I just switched to the HCSB! I read the NIV for over 20 years. I got tired of it and found others I liked better. I used the NRSV for three years which I felt was more “accurate” and “literal” which were both extremely important to me. I got tired of the antiquated language. I didn’t know about the HCSB when I chose the NRSV. Either that or I didn’t pay attention to it unfortunately. I read the HCSB on and off for a year to really make sure I wanted to switch to it because I don’t want to switch often.
But now I’m really getting to like the REB. It can be difficult because some of the language is British in nature (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and it uses some big words. But they aren’t afraid to use a wide vocabulary to express the meaning of the languages. At the same time it’s not difficult to read and doesn’t contain as much Biblish as many others, and it’s unique.
One problem I’ve found with trying to find a translation that’s close to how I speak is I’m always coming across things where I think, “I would never say it like that.” Even the NLT has a little annoyance for me where they use the word for instead of because which isn’t how hardly any of us speak nowadays. We don’t say, “I’m going to the store, for I am hungry.” Although ironically, even though I’m waffling about my primary translation, there is no question that the NLT remains my secondary translation that I use in a specific way.
So how about reading a translation that doesn’t sound how you speak, but at the same time isn’t KJV tradition Biblish? That way I wouldn’t constantly be thinking, “I wouldn’t say it like that.” Our friend who used to blog, and uses the REB, ElShaddai Edwards made a great comment on Facebook. He said something to the effect of we might write differently than we speak, and we may want to read a Bible that’s in a somewhat different ‘register’ than we speak too. (This doesn’t include Esteban). I’m not saying the REB is anything at all like my writing, at third grade reading level in my estimation, I’m just saying.
In my estimation, the REB is the best literary translation of the popular ones out there but it’s not difficult to read except for some words that need to be looked up and it makes some passages exceptionally clear.
One thing I have to say about waffling though is, I wonder how much of it is just liking something that’s different. I don’t know if that’s the case here. So I will spend a lot of time with it like I did the HCSB. It may be a phase. I may end up preferring the HCSB with its correct rendering of John 3:16, slaves instead of servants where appropriate, because instead of for in many instances (like Matt 5:3ff), more familiar language etc. Can’t go wrong either way.
In looking at many of the memorized passages, I was very impressed this time around. I also read through Proverbs and had a great time with it.
Here are some passages that I thought I’d point out:
Romans 8:5-6 REB
Those who live on the level of the old nature have their outlook formed by it, and that spells death; but those who live on the level of the spirit have the spiritual outlook, and that is life and peace.
Romans 8:5-6 TNIV
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind controlled by the sinful nature is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.
Read Louis’ post On Having a “Controlled Mind”.
From what I have read in commentaries, this verse in 2 Corinthians expresses the meaning much better or makes it easier for me to understand:
2 Cor 5:17 REB
For anyone united to Christ, there is a new creation: the old order has gone; a new order has already begun.
2 Cor 5:17 TNIV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
The NIV says, “The old has gone, the new has come!” I think the TNIV is an improvement, but I always though this meant the old man has gone and the new has come. The REB is explicit about what has gone and come.
Those are just a couple of examples and I’m sure people could come up with examples where they think the REB falls short. I just wanted to post a couple of examples to illustrate what much of this translation does for me.
I’d love to hear thoughts on what was written above about reading a Bible that’s different than what you speak, which was always the opposite of my aim, but also very understandable (while expanding one’s vocabulary in the case of the REB) and not filled with Biblish that’s just a revision of what came before and before and before…
I leave you with my favorite passage that I’ve read so far. Compare it with any other modern translation.
2 Cor 4:7 REB
But we have only earthenware jars to hold this treasure, and this proves that such transcendent power does not come from us; it is God’s alone. We are hard pressed, but never cornered; bewildered, but never at our wits’ end; hunted, but never abandoned to our fate; struck down, but never killed. Wherever we go we carry with us in our body the death that Jesus died, so that in this body also the life that Jesus lives may be revealed.