In November and December of 2022, our tiny corner of the internet was rocked by two events coming from the Augustine Institute. First, they published a book with all the nuance and rigor of a blog comment in what seemed to be a late attempt to promote the ESV Catholic Edition as the only option for the serious Catholic bible student. About three weeks after Timothy McCormick’s original interview with the author of that book landed on this blog, some sleuths among the commentariat figured out that the Augustine Institute, which had published the ESV-CE to much fanfare just before Christmas 2019 seemed to be ready to announce a new in-house translation which might be called the Catholic Standard Version.

For an unmediated take on the initial marketing of the CSV and the possible reasons for its release, I would refer you to Tim in Miami’s recent comments on the blog posts on this site.  He was a participant in a recent webinar held by the Augustine Institute and certainly knows more than I do. 

In my own Bible reading, I have trended towards more literal translations in the last 5 years.  Here is the struggle with those translations: the RSV project was led by liberal Protestants in the mid-20th century which read the Bible in a very historical and rational way, leading them to sometimes downplay the Christian reading of the Old Testament.  Notably, this meant originally using “young woman” instead of “virgin” in Isaiah 7.  The ESV basically existed to fix this problem in the RSV, but the translation committee was made up of conservative Protestants whose particular beliefs about biblical inspiration led them to use the Hebrew Masoretic text slavishly and ignore insights from the Septuagint and Dead Sea scrolls used by the RSV.  (They were more than happy, though, to fly in the Septuagint reading in Isaiah 7:14!)  I have more than once thought that a combination of the RSV’s Old Testament base text translated with the attitude of the ESV committee would be the ideal. 

I think it possible that this is exactly what the Augustine Institute people are doing. 

The CSV vs the ASV

My first order of business is to compare the CSV to the ASV.  Supposedly, the CSV’s use of the spelling “begot” rather than “begat” was a dead giveaway that they had used the ASV as its starting point.  The RSV began as a revision of the ASV of 1901.  The ESV had done so with the final RSV revision of 1971.  If true, why would the CSV go back to the ASV?  Likely the ASV being in the public domain and thus requiring no complicated permissions would be the reason.

When I consulted the ASV, however, it seems they have “begat”!  (My only access to the American Standard Version is on Bible Gateway, for what it is worth.)  Let’s see what else we can find.  I haven’t bolded every difference, but the main ones.

CSV
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.  When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit.  And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her secretly.  But while he was considering these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for the child conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

ASV
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But when he thought on these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for it is he that shall save his people from their sins.

The jury is out on this one.  Almost anything from the King James stream of translations would sound a lot like this.  This might be a revision of the ASV, or it might not.  I am fairly unfamiliar with the ASV, so I found it interesting to read a couple passages.  It would make sense to use the ASV as a starting point.  It is a responsibly done, literal translation, even if it has some archaic language that must be dispensed with.

I learned recently that it means a lot to some people whether a translation uses “divorce her” or “put her away”.  The latter tends to mean “send to prison”, at least in colloquial American English, so I would sympathize with the CSV translators desire to be clear here.  Perhaps someone can explain to me in the comments why this is such a problem.  Does it have to do with protecting Saint Joseph from the claim that he did not trust or revere the Virgin Mary?  Or is there another explanation? 

Comparison with the RSV and the ESV

Let me warn you that this part is not overly illuminating.  I checked several passages, and this is a representative one.  If you like the RSV and ESV you would like this translation.  You might not see the use for it however. 

Matthew 5

RSV-CE (and RSV-2CE)
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

ESV-CE
Seeing the crowds, he went up the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

CSV
When he saw the crowds, he went up  the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you whenever they insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way they persecuted the prophets who came before you.

I am honestly struggling to find anything interesting to say.  If you told me that the CSV was a light revision of the RSV I would have believed you.  Not that they are identical—it is certainly more different from either the RSV and ESV than those two translations differ from each other, but if I heard someone read this passage out loud, I honestly would guess it was the ESV.  My main observation from this is that I really like the ESV’s alterations of the text here.  They are extremely light, but each serves to update the language without wrecking the rhetorical beauty.  I think it succeeds.  That being said, I find the RSV a bit prettier when I read it aloud.  I completely get why the UK bishops would prefer the ESV to the RSV, however.  In small ways it is more understandable. 

