Saturday 21 September 2013

Dumb Bible Translations

The news from the nice people at Christian Today (not a typo for the better-known Christianity Today) is that the Bible readers market continues to be dominated by the worst translations on offer.
According to the CBA, whose rankings are based on sales at member Christian retail stores in the U.S. through Aug. 3, 2013, the top Bible translations are: (1) New International Version; (2) King James Version; (3) New King James Version; (4) English Standard Version; (5) New Living Translation; (6) Holman Christian Standard Bible; (7) New American Standard; (8) Common English Bible; (9) New International Readers Version; (10) Reina Valera 1960.

The ECPA's list, compiled using adult book sales data from Christian retail stores across the U.S., includes: (1) New International Version; (2) King James Version; (3) New King James Version; (4) New Living Translation; (5) English Standard Version; (6) Reina Valera; (7) New American Standard Bible; (8) New International Reader's Version; (9) The Message; (10) Christian Standard Bible.

Sales charts from the ECPA going back all the way to January show that the NIV, NLV, KJV and NKJV have consistently wrestled for the top spot among buyers.
No sign at all of the NRSV or any of the excellent Catholic alternatives. Perhaps not surprisingly, the people who buy Bibles tend to choose comfortable (and deeply flawed) options. The only half-decent offering appearing on the lists - at CBA's no.8 - is the Common English Bible.

Daniel Wallace of (teeth gritted) Dallas Theological Seminary is quoted as saying that the venerable KJV remains his top pick, citing its "elegance and its cadence and the beauty of its language."

"But it's not the most accurate anymore," he added. "So it's elegant, it's easy to memorize out of even though the language is archaic, but it's not always real clear and it's not always real accurate."

Ya think?!

Then there's this telling comment:
Despite the number of translations available and the Bible being the world's most printed and widely distributed book, surveys have consistently showed that many Christians rarely read the Bibles they own.
Nope. Best to stick to those handy dandy proof texts, and not to wander too far off the beaten path. After all, that could lead to dangerous pitfalls like having to think for oneself!

Presumably all this says something about the demographic of the Bible-shoppers who patronise these two sources. Sadly it also says a great deal about the state of the general Christian demographic in the US, and to be frank, other English speaking countries won't be a lot different.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Latest news from The Journal

The latest issue of The Journal: News of the Churches of God has been released, and can be downloaded without charge, courtesy of editor Dixon Cartwright, in PDF format.

And in the news:

Bob “Continuing” Thiel has released a new hymnal for his micro-sect. Only one guess allowed for what he’s called it. Hint: the first word is Bible and the second is Hymnal.

Don Billingsley is convinced he’s the only one “who continues to uphold all the doctrinal teachings, including the true government of God, that Jesus Christ used Mr. Armstrong to restore within His church.”

Art Mokarow has bought three pages to inform us all about God’s Wife. Astarte I hear you ask? Nope. The church? Apparently not. “The Wife of God [capitalisation in the original], as Scripture proves, is the Holy Spirit of God.” Wow, what amazing new truth - thanks Art, you da man.

Somewhere in something called the “Illinois Republic” (zip code exempt) there’s another something boasting the rather grand title Church of God, The Most High God. Your generous donation is unfortunately not tax deductible.

If you’re ancient enough to remember 1974, Ken Westby reminisces about the “rebellion” among ministers in that year, in which he played a significant role.

In the letters section Robert Engelhart of Zion, Ill. wonders why COG folk wouldn’t be stocking up for “cyclical solar flares, comet-mass ejections, electromagnetic storms this summer, fall and spring?” (Frankly Robert, I’m more worried at the distant prospect in San Francisco of Oracle clawing back the America’s Cup from the Team New Zealand challenger. A comet-mass ejection barely competes with that prospect.)

Adding to the mix is a re-edit of the multi-part review of David Barrett’s Fragmentation of a Sect that originally appeared right here on Otagosh.

And that’s only a selection.

One thing is certain. If you want to understand something of the diversity that characterises the post-Armstrong tribes calling themselves the Churches of God, and you have a robust sense of humour, you can’t much improve on The Journal as a window on this rapidly evolving (or perhaps devolving) movement.