Reading from the RMV

September 6, 2011
Will Loewen |

This is a good year to be a Bible collector.  The New International Version has been updated re-released and the Contemporary English Bible will soon be available as well.  For pastors like me, who still read paper versions of the Bible, this may mean more space will need to be cleared on our bookshelves.  For some people, this may add even more confusion and division.

This reignites in my mind an old complaint I have about the business of selling Bibles.

The church is full of people who disagree on various issues, and just like there different denominations so those like-minded believers can gather, different translations of the Bible provide an avenue in which people of different intellectual and stylistic preferences can read the scriptures in a way that is consistent with the way they learn.  So I get the need for the se different translations.

But these Bibles need to be marketed, promoted and branded in such a way that it is clear just by looking at their name what kind of Bible you are getting.  And in the quest for a good name, they won't let a simple logical inconsistency get in their way.  By far the majority of new translations include their name, the word "new", and those that don't often include some variant, such as "Today" or "Contemporary".  By participating in the modernization of a Biblical translation, a publisher recognizes that language changes, and so "new" is only relevant until the translation is out.

To remedy this problem, I wondered if maybe we could name our Bibles after the publishers that made them, and since many publishers update their own translations, we could attach a year.  Here is a brief list of what this would look like:

  • New American Standard Bible - Lockman 1971
  • New International Version - Zondervan 1984
  • New King James Version - Thomas Nelson 1982
  • New Revised Standard Version - National Council of Churches 1989
  • Today's New International Version - Zondervan 2005
  • New International Version (the actually new one) - Zondervan 2011

I admit this does take away some of the panache of saying these names.  One would also have to come up with short forms, so it would be a lot of confusion simply to correct one little flaw that only I have a problem with.

Then I thought of a new naming idea.  While I don't recommend people using the King James Version for their daily reading and study, I do love the name.  He didn't do the translation, but it was his idea and he foot the bill for it.  So to do that with the other translations, we would need to know the name of the CEO of the company that owns publisher, because they would be the closest thing to an equivalent of King James.  So for the popular NIV translation, we would have to look at their publisher Zondervan's parent company.  Harper Collin's parent company is News Corp, and News Corp's CEO is Rupert Murdoch.  So the new NIV would then be called the Rupert Murdoch Version.

Hmm, maybe that's why nobody likes my name changing idea.

Author Name: 
Will Loewen
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You're right in saying that the naming scheme isn't helpful at all. I've never thought about it in Bible terms, but I notice it all the time in technology. "Super-app" is a term that bothered me recently. Who sets that definition? Similarly, who says what "New" means?

I think the title should also indicate a little more who/what it is targeted for. "The Exegesis Bible" would be clear. The "Daily Devotion Bible". The "Bible Study Bible". Perhaps those would be more indicative. The "Spoken Bible".

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