I was reviewing the article I posted up here some time ago, Of the Making of Many Bible Translations…, and I realised that there is an update I can add. Currently I’ll leave it here in the form of this blog but an extra paragraph might make its way into the article soon…
I recently discovered the New English Translation. Anyone who has read my blog once or twice (or who has read the article) may have noticed that I frequently use the New American Standard Bible for quotations. I’m still a user of the NASB…at the moment. I find that when you have a history somewhere, in a translation, perhaps with notes you’ve made around the text, it’s difficult to just drop it and leave it.
But the NET has got me intrigued. I can’t remember how I came across it, except that perhaps it was through using the fairly excellent Olive Tree Bible Study App for iPad/iPhone which may have advertised it at some point recently.
On the one hand it’s a relatively easy-to-read translation. Take these significant verses (this is a good one):
“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:20-21, NET)
It scans. One of the immediate gripes one can have with something like the NASB is that it doesn’t quite scan all the time, because they often try to preserve even the word order of the Greek as well as the exact meaning, which sometimes just doesn’t work. It’s okay most of the time if you’re prepared to get your head around it, but it’s a lot of work! So, points to the NET for scanability.
But my appreciation doesn’t end there. It makes a lot of interesting choices in translation that you’re not likely to find in the main text of many other modern translations. Take verse 20 above: the NET renders the Greek ‘pistis Christou‘ as ‘the faithfulness of Christ’ rather than the more familiar ‘faith in Christ’. It’s great to see this reading finally make its way into the main text of a translation.
Furthermore, as an example of the way in which NET lets you in on the translation choices (this is where it gets really good), it explains in its notes to 2:16 (which has the same phrase) that an increasing number of scholars are favouring a translation of ‘faithfulness of Christ’. It explains it in great detail. Indeed, you might want to learn the Greek and Hebrew alphabet, and how to pronounce words in each language; because the notes go right ahead and include them! Here’s a picture of the notes NET gives around this particular translation (see 2:16d in the picture)…
Now this really gets my inner
G eek Greek going, and demonstrates I think one of the great values of this translation. The Biblical text itself remains readable and exciting; the notes supplement it with a hugely in-depth ‘look over the translator’s shoulder’ as the introductory notes (roughly) put it. They remain honest where there are difficulties in translation and interpretation, but at the same time can put across really good arguments for various chosen readings.
For now, I still open the NASB when I want to read; but increasingly, I find I’m switching back and forth with, or sometimes choosing, this good translation, with its excellent notes.
Last piece of information: availability. It was created principally as an online translation, and the whole lot can be accessed at net.bible.org. If you want to check it out, start here, as it’s completely free and will give you a good idea of what it’s like.
As I said, it’s also available through Olive Tree and perhaps other Bible apps for mobile devices and PCs. (Olive Tree is also available for Mac.) There is a free version with a limited set of notes. I paid (if I remember correctly) around £7 for the full set of notes. Might have been £8. Not bad.
It’s also available for Kindle (link to UK Amazon store – though with Kindle, presumably you could try clicking from anywhere).