Monday, May 11, 2009

"The Complete Guide to Bible Translations"

Sometimes when I visit people in hospitals, I take a little time to walk into the hospital gift shops to see what books they are selling. Unfortunately, most of the Christian books fall into the health-wealth-prosperity and name-it, claim-it categories. Because of this, I wasn't hoping for much as I walked into another gift shop last week.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a book that focused on bible translations. I don't have a book that deals with this topic, so I decided to buy it.

The Complete Guide to Bible Translations is probably not the best name for this book. A more accurate name would be something like The Fair and Balanced Guide to the Most Popular English Bible Translations of Today.

I'm pleased I spent the money on this book because the author, Dr. Ron Rhodes, makes an honest attempt to be both fair and balanced in his approach. He does not seem to have "an axe to grind," nor does he have an agenda. Dr. Rhodes also sees the benefits of both formal-literal equivalence translations and dynamic equivalence translations. He speaks fairly about translations I like (such as the ESV and NKJV) and those I don't like (such as the NRSV and TNIV). Additionally, since Dr. Rhodes is a graduate of a non-denominational seminary (Dallas Theological), he does not favor any denominational-specific translation.

Dr. Rhodes begins this book by discussing some basic issues of bible translation. Then, for the next 20 chapters, he discusses (at about 10 pages per chapter) different common translations. Dr. Rhodes does well in describing the reason behind the translations, how they came about, what translation philosophy was used, and the benefits and cautions of each translation.

The best part of this book is the fact that it is easy to read. No seminary degree is required to comprehend what he is talking about. Dr. Rhodes only really gets technical in one chapter, when he looks at the original language texts behind the English translations. This chapter is located in the appendixes.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in bible translations. It is enjoyable to read and would be a good resource to have on hand to help others in their search for the best translation for them.

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