This post is especially for millennials, from a millennial.
Biblical translations are a fickle subject. Many people have opinions on which translations are the most “correct” or “orthodox”, which is great – but a little scholarship might change your opinion. Let me take a crack at it.
So, I’m going to walk through some common mistakes or misunderstandings that tend to sneak up on people concerning translations. These bolded statements are from conversations that I have had with students my age. A majority of this conversation will be focused upon the New Testament side of things, because, well… I don’t know Hebrew very well!
“I read the King James Version because it’s the most reliable translation.”
Sorry. The KJV is poor in quality compared to biblical texts in the 20th/21st century. I promise I do not have a prejudice against “thy” and “thou”. The KJV is a “literal” translation from Hebrew and Greek into English, which is a great thing. The only problem is that the KJV only used a few older Greek manuscripts in the creation of the New Testament. To be a bit more technical, the KJV uses almost solely the Textus Receptus, while we now use a dynamic, critical text, which means we have an overwhelming amount of researched Greek texts that have helped us create a more reliable New Testament. It’s not the KJV’s fault, but we just have a better Greek text to translate from.
“The Douay-Rheims is the most ‘Catholic’ Bible.”
Sigh. I’m sorry, Grandpa. This is not true either! The Douay-Rheims is a literal translation from the Latin Vulgate into English. Why is that an issue? Let’s be very clear here – the New Testament was written in GREEK. The Latin Vulgate, although beautiful, is also not the best translation in the world. The Douay-Rheims is a translation of a translation. You do not need to be a critical scholar who compares the critical Greek text and the Latin to understand that translating a translation cannot be as literal as starting with the first translation. Also, reiterating my point in the KJV post, our Greek texts are better now than in the time of Jerome. I am very aware that Jerome was closer to the time of Jesus than we are, but he also had limited resources. We translate from Greek instead of Latin for a reason.
So, which translation is best?
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