What versions of the bible are used for writing scholarly criticism. I've had an idea for a book firmenting in my brain for the past few years and I'm gearing up to starting it. And I never thought I'd say this, I need a bible. Funny story the cat puked on the one a coworker gave to me and I had to throw it away.

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Hi AletheaT,

Obviously, if you're interested in doing scholarly criticism then you want the translation that's closest to the original Greek/Hebrew. That obviously disqualifies the King James Version, which is a poetic translation rather than a literal one.
I'll give you some recommendations on New Testament translations, but I'm much less familiar with OT translations so you'll have to forgive me for not speaking out on that point.

Jason David BeDunh's Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of ... undertakes a systematic comparison of key difficult texts in nine different translations: The King James Version (KJV), The Amplified Bible (AB), The Living Bible (LB), The New American Bible (NAB), The New American Standard Bible (NASB), The New International Version (NIV), The New World Translation (NW), The (New) Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and Today’s English Version (TEV). Rather surprisingly, he found the New World Translation - produced by the Jehovah's Witnesses - was the most accurate.

This is because (i) the JWs put a lot of emphasis on basing their beliefs on the text as it stands, not translating the text with any theology in mind and (ii) the JWs are non-Trinitarians. That means that passages that are usually mistranslated in standard editions to prop up the idea that Jesus was God are left translated as they actually read in the Greek. And they don't support the idea that Jesus was part of some kind of "Trinity" at all.

For a non-JW edition that does much the same thing, try Andy Gaus The Unvarnished New Testament. Gaus is a scholar of Greek who strips the NT of all the centuries of theology and simply tries to reproduce not only what the Greek says but something like the fairly unpolished and rough style and colloquialism of the NT texts.
Alternatively, you can use the NJB (New Jerusalem bible), which is also well-known for being a good translation.

Hope that helps!

Regards,

Matt
Thank you so much. From what I've gathered from searching around the internet the NW version sounds like a good candidate. I downloaded KJV to my kindle, 99 cents, but like you say its very poetic. KJV also seems to have added more to the end of Mark. I'll also check out the Jason David BeDunh's book.

The only things I would be using the OT for are the comparisons between stories, like the jews in exile for 40 years then jesus going into the desert for 40 days. I also want to talk a little about the big differences between Matt, Mark, Luke, and John. I'm not sure if I want to even approach the Q theory.
No problem, glad to help!

What project are you working on, if asking so is not too fortright?

I'm a big fan of the arguments for and against Q theory by the way :P
Well, I have a masters in art history and the majority of the classes I took were in the baroque period and earlier, very western oriented (but I took a really cool african art class too.) In those classes we looked at tons of christian art and symbols. My Atheism really started to grow during my time at school. I want to write a book about the christian myth from an art historical POV. Dissect the stories with art, and also show that common themes in christian art are a mishmash of hebrew and greco-roman story telling. I want to look at common symbols in christianity and discuss where they originated from. I've been finding many books about christian art but none of them discuss the bible as a myth, thats the message I want to get across.
Interesting. Having a pre-conceived idea of what you're going to prove makes objective analysis quite a bit harder though, so make sure that before you do anything, you spend some time looking for the counter-arguments to your thesis.

As a history professor I know always recommends his PhD students when they come up with a theory that they want to base a thesis around: "It's great that you're passionate about this research and that you have a theory which you want to flesh out, but first of all you must spend six months trying to rip your theory apart with the best counter-arguments you can find. When it keeps standing up after you voraciously try to bring it down, then it's worth writing about."

Good luck ;)
The puking cat story is precious!

The online Blue Letter Bible is really handy and easy to use. You can quickly flip back and forth from different versions and it provides a Strong's concordance for the Greek and Hebrew. http://www.blueletterbible.org/ It isn't terribly sophisticated; but, if you can keep the cat off of your keyboard there is little danger of puke damage.
BTW: I really like the KJV because the antiquated language forces me to keep in mind that the Bible books were not written for our generation. They are really old books and cannot be understood simply by reading a modern English translation.

I think the Q theory is BS. But, you really do need to deal with the OT to understand the NT. I will be posting a blog tomorrow or the next day about OT stories and other myths relevant the role of Joseph in the gospel stories.
Thank you so much! www.blueletterbible.org sounds like a really good resource.
Althea - You and I have similar backgrounds because I also did a lot of art history; but, I did much earlier periods. I think you will like my new blog post because it focuses on symbolism and the evolution of those symbols, from the Bronze Age to Early Christianity: http://www.atheistnexus.org/profiles/blogs/whos-your-daddy-the-cuckold

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