About

The Better Bibles Blog (BBB) focuses on how to improve translations of the Bible. We concentrate on English translations of the Bible, but we also welcome discussion of issues concerning translation of the Bible to any language.

Having this blog focus on improving Bible translations in no way detracts from our gratefulness to Bible translators who have worked hard, often sacrificially, to produce the Bible versions which are critiqued here. Posting comments does not mean that a Bible version is bad; it only means that we see room for improvement. And most Bible translators want to improve their translations, because all translators recognize that no translation, including their own, is perfect.

And as we are grateful for the wealth of Bible translations we have for English, let us not forget the 3,000 language groups around the world who do not have any Bible translation in their language. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more of the resources spent producing more English Bibles would be directed toward translating for Bibleless peoples?

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BBB moved from its original Blogger site to the WordPress system and a new address on Oct. 29, 2008.

18 Comments

  1. Lana
    Posted February 28, 2009 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Where is The Source New Testament?
    You used to have it on here now it is nowhere to be found. To whence has it gone? Why is it not here?
    Lana

  2. Posted March 1, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for letting us know, Lana. Somehow the info on The Source N.T. did not make it over in the transfer to our new blog. I just checked and I see that the same thing happened for some other versions also. We will have to fix that. Until then, you can go to our old blog and get the info on The Source:

    http://englishbibles.blogspot.com

  3. Yasmine
    Posted April 11, 2009 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Hello everybody, I have a question that puzzles me a bit. The NLTse was translated into German and has been published over here as NLB (Neues Leben Bibel/New Life Bible). The marketing texts claims it to be “Lebendige Sprache und Nähe zum Grundtext sind die beiden Schwerpunkte, die diese Übersetzung vereint.

    …Gleichzeitig bleibt sie so nah wie möglich am Grundtext, was diese Bibel inhaltlich und sachlich zuverlässig macht.” near to the original languages and being trustworthy.

    The hiccup for me that it is translated from English to German thus being a translation of the NLT and not like the NLT itself a translation of the originals.

    It is nowhere clearly stated that this translation was made from English to German and not from Hebrew/Greek to German and took me a while to be really sure about this. When I consider the wealth of difficulties a translator has to face, do you think its a good way to do it like this?

    What do think of this new kind of Chinese Whisper? Is an approach like this ever trustworthy as a translation? Will this be the future procedure in Bible Translation? I should think so as it is a lot cheaper to translate from Englisch into German or Swedish or whatever than from the old languages. Seeing that it took from 1986 until 2007 to make a new translation of the Zürcher Bibel this form of Bible translation could well be the new economic way.

    Whats your thoughts on this?

    Best regards Yasmine

  4. Mike Sangrey
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    This is an excellent question Yasmine. Let us see if we can gain some more information and possibly give you (and others) a solid answer.

  5. Posted June 25, 2009 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Yasmine, I haven’t seen a response posted to your question, so I’ll add a couple thoughts of my own.

    We’re doing translation work in Africa at the moment, in a cluster project of 9 related languages. People often ask us, “What Bible/language are you translating from?” or “Are you translating from an English Bible?” or something like that.

    I don’t know how the NLTse-NLB translation was done, but it might be similar to some stuff we do.

    We tend to start with an existing translation in a similar/related language (i.e., Fuliru), and ‘adapt’ it into the new language (e.g., Jita). At the same time we’re looking at the 3 or so translations in the language of wider recognition (Swahili), a number of good English translations, and always going back to the Hebrew/Greek. You could say we’re translating the Fuliru into Jita, but it’s not that simple. We’re using an existing translation as the basis, but constantly going back to the source to check it. It’s like playing Chinese Whispers (or the Telephone Game), but being allowed to talk to the source to check the message. It’s not really a translation ‘chain’ if you keep going back to the source.

    People might ask, “Why don’t you just translate from the Hebrew/Greek then?”

    The reason is that there is a lot more to translation than just copying words from one language to another. The translation done in Fuliru has all the work done on word order, discourse features, style, focus, register, idioms, figures of speech, etc., etc., that are common to ‘Bantu’ languages (which are a family of languages that we’re working on). We cut about 10 years out of the process by starting with a translation that’s already had this work done.

    Now, I’m not suggesting that you can necessarily do that with English and German – they’re not that similar. But perhaps there’s a lot of work that the English NLT has already done on making explicit the implicit information of the original (things that the original hearers would have automatically known but which we might not understand without clarification), and nutting out the meaning of Hebrew/Greek idioms etc, work which hasn’t always been done in more ‘formal’ translations. Perhaps the German translators were able to follow the work already done in the NLT, and at the same time continually go back to the original languages to check for accuracy. I don’t know if that’s what they did, but my guess would be that they still used the original languages like that.

    So when people ask us what translation we translate from, the answer is, “Well, translation isn’t that straight forward. We use all sorts of things, but we continually check it against the original languages for accuracy.”

    Hope that helps a little.

  6. Posted July 1, 2009 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I would love your thoughts on my most recent post. I’m a huge fan of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, but I think modern English translation projects need to stop until we finish the work of bringing the Bible to every language. There are still 2200 languages that don’t even have one verse translated from the Bible. It’s pointless to debate about the fine tunings of word nuances that could be more precise in one version or another when there are people being born, living, and dying without ever hearing a single verse from the Bible in their language. I’ve written more about that here.

