Since over one month I'm reading in over eight different Bible translations in order to find out whose English language is most adapted for today's English language, including grammar, idioms and syntax. I'm a non-native speaker and I've reached a language level between B2 and C1. I use my English for academic purpose, in science. I'd like to improve my English structure (in speaking and reading) while reading the Bible. I've invested many hours to better understand the different translation approaches from over 30 existing Bible translations. I prefer reading in Bible translations which uses a "moderate dynamic equivalence" (see: Wikipedia).
I wondered if my order of Bible translations with nearly 100% standard English is more or less correct. My personal order of English grammar is listed here, decreasing from top to the bottom.
- GW (God's Word Translation)
- CEVUK00 (Contemporary English Version - UK Version 2000)
- ESV (English Standard Version)
- NIV (New International Version)
- NCV (New Century Version)
- GNB (Good News Bible)
- NASB (New American Standard Bible)
- NKJV (New King James Version)
The Bible translation I'm looking for must be very close to today's English (rather a phrase-for-phrase translation as a word-for-word-translation).
PLEASE avoid discussions about denonimation favoring Bible translations. My question is facing all different Bible translations but paraphrase translations (e.g. as "The Message") excluded. This question is not supposed to get opinion based answers. It exist a useful web page Christianity.Stackexchange which discussed as well questions about the accuracy of different Bible translations.
Since several weeks I know the difference between a dynamic (phrase for phrase) and formal equivalence (word for word) translation. I want to read either a "Moderate use of dynamic equivalence" or a "Moderate use of dynamic equivalence". There is a helpful work which gives a more detailed classification in literal - idiomatic - dynamic - paraphrase - commentative as Wikipedia do in 1 or 2
I tried to search what are the differences between "church English" and "standard English". E.g. the Bible passage "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" (Mark 14:38b) is from a grammatical point of view perfect but the words "spirit" and "flesh" are not often used in "standard English". So the definition of "church English" is the English language whose grammar and syntax is perfect but uses a lot of old words and structures as e.g. the KJV (King James Version) does?
I noticed in three Bible passages differences in the language but I was not able to figure out which sentence is not perfect english grammar. The structures which sounds a little strange to me are highlighted.
A) Jesus looked closely at the man. He liked him and said, “There's one thing you still need to do. Go and sell everything you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come with me.” Mark 10:21 CEVUK00
B) And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Mark 10:21 ESV
C) Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21 NIV
The collocation "give to the poor" sounds a little strange for me. May be give can be used without an object (give to... instead of give something to...).
D) And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” (Mark 9:29 ESV)
E) He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” (Mark 9:29 NIV)
F) Jesus answered, “That kind of spirit can only be forced out by prayer.” Mark 9:29 NCV
G) Jesus answered, “Only prayer can force out that kind of demon.” Mark 9:29 CEVUK00
I've checked the collocation "by anything but" in COCA. It is a useful tool to check how common an English structure is. In fact by anything but" is very rarely used.
H) And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?” (Mark 8:21 ESV)
I) He said to them, “Do you still not understand?” (Mark 8:21 NIV)
J) Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand yet?” (Mark 8:21 NCV)
"Don't you understand yet" sounds for me better as "Do you not yet understand?" because in most cases the "yet" is placed at the end of the phrase in a question. What do you think about this structure?
Are there some structures mentioned in this Bible passages (from A to J) which do not use appropiate english syntax? I invested many hours to search for a language research of different Bible translations but didn't find any helpful document.
Is there a webpage or free document which lists many different Bible passages with a lot of different Bible translations and discusses the weakness of the used Bible translation language compared to today's standard British or American English?
UPDATE 21.10.2014 - I found two pages which might be helpful (concerned my question above):
- This page discusses differences in Grammar, Syntax, Idioms, Style: Dave Brunn
- This page discusses prepositions, nouns, verbs, phrasing: Biblical-Traning
May be other pages like these will help me to understand what is a correct English grammar in Bible translations. I guess my weak point is not to difference the meaning between different Bible translations, it's more the unsure feeling which English grammar structures are correct and which aren't.