In this blog I'd like to gauge the opinions and feeling of people towards the different translations that I could potentially use for the Bible Comic. If you are not familiar with the Bible or the different translations I'd still really (especially) like your input (see heading below). If you are familiar with the many kinds of Bibles that are out there, I'd like to hear your perceptions and preconceptions with both the ones you are familiar with and those you are not.
Below I've included a few of the options, examples of the text from those translations and a brief word on the broad stroke pros and cons of using them, which you can agree with or refute.
If you're not that familiar with the Bible...
If you're not that familiar with the Bible, please let me know your initial impressions of what the name means to you, i.e. when you hear the name “The New King James Version” or “The World English Bible” for example, and if you've hear of it before.
When you read the example text which one did you think was the best and most fitting for a Comic?
Why are there different versions and why does it matter.
The idea that there are hundreds of different ways to translate the meaning of the original text into English is a fallacy, pretty much all English translations are the same in regards to their meaning but the order of the words and style they are presented in can vary.
There are three main categories which are on a sliding scale. At one end are “Paraphrases” which and give an easy to understand version of the text in a paperback novel like presentation. Others called “Thought-for-Thought” use common English to convey the exact thought and meaning in the order they are presented and “Word-for-Word” (Sounds familiar) are ones that try to use the translated words in the order they were original written and using the same number of words as closely as possible to the original text. This gives the closest translation but can have unusually constructed or repetitive sentences that sound a little strange to our ears.
When the Bible is a text book and used in study and prayer people often have different versions for different purposes. They have an easy-to-read one for reading through in a leisurely way and then a more literal version or Interlinear (Interlinear - Bible with the Hebrew and Greek word along side their English equivalents) in times of deeper study where they want to nail down the exact words used, in case they have misunderstood something.
My main contenders
- NIV – New International Version
- NKJV – New King James Version
- NASB – New American Standard Version
- WEB – World English Bible
NIV – New International Version
To quote their website “The NIV has become the most widely read contemporary English Bible translations. Why? Because the NIV combines ease of reading with uncompromising accuracy — in one Bible”. Of the four options I've short-listed it's the only one in the “thought-for-thought” camp, I feel it does read the smoothest and use the most natural language which I feel with help first time readers of the Bible. It costs a fair percentage of profits to use.
NKJV – New King James Version
An updated version of the famous King James Bible. The original translation was very good and that is why it is still around four hundred years later but some words and phrases are now out of date (Thy, Thou etc) so a modern version was created and is very popular. It has the name which I expect the most people will recognise as it links to the KJV. It is also the best to please the many “King James Onlyists” in the world. Like the NIV it would also cost a fair percentage of profits to use.
NASB – New American Standard Version
To quote the description on Bible Gateway “The [..] NASB has earned the reputation of being the most accurate English Bible translation.” Like the NJKV it is an updated versions of an old translation that was most highly respected. In this case the American Standard Version (ASV). Again the outdated language (Thy, thou, etc) were modernised but the clarity and mean was unaffected. It costs a fair percentage of profits to use, but less than the previous two. A down side is that its language is still a little old fashions and “clunky” to read.
WEB – World English Bible
Just like the NASB it is an updated ASV, and thus is firmly in the “word-for-word” translation camp. It is also know for it's accuracy and reliability but it is a lot less famous than the others. A major bonus is that it is completely “Public Domain” and so can be used for free. A down side is that its language is still a little old fashions and “clunky” to read. In the WEB the translators use Yahweh when God's name YHWH is present instead of the standard LORD, which gives an extra level of accuracy but some people may not like.
NB: Notable by it's absence the ESV is unfortunately not a consideration as Crossways they do not allow their translation to be used alongside pictures like in a comic.
Side by side examples from the Judges.
Here are two examples from Judges using the different translations. See how they read and which you feel would be the best for this comic. If you use the links you can see the verses literally side by side on Bible Gateway's swanky “Add Parallel” function (Click here to find out how) . I've enboldened texts that I thing stand out as old fashioned, unusual or have interesting parallels in the other versions.
NIV: Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshipping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
NKJV: And when the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them. They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way.
NASB: When the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge and delivered them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed and afflicted them. But it came about when the judge died, that they would turn back and act more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them and bow down to them; they did not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways.
WEB: When Yahweh raised up judges for them, then Yahweh was with the judge, and saved them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for it grieved Yahweh because of their groaning by reason of those who oppressed them and troubled them. But when the judge was dead, they turned back, and dealt more corruptly than their fathers in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down to them. They didn’t cease what they were doing, or give up their stubborn ways.
NIV: Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done.
NJKV: So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came to the vineyards of Timnah. Now to his surprise, a young lion came roaring against him. And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.
NASB: Then Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came as far as the vineyards of Timnah; and behold, a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, so that he tore him as one tears a young goat though he had nothing in his hand; but he did not tell his father or mother what he had done.
WEB: Then went Samson down with his father and his mother to Timnah, and came to the vineyards of Timnah; and behold, a young lion roared against him. Yahweh’s Spirit came mightily on him, and he tore him as he would have torn a young goat; and he had nothing in his hand, but he didn’t tell his father or his mother what he had done.
NIV: The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son.
NKJV: And the Angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son.
NASB: Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son.
WEB: Yahweh’s angel appeared to the woman, and said to her, “See now, you are barren and childless; but you shall conceive, and bear a son.
Please leave a comment on this, even if your comment is that they are all fine and you don't mind, I'd like to gauge how important the translation is to people and which one would be the best. Please bare in mind it is for a comic, and should be accessible to first time Bible readers who may not enjoy difficult sentences. The flip side to this is that it might be good to have some difficult sentences in favour of accuracy especially considering they are accompanied by pictures.
Have your say!