Should the bible (and other religious texts as well) be updated with modern English translations?

Being originally written in Hebrew, Latin, Arabic or what-have-you, the current English religious texts we have are already different from the original works by the very nature of being in a different language. Changing them now wouldn't be violating the originals in any way that the original translations didn't.

Why, then, have they gone unupdated for so long? Why is it still using Thees and Thous when nobody speaks in that fashion anymore?

Er...

There are lots of bibles that don't? I assume you're talking about the King James Version, which I think has been updated a bit here and there. But in fact that are lots of types of bibles out there. For example..

http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/

These are all bibles. You can look up the same bible quote and have it come out in different ways depending on the translation.

A larger problem comes from meaning, like 'homosexual'. There's a debate over whether it meant 'a man who wants to have sex with other men' or 'a prostitute who has sex with men who is also a man' or 'the man receiving sex from another man'. Back when it was written (or bits of it were anyway) it was probably cut and dry.

Problem is that when they are "updated", the meaning will be changed. And who should decide which is the Canon and 'correct' translation?
And besides, they have been retranslated so many times that some meanings have without a doubt been changed since the first iteration anyway..

Well, the church has got to have some copies written in the original Latin, right? I'm not just saying update the existing English ones, I'm saying to a compelte retranslation.

Realitycrash:
Problem is that when they are "updated", the meaning will be changed. And who should decide which is the Canon and 'correct' translation?
And besides, they have been retranslated so many times that some meanings have without a doubt been changed since the first iteration anyway..

Well, I assume the church would. That is their job, isn't it?

Bentusi16:

A larger problem comes from meaning, like 'homosexual'. There's a debate over whether it meant 'a man who wants to have sex with other men' or 'a prostitute who has sex with men who is also a man' or 'the man receiving sex from another man'. Back when it was written (or bits of it were anyway) it was probably cut and dry.

I suppose there is, but are any of these considered the working version, used by the church, or is it left up in the air? That problem with translation of 'homosexual' is one reason I would think that they'd want to decide what it should mean and then change their modern texts to reflect that. It just seems like having that kind of ambiguity isn't helping them much.

Saladfork:
Well, the church has got to have some copies written in the original Latin, right? I'm not just saying update the existing English ones, I'm saying to a compelte retranslation.

Realitycrash:
Problem is that when they are "updated", the meaning will be changed. And who should decide which is the Canon and 'correct' translation?
And besides, they have been retranslated so many times that some meanings have without a doubt been changed since the first iteration anyway..

Well, I assume the church would. That is their job, isn't it?

Bentusi16:

A larger problem comes from meaning, like 'homosexual'. There's a debate over whether it meant 'a man who wants to have sex with other men' or 'a prostitute who has sex with men who is also a man' or 'the man receiving sex from another man'. Back when it was written (or bits of it were anyway) it was probably cut and dry.

I suppose there is, but are any of these considered the working version, used by the church, or is it left up in the air? That problem with translation of 'homosexual' is one reason I would think that they'd want to decide what it should mean and then change their modern texts to reflect that. It just seems like having that kind of ambiguity isn't helping them much.

Sir, the "church" isn't a homogeneous group. We have dozens of different denominations, and don't even get me started on those countries with state-churches (like England). You think these will all agree with eachother? Baptists, Quakers, Calvinists, Roman Catholics, etc?

Realitycrash:

Sir, the "church" isn't a homogeneous group. We have dozens of different denominations, and don't even get me started on those countries with state-churches (like England). You think these will all agree with eachother? Baptists, Quakers, Calvinists, Roman Catholics, etc?

True. Still, for every church group that has some kind of organization, I would have thought they'd try to decide which translation they'd all use, right?

Saladfork:

Realitycrash:

Sir, the "church" isn't a homogeneous group. We have dozens of different denominations, and don't even get me started on those countries with state-churches (like England). You think these will all agree with eachother? Baptists, Quakers, Calvinists, Roman Catholics, etc?

True. Still, for every church group that has some kind of organization, I would have thought they'd try to decide which translation they'd all use, right?

Sure, sure, but why then even update the bible? Why not let them decide which interpretation of the scripture already at hand they want to use?

No, there's no point, because the message will remain the same, and equally criminal, immoral, invalid, untrue, you name it.

Now if someone actually wanted to update a 'holy' book of any kind, I'd be all ears for that.

Realitycrash:

Sure, sure, but why then even update the bible? Why not let them decide which interpretation of the scripture already at hand they want to use?

