Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bibles for Kids

Revisiting An Old Subject...

This morning I made a blunder at church.  I made an off the cuff remark about the NLT translation.  It wasn't the way I meant it.  Sometimes my mouth opens too wide at times!  It has been very interesting all the things I've had to dig into about how I feel and think about books over the last 2 years.  I realized this week that I've been in Amazon's Vine program for 2 years and that program is what started me on this adventure of reviewing books for the other publishers I review books for as well.  Often I find that my negative review is the only negative one. Other times my positive review runs in contradiction to others' positive reviews!  Oh, please forgive me--back to my comment...

One of the things I've thought about over the past 2 years is Bible Translation.  I do think it is wise to read more literal translations than paraphrases as a primary Bible simply because it leaves more interpretation to the reader than the translator.  In the past, I've been concerned about the NLT because I read once that it was originally intended for children but it became a translation that is read by many adults as their primary Bible.  My concerns about the NLT, CEV, and the Message have been because of some words that are translated differently.  One of them being "submission".  In one of the paraphrases above, the word "respect" is used in place of submission. But, submission is more than just respect.  Another used the word "yield"  and that doesn't paint the whole picture of submission either.

Another issue that is of concerns to me is the use of "gender" neutral language.  I was told by someone I trusted that both the TNIV and the NLT began using gender neutral language, though the TNIV was the only one publicly criticized for it.

An example of this is Revelation 3:20
NLT:  Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

ESV:  Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

It is very different in the two translations!  I don't think I'm comfortable with the idea that the Bible has to be politically correct in order to be culturally relevant.

All that being said until yesterday, I didn't personally have a copy of the NLT (I did of the CEV and the Message).  It surprised me.  In many ways, it read much like the NIV aside from the issue of gender neutral language, but there were other times when it sounded differently.  For example,
Psalm 23
"The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.  He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.  He renews my strength.  He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.  Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me  Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me..."

But, the in the next few verses it sounds much more similar...
"You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.  You honor me by anointing my head with oil.  My cup overflows with blessings.  Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever."

I read several other passages.  It was very interesting.  I am not a Bible scholar so perhaps it is not fair for me to try and decide even what I think of it.

So, this is the conclusion I've come to.  I do like the NLT overall.  It is a translation of the Bible.  I know many people who enjoy reading it and it has blessed them.

But, would I recommend it if I were purchasing a Bible for someone?  Probably not.  If the person was a new believer or struggles with reading, I would probably get a Message Bible paraphrase or an NIV.  Would I choose the NLT for children?  Probably not.  I would choose the NIrV which is the NIV with shorter sentences with a simplified sentence structure.  Personally, after reading the NIrV, the CEV (which is the ICB--International Children's Bible for adults), and the NLT, I like the NIrV best.  It is easy for my daughter, who is going into 2nd grade, to understand and read.  The print is larger in the Discoverer's Bible for Young Readers.

All that being said, though--in the end, I think the Bible translation that we each choose to read is a very personal matter--we each find Bibles that we are comfortable reading.  What is most important is that we are reading God's Word, isn't it?

Hopefully, the next time before I make an off the cuff remark about a Bible translation, I will close my mouth!!

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