"The object of all good literature is to purge the soul of its petty troubles." ~ P.G. Wodehouse

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

NLT Revision. Who knew?

Holy Bible Text Edition NLT (Bible Nlt)Until just yesterday, I did not know that the New Living Translation (NLT) has been revised. I was under the impression that the NLT was a free translation that was closer to its roots in the Living Bible paraphrase than to a formal equivalence or even a dynamic equivalence. Well, it turns out that on closer inspection, the NLT has been revised, and the revised version can be placed in the dynamic/functional equivalence category.

The NLT was originally published in 1996 by Tyndale House Publishers. After the publication, an eight year review process of the translation was begun, which ended with the publication of the revision in 2004. The new version is still called the NLT and not the RNLT. Thus, you wouldn't know there was a revision unless you read the prefaces to NLT 2004 edition or for some odd reason ended up comparing the NLT 1996 with the NLT 2004 (as I did yesterday).

The move from a free translation to a dynamic or functional equivalence translation can be seen in 1 John 5:3.

NLT 1996: "Loving God means keeping his commandments, and really, that isn't difficult."

NLT 2004: "Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome."

The interesting thing is that the revised verse is now essentially the same as almost any other mainline translation. This highlights first of all that this is essentially what the Greek says, but it also raises the question: "Why do we have (or need) so many translations?"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Inauguration Weekend at Tyndale University College and Seminary

With the upcoming installation of our new president Dr. Gary Nelson here at Tyndale University College and Seminary (September 30), there are a number of activities that will be taking place.

Thursday, September 30th from 12pm-1pm, Dr. Jennifer Powell McNutt, Assistant Professor of Theology and Church History at Wheaton College, will be giving a presentation on her research on John Calvin and his successors in 18th century Geneva. Considering her work in some of the archives in Geneva, this presentation should be of interest to faculty, staff, students, and visitors.

Thursday evening at 7:30pm will be the installation of Dr. Gary Nelson. This will be held at the Bayview Campus Chapel.

Friday, October 1st, Tyndale is hosting a day long conference entitled "Tyndale Thinks & Writes" (Find details here). There are two morning addresses. The first entitled "The Role of the University in the 21st Century" will be given by Dr. David Barnard, President of the University of Manitoba. The second given by Dr. Anna Robbins, Senior Lecturer at the London School of Theology is "Can Societies Repent? Reflections on Ethics as Apologetics and the Moral Development of Society". The afternoon is scheduled with concurrent sessions where Tyndale faculty will be presenting their most recent research and publications. I will be chairing the session where my colleague Dr. Daniel Driver will be presenting on his book: Brevard Childs, Biblical Theologian: For the Church's One Bible (FAT II/46; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010).

It should be a good weekend of festivities.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The King James Bible, 400th Anniversary

Tommy Wasserman has posted some information at Evangelical Textual Criticism about events taking place next year around the 400th anniversary of the completion of the King James Bible (1611-2011). There is no doubt that the King James Bible has profoundly shaped the English language. What should also not be forgotten is the debt that the King James translators owe to the earlier translation work of William Tyndale.

David Daniell states in the opening paragraph of his biography of William Tyndale (William Tyndale: A Biography (Yale Nota Bene): "William Tyndale gave us our English Bible. The sages assembled by King James to prepare the Authorised Version of 1611, so often praised for unlikely corporate inspiration, took over Tyndale's work. Nine-tenths of the Authorised Version's New Testament is Tyndale's. The same is true of the first half of the Old Testament, which is as far as he was able to get before he was executed in Brussels in 1536."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gospel of John and Intimations of Apocalyptic Follow-up, Finally

Now, almost two months since the colloquium at the University of Bangor, I will offer some final comments on the well-run colloquium that was put on by Catrin Williams and facilitated by Hazel Thompson.

Attending a small, intimate conference on a single topic is of so much more value than any large conference with multiple sessions. With everyone in attendance for all the papers, it is possible to have ongoing discussion about certain topics and for links to be made and suggested between papers.

