John 17:6-19 – Comparing dynamic translations: NLT vs CEB

CEBMost young people, including those with lower levels of reading comprehension prefer a bible translation they can read and understand.  There are more translations available today.  Earlier, I said I’d do a comparison of two dynamic-equivalent bible translations: the Common English Bible (CEB) and the New Living Translation (NLT). Here is the first post in this series on dynamic (or functional-equivalent) bible translations (which I’ll complete over a few months). First, dynamic translations are not meant to be literal and sound wooden; however, it also needs to flow well and remain true and accurate while not taking too many liberties to re-interpret the original text (biblical Greek).  Otherwise, you run the risk of interpreting according to one’s own theological bent or preference.  There isn’t any bible translation that is entire free from theological interpretation or bias; however, there may be translations that do a slightly better job. nlt-logoI’m picking these two translations to start because they seem to be two of the more popular dynamic-equivalent translations on the market right now.  My intention is not to trash any translation.  These are still both good translations and used by many Christians.

v. 6 – The NLT has inserted the word “always” into “always yours”; whereas, the CEB simply renders it “were yours”. The NLT added “always,” which may be considered a theological interpretation. This might be interpreted that we had always belonged to God.  Some Christians believe that we are made into his children after we come into his fold.  Whether or not human beings were “always” a possession of Jesus can be a theological or doctrinal position. In this case, I’d prefer leaving out “always”.

v. 7 – The NLT has reinterpreted the word “to give” (dedōkas) as a “gift,.” The Original Word: δίδωμι
does not carry the sense of a present or gift; it simply means “to give” and has the sense of “to put, to place, to give, to offer”. Didomi does not have the sense of gift or a present. The CEB is more preferable.

v. 11 NLT’s “I am departing from the world” seems to take some liberties in interpreting it in this future sense. I prefer CEB’s translation of “I’m no longer in the world”.
NLT: “you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name”
CEB: “watch over them in your name, the name you gave me,”
The CEB seems to make more sense because to me, the emphasis in this thought is not in the name given, but rather, in watching or protecting them. This one is subjective and might be a personal preference.

The NLT also seems to take liberties in re-interpreting “by the power of your name”. The original Greek does not even allude to any idea of “power in the name”. This is purely an insertion of the NLT translator. I think this may be inaccurate.

Both interpretations of CEB’s “watch over” and NLT’s “protect them” and “guarded them”. This re-interpretation of “keeping watch” or “keeping guard” might also be over-stretching the original word of “to keep” (tērēson). This sense of “to keep” can also have a simpler interpretation of where one “keeps” the commandments of the Lord, or even to “keep” them in a person’s possession or care. Later, however, the writer of John does use “to keep” (ephylaxa) which in this case, does have the sense of “to guard” or “to protect” in the next verse (v. 12). I have do have to say that the rendering of “to guard, or to protect“ in v. 11 is not entirely incorrect. But only because it can be justified by the intended meaning used in v. 12.

In v.17, the NLT also adds the word “teach” in “teach them your word”. This is an addition to the original text that is not there; this is an interpretative move. Perhaps our evangelical tendency is to think that in order to stay in the truth, it is one’s responsibility to learn and be taught from the word. This is an interpretation that comes from our humanistic approach learning and may have nothing to do with God’s sovereign power to keep us safe.  My question is then, “Is God powerless to keep us in His care?”  Then I would prefer to leave out the word “teach”, like what the CEB has correctly done.

Another interpretation of the NLT is in v. 19. The NLT seems to be reinterpreting Jesus’ use of “holy” in the sense that he necessarily made himself into a “holy sacrifice”. This idea of a sacrifice in v. 19 is not found in the original Greek and is an insertion and reinterpretation.  From Jesus’ point-of-view, being a “holy sacrifice” may not have been in his heart when he said this (although he ultimately did become a “sacrificial lamb”).

In this first round of dynamic-equivalent translations, the Common English Bible takes the win over the New Living Translation.

For our visual comparison, here is the biblical text below using the passage of John 17:6-19.

