Grudem on Bible Translations

via Adrian Warnock:

“I cannot teach theology or ethics from a dynamic equivalent Bible. I tried the NIV for one semester, and I gave it up after a few weeks. Time and again I would try to use a verse to make a point and find that the specific detail I was looking for, a detail of wording that I knew was there in the original Hebrew or Greek, was missing from the verse in the NIV.

“Nor can I preach from a dynamic equivalent translation. I would end up explaining in verse after verse that the words on the page are not really what the Bible says, and the whole experience would be confusing and would lead people to distrust the Bible in English . . .

“Nor would I want to memorize passages from a dynamic equivalent translation. I would be fixing in my brain verses that were partly God’s words and partly some added ideas, and I would be leaving out of my brain some words that belonged to those verses as God inspired them but were simply missing from the dynamic equivalent translation.

“But I could readily use any essentially literal translation to teach, study, preach from, and memorize.”

-Wayne Grudem

I have a dear friend who loves the NIV.  To my shame, he has memorized way more of it than I have of my ESV and NASB translations.  But for years I have had this same sneaky suspicion that Grudem articulates.  Namely, how can I read/study/memorize a translation of the Bible when I will continually have this question of, “Is that what it really says?” in my mind?

Let’s not run down dynamic translations like the NIV.  In a very real sense, they are God’s word and contain the truth about life.  There are entire churches in the third world that have fewer copies of the Bible than I do in my office, so I want to be thankful for every attempt to get God’s word into people’s hands.

On the other hand, as much as it depends on us, let’s always choose the most faithful and accurate translations of the Bible when it comes to reading and studying and memorizing.


About Brian Phillips

Brian lives in Spain with Kassie and their kids.
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