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Jeruba's avatar

Which translation of the Bible do Protestant churches these days base their doctrine and their teachings on?

Asked by Jeruba (51918points) September 16th, 2020

When I was a young person, what I heard in various Protestant churches (evangelical and otherwise) was the King James Version. The cadences, forms, and vocabulary of the KJV were part of a religious upbringing, and no one I knew stumbled over the archaic language. When they quoted, that’s what they quoted.

I still think of it as the high-water mark of the English language, right alongside Shakespeare, and consider it manifestly worth reading for that reason.

There were also frequent references to the Revised Standard Version and the New English Bible, especially in Sunday school and study materials.

Those seem to have been superseded as texts of choice. What is in most common use now?

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6 Answers

filmfann's avatar

My sister says the New International Version is the best translation.
Years ago, I read 4 different translations at once, and was stunned at how different some passages were, to the point of saying the exact opposite.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

The mainline Episcopal Church’s web site says:

“There are several translations of the Bible authorized for use, including:”

King James or Authorized Version (the historic Bible of The Episcopal Church)
English Revision (1881)
American Revision (1901)
Revised Standard Version (1952)
Jerusalem Bible (1966)
New English Bible with the Apocrypha (1970)
Good News Bible / Today’s English Version (1976)
New American Bible (1970)
Revised Standard Version, an Ecumenical Edition (1973)
New International Version (1978)
New Jerusalem Bible (1987)
Revised English Bible (1989)
New Revised Standard Version (1990)
Common English Bible (2012)

Jeruba's avatar

@filmfann, some years ago I took up the study of a Buddhist text and researched translations. I found seventeen versions coming from Sanskrit and the original Pali and laid them out on index cards, one phrase or expression per card, to examine them all in parallel. It was, shall we say, enlightening. (I could have found more, but seventeen seemed like enough.)

I’ve read texts that gave me an English translation together with the original language on facing pages, usually French or German, but sometimes Japanese, Chinese, and even Sumerian. I’ve read the Bhagavad-Gita that way, with Sanskrit on the facing page. Even when I don’t know the language, I can get a lot of information from looking at the original text. I remember seeing my father prepare sermons by studying New Testament passages in Greek, even though I wouldn’t say he “knew” Greek.

I know little of the translator’s art, but I am aware that there is a constant tension between the actual literal rendition, which may include idioms, figures of speech, cultural references, and other elements that the reader may not understand, and a version that represents the text in equivalent terms—such as a parallel metaphor—that may deliver the effect of the original but also places a major burden of interpretation on the translator. The interpretation can reflect a significant bias, such as a doctrinal one, and can risk leading the reader away from rather than toward an understanding. Art, politics, culture, and all kinds of other things, not least the translator’s own literacy and command of English, can affect the result.

When the source document is poetry, the challenge seems to escalate by an order of magnitude.

@Call_Me_Jay, interesting. That’s far more than I’d have expected. It suggests a degree of open-mindedness that might be relatively recent.

I’m especially interested in what the evangelical churches are using. And I wonder who is still standing by the KJV.

Yellowdog's avatar

There is a slight difference between mainline protestant churches and evangelical churches.

All translations are accepted in both,b but no protestants accept those books in the Catholic bibles known as the Apocrypha. Protestants do not accept as scripture but as history—Baruch, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Sirach, Tobit and Wisdom — that are not included in the Protestant version of the Old Testament. These 7 books are also referred to as the Deuterocanonical books, Respected, but not infallible as scripture.

Mainline Protestant include denominations such as the Episcopal church and any other church in the Anglican communion, , the United Methodists, most Presbyterians, most Lutherans, the Disciples of Christ, etc etc. These churches are more liturgical and their list is pretty much as @Call_Me_Jay describes,

Evangelicals include Southern Baptists, the Church of the Nazarene, the Missionary Baptists, the Churches of Christ—the sort that Billy Graham type preaching fits into, without a lot of ritual. It is most common to hear them teaching from the New King James, NIew International Version (NIV) New Jerusalem Bible, and of course the regular King James. They are not too big on the Revised Standard Version and its later versions—

All Protestants accept any translation that is an actual translation and not a paraphrase (or product of an actual cult)

seawulf575's avatar

At my church, it varies. Sometimes it is the NIV, or the NAS, or whatever version the pastor chose that day. I know on my phone I have a bible app with several versions available. I frequently reference them all to see how a certain passage is translated.

LogicHead's avatar

More to the point, what doctrine and teaching are they invoking to decide what is the Bible and what isn’t. This is why I am Catholic

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