Truth In Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament.

by Jason David BeDuhn.

Published 2003 University Press of America. 200 pages. Hardback or Paper Back.

Brief Description(by NWT Defense site):

Jason BeDuhn's book "Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament" compares nine translations(from the KJV to several 20th century translations, including the New World Translation), not with each other, but with the original Greek of the New Testament. He analyses, in chapters 4 through to 12, scriptures such as John 1:1, 8:58, Colossians 1:15ff, etcetera, as well as words such as proskuneo("worship") and pneuma("spirit"). His conclusion as to which translation has been more accurate overall, based upon what words and scripture passages he does analyse, might surprise the many! His own preferred translations, at times, ("a god" at Luke 20:38 for instance)are thought provoking. This is an excellent book not least because it is written for the public who have an interest in the subject of accuracy and bias in English Bible translations. But also because the same, the public, rely upon English translations to understand God's Word today. It is paramount that theological biases of our times and held by scholars that translate the Bible into our tongue do not distort the true meaning of the Greek and produce inaccurate renderings. BeDuhn's book shows that this has been the case in all the translations he looks at. But.....some much more than others. You might not agree with everything he writes(he has his own biases as he freely admits)but his is not only an honest evaluation but one free of anachronistic theological presumptions. Is this unique among works of this ilk we ask? Jason BeDuhn is only interested in what the Greek of the New Testament means whether or not it agrees or supports a certain theology/faith. Highly recommended. You can order copies from Amazon(see US $33 Paper back/$62 Hardback--UK 26/49).

We wish to add this caveat essentially for our Jehovah's Witnesses visitors but of interest to those who are not:

We would like to assure our visitors who are Jehovah's Witnesses, as we are, that we only recommend books that are not only helpful in our study of God's Word but also do not undermine the "faithful and discreet slaves's" 'spiritual food.' True, Jason BeDuhn's book(our only author of a book we recommend who is not a Jehovah's Witness)shows that he believes that the New World Translation has erred at times. But he does accord it, overall, greater accuracy above other prominent respected scholarly translations such as The New Revised Standard Version and the New International Version. Remember, no translation will be 'perfect' and this has to include the New World Translation. Still, Jason BeDuhns book Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament(published 2003)we recommend in all good conscience. It IS an excellent book for Jehovahs Witnesses. It is also, perhaps even more so, for those who are not. It complements, in its way, both Stafford's and Furuli's. We are very thankful to Jason BeDuhn(as we are with all those authors whose books we recommend)for taking the time amd making the effort to produce such a thought provoking and, to use his word, "challenging" work. Yes, it challenges the common perception so eagerly accepted by the many that what very capable scholars have produced, that is, English translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures(the 'New Testament')must be more accurate, without as much bias, as the translation produced by the anonymous committee behind the New World Translation. They are not and his findings show otherwise. He also offers why this may be in the chapter entitled "A Final Word."
We will make oft use of it in both our study of lexical and grammatical issues surrounding controversial words and scriptures passages in the Greek portion of the Bible as well as in our witnessing work. If you decide to obtain a copy for yourself you will no doubt do likewise.

The Watchtower magazine of 2004 December 1st page 30 mentions this book in its brief article:

A “Remarkably Good” Translation

"ACCORDING to one count, as many as 55 new English translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures were published between 1952 and 1990. Translators’ choices mean that no two read alike. In order to assess the reliability of the translators’ work, Jason BeDuhn, associate professor of religious studies at Northern Arizona University, in Flagstaff, Arizona, U.S.A., examined and compared for accuracy eight major translations, including the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. The result?

"While critical of some of its translation choices, BeDuhn called the New World Translation a “remarkably good” translation, “better by far” and “consistently better” than some of the others considered. Overall, concluded BeDuhn, the New World Translation “is one of the most accurate English translations of the New Testament currently available” and “the most accurate of the translations compared.”—Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament.

"BeDuhn noted, too, that many translators were subject to pressure “to paraphrase or expand on what the Bible does say in the direction of what modern readers want and need it to say.” On the other hand, the New World Translation is different, observed BeDuhn, because of “the greater accuracy of the NW as a literal, conservative translation of the original expressions of the New Testament writers.”

"As the New World Bible Translation Committee acknowledges in the foreword to its work, it is “a very responsible thing” to translate the Holy Scriptures from their original languages into modern speech. The Committee goes on to say: “The translators of this work, who fear and love the Divine Author of the Holy Scriptures, feel toward Him a special responsibility to transmit his thoughts and declarations as accurately as possible.”

