You know, this really isn’t a biblioblog any more. I really don’t do many studies of scripture here on the blog, and lately I’ve only occasionally delved into Bible translations. But I guess this will be one of those times.
You may remember that several weeks ago I bought a MacArthur Study Bible, genuine leather cover, NASB translation. And I wrote about how much I was enjoying using it. Since I bought it I have carried it to church every Sunday and used it in our Bible study class that I’ve been attending.
Well, I’m afraid the honeymoon is over. No, I haven’t decided that I don’t like the MacArthur. I still love it. But I’m getting a little bit tired of the smallish font. Maybe my eyes are changing again, I don’t know. But I’m finding more and more that the font in this Bible is a little bit too small for me to read for long periods of time, especially in the evening when my eyes are tired. I’m also a little less than enamored with the NASB translation. I do enjoy its literal accuracy when I’m studying, although I have seen occasional evidence that it may not be quite what it’s cracked up to be. What I don’t enjoy is its less-than-easy reading and comprehension. I often have to consult not only MacArthur’s notes to find out what it’s trying to say, but often other translations as well. But I suppose that’s to be expected in a translation that tries to give us the scriptures in a form that’s as close to the originals as possible yet still be understandable English.
I spent a lot of time last night reading Hebrews 10 in about ten different translations. For some reason I became curious about how the different ones rendered that passage, not that I was particularly unhappy with the NASB version, although I thought it seemed a little bit stilted. I was reminded of why I don’t particularly care for the ESV’s translation choices. It reads well if you’re concentrating and reading slowly, but if you try to skim through it you’re gonna miss something (not that I advocate skimming through the Bible!).
The NKJV once again showed me why I consider it archaic and outdated. I don’t understand why they sell so many of them. But when I switched to the NLT I said, “what happened to the poetic feel of this chapter? This is really missing something!” Then again, I don’t like to be so subjective about translations, either.
As I so often do, I settled on the NIV/TNIV twins as my most comfortable translations. They seem to be the best combination of accuracy and readability, with the slight edge going to the TNIV. (And I’m definitely looking forward to seeing their latest iteration, the NIV 2011).
This brings me once again, however, to the problem I mentioned above, the smallish font. While I was always successful in finding a NIV with a good-size font, the TNIV was another story altogether. I guess it was because they imagined the TNIV as a Bible for people under 35, that they never made it with a font larger than 9.8 point. I have one of those, the TNIV XL. It’s not a bad font size, but I’m more comfortable with one closer to 11 point. 12 is good, too, but 14 is a little too large. But it seems they never even considered going larger than 10. I just hope that isn’t a sign of things to come, when they bring out the new NIV next year. They have to know that the new NIV will be bought by people of all ages, don’t they?
So the TNIV XL had a fair size font, easy to read, with two columns of text but no cross-references and precious few text notes. I also have a TNIV Reference Bible with good cross-references, precious few text notes, and a topical ties thingy at the bottom of each page. Now while I don’t use the cross-references very much, it’s nice to have them when I need them. I really, REALLY would have appreciated text and translators notes along the lines of what we see in the NET Bible. And the topical ties thingy I have never really found much use for.
And then, the TNIV Reference Bible has a single wide column of text. Now I understand a lot of my younger colleagues really like the single-column set-up. That’s fine. But I have found that as I have gotten older, I have a harder time picking up the correct line of text when I go back over to the left side of the page. The shorter lines of the two-column set-up make this much easier. So if I were asked by the folks at Zondervan how to make a “Reader’s Edition” of the TNIV Reference Bible, the first thing I would tell them is, “Make it two columns of text, not one.” Well, maybe they can keep that in mind for the new NIV.
I do have a NIV Large Print Personal-size Reference Bible in the old 1984 text. The font is certainly large enough, in fact, I think it’s 13 point or thereabouts. But the print isn’t particularly dark, which is another problem for these old eyes of mine. And the paper is so thin that there’s a lot of ghosting going on. It’s just not particularly pleasant to use.
I also have the 2002 version of the NIV Study Bible. The text font is something like 9.5 point, with a smaller font for the notes and references, but the print is very dark, making for quite a pleasant reading and studying experience. (Now, if we could only get MacArthur’s organization to make ’em like that!) Still, once again I’m dealing with the old 1984 NIV text.
The problem I have with the TNIV is not unlike the same problem I have noticed with the NRSV. Try and find an NRSV with a font that is suitable for us old folks to read. It’s impossible, unless you want to spend lots of money for an expensive Oxford, Cambridge, or Allan’s, and even then you might find it smallish. Don’t these manufacturers know that old people read the Bible too?
I own a NASB Personal Size Large-print Reference Bible that was put out by Zondervan some years ago. It has a very dark 10 point type font, outstanding notes and cross-references, and a nice, easy-to-use size of 5.5 X 8 inches, and considerably less than 2 inches thick. In fact, I don’t think it’s even an inch and a half thick. The only things I don’t like about it are the “Words of Christ in Red” and the thin paper. And neither of those things disqualify it from being my favorite Bible. I hope Zondervan puts out one just like that in the new NIV.
Well, this rambling post is getting pretty long, but then I haven’t posted anything about Bibles and translations in quite a while. I guess I had a lot to say So I’ll just finish this up and get back to my day job. 😉