Last year we already got a foretaste of what the newest Dutch Bible translation (The Bible in Everyday Language) would be like. Since last Wednesday we have the complete ‘new’ Bible, from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. During the official presentation the first copy was presented to his majesty, the king of the Netherlands.
As was to be expected, the first reactions were quite diverse. On the one hand, there were very positive comments: This is my kind of language; this ensures that the words of the Bible are received loud and clear. On the other hand people complained that familiar expressions have been removed, and that everything has become very ‘common’. Bible language, they say, should remain a bit solemn.
Much will yet be said about the value of this new translation. Many will, for instance, question how accurate the translators have been.
As a Seventh-day Adventist Christian I inevitably took an immediate look at some texts that are important in the context of Adventist doctrine. What have the translators done with Daniel 8:14? It must be admitted that the text has been translated in a comprehensible manner (and that was, of course, the aim of the translators), but Adventist Bible exegetes will want to refer to other translations to ensure that the Adventist interpretation is safeguarded. I also checked on Luke 23:43, since I wanted to know how Jesus’ words on the cross to the criminal next to him have been translated. According to this newest translation Jesus said: ‘ Even today you will be with me in heaven!’ Here, clearly, some interpretation is taking place. But then, Adventist readers will be happy with the way another crucial text (Colossians 2: 16, 17) has been rendered.
Every translation of the Bible is also a matter of interpretation. This new translation has been prepared with great care, with a lot of expertise and creativity. The aim was to translate, as faithfully as possible, the meaning of the original text, in such a way that the result would be easily understood by the average reader of 2014. Whereas in the translation that was produced ten years ago 14.000 different words were used, the Bible in Everyday Language only employs ca. 4.000 words. But, as in every translation, there is an element of interpretation. This new translation is not supposed to replace all other, earlier, translations. It remains wise to compare different translations if you want to dig deeper in God’s Word.
No doubt, I will find some instances in this new translation where I had preferred a different wording. Nonetheless, I am very happy with the appearance of this new translation. I am certainly planning to use it. It will, I believe, be a means whereby God’s Word can speak to me in a new way. And I am sure that it will help many people to get more out of their Bible reading. When Jesus was on earth he used the language of the people of his time. This continues to be our challenge: the find contemporary words that will bring the Word closer to the people!
It may take some time getting used to it, but I was immediately inspired by the new version of the Lord’s Prayer:Our Father in heaven, let everyone give praise to you. May your new world come. May your will be done on earth, just as this happens in heaven. Give us today the food that we need. And forgive us whatever we did wrong, for we have also forgiven other people their mistakes. Help us never to make the wrong choices and to go against your will, and protect us against the power of evil. For you are the king, and you reign with great power. for always. Amen