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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The New NIV

Why are Bible translations such a deeply emotional topic for some? Because the higher we hold God's Word, the more we care about getting it right. When we believe that the Scriptures are inspired by God in the original manuscripts, we want to know exactly what the original said. The catch is that translating anything from one language to another will always be an inadequate process. There just isn't a decoder ring somewhere that can convert text from one language to another as if each word in one language had an exact counterpart in the other.

In Bible translation, there are typically two approaches, as I'm sure you know. The formal equivalent, which is as word-for-word as possible, and the dynamic equivalent which tends to be more interpretative. The dynamic equivalent approach aims to communicate meaning, and if a literal rendering makes no sense to readers, the translation uses other words to get at the meaning.

The New International Version has always been a dynamic equivalent translation. This doesn't mean it isn't trustworthy, just that the aim of the translators is to compose English that communicates the meaning of the Scripture to contemporary readers. Well known literal translations include the English Standard Version and the New American Standard Version. If you want to know as exactly as possible what the words in the verse are, these are the translations to consult. However, some people find that they are not very readable, particularly in group settings.

The new NIV revisions, according to the Committee on Bible Translation, are organized around three categories: changes in English, progress in scholarship, and concern for clarity. Be sure to read the CBT's notes (follow the link) to fully understand these categories.

Let's look at a few familiar verses and see how the NIV has been revised (changes in bold print).
Psalm 23:1-4
NIV 1984
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

Matthew 4:19
NIV 1984
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

Acts 4:12
NIV 1984
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Philippians 4:12-13
NIV 1984
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

(This last example is cited by the CBT as a change made to improve clarity. Verse 13 is often wrongly applied or taken out of context. This is an attempt to point readers back to the context. Paul is explaining that he is able to be content because of Christ, who gives him the strength to do that.)

This whole topic, I must add, is a problem of abundance. We are rich indeed when our language offers us multiple translations, online study tools, and commentaries around every corner (or link). Let us not lose sight of this fact. And yet, with all of these options, can the English-speaking world be described as "people of the Book"? While I enjoy looking at these different versions, please don't forget that the important thing is to be reading God's Word! It will be of no use to you to have what you consider to be the best, most reliable, most popular, most endorsed Bible translation if you are not reading it, obeying it, and keeping it as your authority for living.

This post is second in a series.  The first post: "The End of NIV 1984."

Edwards Academy Update

Shortly before Christmas break we held our second quarter school Unit Celebration with our Tapestry of Grace group, Truth Treasure Hunters. We are studying Tapestry of Grace Year 3 Unit 2, which covers the early part of the reign of Victoria as well as the antebellum years of the United States, including the Texas Revolution, the Mexican-American War, and the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails.

Here are some pictures of the kids and their displays.

Sydney prepared a display board on Early Nineteenth Century Fashion. She did some research and wrote about the fashion changes over three decades stretching from 1820-1850: the Restoration Period, the Romantic Period, and the Victorian Gothic Period. Notice she fixed her hair to imitate the popular style of a center part, spaniel curls framing the face, and hair pulled back into a bun.

Hope's display board is pictured above. She researched the family tree of Queen Victoria and created a genealogy chart tracing Victoria's family from her grandfather King George III to her descendants, noting those who were rulers of other European nations. She followed the British line to the present queen, Elizabeth II.

I didn't actually plan for our kindergartener to make a display board, but he felt very left out so we threw together a display of some of his work.

Lane put together a display featuring the Alamo. He wrote a paper about the battle of the Alamo, as well as a couple of additional Texas Revolutionary battles. He found some interesting photos and made some of his own drawings. Lane also made a salt dough facade of the Alamo mission (see it on the table, near the back left). You can see that he also made a fun paper model filled with miniature soldiers.

Several of the children in the group presented their papers at our Celebration. Hope and Sydney read portions from George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin to the audience and we talked a little about the things they learned from this book, which is a beautiful allegory of the Christian life.

As you can tell, the kids wore costumes to evoke something of the era.

Unit Three starts on Monday!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pinterest Project!

Over our Christmas break, Sydney and Hope sewed some cute reversible bags using a pattern that I found on Pinterest.

Since I'm pretty much a sewing novice, this was a little comical. Thankfully my mother stopped by midway and gave us some good sewing advice.

