Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Short Note on Bible Versions

Perhaps I will delve into this a little deeper at a later time. I would like to mainly point out that we seem to be coming to a consensus on a post-KJV English Bible text. Why do I say that?
Consider the Bible translation landscape of the 1970s. You had the KJV, NASB, and RSV as a few major translations in use at the time. While the "virgin"/"young woman" dust up had some dampening effect on the spread of the RSV, it remained influential. It was more updated than the KJV or ASV, more readable than the NASB, and more literal than the Living, Good News, etc.
In the 1980s we saw the introduction of the full NKJV and NIV, both versions which had their own flavor and style. The RSV was one English rendition/style of many.
In the late 1980s the RSV was updated in the NRSV. Many decried its inclusive language but it merely prophesied, if you will, of things to come. The world was not ready for the NRSV. It is my opinion that the NRSV reads like a cross between the RSV and the NASB.
In the 2000s we saw the introduction of the TNIV. Again coming under fire for inclusive language, the TNIV, in my personal opinion, reads much like the NRSV.
Just prior to that saw the introduction of the ESV--the evangelicals answer to the NRSV. It has been said that the NRSV has as much liberal bias as the ESV has conservative bias. I tend to think this is true. The ESV was a conservative revision of the RSV, less like the NRSV than the TNIV but still in the same family, IMO.
The outcry over the TNIV has ultimately prompted the producers of the NIV to revise the NIV for release in 2011. Rumor has it that the NIV will be 95% TNIV. In other words, the TNIV "done right." We shall see.
From the venerable RSV we now have two massively influential translations, the NRSV and the ESV. Now the NIV 2011 will (in essence) be casting in it's lot with this lineage. Can the NIV 2011 bridge the gap between the NRSV and the ESV? Will the RSV-esque style of all the translations I've noted take root as the new "voice" of the English Bible?
One can hope. With the publication of the NIV 2011, we may find that the only alternatives to this RSV dynasty of Bibles centers around Majority Text concerns (NKJV) and those committed to dynamic translation (chiefly NLT). Ultimately, I optimistically see a simplification of the Bible version landscape occurring over the next 10-15 years.
I am not seeing a lot of talk about this. People have failed to see how influential both the RSV and NRSV have been in regard to Bible translation. Both have provoked responses and reactions that have defined the landscape of English Bibles. The RSV helped fan the KJVO controversy and set the stage for the NIV and NKJV, while the NRSV provoked the both the TNIV and the ESV.

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