The New Living Translation is a Valid Translation

Read the entire post here, but Joel summarizes it here:

The flaw in the reasoning seems so clear to me that I have to wonder why people are so attracted to the idea that “all translations are equally valid.”

For nearly 29 years of my life, the King James Version was the ONLY translation. That was it. Everything else was a ticket to a very bad place. While I have a place in my heart, the KJV is no longer the only translation for me. As a matter of fact, no single translation has that place, but if one was to come close, it would be the New Living translation.

No, not all translations are valid, I believe. Some are ‘niche’ translations made only for marketing value. I don’t care much for pure paraphrases in which the thoughts of the translator(s) more than hide the original intent of the author(s). Nor, anymore, do I care much for a ‘word-for-word’ translation such as the NKJV, the ESV, or the NRSV. Yes, I like the the NRSV and I will use the NASB in more formal papers (because of some reason the NLT has yet to reach the scholarly circles), but in my every day use, my everyday reading, the NLT has become the primarily valid translation.

In a real sense, devotionally speaking, it saved my bible reading. Maybe that’s why I have a certain loyalty to it? Or it could be that it is a bible which my entire family, from 5 years old to my wife and I, can read with a certain amount of clarity without having to stop every few minutes and explain or correct the translation choices. It is…fresh and is a dialogue between me and God.

I take the position, as a commentator said, that what ever illuminates the word of God to the person (doctrinal restructuring of the final wording as needed) is a good translation, but as we know, some translations are not agenda driven, such as the Conservative Bible Translation and numerous others. I could not called these valid, could you? No would I consider pure paraphrases, in the worse sense, as valid either – however, we should note that a few of them would not classify themselves as translations.

What say ye?

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92 Replies to “The New Living Translation is a Valid Translation”

  1. Oh well I’m saddened by this post.

    I have the only “real” translation which is the “New Stu Version”. It is gold leafed and comes 1 metre x 1 metre and I’ll tell you something, when you struggle about with a Bible of that size, folks KNOW how spiritual you are…..simples….

    1. Maybe ‘good.’ Or ‘well done.’ It was written in early 21st century American, which as well all know, has a wide range of semantic meanings attached to nearly every word.

  2. NO NO the only valid translation is the NA/UB series .. wait Well I suppose maybe the LXX?

    I am happy with the ESV/NASB/Geneva (1599 gold Calvin anniversary etc ed) combo I use.

    I presume you use valid because some one compared it to the original LB. I probably would not consider the paraphrases to be good translations and I suppose they border on “illegitimate” but I was fairly certain I saw their birth certificates and a father whose last names matched the mothers and they had marriage licenses from 10 months before on file too. Oh wait wrong use of the word legitimate.

    LB is still fine for its intended audience 7-12 yr olds. To old for a children’s bible too young for the NIV/HCSB

    I have to say NLB is probably a bad name to have chosen but better than MLB as that is already trademarked.

    Polycarp, do you have a link somewhere to the translation principle for the NLB so I can read them (as I am to lazy and am having to many other problems today to look for them myself) ?

      1. Joel,
        You’ve taken the discussion into an epistemic direction. But I don’t think we’re engaging at that level.

        If that were the case, the first English translation would have worked for the first English speakers, but you see how crazy this notion really is.

          1. Yes, in the end, that is the case.

            But I don’t think we want to make an argument for any translation along the line of the Spirit’s work.

          2. The Message qualifies on all counts. (I use The Message because there is no doubt it is NOT a ‘literal’ translation (whatever that means LOL)

            In the end your arguments seem to reduce to “the best translation is the one i like best”. There is nothing wrong with that, IMHO, but it is not an objective standard.

          3. The NLT is the third of my choice translations, along with NET and NRSV. Of course, thanks to my Sunday School literature, I use the KJV and HCSB a lot. I also often have reason to use the NETS and the JPS. That’s a lot of translations! Bible software is to blame.

            Translations are tools. Different “jobs” require different translations, though one likely tries to stick with a general purpose primary, something more Swiss Army knife like than just a screwdriver, scissors, or knife.