I just figure that if you were trying to get a religious message out to other people, you'd want to make it as accessible as possible. Anyone who knows English probably could read the bible in most current incarnations, but for me at least, it sometimes takes me a little time and some thought to figure out just what exactly the author is saying because I have to mentally translate it from archaic English to modern English.

That's a large part of the reason it takes me longer to read Shakespeare than it would to read a modern work of approximately the same length. The difference, though, is that Shakespeare originally wrote in English, which would allow for a stronger argument that modernizing the language is tarnishing the work somewhat in a way that updating French translations of Shakespeare wouldn't be.

I'm not entirely sure I'm making a lot of sense here, really.

The biggest problem with translating it is that a lot of meaning gets lost, because words don't translate cleanly between Hewbrew, Latin and English. So you'd run into the same problem as we do already.

Saladfork:

Realitycrash:

Sure, sure, but why then even update the bible? Why not let them decide which interpretation of the scripture already at hand they want to use?

I just figure that if you were trying to get a religious message out to other people, you'd want to make it as accessible as possible. Anyone who knows English probably could read the bible in most current incarnations, but for me at least, it sometimes takes me a little time and some thought to figure out just what exactly the author is saying because I have to mentally translate it from archaic English to modern English.

That's a large part of the reason it takes me longer to read Shakespeare than it would to read a modern work of approximately the same length. The difference, though, is that Shakespeare originally wrote in English, which would allow for a stronger argument that modernizing the language is tarnishing the work somewhat in a way that updating French translations of Shakespeare wouldn't be.

I'm not entirely sure I'm making a lot of sense here, really.

King James Bible is actually written in archaic language on purpose, to make it feel more authentic. There ARE plain-written bibles already, but I'm afraid you won't get away from the verses or the strange metaphors.

That's kinda standard practice. Have you ever heard of the New International Version Bible? Very nifty little text, and the most recent revision of it was released in 2011. For added fun, scroll down to the bottom of the page. See the little box titled "English Translations of the Bible"? There's more than a few versions of the Bible out there, and new versions are still being published.

Realitycrash:
Problem is that when they are "updated", the meaning will be changed. And who should decide which is the Canon and 'correct' translation?
And besides, they have been retranslated so many times that some meanings have without a doubt been changed since the first iteration anyway..

By that logic, wouldn't the Bible as it exists in any form be similarly questionable, considering that its form is as dictated by the Synod of Hippo to the exclusion of numerous other christian texts? And wouldn't the natural conclusion that follows from that mean that they'd have precious little baseline to work from, and thus little argument for or against a change of content? Indeed, it seems to me that if one works with that assumption the only argument to be had favoring the current form would boil down to an Appeal to Tradition more than anything else.

Um... They have. Multiple times, in fact. What do you think the NIV is? Do you think that the King James version is the only version available? Because it isn't. :\

Blablahb:
No, there's no point, because the message will remain the same, and equally criminal, immoral, invalid, untrue, you name it.

Now if someone actually wanted to update a 'holy' book of any kind, I'd be all ears for that.

On an unrelated note, I was irritated by your response more than I should have been at first because I didn't realize it was you because they gave you an avatar... that sort of makes me sad.

Asita:
That's kinda standard practice. Have you ever heard of the New International Version Bible? Very nifty little text, and the most recent revision of it was released in 2011. For added fun, scroll down to the bottom of the page. See the little box titled "English Translations of the Bible"? There's more than a few versions of the Bible out there, and new versions are still being published.

Realitycrash:
Problem is that when they are "updated", the meaning will be changed. And who should decide which is the Canon and 'correct' translation?
And besides, they have been retranslated so many times that some meanings have without a doubt been changed since the first iteration anyway..

By that logic, wouldn't the Bible as it exists in any form be similarly questionable, considering that its form is as dictated by the Synod of Hippo to the exclusion of numerous other christian texts? And wouldn't the natural conclusion that follows from that mean that they'd have precious little baseline to work from, and thus little argument for or against a change of content? Indeed, it seems to me that if one works with that assumption the only argument to be had favoring the current form would boil down to an Appeal to Tradition more than anything else.

Well, yes. But there are quite a few that claim that X version of the bible (often King James) are the 'right' version, and everything before or after is non-canon. So while it IS an Appeal to Tradition, this tradition is also Holy for many people.

Granted, I am no bible scholar, but parts of it have been translated from Greek to Latin, yes? Then old Latin to newer Latin as the language changed. Then Latin to German (when Luther translated it). And that's not counting the many different translators of different countries that came after that, which translated the bible to their own language (Latin > English > Swahili, folks. They have a rather beautiful version of Pater Nostrum, btw).
But whatever version is the 'right' version is the one your denomination considers Holy.

tstorm823:

Blablahb:
No, there's no point, because the message will remain the same, and equally criminal, immoral, invalid, untrue, you name it.