NLT – John 17:6-19 CEB – John 17:6-19
“I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.….10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name;[b] now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. 12 During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me.[c]….17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. “I have revealed your name to the people you gave me from this world. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. This is because I gave them the words that you gave me, and they received them. They truly understood that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.….10 Everything that is mine is yours and everything that is yours is mine; I have been glorified in them11 I’m no longer in the world, but they are in the world, even as I’m coming to you. Holy Father, watch over them in your name, the name you gave me, that they will be one just as we are one. 12 When I was with them, I watched over them in your name, the name you gave to me, and I kept them safe.….17 Make them holy in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 I made myself holy on their behalf so that they also would be made holy in the truth.

Dynamic equivalent bible translations

I will be comparing several bible translations.  This hasn’t been done on New Epistles blog in a long time. It’s fun and I miss doing this.  In the past, I used to do this extensively on New Epistles.  This time, we’ll probably be comparing two of my favorite dynamic translations-—the Common English Bible and New Living Translation.

I was reading from the Common English Bible recently.  I like it so much because it’s so clear and easy to read.  It was consistently on the top ten in 2014 but recently since 2015, it seems to have fallen off the top ten (and top 15) in bible unit sales. Not sure what’s going on but personally I think it’s a great functional equivalent translation (dynamic) and deserves more readership.  Most bible readers don’t know the difference and rely on word-of-mouth, but even opinions through word-of-mouth are not the most accurate.  Other dynamic translations have also fallen off the map include New Century Version, God’s Word, and the Voice.  They’re even hardly seen on the bookshelves in Christian bookstores these days.  In April 2015, only the New Living Translation, the Message, NIrV, and Amplified have remained in the top ten on CBA’s ratings.

April 2015 (unit sales, CBA)

1  New International Ver.
2  New Living Translation
3  King James Version
4  New King James Version
5  English Standard Version
6  Reina Valera 1960
7  New American Standard
8  NIrV
9  The Message
10 Holman Christian Standard
11 New American Bible
12 Amplified Bible
13 New Revised Standard Bible
14 Nuevo International

New Living Translation on the rise

The New Living Translation is on the rise and was the second most popular translation in unit sales for August 2010. I am not surprised it has risen to such popularity.  The ESV is holding steady, and the NIV is still on top after the TNIV getting dumped.

CBA best sellers list for August 2010

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS – Based on Unit Sales

1  New International Version – various publishers
New Living Translation – Tyndale
3  King James Version – various publishers
4  New King James Version – various publishers
5  English Standard Version Crossway
6  Holman Christian Standard Bible – B&H Publishing Group
7  The Message Eugene Peterson – NavPress
8  Reina Valera 1960 (Spanish) – American Bible Society and licensees
9  New American Standard Bible update – various publishers
10  New International Readers Version – Zondervan

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS – Based on Dollar Sales

1  New International Version – various publishers
2  King James Version – various publishers
3  New Living Translation – Tyndale
4  New King James Version – various publishers
5  English Standard Version – Crossway
6  New American Standard Bible update – various publishers
7  The Message Eugene Peterson – NavPress
8  Holman Christian Standard Bible – B&H Publishing Group
9  New American Standard – various publishers
10  Reina Valera 1960 (Spanish) – American Bible Society and licensees

Holy Bible: Mosaic and the blog tour winner today

Congratulations to Mr. Juan Martinez who is the winner of the Holy Bible: Mosaic contest on New Epistles .  I will be mailing out to you a certificate for a copy of the Holy Bible: Mosaic redeemable at your local Christian bookstore, compliments of Tyndale Publishing House.   Mr. Juan Martinez asked a great question: “When I have read previous books with historic Christian artwork, I have been puzzled to find inappropriate artwork such as demonic beings or undressed angels and ugly pictures of Jesus. Is this found frequently inside the Mosaic?”  Well Juan, I checked and didn’t see any demonic pictures of Jesus–nothing even close to being inappropriate, in my opinion. They are mostly very beautiful and colorful.

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I also have several other questions  regarding the Holy Bible: Mosaic that I hope can be answered by someone from Tyndale or one of the contributors.  My originally assigned guest on this blog tour was not able to answer my questions because they were more of an insider’s editorial type of question.  So I’ll leave this up to someone from Tyndale.

