Epistles of Thomas

July 9, 2007

Follow the money; or Take up and read

Filed under: Translation — Thomas @ 10:14

Yesterday in class someone asked about the influence of the profit motive on the number of Bible translations being produced these days. The easy answer is that publishers need to make money in order to operate as a business. Daniel Radash wrote an article in the New Yorker last year, The Good Book Business: Why Publishers Love the Bible. It contains a wealth of information about the Bible publishing business. Did you know that in 2005 Americans bought 25 million Bibles ($500+ million) and the average household already owned four copies!

However, it needs to be asked whether publishing yet another Bible translation is an acceptable means to provide revenue for a publishing house. Do we really need another translation? Writing in Christianity Today six years ago Raymond C. Van Leeuwen said that we do! He advocated that we need a “direct translation.” You can read his article if you want to know what he meant by that. He concludes his call for yet another translation with the statement: “The church needs linguists and translators, preachers and teachers, scholars and laity who will help us all hear God’s Word clearly and live it rightly, until he comes again.” Any scholar or publisher needs to consider this, hear God’s Word clearly and live it rightly, and ask themselves if this really requires another translation. Are not the twenty common translations we currently have acceptable for this? If a Christian cannot hear God and live rightly based on what is currently available I would suggest that the problem lies with the Christian and not with the translations. To quote from Augustine’s conversion: “Take up and read, take up and read.”

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