We have covered quite a bit over the past three months regarding four translations. I spent nine weeks discussing each translation in Sunday morning Bible class. So, I thought it appropriate to provide a preliminary evaluation of each translation. We have been using NIV 1984 as the pew Bible, but especially for inserts and bulletin orders of service. We will no longer be able to use NIV 1984 after December 31, 2012 for those purposes.
At first glance, NIV 2011 seemed the logical choice. According to the publishers, there was only 6% change from the 1984 text. The changes were a mixed bag though. Some were necessary and improved the translation; for example Psalm 1:1-2 and the use of “flesh” for translating σαρχ rather than sinful nature (i.e. Romans 8:3-8). Other changes were a step backward, translating αγιοι as seven different ways rather than the traditional “saints.”
In one way I would like to use the ESV. It fits with the decision made in the LCMS and its publishing house, CPH. In many passages there is a familiar ring to it, especially for those with a strong church background. But at the same time, the ESV is not as good as an oral translation. I have experimented with it, and found a stumbling block in most readings.
HCSB offers many advantages: easier to read than ESV and not much different than NIV; it renders some passages better than ESV or NIV (Matthew 18). The negative on the translation is the inconsistent use of Yahweh in the Old Testament. Either make the switch totally, or use the English standard LORD. One draw back is that the only study Bible available may not be as useful in our (Lutheran) context.
This translation is by far the best oral reading translation. I have a long history with it. I served congregations from 1987-1995 that were test congregations for the predecessor and eventually GW. I still struggle with the avoidance of “righteous” (and associated roots). It is a critical concept, and “God’s approval” while okay in some contexts, really misses some critical associations.
This has turned into a harder decision than I first thought. My initial thought a year ago was, just use NIV 2011 since it isn’t that much different. Well, it didn’t take long to find that such an assessment wouldn’t stand up. I have never cared for ESV as a translation, and this evaluation period has confirmed my concerns. Now I go back and forth with HCSB and GW. There have been a few times that I wanted to just use NAS 95 and move forward!
So, for the next few weeks we will use HCSB as the translation for the Sunday readings. Then after 5-6 weeks we will use GW for the same amount of time.