What is it about Pinterest that makes everything seem possible?

The pin is here.
You can find me as veritasathome on Pinterest.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The End of NIV 1984

After over 300 years with the King James Bible as the universally-read English Bible, the 20th century was the one in which multiple English translations flooded the market. Now, incredibly after just 27 years, the New International Version has been deemed out-of-date and in need of a revision. The classic New International Version Bible (copyright 1984, now called the NIV1984) is now not available for purchase. Zondervan has recalled all the copies, according to a local bookseller, and is shipping them overseas. Only the "new" NIV, hereafter known as the NIV, will be available.

There are many good reasons for this and I don't deny them. Yes, thanks to Spielberg et al the term "alien" carries extra terrestrial connotations. I'm sure using "foreigner" speaks more clearly to the modern reader. And, to be sure, scholarship has opened our eyes to more accurate meanings. And then there is the gender issue.

I know many people have reacted extremely negatively to the NIV's revisions because the translators have chosen to use more inclusive pronouns. This pronoun fight amuses me a little. The hard truth is that English speakers no longer use "he" or "brothers" to universally refer to mankind--err, humankind. We may hate that this is the outcome of feminism, but it doesn't change that it is indeed the outcome. This is a change in English usage; it is not an alteration in the Scriptures. If "brothers" continued to faithfully communicate the meaning, it would continue to be chosen. The Committee on Bible Translation has explained themselves on this issue, and I accept their explanation. I do not see an agenda in the translation. It seems to me that the NIV is a worthy dynamic equivalent translation.

However, the very fact that the NIV 1984 is no longer available is forcing churches and Christian groups everywhere to take stock. New NIV 1984 pew Bibles are unavailable. Do we change out the whole set of pew Bibles to the new NIV? Or, if we are changing anyway should we consider New American Standard? English Standard Version? Holman Standard Christian Bibles?

What about the versions that we memorize together? What about kids in AWANA?* Sunday school children are given Bibles as gifts--what now?

The NIV revisions have only changed 5% of the words throughout the text, but the problem is that there is enough of a change that one can't just carry on and use both interchangeably for memory work.

As it happens, I haven't been using NIV 1984 for about seven years or more, since my personal Bible became an ESV. I really love the ESV, which is a literal translation and as such in a different category from the NIV,  but in recent weeks I've been reading a Holman translation. Watch for a follow-up post coming soon in which I review the Holman Christian Standard Bible as a possible alternative for you.

How did we come to this? We are told that English is changing very rapidly--so fast that even the translations for modern readers, like the NIV 1984, are now considered "old." This is true, but one can't help being nostalgic for an earlier era.

It wasn't that long ago that people of all classes learned to read with the King James Bible. If a word sounded strange because you never used it in everyday speech, well, you learned what it meant and carried on. The English speaking world shared several things in common: the King James Bible, Pilgrim's Progress, and Shakespeare. Yes, English changed, but when we all shaped our education around old but excellent English writing, we passed the torch of beautiful English, at least in some way, on to the next generation.

Now, however, television and movies are the keepers of our tongue. People change their cadences to mimic popular sit-com speakers. Hip phrases go in and out of fashion as quickly as our clothing. Old meanings that we all used to recognize are slipping away from common knowledge. Inside jokes allude to movie lines, not lines from the King James or Shakespeare.

If old and dated English is an obstacle to reaching readers with the Gospel, than by all means, let's get a new translation. But forgive me for feeling a little disappointed that Bible translations are now on a 25 year update cycle.

This is the first in a series of posts on the topic. Watch for my review of the Holman, a post looking at the actual NIV revisions, and a post with links to other buzz on this topic.

Image is the author's photograph of her personal ESV Bible.
*According to AWANA's Facebook page, they are thinking and praying over this issue very carefully, as well as surveying their participating churches. If you want to give input to this process, contact your AWANA missionary.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Reaping What We've Sown

Just the other day I was musing over the loss of biblical literacy among scholars. Now I see that the New York Times and every other major news agency worldwide has revealed their own biblical illiteracy by attributing a verse from Hebrews to the poet Yeats.

Check this out from Eric Metaxas via Fox News (yes, he's the one that wrote Bonhoeffer).

