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Author Topic: English Bible Translations for Orthodox Christians. What  (Read 5288 times) Average Rating: 5
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Nazarene
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David ben Yessai


« on: August 29, 2009, 05:01:49 PM »

Reading the several threads on this forum regarding Bible translations, I thought I gather some info on all the available options (that I know of) and briefly review each, pointing out the pros and cons. Please note that I'm writing from the perspective of a "Bible collector" and amature textual critic. Descerning which is the "best translation" will depend largely on what you want to use it for. Some translations are very literal which make them great for study but not so great for liturgical use. Some are translated from unsuitable source texts, while others lack the complete LXX Deuterocannon. So below is "the list" of available English Bible translations which are either suitable or unsuitable for Orthodox Christians. Do feel free to add to the list others which I might not be aware of. For all those who keeping asking for advice on which Bible translation they should use, give them the link to this thread.

1. KJV & NKJV

These two well known "mainstream Protestant" translations are very popular amongst Orthodox Christians. They are accurate, literal and formal which make them great for both serious study and public reading. Orthodox Christians tend to prefer the KJV & NKJV over other "mainstream Protestant" translations like the NIV, because the base text for the NT is a Byzantine text not an Alexandrian text. However the KJV & NKJV have their disadvantages which, IMO, far outweigh their advantages, these are:

a) The base text for the OT is the Masoretic Hebrew text, not the Greek LXX.
b) Most editions that include the Deuterocannon seldom include the complete LXX Deuterocannon.
c) The base text for the NT is the Textus Receptus which, while Byzantine, contains some interpolations from the Latin Vulgate and is not as close to the official Greek NT text of the Orthodox Church as the Byzantine Majority Text.

Conclusion: not bad but not the best.

2. The Roman Catholic Editions of the RSV & NRSV

Far fewer Orthodox Christians use these two translations, and they are, IMO, completely unsuitable for both clery and laymen. Not only do they not contain the complete LXX Deuterocannon, they were translated from unsuitable source texts - Masoretic text & Alexandrian Greek NT.

Conclusion: to be avoided.

3. NAB, NJB (Roman Catholic) & REB (Anglican)

Same scenario as the one above.

Conclusion: to be avoided. And avoid all other translations of the Masorectic & Alexandrian texts (NIV, TNIV, NIRV, NASB, HCSB, NET, ISV, ESV, CEV, GNB, GWN, NLT, NCV, MSG).

4. Brenton's LXX Translation:

A true classic which has been the "standard" LXX translation for some 150 years. For those who like "KJV-style" English I would recommend using this instead of the KJV, for both study and liturgical use.

Conclusion: better option than the KJV.

5. Thomson's LXX Translation:

The earliest English transltion of the LXX, as in formal "KJVish" English. Apparently not as literal as Brenton's, though I think it's still good enough. It's quite rare but it can be downloaded here.

Conclusion: better option than the KJV.

6. The Orthodox Study Bible

I haven't personally seen it (apart from a pdf sample) but so far I'm not impressed. The reviews are mixed, there seems to be equal support and opposition. In the end though I think this translation is best for new commers to Orthodox Christianity, but not so great for other uses. For a critical review, see this page: http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Pines/7224/Rick/Septuagint/sp_OSB_notes1.htm.

Conclusion: surely Orthodox Christians can do better than just adding Patristic commentary to a Protestant translation (NKJV).

7. The Orthodox New Testament

Another translation with mixed reviews. What's great about it is that it was translated from the official Orthodox Greek NT text, and that it's very accurate. What's not great about it is that the translation is so literal (and eccentric!) that it's makes for very cringe worthy public reading.

Conclusion: really only useful for scholars of NT textual criticism.

8. New English Translation of the Septuagint

A recent translation of the LXX in very readable modern English. It was translated by the Institute of Septuagint and Congnate Studies and published by Oxford University Press. Which means that this is a "scholarly" translation, and therefore great for study but unsuitable for liturgical use.

Conclusion: for scholars and semaries, not for parishes and laymen.

9. World English Bible

A very accurate and readable, public domain revision of the ASV to conform to the Byzantine Majority (OT is Masoretic though does contain some of the Deuterocannon). View and download in various formats here.

Conclusion: better option than the NKJV.

10. The English Majority Text Version

By Paul W. Esposito. A fresh translation of the Byzantine Majority Text. Overall very good, view it here.

Conclusion: better option than the NKJV.

11. The Analytical-Literal Translation

By Gary F. Zeolla. Very literal and accuarate, great for study, but perhaps too literal for public reading (though not as bad as the ONT). More info here.

Conclusion: best English translation of the Byzantine Majority Text. Excellent for study, can be read publically if bracketed [] words are skipped.