My favorite change that the CSV introduces is “the sake of righteousness” over “righteousness’ sake”.  I think avoiding the possessive with nouns that end in “s” is always a good move when something will be read aloud.

In what will be good news to some of you, indications are that the CSV will have a similar amount of gender inclusiveness as the ESV.  In a footnote to Matthew 4:4, which in part reads, “man will not live on bread alone,” the CSV seems to draw its line in the sand: “The collective singular man is inclusive of both men and women; see Gen 1:26-27; 5:2”.  That footnote makes it seem like they are explaining why their translation is not gender inclusive, but the start of the Sermon on the Mount shows in at least one place how the CSV gets around using the word “men”. 

Some other points of interest include that money is mostly transliterated with a footnote giving you the value, such as “denarius” in 20:2 and 22:19.  Time is translated literally rather than given equivalences, such as using “the third hour”, “the sixth hour”, and so on in the parable of the workers in the vineyard.  In 11:23, they do not choose the literal “Hades”, but “Hell”, and put “Hades” in an explanatory footnote.  For this last example, this is a departure from the RSV and ESV.  It is also a good illustration that the translation preferences of those who complain about, say, the New American Bible, are not necessarily to go in a more literal direction, but to go into a more traditional dynamic direction. 

Other Features

The cover feels well done for a 125 page paperback.  If you can imagine a combination of one of the original Augustine Institute paperback ESVs from late 2019 and an Ignatius Press paperback from the 80s, you can imagine what the cover is like.  The binding is glued, though anything else for a ten dollar paperback would be a bit silly.  It is a convenient size for reading, with a comfortable typeface for reading.

The Catholic Standard Version Gospel of Matthew along with several other books to demonstrate its overall size.

At the end of the book there is a short, well done essay on lectio divina followed by meditation prompts for each chapter.  The prompts are the sort of things one might pray with during lectio divina.  I think they would be an excellent resource for someone new to praying with scripture so that they can experience the breadth and depth of this style of prayer. 

Conclusion

I’m glad I spent the ten dollars on this, as it made me read Matthew’s Gospel with pleasure and joy over the last few days.  Assuming they keep releasing these translations as they finish them, I do not know whether I would buy many more or just wait until the project is complete.  I would probably purchase a translation of John’s Gospel, as I am curious how their translation philosophy will apply to John—how will they treat the “I am” statements?  Will they render it “born from above” or “born again” or something else?  The only other places I am very curious about is how they translate the Christological hymn from Philippians and if they follow the most recent edition of the Nestle-Aland and say that Jesus brought the Israelites through the Red Sea in Jude.   

So far I like reading it a lot.  I worry that for all the slight positive changes they make, this will be a less trusted translation than either the RSV or ESV.  It is plainly not meant to be an ecumenical Bible, but then neither was the RSV-2CE, and that seems to be loved by at least some conservative Lutherans.  Last spring I read a lot of material by the Episcopalian theologian and cultural critic Stanley Hauerwas.  One of his main points seems to be that the Church must be the Church and not pretend to be this neutral arbiter.  The ESV seems to be an example of this: translating the Christian Old Testament for Christians.  Perhaps the CSV is the fruit of such an attitude as well. 

29 thoughts on “Review: CSV Gospel of Matthew — Guest post by Bob Short”

  1. A quick question, if I may, not about the translation but about the printing and binding. Looking at your photo of the stack of books, I would guess that the new CSV Matthew volume measures about 6 x 9 inches. Is that correct?
    If so, then the type size must be unusually large for a Bible. A few days ago, under the heading “Pre-release photos”, @Marc posted three photographs including one of a double-page spread in which it’s possible to count the lines. It works out (allowing for footnotes) at about thirty lines to the page, compared with a customary standard for Bibles of forty lines or more. In addition, the spacing between lines looks unusually generous. Or does Marc’s photograph show a special large print edition?

    1. The biblical text is certainly extremely large! The book is a bit over 5” by 7”. I am not aware of any large print version of this book. The photos from that post look exactly like what I have.

