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The Bible in Translation: Ancient and English Versions Paperback – October 1, 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This is an excellent handbook for students and others interested in biblical translation. Metzger, who himself has served on the translation committees for three versions, provides a readable account of ancient translations before turning to a selection of English translations from John Wycliffe's, near the end of the fourteenth century, to Eugene Peterson's, still in process at the beginning of the twenty-first. Metzger devotes considerable attention to the problems translators face and the strategies adopted during the courses of different translations to address them. The result of Metzger's labor is, more than a historical overview, a primer that equips readers to make critically informed judgments about available translations and achieve better understanding of the biblical text. Steven Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From the Back Cover

The Bible has been translated more often than any other piece of literature and is currently available in over two thousand languages, with several languages having numerous versions. Outlined here is the history of Bible translation, including a careful analysis of more than fifty versions of the Bible.

One of the most respected living biblical scholars, Bruce Metzger begins this engaging survey with the earliest translations of the Old and New Testaments, before proceeding to English versions dating from the eleventh century to the present. Metzger explores the circumstances under which each translation was produced and offers insights into its underlying objectives, characteristics, and strengths. Since the author has served on a number of Bible translation committees, his knowledge of the evolution of Bible translation flows not only from careful research but also from personal experience.

"A highly informative and interesting account of the history of the English Bible. Professor Metzger has pointed out the qualities-good and bad-of all the versions, from that of John Wycliffe to the New Revised Standard Version of 1990. He has not neglected the Jewish translations of the twentieth century or the simplified, easy-to-read versions, and even includes the various paraphrases of the English Bible. All of this is done with clarity, humor, and sound judgment. His book will be a valuable vade mecum for all pastors, students, scholars, and general readers."
-Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., Catholic University of America

Bruce M. Metzger
(Ph.D., Princeton University) is George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature Emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary. An expert in ancient biblical manuscripts, he has participated in three major Bible translation projects and was chairman of the NRSV translation committee.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic; 58516th edition (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801022827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801022821
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By rodboomboom HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
Noteworthy, easy-to-read history of translation of Bible into English, beginning with Ancient Versions which have an affect on the English translations to come. Here he explores such efforts as the Coptic, Georgian, Sogdian and Nubian Versions.
Amazing is the fact that before movable type in printing, there were only 33 languages with any Bible translated. In the 19th century alone, over 400 languages received Bible translations.
Then he goes in depth into English translations, with especially attention given to the King James of 1611 fame, and those that preceded and influenced it so greatly. This fact is typically forgotten or severely deemphasized by the "King James Only" crowd. Witness this extraordianty statement: "It (Tyndale's) became, in fact, a foundation for all subsequent efforts of revision, so much so that 30 percent or more of the English Bible down through the Revised Versions has been estimated to be his in those portions of the Bible on which he had worked with such skill and devotion."
Metzger writes with the simplicity, clarity and passion coming from an authority who has worked with Biblical translation during his life. He simplifies, clarifies, and presents his esteemed opinions with grace and support.
This book will help the serious Bible student to understand more realistically the problems presented to the translator of Scriptures from the original languages.
Highly recommmended to all who want to understand the breath, depth and critique of English Bible translations.
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Format: Paperback
Strengths: Very readable introduction to Bible translations. The author graciously keeps the average reader in mind by not using a lot of technical jargon. The author is a recognized expert on ancient manuscripts and it shows. Fully one third of the book covers the progression of Ancient versions to the threshold of their use in English translations. Especially good is the discussion of the shift from Jewish to Christian versions. The postscript should be read early on. Since the author sat on 3 translation committees and was the chair of the NRSV committee, he gives a fine discussion (with examples) of the goals of the translation. An added bonus is a short discussion on modern Jewish versions.

Weaknesses: The King James section gets surpisingly light treatment. The New King James gets 2 sentences. The NIV gets all of 3 pages, half derogatory. There is very little discussion of dynamic equivalence and it's effect on modern bible translating. The author mostly ignores the Westcott-Hort controversy referring the reader to his book on the subject "Text of the New Testament: It's Transmission, Corruption and Restoration", 3rd edition. If this book is any indication, I expect that one will be a good read. Some charts/timelines on the manuscript developments would be more helpful.

Mechanics: Paperback. There is a regular index and a scripture index which is quite helpful. Citations are referenced at the bottom of the respective page which eliminates the page flipping.

Summary: Overall a fine book and a good primer on Ancient versions and the several revised standard versions up through the end of the 1990's. Will wet your appetite for more reading on the subject.
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By A Customer on April 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
As it would be expected the NRSV comes across in the best light, but out side of that his comments on various translations are very good. It is good reading and not all that technical, useful to get an idea of the versions that are available and the strength and weakness of each one. Bruce Metzger is a person one can trust on this issue.
I would tell folks to read this book if they are having Bible translation overload.
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Format: Paperback
The famous Italian adage (translated "Translator ... Traitor!") is the first thing that came to mind as I was reading through "the Bible in Translation" by well known New Testament and biblical canon scholar Bruce M. Metzger. This 200 pager offers a fast read (and a good introduction) of the history of ancient biblical manuscripts, and the progression of english translations across the middle ages into our modern times. I whole heartily recommend "the Bible in Translation - ancient and English versions" to any clergy member, seminarian/theology student (if they haven't had it in their courses), and any God-fearing Christian who wants to understand why and how come we have various english translations in our modern times (KJV, ASB, JB, RSV, NIV, etc. and their newer revisions).

Bruce M. Metzger is best known for his classic "The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance," Oxford University Press.

When it comes to the topic of biblical canon, history of the New Testament, and New Testament studies all put in one, there are only two names that come to mind: F.F. Bruce and Bruce M. Metzger. These authors are often required material for many Protestant and sometimes Catholic and Orthodox seminarians.

I think the other reviewers did an excellent job at giving you an outline of the content of the book. The value of this book is that the author includes the evidence from antiquity to show the continuity of the English translations with the original Hebrew and Greek texts.
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