Book review: What’s In A Version?

by Henry Neufeld

★★★★★

Henry Neufeld operates Energion Publications at http://energion.com. I’ve read a couple other books that he promotes, but never one he authored himself. If What’s In A Version is representative of his work, then I’m hooked!

Different Bible interpretations each carry a different emphasis. The New International Version (NIV) and the New Living Translation (NLT) emphasize that their translators are evangelical. Other translations, such as the Revised English Bible (REB) and the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) emphasize the variety on their translation committees, including interfaith participation.

So, given that translations purposefully vary, how is a person supposed to make an informed decision without knowing the source languages (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic)? Henry has a BA and MA in Biblical Languages, and writes for the purpose of making the Bible more accessible to the laity. I found this book to be a practical and friendly guide, describing how translations are made, so we readers are better able to understand the arguments for or against various versions. Numerous examples manage to turn what I thought would be a dry discussion into fascinating reading. A chart at the back of the book is helpful in providing an overview of the differences of various common translations. (After reading Henry’s book, I know better than to call these differences “strengths” or “weaknesses,” just decisions made for focus, translation preference, and religious emphasis!)

I did find a few formatting and editing errors, which was a minor distraction.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for your kind words. I hope to do a revision of “What’s in a Version?” soon, in order to add a couple of more recently released versions to the chart (ISV, CEB, revised NLT), and to clean up some of those editorial and formatting issues. It was book #3 for my company, and I will admit to some significant errors in layout that would be distracting, along with some issues in editing. Thanks for working around them.

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