Re: New Living Translation

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Wed Mar 26 1997 - 00:51:21 EST

At 3:03 PM +0000 3/25/97, Michael Miller wrote:

>The New Living Translation can best be appraised through its chapter
>entitled "Introduction to the New Living Translation." The N.L.T. is
>portrayed as a "...dynamic-equivalence translation...a thought for
>thought translation...both exegetically and idiomatically powerful."
>--The New Living Translation of the Holy Bible, Wheaton, Illinois:
>Tyndale House Publishers, 1996, p.

I don't know if this is mentioned in the Introduction to the New Living
Translation, but the translators were chosen carefully to represent a
conservative evangelical standpoint. I know one of the translators and
respect him, but I think one should be wary of any translation done by any
group with a particular prearranged theological perspective since that
perspective, no matter how good it might be, can cause translators to
mistranslate (unintentionally) passages which might question that
theological stance.

I come from a fairly conservative background (though many of you would no
doubt conclude that I left it behind some time ago) and even in my most
conservative periods I have felt more at ease with translations done by a
group of scholars representing as wide a range of theological perspectives
as possible so that the different members of the committee can challenge
each other's theologically biased work. In such a context each translator
must defend his or her work by appeal to the text, the grammar, evidence of
usage of the same words elsewhere, etc., not by appeal to the desired
theological outcome. This helps keep the work honest.

Now... Does that mean that translations done by 'stacked' translation
committees are of little value? NO! It just means that the reader should be
AWARE of the perspective which the translation is designed to represent,
and read the translation critically (not negatively), knowing that there
may be places where the preagreed theological stance may have influenced
the wording of the translation (intentionally or otherwise).

I have not read the New Living Translation enough to have found any such
places in that translation, but given the restricted nature of the
translation team, I would not be shocked to find some in the future.

Please do not hear me as criticising or opposing the particular theological
perspective of this translation team. I would offer the same comments about
a translation done by a group of scholars chosen because they were all
liberal, or Presbyterian, or North American, or Hispanic, or Baptist, etc.

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

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