God’s Good Design, What the Bible Really Says About Men and Women, by Claire Smith
Smith shows that if the passages in the New Testament are taken at face value, they aren’t hard to understand at all.
Having just finished a book with highly questionable scholarship, the book is refreshing in its clarity. The audience seems to be people who are familiar with the topic, are able to understand the relevant Scripture, and can follow straightforward logic. The writing style is friendly and engaging.
Right from the start, she jumps in and tackles the difficult passages. The exegesis is lucid and fair to the text, aware of all the current controversies, and honest to the text. While not paving much new ground, Smith establishes or re-establishes the core, central, and clear meaning of each of the texts dealt with. Interpretation of the particularly thorny passages are concluded confidently, but not dogmatically.
While I would not consider Smith the most exacting exegete, the questionable pieces are free and small, really only opening a door to problems more than being actual error.
Overall, recommended as a first book on the topic. If you have already done reading in this area you can safely pass it by.
The first thing to remember is what my most favorite New Testament scholar said, “All translation is treason.” Once we have that out of the way we can proceed with proper caution.
I prefer a translation that is more literal. I want to be as close to the original as I can and still have something readable. Here is a chart showing where the various versions fall on the spectrum.
From the list, here are my comments.
- LB – Living Bible. This is just a paraphrase and not really a translation at all. Kenneth Taylor started with an English Bible and re-phased things
- NLT – New Living Translation. A real translation this time still along the same principles as the LB. I know a number of the translators and they are real men of God.
- NIV – I just can’t grow to like this version. It is the classic thought-for-thought translation and there isn’t a word in the English that can be trusted. Maybe OK if you’re only reading in really large chunks at a time.
- NET – As we spoke this morning, the real value of this version is the translator’s footnotes which give insight into the whys and wherefores of what they put into English. A decent translation and I use it.
- NRSV – A clean-up of the RSV from a theology standpoint. A good translation. I just don’t think it will ever be widely used and so doesn’t have a lot of relevance.
- RSV – Good, a little dated, a little liberal in bias.
- ESV – Highly Recommended. Modern. In constant revision. Excellent scholarship. More readable than the NASB.
- KJV, NKJV. Uses the Majority Text, which I think is not wise. KJV is dated English. NKJV is a good translation.
- NASB. Highly Recommended. Probably the most faithful and consistent in translation, but does so to a fault at the cost of readability in the English.
- ASV – Dated. Good translation. Quite literal, with the associated shortcomings.