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How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions

By Mark Strauss
May 2008 | Review by John Brand


A book on Bible translation from a premier biblical scholar.

  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • ISBN: 978-0310278764
  • Pages: 176
  • Price: £10.99
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Book Review

The choice of English Bible translations today is bewildering and increasing. Fee and Strauss have done the ‘average’ believer a great service in writing a very thorough guide to finding your way through this veritable plethora of Bible versions.

I wish I had been aware of this book when I taught a short series recently on how the Bible came to us (which included a look at the range of available translations) – I could have directed my students to it and saved myself some work! While not attempting the same technical depth as Fee and Strauss I came to much the same conclusions.

This is not, of course, the first book dealing with this subject but it does have two major strengths largely lacking elsewhere. Firstly, the authors don’t appear to have any particular theological axe to grind. They stand in an unashamedly and biblically evangelical tradition, but they haven’t written in order to pit one version of Scripture against another.

Many other books in this area seek to defend some traditional view on a particular Bible version, and seem more concerned with maintaining shibboleths than with honestly exploring the complexity of the issues involved. Not until the last few pages do the authors give their personal recommendations based on their study and analysis, and you would be hard pressed to discern those ahead of that point.

Secondly, although written by two very able academic scholars, this book is immensely readable and, at times I found it thoroughly engrossing. The authors don’t avoid dealing with the technical issues of linguistics and translation but present them in a way easily accessible to anyone wanting to read up on this important issue.

Like me you probably won’t agree with every choice and judgement they make, but I am sure you will be grateful to them for their wisdom and insight – not to mention their commitment to the ultimate authority of Scripture.

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