Question #1: The Holy Bible: Mosaic includes a one-year lectionary of readings that follow this church-year.  Throughout history, there have been one-year lectionaries developed by Catholics, including adaptations by Anglicans and Lutherans (i.e., Revised Common Lectionary).  Was this lectionary one of the historic one-year lectionaries, or if it this lectionary of readings was designed by Creedo Communications, who are the developers of this bible?

Question #2:  I find some of these themes very good—some more challenging than others (e.g., mastering virtues; God in community; global church community; fasting; wealth; possessions; authenticity; blame; service; diversity; righteous judgment).  How were these themes chosen?  By the editors or by the contributor?

Question #3:  It was mentioned that the contributors were from a diverse background.  This is another reason why it is called the Holy Bible: Mosaic.  How many countries and cultures are the contributors from?

Question #4:  The artwork is one of the best features of this bible.  It reminds me of some of those older bibles with artwork depicting biblical stories.  They range from ancient to modern-contemporary.  How did the artwork get picked for the Mosaic bible?

Exodus 22:8-9 “God” or “Judges”?

I think this will really bug some people as it bugs me.  It seems that Exodus 22:8-9 is clearly referring to judges but some translations like the NLT,  ESV, NRSV rendered elohim as “God“; but TNIV and CSB rendered elohim as “judges“.  Yes, technically, “God” is correct; but it seems clear to me that elohim (in the sense of a small “g” gods) which can be translated as judges, was what the writers/scribes intended.

Should we go with what we know as technically correct? Or should we go with what we know the writer/scribe/editor intended?

_________________________  Exodus 22:8-9 _________________________

NLT But if the thief is not caught, the neighbor must appear before God, who will determine if he stole the property. 9 “Suppose there is a dispute between two people who both claim to own a particular ox, donkey, sheep, article of clothing, or any lost property. Both parties must come before God, and the person whom God declares guilty must pay double compensation to the other.

ESV If the thief is not found, the owner of the house shall come near to God to show whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s property. 9 For every breach of trust, whether it is for an ox, for a donkey, for a sheep, for a cloak, or for any kind of lost thing, of which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before God. The one whom God condemns shall pay double to his neighbor.

TNIV But if the thief is not found, the owner of the house must appear before the judges, and they must determine whether the owner of the house has laid hands on the other person’s property. 9 In all cases of illegal possession of an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any other lost property about which somebody says, ‘This is mine,’ both parties are to bring their cases before the judges. The one whom the judges declare guilty must pay back double to the other.

CSB If the thief is not caught, the owner of the house must present himself to the judges to determine whether or not he has taken his neighbor’s property. 9 In any case of wrongdoing involving an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or anything else lost, and someone claims: That’s mine, the case between the two parties is to come before the judges. The one the judges condemn must repay double to his neighbor.

New Epistles Contest: Give away of Holy Bible: Mosaic (NLT)

Someone has a chance to win a free copy of the Holy Bible: Mosaic here on New Epistles.  (I have posted my review of Holy Bible: Mosaic).  Here are the simple rules to my contest.

  1. Reply in the comments section of this post below and ask any question about any feature of this bible. I will determine the winner by deciding on the most interesting, quirky, or insightful question. Note: There is no such thing as a dumb question!  Your questions may be asked on my interview with a Mosaic contributor on November 3, 2009.
  2. Make sure you email me your email address and question so I can contact the winner.
  3. Link this contest to your blog (or if you don’t have a blog, try to tell someone else about this contest).

Deadline to enter is: November 2, 2009 @ 11:59PM.  I will announce the winner the next day on November 3, 2009 (which is the scheduled date of my interview with a contributor on this blog tour of 50 blogs, so you have lots of chances to win.

I will contact the winner by email to obtain the mailing information so I can send out the certificate for a free copy to the winner (officially authorized by Tyndale and redeemable at any Christian bookstore where the Holy Bible: Mosaic is sold).

Review of Holy Bible: Mosaic (NLT) by Tyndale

Laura Bartlett from  Tyndale asked me to participate in the 10-week Holy Bible: Mosaic Blog Tour participated by 50 blogs. Be sure to enter the New Epistles Contest here to win a free copy of this brand new bible.  I will be sending out to the winner an authorized certificate for a free copy redeemable at any Christian bookstore.
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Holy Bible: Mosaic
Published by: Tyndale House Publishers and Creedo Communications.
ISBN: 9781414322032 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 9781414322056 (Leather-like in antique brown with cross)

Holy Bible: Mosaic is based on the 2007 edition of the New Living Translation (NLT).  The NLT is amongst one of my favourite gender-inclusive translations.  It is very easy to read and understand, and yet, accurate.  The New Living Translation has already become a standard translation for today.  I predict the NLT will become one of the top modern translations of the 21st century—becoming what the NIV was for the 20th century.

