Week 2: Origins & translation of the New Testament
13 September 2018
Modern Bible Translations
Additional reading and links
Ben Spackman, “Why Bible Translations Differ: A Guide for the Perplexed,” Religious Educator 15, no. 1 (2014): 31–65. Published in BYU’s magazine for teachers of religion, Spackman looks at the challenges of accurately translating the Bible and how modern translations can help us understand difficult books and passages.
No Bible translation is perfect; translators are constantly seeking ways to better render ancient languages into English so that the translation is accurate, faithful to the intent of the original, and understandable to modern readers. The editors of the NET Bible responded to reader feedback by agreeing to change one word in their translation of Matthew 7:14 in the next edition.
Bill Mounce, “What is an “Accurate’ Translation?,” BillMounce.com (blog), 14 September 2010. Bill Mounce was on the translation committee for the English Standard Version (ESV) and the team that revised the New International Version (NIV).
Philip L. Barlow, “Why the King James Version?: From the Common to the Official Bible of Mormonism,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 22, no. 2 (Summer 1989): 19–42.
Grant Hardy, “The King James Bible and the Future of Missionary Work,” By Common Consent (blog), 15 February 2011. Latter-day Saint university professor Grant Hardy examines the increasing difficulty LDS missionaries face bringing the King James Version of the Bible into English-speaking homes that are used to modern translations.
Stephen O. Smoot, “Translating the New Testament for Latter‑day Saints,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 31 (2019): 95–110. This article is a review of BYU professor Thomas Wayment’s The New Testament: A Translation for Latter-day Saints.
Doctrine and Covenants lesson 15 goes into greater depth on the history and meaning of the Joseph Smith Translation.
Bruce Terry, Professor of Biblical Studies at Ohio Valley University, maintains a web page with list of some of the more important textual variants between New Testament manuscripts: “A Student’s Guide to New Testament Textual Variants.”
For a very accessible and easy-to-read introduction to the differences between early manuscripts of the New Testament, I highly recommend Bart Ehrman’s book Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible And Why (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005). Ehrman is one of the leading scholars on the text of the New Testament. You can read his book online for free at the link above, or purchase it in print or for Kindle for less than $20 at Amazon.com.
Bart Ehrman gave the following lecture at Loyola Marymount University on 24 January 2013. His topic was “What Kind of a Text is the King James Bible? Manuscripts, Translation, and the Legacy of the KJV.” (Skip to 9:33 to get to his remarks.)