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Bible Versions: What is the Best Bible Translation? by David Malcolm Bennett

Most of the other translations of Is. 26:12 are weak by comparison. Hear them: “thou has wrought for us all our works” (RSV); “Thou hast performed for us all our works” (NASB); “you have done for us all our works” (ESV); “all our works are thy doing” (NEB); “everything that we achieve is the result of what you do” (GNB). They say the same thing, but they don’t say it as well. However, the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) is very close to the NIV. Interestingly, the CEV translates this as “everything we have done was by your power”, which is a good example of the dynamic approach in action.

The NIV’s rendering of the hymn of love in 1 Cor. 13 is accurate, clear and has excellent rhythm. It helps you to fall in love with such agape love. Listen to just part of it:

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails.

That is very moving. It also avoids the trap of saying “believes all things” (v.7 see KJV and RSV). Are we really meant to believe “all things”? It says, instead, “always trusts”, which is a perfectly legitimate, and probably accurate, translation of the Greek. F.W. Grosheide sees the concept of trust in the Greek word pisteuei here. In addition, he says, “When we love somebody we trust him fully”.3 Gordon Fee also argues that Paul means here “love never ceases to have faith.”4 In other words, in part at least, love “always trusts”. It is not a case of believing all you hear.

A few years ago one of the ministers at my church was preaching through the book of Nahum. This was a very courageous thing to do, for many in the pews in any church do not like to hear about God’s judgment. One Sunday during that series I was privileged to take my turn in the public reading of the Scriptures. It was Nahum chapter 3. In one sense this is a terrible chapter. It declares the judgment of God upon the city of Nineveh. If you read it and it does not disturb you, then there must be something wrong with you. But this chapter, particularly the early verses, is a marvelous passage to read out loud, especially in the NIV.

Read these verses aloud.

1Woe to the city of blood,

full of lies,

full of plunder,

never without victims!

2The crack of whips,

the clatter of wheels,

galloping horses

and jolting chariots!

3Charging cavalry,

flashing swords

and glittering spears!

Many casualties,

piles of dead,

bodies without number,

people stumbling over the corpses –

4all because of the wanton lust of a harlot,

alluring, the mistress of sorceries,

who enslaved nations by her prostitution

and peoples by her witchcraft.

5“I am against you,” declares the Lord Almighty.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Spring 2013

About the Author: David Malcolm Bennett, Ph.D., is an Anglo-Australian Christian researcher and writer with over 15 books in print. They include The Altar Call: Its Origins and Present Usage, The Sinner’s Prayer: Its Origins and Dangers (companion website: SinnersPrayerBook.com), The Origins of Left Behind Eschatology, Edward Irving Reconsidered: The Man, His Controversies, and the Pentecostal Movement, and The General: William Booth. He is also the transcriber, editor and publisher of The Letters of William and Catherine Booth and The Diary and Reminiscences of Catherine Booth.

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