Erickson on the hidden problem of too many English Bible translations

In contemporary English-speaking cultures, we have an embarrassing wealth of Bible translations. If we dislike the way a particular version renders a passage, we can choose another; and if we find our second choice no better, we can try a third or a fourth. The hidden problem in this privileged scenario is the unspoken question, how do we decide whether one translation is better than another? What do we mean by “better”? If we base our preferences on whether a translation supports or fails to support our chosen doctrinal orientation, then what have we learned from Scripture that we did not already know? We assume that the message of the Bible, properly understood, speaks prophetically, critically, and “life-givingly” to us today. But how can the Bible possible critique us (and thereby offer us life) if we ourselves determine in advance what it is allowed to say?

Richard J. Erickson in A Beginner’s Guide to New Testament Exegesis.


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