The NLT is not a scholarly translation?

The entire article is well worth the read, but this part is, well, sums it up:

The NLT is a high quality English translation (opinion, I guess; mine versus his). The scholarly work that went into the translation is evident throughout. Just because the English isn’t high brow, stale as a college textbook, and doesn’t need a thesaurus as a companion, does not mean its status as a true translation and role as a text all Christians can use in study are in question. Yet, Dr. White went on to consider the NLT as not on par with “scholarly translations”:

The NLT is not a scholarly translation?.

He is taking on a recent post by Dr. James White who seems to think that unless a translation comports with previous doctrinal stances, such as Calvinism, and uses theological words (found only in English) that it is not scholarly. Well, that is how I took it.

One of the commentators on the former post states that he preaches from the NLT and uses other more literal versions as support then speaks about defending the NLT. He states that he caught himself defending the NLT from a certain group of people:

1.) Those who have Strict Reformed Views on the Elect
2.) Those who have Strict Reformed Convictions on all 5 Calvinist Points
3.) Those opposed to reading the Bible as it could relate culturally
4.) Those who oppose understanding how God can and does interact with people today
5.) Those who have never read it.

Not sure I completely agree, as I do know a few Reformed who read the NLT, but I do think that many times, it is a certain doctrinal viewpoint that leads one away from not just the NLT, but other ones, such as God’s Word, which doesn’t use the theological words of but a few centuries.

And frankly, looking at the Translation team for the NLT, there are plenty of scholars on there.

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34 Replies to “The NLT is not a scholarly translation?”

  1. Thankfully “degrees” are not the real issue, but personal bias. We all have predilections, but we must also base our Christian convictions on the best truth we can muster, both in ourselves, and in our methods.

  2. The problem is most six point Calvinists already have an official translation: The ESV.

    Dr. White is a lapsed Calvinist that way because he quotes the NASB95. But he does that because of his age and his Greek geekiness. Many a Greek geek prefers formal, even stiff, English translations.

    Bible wars. How many thousand language groups don’t have the privilege of having them?

  3. Fr.Robert: Yes, but is it the RIGHT Greek NT? 😉

    Six pointers I believe insist there absolutely are five points, and they are one. Maybe ESV Calvinists should be seven pointers.

    In my SBC circles, the NKJV is the default translation, HCSB notwitstanding. So of course, to be different, I use the NET.

    I’m only forty seven years old, so you of course are truly ancient. What dinosaur did you have as a pet when you were a boy?

    1. Chuck,

      Yes the NET is good for hard study, but not the most readable thing. Both the NASB Update or 95 is with the ESV my favorites. Funny but I find the NASB readble for me. And just to read I like the NLT ok, or the old RSV even.

      And the ESV? I think it stands on its own merit as what it is a lit. translation type.

      As to the Greek NT, well I read the old Nestle-Aland.

      As a Irish boy near Dublin growing-up I played with the druids! – Or their spirits..lol

  4. Joel,

    All I can say is that what James White is promoting is a form of scholastic idolatry, where ideology is more important than the actual text. He, the ESV onlyists, and the seminaries that only use the ESV and KJV are worse than people who use the inclusive language bible (and that is not a good thing).

    1. Rod,

      One must be careful to choose their religious battles! And for me this is simply not one! The ESV, as the KJV will both be going as long as there is both religious freedom, and honest scholarship. I might add, that I like myself the NRSV overall, in spite of the poor translation choice of “oh mortal one”. That is simply aweful!

      1. Not sure how religious freedom affects the progeny of the ESV and the KJV, nor how honest scholarship adds to that, especially since the ESV is biased, and the KJV? Well….

        If you all want to get to heaven, you should read the NLT.

        Just saying

          1. Fr. Robert, my opinion is the only fact that counts 🙂

            I don’t think that freedom will have anything to do with, as you may remember, it was biblical tyrants that caused Tyndale to work so hard. Maybe we need a bit of that.

            The King Jimmy might just do that, but when Christ returns, He’ll bring an NLT.

      1. Accusations of scholastic idolatry and straw-man arguments about Calvinism has been thrown around without any proof of any of these. James White is opposed to scholastic idolatry… and the “calvinism” described here is simply a distorted. The whole issue with Bible translation is important for we should strive for faithfulness in the transmission of the manuscripts God has sovereignly preserved.

        1. I disagree, especially with the rather silly notion that translations are the ‘transmission of texts’. That is ludicrous.

          1. I apoloize, I did not mean to equate translation to transmission. I meant that our faithfulness in translation (scholarly speaking) is good stewardship of the transmitted manuscripts. I was just reading about you and your views Joel. I’m what would be called a Reformed Charismatic (I know that’s a bit weird) and I have very different views from you in many of the things that I’ve read. I don’t mean to get into debates or anything (though I love debates) because I don’t have the time for it but I do hope that God leads you to a deeper and intimate relationship with Him and also a deeper understanding of HIs Word. God bless you Joel 🙂

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