"Since its first publication in 1961, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures has been made available in 32 languages plus 2 Braille editions. The Christian Greek Scriptures of the New World Translation, or the “New Testament,” is available in an additional 18 languages plus one Braille edition. We invite you to read God’s Word in this modern and “remarkably good” translation, perhaps in your own language."

Jason BeDuhn himself via email informs us:

Dear Friends,

It's finally here!  My book, TRUTH IN TRANSLATION: ACCURACY AND BIAS IN ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, published by University Press of America.

Paperback $33.00    ISBN 0-7618-2556-8 
Hardback $62.00     ISBN 0-7618-2555-X

This book will not be available on Amazon, Barnes& Noble, etc. until mid-summer.

Order direct from the publisher by March 25 to guarantee shipping by May 23. Call UPA Customer Service at 1-800-462-6420. International customers unable to access the 800 number may call 1-717-794-3800.

Some of you have been waiting four years for this, and may remember it under its original title, Bible Wars.  Here at last is a comprehensive comparison of nine major translations of the Bible: King James Version, New American Standard Bible, New International Version, New Revised Standard Version, New American Bible, Amplified Bible, Today's English Version (Good News Bible), Living Bible, and the New World Translation.  The book provides a general introduction to the history and methods of Bible translation, and gives background on each of these versions.  Then it compares them on key passages of the New Testament to determine their accuracy and identify their bias.  Passages looked at include:

John 1:1
John 8:58
Philippians 2:5-11
Colossians 1:15-20
Titus 2:13
Hebrews 1:8
2 Peter 1:1

Also explored are passages involving "prostration" or "worship," gendered language, the "holy spirit," and the use of "Jehovah."  Two hundred pages in all offering my most detailed examination of the issues and pressures involved in Bible translation.  If you've found my comments, observations, and answers instructive or challenging in the past, now's your chance to get the complete picture.

Thank you, and happy reading!

Jason BeDuhn
Associate Professor of Religious Studies, and Chair
Department of Humanities, Arts, and Religion
Northern Arizona University

The following we retain for content interest.

11/28/2002: The publication date is very likely to be March or April 2003.

12/19/2001: Latest update on progress of J. Beduhn's forthcoming book on Bible translations: The title will now be: Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in Modern English Translations of the New Testament." Also, due to finding a suitable publisher a delay is expected in publication.

 

3/20/2001: Latest update on progress of J.BeDuhn's forthcoming book on Bible translations:

Due to re-editing requirements the probable publishing date will be the end of this year(2001).

"Bible Wars: Accuracy and Bias in Modern English Translations of the New Testament."
by Professor Jason BeDuhn

As readers of this site may very well be aware the above Professor has been working on a book, as entitled, that will make a comparison between modern English translations of the New Testament and the original Greek. Please read what is the present progress of said book. We are looking forward to Professor BeDuhn's work because as he himself claims he is not biased toward any translation, his only interest is what the original Greek says/means and how that can be acccurately conveyed to an English reader with as little or no 'interpretation' or 'glossing' as possible by the translators. As you will read below the NWT will come under close scrutiny and will not be above criticism. We are looking forward the book's release:

".....I am in a better position than ever to comment on the accuracy of the NWT because for the last year and a half I have been working on a book comparing the NWT, KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, AB, TEV, and LB. The book is called "Bible Wars: Accuracy and Bias in Modern English Translations of the New Testament," and I hope to have it in a publisher's hands by summer and out by the end of the year.
I want to make it clear that I am NOT biased in favor of the NWT. I AM biased in favor of the original Greek, and so in favor of translations that provide the modern English-speaking audience with as much access to the meaning of the original Greek as possible, without obscuring the meaning of the original by unwarranted interpretation of what the biblical text MAY mean.
My research has turned up real howlers in ALL of the translations listed above, the NWT included. But statistically the NWT ranks near the top of the comparison in its accuracy. The NAB also scores rather well. While the "Living Bible" and the TEV ("Good News") Bible rank near the bottom, not because they are paraphrases, but because they introduce different meanings to the text they are supposed to be making clear to the general reader.
I have no personal stake in which Bible emerges as most accurate. My only stake is in informing the public about how theological bias has colored the translations they are using, and in providing them with tools to help them understand what the text behind the translations actually means. This is my job as a biblical scholar....."

Professor Jason BeDuhn
Northern Arizona University
4/26/2000

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