Essential Evangelical Parallel Bible Hardcover – 1 Jan 2005
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As for the four versions of the Bible here being an `essential evangelical' selection, the surprise must be that neither the Authorised Version (King James) or the New International Version is included. If you want a different Parallel Bible that includes them they do exist.
The four versions that are included here cover a useful spectrum of today's approaches to translating the Bible.
The New King James Bible is an excellent updating of the Authorised/King James Bible. The New Testament is based on the same Greek text that the Authorised/Kings James Bible is based on: the `Textus Receptus'.
The English Standard Version is also in the Authorised/Kings James Version tradition, but it's New Testament is based, as with most modern Bible translations, on the modern `Nestle and Aland' edited Greek text . It was created as a conservative improvement of the Revised Standard Version, and as such it succeeds in being an approachable word-for-word translation.
When placed side by side on the page it becomes clear that the New King James Version and the English Standard Version are very much like each other with few significant differences. The real differences are between them and the two freer translations here.
The New Living Translation is an updated version of the Living Translation, and an improvement on it. It's style can be said to be like a slightly freer New International Version. It is generally in the thought for though school of translation, with some freer paraphrasing. A weakness that is brought out by having it next to the stricter translations above, is when it sometimes creates whole new phrases that it adds to the text to explain passages.
The Message has become hugely popular in a short space of time. It claims to present the meaning of the Bible in a way that modern people can understand, in language designed to be as fresh as the original was to the original hearers. It has plenty of arresting, pithy phrases in it, but its style is all over the place. It varies from free thought for thought translation to passages which can more accurately be called responses to the original text rather than translations of it.
While The Message's mission to explain is an excellent aim and its interpretations can be helpful a question is left begging: are the interpretations of the original texts chosen actually the best? This could be said to a degree of the New Living Translation in places, but it is a much more obvious comment about The Message. The more conservative, more word for word translations here may not be in the easiest, free flowing prose, but at least they are not interpreting the text, that task is left up to the reader. The freer versions here, by introducing an element of interpretation to the text, rule out certain interpretations. The reader is to an extent being told what to make of the texts. Free translation turns out to be not so free after all.
With all four translations side by side the reader can have the best of all worlds. This makes for a good study Bible, although it would be a much better one if quotations of the Old Testament in the New etc were indicated. For anyone who wants a word for word translation for close Bible study, but finds themselves getting bogged down when trying to read through the dense prose of the Old Testament this is ideal. Use the freer translations for reading larger sections, then cross to the stricter ones for close study.
It is also an excellent tool for preparing talks and sermons where the congregation use a wide range of Bible Translations.
Squeezing four whole Bibles into one book brings some compromises. The text on the page is small, the pages themselves are thin, explanatory notes are minimal. These things are no doubt inevitable. The binding itself is good quality. There is one penny pinching strategy used here which annoys. In order to use as little space as possible the text often stops on one page in the middle of the verse so that you have to turn the page to finish it. This is economy gone too far.
All in all this is a useful tool for studying and appreciating the Bible. At around £16 (as of October 15th 2007) it is excellent value for money.
At around £7 (as late december 2007) it is amazing value for money.
Please note, this review was posted 15th October 2007, not 28 September 2006.
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