How far we we've come from the days when a British officer cabled from Dunkirk the three words "But if not..."  and they bore the full meaning of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's declaration to Nebuchadnezzar, before being throne into the furnace:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Links for your Christmas Weekend Reading

My Due App is chiming! The to-do's that are due today make a long list.

But just in case you, unlike me, have some time to put your feet up today and relax, here are some links to interesting reading.

Two years ago, I introduced Lane to Tintin. Since then, he's read all the library Tintin books and collected a few of them for his own shelf. Now, the movie is out. We haven't seen it yet, but it seems that it will not disappoint us. If nothing else, Tintin will now be discovered by boys everywhere, which is surely a good thing. Here's a movie review of the new film: "The Wonderful Adventures of Tintin" by Frederica Mathewes-Green

I appreciated this short piece from National Review's Jonah Goldberg. He addresses the cultural problem of the "war on Christmas" from a sympathetic non-believer's point-of-view. "Santa's Not Pagan" by Jonah Goldberg

The Iowa caucuses are looming. Stephen Bloom decides to decode Iowans for the rest of us, but in the process he tells us more about himself. The religious influence on Iowan culture particularly galls Bloom. He even sites the fact that one of his student's parents had a "come to Jesus meeting" with her after she was out too late as an example of the dangerous and deep influence of religion on Iowans. He's very afraid that these hapless people have such national influence on our Presidental race. Be sure to read to the end and note that following the initial publication of the piece, multiple factual errors of Bloom's had to be corrected. Very revealing. "Observations from 20 Years of Iowa Life" by Stephen G. Bloom

On an entirely different, but perennially popular, topic I give you "No Sex Please, I"m British" by Carl Trueman at the Reformation 21 blog. Maybe you missed it, but sex is the topic du jour of Christian Bible studies. Mark Driscoll just published his new, and reportedly graphic, marriage book, Real Marriage, and he is already well-known for his teaching and preaching on the Song of Solomon. I like Mark Driscoll's preaching. Mr. Edwards and I have listened to his podcasts off and on for several years. In fact, while I'm teaching third graders Sunday School, Mr. Edwards is in an adult class that is studying Driscoll's "Love Life" series on the Song of Solomon. Nevertheless, I thought Trueman's post is a good balancing view. Read it all, but here's a portion,
"The Bible's refusal to reduce sex to physical acts is surely one of the reasons why it uses poetry to describe it. Poetry communicates meaning and significance which cannot be reduced simply to the reference; and the turning of the Song of Songs primarily into a sex manual is arguably a greater act of reductionism than jumping straight from the text to Christ and the church."
The Due App is still chiming with all I must do today. Baking, wrapping, laundry, laundry, laundry. The mundane never goes away, even on the most beloved Holy Day of the year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Snow of Legends

This afternoon while we were out driving, snow began to fall, swirling, blowing and softly landing onto our car. Walking to and from the car, we all were amazed at the big, beautiful snow flakes. As they landed in our hair and on our sleeves, we gaped at the visible detail of each flake. The six points were sharp and clear, contrasting against the color of our coats.

Driving off to our next stop, Toby told me from the backseat, "Mom, I just thought the six points in snowflakes were a legend."

(Above image is a photomicrograph of a snowflake, taken by William Bentley in 1890. Bentley's photos of snowflakes proved that each snowflake is a uniquely formed snow crystal. The image is from Wikipedia, but belongs to the Smithsonian Collection.)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

True Mettle

"To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects." (Margaret Thatcher, 1981)

The Wall Street Journal's Saturday Essay on Margaret Thatcher ("What Would the Iron Lady Do?") is fascinating. You'll want to read it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Faith of Victorians

Just yesterday Albert Mohler spoke with Timothy Larsen to discuss Christianity during the Victorian Age. Edwards Academy kids are studying the Victorian Age this year, so this topic is front and center in our school and home.

It really is striking to realize that the people of the 19th century,  regardless of their belief or unbelief, brought up their children to know the content of the Bible. This habit is completely lost to us today, and one consequence Larsen mentions is that history scholars don't even recognize the allusions to Scripture that pepper the works of 19th century writers.