12. Fan S. Noli's New Testament Translation

A 1960s translation of the official Orthodox Greek NT text by an Albanian Orthodox Bishop. It's in very informal English and quite paraphrasic, much like the GNB or the NLT. If you prefer a literal translation then steer clear, but if you want an Orthodox translation to read in "simple English" then this is the NT for you. I don't recommend this for liturgical use or serious study, but it's perfect for children. If you teach Sunday School or Catechism for children, I highly recommend using this translation. It's quite rare but I have found it in pdf here.

Conclusion: for children and for those who like "simple English".

13. The Apostolic Bible Polyglot

If you want to study the Greek NT then this is a must have. It's an interlinear translation of the both the Greek NT (Textus Receptus) and LXX (without Deuterocannon) all keyed to Strong's numbers, complete with Lexicon and concordance. Download pdfs here.

Conclusion: for those who want to learn Greek.

14. Holy Orthodox Bible

By Peter A. Papoutsis. A very nice "KJV style" translation by a native Greek speaker and Orthodox Christian. Only drawback - he's yet to complete it. For info on which books are available, go here.

Conclusion: excellent but still in progress.

15. The Eastern Orthodox Bible

The NT, revised from the WEB to conform to the official Orthodox Greek NT text has been published and is also avaible for download. The NT also contains some appendices on Orthodox dogma, and is therefore the one I recommend the most. The OT, which contains an extensive intro, is revised from Brenton's LXX translation, and is still in progress. They need editors to help complete the project which will hopefully be released next year. For info and download go here.

Conclusion: the only English translation (when complete) that is worthy of official sanction. It's accurate, readable, informative and 100% Orthodox. The only drawback is that the complete translation is published in 3 volumes, so a "Parish edition" (one volume minus the footnotes & extras) will need to be published.

Thoughts? Hope you find the above helpful.

Be blessed,
Nazarene.

(Request to moderators: please delete my previous post. Thanks, God bless).
Completed as requested. -YtterbiumAnalyst
« Last Edit: September 07, 2009, 02:13:11 PM by ytterbiumanalyst » Logged
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David ben Yessai


« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2009, 06:00:38 PM »

Deleted per poster's request.

-YtterbiumAnalyst
« Last Edit: September 07, 2009, 02:13:46 PM by ytterbiumanalyst » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2009, 07:41:27 PM »

You left out my favorite, the Douay-Rheims.
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« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2009, 08:07:59 PM »

You left out my favorite, the Douay-Rheims.

Correct I forgot about that, but it's a translation of the the Latin Vulgate which falls under the category of "not translated from a suitable source text". It's a fine translation of the Vulgate though. If we're gonna include translations from texts that are not Greek, then I suppose I can add translations of the Peshitta and Targums to the list, if anyone's interested. But then we're venturing into off the topic a bit.
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« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2009, 10:28:10 PM »

Waitaminute. What about the Orthodox Study Bible. It's the result of years of scholarship by Orthodox Christians in the US!

http://orthodoxstudybible.com/
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« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2009, 11:18:48 PM »

Waitaminute. What about the Orthodox Study Bible. It's the result of years of scholarship by Orthodox Christians in the US!

http://orthodoxstudybible.com/

Not quite. At least one major contributor is British.
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« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2009, 07:46:40 AM »

Waitaminute. What about the Orthodox Study Bible. It's the result of years of scholarship by Orthodox Christians in the US!

http://orthodoxstudybible.com/

Yes it's on the list:

6. The Orthodox Study Bible

I haven't personally seen it (apart from a pdf sample) but so far I'm not impressed. The reviews are mixed, there seems to be equal support and opposition. In the end though I think this translation is best for new commers to Orthodox Christianity, but not so great for other uses. For a critical review, see this page: http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Pines/7224/Rick/Septuagint/sp_OSB_notes1.htm.

Conclusion: surely Orthodox Christians can do better than just adding Patristic commentary to a Protestant translation (NKJV).

The study by Rick Grant Jones linked in the quote above shows that there are some problems with the translation, that not all readings in the OT were corrected to conform to the LXX. But if this doesn't bother you then I won't make a big deal about. I've read many negative and positive reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, many Orthodox feel that the OSB is not as "Orthodox" as it should be, others feel it's suffiicient. Each to his own, I guess.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2009, 07:52:07 AM by Nazarene » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2009, 05:46:53 AM »

I use the Jerusalem Bible. Does anyone have any thoughts on its reliability? The language is suitable for liturgical use as it flows beautifully, and it's annotated with footnotes explaining translation notes and historical context for certain expressions and phrases.
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« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2013, 11:40:05 PM »

Whilst doing some research today, I came upon this article by the OCA.
http://dce.oca.org/resource/272/

 They discuss and compare:

Revised Standard Version (RSV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), Today's English Version (TEV) aka Good News Translation (GNT), LB (Paraphrase), Amplified Bible, New International Version (NIV), Jerusalem Bible, New English Bible, New American Bible, King James Version (KJV). 

