Wednesday, July 13, 2005

New Living Translation

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, New Living Translation)
Since my second year in college I've almost exclusively used a New American Standard Bible with study notes and full marginal references for personal study and public presentations. But while it looks good in the pulpit and works well in study ("Most literal from the Greek," a professor told me.), I feel uncomfortable bringing that big, black book with its difficult English into the home or hospital room of someone who needs comfort and encouragement. So I decided to get a pocket sized modern translation that reads well in English and looks non-threatening.

My wife bought me a pocket sized NIV, but I was looking for a more modern (radical) translation. Plus, she liked the NIV so much that she kept it for herself. I eventually narrowed my choice down to either a TNIV (Today's New International Version) or a NLT (New Living Translation). In the end, I chose the NLT.

The NLT makes a better go at smoothing out and modernizing the English of its translation. The TNIV is essentially a NIV with "gender accurate translation" and other updates. Although it tries to soften some of the rough edges, it is basically a word for word or "formally equivalent" translation. And I already have two versions that are doing a better job of that (the NRSV and NASB).

The NLT on the other hand does thought for thought or "dynamically equivalent" translation. What this really means is that the translator (or in this case translating committee) has done the basic interpretation or exegesis of the text for you. Here is an example from the NLT's "Introduction":
"So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David." (1 Kings 2:10, King James Version)
"So David rested with his fathers and was buried in the City of David." (1 Kings 2:10, New International Version)
"Then David died and was buried in the City of David." (1 Kings 2:10, New Living Translation)
Here you can clearly see how the NLT translates the thoughts (died) into English rather than the original words (slept) as the KJV does and how the NIV tries to strike a balance (rested). You can also see that while the NLT makes a very readable devotional Bible, I wouldn't use it for a study on the "state of the dead". The drawback of the thought for thought method is that it makes it easier to read our own thoughts into the Bible (eisegesis).

So why did I choose the NLT? (1) I like the easy flow of its narrative passages and they way it "smoothes out" some difficult passages. (2) I like they way it handles "dear old" passages that we all memorized from the KVJ. (3) But what really sealed the deal for me was hearing some of my church members responding to its simple and easy language.

Here's a few more examples of passages in the New Living Translation. Some are of specific interest to Adventists:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was empty, a formless mass cloaked in darkness. And the Spirit of God was hovering over its surface. Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3)

Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days a week are set apart for your daily duties and regular work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one may do any kind of work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, you male and female servants, you livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; then he rested on the seventh day. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)

The LORD is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.(Psalm 23:1-3)

The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing. They have no further reward, nor are they remembered. (Ecclesiastes 9:5)

Yet it was our weakness that he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the guilt and sins of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)

Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be honored.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done here on earth,
just as it is in heaven. (Matthew 7:9,10)

In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn't make. (John 1:1-3)

And in any event, you should desire the most helpful gifts. First, however, let me tell you about something else that is better than any of them! If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn't love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 12:31,13:1)

For he took blood into that Most Holy Place, but not the blood of goats and calves. He took his own blood, and with it he secured our salvation forever. (Hebrews 9:12)

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God--for God is love. (1 John 4:7,8)

And I saw another angel flying though the heavens, carrying the everlasting Good News to preach to the people who belong to this world--to every nation, tribe, language, and people. "Fear God," he shouted. "Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all the springs of water" (Revelation 14:6,7)
To read the New Living Translation and most other versions of the Bible go to

To read the Today's New International Version go to

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