Michael Spencer, that conservative internet monk, has a post up about Bible translations. Of course this is too much fun to pass up since plenty of bloggers within the biblioblogosphere have recently been posting on translation (and for those I didn’t link to you can check out the most recent Biblical Studies Carnival at Ketuvim).
So, on to Michael’s thoughts. After a lengthy disclaimer he gets to the meat of what he wants to say, which is basically: “Conservatives should stop yelling at each other about what Bible translation one uses, since they are all translations made by scholars.” Michael is right; in fact, often the same scholars work on vastly different translations. As a case in point, Moises Silva, whom Michael mentions as one of the translators for the NLT, also served as a translator for the ESV and the NASB (source here and here).
I personally think that we could get rid of the problem entirely by actually teaching Hebrew and Greek in our churches, but this opinion apparently makes me a “Bible Expert,” (though, to be fair, I think the Bible perfectly understandable–more or less–in any of the English translations we have). Ultimately I find all of these discussions about translation and translation philosophy extremely stimulating. But, at the end of the day I would still rather be reading Hebrew or Greek with the students in my youth ministry.
It’s true. Teaching others to read the language is far more exciting, to me, than discussing how one tries to make Hebrew make sense in English with any kind of regularity. It is also true that I have four high school students or recent graduates who are learning Greek. It’s an odd story, but extremely exciting. To be sure, anyone can learn Greek (and Hebrew is even easier). The amazing thing is not so much that they are learning Greek, but that they want to learn it. Someone should write a book about church youth ministries using language study as their main paradigm for ministry. Now that would be exciting!
In fact, writing this post has been somewhat of an inspiration to me. I plan to talk with my Greek students this evening about their preferred translations and why they prefer them. Of course, eventually, they won’t need them–does that make them Bible experts too?