Craig Blomberg on the NLT – Fuel to the fire

It started on T.C.’s blog with a post questioning Dr. Blomberg‘s stance that the blogging world is fueling the translation wars. Seems to me that he has added fuel to the fire, so to speak. I hate to tell Dr. Blomberg this, but the translation wars have been going no long before the blogging world was created in 2.0 days. T.C. quotes the good doctor,

I’m sorry the blog fueled the β€œBible wars.” It’s a sad state of affairs when we gloat over one translation vs. another. Everyone of them has its strengths and weaknesses and we are so spoiled in English to have so many to pick from. The real point of the post was to reflect on one particular passage and the intricacies of its translation and, as I concluded, to encourage people regularly to consult multiple versions rather than championing one as always (or even usually) the best. (bold added)

The doctor shows up on T.C.’s blog and leaves this comment,

I recommend the NLT for those who want something that majors on clarity and facility of reading, especially for young readers, poor readers or those for whom English is a second language, even though it at times loses precision and accuracy of translation.

My initial response, which I kept sorta private, was to wonder if clarity and facility of reading shouldn’t be the mission of all translations, but again, I didn’t say a way.

Then Mark Stevens posts this morning in which he asks,

On an unrelated note do wonder how thrilled Joel Watts will be with his assessment of the NLT!

To good doctor responds,

Now that the NLT is a bona fide translation, and there is an excellent commentary series (Cornerstone) on it, I have no problem with even very smart adults who want to use it regularly. I would just prefer something that aims for that sweet spot of combining accuracy and readability for the pulpit. (emphasis added)

My response?

I am that Joel Watts, and I use the NLT, read the NLT, recommend the NLT and I found the comments about the NLT nothing more than an egotistical jab.

Perhaps we should stop separating translations based on our perceived notions of what they are far and realize that the people who read them and enjoy them and find God in the pages rarely do so with the authority of the Academy.

I love the fact that Dr. Blomberg first notes that the NLT is especially for young readers, poor readers or those for whom English is a second language. Awesome. But you know, at least he doesn’t have a problem with even very smart adults who want to use it regularly. Which is just that much more awesome. Blomberg seems to be relegating the NLT to be used by those who aren’t ‘smart.’

I am a pretty smart individual, actually. The NLT is for me what saved my bible reading and has allowed me to have a solid foundation for reading to my children and engaging with those whose first language isn’t 16th century Reformation dialogue. I dearly love the NLT because it has mean so very much to me in this last few years. Yes, there are problems – every translation has problems – but it is not just for children or slow learners but for those who love the Scriptures as well. Thank God that I do not have to be brilliant to read the bible neither dumb.

Yeah, I think he just fueled the fires a wee bit in my this lovely morning.

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19 Replies to “Craig Blomberg on the NLT – Fuel to the fire”

  1. Easy big fella, easy! I think it was broad statement and he even shared his own testimony of how much the LT meant to him and the NLT to his kids! Geez, someone would think you'd ban every other translation if you had the chance! πŸ™‚

  2. I didn't get that from him, Mark.

    No, I wouldn't ban every translation or any translation really. I use the NASB for word for word literalism, and I will read the REB like nobody's business too, however, the idea that the NLT is 'especially for…' and that he has no problem with 'even smart adults' using it irks me considerably, or couldn't you tell?

  3. Thank God, we don't have to be brainiacs to be saved, or otherwise, only Jim West would be going to heaven. And I ain't got but two followers.

  4. Well that certainly wasn't my intent. I was trying to clarify that I WASN'T saying that the NLT had to be only for those with lower levels of reading. If somebody wants to twist that clarification into its opposite, it's not I who am fueling anything. An “egotistical jab”? Furthest from my intentions. Better stop trying to infer motives that you can't possibly know. That too fuels unhealthy things. Did I say blogs started the Bible wars? Nowhere. I was afraid that one given blog was adding fuel to the fire. I was corrected and I told them I was glad to hear it. Might you acknowledge that?

    And, yes, most translations aim to some degree for clarity and facility of reading, but not all to the same degree.

    We can't stop separating translations based on what they were for (presumably what you meant to type) unless we want to stop evaluating writings based on authorial intent, a fundamental principle of hermeneutics. It's wonderful when people who weren't a part of a target audience enjoy a piece of writing, too, but if someone is writing a review of that writing, the only fair kind of review is to evaluate it according to its original purposes, and each translation was created with a purpose and a target audience.

    None of what I have written here or on the other blogs cited has anything to do with my being in the “academy” much less am I trying to bestow or withhold any authority I might have based on that fact. I hope you interpret Scripture with greater care and accuracy than you do my words.

  5. Dr. Blomberg, I spent the weekend with your words – which were pretty clear, in my opinion.

    I never said, for your corrected information, that blogs started the bible wars. I let you speak plainly, in that you said they they fuel the bible wars. Sorry that you misunderstood that.

    My posted wasn't about your comment about the blogs fueling the bible wars so much as it was about your slant against the NLT, but if you feel that I need to add correction in order that others know that you corrected your comment, then I will. I recommend readers start with T.C.'s post in which I believe you corrected the understanding of your words.

    Shouldn't all translations aim for clarity and facility of reading?

    Are you stating that the NLT is meant especially for the groups you stated? I agree, that intent is important, but your comments, I believe, go beyond intent, to where you are placing a prejudiced intent upon the translation.

    While I appreciate you jab at the interpreting of Scripture, which is equally awesome as your other ones, I simply let your words stand. I found then a bit of the high and mighty variety in which you decide which translations are best for groups of people. Considering your listing of achievements – sincerely, they are impressive, and I have read other things which you have either written or worked on – I took it as a means by which you were showing your academic authority. If I misspoke on that instance, I regret that; however, I do stand by my issue with your regulation of the NLT and your allowance for 'even smart adults' to use it.

  6. Craig,

    I cannot but note your words, “each translation was created with a purpose and target audience”. This is for me, at least, beyond the literal Text itself, and betrays my point about some translations (so-called) going beyond the intent of Scripture and revelation itself! Yes, always “cognitive equivalence” in the literal translation approach.

  7. Fr. Robert, I *almost* agree with you that targeting an audience with a special translation goes beyond the Scripture. When I figure out why I don't, I'll let you know.

  8. Let's hope I win the contest, so you won't have to bend over backwards to accommodate my cheapskate-iness. The Study Bible NLT looks like a solid piece of scholarship. But the hefty price tag scares me.

    Actually, right now I'm rummaging eBay and other online resellers for a cheap copy of Every Man's Bible NLT. I've seen excerpts and I like it. As a conservative commentary, the text is read matter-of-factly. I like that. I like to start with a literal reading, and then tease out hidden or allegorical meanings.

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