  2. @Bob, you mentioned that in Matt 11:13 the CSV writes “Hell” for the Greek Hades. How about Gehenna, though? This name occurs several times in Matthew, for instance in Jesus’ sayings of the type, “It is better to lose your right eye [hand] than to be cast into the hell of fire with two eyes,” Matt 5:28, 5:29, 18:9. Most modern translations, I think, make an attempt to preserve the distinction between Hades and Gehenna, in contrast to the DR and KJV which wrote “Hell” for both words indifferently.

    If you can spare a few moments, I’d like to ask you a few more quick questions about the translators’ handling of certain notoriously difficult verses. One of them is Jesus’ succinct reply to John the Baptist in Matt 3:15, when John tells him it ought to be the other way round. This has nothing to do with Catholic vs. Protestant or conservative vs. liberal terminology. It’s about bridging the gap between a dialogue that is unrealistically solemn and formal on the one hand or too colloquial on the other.

    Another one: the Greek word phthonos in Matt 27:18. Envy, jealousy, or something else?
    For Pilate knew it was out of **jealousy** that they had handed him over. (RNJB)
    He knew very well that the Jewish authorities had handed Jesus over to him because they were **jealous**. (GNB)
    For he knew it was out of **envy** that they had handed Jesus over to him. (NIV, older editions)
    For he knew it was out of **self-interest** that they had handed Jesus over to him. (NIV, later editions)

    Finally, what are the legitimate grounds for an annulment in Matt 5:32 and 19:9, the two verses that set out the so-called Matthean exception? This is a challenge, of course, that confronts Catholic translators and editors only. Twentieth-century translators, as far as I can see, made no attempt at a doctrinal level to change Challoner’s “fornication”, though most of them seem to have found the word unsuitably archaic and replaced it with a more up-to-date synonym or euphemism:

    1941, Confraternity Bible … … immorality
    1941, Ronald Knox … … … unfaithfulness
    1966, Alexander Jones, Jerusalem Bible … fornication
    1970, NAB … … … lewd conduct
    1991, NRSVCE … … unchastity

    I have the impression — I hope someone here will correct me if I’m wrong — that it was only in the present century that publishers and editors decided the time had come to bring Jesus’ words in these two verses into line with Catholic teaching.

    2011, NABRE … … … unless the marriage is unlawful
    2019, Dom Henry Wansbrough, RNJB … an illicit marriage

    In these last two translations, the full text of Matt 19:9 reads:
    But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (NABRE)
    But I say this to you, everyone who divorces his wife, except for the case of an illicit marriage, makes her commit adultery; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (RNJB)

    1. Anon,
      The book is available for free on formed.org, if you have access to that. I looked up the verses you asked about:
      Matt 5:29: …cast into Gehenna
      Matt 18:9: …cast into the Gehenna of fire.
      Matt 3:15: But Jesus answered and said to him, “Let it be so now, for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.
      Matt 27:18: For he knew they had handed him over because of envy.
      Matt 5:32: But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for a case of unlawful sexual relations,[a] makes her commit adultery.
      Matt 19:9: But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except on the basis of unlawful sexual relations,[a] and marries another, commits adultery.[b]
      [a] Greek porneia, can refer to a variety of unlawful sexual relations forbidden by Scripture, such as adultery by either husband or wife (Sir 23:16-23); incestuous unions (1 Cor 5:1), and prostitution (1 Cor 6:15-18)
      [b] Some ancient manuscripts include _And whoever marries a divorced Woman commits adultery_.

      The first footnote is the same on both verses. I don’t know why they capitalize “Woman” in the footnotes.

    2. “I have the impression — I hope someone here will correct me if I’m wrong — that it was only in the present century that publishers and editors decided the time had come to bring Jesus’ words in these two verses [Matt 5:32 and 19:9] into line with Catholic teaching.”

      From what I could find, the NJB was the first in 1985 to bring these two verses into line with Catholic teaching. I don’t have a copy, but according to catholic.org/bible, the NJB’s full text of Matt 19:9 reads: “Now I say this to you: anyone who divorces his wife — I am not speaking of an illicit marriage — and marries another, is guilty of adultery.'”