Now if someone actually wanted to update a 'holy' book of any kind, I'd be all ears for that.

On an unrelated note, I was irritated by your response more than I should have been at first because I didn't realize it was you because they gave you an avatar... that sort of makes me sad.

Wait, you base your judgment of a reply depending on who wrote it?

Realitycrash:

tstorm823:

Blablahb:
No, there's no point, because the message will remain the same, and equally criminal, immoral, invalid, untrue, you name it.

Now if someone actually wanted to update a 'holy' book of any kind, I'd be all ears for that.

On an unrelated note, I was irritated by your response more than I should have been at first because I didn't realize it was you because they gave you an avatar... that sort of makes me sad.

Wait, you base your judgment of a reply depending on who wrote it?

After a while Blahblahb just rolls off your back and doesn't bother you anymore. It's like developing a callous.

I'd point out that there are modern English translations, but it has already been said about eight times.

The best version is already being worked on.

Yeah, I would seriously consider going to church again if someone actually used that one.

As people already mentioned, certain words and phrases don't cleanly translate language to language, plus there's simply the traditional aspect of it all in keeping the language "pure" as it the case in Islam and more conservative sects of Judaism that require texts in use of religious practice to remain the "original" language. You can of course, find Qur'ans and Torahs in English or any other language, but they're for secular use; I assume this is also the same for eastern religions, especially Hinduism and Buddhism.

PrinceOfShapeir:

Realitycrash:

tstorm823:

On an unrelated note, I was irritated by your response more than I should have been at first because I didn't realize it was you because they gave you an avatar... that sort of makes me sad.

Wait, you base your judgment of a reply depending on who wrote it?

After a while Blahblahb just rolls off your back and doesn't bother you anymore. It's like developing a callous.

I'd point out that there are modern English translations, but it has already been said about eight times.

I try, as far as possible, to judge people on a thread-by-thread basis. There's always a second, third, fourth, etc chance for everyone.

Realitycrash:

Wait, you base your judgment of a reply depending on who wrote it?

Just for Blab. There's a history of blab saying rediculous things, and a slightly shorter history of me responding with rediculous things, and yet somehow it never feels angry and there's something noteworthy there.

I'm not going to bother pointing out that there are modern, accessible translations because this post is such an instance of Didn't Do The Homework.

I'll simply note that there are websites where you can look at the same quote from several different translations and compare them. Any time I try to look at anything from the Christian Bible, I do this, because I think you can come away with a better understanding of what's being said. (That, and study Bibles are especially valuable because of added historical/archaeological commentary for context, and notations of words that could be translated in different ways.)

Saladfork:
Being originally written in Hebrew, Latin, Arabic or what-have-you, the current English religious texts we have are already different from the original works by the very nature of being in a different language. Changing them now wouldn't be violating the originals in any way that the original translations didn't.

Why, then, have they gone unupdated for so long? Why is it still using Thees and Thous when nobody speaks in that fashion anymore?

They constantly ARE being retranslated and updated. For example, the creator of conservapedia decided to retranslate/rewrite the Bible to remove the "Liberal Bias" from it.

No, really: http://www.conservapedia.com/Conservative_Bible_Project

It is just that, most of the major churches and other religious organization have already decided "we are going to use X translation of the Bible" long ago and they have stuck to it. Changing the Bible the church/organization uses would only get the older church goers for "altering the word of God," so no changing.

Realitycrash:

PrinceOfShapeir:

Realitycrash:

Wait, you base your judgment of a reply depending on who wrote it?

After a while Blahblahb just rolls off your back and doesn't bother you anymore. It's like developing a callous.

I'd point out that there are modern English translations, but it has already been said about eight times.

I try, as far as possible, to judge people on a thread-by-thread basis. There's always a second, third, fourth, etc chance for everyone.

Sure, but after a while you have to stop giving chances and just accept that this is the person you're dealing with. The presumption of innocence is all well and good when you're in a court of law, but if I may be allowed to quote, when a naked man is chasing a woman through an alley with a butcher knife and a hard-on, I figure he isn't out collecting for the Red Cross.

Not saying Blahblahb does that, but he is rather predictable when it comes to religion.

take the original scrolls and translate them with all current knowledge on the orginal language (we know more than they did in king james times) and try to translate. obviously theologians must be consulted to help transfer the "meaning" and it will not be necessarily the "true original meaning" but it will surely be better than 100 different versions that we have now.
but then again religious community would never allow it.

 

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