Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The New New International Version

Zondervan issued a new translation of the Bible, called The Bible: Timeless Truth in Today's Language. From Bookslut, the USA Today reports that Rolling Stone magazine refused to print an ad from Zondervan. From the article:
"it doesn't quite feel right in the magazine," said Kent Brownridge, general manager of Wenner Media, parent company of Rolling Stone.

"The copy is a little more than an ad for the Bible. It's a religious message that I personally don't disagree with," Brownridge said, citing "a spiritual message in the text." But, he said, "we are not in the business of publishing advertising for religious messages."

Here's my New International Translation of Brownridge's statements:

"it doesn't feel quite right in the magazine" = "we're going to piss off all the satanists who cut out Marilyn Manson pictures to hang on their walls"

"we are not in the business of publishing advertising for religious messages" = "if it has nothing to do with sex, drugs, and rock and roll, all of which we carry ads for, it ain't going in there"

All he really needed to say was "the ad will ruin the decadent tone that Rolling Stones strives for."

I don't like the newer translations. The King James Version has a certain authority that comes from the language of the day, and a historic feel that is lost with the new versions. Dullness is the cost of readability. Compare two passages from the King James Version, the New International Version, and the Today's New International Version, taken from a table in And the Word is "Update", from the USA Today:

Hebrews 12:7

King James Version (1611): If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

New International Version (1978): Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?

Today's New International Version (2005): Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?

Psalms 1:1

King James Version (1611): Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

New International Version (1978): Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.

Today's New International Version (2005): Blessed are those who do not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.


-epm said...

Rolling Stone should have just run the advert. Short of that, they should have taken the line you suggest, that it would ruin the bad-ass rebel image of the mag. But no. they had to get all corporate and weasle-wordy. Seems lame to me.

Regarding translations... I always felt the value of the Good Book was in it message, not it's pages. Transcribing the text of a collection of writings (themselves translations of earlier texts), written thousands of years ago, some in languages no longer spoken, to people living in a world alien to us, and preserving the true message -- shading neither one way nor over illuminating another -- is as much art as science. So much of the text presumes an intimate awarenes of the culture and history of the time, that it must be hard to preserve the full message a contemporary reader (listener, more likely) took away with him. It's sort of like the restoration of a great fresco. No matter how skilled or faithful the restorator, it is impossible for us to fully appreciate the original.

RC666 said...

Being in no way, shape, or form a religious person, I think that the International version of 1978 was nessasary like -emp said, no one speaks like that anymore. But this New new one, making everything more gender friendly is a little overboard. Personally when I've tried to read the bible, with the language it seemed a more poetic story. Though the begots, thy, thou, and -eths does make it a little difficult to understand the whole picture. I don't think it really dulls it that much, I mean the original isn't really all that interesting.

And by the way Marilyn Manson fans does NOT = satanist!

Canowine said...

epm, good to hear from you again! You are right, it is about the message. I personally prefer reading the KJV because like the beast-lover RC666 says, it sounds more poetic. It flows better for me, and has a certain rhythm to it. But I know that's not why one should read the Bible.

RC666, I saith, thou art in danger of hell fire. What, thou callest the Word of God dull? Thou heathen, thou blasphemest as the publicans.

I liketh the KJV, and also readeth the annotated NIV for a fuller understanding.