The artwork in Mosaic is another big part of this bible.   I have found the artwork very stimulating to my visual senses.  It is very colorful and exudes with beauty making this one of my favourite aspects of the Mosaic.  The artwork includes both ancient and contemporary, ranging from Asian, African, European, North and South American.  The layout in this front section makes it easy on the eyes.  There is a lot of empty space, ancient crosses, and color to highlight the varying font types. This is very well done, for which I hail my felicitations and adulation.  It’s a beautiful layout that is aesthetically pleasing to one’s sense of sight.

When I first examined the bible from a top-down perspective, one of the first things that stood out for me was its diversity in art, contributors, and meditative readings.  If there’s one word that describes this bible is: “diversity.”  The lectionary’s readings are also diverse.  Regarding this lectionary, the readings are related to a theme.  For Pentecost, Week 23, the readings focus on a theme, which happens to be on diversity: Ruth 1:1-22; Psalm 145; Philippians 1:27-2:11; Matthew 12:46-50.  It includes a one-year lectionary of readings (52 weeks) of which I am curious to know if it was originally developed for the Mosaic.

The contributions that give this bible its distinctive flavour are all located in the front of the bible.  Scripture itself is located in the second half of the bible.   Some of the contributions are original and are written by Christians throughout the world from different cultural and theological makeup.  I have found that some of them can also be challenging because of these differences in culture and theology.  Diversity can bring a new and refreshing perspective.  Here is one such contribution from the diversity theme that reflects a view of my own human nature:

In 1 Corinthians, Paul suggests that it is human nature to gravitate toward people who are like us.  Sometimes we maintain this habit by preferring to be with others who mirror us culturally, racially, economically, etc.  In this way, I have found, I can reduce the likelihood of conflict and find others more willing to validate my opinions.  I protect and reinforce my own identity through an easier, more comfortable option.  But God is calling me to so much more.  Jesus destroyed the barriers that keep me from engaging others (Chinn, p. 299).

What also makes the Mosaic interesting is that there are also historical readings and poetic reflections from theologians and luminaries from the historic ancient, medieval and post-reformation church.  They vary in theological traditions, including well-known figures like Albertus Magnus, Thomas à Kempis, John Calvin, Teresa of Ávila, Julian of Norwich.  Authors of readings from the ancient church include: John Cassian, Augustine of Hippo, Ambrose of Milan, Basil the Great. Even the Didache and St. Augustine’s Invocation are a few of the ancient meditations scattered throughout the 52 weeks of readings.  There are also some of our more contemporary theologians: Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Andrew Murray, John Wesley, Alexander MacLaren, Witness Lee, Watchman Nee, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Charles Hodge, Horatius Bonar, and more.

The Mosaic contributors include some of today’s most contemporaries whom I have never heard of, e.g., David Sanford and Rex Koivisto of Multnomah University; Pastor Bill Senyard of New Life Church.  This makes the contributions very diverse—ranging from people who are unknown, and even, completely unknown, including editors and contributors for Creedo Communications who developed this bible for Tyndale.

Regarding the text of holy scripture itself, there is a center-column reference feature.  Personally, I find this to be a useful feature because I research related passages of texts.  The font of scripture is just large enough to be read comfortably in good light, but personally, I do wish the font size were a tad bit larger.  I like the font size that’s in the NLT’s basic hardcover edition.  However, this is only a minor concern for me.

Well, Tyndale, I say “Fine work” on this bible.  The Holy Bible: Mosaic is amongst one of the most unique bibles I have seen of late.  There are combined elements of simplicity, beauty, and diversity.  This is why this has to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing bibles my hands and heart have embraced in the past several years.

Other Holy Bible: Mosaic material is also available from Amazon:

  • Devotions for Advent: 9781414335780
  • Devotions for Lent: 9781414335810 (Available January 2010)

Luke 18:29 – Is TNIV gender-accurate?

