I have been recommending the new NLTse, and plan on continuing to do so. It’s a fine translation, easy-to-read, and gives you the Word quickly and clearly…
…as long as you don’t look too close.
I have been reading lately in the book of Acts, and decided yesterday that I should give it a try in the NLT. It wasn’t too long before I ran across something I found a little disturbing: Acts 1:11 NLTse
11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”
I checked the Greek and I did not see the word “someday”, nor even the concept of distant future, which is the picture I get from the word “someday”. It’s an indefinite time in the future, perhaps not necessarily distant, but the concept is certainly there.
The TNIV is a good example of a more traditional reading of this verse:
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
See? The time element is indefinite. I think the translators just paraphrased a little bit in order to include the idea that this would be a future event, and not necessarily one that would occur immediately.
Of course the fact that the NLTse has engaged in a little paraphrasing isn’t that important, and I don’t think it’s going to affect anybody’s faith.
But let’s continue on and take a look at a couple more passages not too far along from that one.
Acts 2:6 NLTse:
6 When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.
Cute. I like the phrase.
Let’s take a look at the more traditional TNIV:
When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.
Now I don’t know how good this sentence is, but I know it to be a more accurate translation. It’s not as cute and exciting, but notice also how it says nothing of believers in the sentence. Once again, it’s clearly a case of the NLTse translators leaning a bit farther in the direction of paraphrase than those at the TNIV.
Here’s the TNIV version of Acts 2:13:
“Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Now the NLTse:
“But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!””
Well, that tells it like it is, doesn’t it? But it’s not quite what the original Greek said – that’s what it means, but it’s not what it says.
These are only three little instances in the NLTse that caused me a little concern that there’s a lot of paraphrasing going on at Tyndale – three instances in less than two chapters of one book! Now paraphrasing isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it has to be done sometimes simply in order to make the Bible intelligible in English! But I have to say that this much paraphrasing concerns me. It seems to me that each time you paraphrase, that’s just another chance to get it wrong.
So far, I don’t think I have seen the Tyndale translators get it wrong, but I haven’t read the whole NLTse. In fact, I haven’t read very much of it at all, just enough to be fairly certain that it’s a pretty good translation, that it’s a little more of a formal equivalence that the first NLT was, and that it’s certainly an easy read. I really, honestly hope I never see the day that I’ll be reading the NLTse and come across a passage that seems very wrong, and I check it out and find it’s not at all what the originals say.
Humans make mistakes. Some humans also try to deceive. I don’t see any deception intended in any of the NLTse translation and I really don’t think that anybody at Tyndale is trying to deceive us. I do not question their motives. And I’ll continue to include the NLTse among my recommended translations for certain people who are looking for an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand Bible.
But for my money, I think I’d rather get something more accurate.