One thing that is abundantly clear to me is the continual need to address the definition of 'apocalyptic' and 'apocalypse'. These words, particularly the former, are often used in various ways that can cause confusion about what is being discussed. Numerous texts that are not generally considered apocalypses can be fit under the heading of 'apocalyptic' and there usually is no rationale as to why this is the case. Clearly, texts can have 'apocalyptic' material, but what makes this material 'apocalyptic' and how then does the text refer to the 'apocalypses'? Imposing modern scholarly definitions on ancient documents is inherently problematic, but I am more and more convinced that setting up some definitional parameters is necessary for useful debate and dialogue. Some of that dialogue can and should include the debate about the definition itself and the process of arriving at that definition, but the definition itself offers a starting point for discussion. Without it, I think that discussion can quickly become ambiguous.

Regarding the Gospel of John and Apocalyptic literature, the relationship between Revelation and the Gospel is an entirely important and necessary topic, even if not all scholars see Revelation as Johannine. Such a comparison highlights similarities and contrasts between them. Ian Boxall and Jörg Frey each presented papers that drew together Revelation and John. Christopher Rowland gave an intriguing paper with William Blake's illustrations of the Book of Enoch, especially at the end of long day of papers. His forthcoming book on Blake will be worth a read. Jutta Leonhardt-Balzer and Loren Stuckenbruck finished off the colloquium with papers focusing on the presence of evil in John and apocalyptic literature. The 'ruler of this world' played an important part in both papers, as it should. Clarification of this figure may occupy further study since there seems to be no consensus and some parallels in other Jewish literature.

The revised papers will be published by T&T Clark. The book will be an appropriate continuation of the discussion begun by John Ashton in Understanding the Fourth Gospel, and hopefully it will spark further scholarship on the Gospel of John and its relationship with apocalyptic literature.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lugioyo on Bucer and Justification

My good friend Brian Lugioyo's book Martin Bucer's Doctrine of Justification: Reformation Theology and Early Modern Irenicsim has recently been published by Oxford University Press in the Oxford Studies in Historical Theology series.

Not only is this excellent scholarship on Bucer, but Bucer's views on justification are entirely relevant for the current justification debate. It is unfortunate that Bucer has been overshadowed by Luther and Calvin.

The description of the book is as follows:
Martin Bucer has usually been portrayed as a diplomat who attempted to reconcile divergent theological views, sometimes at any cost, or as a pragmatic pastor who was more concerned with ethics than theology. These representations have led to the view that Bucer was a theological light-weight, rightly placed in the shadow of Luther and Calvin. This book makes a different argument.

Bucer was an ecclesial diplomat and a pragmatic pastor, yet his ecclesial and practical approaches to reforming the Church were guided by coherent theological convictions. Central to his theology was his understanding of the doctrine of justification, an understanding that Brian Lugioyo argues has an integrity of its own, though it has been imprecisely represented as intentionally conciliatory. It was this solid doctrine that guided Bucer's irenicism and acted as a foundation for his entrance into discussions with Catholics between 1539 and 1541. Lugioyo demonstrates that Bucer was consistent in his approach and did not sacrifice his theological convictions for ecclesial expediency. Indeed his understanding was an accepted evangelical perspective on justification, one to be commended along with those of Luther and Calvin. 

The comments include the following from Irene Backus, Professor of Reformation History, University of Geneva :
"For Martin Bucer the doctrine of justification through faith and love of neighbor was a fundamental of Christian faith. Brian Lugioyo argues that Bucer's understanding of this doctrine was not the result of a 'mediating theology,' as commonly believed, but had its own distinctive characteristics. By analyzing Bucer's commentary on Romans, and his articles on justification in the Interconfessional Colloquies of 1539-41, Lugioyo sheds new light on Bucer and the confessional unionism of the period. This is a major contribution to a renewal of Bucer studies."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dorothy Sayers on the Liberal Arts

"Is not the great defect of our education today--a defect traceable through all the disquieting symptoms of trouble that I have mentioned--that although we often succeed in teaching our pupils "subjects," we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think: they learn everything, except the art of learning.-- Dorothy Sayers, "The Lost Tools of Learning"

I have placed a link to this excellent essay under the Liberal Arts heading in the right column.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Conference on Apocalypticism

There is a day long Conference in Uppsala entitled "Faces of Apocalyptics". There are three papers and two are by John Collins and Adela Yarbro Collins. If Sweden were only closer...

"Apocalyptics", by the way, is being used to refer to "Apocalypticism". Another example of the slippery use of the terminology related to apocalypses.