      1899, American DR-Challoner … … fornication
      1941, Confraternity Bible … … immorality
      1941, Ronald Knox … … … unfaithfulness
      1966, Alexander Jones, Jerusalem Bible … fornication
      1966, RSV-CE … … unchastity
      1970, NAB … … … lewd conduct
      1985, NJB … … an illicit marriage
      1991, NRSV-CE … … unchastity
      2008, NCB-CE … … unfaithfulness
      2009, Ronald L. Conte Jr., CPDV … … fornication
      2011, NABRE … … … unless the marriage is unlawful
      2013, CCB-RCPE … … In the case of unlawful union
      2017, ESVCE … … sexual immorality
      2019, Dom Henry Wansbrough, RNJB … an illicit marriage
      2019, NCB … … except if the marriage was unlawful

      1. Thank you, Joseph Christian. You have more than doubled my list from seven to fifteen translations. And now, thanks to Philip C, we can add the Augustine Institute’s new CSV as well, with its “unlawful sexual relations”.

        It’s interesting that the NJB made the change at such an early date. I believe Dom Henry Wansbrough was already in charge there at the time, so presumably he was the one who led the way.

        1. I was surprised by this as well. I always thought the NABRE was the first to make the change–who would have thought it was the NJB!

          I think the two weakest translations are the Confraternity’s “immorality” and the NAB’s “lewd conduct”. Way too generic of terms, in my opinion, to really give you an idea of what Jesus is saying.

    3. The original Rheims of 1582 (not Challoner’s 1750 revision) includes these annotations, which I found interesting:

      Matt 5:33. Excepting the cause of fornication.]
      This exception is only to show, that for this one cause a man may put away his wife forever: but not that he may marry another: as it is most plain in St. Mark and St. Luke, who leave out this exception, saying Whosoever dismisseth his wife and marrieth another, committeth adultery. See the Annot. Luke 10:11. But if both parties be in one and the same fault, then can neither of them not so much as divorce or put away the other.

      Luke 10:11. And marrieth another.]
      That which St. Matthew uttered more obscurely, and is mistaken of some, as though he meant that for fornication a man might put away his wife and marry another, is here by this Evangelist (as also by St. Luke) put out of doubt, generally avouching, that whosoever putteth away his wife and marrieth another, committeth adultery. Aug. li. 1. de adult. coniug. c. 11 & sequentibus.

      Matt 5:33. Committeth adultery.]
      The knot of Marriage is a think of so great a Sacrament, that not by separation itself of the parties it can be loosed, being not lawful neither for the one part nor the other, to marry again upon divorce. Aug. de bo. Coniug. c. 7.

      Matt 19:9. But for fornication.]
      For adultery one may dismiss another, Matt. 5. But neither party can marry again for any cause during life. Aug. li. 11. de adult. coniug. c. 21. 22. 24. for the which unlawful act of marrying again, Fabiola that noble matron of Rome albeit she was the innocent part, did public penance, as St. Jerome writeth in her high commendation therefore. And in St. Paul Ro. 7. it is plain that she which is with another man, her husband yet living, shall be called an adulteress: contrary to the doctrine of our Adversaries.

  3. Thank you, Philip C. You have very kindly answered all my translation questions. By the way, it wasn’t my intention to hide behind the word “Anonymous”. I don’t know what I did wrong. I had posted another comment on this thread a few hours earlier and I thought I was still logged in.

  4. When looking at Bible translations one of the things I look at is how the translation treats the Greek word “δικαιοσύνην” or “dikaiosunēn.” In “Protestant Bibles,” this word is most often translated as “righteousness.” In “Catholic Bibles” this word is often translated as “justice.” Note, in the Latin Vulgate the translated word is “justiam.” Using the BibleGateway word search tool, let us take a look at the King James Version and search on how many times the word “justice” appears in the New Testament. The result will reveal that “justice” appears ZERO times. In the Doughy-Rheims translation, the word “justice” in the New Testament appears 91 times. I have read that the reason the KJV used “righteousness” is that it used the German word ”Gerechtigkeit” which was what was used in Luther’s Bible, which was, at that time, directly translated into English as “righteousness.” Thus, the translation of the word “dikaiosunēn” could be a measure of the bias of a translation toward Protestantism or Catholicism. Now, I will throw a pail of water on my argument. The current NAB New Testament treats “dikaiosunēn” just like the Protestant Bibles! However, if you were to compare the word count for “justice” in the NABRE Old Testament at 231 and compare it to the RSV-CE at 139 you would see a very different approach to translating the two Hebrew words “tsedeq” and “shaphat.” I wonder how the Revised-NABRE New Testament will treat “justice” and “righteousness.”
    I do not think this translation difference is a trivial matter. In today’s language, and I emphasize today’s language, I think there is a different meaning in these translations of Matthew 5:6.
    CSV: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
    NCB: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will have their fill.”

