Epistles of Thomas

July 17, 2007

Protestant translations of the Apocrypha

Filed under: Apocrypha,Translation — Thomas @ 23:08

Although Protestants do not accept the Apocryphal books as canonical this has not prevented them from translating them as part of their translation projects. Some recent examples are the New Living Translation; Tyndale (0842354905) and the Contemporary English Version; American Bible Society (1585160210). That Tyndale House, purveyors of Left Behind would publish a translation of the Apocrypha as part of the NLT would probably shock some people (if it could be linked to the number 666). Even the ESV has not ruled out allowing a translation of the Apocrypha to be published under their banner by someone other than Crossway: “Crossway Bibles won’t be publishing an edition with the Apocrypha, but another publisher may. As we learn more, we will post it here.”

Why are Protestant publishers and even Evangelical (dare I say Fundamentalist) publishers interested in publishing the Apocrypha as part of their translation ? Companies such as Zondervan have long published Bibles such as the NIV without the Apocrypha while at the same time publishing other versions such as the NRSV (0310900611) that include it. There cannot be a large market for these versions because very few Evangelicals would be interested in these extra books. Perhaps they are just bored after completing the primary task of translating the Old and New Testaments and feel compelled to continue translating. Seriously, there must be some deeper reasons that are left unstated. On on a related note why is it that companies such as Logos who provide electronic Bibles do not include the apocrypha in such versions (CEV, NLT, etc.)? The work has been done, the licensing fees cannot be that much more, and hard drive space is not an problem so why do they exclude the apocryphal works? So many questions, so few answers…



  1. I think that the Apocryphal translations are more for preserving the books for a historical reason. I’m trying to remember what–I think it was Wayne Grudem?–said about the Apocrypha books: something along the lines of how they serve as curious readings but don’t really offer much in terms of theological content.

    Comment by Rob — March 18, 2009 @ 4:41 | Reply

    • In some senses it is strange that these protestant versions have bothered to translate the apocrypha at all but it also seems strange that Logos and other Bible software companies don’t include this part of the translation. They could make a special apocrypha section, they don’t have to include it within the various Bibles like they do now for the NRSV. They could have a separate resource like Logos does for the KJV if they are worried about confusion or complaints.

      Comment by Thomas — March 18, 2009 @ 21:40 | Reply

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