of making a Catholic version of the NRSV, we made our own revision of the RSV(-CE)

Subtle differences in translation can make a difference in interpretation. For example in Luke’s account of Jesus visit with Mary and Martha in the King James and Douay-Rheims the word careful is used: ‘And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things’. Here careful means something like full of care, anxious, or worried. If you didn’t know the change in usage you would misunderstand. I can’t remember the word but as I recall in the King James version there is at least one word whose meaning is the exact opposite of how we use it today.

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