      1. BarholomewB,
        Thank you for providing the input from Ronald Knox. I absolutely agree with his views regarding translation approaches. Clearly, translating from a language with a relatively small vocabulary to a language with a much larger vocabulary requires the translator to understand the source word in context; as work choice is important. Otherwise, if there was a one-to-one translation word translation; decided by a huge committee, by vote, we could have a computer translate the Bible!
        I do not think that either the KJV which never uses the word “justice” in the New Testament, or the D-R which never uses “righteous” are better than the other. Interestingly, Knox in Matthew 5:6 uses “holiness” in his translation. If by “holiness” he means “separateness” I think he has made a possibly good word choice. (Knox Matthew 5:6: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for holiness; they shall have their fill.)
        I only brought up the treatment of the word “dikaiosunēn,” in a translation as a means of indicating the bias of a translation, i.e., Protestant or Catholic.

  5. I wonder how CSB translates John 1:18. Is it based on monogenes huios, which to me makes more logical sense in view of the first part of the verse, and would be consistent with RSV or Douay-Rheims, or Vulgate (“unigenitus filius”), or monogenes theos, which the ESV and Nova Vulgata (“unigenitus deus”) apparently use?

  6. Interesting comparisons, however, if the translation philosophy is “essentially literal” doesn’t this significantly limit your choices in how to translate as verse? This is no doubt the main reason that there is little variation between the KJV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, NASB and CSV beyond updating the language and minor word choices

    1. I’m pretty sure that verse is different in different manuscripts, so the choice at play is not literalness but rather which manuscript family to favor.

      1. Except that the Greek text is almost certainly based on the most recent critical Greek text (which I think is the 28th edition) meaning that the choice was already made for them, this text is eclectic, meaning it doesn’t favor any particular family but simply chooses which reading seems most likely to be authentic, whatever the source.

        1. To be fair, just because a translation follows a particular GNT doesn’t mean they follow it slavishly. The Catholic NABRE and Baptist CSB, for example, both follow the Nestle-Aland about 90%, which still leaves 10% wiggle room for the translators’ own choices from the critical apparatus. Other translations, however, follow the Nestle-Aland less. There’s about 75% agreement for the NRSVue, for example, and the NASB 2020 agrees more with the old Westcott & Hort’s choices in terms of variants than with the current Nestle-Aland. And then there’s the Tyndale House GNT, which, while new, has begun to influence some newer, more niche translations.

      2. Anon, the Center for New Testament Restoration is a website you may find helpful for checking to see different manuscript readings, verse by verse. It seems to be basically a one-man show, operated by Alan Bunning, who teaches at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.
        https://greekcntr.org/collation/index.htm

    2. I agree that if one stays in the KJV-ESV lineage, you are basically changing window dressing. (I am so undamiliar with the NRSV, though. I don’t know if that is very different or not.)

      I think that there are ways to be essentially literal that do not fit in the KJV lineage. Almost no one tries to go that path because most of us would complain. The NAB has gotten more literal with each revision, but has a vocabulary different from that KJV strain. Even so, check out that old NPR article from when the NABRE first came out. They announced they were going with the valley of the shadow of death in Psalm 23 and the interviewer (likely not a churchgoer, knowing NPR) fell over themself congratulating the NABRE staff on that choice. I suspect they do not know the finer points of classical Hebrew but just liked the familiarity of the old rendering. I think that in many of us simply do not want to be challenged. We suspect we already know what the Bible is and contains and we want that belief confirmed.

      Richmond Lattimore and David Bentley Hart did mostly literal translations of the NT that are far better than the committee translation at capturing the urgent roughness of the New Testament. (Leaving their merits or problems aside). I think Michael Pakaluk’s translations of Mark and John do the same.

      My review is not very surprising at all. It was not even that interesting to write. The headline could have been “Offshoot of KJV-ESV Lineage Belongs to KJV-ESV lineage.”

