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June 16, 2008


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I teach various English courses at a community college, and every so often I teach the developmental reading and writing courses. (The courses are tough - 6 credit hours total, requiring reading and writing work.) Every semester, I have a student (sometimes two) who says, "I'm too stupid for this!" Most of the time s/he says it by simply disappearing, and some of the time s/he says it out loud in despair and then sticks around long enough to fail the course, sometimes simply by believing it deeply enough.

That said, I don't think simplifying the language of any piece is a wise move. Instead, shouldn't the work of teaching others to read the Bible belong to the teachers in the community (in this case, church leaders, elders, Bible study teachers, good/avid Bible readers, and so on)? If the work of the Church is to welcome others in and help them grow as Christians, that is the perfect place for a challenging read - not to scare them off, but as an opportunity for community building.

Plus, words are powerful. Why strip that power away?

I should shut my trap now, because it is not my place to criticize what the Church does. I was raised Lutheran, but I've left it behind, so I have no authority here. Still, I grow uncomfortable at the thought of yet another group of humans interjecting, "No, no, no, wait. What God *meant* to say here was...." As much an advocate of writing process and revision as I am, I just can't get excited about it in this regard.

The written word -- my own, at least -- is not my thing. I am a scientist by training and an extrovert, so I struggle to coherently convey my thoughts in writing. But I have specifically gone through your archives because I remembered you writing this post and I wanted to re-read it. So I'd like to say thank you for clearly articulating my frustration with some of the current translations used (especially the NSRV).

I am a fan of challenging, lyrical translations, though, and wonder if the NAB would be your recommendation for a new bible for personal use? My Dad is a big fan of it and the New Jerusalem, but I thought I'd ask you, too.

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