Saturday, January 16, 2016

Bible Translations

Every January I think about which Bible Translation I'm going to use this year.  I choose Darby's New Translation by default: it's been my go-to Bible translation since 1992. And to be honest, almost regardless of which translation I decide to use "this year", I generally end up using my Darby again by around August.

Over the last ten years I've tried a couple different translations, but I still haven't found something I like better than Darby's.  My first little Darby is ragged and the pages are falling out, so I generally carry my BTP parallel edition (KJV on the left-hand pages, JND on the right-hand pages). Nevertheless, I find I really miss the the blunt pseudo-English of Darby's translation when I'm reading something else.

Still, I wonder whether my insistence on reading Darby's translation in public isn't a problem.  1 Corinthians 14:19 tells us it's better to speak five words people understand than 10,000 they don't. Sometimes when I'm reading aloud from Darby's translation in the assembly, I wonder whether I'm using 10,000 words that people can't understand.

Of course the same thing applies to the KJV: I've cringed in more than one Bible reading where someone tried to make a point based on his inability to understand Elizabethan English.

So this year I've decided I'm going to switch to NASB. Not in the sense of an irreversible life choice, but I'm going to try and read from and carry my NASB for at least a few months and see how it turns out.  My NASB is a single-column edition, so it's pretty thick and heavy: I might need to find a more portable copy, but I'll start with the one I own, rather than buying a new one.  If I find it onerous, then I'll just switch back to Darby.

If I do end up back with a Darby, I think I might just buy one of those enormous editions.  The font size in my parallel is a little small for reading aloud in meetings.  


Claas said...

That ist an interesting idea. In Germany we have the same "problem" of having so (too) many translations and interpretations of the Bible.
I am almost 30 years and started reading the older Elberfelder 1905/1927 after I had couple of interpretations which are not really accurate. KJV I read for a while as English translation and we have the Schlachter translation which is close the to KJV.
In the end I ended up with the Darby translation whenever I read in English (daily with my wife normally).
It renders in most places exactly as the Elberfelder.
When we gather to Christ the Old Elberfelder is normally read, some brothers read also from other translations and it's often helpful to compare translations or to explain those words which are nowadays not easily understood or have a different meaning.
But for daily reading I keep only one translation, it's easier for my mind to find passages when I remember e.g. Left page, first column in the middle should be this or that topic...
Greeting in Christ and thanks for this blog

Anonymous said...

Fascinating. I've tried to read through JND a few times but never get beyond Genesis. My grandparents were very fond of it, though. Lots of people here are switching to ESV. Even the man who organises the big Reunited conference that takes place near here is recommending that the young people in that community prefer the ESV to the NKJV!

I recently picked up an old New Translation, with all the original textual notes. It's fascinating to see how Darby was working through text critical issues. These detailed notes were not reprinted in the copy of the New Translation I bought from Central Hammond Bible Trust, 20 years ago. But they've all got larger than the BTP dual translation 6 point font!

Rodger said...

An older brother once told me that the NASB is the "new Darby."

I have two copies of the New Translation, and one is a giant-print edition. My retirement plan.

How do you like the parallel? I often think of getting one, but wonder if it would be too distracting in a Bible reading.

Just got this:
An interesting document to have.

clumsy ox said...

My wife prefers NASB. I once told her you could take an NASB and look for every margin note that starts with "Lit.". If you crossed out all the phrases with those footnotes and wrote in whatever the "literal" wording is, you'd have a Darby using "you" and "your" instead of "thee" and "thy".

The BTP parallel is really quite an excellent edition, except... my copy feels cheap. The paper is brittle, the leather binding is weak, and the front cover started to separate from the spine in the first year I had it. There's no question I use my Bibles, I might be a little rough with them. But I was really, really careful with this one, at least until the cover had already begun to split.

To be fair, I have a friend with one that's completely solid. It's very nicely bound and very tight. As I recall, he bought his several years before I got mine.

That being said, the actual content of that edition is very good. In some ways it's my favourite Bible: it's the only Darby I own with unabridged notes (and I have owned several). Best of all, there's actually room on the page for real notes, rather than the cramped little spaces in the little #25.

The one criticism I'll make of the content is that the font on the right-hand side (the JND side) is quite small, and the verse numbers even smaller. Several times when addressing the assembly, I've had to look two or three times before I can tell everyone which verse I'm actually reading.

I have made a point of only highlighting the right-hand pages of that Bible to try and reduce page bleed.

clumsy ox said...

I bought an ESV and read it cover-to-cover in 2006. I wrote a review of it then.

I found the ESV extremely easy to read, but I really didn't find it a good Bible for study. There are just too many places it took subtle liberties. I found it particularly frustrating when it would substitute a proper noun for a pronoun. To be fair, the margin notes generally showed the literal rendering (which was identical to the Darby translation every time), but it's not an ideal translation for study.

My biggest beef with it, though, was that there are no indicators in my edition for inserted words. KJV uses italics, Darby uses square parentheses, but the ESV contained no indication at all.

My copy of ESV is not a "study" edition. I assume a study edition would have markers to indicate inserted words, but I don't actually know. I bought an inexpensive copy to try it out.

Rodger said...

I'm amused by your right-hand page only highlighting practice.

The verse numbering arrangement in the KBT or Stow Hill editions of the New Translation is a little frustrating. Sometimes I'm not quite sure which verse number to tell others when I'm quoting from it.

Deuteronomy 32:43 is another noteworthy change in the ESV. Compare even the NASB and NIV.

