Q & R: Bible translations

Here’s the Q:

I met you after your speaking engagement at Fuller Theological Seminary. I mentioned how I was starting a community centered around “The Secret Message of Jesus” and I was having everybody read the book. A question arose that I would like to clarify with you. Within the book scriptural quotations for the most part come from the NRSV. However, there are times in the book where a scripture is quoted from various other versions. One person asked why this is. From my experience studying the Word using exegetical analysis, it seems some versions translate the Greek words differently because much of the time Greek words have multiple layers of meaning. So, it seems to me that you would quote the version that translated a Greek word “more appropriately” than other translations. Is this correct? And can you please elaborate on this matter of word studies for exegetical papers I write in the future. Thank you very much.

Reply after the jump …

R: Thanks for this good question.
Just fyi – some publishers, it turns out, request that you use their preferred Bible translation – unless you have a good reason not to.
For my personal study of a serious nature, I generally find the NRSV the most helpful.
For general reading of the Bible – and especially public reading, I’m a big fan of The Voice (to which I was a contributor). I also use the TNIV.
When I’m writing, I’ll often check several translations against the Greek (I don’t read Hebrew), or against some commentaries I respect. If a particular translation seems to get to the heart of the matter that I’m addressing better than the others, I’ll use that one.
By the way – through my involvement with The Voice, I saw more clearly than before how true it is that all translation is interpretation. That’s why I think we’re very blessed to have a variety of translations … and why it’s good for students like yourself to become familiar with good critical scholarship.
I hope that makes sense. The older I get, the more I love the Bible, and the more deeply impressed I am with its many layers of meaning and insight.