 I really enjoyed the article (and was surprised at their findings).  I hope y'all will give it a read and add to the conversation.
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« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2013, 11:57:06 PM »

Glanced over it and it looks interesting, will have to revisit it tomorrow, thanks! Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2013, 10:45:13 AM »

Glanced over it and it looks interesting, will have to revisit it tomorrow, thanks! Smiley

 No problem.  I thought it was interesting that they didn't mention the English Standard Version (ESV).  Maybe it wasn't around when the they were writing this article?  The OP lumps it in with with the RC and Anglican versions to be avoided.  As far as the ESV is concerned, I'm not sure that that's fair or accurate. 

 Another version that gets thumbs down 'round these here parts, but that they approved and recommend, is the Good News Translation aka Today's English Version aka Good News Bible. 
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« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2013, 10:51:00 AM »

Whilst doing some research today, I came upon this article by the OCA.
http://dce.oca.org/resource/272/

 They discuss and compare:

Revised Standard Version (RSV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), Today's English Version (TEV) aka Good News Translation (GNT), LB (Paraphrase), Amplified Bible, New International Version (NIV), Jerusalem Bible, New English Bible, New American Bible, King James Version (KJV). 

 I really enjoyed the article (and was surprised at their findings).  I hope y'all will give it a read and add to the conversation.

The article is a waste of precious bandwidth. A lot of it is untrue. But the worst thing is that the article advices the "Living Bible"  for private reading.
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« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2013, 10:59:11 AM »

Whilst doing some research today, I came upon this article by the OCA.
http://dce.oca.org/resource/272/

 They discuss and compare:

Revised Standard Version (RSV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), Today's English Version (TEV) aka Good News Translation (GNT), LB (Paraphrase), Amplified Bible, New International Version (NIV), Jerusalem Bible, New English Bible, New American Bible, King James Version (KJV). 

 I really enjoyed the article (and was surprised at their findings).  I hope y'all will give it a read and add to the conversation.

The article is a waste of precious bandwidth. A lot of it is untrue. But the worst thing is that the article advices the "Living Bible"  for private reading.

It does no such thing.  It merely points out that a particular duo of authors advises such and the authors of the article do not endorse their suggestions but make their own.
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« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2013, 11:01:41 AM »

Whilst doing some research today, I came upon this article by the OCA.
http://dce.oca.org/resource/272/

 They discuss and compare:

Revised Standard Version (RSV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), Today's English Version (TEV) aka Good News Translation (GNT), LB (Paraphrase), Amplified Bible, New International Version (NIV), Jerusalem Bible, New English Bible, New American Bible, King James Version (KJV). 

 I really enjoyed the article (and was surprised at their findings).  I hope y'all will give it a read and add to the conversation.

The article is a waste of precious bandwidth. A lot of it is untrue. But the worst thing is that the article advices the "Living Bible"  for private reading.

What parts are untrue?  I enjoyed the article but if it's wrong, I'd like to know.  And as for the Living Bible, I don't use it but to be fair they said it's OK for private use.
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« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2013, 11:01:50 AM »

It still has "any new translation, therefore, had to be made from it alone, and not from original manuscripts in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. "
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« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2013, 11:02:53 AM »

What parts are untrue?  I enjoyed the article but if it's wrong, I'd like to know.

Among others, this:

"The only dissenting voice came from the Roman Catholic Church, which disapproved of it, not because it was a poor translation (which obviously it was not), but because it was printed without explanatory footnotes to explain the " correct " Roman Catholic interpretation. "
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« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2013, 11:14:11 AM »

What parts are untrue?  I enjoyed the article but if it's wrong, I'd like to know.

Among others, this:

"The only dissenting voice came from the Roman Catholic Church, which disapproved of it, not because it was a poor translation (which obviously it was not), but because it was printed without explanatory footnotes to explain the " correct " Roman Catholic interpretation. "

 What's wrong about that?  I ask because I don't know.  And for future reference, whenever you post something about this article that you find wrong, please provide an explanation of why you think it's wrong.  I'm not being contentious, I just like to know.
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« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2013, 12:04:49 PM »

I have the Jerusalem Bible (in another language than English, but the same principles likely apply)
Should I really try to find another one? The OCA article seems a lot less critical than the text in the OP.

How acceptable are the Roman-Catholic footnotes from an Orthodox perspective would you say? (English JB has the exact same footnotes)
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