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Esteban Vázquez

Thanks for this, John! I have just recently put a "Bible translation" blogroll in my sidebar which includes the usual suspects, but I was unaware of some of the newer blogs out there. I'll be checking them out!

Simon Holloway

I really enjoyed this post, and I agree with you completely. I can read the unpointed text although, I am embarrassed to say, I do make mistakes. Most of those have to do with punctuation, rather than pronounciation, although there are definitely some errors of pronounciation there as well.

They say that Max Margolis could be given the te'amim (just the te'amim, mind you) for any three consecutive words in the whole Tanakh and he would know which words those were and quote the passuq. I heard this from Gary Rendsburg; I very much like to think that it's true!



it is always a pleasure when you grace this blog with your presence. And it's good to have you back blogging, with excellent quotes from your beloved teacher Moises Silva.



the Margolis anecdote is intriguing. A sequence of three neumes would not be enough to distinguish one verse from all others, but, given the vowels that go with the consonants of three consecutive words, it might be done.

David Ker

Thou almost persuadest me to become a student of Hebrew. (A certain Encyclopedia Brown is taking me in hand)

I will admit that it is hard to talk about the almost vulgar excess of resources in English when I know that people are dying for lack of knowledge in almost any other language. On a positive note, English resources do trickle down to other less profitable markets.



you have to admit it would be fun to learn Hebrew in Israel with your whole family along. Trouble is, if you spent a year there, and you sent your kids to school, they would effortlessly absorb the holy tongue into their bones while you struggled every day.

ElShaddai Edwards

[...] a first class connoisseur of English-language Bible translations.

Hmmm, I think I'll need to go find a burgundy velvet coat to go with my glass of Syrah as I sit in my fine leather chair and read the REB...

Thanks for the kind words and link!

David Ker

Children really are capable of things that adults flounder at (See my post on art today for example).

You never know...

tc robinson

John, thanks for the link. I'm kind of a maverick guy who respects some traditions.

I find looking into the various translations to be a fun venture. One of the things I was taught was to question why a verse was translated a particular way. I guess that's why I'm always into retranslating. :-)


My purpose has always been to blog against the boycott against the TNIV. Over 100 Christian Leaders Claim that the TNIV Bible is Not Trustworthy.

I believed this was a worthy cause in the interests of better Bibles. Every post on the ESV was to demonstrate what translation the boycotters of the TNIV have produced themselves.

I don't think we can discuss better Bibles without dealing with this boycott.

However, since my proactive concern and blunt honesty have caused me to become the target for unsubstantiated and untrue attacks on my character, I have decided to quit the Bible blogosphere. I will take this opportunity to say good-bye.

I am happy to remember how I have been able to introduce many of the bloggers you mention to each other. The Bible translation blogosphere will carry on in a lively manner.

tc robinson


I've learned so much from you. The few exchanges we've had opened up my eyes to the beauty of gender accuracy in translations like the TNIV.

As you know I'm pro-TNIV, and despite the senseless attack, I believe it will have its day.

It will be used in my pulpit for sure.

Thank you, Sue.


El Shaddai and TC,

thanks to the both of you for your willingness to blog about your experiences with English translations of the Bible. Bible publishing houses are probably wise to take the concerns of Bible experts with a grain of salt, but they ignore your concerns at their peril.

Rick Mansfield

Actually, I do still occasionally teach from the HCSB and believe it is one of the better translations to come along in recent years. I'm anxiously waiting to get my hands on the 2009 revision. In many places it is more technically accurate than the TNIV (for instance in John 3:16), but in public I feel convicted to use a gender accurate translation most of the time.

As for the ESV, I own two copies of it in hardback, and have a copy in both Accordance and Logos. And I've also been contracted by Oak Tree to tag Romans through 2 Corinthians in the ESV to the Strong's dictionaries. But I don't know, after going "under the hood" of the ESV, so to speak, I still haven't warmed to it.