Matthew 19:29

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother (NRSV)

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother (TNIV)

Mark 10:29

there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father (NRSV)

no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father (TNIV)

Luke 18:29

there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents (NRSV)

no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents (TNIV)

everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents  (NLT)

Were TNIV translators gender-accurate or too aggressive in their rendering of Luke 18:29?  This one is questionable.  The word ἀδελφοὺς can mean “brother” in the masculine plural but has been translated as “brothers or sisters” in other passages where adelphas (ἀδελφὰς, sisters: fem. pluaral) is absent.   I checked other translations and found no other translation went as far as TNIV did in Luke 18:29—not even the NRSV or NLT.  The NRSV and NLT rendered this as simply “brothers”.

The Matthew and Mark parallels rendered adelphos (ἀδελφοὺς) as “brothers” and adelphas (ἀδελφὰς) as “sisters”.  Did TNIV follow the pattern set in these parallel verses of Matthew 19:29 and Mark 10:29, in which “adelphos” and “adelphas” were rendered as “brothers or sisters”?   The Matt. 19:29 and Mark 10:29 parallels are definitely correct, but Luke 18:29 now becomes questionable when placed in a comparative context with these other parallel passages.

If TNIV is right on this one, then NRSV and NLT are wrong.  What gives me a feeling that TNIV may be right in this case is Luke’s use of guneis (γονεῖς) for parent instead of pater and mater (μητέρα ἢ πατέρα) for father and mother.  Luke may have intended to use guneis as a gender-inclusive term, so in following Luke’s use of inclusive terminology, Luke 18:29 may be more accurately translated as “brothers or sisters”.

Other places where TNIV went further in gender-inclusive language than the NRSV or the NLT are in Luke 14:12, Acts 15:1, 22:5.

NLT Holy Bible: Mosaic released

The Holy Bible: Mosaic was released on September 22, 2009. I will be posting a review of this later. I just received my copy of Mosaic in the mail today.

But if you want a free copy of it, here’s a list of bloggers who are participating in this Mosaic blog tour. You have 50 opportunities to win your own copy by checking out the list of bloggers.

But if you want to buy a copy of it, it can be purchased on Amazon, and of course, at your local Christian bookstore.

Eph. 3:16-18 “I pray that…”

Ephesians 3:16 – 18:

ESV:
that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
NLT:
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit.
NRSV:
I pray that
, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you, being rooted and grounded in love, And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

For public reading of this particular passage, I would prefer not to read from the ESV because the sentence is way too long.  It is five verses long: v.14-19. It takes your breath away. According to English grammar, it might qualify as a run-on sentence.  Notice the ESV does not have the phrase “I pray that” while the NRSV, NLT, and TNIV translations do. Why?  I looked into this and learned that vv. 16 and 18 (in orig. Greek) contain a subordinate or dependent clause: “that“.   For clarity’s sake, the words “I pray that” were added in by the NRSV, NLT, TNIV translators because this clause “that” actually refers to what Paul said back in v. 14 (“I bow my knees before the Father”). So by adding “I pray that“, clarity to an otherwise, lengthy sentence was increased.

Since “I pray that” is not present in the original, you would think that the ESV would be more precise.  It may be more precise but it may not be as understandable.  Precision does not equal accuracy.

NLT Discover God Study Bible by Tyndale

Thanks to Laura Bartlett of Tyndale House Publishers for sending me this hardcover edition of this wonderful study bible.

The Discover God Study Bible was released a while back but it doesn’t seem to have a big readership because when I checked the local Christian bookstore, I noticed only a few copies on the shelf. It doesn’t seem to be as nearly as popular as the NLT Life Application Study Bible or NLT Study Bible, which are great bibles; but I think this study bible deserves more recognition because of its helpfulness within its pages of study notes.

This bible is a devotional study bible and is unlike many other study bibles out there because it is full of good advice and wisdom for living a holy and devoted Christian life. It is unlike the NLT Study Bible, the NIV Study Bible or most any other study bibles I’ve seen. If I had to compare this, it might be a little like the NLT Life Application Study Bible because it gives the reader advice practical ways to live a pious Christian life. I have also seen other study bibles like the NRSV Renovare Bible and NRSV Discipleship Study Bible but this one seems to go deeper in its appreciation of Christian piety and is like “highly-caffeinated” training in godly living and deepening our knowledge in the living God (…I’m sitting here at Starbucks writing this).

