Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Resources for Biblical Translations

Apologies for the delay in posting but I've been meaning to post about this blog entry over on the brilliant Faith Central blog from the London Times entitled the Yummy Mummy Bible and as you can see it turned into a rather long post!

Bess writes: How much would you pay for a Bible? A proper one, bound in leather, with thin gilt-edged leaves and a ribbon for a marker? How much value would you place on the Holy Word of God? £20? £50? How about £165? That's how much a basic version of the Good Book (Authorised King James Version) is sold for at Smythson, the Queen's stationers, which has undergone a dramatic revamp since in 1996 Samantha Cameron became creative director.
So what do you get for £165? A Bible bound in leather (Mara Brown, Ivory or Bubblegum pink - sorry Cerise Aruba Calfskin) with pages edged with gilt or silver, and ribbon bookmarks. Want to 'personalise' your edition with your name, initials, or the date? A mere £5.95 per extra letter. Who was the cash to buy this? Perhaps the Camerons' fellow parishioners at St Mary Abbot's Kensington, which boasts, according to its website, an illustrious line of past worshippers: Isaac Newton, William Wilberforce and... yes Beatrix Potter. Good to know some aren't feeling the Credit pinch...

NB: Smythson trivia: the company provided black condolence books at the funeral of JFK.
Now horrified at the though of someone having to pay that much for a Bible (no matter how good the pink leather smells), much less an King James Version, I have to admit that I was a little bit jealous, for I, as the self-confessed Bible Nerd, saw this baby in a Barnes & Noble in Philadephia (while attending the SBL Annual meeting, to make it even nerdier).
Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, that is a pink, rubber covered edition of the ESV Bible. From Crossway. And I ♥ it. Despite the fact that I don't really like the ESV translation, or the fact the print is so small I have to use a magnifier reader, I take it to every conference and talk that I need to bring a Bible with me for reference. Except certain SBL groups as I have hard enough a time being taken seriously! (Mental note, must buy "pocket version" of the JPS to wave around next year)

I suppose the moral of the story is that it doesn't take much for a bible scholar to be "whacky" (Even by our own definitions) but it's quite hard to be cool. We try it with acronyms but we're fairly limited in those, apart from the DSS and the MSS that are associated with it :-)

I've often found with students who are not used to studying biblical texts that they often are not sure about what biblical translation that they're reading from, let alone what the acronym stands for, or that they think that there's not much difference in any of them and finally, that their crazy lecturer needs to get a life and stop obsessing about the NRSV, the version I use in all classes and for reading texts. Students are free to use whatever translation they're comfortable with in essays and exams, but we all read off the same "hymn sheet" in class.

I receivd an email a while back from HarperCollins, the publishers of the NRSV, via SBL, which provoked me into writing this entry. The email requested that I fill out a survery about the need (or otherswise) for an updated NRSV. What'll they call it if they bring about a new one? The New New Revised Standard Version, The Newer Revised Standard Version? The New Revised Standard Version 2.0? The Post-Neo Revised Standard Version? The New Revised (again) Standard Version? The possibilities are seemingly endless, though lots of fun to think of.  I would be of the opinion that although there's pros and cons to every edition and translation, the NRSV does the best job for what I need it for and it can't hurt to have another look at it and try to update it. For one thing, it will give some bible scholars a job and we do need those!

In class I use the excellent book, Which Bible? A Guide to English Translations, by David Dewey which gives a solid introduction to the art of translation and the "need" for so many translations. He then surveys steps through various translations and editions, from Old English Versions through to Bibles on the Internet. I find that students like this text as it addresses they're main concerns about finding the "right" translation, and opens them up to the idea that there are far more translations out there than they thought.

For some Internet resources try the following:

PLEASE NOTE that some of the texts below are copyrighted and you should follow the instructions for seeking permission to reproduce them.

This is in no way an exhaustive list but I've been working away at it for ages and thought I should post and add to it! Let me know if you have any more suggestions.

BibleGateway has lots of translations (with 20 English translations alone)

The best online NRSV edition is the Oremus website with its Bible Browser. Bible Study Tools has a good site that allows you to share the text you want, rather than the copy and paste method.

Holman Christian Standard (2003) Note the stringent copyright information

The Message Bible (1993-2005)

Contemporary English Version (1995) (Not searchable)

The New Testament and Psalms: An Inclusive Version (1995)

The Revised English Bible (1989) (Not online)

The Christian Community Bible (1988)

The New Century Version (1991)

The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

The New King James Version (1982)

The New International Version (1978)

The Good News Bible (1976)

The New American Standard Bible (1971)

The New American Bible (1970)

The Jerusalem Bible (1966) (Copyright Owned by Doubleday so not available online)

Knox's Bible (1945-1955) ("You" version)

The Living Bible (1962-1971) (Not online)

J.B. Phillips' New Testament (1958, revised 1972)

The New World Translation (1961)

The New English Bible (1970)

The Amplified Bible (1955)

The Revised Standard Version (1952)

Weymouth New Testament (1903)

The American Standard Version (1901)

Darby Bible (1890)

The Revised Version (English Revised Version) (1885)

Webster's Bible (1833)

The Douai-Rheims Bible (1752)

The King James Bible (1611)

The Bishops' Bible (1568)

The Geneva Bible (1560)

and finally check out Next Bible for a list of those pesky abbreviations!

No comments:

Post a Comment