  3. I’m keeping quiet (well, almost quiet) unless someone pipes in with anything remotely praising The Message.LOL. The number of people who say “the Bible says” when they actually mean “The Message/Eugene Peterson says” or “in The Message translation of the Bible…” I started out as a kid with TLB then KJV (yes, I know that was quite the leap) and then to NIV. Now I’ve been alternating between NASB,NKJ and ESV.

      1. ANY conversion of a document from one language to another IS a translation. Petersen’s statements about the mechanics of The Message purposely served to avoid defending the procedure and overlooking the product. A paraphrase IS a translation. It focuses on meaning rather than lexical structure. That may not be your preferred methodology but it is VALID: honest and sincere.

          1. One last question regarding “agenda driven”. Does this mean something other than “I have a different agenda”? Was there no agenda behind the production of the NLT? …or the KJV for that matter?

          2. Agendas are like the Conservative Bible, NWT, Joe Smith’s translation wherein they purposely twist their translation to reflect their peculiar doctrine, aligning their translation with their doctrine.

          3. So its only an ‘agenda’ if you disagree with it? Why was the NLT produced? Were there plans – from its inception – to accomplish something? Was there a business plan behind the NLT?

          4. Sonny, no one in their right mind would confuse the agenda of producing a solid translation such as the NLT or the ESV or the NET with the agendas behind such pieces of garbage as the NWT or the Conservative Bible project, or any other hose of agenda driven translations meant only to bolster a certain doctrinal or political position. When you take your own doctrine or political idea within a translation and then build that translation on purpose to support your positions, then it is clearly agenda driven and therefore invalid.

          5. Your ability to argue in a circle is amazing. “no one in their right mind” is a poor argument indeed. It is one thing to agree or disagree with the motivation – the agenda – behind a translation. It is quite another to argue that your favorite translation – which interestingly will reflect YOUR doctrinal positions – has NO agenda. I’m not arguing for or against any particular translation here. Simply pointing out that you – and Mr. R.K. – tend to argue by assertion: “I SAY….” and think that the more forcefully you say it the greater weight your ‘saying it’ has.

            Appeal to ‘what everyone knows’ (or its opposite, ‘no one in their right mind’) or pointing out evil motives, i.e. ‘agendas’, are classic logical fallacies. If you don’t care that your arguments are specious and want to be left alone ( i know these are tedious matters – how much more fun to be able to say what you want with impunity) say so and your agenda will be honored. LOL

          6. Sonny, there is a large gap in realities here. The JW doctrine is very faulty and they have since made a translation which supports their doctrine. The Conservative Bible is being translation to remove any reference to ‘liberalism’ out of it. The NLT was translated by a wide range of theologians with no clear political or doctrinal position. Actually, you are quite in error regarding my doctrinal positions and the NLT. I don’t always agree with their translation methods, because of my doctrinal peculiarities, however, I accept that it is still an honest translation.

            Denying that evil motives, or agendas, exist and often purposely transform an action or event is a logical fallacy, especially when people tell you what their agenda is.

          1. you are welcome to your opinion…but you would be wrong. ALL translation is to some extent paraphrase. Languages simply do not perfectly correspond lexically or syntactically.

          2. Good question. Possibly: the restatement of an utterance – in this case written – in words other than those of the original. Paraphrase focuses on meaning rather than meter. All good translations must, at times, be paraphrases because rendering the source language ‘literally’ would result in gibberish.

            What’s your definition?

          3. But it shows that one man’s paraphrase is another man’s favorite TRANSLATION!!! The whole idea of a ‘valid’ translation strikes me as odd. Is it accurate? You haven’t read the conservative version yet, have you? Yet you have roundly condemned it in a number of blogs.

            The NIV was translated to make money!!! Zondervan was/is very aggressive to stamp out any “unauthorized” (unpaid for) use of the text. It is a cash cow and Zondervan has taken serious heat. Does that ‘agenda’ render it an invalid translation/paraphrase?

            This line of thinking is simply the KJVO watered down.

