In class last week we began to explore different English Translations. What makes them unique? What makes them good? Bad? When and why should we use different translations? Despite my plan to have my students ask these questions, I hadn’t really thought about which translation(s) I’d be using in class until a student asked me a question about which translation her group should use on a group project that they whole class would eventually be interacting with.
The practical side of me wants to use whatever translation the majority of my audience is using. So, whether I’m teaching, preaching, or leading, that probably means I’ll be using the NIV. This is hard for me. But I’ve been conditioned to believe the NIV is less accurate and academically inferior.
The academic (or maybe just academically insecure) part of me wants to follow in the footsteps of my seminary professors and use the ESV a more modern, academically respectable translation.
Let’s be honest, for the majority of the passages we’ll be looking at in a systematic theology/church history overview course, it’s not going to make that much of a difference which translation we use. We just won’t have time to dive too deeply into the meanings of a lot of individual words and their nuances. But, I’m sure I’ll find a few passages where it will matter.
The practical side is going to win out on this one and it’s going to mean more work for me. As I prepare to share biblical texts in class I’m going to need to compare several translations to see if there are any significant differences in the translations and then I’m going to need to find out why. I plan to use the translation the majority of my students are using, but I’m going to work to augment the text (when or if necessary) with insights from other translations and the original languages. I would probably do that anyway, but I’ll feel the need to do so a little more strongly because I’m starting with a less academically respected translation.
So, NIV, your popularity amongst the people combined with my desire to remove unnecessary hurdles in the doing of theology for lay people in the church means you win this debate this semester.
Which translation of the Bible do you use? Why?