So if my audience were primarily ESV users, I guess I'd apologize and teach from the NASB :-)



as the cases of Rick Mansfield, Jeremy Pierce and the iMonk prove, it is possible to be accepting of a translation like (1) TNIV or NLT both of which are easy to read, fearless in their quest for semantic cohesion at the verse and paragraph levels to the detriment of a representation of the semantic cohesion that obtains across tbe entire Bible, and resolutely committed to the use of horizontal inclusive language (with some collateral damage along the way to the representation of other semantic features of the text), and of a relatively literal or even literalistic translation like (2) HCSB, ESV, or NASB95.

The bloggers just mentioned disassociate themselves from the anti-TNIV boycott implicitly - this is sometimes the more effective critique - or explicitly. Indeed, I think Rick could be classed as an anti-ESVer in a sense not too far removed from the qualified sense in which you are anti-ESV. More precisely, in his own words, it is not a translation he has warmed to, though that does not hinder him from helping in the production of electronic helps related to it.

But all three, I think, would agree that the best critique imaginable of the anti-TNIV boycott would avoid anti-ESV politicking altogether, and consist of the production of a best-selling, moderate DE, inclusive language translation similar to TNIV but, if anything, an improvement on it: that would be the revised NLT.

Viewed historically, TNIV accomplished its purpose by running interference for NLT.

I wish you well in your doctoral program. It sounds as if you have excellent teachers. I can't say that I will miss some of the more caustic exchanges the two of us were party to - and I bear my part of the shame for not following James' advice about the tongue with greater consistency, but I will miss your advocacy of paying attention to thinks like concordance in translation, your devotion to KJV, and your exemplification of translation technique as found in the Vulgate and later Latin versions from the Hebrew.



thanks for the clarification, and for the exciting news of an upcoming revision of HCSB.


I am not in a doctoral program nor do I recall ever saying that I was.


I wish you well, then, in whatever program of graduate or post-graduate studies you are pursuing.


You are hanging out with too many Reform Jews, John, if you believe that the ability to read unpointed text is rare. Almost all Jewish (Hebrew) religious literature (with the notable exceptions of the Siddur and Tanach) is unpointed.

You are to be commended for reading the Torah without pointing. If you can lein the Torah without cantillation marks (which the chazzan does three days a week plus holidays) then you get bonus points.


PS: Thanks for the link!


PPS: Not to imply that I can lein! I dare not even try lest I insult the Torah!


PPPS: And hey, you polymath, who are you calling an Encyclopedia Brown? Your blog covers a breathtaking range of topics.



I don't plan to spend less time with my Reconstructionist, Reform, and Conservative friends, you will understand, but I wish I knew of a Chabadnik rabbi or the like in the Milwaukee area who would not be scandalized if a Gentile read Tanakh and Talmud with him.

No, I can't chant, unfortunately - you don't want to hear me sing in English either - but my Hebrew is good enough that I once tutored a cantor in preparation for certification exams, which she passed with flying colors. Hearing her chant, of course, brings me a special pleasure.


There are other groups than Lubavitch! Even in Milwaukee.


I'll have to look into it, Iyov. Thanks for the encouragement.

Nathan Stitt

I always enjoy the posts by Michael Spencer, he has a great perspective on things and always challenges my thinking. My epiphany this year has been that the translation debates are petty, and that I find myself enjoying the different characteristics of all of the translations. Looking at the Greek and Hebrew helps me to notice the nuances in scripture, and our English translations helpfully do the same. The variety is a good thing, and we would do well to read from as many translations as we can find. My challenge to myself is to simply spend more time reading scripture in any language or translation, and to quit wasting my time trying to find out which translation is best. Granted I have learned a lot from the debates, but sometimes the reactionary comments do more harm than good (see Sue's comments above). Anyways, thank you for the excellent post and link.



you are a joy to have around in the blogosphere. Soon and very soon, others will be learning from you as much as you are learning from others.


Thanks for the link John. Of course, I use the NLT when translating - what else would I use? :-)

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