Thursday, October 9, 2008

An open letter to my NIV Bible. (be warned, much geekiness to ensue)

Dear NIV Study Bible:
You know that I have adored using you the past 10 years. I love how easy to read you are. I love that I can understand the Word of God without having to wade through a bunch of "thees" and "thous" and "shalts". You know that I have been utterly devoted to your translation of the Greek ever since my mom gave me an NIV Bible for Easter and that I only switched Bibles when that one was nearly worn out. You know that I have used my father's old study Bible that he gave me when he died, copiously writing notes in your margins and underlining important passages (especially in theology!).

Alas, my dear NIV, I have grown disillusioned with you.
Imagine my horror this last week in class when I noticed not one but TWO terrible choices of words in your translation.

First of all, why would you translate the word zeilou as jealous when it obviously means zealous in Acts 5:17? It doesn't make sense! Jealousy means something completely different from zeal! The Sadducees were not jealous of the disciples, they were zealous for the Law and about upholding what they believed was the true word of God! That is why they beat the disciples in put them in jail. Not because they were jealous.

I wish that were all. I could overlook one misuse of the Greek. But then you decide to do something similar in Acts 9:21 when discussing Saul. You foolishly translate the word portheo as "raising havoc" when it means "to destroy". Saul didn't just raise 'havoc' among those who believed that Jesus was the Messiah, he wanted to utterly destroy them! He beat them and put them in prison and wanted them to die for their blasphemy!

So, my dear NIV Bible. We have to break up. It is time for me to move on. Maybe I will buy a ESV Bible. Many of my profs actually wrote the notes in that translation and I respect them.
I have enjoyed our time together and will lovingly place you on my shelf with my NKJV and my Good News translation. Please do not be offended, you brought this on yourself.



Auds at Barking Mad said...

I've noticed the disparities over the years with the NIV version and being married to a Brit, I just stick with my trusty KJV and have him battle with the occasional translation issues that come up...or my brother who is fluent in about a million different languages. *lol* Well, there is that little thing with having to get past all the "begats"...but once you do that, it's pretty smooth sailing. Sometimes.

Great post!

Lee Jones said...

I'm so glad you have left the Dark Side! Welcome, my sister!

Seriously, though... I've heard the ESV is great, but haven't purchased one and haven't read more than a few passages. I'm personally using the NET right now (an obscure translation).

Let me know how you like the ESV as I may consider teaching from it. While I really like the NET, its lack of widespread acceptance would hinder my use of it in church.

Dan said...

I've recently been introduced to the ESV through my new church (joined when I moved back to Illinois last year), and I am most impressed and pleased with it. I do find having the 'ol NIV handy for cross-reference helps, though, as there will be questions you will wonder about in ANY translation.