            Still waiting on that def of paraphrase.

          4. No, for you any line which takes a line is related to the KJVO position.

            People using words ignorantly; I can’t help that.

            Let’s see…after the translation was made, people took it and started using it with out buying it? No, not an agenda.

            And regarding the Conservative Bible – yes, I have read parts of what they have completed and their translation principles. Rubbish.

          5. ALL translation that attempt to be in any way readable use colloquial language.

            “A paraphrase to me is a ‘free translation’ in which colloquial language is used instead of trying to actually translate.” another definition: TRANSLATION – taking an utterance in one language and rendering it intelligible in another.

            Again, my point in all of this…’VALID’ is not a proper category by which to evaluate rendering of a text into another language. (Not just the bible). Is it accurate? Does it fulfill the intent of the renderer? These are good questions. Is it valid after all our discussion reduces to : If i like it, its valid. Not a very rigorous argument.

          6. Sonny, I have yet to see anyone present you would anything that you would accept as rigorous.

            Intelligible and completely foreign to the base text are two different things.

          7. Further, the NLT is accurate enough and fulfills the intent of the writer and the renderer, thus it is valid. My point. My point too that agenda driven translations – which I have given examples – are not accurate and does not fulfill the intent of the writer, only the renderer, thus they are invalid. My point as well.

          8. And here you prove my point as you choose to define your own terms rather than used the established ones. Welcome to post-modernism. I hear they have cookies, but if you intend on staying long avoid the kool-aid

  4. Ok, I will upfront say you guys are way beyond me in knowledge and I hesitate to ask/ or start anything but…
    When one man and one man only paraphrases The Bible (Ken Taylor with TLB or Eugene Peterson w/ MSG) is it accuarte to say one is reading “The Bible” when reading said soloed paraphrase? I’m not being sarcastic. I’ve been wrestling with this. I’m in no way condemning them and think they do have their place and purpose. My concerns come personally from knowing people, especially youth, who exclusively read The Message (TLB isn’t really used by this generation.) I’ve been wrestling with are they really reading The Bible on a daily basis? They are reading one fallable man’s very loose rephrasing of Scripture. Now, certainly Eugene is far more learned than I and he did not crank this out in one long weekend. You fine fellows are more learned than I as well but if one of you were to say “Hey! You’ve just got to read my new paraphrase of The Bible!” I have to be honest. I wouldn’t be chomping at the bit,ya know? I work in “Christain Radio” and it amazes me the well respected bible teachers who consistently quote from The Message” usally prefacing it with “I love how The Message says it…” In some instances,yes, they walk away with the core of the actual verse,but many times they do not. In the past decade I’ve gone from devotionally reading The Message to probably going too far in the “anti Message” camp.
    Willing to learn,

  5. Joel,

    I just stumbled onto your site after typing ‘New Living Translation’ into google. I’ve really enjoyed some of the commenting/dialogue from the previous 44 comments.

    As someone who has used ‘word-for-word’ translations for the past almost 20 years (NKJV…then NASB…then ESV), picking up the NLT just this past week was a complete breath of fresh air. I have ALWAYS been skeptical of ‘thought-for-thought’ translations, yet never took the time to sit down and actually read one. After reading several portions of the NLT (2004 text), I was hooked.

    The major factor for me choosing the NLT was first and foremost, the readability. Not only was it extremely readable, but is wasn’t just another ‘paraphrase’ Bible; it was actually translated from the latest Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.

    The other major factor that put me in the NLT camp was the ‘dream team’ of scholars that made up the 90 person translation committee. Oh…my…goodness. These men were/are experts in their particular area of the Bible and it was so great to see them behind the translation.

    Anyhow, I went out and bought my first edition of the NLT (2004 text). Here is the link to my Tyndale Select NLT Slimline Reference Bible in Ebony Calfskin.

    Absolutely LOVE it. Couldn’t be happier with this Bible externally or internally.

    Thanks for showin’ some ‘love’ to the NLT with this post. May it live long and prosper in the Bible world!

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