We live in an age that presumes agnosticism in public life. Whatever we think or believe privately, we all have agreed to function publicly as if the Bible does not exist. This is deplorable. We are hindered in understanding people of the past because we can't imagine what it is like to think within a context that presumes theism. Yes, some Victorians reacted in unbelief. But they still moved and breathed and thought in a context of theism.

Homeschooling is my response to the bifurcation of our culture. There are lots of reasons to homeschool, but our primary motivation is a desire to integrate faith in learning. We cannot wrestle with the deepest issues of existence while pretending that religion and the Bible don't exist. In our age, it takes deliberate effort to integrate belief in Jesus Christ into all areas of life. Homeschooling isn't the only educational way to accomplish this mandate of Scripture (Romans 12:1-2), but in some ways it is the easiest way.

(Photo of Victoria and Albert with their nine children from Wikipedia. It is in the public domain.)

Grief for Unbelief

Christopher Hitchens has died. Don't miss this obituary by Douglas Wilson, who debated Hitchens several times about Christianity:
The short promotion tour for the release of the book was a series of debates that Christopher and I held in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, which were filmed for the documentary Collision. a result of all this, we were thrown together in a number of situations. One time we shared a panel in Dallas, and I told the crowd there that if Christopher and I were not careful, we were in danger of becoming friends. During the time we spent together, he never said an unkind thing to me—except on stage, up in front of everybody. After doing this, he didn't wink at me, but he might as well have.

Wilson said it so well:
We have no indication that Christopher ever called on the Lord before he died, and if he did not, then Scriptures plainly teach that he is lost forever. But we do have every indication that Christ died for sinners, men and women just like Christopher. We know that the Lord has more than once hired workers for his vineyard when the sun was almost down (Matt. 20:6).


I recently read a quote from Hitchens in which he admitted that his life-long rallying cry, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger" was failing him. In fact, he observed, this doesn't ring true when battling cancer and he noted that there are plenty of things in life that actually leave us weaker. Perhaps Hitchens's cancer weakened his unbelief until it was replaced with belief. I hope so.

Previous posts about Hitchens are here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

St. Lucia Day

Today is St. Lucia Day, a tradition-rich holiday held dear to Swedish communities. We've been to Lindsborg, Kansas several times for their St. Lucia festival. We weren't able to go this year, much to the disappointment of the Edwards kids. It is one of their favorite outings. Here are some memories from our trip one year ago:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Girls and Boys

It sure is fun to have a little sugar and spice and everything nice...

...after snips and snails and puppy dog tails!

These are the sort of pictures I find on the camera when I download photos. There is no doubt that the best word for Tobias is "incorrigible"!

Not that girls are perfect, of course. Here's little Lydia after adorning herself with blue marker.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

St. Nicholas Day

St. Nicholas's feast day is today. Although Santa Claus is fully associated with a commercial and secular Christmas celebration, it is worth remembering that the legend surrounding Santa grew up around a historical Christian figure, Bishop Nicholas, who lived about three hundred years after Christ. He is known for his generosity to the needy, his persecution by the Emperor Diocletian, and his attendance at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325.

We come from a Protestant tradition that doesn't emphasize particular saints over others and we don't formally celebrate saint days. For Protestants like us, pre-Reformation church history can be a bit of a blur. But when St. Nicholas is largely understood by American children as a cartoony, magical gift-giver, it is important to make an effort to correct the record for our children.

In our home, Santa is a character in Clement Moore's famous poem, but there is no question that Mom and Dad are the ones that fill the stockings that hang on the mantle.  We are careful to teach our kids the truth about St. Nicholas and start early explaining how the actions of one man who lived a few centuries after Jesus have inspired centuries of myths and legends that cross cultures, thanks to the early influence of the church in western culture.

We don't have a big celebration for St. Nicholas, other than to remark, "Today's St. Nicholas's feast day. Do you remember who that was?" It is good, though, to reclaim from secular culture some traditions that come from our church history and put Santa into his proper place.

Here are some St. Nicholas resources:

Online biography of St. Nicholas, from the St. Nicholas Center.
Picture book St. Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend by Julie Stiegemeyer
The True St. Nicholas by William Bennett
Picture book Santa, Are You for Real? by Harold Myra (2005) OOP but available from Abe Books.
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