      1. Sure, one could go in a slightly different direction in an ‘essentially literal’ translation, but all you are doing is either going the Bentley Hart direction and pushing your own idiosyncratic ideology onto the Biblical text, even while claiming to be unbiased they are really just replacing the traditional bias with their own personal bias. I am always suspicious of people like him who or, to use an earlier example, Moffat who begin their translation by essentially claiming to be the first person to ever read the text objectively and translate it correctly without bias or you get out your thesaurus and find a bunch of synonyms for the traditional language.

        Part of the benefit of the traditional Tyndale-KJV language is not just familiarity (which IS important) but also that the traditional language tends to avoid personal or institutional bias. The traditional language is actually a lot more unbiased than people like Hart who like to brag about how unbiased they are.

        Now, sometimes there is a value in an idiosyncratic text like Hart, NT Wright, or to use a more obscure example, Kleist-Lilly, because sometimes using unconventional language can highlight things that can be obscured by the traditional language. One example of this is Michael Pakaluk who has produced a translation of Mark and John, with his own extensive commentary. in these translations, he avoids the word ‘parable’ or ‘similitude’ (both very traditional terms) to describe the way Jesus taught but instead describes his teaching style by saying “Jesus taught the crowds by making comparisons”, in a way, the term “parable” is so familiar that might lose sight of what the word means, so saying something simpler like “making comparisons” is just a really helpful description. But reading a full Bible written like that can get annoying.

      2. I think I would also tend to agree with Biblical Catholic here. Translations that reach for different, even odd or esoteric rendering of familiar passages could have their value for, say, in depth study, but for devotional reading or public worship, I think translations that keep within the Tyndale tradition (KJV, RV, ASV, RSV, NRSV, ESV) are really the best options for English speakers.

        The Bible is really foundational for our modern western culture and I believe you could even argue that western culture itself has been one long meditation on the meaning of these texts, in that environment I think even people unfamiliar with the original languages can have some claim to “know what the text means,” because it some intuitive sense, they actually do. Within our Catholic tradition, an even stronger claim can be made, because the teaching authority of the Church has literally preserved the meaning of the text and taught it to the faithful in an explicit way. So for example a Catholic not familiar with New Testament greek, could still point to error if a modern English translation if that translation were to make it seem like Jesus had literal, biological, siblings from the Virgin Mary, because we know, though the highest authorities of the Church that Jesus did not have siblings from the Virgin Mary, so even as not greek speakers, whatever the passages mean, we KNOW they cannot mean that.

        1. Or the infamous JW rendering of John 1:1 in the NWT. One doesn’t even need to be a Christian, let alone know any Greek, to read that and say, “Oh, that’s clearly wrong.”

          1. And yet, James Moffat, in his (in)famous translation translated it as “the word was divine”, as if to imply that Jesus wasn’t fully God, the JW’s always cite this bizarre translation as evidence that they are right.

            Although, when it comes to bizarre translations, I like the Kleist-Lily translation

            John1: 1 – 3
            When time began, the Word was there,
            and the Word was face-to-face with God,
            and the Word was God.
            This Word, when time began,
            was face-to-face with God.
            All things came into being through him,
            and without him there came to be
            not one thing that has come to be.

  7. I love reading your comments. You guys have such a rich and varied perspectives on the source material and the translations.
    But I must say (and I say this in all due respect) that it seems to me Bible translations is NOT the field for one with OCD tendencies.
    Sometimes I feel like the Princess laying on all those mattresses and feeling the slight pea when I read criticisms of a translation I had moments before enjoyed!
    Lol

    1. I agree, in general, I’m tolerant of minor differences, but sometimes a translation makes choices so bizarre that it takes me out of the text completely and annoys the hell out of me.

      One example of this is the Common English Bible, one of the worst and most pedestrian translations I have ever encountered. It makes many weird choices, such as referring to the “half tribe of Manasseh” as “half of the tribe of Manasseh”, which isn’t right at all. The point is that the tribe of Joseph gets split into two tribes, “Ephram” and “Manasseh” and each of them is half of the tribe of Joseph.

      But the most annoying choice the CEB makes is to translate “The Son of Man”, Jesus’ favorite self-description, as “The Human One”, wording which is not merely unnecessarily PC but which seems to explicitly deny the deity of Christ.

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