  7. Patrick
    Posted August 18, 2009 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Hi Yasmine, another response to you as a little addition to Michael Nicholls’ response. If you ask: ‘Is an approach like this ever trustworthy as a translation?’, you can ask it also at another level. Many translators who translate direct from Greek or Hebrew, don’t do that actually. They are not native Greek or Hebrew speakers, but they rely on dictionaries and these dictionaries are many times not in their mothertongue. And then in their minds or so, they translate the words into the targetlanguage. What do you think about this approach then?

  8. Posted August 25, 2009 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    I downloaded many of your “Better Bible Blog” for reference purposes. remember I am the person who did “Catalogue of English Bible Translations; A Classified Bibliography of Versions and Editions Including Books, Parts, and Old and New Testament Apocrypha and Apocryphal Books.” William J. Chamberlin. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1991. (Still in print after 18 yrs. This is a 898 page reference book which has set a new standard in its field.)

    here is something I came across and don’t understand. I was just looking at some of your older Blogs by using the “older posts” link. When I got back to the one dated April 21, 2008, it had a graphic of the Geneva Bible which I couldn’t remember from my downloads. So, I pulled up my copy dated April 2008 and found that some of it was different than the newer copy. The older one did not have the graphic nor the assocated artile that went with it.

    What happened? When you changed from the one format to the other did you edit out some items and put in others? I really don’t want to have to compare all of them just to find out if there are differences with subject matter that I am really interested in.

    Could you please explain to me what happened?

    Thanks

    Billc
    research87@yahoo.com
    research87@biblemuseum.org
    billch42@yahoo.com
    research1987@gmail.com

  9. Posted August 25, 2009 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Good question, Bill. I can’t recall that we changed things about Bibles when we moved from Blogspot to WordPress. I can’t explain this one. Sorry. Wouldn’t the Geneva Bible itself that is referred to be the same?

  10. Posted August 26, 2009 at 4:49 am | Permalink

    Shannon, unless Pastor Deane’s book is about Bible translation and how to produce better translations of the Bible, we would not review it on this blog. However, there are Bible study blogs where your offer could be accepted. Please read our posting guidelines for what content is the focus of this blog.

  11. Posted January 23, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    To those who have been discussing the role of the Holy Spirit in understanding the Bible and whether or not an individual is qualified to make comments on this blog about Greek or Hebrew issues, such comments are not permitted by our blogging guidelines. Please re-read our blogging guidelines. I try to catch all comments which do not follow our blogging guidelines and prevent them from being posted. If your comment does not appear, it means that it is considered not to follow our blog guidelines. If you wish to continue that discussion with an individual, please do so privately, not on this blog.

  12. Jack Robinson
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    My question is with regards to Matthew 7:13.

    The NLT reads, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate.”

    Majority of the other translations render this verse along the lines of “Enter through the narrow gate.”

    The NLT’s translation of this verse makes it more like a statement of truth that Jesus is stating rather than a command [as seem to be suggested by the other translations].

    Can someone clarify this?

    Jack.

  13. Posted January 28, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Jack: Unless the NLT was working from a different ms., their English seems to me to be more of an emendation (along the lines I discuss here) than a translation. It’s not what the Greek says, even though it might be the point of the passage.

    -Joel

  14. cognus
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    I came here via michaealsheiser.com.
    I like the idea/goal of this site, but find it odd… confusing.
    if you appreciate translation feedback, devote a section to that. if you are then giving back info on what makes a “good translation”, give that. As a long-time marketer I had some input, but can’t figure out where/which/how to.

  15. Posted June 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mike,

    Remember me? Several years ago, you were a contributor on our “mail list.”

    Me, I am a proponent of house churches which are perfectly compatible with ANY other churches seeking to be faithful to our one Lord and his truth. In other words, I’m not “house church only.” :)

    Now, I have a question which you, Mike, with your vast knowledge of the original tongues, might be able to help with – even with a short answer. Perhaps you may even be able to direct me to a scholarly paper or book.

    Are you ready?

    Could those several Biblical references usually cited about “church in the house” actually just be references to the saints themselves at a specific location rather than having to do with where or how they met? Could the apostles have just meant the *Christians* in such and such a place (a family, for instance) rather than saints *having home church meetings* on a perpetual basis in a designated place?

    Restated yet again for clarity: In the NT “house church” passages could Church = saints?

    Much thanks, my brother.
    David Anderson
    TN

  16. Josh
    Posted September 15, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Dear Authors,

    Could you direct me to posts (if they exist) about your life in the field? If such posts do not exist, would some of you please consider writing one in the future? I’m sure many readers would be interested in reading about how Bible translation happens in real life out in the field, the demands, challenges, both positive and negative experiences, and a typical day out there.

    Thank you very much for your time,
    Keep up the good work,
    Josh

  17. Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    If Elohim is the plural form for God how come the translators of the Bible have always used the singular?

  18. Posted January 25, 2012 at 4:13 am | Permalink

    Some Hebrew plurals can actually refer to singulars. There are passages where elohim refers to plural and they are translated as plurals.


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