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Bible Translations Have Specific Followings

Yesterday at his blog, Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight reopened the thorny issue of Bible translation with a rather humorous introduction. He didn’t say this, but to paraphrase, By their Bibles ye shall know them. And he also didn’t add that many people who belong to one tribe wouldn’t look at another version for even a split second.

He begins,

What depresses me about Bible translation debates today is tribalism. Some have raised the bar of this conversation to such heights that variation is tantamount to heresy. But let’s have a little fun with the tribalism that does exist, that seems almost inevitable, that does sometimes lead to uncharitable divisiveness, but that can lead us to see ourselves in humorous tones at times. Translations can also be a window to our heart and theology and preferences. So here goes with a sketch of tribalist translation tendencies. Each of these is partially true but not wholly true, so let’s not reify but have a little fun…

NRSV for liberals and Shane Claiborne lovers;
ESV for Reformed complementarian Baptists;
HCSB for LifeWay store buying Southern Baptists;
NIV for complementarian evangelicals;
TNIV for egalitarians;
NIV 2011 for peacemakers;
NASB for those who want straight Bible, forget the English;
NLT for generic brand evangelicals;
Amplified for folks who have no idea what translation is but know that if you try enough words one of them will hit pay dirt;
NKJV and KJV for Byzantine manuscript-tree huggers;
The Message for evangelicals looking for a breath of fresh air and seeker sensitive, never-read-a-commentary evangelists who find Peterson’s prose so catchy.
CEB for mainliners who read their Bibles.

Translations are now officially and unofficially connected to tribes, and it is not a little bit humorous and also at times quite sad…
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