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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
239 pages
Jan 2005
InterVarsity Press

A User's Guide to Bible Translations: Making the Most of Different Versions

by David Dewey

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


David Dewey’s A User’s Guide to Bible Translations is a comprehensive guide to the history of the Bible. Whatever your translation preference or reading level, you can find a Bible that will best suit your needs.

A Baptist minister in England, David Dewey provides critical evaluation of every conceivable Bible translation ever available, from traditional print, to eBibles, this reference can unpack the confusing and often daunting process of determining which Bible is best. Dewey ultimately asks, “Best for whom? And best for what?” These questions can guide a reader through the maze of form driven versus meaning driven translations. Before purchasing a Bible, Dewey recommends buyers read the preface to the translation they are considering, as it will provide valuable information on the translation style, notation usage, and reading level. Dewey encourages Bible students to have several translations employing the various translation methods and compare them, as no translation is without shortcomings. An issue Dewey raises is whether churning out new translations in the English language, essentially glutting the market—an American luxury—is the best way to spread the Good News. Perhaps translating it into other languages, which do not have a single copy of the Word, is a better use of mission funds.

Readers will encounter such words as neologism, biblish, functional equivalence, optimal equivalence, and tautological. However, Dewey is never highbrow, but explains his terminology and logically presents his arguments, often employing tables for the reader to see what he means. The gender inclusive language controversy has an entire chapter. The author’s seeming initial bent toward gender inclusivity is refreshingly abandoned in the chapter discussion. In the end, all issues are laid objectively at the reader’s feet.

This history of the Bible is enjoyable even for those committed to their current version. Deficits and merits of each translation are provided as well as the translation history, is it based on the Greek and Hebrew or Latin Vulgate? A basic description of each Bible’s features is also included. I highly recommend this volume for laymen who may be in retail dealing with recommending Bibles to consumers, and to scholars for who this subject holds interest. It is an excellent read, well worth the effort. -- Suzanne Rae Deshchidn, Christian Book

Book Jacket:

What Bible should you use?

KJV. NIV. NASB. NRSV. ESV. TNIV. The Message. NLT. It's never been easier to find a Bible in English.

Still, it's never been harder to decide what Bible to use. Formal or conversational? Traditional or inclusive language? Word-for-word, meaning-for-meaning or paraphrase?

A User's Guide to Bible Translations escorts you through the history of Bible versions in English from Wycliffe and Tyndale to the English Standard Version and Today's New International Version, with explanatory glances at the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, and brief introductions to translation theories along the way. In straightforward language, David Dewey explains how we ended up with so many versions of the Bible, shedding light on the difference between word-for-word and meaning-for-meaning translations, the controversy over gender accuracy, and issues of theological bias.

Dewey also reminds us that it's not enough to ask, Which Bible is best? We need to ask, Best for what? For personal study? For reading aloud? For leading a Bible study for inquirers? For lending to an international student struggling with English? Filled with charts comparing versions and diagrams showing translation difficulties, A User's Guide to Bible Translations is just that--an easy-to-use handbook for digging through the mountain of translation options until you find the right Bible for the right purpose.