Gold Coast Bereans

Out of Ghana, West Africa; Christian hearts and critical minds seeking, speaking and writing the truth with love. This is a conversation of a group of friends, now living in the USA and the UK, who have known each other for more than 20 years.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bible Versions (and Ghana’s democracy)

Here in the UK, the coverage of the Ghana elections made me proud too. Quite a number of my colleagues have been congratulating me for it, as if it has something to do with me! It was also good of the opposition to have eventually accepted the results and even turned up at the inauguration, though grudgingly. Another positive sign is the increasing numbers of "elderly" statesmen in Ghana, from the former UN boss Kofi Annan to ex-Presidents Rawlings and Kuffour. If these people continue to play "neutral" or even positive roles in the country, I think we are in for a stable civilian democracy, a West African Bostwana.

About Bible versions: I think that with the "waning power" of the USA, the NIV, which two decades ago reigned supreme, is gradually losing ground to others. Robbo might like the New King James Version (NKJV); it does not have the ye and thou, but it tries to stick to the poetic nature of Biblical language, which in my opinion is a very important requirement for an effective Bible version. A poetic structure helps in the memorization of the verses, and that is the style with which of the Bible is written in the original languages, even for the intellectual books such as Romans.

All said, using two versions, one old and the other more recent is the best advice for any Bible Study. I think postmodern versions, such as the Green Bible and Gender Neutral versions etc go too far in their translations, or rather interpretations and the TNIV is not really an improvement on the NIV, hence the increasing popularity of ESV. The Amplified Bible is good for preachers and my wife is a great fan. With Amplified, who needs a hard Bible study!

As more and more versions come out, the whole theory of Bible translation has come under severe scrutiny. The big question is, "What should a translation aim for?”

I think those versions which try to interpret or even apply the Bible, though very useful, should not really be called translations. Unfortunately, in the technical sense, every translation from one language to another involves a degree of interpretation. As soon as a word can be translated into more than one equivalent word, the choice of the translator as to which of the alternatives best suits the sentence turns the process of translation into some sort of interpretation.

So the issue is how much interpretation has gone into the translation and is this is often a source of contention. Who decides how much is interpretation and how much is translation? The way the democratization of translation is going, I will not be surprised if people soon demand a new Authorized Version. The question then is who will authorize it today, interesting. - Annang

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Thursday, January 08, 2009


President John Atta Mills takes oath of office.

The moment I saw this picture on the BBC website yesterday, I wanted to post it on this blog, mainly because the version of the Bible that new President of Ghana,Professor Atta Mills, is holding in his hand is clearly visible as the English Standard Version (ESV). I have heard a lot about this version, or rather read a lot about it on the Christian blogs and I get the impression that it is the favored version for the Reformed Christian community- Reformed Christians as in the tradition of the Reformation, Luther, Calvin; I might add that they are very vocal in the portion of the Christian blogosphere where I often lurk.

I read the New International Version (NIV) and also the Good News Bible (Today’s English Version) - I particular like the latter because of the skilful cartoon illustrations on almost every page. These two versions and the Revised Standard Version (RSV) were very common in Ghana when we were growing up in our Scripture Union days. I also remember a time, during the Charismatic wave of the 1980s, when the King James Version (KJV) was touted as the real and only deal for the Ghanaian Christian. I think that had more to do with the verily, ye, thee and thou words found in the KJV being considered to have some kind of inherent spirituality compared to words like truly and you found in newer translation.

I was never a KJV guy because, verily, I found it difficult to understand. I often wonder about why some would insist on “KJV only” when you consider the fact that many Christians all over the world have the luxury of only one translation of the Bible in their local language, which is most likely not a translation of the KJV.

Back to the ESV, I have not actually seen or for that matter read one before but I think Gaius Dissentus probably has one. I think the only Bible version that he does not have is the New World Translation of the JWs, for good reason too. But it looks like the ESV may now be in fairly common use in Ghana, seeing that the President took his oath on it. Do any of you guys have any experience with it?

The ESV website proudly published the picture of Ghana's new President taking the oath on their Bible today- I followed the link to this from another blog that I read often- and seeing it there made me smile too with some pride; pride for the Ghanaian democracy and the peaceful transition of power to the previous opposition party in such a close election. By the way President Mills apparently fluffed some of his lines as he took the oath and some are speculating that he did it intentionally because he knows what the Bible says about oaths; i.e., just let your yea be yea etc (KJV) and he may be scared of the consequences if he fails to keep his promises. ;) - Robbo

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