In my devotional reading this morning, I read gospel-oriented study notes from Jeremiah 29: 11 that came under the topic of God:

29:11 Hope for the future….The Bible’s version is a hope that’s grounded in what God has promised to do in the future. Our great expectations of God and his promises will always fall short of His grand plans (Romans 5:5) because He loves us—and just like us, God never wants to disappoint those He loves. Put your hope in God and be prepared for Him to go beyond everything you can hope and pray for (Ephesians 1:19-23). (See God> Salvation> Holy Spirit> Comforts, TopicGuide page A15.)

There are over 9,000 wonderful study notes like this. They are drawn from the well of wisdom and deep devotional life of Dr. Bill Bright. The notes were organized by a team of bible scholars and teachers into the ten core topics in the TopicGuide found in the beginning of the bible.

The topic guide gives us some ideas on what is covered:

Holiness: living for God
The Bible: trusting God’s word and its authority in your life
God’s Purpose: embracing God’s will and master plan
Worship: giving God the praise and glory He is due
Spiritual warfare: resisting temptation and Satan’s schemes
God: cultivating your relationship with God
God’s Salvation: appreciating redemption from sin and death
Adoption: finding your identity in Christ
Church: joining with God’s people
Ministry: becoming an agent of change

These topics are then subdivided into two more levels of subtopics so this natural organization and division makes it easier to find what you are looking for.

People struggle to know God in a more personal way and understand him. We know that this is best achieved by attending church, reading our bible regularly and prayer; however, the purpose of this study bible is to give us a tool to help us along in this journey.

I like the theology of worship written as an introduction to the Discover Worship TopicGuide:

“We don’t come to God offering up our obedience, as if He needed our help with anything. True worship, and this outline, begins with awestruck reverence for who God is and what He has done for us….He could have left us in the dark, groping around for the right things to be, say, and do to please Him. But He gave clear instructions in the Bible for how He did (and didn’t) want to be worshiped. This section of the outline lays out God’s preferences for how He wants us to show our love for Him.” (p. A25).

In the topical section of Holiness, there is a subtopic called Law and Grace, which I found contained a theologically sound understanding of law and gospel:

The graciousness of the Law: How do grace and law work in the Christian life?
Law: We do not reject the law….
Grace: We do not reject grace….

I also like the study notes approach to the sacraments of Holy Communion:

…Make sure you know when your church will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper and examine your heat beforehand—do not simply show up as if it is an ordinary day. Prepare by reflecting on the meaning of the sacrament, your repentance from sin, your love for God and others, and your desire for new obedience to Christ. (See Worship> NT> Our Role> Mind and Heart> Lord’s Supper to be taken in a worthy manner, TopicGuide page A32).

This is good teaching because we don’t seem to hear this kind of teaching in our churches anymore. Furthermore, I noticed there were two sections in the TopicGuide recognizing Baptism and Holy Communion as Sacraments and labelled it as such (p. A34).

I don’t think I overstated this bible as a “highly-caffeinated” study bible because I can feel a very strong sense of encouragement toward godly living in almost every single study note. If you want to grow in your faith and knowledge of God, the Discover God Study Bible will be an invaluable resource for you in your daily devotional reading of the bible. I will use this as a devotional resource.

Functional equivalence comparison #3: Romans 7:15-16

Finally, the comparison between functional equivalent translations continues with Romans, ch. 7.

I have been on a blogging hiatus for a while but I’ve finally found some time to catch my breath. I like doing these translation comparisons but they take a lot of time to prepare. I have found that comparing eight different translations is just too much, so to simplify things, I will limit the number of translations I am comparing to these six: NLT, NCV, NIrV, GW, CEV and GNT.

