Just recently someone asked this preacher about a couple of modern speech translations. Friends, there are so many new ones appearing on a regular basis that it is difficult to keep up with each one. Some are good, some are just okay, but some are seriously flawed.

The good ones seek to get as close as possible to an honest word-for-word rendering of the original Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Old Testament. The others prefer to present what is called the “Dynamic Equivalent” of what the original authors intended, and are often done by individuals or groups with a doctrinal slant. With the latter, the doctrinal bias of the translators is often worked into their translation.

Unfortunately, such seems to be the case with the two versions in question. The New Century Version (1991) is just an adult revision of the International Children ’s Bible (1986). The New Living Translation (1996) is an evident attempt to turn Kenneth Taylor’s Living Bible Paraphrase (1971) into a respectable committee translation. Both the NCV and the NLT show a predisposition toward Calvinism. For example, consider Romans 7:18 in the very literal and accurate American Standard Version: “For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not” (ASV). Notice the word “flesh” in the ASV, and see how it transformed into a new thought in the NCV and NLT: “Yes, I know that nothing good lives in me–I mean nothing good lives in the part of me that is earthly and sinful. I want to do the things that are good, but I do not do them” (NCV); “And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature, I want to do what is right, but I can’t” (NLT).

This is not an easy passage to interpret, but it is not at all teaching what these translations have incorporated into their versions. They are actually teaching error (hereditary depravity) in their translations. By the way, the NIV promotes this same error. Comparison is fine, but be safe. Stay with reliable, proven translations for your study. The KJV, NKJV, ASV and NASB are recommended. Use others with caution. As brother Goebel Music asked, “Easy to READ or easy to MISLEAD?” (1994).

J. Brooks Boyd Jr.
Livingston church of Christ
Livingston, TN

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