Tuesday, May 08, 2018

The NRSV and the ACNA

On the official Facebook page of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), I have been alarmed to see how many clergy use the NRSV as their main translation of the Bible.  Perhaps I should not be overly alarmed.  I doubt those who answered a question about Bible translations were that representative of ACNA.  At least I hope not.

But it does appear use of the NRSV is more prevalent in ACNA than I had thought.  So now is a good time to remind that it is not an acceptable translation. 

For one thing – and this one thing is enough to disqualify it – it puts gender neutrality above faithfulness in translation even when gender neutrality changes the meaning.  For example, back in 2007, I discovered the following enormity from the NRSV.  Daniel 7:13 is translated:

As I watched in the night visions,
I saw one like a human being
coming with the clouds of heaven.
And he came to the Ancient One
and was presented before him.

Of course, “like a son of man” is much more accurate and of very long standing.  And “son of man” is a messianic term of great import in both the Old and New Testaments.  To neutralize that into “like a human being” is inexcusable and makes one wonder what liberties are taken with the rest of the text.

Yes, NRSV users say there is no perfect translation, etc.  And indeed there isn’t.  But taking such obvious and intentional liberties with the text disqualifies a translation. It is hard to see the point of using the NRSV at all when there are superior, more faithful translations out there.

So why would any ACNA clergy use it as anything more than a supplement?

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