Romans 7:15

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. (NLT)

I do not understand the things I do. I do not do what I want to do, and I do the things I hate. (NCV)

I don’t understand what I do. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate to do. (NIrV)

I don’t realize what I’m doing. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate. (God’s Word)

In fact, I don’t understand why I act the way I do. I don’t do what I know is right. I do the things I hate. (CEV)

I do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate. (GNT)

v.15: the original Greek says κατεργάζομαι οὐ γινώσκω (katergazomai οὐ ginōskō, “deeds not know,” “deeds not understand”). Therefore, the NLT’s idiomatic expression of “I don’t really understand myself” is not accurate. Paul does understand himself; what Paul says he does not understand is his own deeds or actions.

In the Greek, Paul did not say: “I don’t do what I know is right” (CEV). Paul actually said: “I do not do what I want to do.”

The GNT also uses: “would like to do.” In the Greek, Paul used θέλω , which means one’s will or volition, rather than, one’s liking. We know in v.18b, Paul says he has a will but just can’t act according to his will.

Concerning v.15, I prefer the renderings from NCV, NIrV, and GW.

Romans 7:16

But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. (NLT)

And if I do not want to do the hated things I do, that means I agree that the law is good. (NCV)

I do what I don’t want to do. So I agree that the law is good. (NIrV)

I don’t do what I want to do, but I agree that God’s standards are good. (GW)

Although I don’t do what I know is right, I agree that the Law is good. (CEV)

Since what I do is what I don’t want to do, this shows that I agree that the Law is right. (GNT)

v.16: The original Greek expresses the first phrase in the positive—“I do”; but the GW and CEV expresses this in the negative—“I don’t”. This is not accurate.

All the translations, other than GW, rendered nomos as “law” rather than “standards”. The Greek used νόμος (nomos, law), so the GW inaccurately rendered this as “standards” instead of “law”.

The NCV’s negative expression is difficult to understand and it also adds “hated things”, which is absent in the Greek.

The NLT uses the word “wrong” but this word is also not in the Greek.

The GNT renders “law is right.” In the Greek, Paul uses the word καλός (kalos) which reflects the agreeable impression made by the good. It is not related with a legal judgment in the sense of being right or wrong, which would otherwise be expressed using δικαιος (dikaios).

I hope that I do not disqualify every translation in this series. They all have their strengths in various passages of texts. But regarding Rom. 7:15-16, the NIrV seems to have come out on top.

Life application bible studies: John, Acts, Hebrews, James

Tyndale has released a new bible study series called the Life Application Bible Studies. To date, four books are available: John, Acts, Hebrews, and James. More are scheduled to be released.

Each book in this bible study series include two parts: 1) the complete text of the selected bible book from the Life Application Study Bible in the New Living Translation (2007 ed.), including the study notes, full maps, charts and people profiles; and 2) bible study questions. Each book in this series include thirteen ready-to-use lessons to stimulate thought, discussion, and practical life application. They each begin with a few warm-up questions; the reader is then invited to read the passage. This is followed by 10-16 questions to help the reader reflect and apply the biblical lessons into real life situations. There are also extra questions at the end to help the reader reflect more deeply upon the passage at hand.

The series of questions are divided into sections:

  • Reflect on your life (5-10 min.)
  • Read the passage (10-15 min.)
  • Realize the principle (15-20 min.)
  • Respond to the message (20-30 min.)
  • Resolve to take action (10-15 min.)

The Life Application Study Bible is probably the most helpful devotional study bibles to help readers reflect upon their personal lives. It helps the reader make sense of the bible and apply the lessons into their lives. I don’t think there is anything else out there that does it better. It is the most unique devotional study bible available because it does what other bibles don’t do. This, combined with study questions, gives the bible study participants and leaders a lot of thought-provoking material for a very enjoyable bible study. Good job Tyndale.

My thanks go to Laura Bartlett from Tyndale for sending me review copies of John, Acts, Hebrews, and James.

Functional equivalence comparison #2: 1 Samuel 3:13 – What blasphemy?

The comparison between functional equivalent translations continues with the First Samuel 3:13.

NLT: I have warned him that judgment is coming upon his family forever, because his sons are blaspheming God and he hasn’t disciplined them.

GW: I told him that I would hand down a permanent judgment against his household because he knew about his sons’ sin—that they were cursing God—but he didn’t try to stop them.

NIrV: I told Eli I would punish his family forever. He knew his sons were sinning. He knew they were making fun of me. In spite of that, he failed to stop them.

