Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bible Translations

Donald Kraus' new book, Choosing a Bible: For Worship, Teaching, Study, Preaching, and Prayer (2006) takes an eirenic approach pointing out the advantages and disadvantages of available translations. In the end the choice, he says, is between visiting a museum and building a home (p.85). A museum is broadening and educational while a home is familiar and comfortable. While it can contain exotic objects (and a museum can be familiar) each has its own purpose and we need both in our lives.

Practically speaking, Kraus is arguing for reading Alter or Fox's translations alongside the NRSV. Of course. But missing from the book is a discussion of what drives many publications of modern translations whether by committees or individuals, whether more formal or dynamic in approach, namely, profit.

Bible sales today represent a large market—estimated, PW tells us, between $425 million (by Harper San Francisco) and $609 million (by Zondervan), with relatively stable sales. Today's Bibles come in all sorts of shapes and sizes: portable (Tyndale just released Veritas, a handbag with a special pocket on the outside for a coordinating compact New Living Translation Bible), fashionable (Zondervan's Italian Duotones with two-color leather-look covers with visible stitching; four colour printing on bible paper without bleeding in the Holman Illustrated Study Bible), and downloadable (Broadman and Holman's "Build a Bible" lets the buyer assemble a selection of three translations, several cover styles and colours from distressed leather to hot pink). In November, Nelson's "Redefine Biblezine" for babyboomers provides a download of the complete text of the New Testament with feature articles on health, travel, Bible promises and essentials, dealing with an empty nest, life fulfillment, finances, second careers, and many other topics.

There is no end to the shape and style in which you can encounter the Bible. And get ready for more: todays inbox brings a note that HarperSanFrancisco, a division of Harper Collins, has secured a ten-year exclusive license to manage the New Revised Standard Version text from the National Council of Churches. They feel this translation has been under supported in terms of editions and features, as well as marketing and promotion. "As we get ready to release new editions of NRSV text Bibles and develop other special editions of the Bible, we would like to “relaunch” the NRSV to the public," they add. For what we are about to receive...


Rev Dr Mom said...

Designer bibles! Who knew?

Anonymous said...

I really want a hip coffee shop friendly style bible...the nrsv goes starbucks!