Monday, January 23, 2012

Bible Review: "The Names of God Bible"

Names of God Bible, The"The Names of God Bible" (NGB) uses "God's Word Translation" (GWT) as its base text. This is a relatively new translation from 1995 employing a translation method they describe as “closest natural equivalence” to express the meaning of the original text. This philosophy focuses on what the translators define as readability with an aim to mirror the structure common to our everyday day English, using grammar and punctuation that they feel contemporary readers would be most familiar with.

GWT is essentially a dynamic equivalent translation that is too interpretive for word for word study. Conceptually this seems strange for a Bible that aims for greater specificity indicating the names of God in their original languages throughout. Forfeited is an accurate word for word translation for more of a thought for thought. The individual authors writing style and choice of words is sacrificed. What is most lacking are the theological words that would enable meaningful short hand discussion.  Gone are words such as covenant, grace, justify, repent, resurrection and righteousness. These are serious omissions. Gone as well is the clear teaching of the doctrine of justification by replacing the translation of all of the different Greek words behind "justify," "righteousness," "reckoned," "imputed," "accredited," and "propitiation" with one catch-all word, "approval."

People can be seriously mislead by inaccurate translations of verses like James 2:24 that read: "You see that a person received God's approval because of what he does, not only because of what he believes". There is a radical misrepresentation of Justification by faith alone when one is promised Gods "approval based on what one does in such places like Rom. 4:16,20,  9:30, 32, 10:6, 11:20, Gal. 3:22, 5:5; and Heb. 11. The result is misrepresenting justification as the "cause" instead of the "medium" through which saving faith comes. 

Beyond the dangerous misrepresentations in the translation, NGB indicates more than 10,000 occurrences of at least 121 names (or titles of God) such as Yahweh, El Shadday, El Elyon, and Adonay. They state that this purpose is "to help readers connect with the Hebrew roots of their Christian faith and experience a deeper understanding of God's character". To do this the names are highlighted in brown ink to stand out within the biblical text.

Yet, there are instances where the original renderings are not clear enough. Such an example includes the GWT rendering of  “Lord of Hosts” (‘Yahweh Sabaoth’).  As ‘hosts’ could accurately be described as a reference to angelic beings, i.e. the hosts of heaven, GWT has chosen to translate this phrase “Lord of Armies,”. Unfortunately, there are no explanation that these armies are the armies of heaven and not the armies of men which can lead to significant misunderstanding.

Ann Spangler developed the Name pages, book introductions, Calling God by name sidebars and topical prayer guide. Helpful listings include an alphabetical list of names and titles of God, pronunciation guide to these names and titles, names of God reading path system, topical prayer guide, table, and fast track reading plan for the names of God, as well as a name index and general reading plan.

The Names of God Bible is helpful as a reference tool to quickly see the names of God and explanations for further insight, but the Bible as a whole is not very useful as either a study tool providing word-for word-precision, not as a study Bible having much of the needed basis background commentary or helpful study additions. The introductions to each book are brief. Absent are links like maps, concordances, and other common reference tools.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 1760
Vendor: Revell
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.75 X 2.00 (inches)
ISBN: 080071931X
ISBN-13: 9780800719319

"Bible has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

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