Message: I’m letting him know that the time’s up. I’m bringing judgment on his family for good. He knew what was going on, that his sons were desecrating God’s name and God’s place, and he did nothing to stop them.

GNT: I have already told him that I am going to punish his family forever because his sons have spoken evil things against me. Eli knew they were doing this, but he did not stop them.

NCV: I told Eli I would punish his family always, because he knew his sons were evil. They acted without honor, but he did not stop them.

CEV: He knew that his sons refused to respect me, and he let them get away with it, even though I said I would punish his family forever.

REB: You are to tell him that my judgement on his house will stand for ever because he knew of his sons’ blasphemies against God and did not restrain them.

In the original Hebrew, it is not very clear what “making themselves vile” really means. What were the sons of Eli doing to actually make themselves contemptible or vile? To make oneself vile is taken to be a blasphemy against God. But was it an act directed against God’s holy sacrifice (as the NCV implies), or were they doing something to themselves that made them vile? Amongst the functional equivalent (F.E.) translations, the NL T renders it as “blaspheming God”, which is the traditional rendering (also NRSV, ESV, TNIV). It is all by itself on this one because the other F.E. translations are very wide and far apart in their interpretation of the nature of this blasphemy.

The NCV’s use of “acted without honor” implies a physical action. Whereas, GW (“cursing God”), NIrV (“making fun of me”), and GNT (“spoken evil things against me”) implies speech. The renderings of CEV, Message, NLT and REB could go either way—action or speech. CEV’s (“refused to respect me”) uses an inactive adverb; whereas, NIRV’s (“making fun of me”) uses an active verb. However, this is very subjective because everyone may have their personal opinion as to what constitutes speech or action.

I prefer the rendering in The Message the best because it seems to most accurately describe blasphemy while covering both aspects of blasphemy in speech and action, and is easy to understand. Most people do not know what “blasphemy” means so I have to prefer a thumbs up for The Message. HCSB also has an excellent rendering: “his sons were defiling the sanctuary”. It’s extremely clear and understandable, but it’s in the mediating translation category.

Functional equivalent translations #1: 1 Samuel 3:7 Confusion about young Samuel

The comparison between functional equivalent translations begins with the First Samuel 3:7.

NCV: Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the Lord had not spoken directly to him yet.

Message: This all happened before Samuel knew GOD for himself. It was before the revelation of GOD had been given to him personally.

CEV: The LORD had not spoken to Samuel before, and Samuel did not recognize the voice.

REB: Samuel had not yet come to know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not been disclosed to him.

NLT: Samuel did not yet know the LORD because he had never had a message from the LORD before.

NIrV: Samuel didn’t know the Lord yet. That’s because the Lord still hadn’t given him a message.

GNT: The boy did not know that it was the Lord, because the Lord had never spoken to him before.

God’s Word: Samuel had no experience with the LORD, because the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.

I was studying 1 Samuel 3:7 and noticed something puzzling. I asked myself: Why did young Samuel not know the Lord? Did the writer of Samuel mean that Samuel did not know the LORD because:

a/ he was still young?
b/ he had not yet spent enough time to learn of the LORD?
c/ he had not yet heard from the LORD in a personal way?

The interpretations provide by these translations are indeed numerous with each one including a slightly different connotation. Personally, this brings more confusion rather than clarification. The interpretations for this verse can vary quite a lot (see translations below).

The NLT, NIrV, GNT, and GW translations add “because”, which makes Samuel’s knowledge of the LORD conditional upon a prior revelation from the LORD. The original Hebrew does not contain the word owdowth (“because”, “on account of|). This is very different from the rendering provided by NCV, The Message, REB, and CEV, which do not contain this conditional clause. The two ideas expressed are independent upon one another but may also be taken as conditional (depending on how you wish to read it).

GW’s rendering expresses the idea of Samuel’s “inexperience” with the LORD, whereas, other translations stick with the idea of “knowing the LORD.” GNT’s rendering expresses that even though Samuel had heard, he did not know who it was. The Message ‘s rendering expresses Samuel’s knowledge of the LORD in a more personal way: “for himself” and “personally.”

There are many places in the O.T. where the original Hebrew lacked “because” but have been added by translators to add clarification. However, in this instance, I would prefer not adding “because.”