In other words, while the Bible is always extra-ordinary, it is such through the use of the ordinary ways that human beings speak to one another. It is supernatural revelation that God has given in natural language. The Bible is special and unique, but it is not special and unique in this way, that is, in the manner by which it communicates truth to human beings. That’s why the Westminster Standards go on to describe the meaning of the Bible as accessible “through a due use of ordinary means” (WCF 1.7).
We think exegesis is at its best when we arrive at “the answer,” when we reach “understanding,” but actually exegesis is at its best when the text seems strange and alien to us. We need to make the text strange again.
Revelation seems so difficult and confusing, but John has actually given us firm footholds in the opening of his letter. He’s guiding his readers in how Revelation is to be read.
The point: when translating from the Greek, these subtleties won’t always show up in translation. That’s why it probably feels “low impact.” But such questions are worth thinking about because, though subtle, the rhetorical and semantic functions are different in many contexts.
As a working guideline, then, I propose we evaluate translations on the basis of three criteria. A good translation (1) has a well-defined, well-reasoned, and useful translation philosophy, (2) applies that philosophy consistently over the “many parts and various ways” God has spoken to us in his word (Heb. 1:1), and (3) uses the “best of what’s around” to understand the original Hebrew and Greek text. The NLT gets an “A” in all three of these categories, as I will establish in a bit.
Imagine you are tasked with preaching the entirety of Revelation to your congregation in a single sermon. The whole book. One sermon. Majoring on relevance and application. How would you do it? Or maybe...
I recently blogged about why am ESV Readers Bible is a must have. Tim Challies recently reviews the multi-volume edition here.