I use a Newberry for my standard reading Bible, and most of his re-translation margin notes are comparable to the New Translation. I would not doubt it played a part in Mr. Newberry's work.

clumsy ox said...

I share your frustration with the verse numbering in the Darby translations. The BTP parallel edition has the same arrangement as the KBT/Stow Hill editions.

I do like that the text is typeset into paragraphs.

My daughter took my Newberry off to college. I had the 1980-ish printing by Kregel. I like the Penfold printing better (single column, set in paragraphs), but I didn't buy one when I saw it on the shelf. I've regretted it ever since.

Rodger said...

I have the Penfold, which a brother gave to me. It was like new, because he rarely used it, and has held up well over the last few years. They were well-made, it's just too bad that Penfold is no more.

Another great feature of that edition is that the original language notes were put in the left margin, literal translation in the right, instead of cramming them together in one margin. It's the same type-set as the one on the Internet Archive, which you can download for free.

Before John Ritchie reprinted the Newberry, there was a few year spell where they were hard to come by and highly coveted. I saw a Penfold edition on eBay for $1400 and some. I even have the box for mine, so I was somewhat tempted to sell for half that and build up my library. It's a crime to profit so much on someone's desire to have the word of God, though.

Rodger said...

Joshua said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joshua said...

Brother Mike,

I do have the BTP parallel edition printed in 1983 and I too find verse numbering in New Trans (DBY) confusing. I use this parallel edition only for private study and usually carry around my KJV pocket bible.

I would like to know what are your thoughts on Numerical Bible By F W Grant . I ordered it yesterday on MWTB as it was on a 75% discount at $62.50.

Your brother in Christ from India,

Anonymous said...

It's great to see another mega thread on Assembly Quest!

I just ordered the 1883 4 volume set of JND's NT from Chapter Two Books - their second hand catalogue is always worth consulting. They have Newberry Bibles for around 12 -15 pounds. But I remind myself that buying Bibles is no substitute for knowing them, and knowing them is not sufficient for godliness.

Rodger said...

Agreed. That's sort of how I felt three comments into this thread, looking at all the other posts that are getting no response.

Anonymous said...

It's Anonymous again.

Does anyone know how the 'Central Hammond Bible Trust' editions of JND compare with the 'modified notes' versions being sold by, the Hales brethren shop?

I ask because the prices of the CDGP editions are much cheaper - e.g. the large print mentioned in the article is available for only 38 pounds sterling.

What exactly are the 'modified notes'? I have an old Morrish, which has JND's textual notes alongside the notes that get carried through into the 'Central Hammond' editions, but this CDGP offering yet another recension?


Anonymous said...

Apologies - I meant to refer to the Kingston Bible Trust edition of JND and not the Central Hammond edition.

Anonymous said...

My earlier post seems to have disappeared. I was asking whether the JND Bibles advertised as having 'modified notes' on the Christian Doctrine and Gospel Publishing website (run by Hales brethren) differ from those of the KBT (I erroneously referred to CHBT). I ask because if they don't differ, they represent excellent value, with the big print edition of JND mentioned by Mark coming in at less than 40 pounds - i.e. half the price of the site he links to.

clumsy ox said...

I haven't seen the Bibles from the Christian Doctrine and Gospel Publishing website. KBT is, I think, in fellowship with the Hales brethren, so I assume it's the same content.

I think most of the JND Bibles are actually from KBT, and just rebranded.

Rodger said...

KBT is brethren who withdrew around the time of the Aberdeen trouble, and have no link with JT Jr and successors. The KBT Bibles are rebranded Stow Hill editions, much like the Heijkoop-print JND volumes are facsimiles of the Stow Hill editions.
The CD&GP Bibles may be a good value, but I would inquire about quality. The volumes of ministry they are printing are the cheapest soft-cover books around. Not really built for a lifetime of reading.

Rodger said...

See "1971 - Dissolution" on this page:

Our brother Robert Stott probably carried the rights to the New Translation editions with him into the forming of KBT.

clumsy ox said...

Rodger has corrected me, and I am corrected. KBT is not in fellowship with the Hales brethren.

With the exception of the parallel KJV/JND printed by BTP, all the JND bibles I personally have seen were printed by KBT. (I do have one that was printed by Stow Hill before KBT was formed.) I would assume they're going to be the least expensive.

I bought my first directly from KBT, but I generally don't like to order from the UK because of oversees shipping, customs, and duties. It's not a sectarian thing, I just don't want the hassle.

Here in the USA there's the Dover Bible Fund ( They offer great prices, but the catalog on the website is almost eight years old. I'm not sure how current those prices are. I've ordered from them before, and have been very satisfied with their service. I haven't bought anything from them since 2007 or so.

Bible Truth Publishers prices look higher, but there are some other books I need to order from them. A dear brother just emailed me yesterday to say he just got a brand new printing of From New Birth to New Creation from BTP, so I'll probably be placing an order there soon.

In other news, I lasted less than two weeks with my NASB: I'm carrying my KJV/JND parallel again.

Rodger said...

What changed your mind?

clumsy ox said...

Just familiarity. I miss my JND when I read something else. I don't mind so much just for reading, but in meeting I find myself looking for the exact phrase...

Anonymous said...

My CD&GP #15 JND Bible has just arrived today - and I must say it is excellent quality. It's printed by Jongbloed in The Netherlands ,who print some of the highest quality Bibles, including the Cambridge University Press Bibles, and while I'm not sure who it is bound by, it is bound very well in goatskin. And all for 22 pounds. I am amazed.

In contrast, my KBT JND had pages falling out of it within weeks of purchase, back in 1996. We'll see how this new one goes. But I am really impressed at first view.